I know, I know… I’m a little late with this post.  I was supposed to post this at least a week ago like everyone else on the interwebz, but life got in the way and I actually took ::::GASP:::: almost 2 full days off from work this past weekend.  Crazy, right?

So yeah, about this post.  Reflecting back on 2012 is crazy weird for me.  In all honesty, a lot of days I feel like I’ve been watching someone else live my life, and I’ve been helplessly trying to give that person a little direction along the way.

A quick recap of the major events in my life in 2012 for those of you that may not know:

Personal Life: 

1. I unexpectedly lost my Father on January 4th, 2011.  I found out he was sick on a Saturday and he died Tuesday night/Wednesday morning at 12:45-ish am.

2. My 6 year relationship ended in September and subsequently…

3. I had to move out of my house and back home (read: my parents house) while I recover emotionally and look for a place of my own.

4. I’ve been suffering from back pain off and on since February and have been able to do very little heavy lifting, which has been a huge struggle for me mentally.


Professional Life:

1. I quit my part-time job that was helping support me while my gym got off the ground (SCARY!)

2. My business partner and I dealt with 2 failed locations and 6 months of setbacks before we were able to move into our new gym location.

3. I started this blog, took on a ton of writing responsibilities, and created 2 information products (that should be released soon).

4. Girls Gone Strong went through some major restructuring and there are now 3 co-owners instead of 7.

5. I presented at my first NSCA conference this year.


I realize that list seems like a mixed bag (some good things, some horrible things) and to be honest, there are many,  many other wonderful things that have happened this year that I failed to mention (especially professionally), but even those wonderful things can cause stress.

A picture of the new gym before we had it all set up.

A picture of the new gym before we had it all set up.

While too much stress is no bueno, some stress is a good thing.  Without stress, we don’t change, grow, adapt, and evolve.  And I truly believe that I have let the stress of this year change me for the better.  In fact, it has led me to some major realizations that I believe will positively affect my life forever.  I will share them below:


1. Pain is temporary.

The pain caused by my Dad’s sudden death was bar-none the absolute worst thing I have endured in my entire life.  I remember when I first heard the news.  The ringer on my phone was turned off because I was sleeping, and I suddenly awoke to loud and violent pounding on my front door.  I threw on my robe and ran to the door.  When I opened it, I saw my step-dad and brother-in law standing there.  I barely remember the conversation.  All I remember is my Stepdad looking at me and saying, “….blah blah blah blah….He’s dead.”

I let out a blood-curdling scream and collapsed in a heap on the floor as my heart shattered and fell into the pit of my stomach.  I remember screaming, “NO! NO! NO! THIS CAN’T BE HAPPENING! THIS CAN’T BE TRUE!”  so loudly over and over and over again.  I was convinced that I was having a nightmare that I just HAD to wake up from.  I vaguely remember slamming my hand into the ground over and over again in a fit of the most intense rage and sadness I’d ever felt.

I just remember someone, maybe several people, putting their arms around me and trying to restrain me a bit.  I’m sure I was thrashing around violently and screaming.  After a few minutes I was forced to calm down and get my things together so I could go be with my Mom and Sister, who were both at my Dad’s house.

The next several days are a bit of a blur, but I can remember just positively wanting to die.  The pain was so intense, that my body and brain went somewhat numb in an attempt to protect myself from what I was feeling.  Days and weeks went by and pain eased up slowly but surely.


Speaking at my Dad’s Celebration of Life


It’s been almost a year since his death and boy, has it been a roller coaster of emotion!  While I still get extremely, extremely sad, I am also often filled with immense gratitude.  I live one of the most blessed lives a person could hope for, and I never want to forget that, or miss an opportunity to feel and show and share gratitude with those around me.

When the pain comes, I sit with it, and I experience it, and it hurts badly.  But it gradually fades, and eventually I feel OK again.  It will never go away completely, but pain is just that… it’s painful.  And if you have solid coping mechanisms (thank you therapy!) it will subside, and you WILL feel OK again.  And it’s likely that the painful moments will happen less frequently, and you will recover more quickly from them.  Time and gratitude are wonderful healers.

So if you’re suffering, please know this.  Pain is temporary.  And as much as it feels like it will in the moment, it won’t kill you.  You WILL survive.  You WILL come out the other side OK.  And you will be much stronger for it.


2. You are braver than you believe.

This lesson ties into the lesson that I discussed above.  Going through the tragedy that I experience with the loss of my Dad gave me a lot of courage.  Once you’ve been to what feels like the depths of Hell, and you come out the other side still fighting and still smiling, you realize that you are capable of just about anything.

I truly believe that losing my Dad a year ago is what gave me the courage to get out of my 6 year relationship.  I knew that I could go through that horribly painful loss and come out the other side OK.  In fact, I knew that I had to go through that pain to get to where I needed to be.  Which leads me to my next lesson…


3. You deserve amazing.  I deserve amazing.  We all deserve AMAZING.

In the past, I haven’t spoken much, if at all, about my personal relationship because my ex boyfriend is extremely private.  And in order to respect that privacy, I will keep this explanation simple.  We had a really, really good relationship.  But you know what?  It wasn’t AMAZING (for either of us, I don’t think).  And you know what?  We both deserve AMAZING.  I deserve it, he deserves it, and accepting anything less would be doing ourselves and one another a disservice.

You have one life.  You get one shot.  Why would you ever settle for less than amazing?

Which conveniently leads to my next point… (Yes, my segues are the BOMB today!)


4. Life is effing short.  Hold nothing back.

Ridiculously cliche?  Probably.  Ridiculously true?  You bet your ass.

This was one of the rules by which my Dad led his life.  He woke up every day and did exactly what he set out to do from the time he was 24 until he passed away just shy of 64.

(1. Go to college 2. become an attorney 3. become Governor of Kentucky 4. change the hemp and marijuana laws in the state).  He was also brutally honest and held nothing back.  He grabbed life by the balls, did pretty much whatever he pleased most days, and didn’t give a damn about what anyone thought of him.  Sounds kinda scary, right?

But seriously, if I told you that you had 3 weeks to live, what would you do?  Would you be scared to try something new?  Scared of being embarrassed?  Scared of failing at something?  Scared of what someone might say or think about you?  Let’s hope not!

Well let’s be honest, any person reading this may very well have 3 weeks left and not know it yet.  Regardless, we ALL have a finite amount of time on this planet.  Death is absolutely inevitable and technically we are all pretty much dying (lovely thought, I know.  Panic attack, anyone?).

So why do we care so much?

***(ahem) I am talking to myself here as much as I am talking to you***

Go after exactly what you want and don’t hold anything back.  What do you have to lose?


A profound and scary challenge...Especially for a people pleaser like myself.

A profound and scary challenge…Especially for a people pleaser like myself.



4b.  Another interpretation of the “hold nothing back” lesson is to make sure that you tell your loved ones that you love them.

My Dad was positively amazing at this and told me just about every time I saw him how proud he was of me and how much he loved me.  He would also call me regularly and leave me voicemails telling me that he was, “just thinking about the people in his life who were most important to him, and sending me lots of love and good energy.”


He made me feel like he was *this* proud of me all the time.

He made me feel like he was *this* proud of me all the time.


Knowing exactly how my Dad felt about me has been one of the key parts of my healing process.  It really does feel like he is watching over me and constantly telling me how proud he is of me and how wonderful I am.  Sharing those words me with on a regular basis has been one of his greatest gifts to me, and I hope I do half as good a job as he did telling my loved ones how I feel about them.

Otherwise, what’s the point?  What kind of life are you living if you hold back?  If you live your life afraid of failure and pain? If you spend more time bickering about insignificant things with your family than you do telling them you love them? If you shy away from hard work and don’t go after exactly what you want?

Some things are inevitable and completely out of our control:

1. We were all given life

2. We will all die


What we do in between, is up to us.


What are you going to do?



19 Responses to Life, Death, and What Happens In Between – Reflecting Back on 2012

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