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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Happy 100!

June 28th, 2011 would have been just another Tuesday.

But something changed in me that Tuesday.  On that summer afternoon, I found the courage to start this blog, to write my very first post and publish it on the internet.  I had the intention of using my blog to keep in touch with my college friends who had since moved back home, and my high school friends who were in every corner of the United States.  I had been through a lot during the years leading up to June 28th, and though I had always kept a journal, this was different.  This was broadcasting my vulnerabilities.  Blogging meant communicating with strangers, that anyone could see what I had written and that I was exposed for the world to see. -- Something I had ABSOLUTELY NOT been okay with up until this point.

It's funny when I think about it.  I had spent so much time keeping my emotions and my thoughts a secret.  I was a very emotional athlete... and person in general.  I felt so deeply (still do), and though I had all of those feelings overwhelming me, I never wanted to talk about it.  I was always afraid of talking.  Writing though, writing was different.

I kept a journal through some very difficult times in my life.  But it was always very private.  I'm not ashamed to admit that I had an eating disorder, I'm also not ashamed to admit that I sought help for it.  I was depressed, anxiety ridden and anorexic.  A solid combination for NO MORE GYMNASTICS.  And that's exactly what I got.  I had a team doctor, an athletic trainer, a counselor, a therapist and a dietician working with my coaching staff and my roommates to keep tabs on me during all hours of the day.  I was never alone... and gone were the days when I would just write about my feelings, I had to talk.  I was also not allowed to do gymnastics.  I remember begging to practice for weeks... and finally giving in to the realization that no gymnastics was not a punishment... it was my reality.

My passion is helping these little girls have confidence
in themselves, and watching them create themselves.
Shortly after I started my blog, I came across a group on Twitter called, Team True Beauty.  This non-profit organization was started by girls my age to promote their tag line, "It's the size of your heart, not your waistline that matters."  I quickly started advocating for them, writing about them, promoting their posts on Twitter and Facebook, and keeping in touch with some of their members.  I even shared my story with them in the most open and ridiculously honest letter, thanking them for their support and for giving me the courage to finally share my struggles.

I then blogged about Team True Beauty and "spoke" openly for the first time about everything I had been through.  I heard from several people after that, thanking me for my honesty, congratulating me on my strength, and I was amazed at how many people had similar stories or people who had found their strength by hearing me share what I had been through.  It was an amazing feeling... and a new confidence was born.

My fears dwindled then, as I began to write more and more.  I had this faith in the written word.  I had always loved quotes, poetry and lyrics... and this was my way of deciphering them.  Taking the wisdom and words of someone great and dissecting their meaning so as to understand them better and grow in faith and knowledge; that was my purpose.  That was how I was going to navigate through life.

Christian rock star, Jamie Grace, paid tribute to OUR
Avery on her new album!  She is with me Averyday!
Then, last fall, I hit a wall with my writing.  One of my little gymnasts, a beautiful, amazing, spirited child of God, went home to be with Jesus long before any of us thought necessary.  When we lost Avery, I lost my way.  I couldn't eat.  I couldn't sleep.  I couldn't think.  How the hell was I supposed to write?  I will never forget thinking, "I am not old enough or mature enough to handle this."  It would be almost two months before I could even attempt to decipher what had just happened.  When I did, when I finally sat down to write about our God Girl, I found more comfort than I ever thought possible.  Don't get me wrong, I wasn't cured or anything.  I continued to mourn, and to this day, I think about her always... but there was something about communicating what I was going through that seemed to help me connect to so many people.

Over the past couple of years I've written about friends who inspire me, family members who encourage me, celebrities who stand up for what they believe in, songs with lyrics to remember, quotes to start your day with, bible verses to heal a broken heart and anything else you can possibly think of.  There is so much healing in the written word, so many things to learn, so many ideas to explore, and so much love to share.  That is what this blog is about.

Recently, I found another group that inspires me.  It is called, I Am That Girl, and they are rooted in promoting and developing the self-worth of young women everywhere!  I LOVE THIS!  The group is on a global mission to change the way that girls see themselves and see each other!  It's genius... seriously!  I just purchased the book, "I Am That Girl," written by the founder of the organization, and though I have only read the foreword, written by one of my biggest celebrity influences, Sophia Bush (seriously, guys, this girl is going to change the world), I CANNOT WAIT to sit down and devour this book.  I plan on writing a great deal about it and the ideas and inspirations I find within the pages.  I also plan on taking every piece of knowledge I obtain and smacking my girls over the head with it!  That is my job as a coach.  Sure, I want to build strong athletes.  But I wouldn't be a good coach if I didn't teach them to value themselves as women... not just gymnasts.  I may not have a global initiative at my hands to help girls discover themselves... but I've got about 200 little girls at my gym that I can help to build their confidence and encourage them to believe in themselves.
This new book is going to help me inspire
DOZENS of little girls (and collegiate athletes!)

I truly am one of the luckiest people on the planet.  I count my blessings every day and I am so thankful for all of the tremendous people in my life who have encouraged my writing and especially stood by me during some of the biggest challenges of my life.  You all know who you are.  You mean the world to me and you have all taught me about the real True Beauty in life.  You have also helped me to realize that I Am That Girl, because I have ambitions and I am no longer afraid to pursue them.

So, thank you, from the bottom of my heart for reading, for encouraging and for loving me for me... and for no other reason.  I, too, love you... for YOU.  Because You are BeYOUtiful both inside and out!  Here's to the next 100 posts!  :)

Love True,
Allison

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