Lucky Number 13

June 2006, I took a chance.

Thirteen years ago I resigned from my teaching position, packed up what I owned, shut the door on a family farm home full of history and memories, turned my back on the only town I ever really knew and headed West to an unknown city, with no job, very little financial stability, and an unclear vision.

Thirteen years ago I was a little broken.  A little lost on a path I wasn’t interested in being on.  I unintentionally hurt folks around me, although the hurt was inevitable. And it certainly wasn’t in my life plan to uproot what I had planted and walk away for something new.

What I didn’t do was run away, contrary to what some may believe.  Someone said to me once that my move from “home” was an escape.  A run FROM my life.  At the time, I probably agreed as my mind had yet to comprehend my actions.

But, if asked today, my answer would be no.  I didn’t run from my life…

I ran to find it.

Related image

I left behind what was comfortable and consistent to explore my place in this inconsistent world.  I craved the freedom to make decisions based on my interests, beliefs, wants and desires.

.

I didn’t know what I was looking for, I just knew what I had created,

based on learned behaviors and social expectations,

was not what I wanted for myself.

.

While that life wasn’t wrong, it also wasn’t right.  For all involved.  So, I left for the unknown

…and what I found was me.

The Serenity Prayer was my anchor during this period of growth and challenge.  Shortly before my move, I tattooed the symbol for courage on my right foot.  Cliche as you may, I wanted to symbolize that pivotal moment in my life to serve as a reminder that I had the courage to put the right foot forward.

Omaha has provided me more then I could ever have imagined.  Omaha got me out of the box I was raised in and provided me the opportunity to find my own independence and the ability to make decisions that were for me and NOT as a result of the expectations of others.

In the last 13 years, I have grown personally and professionally and accomplished things I didn’t even know existed, let alone knew I was capable of.  From fighting my way through two Master’s degrees, running my first half marathon, finding my place in the fitness industry and proving my worth as a Master Trainer for a national group exercise organization.  I found a passion in higher education that has allowed me the opportunity to impact thousands of students and that has afforded me the luxury to travel and explore so many of our great State’s.  I have met so many incredible individuals, many who continue to serve as professional resources for me, and many who have turned into friends I couldn’t imagine life without.  I met my husband who has taught me more about finding the joy and humor in situations and letting go of my predetermined expectations.  He grounds me, trusts me, builds me up, loves me unconditionally, and respects my independence and boundaries.  I gained a bonus kid who has taught me more about kindness with his big heart and how to have more of a go-with-the-flow mentality.  I have failed miserably to only pick myself back up and moved forward.  I have let others disappoint me, to only turn around and find my voice to initiate real, raw, and hard conversations.  I allowed emotions to sit deep and I also learned to set boundaries.

In thirteen years I set BIG and scary goals, and I fought for them silently, while others I publicized loud and proud.  Each goal significant to my journey.  Each goal a personal experience meant for me.  And in thirteen years I also allowed myself to enjoy the journey, forget the goals, and let life develop as it will.

Someone once said “if I didn’t know you, I’d really dislike you” in response to my over-achieving tendencies.   I am not sure I will ever forget that statement, because in some ways I have used that as fuel to always remind me I CAN do all the things.  Because, why not?  That statement also humbled (humbles) me and is a reminder that not every milestone achieved or experience lived has to be shared with the world.

.

Bottom line?

What the last 13 years have taught me is that hard decisions can often make room for growth opportunity beyond the capacity of your current mind.

You won’t understand how BIG the world is or how many opportunities await you if you don’t get out of the box you were raised in and allow yourself to unlearn behaviors and ideas that you were taught.

.

Re-read that.  I’ll wait.

.

It’s OK to think differently.

It’s OK to seek more.

It’s OK to do things that are the opposite of how you were raised.

It’s OK to FIND YOU!

Thirteen years and I am finally comfortable saying Omaha, Nebraska is my home.  Omaha has provided growth, opportunity, failure, love, friendships, risks, stability, adventure.

Thirteen years in Omaha has provided me…

ME.

…beer loving, Harley riding, fitness freak, education junkie, concert goin’, driven, focused, determined to do and be all that brings me joy… badass female.

.

My challenge for you?

Seek MORE.

What are you going to look back on at the end of your time on this earth and feel nothing but PRIDE and JOY over?  What fulfills you?  Are you doing it?  Are you seeking it out?  Are you doing things for YOU and NOT what society has told you, or maybe even how you were raised?  Are you following/doing/being because that’s what you feel connected to, or are you following/doing/being because it’s what you’ve been convinced/told/taught that it’s the only way?   What are you doing for you? And are you SURE it’s for YOU?  Do some soul searching, friends.  It’s a tough journey to go on, but self-awareness can bring much clarity.

Just promise me this… Don’t get to the end of your rope and wish you had done something more.  Go for it.  Today is your day.

Cheers!

Image result for serenity prayer

 

 

 

 

National Cat Day!

It’s no secret that I am a crazy cat lady.  What I don’t think you understand is what level of crazy I exist on.  I’ve got the shirts, the kitchen towels, the hat, the socks… let’s not forget the things I have for the cats.  Towers, tunnels, outdoor tent and toys on toys.

Let’s just say I need to add to my shirt collection with one that says

“I work hard so my cats can live a better life”.

Harley came along first in July of 2016.  SHE found Clint, is how he describes their meeting.  A stranded little baby lost in the cornfield out by the shop.  He adopted her and kept her “hired” as the shop cat until that November when he decided it was much too cold for a pretty girl to be left in a shop, so he brought her home.

And that is what started their daily travels back and forth between home and the shop for a few months.  Guys, what would you do if you rolled up next to a dude in a big ol work truck and saw this:

Harley and I did a few road trips of our own and she was the QUEEN of kisses on those travels.  I don’t know if it was her way of saying THANK YOU THIS IS AWESOME… or HOW MANY KISSES DO YOU NEED TO PROVE I LOVE YOU and PLEASE TAKE ME HOME!

 

Harley was our ornery cat who provided us our own “cat versus Christmas tree” scenarios in our very own living room.

Harley loved attention.  From snuggles:

 

to light paws on the face to divert your attention back to her:

or just a quick chat after a long hard day of napping…

 

She was the cat that got us over our heartbreak of losing Champ and Sasha.  We were dog peeps up until this crazy little nugget.

And then came Grimmy.

Named after a Gremlin… cute and cuddly and oh so sweet… but with one drop of water, that little bug turns into a lunatic and will attack the rubber-band on your arm while you sleep.

But, how can you not love that little bug when she curls up with you so sweetly?

.

We aquired Grimmy from my in-laws.  A stray at their house, they adopted her and brought her into their family of all dogs, but my FIL, being allergic to cats, started looking for a new home for her.  Of course I couldn’t resist and said “let’s give it a try”.

It took a while for Harley to warm up to Grimmy, which broke my heart for Harley because she was crazy pissed at us (there went the snuggles) BUT in return I got a LOT of snuggles in those early days from Grimmy.  If she could be in my arms, she was.  It was awesome.

And sometimes suffocating…

To say we are straight up obsessed with these fur balls is an understatement.  I won’t even tell you how many photos I have of them.   Trust me.  I know. There’s an album…

HAPPY NATIONAL CAT DAY!

And remember: Adopt, don’t shop.

Coffee & Cats

Guys.

If you didn’t think I was already crazy cat lady enough, go ahead and prepare yourself.  I took it next level.

New to Omaha: Felius Cat Café.

Felius is Omaha’s first and only nonprofit cat café! Their mission is to revolutionize Omaha’s cat adoption experience and reduce euthanasia rates.

I had the opportunity to sponsor a small part of the start-up costs and of course jumped on the chance.  And not because I am crazy cat lady…. well, partly… but also because I believe in the efforts being made across the U.S. to reduce the number of euthanized animals, increase the education surrounding owning and caring for pets, and the community based partnerships supporting animal care and rescue.  In this case, Wags to Riches has partnered up with Felius to provide adoptable cats!

(PayPal has me set up under my maiden name… I should fix that)

I follow a lot of cat rescuers on IG and have learned a lot on the topics of TNR, rescue, fostering, critical care and adoption.  Here’s looking at you kittenxlady, thecatcade, iamthecatphotogapher, littleman_mika, flatbuschcats, and others.

So while I comment often about my crazy cat lady ways in a funny/poke fun at myself way, I truly believe in the efforts being made to care for these little nuggets.  If you are lucky enough to own a cat from kitten to adulthood, you totally get their charm.

So, back to the post.  Felius is a cute little cat and coffee cafe located near downtown Omaha.

Photo courtesy of Felius, IG.

Patrons have the opportunity to play and connect with the cats on location while enjoying a cup of coffee or tea for a small fee.

Photo courtesy of Felius, IG.

I had my first visit last week and enjoyed an iced coffee and the company of a few cats for about 20 minutes.  While a few were pretty timid and working through trust issues and environment acclimation, a few others were ready to play!

.

.

.

.

.

This particular darling in the photo below wanted so badly to play, but always bailed at the last second and retreated to a safe zone.  I believe I would have been successful in building trust had it not been for the family with two younger kids coming in the room with me.  It’s hard to get kiddos to understand the trust factor in kittos. 😉

.

And don’t get me started on this lil snoozer.

.

The room is designed with 100% focus on cats and their mannerisms.  Plenty of things to climb, places to hide and comfortable spots to snooze.  There is an escape room, per say, where the cats access through a tunnel.  It is in that room where their litter boxes can be found as well as food and water dishes ( in addition to a few in the main room) but also where the cats can seek refuge from the human race.  Could you imagine being on display all day long?  I asked several questions about this tunnel and escape room as it was very intriguing to me, but also comforting to know exists for them.

.

With my sponsorship level I get a free hour visit every month.  I don’t know that I will utilize a full hour, but I definitely foresee a 30 minute lunch break in my future.  What better way to break up a work day then with some furry snuggles and play time?

Photo courtesy of Felius, IG.

You can check out Felius online by clicking here, or in person at 522½ S. 24th Street, Omaha, NE 68102.  If visiting in person just isn’t your thing, but you’d love to help support either organization, click on the below links for options!

Wags to Riches Amazon Wish List

Felius Donation

Cheers!

 

*All photos mine unless otherwise noted. 

A GalPal In Need | Brittany, the Artist Behind Saoi Photography

My favorite photographer and someone I’d consider a solid acquaintance as we’ve stayed connected over a period of 8 years is currently in need of support.  Brit of Saoi Photography, has in the past week been diagnosed with a brain tumor in her left frontal lobe.  In a matter of days she underwent surgery for removal, tests for the tumor were sent in (benign) and now she begins the many weeks of recovery.

brittany

As many small, private business owners know, it isn’t an option to miss work “unplanned”.  As Brit’s sole income is based on her artistry and vision, it comes without saying that her work is currently sidelined during recovery.  And without work, no income.  Without an income, finances become a struggle and medical bills pile.  Brit is not only a photographer but also a mom of two handsome little dudes.

brits boys

Brit is surrounded by folks from all walks of life thanks to her work but also her hobbies and interests.  She is a free-spirit, music-loving, hipster without being hipster because she is cool without the trendy classifications kind of chick.  Her vibe attracts her tribe, truly, and she has a kick-ass one.

Some of which have set up a Go Fund Me account for her to help with the costs associated.  If you are so inclined, please help by clicking HERE.

Her guy has a pretty sweet lineup of well-wishers as well and if you want to chime in, send something fun his way, or just follow along, on IG by clicking HERE.

Any and all can help this gal.What drew me to Brittany so many years ago is how relatable she is.   She’s someone that I knew would fit in with my crew and our personalities and I just KNEW I had to have her for our wedding.   And so began our history.

What drew me to Brittany so many years ago is how relatable she is.   She’s someone that I knew would fit in with my crew and our personalities and I just had to have her for our wedding.   And so began our history.

First our engagement photos:
32(2)

Then our Wedding.  This gang is full of nuts and I knew she’d fit right into our non-traditional vibe, and she did!  And she survived!  That is a true testament to her character, especially with those bad influence boys.

A6C561F1-5961-42E7-9EEC-23CC81982772

661B2B30-C54B-44F3-887B-40C969B28C15

6F765A5B-10C9-497C-9EF7-7E49D6DE13CB

And Family Photos in 2013

Family2013-021

 

Brit’s photography style has evolved so much over the years and it has been incredible to watch her artistic eye develop and change as she became more aware of her own styles and ideas of art.  I can’t WAIT to be in front of her lens again soon.

PLEASE, do yourself a favor and check out her webpage, Facebook and Instagram (<-all live links) for her work.  Give her a follow.  GIve her support.  She’s incredible.

And again, if you feel so inclined to give this galpal a helpful hand, please visit her GoFundMe account.

 

Cheers!

 

 

2018 Motto | Are You Living Yours?

Oh hey there kiddies!  Welcome to March 2018 AND my first post in the New Year!

So, what gives?

Life.   

Sweet Life.

 

The last word vomit I left you with surrounded the resolution trap and goal shift mentality.   Let me wrap up my long list of goals I set out for myself into what has become my 2018 motto:

 

Let Go Of The Bullshit.

Focus On The Real Shit.

 

.

Authenticity: Real Life application.

What is considered B.S. is going to differ from person to person.  Only you can decide and only you can act on it.  Each day provides an opportunity where you can learn from yourself and others and grow as a person.  As an INDIVIDUAL.  Evolve your authenticity.  Gut check, friends.   How authentic are you in what you put out to the world?

So, what are some things I have done to shift my mindset and focus on what is real to me?  I’ll give you a little insight and provide a few suggested takeaways, but not all.  Afterall, 2018 goals were to be a little less of a book and a little more of a mystery.  A bestie lives her life like this and I admire her for it.  My previous life REQUIRED me to be an open book.  And it was completely fine for that time.  Now, I think a little differently about what I share and how much.  I still share via social media (mainly my cats cuz I’m all about that #catmomlife) and I will certainly be sharing blog-worthy stuff once summer rolls around (hello… HARLEY LIFE) but shifting my focus of MUST SHARE EVERYTHING TO EVERYONE to, will share what feels right to me OR others.   Again, life of authenticity.

 

Friend Dates.  Each month of 2018 I have set dates (or vice versa) with friends.  In January I had 3 meaningful “dates” with different gals and in February I tallied up 4, whether it was an hour lunch during the week in the Old Market, a weekend brunch, a Jeep road trip or an adventure to a small neighboring town to watch the ever popular duck races, etc.

  1. I haven’t social media plastered all of it… with the exception of the duck race on Snap, because woah.  Y’all need to experience that redneckery.
  2. Instead, we used our time to focus on connecting about the positives in life, the truths of life, the HARD STUFF of life.
  3. One reconnection was merely about listening, reflecting, apologizing, understanding.  It was good for our souls.
  4. Most connections were just friends taking a REAL time-out for each other.  Not just social media shout-outs and tags (which are appropriate too, as long as it’s not the only means of connecting).
  5. I will continue to make these dates as the months continue on.  I truly have a lot of friends who I value for different reasons and want to continue making these meaningful connections.
    • Your Take Away:  Set up some friend dates.  Make it happen.  Even if just an hour of face to face time to reconnect.  Trust me, they will fill your cup up so full. ❤

Avoca, NE Duck Race Beer Tent: AKA the entire town.

Listening Skills

  1. The hubs work is demanding.  I don’t think anyone can truly understand what it means to be a business owner that is high profile and high demand with employees, partners and the like.  Add to that TWO businesses and I have an overworked, tired guy on my hands.  Literally never has a day off at home.  I promise you that.
  2. I am working really hard at listening and understanding but not providing as much commentary unless needed.  Being his outlet to vent.
  3. And Vice Versa… cuz LAWD knows my career (currently) is a wee bit high stress and he listens to it too.
    • Your Take Away: Talk less, listen more.  Truly HEAR what your spouse/Significant other is saying and be careful of what you say in return.  Maybe they aren’t seeking feedback.  Maybe you are a safe place for them to just talk.   So, listen.

Career

  1. It’s challenging.  But, it’s a good challenge as long as I shift my mentality to focus on how the challenge is making me a better leader.   Each day I set small attainable goals to achieve that will assist in keeping my focus on the here and now.
  2. Working on trying to worry less about the stuff/people I can’t control and are life suckers.
  3. Don’t be one of those work-life suckers…
  4. Flowers on desk are a total bonus
    • Your Take Away: Career changing LEADERSHIP advice: 

Before you assume, learn the facts. 

Before you judge, understand why. 

Before you speak, think. 

Before you hurt, feel.   

 

Selfish PERSONAL changes

  • I decreased the number of fitness classes I teach.  Don’t get me wrong… I LOVE the formats.  I don’t ever NOT want to teach these people I ADORE: 
  • But…
    • I have also found another gym that I love for ME and provides challenges beyond what I have been able to do for myself the last couple of years
    • I feel like a total Effin Bad Ass
    • I need to continue down this path because it has been mind changing, body changing, confidence changing.  And I have met some seriously incredible people that I get to connect with through sweat, tears, smiles, laughs and major milestones.  No one knows the pain exhilaration of a partner workout consisting of battle rope jacks, tire flips, dead-hangs, hollow-holds, etc then your partner who is side by side with you… and probably the one making you hold that damn hollow hold so long because they are still working on their required number of battle rope jacks.  Growing stronger together.  Physically & Mentally.   THAT is my happy place. 🙂
      • Your Take Away:  REMOVE anything from your life that is causing an unnecessary level of stress or nuisance to your CURRENT situation.  FIND something that challenges you and KEEP DOING IT!   Doesn’t have to be a new gym.  It doesn’t have to be a physical challenge.  Make it a mental challenge.  Doesn’t matter.   

GROWTH will never happen if you keep doing the same shiz.

 

I am going to leave you with that.   Make decisions each day that catapult you to who you are, what you stand for and what you want to be remembered by.   Be YOU, whoever that is.   And live authentically.

 

And for goodness sakes:

Let Go Of The Bullshit.

Focus On The Real Shit.

 

Cheers!