Reflection: the 2017 CrossFit Open

 

 

In the past, the Open has been a time of stress anticipating the announcement of the workouts and often ended in disappointment in my results. But this year was different.  This year my overall goals were different, my approach was different, and I focused on the journey versus the outcome.

I was asked, “What would a successful Open season look like for you this year?” Below was my response:

  • Finishing 1st in the SoCal Military Division
  • Placing higher than 98th in the SoCal Region
  • Finishing injury free
  • Hitting all my personal goals for each Open workout

For this year’s Crossfit Open, I put my ego to the side and simply leveled up to each challenge with a realistic strategy based on the work I put in this season. I learned a lot about myself and I figured I’d share my thoughts and reflections.

  • Run your own race:
    • So many athletes get caught up in the results and scores of others that they forget to reflect on their own results.  This year I only looked at the leaderboard a handful of times. I was happy with my outcome for each event and I knew that once I compared myself to others that satisfaction would quickly disappear. So I made the choice not to.

“Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” John Wooden

IMG_7429

  • Enjoy the journey:
    • I learned that the less we are attached to outcomes, the better.  It is more fulfilling to reach our own standards.  In turn this caused a sense of pride and self respect.

6DC05967-9BCD-42F1-88C9-D3D5C7DC2E80

  • For me, doing the right thing is enough:
    • I realized that I am not defined by the CrossFit Open or the scores reflected on a leaderboard. I am content in knowing that I am enough because I value serving God, my Country, and my family.

“Ambition means tying your well-being to what other people say or do…Sanity means tying it to your own actions.” Marcus Aurelius

IMG_7509

  •  Integrity:
    • If your score is more important to you than doing the right thing when no one is looking, you are a coward. You are a coward for thinking that it is ok to take even one inch, one point, one second from those who do these workouts to standard.

“What matters to an active man is to do the right thing; whether the right thing comes to pass should not bother him.” Goethe

IMG_7432

  • Adapt and Overcome:
    •  During three out of five Open workouts, situations occured that would easily be an opt to quit. For example, I jumped on a broken rower during 17.4, then wasted 30 seconds to jump on a new one.  I was flustered and upset, and in 5 seconds I had thoughts running through my head of quitting and using this situation as a reason to start over.  Instead I used it as an opportunity to become mentally stronger and realized that with the right attitude, I was capable of staying calm and adjusting sails.
    • In life, situations present themselves that we did not plan for. It’s in these moments that our human will is tested and our choices, attitude, and actions determine the outcome.

“It is a beautiful thing to be able to take a seemingly terrible situation and make the most of them through acceptance, humility and strength. Resilience= throwing out the pity.  What we are aspiring to is much more than mere success but to be adaptable and able to handle what life throws at us.” – Ryan Holiday, Ego is the Enemy

IMG_7368

  • Learn:
    • No matter what you’ve done up until this point, you better still be a student.
    • I’ve been doing CrossFit since 2009 and have been training the past 4 years without any consistent coaching. Coaching myself, I have lost touch with a lot of foundational movements.  This can be humbling, since I’ve been in the sport for so long, but we are never too good to go back to the basics and we should always be a student of our sport.

IMG_7543

  • We all need somebody one step ahead of us:
    • If your ego is too big to train or compete with someone who is better than you, then  get used to always being second best.  We all need someone that is just a little faster, a little stronger, a littler smarter.

IMG_7324

  • Life will pass you by if you don’t go out and get it:
    • I considered not doing the CrossFit Open this year because I knew that I would’t qualify for regionals, yet I did it anyways. I did it because there was much more to gain than to lose. For those constantly saying, “Oh, I’m not ready, I’ll do the Open next year.”  We will never be completely ready, but we will regret more the things that we didn’t do vs the things we did do.

IMG_7493

Right before the Open, I started working with Dawn Fletcher of Mentality WOD who helped me tremendously. Not only did she assist in developing a strategy but also facilitated reflection after each workout. Overall, the 2017 CrossFit Open was a major success for me.  I finished 73rd  in the region (up from 98th in 2016), 3rd in the SoCal military division, abstained from injury, hit all my personal goals, and was able to enjoy the process. From the outside looking in, others may not agree that my performance was the best. But that’s what is so rewarding about running your own race and being in touch with yourself. It’s knowing that you did your best for the season of life that you are currently in, being proud of your accomplishments and yet still being hungry to improve and continue to do better each year.  For the first time ever, I actually ENJOYED the CrossFit Open.

 

 

 

Dear Self

Self Image: How YOU perceive yourself, can be very different from how the world sees you. It has the ability to make you doubtful OR confident in your abilities and ideas.  Created over time, it is often shaped by experiences and events with significant impact on your emotional well being.

  • What you think you look like.
  • What you believe others think of you.
  • What kind of character you think you portray.
  • What kind of personality you think you have.
  • What you think are your strengths and weaknesses.
  • What you perceive your social status to be.
  • How much you like yourself or think others like you.

img_2537

A Letter to My Younger Self

Dear Self,

You were uniquely designed. You are one of a kind.  You were not meant to be like anyone else.  You were created with certain features that no one else can reproduce, you were gifted with  talents, skills, strengths and weaknesses that all serve a purpose.  Your genetic build up molded you into the divine creature that you are.  Your ability to digest personal experiences and prompt critical thinking continue to set you apart from the crowd.  All the things and people that hurt you along the way are blessings in disguise. Your pain will break you down, yet it will build you back up stronger than before.  You are a young girl who feels lost in a big world, but your curiosity, perseverance and stubborn heart will  mature you into a fierce, unbreakable woman.

The other girls who laugh at your muscles and call you a man are jealous, insecure, and calling you names out of immaturity and a lack of knowing themselves.  The boys that laugh at you because you are taller laugh because they haven’t hit puberty yet and don’t like feeling inferior to your strong stature.  Your parents’ unhappiness and divorce is not your fault.  Your economic status does not define you or your future.  The other kids with unending allowances and financial support did not get that way because God loves them more.  Your standardized test scores will not make or break you.

You will not find happiness in boys.  You will not find happiness in alcohol or drugs.  The size of your clothes and the weight on the scale will not depict the number of genuine friends you will have in life.  Your failures will not define you.  The world may not understand you or see your heart the way you do.  The way you see yourself will create your reality.  If you hate yourself, you are incapable of loving another soul.  Learning to love yourself will be the most important thing you will do in this life. 

You will find happiness in loving yourself.  The number of genuine friends in your life will be weighed by the amount of love you are capable of giving and receiving.  In order to understand yourself, you must love yourself first.  There will not be happiness in your reality without love in your heart for the person you see when you look in the mirror.

Do not make decisions based on the opinions of others around you.  Do not place emphasis on materialistic items in life, for these things will add no value to your soul.  Hold onto your grandparents tightly.  Attend family dinners, play with your cousins, sit on your mom’s lap, day dream with your siblings and invest in relationships with family members.  Don’t get caught up on friends “liking you” for they will come and go, but family is forever.  Make memories, be silly, laugh hard, and don’t sweat the small things.

Dear Self, I love you.

Love,

Me

2016 in a NutShell

  • Rang in the New Year in Osaka, Japan.
  • Sold my Jeep, bought a Honda Civic.
    • In order to drive to Redlands CA from Camp Pendleton CA 3x a week.
  • Joined a LifeGroup with Shoreline Church.
  • Started morning devotionals and grew in my spiritual relationship with God.
  • Started a Blog.
  • Matt and I survived a deployment together. (Our relationship became much stronger)
  • Qualified for the California regionals with Team CDR.
  • Finished 2nd for military athletes in the CrossFit Open.
  • Place 4th at the California Regionals.
  • Became a Battalion S4 Logistics Officer.
  • Promoted a Sergeant to Staff Sergeant.
  • Promoted a Gunnery Sergeant to a Master Sergeant.
  • Served as the Officer In Charge of a Tactical Skills Package.
  • Went to New Orleans as a guest speaker for the Delta Life Fitness’ Annual World Con.
    • (Watched a fellow Marine transition out of the Marine Corps in order to run his dream business)
  • Watched one of my best friends carry and give birth to her first child while her husband was deployed.
  • Finished 7th place at the CrossFit Games with Team CDR.
  • GOT ENGAGED TO THE LOVE OF MY LIFE!!!!
  • Moved in with Elizabeth Koch and her amazing three children while her husband was deployed.
  • Spoke at Lincoln Middle School to an after school program.
  • Met Theresa Larson, Nicole Napoli, Lauren Schoener and so many other amazing people that have changed my life.
  • Attended the Marine Corps Ball with my Grandfather.
  • GOT BAPTIZED!
  • Started my own business…. Valkyrie Performance
  • Helped (5) women achieve their short term fitness goals and continuing to work towards long term.
  • Hosted my first women’s leadership seminar at 5.11 Tactical.
  • Became a 5.11 ambassador.
  • Traveled to San Francisco for the first time.
  • My LITTLE SISTER GOT ENGAGED.

While these are the highlights of my year, I want to genuinely express to everyone that with the highs came lots of lows. There were several days where I doubted myself. I doubted my abilities to be an effective leader and balance everything going on in my life. I doubted my abilities as an athlete and often times told myself that I should give up and wasn’t good enough to compete at the level I had dreamed of.  I doubted my relationship with Matt and told myself that he was better off finding someone better, someone who wasn’t as messy and as crazy as me. I doubted whether or not I was worthy of God’s love and a relationship with him.

For the first time in my life,  I lost a loved one.  My grandmother passed away.  Matt and I awoke to a phone call from my older sister who relayed the news.  I immediately burst into uncontrollable tears and experienced my first panic attack.   We almost lost my grandfather shortly after her passing.  I witnessed him literally almost die from a broken heart.  I saw the my whole family in a world of pain.  Her funeral was beautiful and hundreds showed up.  As the family walked in, and I counted the children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren I thanked God for bringing her to this earth and for the family she created.  Returning to regional training in preparation for the Games was extremely difficult for me.  I found myself randomly crying during training as I felt the pain of her being gone.

In November, I injured my shoulder from over use and under recovery.  I was out for a month, and was forced to realign my game plan as an unexpected obstacle came my way.  In this time I was able to shift my focus from what it had previously been and became thankful for the new journey God had taken me on.

2016 was a year that I will never forget.  I’d say it was the best year of my life, because it’s the year I came to really know Christ, and the year that I let go of childhood/teenage hurt that I had been holding onto for over 10 years.  In coming to know Christ, I really came to know myself, and I began to understand his purpose for me.   In this life I will set goals, make plans and prepare for the future, but I finally understand what unconditional love is and because I have felt it, I am now capable of giving it to others.

 

 

 

 

What is a Valkyrie Athlete?

She is spiritually connected and tranquil.
She hunts in the dark and lives in the light.
She is stunning, majestic and graceful.
She is ferocious, instinctive and protective of the weak.
She is respected by others.
She leads from the front and never backs down.
She does not conform.
She is a relentless seeker of education.
She is disciplined.
She executes skills with precision and complex teamwork.

Valkyrie Performance

Choose Courage Over Comfort

“I cannot teach anybody anything; I can only make them think.” – Socrates

     My good friend Andrew Kline posted a picture yesterday that stated, “Hang out with me for too long and I’ll brainwash you into thinking for yourself.” The quote resonated with me as I have witnessed and experienced organizational thinking and limited critical thinking at the personal level.  I’ve started to see fewer people ask “why?” and just aimlessly DO.

Good leaders will ask great questions, and one of those questions is “why?” When I say leaders, I mean anyone in a profession or role in life where others observe and emulate your behavior and look up to you for advice.  Leaders often fail to realize the impact of their actions.  Leadership is simply influence.  A great leader cannot make anyone do anything they do not want to do, a great leader is simply good at influencing others by what they SAY and DO themselves.

img_5914

As a female in the Marine Corps I’ve had several “suggestions”from others on how I should act, how I should lead, or even suggestions on major life decisions I should make for myself.  It didn’t take me long to start asking “why” in order to peel back the layers of the onion and get to the root of their intent.  It was often that I found that these suggestions were made based off of what that leader had been told for several years by other senior leaders, yet they had never stopped to ask “why” or form their own opinion.

img_5482

When I recently asked (40) women to fill out a questionnaire I had them list (3) personal strengths and weaknesses.  Upon reviewing the answers I concluded that, across the board, the most common weakness was mental toughness and self confidence.  What this tells me is that women are already putting more pressure on themselves in addition to selling themselves short before even attempting to go for the gold.  Believing in yourself is something that may take several years to accomplish, but it’s something that we are all capable of doing and it usually starts with finding someone who believes in you more than you believe in yourself.  When it comes to confidence, I believe this may take years as well, but it can start with something as simple as reading a book, doing research, surrounding yourself with innovative people who think outside the box and learning from them.

img_6010

As I’ve grown to understand how to utilize the combination of my natural born abilities, my personality and my past experiences I’ve come to realize my mission in life.  I understand that I was put on this earth to live out the purpose of influencing young women and inspiring them to reach their full potential, encouraging them to think outside the box.  I understand the pressure that women feel from society and I’ve managed to find myself despite what others say.  There are thousands and thousands of women on this earth who have natural talents, radiating personalities, and unique, often painful experiences that have shaped them to be strong and courageous. These women are lionesses just waiting to be let out of their cage.

I’m currently working with 6 women athletes and of those I have slowly, but surely started to see their mental shift.  Of these women (1) is a deputy Sheriff on a journey to be the first female in her local K-9 Unit, (1) is on a journey to be the first female and only Marine to lead an NCIS operation at her Unit, (1) is a softball player preparing to become a Marine Officer, (1) is preparing for The Basic School, (1) is a fire fighter and in the process of joining the military reserve, and (1) is a new mother who is training for the CrossFit Games.  Of these women I see nothing but potential and limitless capabilities.  They have all had experiences where males have judged them, questioned them, made their lives a little harder due to their gender, but these women aren’t backing down.

My message to the rest of the women who aren’t reaching their full potential, is to start asking “why?” Do not conform to the patterns of this world, yet let your minds be completely renewed and do not let it be shaped by the opinions of small minded individuals.  Form your own pattern of thinking and relentlessly pursue your purpose.  Choose courage over comfort and pave the path for the future generation that is waiting to be lead by your example.

If you or anyone you know is interested in working with me, please send an email to Taylordresch3@gmail.com or check out Valkyrieperformance.com

5 Women You and Your Daughters Should Know

The women listed below are women I respect, admire and think about when times get tough. These women emulate beauty in strength and demonstrate perseverance daily despite gender stereotypes and society’s perceptions.  These are the women that have set an example that I have chosen to follow. They are women that I look up to, and I hope that they will inspire you as well.


Ronda Rousey

Despite nay sayers opinions, Ronda has created the life she has dreamt of.  She is the person that God intended for her to be, and she is an unstoppable force.  She has set the example for girls and women of all ages throughout the world of what it looks like to fight hard every single day.

img_5874


Laura Phelps Sweatt

Aside from the fact that Laura holds more World Records in Powerlifting than any other female to ever live, she is one of the most authentic and humble individuals I have ever met.  She has redefined what it means to be strong and demonstrated through her daily actions what it looks like to be a trail blazer and help other women reach their full potential.

img_5875


Andrea Writt

Andrea holds the female record for the fasted double obstacle course time at the Officer Candidate School (OCS) in Quantico, VA.  She can complete 25 dead hang strict pull ups at a moments notice and can climb a rope faster than most men I’ve met.  She is currently studying space engineering at Monterey.  She is feminine and beautiful yet exemplifies an aggressive demenour, toughness, and has what it takes to lead the sons and daughters of America.  She is one of my best and most loyal friends.

img_5878


Merisa Downs

Merisa is a Christian, wife, mother, athlete and LA Police Officer.  She risks her life daily in order to defend and protect our beloved Country.  She is one of the most influential women in my life when it comes to being a servant of God and showing genuine love and care for others.  She is a fighter and lover all in one.

img_5876


Theresa Larson

Theresa came into my life at a pivotal time, when I was seeking guidance and advice on how to transition out of the Corps.  She has reeled me in with her shining personality, her devotion to our Country, and her leadership by example.  She is a true warrior, beautiful person inside and out, as well as soon to be mother.

img_5880

My Da

A few weeks back, I had the amazing opportunity of attending the 241st Marine Corps Birthday Ball with my hero, my Da (my grandfather.)   He served 33 years in the Marine Corps, with a bio, experiences and stories of a true legend. He is without a doubt one of the greatest Americans I know.

img_5390

As we got ready for the ball we prepped our medals and aligned them according to standards.  We ensured all necessary items were accounted for and laid them out the night prior as all squared away Marines would do.  We placed his mini medals on his tux along with his aerial observer wings,  dive bubble, and jump wings.  We placed his Ranger tab on the right side of his tux.  He said upon graduation of Ranger school, the instructor placed the tab on his cammies.  He walked away and put them into his pocket, and the instructor asked why he removed them?  He said, “we are Marines, we didn’t come for the tab, we came for the training.”  He’d never had the opportunity to wear that tab since earning it, and he took delight in wearing it on his tuxedo.

img_5410

As we walked into the event together, arm in arm, the moment was surreal.  I was walking next to the man whom I had aspired to be like, I was wearing the the Eagle Globe and Anchor that he had earned.  I felt an overwhelming sense of pride and my heart was bursting with joy.   As I write this, my eyes fill with tears as I relive the intense emotions I felt that evening.  He looked at me and said, “My dear, everyone is staring at us.” I said, “why do you say that?”  He said, ” a silver star recipient and the prettiest Marine Officer are walking into this Huntsville ball, everyone is staring at us.”  We laughed together and went on to enjoy one of the most joyful evenings of my life.

img_5409

Since my Nini’s passing I have not been able to spend much time with my Grandfather.  He mentioned that of all the trials and challenges in his life, loosing her was by far the hardest.  I know the sadness he feels in his heart, and I continue to worry for his happiness and health, but while at the ball I saw another side of him.   He was so happy to be surrounded by Marines.  He was young again, he had an extra pep in his step, he stood a little taller and he spoke of Nini to everyone at our table.

img_2060

While watching the young couples dance the night away, I asked my Da, “of all the Marine Corps Balls that you and Nini went to, which one was your favorite?”  He said, “The very first.   She didn’t come from much money, and neither of us had enjoyed an evening like that before.  I enjoyed be able to provide that for her for the first time.”  We both wished she could have been there, but knew that she was looking down over us.

img_0982

On our way out we stopped to get our photo taken.  Which he had traditionally taken with my Grandmother.  These photos are the photos my sister and I constantly looked at as little girls.  As we took the photo, it amazed me how life had come full circle.  How the little girl admiring her grandfather growing up, was now a grown woman and a Marine Officer herself.  The impact that my Grandparent’s actions have had on my life are indescribable.  I can only hope to be half the Grandparents that they were to me.  I strive to someday be standing next to my Grandchildren feeling the same sense of joy, pride and happiness as he.

To Someone Who is Struggling in a Dark Place With Little Hope…

“Never give up on a dream because of the time it will take to get there, the time will pass anyways.”

To someone who is struggling in a dark place with little hope…..do not give up. Do not loose sight of the vision you see when you close your eyes and your head hits the pillow. Don’t push away the thoughts that first enter your mind when you awake each day. Don’t tell yourself you’re not good enough.  Choose to accept the challenges you are presented with.  Overcome them, learn from them, teach others about them.  See them as obstacles that you will overcome throughout your journey in route to your destination.

You were meant for something great. You are capable of becoming whoever and whatever you want to become. Don’t back down.  Pray like it depends on God and work like it depends on you.  Live each day as if you will not see tomorrow. Love yourself, love others and be the light that others need in a dark world.

Tell others about your dreams, but show them results through your actions.  Surround yourself passionate people, people who remind you how amazing you are.  When someone tells you that you are great, believe them and believe in yourself.  Follow your heart and do things that fulfill you. Don’t let anyone direct your life or tell you which roads to take. Whatever it is that you want in this life, just don’t stop.

 

 

Rise Above It

I’ve mentioned Shane and Laura Phelps Sweatt several times in my posts, but that’s because without them in my life I wouldn’t even be half the woman I am today. I met them at a pivotal phase in my life, at such a young influential stage, where their impressions on me were everlasting and metamorphic.   You see, building our physical strength and changing our appearance on the outside can happen rather quickly, but evolving the heart and mind takes much longer.

image

We are influenced in some way or another by each individual we encounter. We  have the ability to choose what we absorb and what we discard. I saw something unique in Shane and Laura that I had never witnessed before. I chose to seek personal growth and mentorship daily.  I can’t imagine where my life would be without them. I feel very grateful to have had mentors that showed me the sacrifices it would take to become great.  Laura, the world’s strongest woman, is the most talented, yet humble individual I know.  While I trained with her, I witnessed her suffer the harsh lash outs of cowards that sat behind a computer screen ripping her apart with cruel comments.  She would describe the things that  people said and I couldn’t wrap my mind around why people would say such things.  Shane always knew what to say to get her head back up.  She kept training despite her emotions and put one foot in front of the other.

As an athletic woman, as a Marine, and as someone who chooses to be different, I have experienced similar experiences. To hear or read hateful comments from strangers and/or peers is a feeling that will always pierce your heart and make you second guess yourself.  So how can we overcome the “haters” the “naysayers” the jealous peers and the small minded, uneducated individuals that get joy out of putting others down?

Rise Above It By choosing to get to know yourself more than you invest in getting to know anyone else. We are living in a world where people will point their fingers at you all day, openly hate the things you are doing, and yet they don’t even know who they really are. Choose to love yourself. “Dear you, make peace with the mirror and watch the reflection change.” Author Unknown

image

Rise Above It By choosing to surround yourself with people better, smarter, stronger, faster, kinder, and more humble than you.  Surround yourself with people that have qualities that you want to emulate, people that have sound character and ethics that you agree with. Surround yourself with people that want to lift you up and not put you down, people who don’t make fun of you for eating different, training harder, not partying, and devoting time to bettering yourself. Surround yourself with people who hold you accountable and don’t let you make up excuses. “Run with the Lame, develop a limp.” Louie Simmons

image

Rise Above It By taking the high road.  Do not immaturely respond to their posts or comments, choose not to stoop to their level or play their games.   (Although among peers, I do believe that once the emotion has gone away, speaking to the individual in a respectful and private manner in order to stop the actions from happening in the future is necessary. If you can’t resolve it one on one, then bringing a third party and more senior individual is recommended.)  “Show respect even to people who don’t deserve it; not as a reflection of their character, but as a reflection of yours.” Dave Willis 

image

Rise Above It By  feeling it, absorbing it, and letting it dissolve.  There is no way to stop the initial emotion of hearing and feeling the harsh words. Feel it, let it sting for a moment, handle it in private, talk to God about it, talk to someone who loves you about it, but once you’re done feeling it, let it go.  Let it dissolve, let it roll off your back and use it as fuel to you fire.  Fuel for you to prove to YOURSELF, that you are better than that, and that you will do whatever you set your mind to. “I am building a fire, and everyday I train, I add more fuel.  At just the right moment, I light the match.” Mia Hamm 

image

Rise Above It By disciplining your mind to stay so focused on your goals that no level of adversity can stop you. Train your mind to utilize positive self talk and reinforce appraisal in daily small successes. Each day is a miracle and will never happen again, chose to make the most of all challenges, reflect on your weak points and plan to overcome them.   “It takes discipline to focus only on high-value targets instead of giving in to the temptation of the low-hanging fruit that life serves up daily.” Mark Divine

image

At first people will laugh at you, and then the same people who doubted you, will talk about how they used to know you.  Dare to be different. Go boldy in the direction of your dreams. Don’t let anyone’s words derail you. Stay your path and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Rise to the top, and when you look back, bring others up with you. 

You Don’t Need Permission

I’ll never forget the day that I told my father I wanted to join the United States Marine Corps.  We had just wrapped up a week of events at the CMA festival with a group of veterans from the Wounded Warrior Project.  I had met an above the knee amputee and his wife who were both Marines.  At this time I was 19 years old, a sophomore in college, and she was the first female Marine I had ever met.

dad-and-me-cma
My Father and I at the CMA Festival in 2009

To give you a little bit of my family background, my grandfather served in the Marine Corps for 33 years and my father served for about 25.  I had grown up around Marines.  I was  taught the values of the Corps starting at a very young age,  and I learned that others sacrificed in order to defend our freedom.  I always felt a desire to support the military, but I NEVER thought that I could serve our country.  To be honest, I thought, “I’ll just marry a Marine!” (Which ironically, I am going to marry one, but we are BOTH Marines! Even better.)

Upon the conclusion of the CMA festival, I asked my father if we could meet for lunch in order to discuss a few things.  We sat down and the first words out of his mouth were, “You’re not pregnant are you?!” I said, “No!” He said, “You don’t want to be a Marine do you!?”  (As if that were the second worst thing he could guess) I said, “Yes Sir, I do.” I remember being particularly nervous for that conversation because growing up I had always heard my dad say, “I would never allow my daughters to be Marines.”  I believe this was due to the fact that while he was an attorney for the USMC  he worked on multiple sexual assault cases, and naturally did not want his daughters subject to those kinds of acts.

He will admit that he believed I was just in a phase that would soon wear off, once the motivation of the week died down, he thought this goal would fade away. Well, the motivation never died down, and this goal slowly came to fruition.

When I arrived back to the University of Louisville, I called the Officer Selection Office  (OSO) in Lexington, Ky. (Find Your Officer Selection Officer ) A Staff Sergeant answered the phone and proceeded to interview me.   If you know me, you know that my voice doesn’t match my build, it’s very high pitched and girly!  I told him I was a cheerleader at the University of Louisville and by my description and my voice,  he didn’t think he was speaking to anyone with much potential to be a United States Marine.   We scheduled an initial physical fitness test (PFT) and met about a week later.

cheerwpn
Military Appreciation Day at a UofL Football Game

Reflecting back on these moments, they are reminders of the very small obstacles that I chose to work through from the very beginning.  I didn’t know if I had what it took to become a Marine?! I didn’t know what the other women serving would be like. I didn’t know if my friends and family would accept this career path.  All of these negative thoughts were outweighed when I was surrounded by the caliber of individuals that I met through the Wounded Warrior Project.  Seeing their sacrifice really put things into perspective.  I decided that I couldn’t let these self inflicted negative thoughts hold me back.  I felt like I was capable of serving too.

Why did I grow up thinking, “I’ll marry a Marine” vs. “I want to be a Marine!” For whatever reason, I believe a lot has to do with the way society has painted a picture of what women are supposed to be.  Society expects women to be nurturing mothers and care takers, to maintain a certain physique and dress a certain way, always pleasing to the eye and polite.  Men are taught to be rugged, tough, driven and to work hard in order to get to the top.  “Most leadership positions are held by men, so women don’t expect to achieve them, and that becomes one of the reasons they don’t. ” Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In.  When I met someone who was different, a female Marine, I saw potential to be different too.

469348_3983512315151_872133596_o
Master Sergeant “Spanky” Gibson, the above knee amputee I met in 2009, rendering the first salute at my commissioning ceremony in 2011. 

I felt like I needed “permission” from my father.  While he did give me his blessing, what if he had not?  Would I have chosen to continue to pursue this goal?  I’d like to think so.  If any of you are struggling with feeling like you need permission from others to pursue your goals, the answer is….you don’t!  We are given one life to live and the clock is ticking.  Make the most out of this life that God has blessed you with.  Pursue challenges that scare you.  Don’t let the opinions of others delay you from achieving the success you deserve. Drown out the fear of uncertainty and aggressively live out your dreams.

470181_3983505674985_1121197273_o-2
My father’s speech at the Commissioning Ceremony after he read me the Oath of Office.