Symbolic Attire

I can’t think of too many things more symbolic than wearing a team jersey or uniform and knowing you belong to something bigger than yourself. I’ve recently been accepted to a women’s racing team (road, gravel, and mountain biking) and when one of my teammates and friends gave me this year’s jersey, I simply felt like I belonged. Perhaps for the first time in years, I belonged to something bigger than “me.”

There is symbolism in things we wear and put on every day. Wedding rings and bands are symbolic to a deep relationship between two people and whether those people are physically together or not, a bond exists. Men’s ties and other jewelry for men and women often symbolize high status in work or society. Wedding attire- the dress, suit, and tux- is symbolic to a huge life event in many people’s lives. Even the logos that represent the brands and companies that we give our money to say something about us.

There are many examples of symbolism in material things in daily life.

But for me, something clicked just a few days ago and I had a deep recognition of who I am and what I stand for because of that team jersey that was handed to me last month. And with that recognition came a deep sense of responsibility too.

By putting on a team jersey or work uniform you represent that organization, group, team, brand or company. When you wear your uniform or jersey, you’re proud. You’re making a statement to the world that these moments aren’t just about you as an individual, but they are about your team or organization beyond you. (I have to chuckle because maybe this is by default… you need a job and you have to wear a certain uniform for work, even if you hate it. I remember this being the case at times in my life as well.)

When I race, I get to wear my team’s name. When I ride for training, more people will see our logo and colors. I’m one part of a greater whole that matters and is making a difference for women cyclists in my area. One example of how this changes me is that I’m going to go out of my way to follow road rules and practice good bike etiquette, especially when I’m in my team jersey.

So too, the importance of the jersey I get to wear for my team doesn’t end when I take off that shirt at the end of the day. I’m still “me” and I still belong to that group, with or without the name and logo on my back for all to see. I should be practicing those road rules and etiquette always, not just when in uniform.

This idea of belonging AND representing my team well really struck home a few days ago. Whether I’m wearing my jersey or not, I’m still a part of a team and group. And I want to bring honor to the group at all times, not just when I’m riding with the colors and logo of the team.

Whether we recognize it every day or not, we all represent something bigger than us. Our families, schools, churches, teams, places of work all make up pieces of our lives and groups that we belong to. And my realization the other day was this: I belong and don’t want to misrepresent the team that is important to me. I want to build the team up at ALL times.

A side note, I think this is why social media can bring so many problems to people’s lives and why supervisors and companies care about following their staff on social media. The online world matters as much as the behind closed doors, private, offline world.

Awareness of belonging to a team and how to represent that well comes with a growth in responsibility and character. It lasts beyond taking the uniform off at the end of the day. Day-to-day, we need to be aware of how individual actions and attitudes reflect outward on those groups and organizations that we belong to, and to not let wearing a jersey or uniform change how we should be behaving and acting as representatives of our groups and teams. Even our families’ names matter… and to bring honor to our family means acting with wisdom and making daily, healthy choices that help and not hurt our families.

In the end, reflecting on belonging and who I represent matters. I don’t want any organization to be brought down because of me; I only want those I work for and with to be lifted up. As individuals a part of teams, our actions really do matter for the greater good, or downfall if we aren’t careful.

What groups are you a part of? Have you ever thought of how you represent where you work, or the teams you are a part of even when you’re not in uniform? Does this change your perspective on how you move through the world on a day-to-day basis?

{Q&A} Easy Advice With Big Impact

{Q&A} Easy Advice With Big Impact

Asia Major-Waithe is a friend from a long time. She is also a fitness powerhouse and has a wealth of information on how fruits and veggies work for your body. Asia earned her BA in Kinesiology from Penn State University. She currently is a Assistant Director at Power Train Sports and Fitness in State College, PA.

Outside of weight training for herself and others, she loves walking her dog Anchor, hanging out with friends, and eating healthy, delicious food. She also helps to combat human trafficking with work at a non-profit on the side.

Juliandra Jackson, Owner and Founder of Written Jewels

Q: You’re a group fitness instructor and personal trainer– what excites you the most about that career path? What excites me most about my career path is that I get to help people reach their health and fitness goals. I work with athletes of all ages to the older adult client that just wants to be able to play with their grandchildren.

Q: You have a long background in sports and athletics. How has sports added value to your life through the years? My background in sports/athletics has very much informed my career path. In my pre-college years I played soccer, ran track, basketball, volleyball, and played rugby in college. Being part of various teams has taught me discipline , hard work, and the value of team work. I have had to choose to learn from my mistakes when we lost a big game. Being able to pull something good/constructive out of a devastating loss is a hard, but good thing.

Q: Juice Plus+ is an amazing company featuring pure, wholefood nutrition and educates people about nutrition through high end research. You and I have been a part of Juice Plus+ for a long time together. How does nutrition play a role in getting to an improved fitness or general health level? I love Juice Plus, it has been a game changer for me since 2012. It helped me with recovery from my athletic endeavors, helped me get sick less often, sleep better, decrease in allergies, and improved my astigmatism. Nutrition is the “bread and butter” of your body. With a proper diet you can decrease your chances of disease, chronic inflammation, improved mental acuity, sleep, etc. Juice Plus+ can help do this as well because its just dehydrated produce! Anyone can use it, from a child to an 80 year old and everything in between.

With a proper diet you can decrease your chances of disease, chronic inflammation, improved mental acuity, sleep, etc. Juice Plus can help do this as well because its just dehydrated produce!

Asia Major-Waithe

Q: Is there any one thing that you could suggest as a positive step forward if someone doesn’t know much about fitness or nutrition and needs advice with where to start? A positive step forward would be to take some steps! If you aren’t [physically] active [every day] start walking. If you don’t eat real, whole food, start with eating at least one fruit or vegetable daily.

Juice Plus+ has a great saying: do “ One Simple Change”. Small changes over time become big changes and eventually lifestyle changes.

Small changes over time become big changes and eventually lifestyle changes.

Asia Major-Waithe

Q: One EASY question coffee or tea? I like both!

Q: Anything you’d like to add as a word of encouragement to those who want to take basic steps to improve their health for the first time? Remember, your body is your most valuable asset. Once you don’t have full function, are chronically ill, or just aren’t feeling well, you limit your ability to do and be things that you actually enjoy. Take care of your body (that includes the mind and spirit) and it will take care of you. Self-care matters!

Consistency over Perfection

I’ve been caught. In some ways I’ve been unable to move forward with simple business phone calls and conversations through fear of messing up the information. I’ve been worried, questioning what if I confuse people, or the event I’ve been planning, even virtual ones, go wrong…

Perfection has been my trap in the past. Perfection has taken from me time and time again. Fearing over living. Stressing over moving forward.

But who can do anything perfectly? There is no amount of editing, preparation, and makeup that will cover writing mistakes, conversation hiccups, and the blemishes on my skin as I’ve tried to get to the weighty place of perfection.

And it does feel like a weight when you live in that room and place of perfection. There isn’t anything fun or enjoyable about trying to be perfect.

After years of letting go of layers of perfection and performance, I realize only a few things matter at the end of the day. In order to reach my goals, I’ve learned that consistency, dedication, and prayer are all I need. I can apply this to my whole list of goals- sports, nutrition, business, and relationships- it matters to be consistent in my behaviors and practice, improving 1% each day, rather than trying to do anything perfectly. I do what I can and let God handle the rest.

The dedication and discipline come into play while remaining consistent.

This is how once more, I’m reaching my goals slowly but surly with Bellia, my new Written Jewels, high end jewelry brand partnership… and with other business and fitness ventures. As I move forward, others around me will learn to see and know that I’m serious in my goals and plans and correlate them with me. I don’t need to do them perfectly, I just need to do them.

Consistency with determination to whatever you put your mind to, and doing it with excellence is key. And in the process learn to give up the idea of perfection.

My encouragement this Saturday morning is this: Let’s stay dedicated to enjoy the process of moving forward with what’s in our hearts to do. This is a way better alternative to holding onto our goals and dreams with a tight fist of perfection.

Life is good– full of joy, fun, and beauty. Let’s live with these things in mind. Let’s embrace the imperfections of each day and learn to walk in peace with a smile on our face, whatever the outcome.

What about you? Does perfection trip you up? If not, are there other mindsets you need to release?

Whatever those mindsets are, let’s move away from fear and choose to stay dedicated and consistent with every day actions. Let’s reach our goals one day at a time, knowing we’ve done our best and tomorrow is a new day, bringing us one step closer to the results we’re aiming for!

“Put the work in now.”

“Put the work in now. You’re only cheating yourself if you don’t.”

A quote by a friend about three weeks ago in a spin class I haven’t been able to shake. She meant it for biking. She meant it for sweating. She meant it for burning legs and lungs. But I can’t help thinking there was a bigger purpose to those words rattling inside my head these weeks.

Work is good. I love work. I really do. It’s a word that never really scared or felt painful to me. It’s a word that I appreciated. Like I could see the end result of my work before I ever started and that was my motivation to put time, energy, and effort into working toward that THING whatever it was.

Growing up, school was my greatest work and feat, but I always made it through those nine months of school and got to live the achievement with each new grade. Then college and grad school. Both rough, but so good for different reasons. Work in finding and starting some sort of career, still discovering what that means, but I love the journey more each year!

What I really want to talk about though is sports. I’ve always loved sports. My parents were big on getting my siblings and I plugged into sports teams growing up. Kids and adolescents have the potential to learn life changing lessons for the good because of sports. Character, stick-to-itiveness, losing, winning, boundaries (what are they, why are they there?), cheating, teamwork, sometimes being in the spotlight, and sometimes giving that spotlight to others, and lastly showing up to practice even when you don’t want to. When athletes reach a level of skill and honing in on their sports that they can be a leader in their community, or even reaching the highest levels of sports by going pro is a great aim for many kids that carry them through to adulthood. Sports are a powerful part of society and I know I’m a way stronger person because of sports.

I learned to push through physical and mental pain and stress, knowing that if I don’t, I’ll be left behind or won’t reach my goals. And this could be goals in anything! Goals pertaining to relationships, my career, finishing my first triathlon, and being able to run a certain distance, but being able to drop the time.

The key is: part of putting in the work is knowing your “why” as I hear so many coaches talk about. Why the days alone training? Why the early mornings and rigid schedules for your career or athletics? Is it for being the best, so recognition? Is it for more money, so maybe financial security? Is it for staying in good health, so as to live your best quality of life? (Your why should be something meaningful and fulfilling; recognition and fame can be flimsy “whys.” They can be easily taken away. Choose your why wisely.)

My friend/spin instructor said it best that day in the spin room: Put the work in now! You’re only cheating yourself if you don’t.

Once you know your why, then putting in the work to get there is the next step. My friend/spin instructor said it best that day in the spin room: Put the work in now! You’re only cheating yourself if you don’t. In the moment, though I was on my bike with the music blaring and lights dimmed as most spin rooms are, my mind was on relationships. I’ve definitely missed the mark in relationships for not putting in the proper amount of work. Whether for good reasons or not in the moment, the fact is I and I alone was the one cheated for not putting in the work. I’ve missed opportunities by not putting in the work to have hard conversations and mending frayed relationships with friends and co-workers.

I’ve definitely missed the mark in relationships for not putting in the proper amount of work. Whether for good reasons or not in the moment, the fact is I and I alone was the one cheated for not putting in the work. I’ve missed opportunities by not putting in the work to have hard conversations and mending frayed relationships with friends and co-workers.

Putting in the work doesn’t always look like getting sweaty and “swoll” in an obvious way on the outside. It might look like internal exhaustion and setbacks, but still trekking forward because your goals and dreams matter and you’re standing on your “WHY.” Your why puts those hard days in perspective.

Maybe your goal is to be the top sales person where you work or to earn the title of manager, what do you need to learn and do to get there? Maybe it means saying “no” to late night shows so that you can go to bed on time and wake up ready for a new work day refreshed. If you have actual #relationshipgoals as the trending hashtag circled around the world got posted, what work do you need to put into that relationship now, so that you reach the goal? In some cases the “work” might just simply be stating a prayer to the One Above to guide you in your marriage when things seem to be falling apart.

I’ve learned the lesson of not putting in the work when it comes to various facets of life. On the other hand, I’ve seen the fruit of putting in the work, and the latter is WAY more fulfilling.

I’ve learned the lesson of not putting in the work when it comes to various facets of life. On the other hand, I’ve seen the fruit of putting in the work, and the latter is WAY more fulfilling.

I’m not suggesting that work is all that life is about. It’s not. Life is also about enjoying the good days before you and learning to love the people around you well; it’s about practicing the true art of self-care because you are worthy of love yourself.

However, what I do know is that work is good and when it comes to work, the goals and dreams we hold onto (athletic goals, career goals, travel goals, marriage goals, community goals…) won’t magically appear without effort. And as my friend said that day as I huffed and puffed my way through a 26-mile ride in the studio—if you don’t put in the work now, no matter what your goals are, you’re only cheating yourself.

Jewelry: Telling Stories That Last

There are a few things that I love about jewelry…

  • It lasts—at least the good quality jewelry does.
  • It can be passed on. I have a few pieces of jewelry that came from my mom and both grandmothers that have been in the family. And my own engagement ring from my husband came from the gold of his deceased father. Just amazing.
  • It makes me feel, beautiful!
  • It adds the final touch to an outfit.
  • It sparkles and shines.
  • Anytime I’m asked about the jewelry I’m wearing; I get to tell a story.

I have a few momentous memories from pieces of jewelry that were given as gifts, or that I myself purchased through the years, and when I put those pieces on now, I get to think back and remember.

I get to remember the people who were with me when I bought or received it. I get to think about how I felt in the moment and how it makes me feel now.

A few years ago, my Dad and I were traveling through Europe to Prague and Germany after I finished my master’s degree that I earned from a business school in Spain. I cherish the garnet stone earrings he bought me from a shop owner and learning that garnet is Czech Republic’s main gemstone.

Then, of course when my husband and I designed our engagement ring before we were married. The anticipation I felt when I saw it when he proposed—would it look the way we had planned and wanted? It did. It was perfect.

And then a few months later he gave me a matching necklace that he designed for our first Christmas engaged. Seven hearts for seven days of the week, so I would remember that he loves me every day.

I got to wear opal earrings from my grandmother in my wedding. She is gone, but I had a piece of her with me in the beautiful jewelry she once cherished herself. She was not wealthy her entire life. To have dainty opal earrings, they were probably one of the most expensive things she’d ever worn or owned, and now I wear one in my upper, cartilage piercing all the time. I remember my Grandma, and my wedding day every time I look at it.

I often get compliments on a shell necklace my mom gave me from a trip she took to Hawaii once. It’s special that she thought of me and brought it home. I just love that necklace.

And then on our honeymoon, my husband bought me a pair of coconut carved earrings from a rasta man. So fun being in his country of Jamaica, and interacting with a local, enjoying the fun beauty of his craft in carving coconuts.

Or my trip to Morocco picking out a turquoise ring. MY FAVORITE!

I could go on and on with jewelry that I’ve bought and received on travels and trips and for special events.

Jewelry is SPECIAL.

There is so much more than the sparkles and shininess of jewelry, but that doesn’t take away from the beauty of some types of jewelry either!

That’s why Written Jewels has decided to become a Brand Partner with Bellia. This jewelry company is about women becoming all they were and are meant to be in the world. They believe women can change the world. They believe that women have value. They believe in the power of beauty—both in the jewelry itself and the woman who wears it.

If you want to tell a story of jewelry that’s life changing and makes a difference to the world around you, check out the Written Jewels Bellia Shop and choose a gift for yourself, or someone close to you that you think would be blessed by the story of Bellia’s values.

You’re worth it. Be Bellia today and continue the story of amazing jewelry and its values that go beyond the surface.