Bottom Line: I’ve Learned

Today my thoughts are short in length, but, as I’m really finding, deep in meaning, content, and significance to me.  Turning 25 was a huge milestone for me in my life, and through the last 5 years (despite what I sometimes may think) I lived most every moment in one way or another.  I made a million changes, took big chances, explored to possibility and depth of my own person, and did so with what I would now characterize as a ‘cautious abandon.’  I met people who changed me forever; some that taught me to see and believe in the good in others, and some that taught me through their own limitations the importance of forgiveness, personal growth, and the ever-evolving art of learning to let things go.

I wanted the experience, and with that came all the wins, losses, and lessons along the way.  And that’s what matters – that I learned — and I’m still learning.

fuel sweat grow: life

Sometimes it’s just worth the reminder that life is a combination of living — living imperfectly — and learning from the mistakes. Learn from other people’s mistakes – let go of judgement and appreciate the guidance.  It’s worth the energy it takes to work towards the good places, and work out of the bad places so you can actually grow.  Live in all four corners of your life — live outside of the boundaries — and most importantly don’t ever let anyone else’s own limitations ever limit your ability to live your own passions.

Now that I’ve shared what I believe, someone please remind me of exactly this the next time I find myself faced with the seemingly impossible, or the ghosts of lessons past.  Tomorrow might even be a good day for a refresher.

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Do Your Best + Let the Rest Roll Off

There are moments, moments that always feel far too frequent, when something shakes our world a little (or a lot), both devastating our hearts and creating pause.  It’s in those moments of pause when silence can become deafening, and all of the pointless chatter happening around us goes quiet so deeper perspective can take root.

This past week I followed on my Facebook feed as the community I grew up in, and a school so close to the hearts of my family and friends, turned itself inside out searching for one of their own. They came together as a community only to be rocked completely.  A 13 year old boy who was so distraught over overdue class assignments and an overly manufactured sense of failure left his home and took his own life.  And unfortunately, this has become far too common.

There are a million different things to speculate, to wonder, and on some level to even relate to, because we’ve all been in a situation at one point or another where it seems almost impossible to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  What that light looks like and how we get to it is going to be different for all of us, and for some, especially those who have battled or known the despair of a deep depression, the end may be that light.  I know all of this, but I still can’t help but feel the extra weight of this tragedy today.  Today my mind kept coming back to a few thoughts I could not shake; things that I wish everyone not only was reminded of, but also deeply believed in.

1.  Outside of doing your best, nothing you do in school really matters.  Seriously, not really even college.  All of those years are meant to give you time to develop, to create context, and to allow you to grow — not to determine your lifelong potential.  Be open to learning, be open to exploring your interests, and of course working hard, but your whole job is to discover your own passion and hopefully start to live it.  Learning what makes you tick, what keeps you motivated, and what your strengths are will be more important in our life than any class, or test, or assignment in the world.

fuel sweat grow: you were meant for amazing things

2. Be open to failure.  Failure and struggle are the experiences that give our stories content, that teach us our most important lessons, and help us find the grittiness in ourselves that confidence can stand on.  Find any person that you think has succeeded and ask them about where they failed — believe me, they’ll not only have some good stories, they’ll also be able to draw a direct line from what they learned to all of their subsequent successes.

3. You have value.  Truly, you. are. valuable….invaluable really, so don’t you ever let anyone or anything ever tell you differently.  There’s a horrible epidemic of kids who grow up looking for their value in other people, in things, or in money, and as adults we have a responsibility to instill in them the confidence and understanding that value is inherent, and not externally found.

4.   Don’t take life so seriously.   Sure, life is a serious business, but sometimes it’s the ability to shake off all the unnecessary pressure and manufactured stress and enjoy the moment for exactly what it is.  Whether you’re in the build, the struggle, or the victory lap of your life, live through every moment and appreciate what’s available to you in that moment. Truly, if you’re alive and your heart is beating for something, you’re already succeeding, so find joy in the path.

I could go on, and I probably will at another time,  in several different installments, but for today, this is what I’ve got. So, thanks for letting me rant, feel, and write my way through what makes no sense and all the sense in one messy package.  And, most importantly, may that sweet boy’s soul rest in peace.

My Tribe: Wonder Women + The Countdown to Thirty

Two weeks ago one of our first ever MADville clients, and a pretty freaking awesome professor at UVa, Lisa, made/gave me this Wonder Woman mug for my coffee, of course personalized with my name on it.

fuel sweat grow: Wonder Woman VAL

If you know Lisa, you know that in addition to being an amazing super woman/mom/human who makes her family’s clothes and works out at MAD Cville almost every day at 6am, she’s also the now incredibly renowned and cutting edge Professor at UVa who teaches the Game of Thrones course that caused so much chatter this past summer.  (I mean it…you can check out more about it in these articles from the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone...and even Perez Hilton. There are more, but I think this sampling proves my point.)

Aside from just loving Lisa for all of her unique badassery, I also love her as a part of this amazing tribe of strong, brilliant, and driven women that I’ve been so lucky to surround myself with, and this coffee mug symbolizes that in so many ways.  I’m so grateful for all my Wonder Women.

fuel sweat grow: Wonder Woman

Today is the first day of my Birthday month, which I love, but there’s a slightly different vibe this year.  This year marks year thirty of my life — which I’ve realized I’m much more comfortable spelling out than showing in digits.  While I do feel the full weight of the manufactured milestone that thirty signifies, when think back to 25 and realize that it was just 5 years ago, I feel both slightly exhausted by the multiple life evolutions that I’ve gone through in that short time, and liberated from the weight and struggle of ‘the twenties.’

When I turned 25 I remember telling myself that at thirty I wanted to look better, feel better, and be better than I was at that moment in time.  In the last 5 years I’ve pushed myself, I’ve grown, I’ve built things that I’ve loved and things that I haven’t, but I’ve learned from every moment of it.  I’ve put myself out there, I’ve confronted fears and learned more about loving myself for what pieces of my experience I own.  I’ve walked knowingly into conflict, stood toe to toe with ignorance, and I’ve embraced more vulnerability than I thought my anxiety (or mind) would allow me to.   I not only survived it all, but I’m better for it.  I’m the better version of my 25 year old self that I committed to, and while the road was certainly more challenging than I may have ‘hoped’ for, it got me here, and I am better than fine.

My birthday is the 23rd, and in this final 22 day stretch to the next decade, I’m going to share the top lessons from the last 5 years of growing into adult hood in my own countdown to thirty.

So today on Day 1 of my #23to30 push I’m appreciating the strong women – the peers and role models – who inspire me, empower me, and fill my heart up with the courage and self-assurance to push my goals forward. In a world where competition and insecurity are so prevalent, it’s important to celebrate the soul connections of those who make you better, love you, and not only support what you’ve accomplished to date but also what you’re building towards – flaws and all.  We all need each other, and there’s something so amazingly beautiful about the possibilities when we all work together to create a collective legacy that goes beyond our ‘portfolio’ of work, to bring the power and influence to empower the next generation of women.

So to my own Wonder Women, near and far, thanks for being exactly who/what you are, and for being a part of my own development over the last 5, 10, and 29.99 years.  You’re everything.