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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Chasing Dreams

I AM THAT GIRL is full of amazing wisdom from incredible
women of different generations!
I've had some pretty big dreams in my life. Go to the Olympics and become a famous actress are two from my childhood.  Those dreams, as lofty as they were, are still hard to let go of, even as I am nearly 28 years old. You see, no gymnast ever settles for the idea that she will never learn another skill. Until, perhaps, they are 28 years old and foam pits are the only landing surface that seem remotely safe. And I can honestly say, the feeling I get while watching an amazing piece of film or one of my favorite actresses in an inspiring scene, keeps the acting flame burning deep in my soul.

And there have been many other dreams along the way.
Life is a long journey, and if our dreams weren't currently being updated up in those big beautiful heads of ours… I'd still be day dreaming about Rio 2016…

I know what you're all thinking. HA!

One of my biggest dreams that I've been developing over the past few years might seem so simple, and yet, I can't put a specific goal or deadline on it. You see, I want to make a difference.

My day to day inspiration and motivation to continue
inspiring others… my GymHawks!
Again, let me state that I have no idea what all this dream entails. I don't know where pursuing this desire will take me, and I don't know if it will ever be something I can fully achieve.  I can tell you, however, I am taking small steps toward accomplishing that goal and whatever it means for me and those around me.

If you've been following my blog over the past six months, you know I've fallen in love with a non-profit organization called, I AM THAT GIRL. It is a group who's mission is to inspire girls of all ages to be themselves, to embrace their inner beauty and to follow all of their ambitions in life. Being THAT GIRL means something different to each person, and figuring out what makes you THAT GIRL is what this group is all about! They have an amazing website on which contributors are constantly posting uplifting and inspiring articles about almost everything. The topics that are discussed are generational and completely relevant to all women. I LOVE THIS GROUP!

Anyone looking for a motivational read, whether you're 12
or 82, I highly recommend this book! (I wish I'd have read
it at age 12!)
Well, folks, I will soon be contributing to I AM THAT GIRL on a regular basis. That's right, yours truly will be submitting articles as a guest blogger once a month! I am so elated to be a part of this incredible organization and to contribute to this truly inspiring mission! As women, we need to stick together and work hard to inspire one another and encourage positivity and collaboration.

So, I won't exactly be saving the world, but in my own small way, I'm contributing to a greater cause. And that, my friends, is a dream come true for me.

What is something you dream of doing? Take one step, even if it is just a tip toe, in the direction of your dreams. You won't regret it!

Love True,
Allison



Please check out I AM THAT GIRL on their website, or on Facebook!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Shake it Off

 Taylor Swift is brilliant. Period. And her new song, along with its epic music video, has completely sealed her spot on the top of my “cool list.” You see, unlike most twenty somethings, Taylor has uncovered a piece of wisdom that most people don’t discover until late adulthood. It’s something so simple, and so essential to our happiness; I sometimes wonder why more people don’t advocate for it.
This is how we LOVE life! No shame, baby!

Shake it off.

Admittedly, sometimes shaking it off isn’t as simple as it sounds. Sometimes our feelings are hurt, someone lets us down or life catches up to us at an inopportune moment. When those things happen, our first thought is rarely, “Wow, that was a shame, I guess I’ll get over it now.” Typically, as humans, and albeit, women, we get emotional in situations like this. Why? Because it’s a natural reaction to stress. Our initial response to stress is a reflex, and almost always something we cannot control.

For example, a small child who falls off of her bike may cry instantaneously! The tears are instigated by fear, the impulse reaction to what happened. However, if she sits there for a moment and realizes that she isn’t actually injured or in any danger, she’ll calm down.

You see, we can’t control our immediate response to what happens to us. Whether the emotion is fear, despair, joy, dread, sadness, excitement, etc. That first initial shock happens with or without our consent.  What we can control is the next thing that happens. How we react to certain situations is completely in our control. Hopefully you will have more joys and excitements than fear or anger.  However, when those situations present themselves to you, and your initial shock has worn off, do your best to make like Taylor Swift, and “Shake it Off.” I promise, doing this will save you energy, heartache and pain. 


And when it get’s difficult to shake it off, go ahead and dance along to Taylor’s music video… that is sure to help get anyone out of a funk. Life is way to great to waste it holding on to bad mojo!



Love True,
Allison

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Love

The first time I held my God Daughter,
Quinn. #indescribableLove
Over the summer I have had several weddings, graduation parties, anniversary parties and family get togethers where I've spent time and reconnected with several different types of people.  Whether they were high school friends, friends of my parents, family members or friends of the family, new friends and old friends alike… everyone wants to know one thing…

"Are you seeing anyone." Cue sympathetic head nod and pat on the shoulder when I very confidently respond, "Nope!"

Now, I am going to do my best to refrain from hopping up on a soap box and ranting about why it's nobody's damn business why I'm single, and it would be easy to shake it off (even though it happens ALL THE FREAKING TIME) if it weren't for the condescending head nods.  Why on Earth does the fact that I am single, and happy, by the way, warrant a gesture you would give someone who's dog just died?
30 years of marriage selfie.
#superLove

---end rant---

Coaching my favorite collegiate girls.
#ultraLove
I do see the sweet side of these comments.  I know that in asking, people are typically only wishing me well and hoping for happiness.  And despite my tactless rant above… I do appreciate that people care.  A lot.  I am a very lucky girl, and though I am single, and happy, I do want all of those people to know that I haven't given up on love.

I see it every day.  I have two amazing parents who celebrated their 30th anniversary this summer.  I have friends who have taken vows and shared love to create beautiful children.


These faces… and their #trueLove
I also, experience love every day in the amazing souls I get to work with in the gym.  Gymnastics… my first love.

I know that none of these examples pair me with the man of my dreams and tell my happily ever after story.  However, I know that's coming.  It may be soon, and it may be years away (let's all keep praying for sooner rather than later), but it'll happen when it's supposed to.

So thank you, to those who care enough to ask… and forgive the snarky remarks from this sarcastic writer.  Yes, I am currently flying solo.  No, I don't hate you for making it awkward.  And yes, I still believe in love.

And this song will prove it.

Jana Kramer- "Love"

Thanks Jana, for your sweet and inspiring song.

Love True,

Allison

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Girlfriends

Our epic weekend in the city.
It is amazing what you can learn from watching friends interact with each other.  I spent three days with four of my closest friends in one of the greatest cites in the world.  We ate (A TON) we drank wine (in GIGANTIC quantities) and spent a wonderful day at the beach.  But the sun, the wine and the food were not the therapy here… it was the conversation, the comfort and the sheer joy of being in each other's company. There's just something about girlfriends… you may not even know you need it, but there's a healing power in spending time with your best friends.

I'm lucky, because I have two pretty amazing groups of friends.  I have my high school "soul mates" as I call them… and my college "sisters."  Both groups of friends are incredibly dear to my heart, and I'm not sure I could survive without them. 

Blessings, each and every one of them.

In knowing I have all of these amazing people in my life, it's can be hard not to be jealous at times.  Especially, when talking with friends who are in different stages in their life than you, perspective can always fall from view.

Someone always makes WAY more money than the rest of us, someone had the most GLAMOUROUS wedding, someone has a BEAUTIFUL baby, someone's job makes them INCREDIBLY happy, someone is taking the BEST vacation, someone has the most GORGEOUS engagement ring...

Those things… I like to call the "Facebook worthy material," while all are amazing things to have, don't all typically happen to one person (if you have them all… I want to know your story).  

Instead, when you get past the Facebook notifications, and are able to spend time with the people you love, you can learn some pretty amazing things.


The wine was good, the laughter abundant and the love
between friends… stronger than ever.
For instance, we are all still the person we were in High School (to a certain extent).  One of my favorite parts of spending time together is reconnecting with these old versions of ourselves.  The versions we may have left behind when we went to college and have since dwindled away a bit.   Spending time with my high school friends reminds me of the girl I was 10 years ago.

But, as amazing as it is to revisit the past, my favorite part of reconnecting with these ladies is getting to know the people they are NOW.  How they've grown, how they've changed… and how their past has shaped them into these amazingly strong and beautiful individuals.

If this is what womanhood is all about, then I am content.

I had the opportunity to hang out with a younger generation recently.  Three friends who have spent the better part of a decade with each other… and they're only eighteen.

Me and "the three best friends that
anyone could have" ;-)
My much younger sister recently went off to college.  Two days before her departure, I spent a whole day with her and her two best friends.  The three of them have been inseparable since they were about 8 years old, and I wanted to treat them to one last day together before they went their different ways.

They could have picked anything to do that day… a trip to Chicago, a mani-pedi, a day at the mall, movie, fancy dinner… you name it.

Canoeing.

They chose to spend the day floating down a river in crummy old canoes, eating a packed lunch,  getting hot and sweaty.  Needless to say, it was a freaking awesome day.

We headed out early, driving about an hour to the canoe rental.  They talked about their friends, their boyfriends and going to college.  They sang out loud to songs on the radio and started snapping pictures to document the day.  Their biggest concern in life was that they were going to three separate schools, and I could feel a tiny bit of desperation coming from the back seat.  They loved each other, and missing each other terrified them.

Can I go back to being 18?

We spent 4 hours on the river that day.  Floating side by side in two canoes, my baby sister with me, her two best friends to our left.  I remember thinking how perfect the day was.  It was about 80 degrees with a lovely breeze.  We floated along in our swim suits, playing country music, laughing about their pre-college adventures, and simply enjoying each other's company.  We ate lunch on the water, (they) got teary eyed at the concept of leaving each other, and (I) felt a bittersweet and heartfelt similarity to the friendship I shared with my high school soul mates.  Amy, Krissy and Kasey
are living our sisterhood just a decade behind us.

The love they have for each other is so pure and heartfelt.
The thing about growing up, that no one tells you, is that your past will sometimes sneak up and smack you on head.  Listening to their stories that day on the river, brought me right back to that terrified feeling that I had when I went off to college.  Letting go of your 'normal' is hard, and moving into the unknown can be terrifying.  But I know that if I hadn't made that big leap of faith when I was 18 years old, I would have missed out on some incredible opportunities, and some pretty amazing people.

So, to my beautiful baby sister and her soul mates:  Keep on keepin' on as best friends… show your love and your support and be proud of each other in everything you do.  But DO NOT be fearful of what lies ahead, because you will always take a piece of each other with you.  Share your friendships and your hearts with everyone you meet.  Because if you're lucky… you'll be like me.  You'll have your soul mates, and your sisters… and your life will not be complete without either.

Love True,

Allison

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Second Summer

Avery's mom in Haiti… look what she found!!
This was the second summer without Avery.  I've gotten pretty good at talking about her.  Referring to her, smiling when the kids talk about her or laughing at a story about her… public situations are typically easy for me now.  It's the quiet moments when one of the girls says something that reminds me of her, or another little girl named Avery makes an appearance in my world, where I struggle.  It's teaching a quiet kid how to do a cartwheel on beam and sticking it out with her until she lands it, and lands it, and lands it (and wants to make sure you see each and every single one) that brings me to tears.  It's looking on Facebook and seeing her mom in Haiti at an orphanage with a boy wearing the "All day Averyday" t-shirt that I designed.  The hardest part, is seeing life go on around me, all these kids who were in her class start competing, and realizing that she still won't.  Nearly 400 kids came to camp this summer, and she was not one of them.  That hardly seemed fair.

Except she was there.



The first time we took this picture, I had my arm around
Avery.  Now, I feel her arms around me.
She was there when the little girl who was crying at check in didn't want to leave her mom.

She was there when a little girl lost her tooth, and one of our counselors had to "play" the tooth fairy.

She was there when a second little girl lost her tooth and the UWW tooth fairy made another appearance.

She was there with us every evening as we left the gym to a pink sky on the horizon.


She was there when we took our Team Photo at the park, the way we do every year.

She was there with every child who felt homesick or tired or missed their Mom.

She was there when one counselor sat up in the dorm with two eight year olds and read stories to them until 3am.

She was there when we were taking care of kids who felt sick, were sick, or pretended to be sick.

She was there on a rough day when I looked up and saw a little girl wearing a sweatshirt that said, "I have the right to remain silent about Jesus… but I won't."

My girls.  Preparing for competition, knowing their friend
is always looking over them.
Oh… how Avery would have LOVED that shirt.  That was the moment, in one of my most exhausted days when I realized that no matter how many years pass by, Avery is always going to be a part of what we do at GymHawks.

And that, in its amazing comfort, helps me to feel a little bit more alright.

Love True,

Allison