The Practice of Putting Pen to Paper

I received a message from a woman on instagram asking me some very specific questions pertaining to journaling. I figured I would answer her questions by creating a blog so that others could benefit from it as well.

In a world full of electronic devices, to me, there is something timeless and meaningful about keeping hard copy journals. I love to capture what is going on inside of my crazy brain and put it on paper. I love the idea of writing something down and getting one step closer to making a goal become reality. I love the idea of investing in myself daily in order to shape the foundation of my character, feed my desire to learn, and fuel my day through sharpening my perspective on gratitude, scripture and positivity.

When do you journal?

My coach Dawn, made it a priority for me to set aside a minimum of 20 minutes a day to commit to “Quiet Quality Time.” Quiet Quality time means…no electronics, no texting between thoughts, no conversations or interruptions from people around you, no social media (until you’re done-I like to share what I learned via my instagram story!) it’s just you, God and your thoughts.  It took a while for this to become a solid habit for me. But now that it has, I can’t have a solid day without it.  I like to START my day with this practice.  Sometimes it will occur in the afternoon or evening, but I’ve found that it was easier for me to make it a habit by completing it roughly the same time each day.

I usually make a cup of coffee, come out to my sun room, close the door, silence my phone and begin with reading a page from The Daily Stoic.  (Sometimes I like to switch up the location- I’ll go to a coffee shop, go to a remote quiet place outside like a park or some place along the river.) The Daily Stoic is a book with 366 one page reads on wisdom, perseverance, and the art of living, written by Ryan Holiday.  Following that, I complete my Daily Devotion (from several devotional books or plans on the Bible app-I’m currently completing “Unquestionable Character: A 21 day Study in Stewardship”  author is unknown- but I highly recommend anything from Joyce Myer!) The plan has a reading portion, called “devotional content,” then a few Bible verses.  I write the verses down in my journal– and then look them up in my Bible. Once I finish reading the scripture I write down my takeaways from the devotion and usually re-write the verses in my journal. I write out a little bit about how I feel that day, current events, stressors, worries, concerns, goals, things I’d like God to help me with. Then I pray. 

One practice that I often use is to write out 3 positive things that happened the day before and 3 things that I am grateful for.

IMG_1153

How do you set it up daily/weekly monthly?

WEEKLY: This is an example of a separate notepad that I use to write out my notes for the week. This is where I take all of those tasks that usually become stressors and categorize them. (BTW this also helps put things into perspective- by realizing that you’re “stressors” are usually not really as big of a deal as you make them up to be.) This allows me to complete them in order of priority throughout the week. You can create your own categories. Some examples of categories would be; SPIRITUAL, WIFE, MOTHER,PASSION, SERVICE, WORK, SISTER, ATHLETE, APPOINTMENTS, and OTHER….ect.

IMG_1156

MONTHLY: I keep a hard copy of a calendar where I write down all of my weekly and monthly appointments. In addition to that, I highly recommend creating a Dreamline every six months.  My friends Alexis and Hannah taught me this practice. I completed the Dreamline below in December of 2016 before I got out of the Marine Corps. Creating this visual was very helpful, it created a tentative path for me, even  if I didn’t stay completely on track,  I knew the general direction of where I wanted to go.  Another great practice is to write out where you see yourself in 1 year, 3 years and 5 years.

IMG_1159

Do you incorporate words of affirmation or quotes?

YES! I love writing down my favorite Bible verses and quotes. I also like to write down definitions of strong words. When I read a book I always tab, highlight, circle, and write down the most significant lines into my journal.

IMG_1161

Do you have a separate fitness journal?

Yes. I keep a separate fitness journal, which I call a “workout log.”  I have workout logs from as far back as 2009. I like to pull them off of my bookshelf every now and then and read through them.  It’s amazing to see your personal progress.  It’s so easy to compare yourself to those around you, but when you compare yourself to who you were in 2012 and you can see the results in front of you, it’s reassuring that you’re doing something right!

IMG_1160

IMG_1155

Does it help you achieve your goals?

YES.  Writing down a goal does not guarantee that you will accomplish it but it does increase your chances.

IMG_1162

There are many ways to journal and there is NO right or wrong way. The fun part about journaling is that you get to decide how you want to do it.  For the next 21 days I challenge you to consistently invest in yourself for 20 minutes a day.  At the end of each session share your post on your instgram story, tag me TayGaladyk, with the HashTag #PenToPaper. (You never know who you will inspire!) Once you complete 21 days, just keep going. Weeks turn into months, months turn into years and before you know it our lives will flash before our eyes.  I think of journaling not only as a gift to myself but as a gift to my future children and grandchildren.  I hope that the authenticity of my journals will inspire them to chase their dreams despite the challenges that come their way.

I know that this small habit can have such a HUGE impact on your life. After reading this blog if you still have questions please feel free to email me at Taylordresch3@gmail.com

“The Goal has Changed but my Values Haven’t”

“Though the world will insist that the good life can be measured by what is achieved and accumulated, Jesus reminds me that my good is found in another’s – in my acts of giving and giving away.” – Jen Pollock Michel

Since I was a young girl I have always been goal oriented. I have always had a vision and taken action towards becoming whatever it was that I desired to become.  As I recently transitioned out of the Marine Corps my plan was to become a full time athlete. My goal was to do anything and everything that it took to get to the end state.  As I started making choices to align to that goal, I noticed a major shift in my happiness. I was spending every waking moment doing SOMETHING to get me to the CrossFit Games. I was grocery shopping, weighing and measuring my food, stretching, training, going to physical therapy, working with a gymnastics coach, traveling to other gyms across the Country, logging my training stats, reading, calculating my sleep and so on.  I slowly started to realize that this was no longer the life I desired, I wanted the end state, but I didn’t want the lifestyle.  My goal with CrossFit was no longer in line with my values. But I was hesitant to surrender.

IMG_0345

For weeks I continued to make these choices, all while making myself miserable and starting to hate CrossFit. And for what? A goal that I made years ago and have held onto? I started to ask myself why?  I was sacrificing my happiness for my pride. I was too proud to let go. To let go of something I set my mind to. I thought that deciding to let go of that goal might make me a loser and a quitter.  As I have had more time to reflect and work with one of my coaches, I have discovered that it’s OK to let go and move to a place of uncertainty.

This lifestyle was one that the younger Taylor thrived in.  A place that I needed to be in order to become the person that I am today.  But the person that I am today desires more than a journey that revolves around myself.  My heart desires to serve God, to serve my husband, to serve others, to travel, to read, to write, and to explore what God has in store for me and those around me.

I have experienced feelings of guilt and shame for letting go and I have struggled with my confidence.  I have found myself wanting to fill my schedule with other things to keep me busy, but things that may not be the best for the long term.  For once in my life I don’t know what’s next.  I don’t know exactly where I want to go, so I will explore, grow and operate in uncertainty.  

“Patience is a fruit of the Spirit that grows under trial.” -Joyce Myer

” Due Season is God’s season, not ours. We are in a hurry, God isn’t.  He may take time to do things right, He lays a solid foundation before he attempts to build a building. We are God’s building under construction. He is the mast builder.  God’s timing seems to be his own little secret.  The Bible promises us that He will never be late, but I have learned that He is usually never early. It seems that He takes every available opportunity to develop the fruit of patience in us. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit that grows under trial. 

Developed potential without character does not glorify God. If we were to become a huge success and yet be harsh with others- that would not be pleasing to the Lord.  Therefore, if we get ahead of ourselves in one area, He gently but firmly blocks our progress in that area until the other catches up.” -Joyce Myer

“Empathy: :  the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.” – Merriam Webster

This past weekend I had a friend ask me if I was used to all the stares I received as I walked through a room.  He said, ” I just felt uncomfortable walking beside you as I felt everyone’s head turn and they all watched you walk across the room.” I answered, that at times it bothers me, but for the most part that I had gotten used to it.  Later that evening I watched a young woman point at me and tell two of her male friends that “that girl on the left is definitely a man, there is no way that is a woman!”

We were at a karaoke bar, I had originally planned to sing the song, “Jolene,” yet I suddenly felt insecure,  sad and lacked the desire to get on stage in front of people.  In that moment, I prayed. I prayed for patience. I prayed for the ability to forgive the woman who said it. I prayed to love myself, and I prayed to have the courage to shine my light and happiness despite the sorrows I felt once the evil remark was made concerning my body.  After praying, I began observing the men and women on stage more closely. I began to feel empathy for those around me. I stopped looking at what was on the outside and felt a connection to them as I started reminding myself that there is so much more to a person than what we see.

I then began feeling sadness for the woman who said these things about me.  Those who know me closely, know that in anger I quickly turn into a fighter. Yet this time it was different.  Because I turned to God in prayer and sought his guidance, I was able to learn a valuable lesson and walk away with a different perspective.   The world will continue to be evil, people will continue to hurt others, to say cruel things, and bring others down.  I don’t want to be like the rest of the world.  I am aware that I look different than others.  I am aware that people stare at my physic, question my gender, question my sexual preference, and question my character all based on what they see at first glance.  I want others to know that it is OK to be different. It is OK to be yourself in a society that wants us all to be alike. I know that God is working in my heart and because of Him, I hope to continue to shine light into a dark world and encourage others to find the goodness in their hearts as well.

CrossFit is a passion of mine, it has helped me become the woman that I am today, but it is not ALL that I am.  I am a woman of God, soon to be a wife, a sister, a coach, and then I am an athlete.  There are times when I am impatience with God’s plan, and I want to reach my goals and dreams when I want to reach them.  Maybe I will, maybe I won’t, but I will continue to develop, grow, learn and help others do the same everyday. I want to remind all the ambitious individuals reading this, that it is OK to be where your feet are. Just know that God is working in you, and He loves you. He is taking you on a journey that He has had planned since you were in the womb. He is developing your character, so that when His timing is ready, you will be too.

I am so thankful for the trials he is placing in my life. I am so thankful for the people that are entering my life, the good and the bad. I am so thankful for the patience that I am developing and for the many changes that are happening in my heart. I am so thankful that God gave me the courage to get on stage and sing “Jolene!”

IMG_0432

 

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.