“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.

3 Tips for Hard Seasons in Life

PC: Ryan Christodoulou

For anyone that knows me well, I’m a pretty positive person with a lot of goals and fearlessness when it comes to moving, traveling, and trying new things. I’m also a pretty motivated person to take action and face challenges in front of me with motivation and a positive mindset.

That said, for about five months I’ve really fallen out of my norm and have felt pretty lost.

I’ve had a long five to six months of marriage/ life in my husband’s country. It’s been exhausting really. Culture shock, marriage shock, living with in-laws shock… Not to mention the behind-the-scenes extreme fighting between my husband and I—not what I expected when we would talk about life in his country leading up to my moving here!

Outside of social media I felt lost and confused. I questioned every life decision leading me to this point trying to figure out where I went wrong in making it here to this place.

Then, a few simple changes have pushed me in a positive trajectory in the last 30 days and I am in a MUCH better place now than before. I feel a little bit more like myself and every day I am getting closer to feeling motivated with life and work by running the course marked out for my life.

That said, I know we’ve all experienced hard days, weeks, months, and years. And I’m here to share three tips to encourage you. These are things I’ve been doing this entire season of stress and change, and I hope they can help you as well!

  1. Surround Yourself With People Who Care

Who is your team? Your tribe? Who loves you most? Who can you call on and open up to without fear or judgement? Bring those people into your circle ASAP because that is going to make the difference between feeling alone in the world, and feeling capable of conquering the world. Not everyone should know all the nitty gritty details of horrible things you are going through in life. But some should. Your relationships matter and I promise by calling the lifeline of friends or family who have your back fully, you will be empowered. Even if circumstances don’t change in the physical sense right away, by leaning into your community, you will notice things around you shifting and moving just in how you interpret and process life with others. Relationships matter so much to getting back to a place of motivation and positive change.

I opened up to a few people in my life and knowing they are praying, having them hear me, and accepting words of comfort, affirmation, and empowerment though we are countries apart. It is more meaningful than anything.

2. Diet and Sleep

Your diet and drinking plenty of water through the day has more of an effect on your mental emotional state than you may realize. See, your mood is actually enhanced by the good or bad bacteria in your gut; gut health matters and has a direct effect on your brain and the amount of serotonin produced. By keeping a healthy microbiome and by getting probiotics and even practicing intermittent fasting to help your gut health, you can help your general well-being and mood. Here and here are articles to start with that explains more on gut health and mental health, if you are interested in extra reading.

Along with that, is getting plenty of rest through the night. In a basic sense, your brain chemistry re-calibrates, heals, balances, and allows new growth through periods of sleep and rest that you cannot get any other way. Your hormones balance out and your long-term memory kicks in. Sleep is a vital part of letting your body recoup and regroup that no other action you take while awake can help you achieve the same results in order to feel and live your best. A really great, easy to read article on sleep and improved mental-emotional health is this.

3. Watch What You Watch

One huge thing that has made the difference of a “blah” day or a “worse-than-blah” day, during these months of confusion that I had been living is truly what media I was ingesting. Music, shows, news, books, and other entertainment—the power of healthy and uplifting messages in the things I was watching and listening vs not so healthy or uplifting truly matters. My husband, a big music person, at one point told me he got rid of all kinds of music on his phone with negative self-talk and negative messages on women and relationships. This action step was good and is something I can respect on his end. For me, I learned quickly news and can be turned off if its not adding value. The movies can be turned off if they aren’t adding value. The music can be switched out if it’s not adding value. Instead, I started picking up healthier books through personal recommendation and a Leadership Training Program I went through from October 2020 through December 2020 and the impact was huge.

In any event, these three steps are things that I am taking seriously to maintain as I get mentally stronger once more. By focusing on what I can control and letting go of what I can’t, I’m feeling like my normal self once more as I was designed by my Creator.

What tips do you have when you consider getting off track the course you want to be on when it comes to living a positive, motivated life? Anything you would add to this list?


For anyone interested in reading material that helped me during these months, here are some books that made a world of impact for me:

I also read The Heart Work: Declutter Your Past to Make Room for an Amazing Future by Jackie Dorman and You Deserve the Love of God by Stephen Hill, which are two books that are more God-centered and encouraging on a spiritual level.

Normalizing Failure

Photo Cred: Amy Humphries

The number of times in my life that I have done anything at all, perfectly is approximately zero. I’ve done some things well, other things even better, but nothing in life have I executed or carried out perfectly. As a matter of fact, some things I’ve attempted in life… many things… I’ve absolutely failed in. I’ve failed to show up for friends and family when they’ve needed me. Failed in carrying out duties at work. Failed in my workouts and fitness life at times which I take pretty seriously as a lifestyle and habit.

And yet through my failures I’ve learned. Overcome. Transitioned. And grown. Through my failures I’ve seen things from a new perspective I didn’t know mattered. Through my failures I’ve been able to stand up and try again.

John Maxwell, a bestselling author and expert on leadership says, “A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.”

Applying this concept to my life, I’d like to introduce the idea of failure being quite normal even freeing. Because in failure we get the chance and opportunity to try again and overcome.

An example of this could be a child learning how to read or trying a sport for the first time. It would be insane to expect that child to perform a new task perfectly. The beauty of being a child is they are given the right (for the most part) to make mistakes in things, learn consequences if there are any, and get better.

I remember my first swim meet ever, I was 7 years old, maybe 8, and was supposed to swim a 25-yard breaststroke. I got to the end of the lane and popped my head up, thrilled to see I had won. For all of 3 seconds when the person running the timer in my lane said I was disqualified. I actually swam freestyle, not breaststroke. Oops! I learned the lesson and never made the mistake again I don’t think through all my years on a swim team. I had failed. But no one held it against me.

So why would we hold failure against ourselves as adults? Why do we take such considerable strides to HIDE failure on social media and with friends and family? I’m all about putting our best foot forward in life, but what if that is actually crippling us at the end of the day rather than living authentically with our stories of not being where we want to be yet that could be encouraging and helpful to so many people.

I submit to you now that failure is more normal than carrying out any task in life perfectly.

I’d like to see failure normalized, not hidden behind pretty social media posts and trying to hide our faults and failures to the enormous extent that we do.

Another example comes from my own life with working out and Triathlons. I used to compete in regularly 1 to 2 times a year in Triathlons around the northeast of the US in new cities and towns each race. My first year I had a HORRIBLE race time. I put so much effort into training and making a goal time for the race, yet I completely blew it the day of the race. I briefly thought to myself “I’m not made to do Tris.” I almost gave up this hobby and lifestyle because of a bad race. It took about two weeks until I missed the swimming, biking, and running and chose instead to say, “Well, it seems I have a lot to learn and become better in with regards to workouts and training. I can do better next time.”

I think giving into the first statement, “I’m just not made to do this” isn’t going to help me win and become better at the next thing I choose to focus my time and energy on. It isn’t going to help me succeed. It isn’t going to help me really at all. Though I failed in reaching all of my goals that first race, I chose instead to see my end time as a reason to adjust, get educated on workouts, include other people in my training by talking to a couple of other athletes who had done way more racing than I ever have.

I chose to realize that “failure” was just a matter of personal definition, not an absolute that determined an end to something that I really enjoyed— in this case swimming, biking, and running—despite my slow pace and poor choices in the race that really set me back.

Normalizing failure for any and all can be a way to rethink failure in general. If you personally “did bad” in something— could be anything from baking a cake that turned out horribly that you meant to give to someone for a special occasion, to showing disruptive and “bad” behavior at an event that in retrospect you realize you shouldn’t have acted that way—and you choose instead to learn grow and change based off of that perceived failure, have you really failed at all?

I don’t know a single person on planet earth that has done ANYTHING perfectly in life. But everyone I know has messed up in big or small ways around me my whole life, including myself, and the world still moves on.

Instead of getting caught up with our failures, beating ourselves up, ruminating on went wrong, what if instead we chose to focus on the positive that might be a result of that failure? What if that time we didn’t show up as we should for someone we learn the art of apologizing and making amends? What if we recognize that no matter how old we are, we are fallible human beings and failing is a part of life. Failing is actually… normal… and can bring about positive change including overcoming obstacles and achieving greatness in some area.

This new year, let’s embrace our “failures” as we might call them and realize that as Maxwell said, “The only guarantee for failure is if we stop trying.”

As long as you admit the mistake, change the course, make a new decision next time you’re faced with a problem or dilemma that you “failed in” then truly failure isn’t the end of the story.

I’m sure many people are making new year’s resolutions and vowing changes for 2021. Let’s not see 2020 as a failure, but a year of learning and growth. Let’s choose to walk into 2021 refreshed for amazing opportunities that if we keep going, don’t give up, and try again in we can have the greatest personal success imaginable, no matter what our goals are be them relational, financial, spiritual, physical, or any area of life that you may be holding onto failure in.

There is always hope. There is always room for growth and change. There is always a new time to keep the faith and change the course for better next time. At the end of the day, without failure we will never fully understand the deep feelings that success brings.

The Biblical Side of Living Like a Glutton and The Fattened Calf Mentality

It’s holiday time and I couldn’t pick a better season to write this post that has been mulling around my mind for about two months. I’m glad I’m writing it today because of the timing of the year and I hope it brings encouragement and FREEDOM to your health, eating, and relationship with food… especially if you are like me at all and have struggled with eating in the past.

The Fattened Calf Mentality.

This is a term my brother said to me once and though I don’t recall how many years ago he and I discussed “the fattened calf way of eating” I can honestly say through the years it is the best mindset I’ve adopted when it comes to food. More on The Fattened Calf mentality in a second, but first a little history of my personal, messed up turned healthy, relationship with food.

I had struggled with what works for my body since middle school and though I eat healthy compared to many people around me, I’m sure I look like a pig compared to many others. Therefore, after finally finding a food lifestyle I am comfortable with in my late twenties, I realize how personal diet is and…

1) I don’t really care what other people eat and…

2) I don’t really care what other people think about what I eat…

After all even Jesus was accused of being a gluttonous, drunk (more on that momentarily).

Through the years, I’ve listened to and watched foodies, men and women in the fitness world, doctors who wrote books, food bloggers, and have done my own reading and research. I have accepted and rejected lots of information on food either by trial and error… actually consuming food, or by comparing and contrasting information without even picking up a fork.

My current diet works for me and that’s what counts. I love to share it with people, but it doesn’t even have a name, so therefore instead of telling you what to eat (though there are non-negotiables like you must eat multiple fruits and veggies daily to be healthy), the best takeaway after losing 20 lbs in 10 months and maintaining this new weight for about two years, is what I’ve adopted and call The Fattened Calf Mentality. With it, I feel good about myself almost every day with the eating part of the healthy lifestyle I try to maintain. Workouts are the other side of the same “Healthy Lifestyle Coin,” but are not what this post is about.

Food is very personal. Tastes, preferences, age, baseline health, cultures, family background, lifestyle, habits, education around eating, and so many other things play a role what you and I put into our bodies every day to keep them running—we hope at their optimum level. No two people eat exactly the same thing all the time, unless you’re pregnant and consider what you eat as the same as the baby within you. The Fattened Calf Mentality has less to do with what you are eating and more to do with how you are eating and therefore can apply to everyone. This is also why I won’t go into the specifics of what I eat on a day-to-day basis.

So, what is The Fattened Calf Mentality?

The Fattened Calf mentality comes from looking at the Bible and what Jesus, and everyone else, ate as a Jew living in the first century. I cannot talk about much of anything in my life without tying in the Bible. I cannot escape the value of a biblical worldview/perspective/ drawing from the history of the Bible and applying it to my life. So, if I’m being honest as I write this, I stole the concept directly from God and as I choose to believe, His Son, Jesus.

As I struggled to figure out how to get food to work for me years ago, I questioned how did Jesus “do food”? He was sinless so binging and purging, starvation, and gluttony weren’t things He sinned doing– like I seemed to struggle with daily. But did He starve himself as you and I might define starving or eat gluttonously in comparison to others? Maybe, yes, and I’m pretty sure there He was accused of BOTH things, plus being a drunk while on earth (Matthew 11:19).

In my dive into “the perfect diet,” I learned that Jesus consumed a Mediterranean diet, which from research AND personal experience is one of the best diets out there. You can Google what a Mediterranean diet is, but another key thing I learned is that as a Jew, one thing Jesus wouldn’t have eaten is pork. A number of cultures don’t eat port the way say, Americans do with their hams and bacon. If you do eat pork and it doesn’t cause any bloat, headaches, swelling, or anything else and you like it, great! Keep eating it. Again, this is NOT a how to on what to eat or not to eat. Just an important discovery of what I found and works for me ESPECIALLY AROUND THE HOLIDAYS. Additionally, Jesus also had his 12 disciples around him through most of the accounts we have, many of whom were fishermen. Jesus himself performed a miracle by feeding 5,000 people out of just 2 fish and 3 loaves of bread (Matthew 14:13-21). I truly love fish and seafood and don’t feel the need to cut that out of my diet as I slowly implement a more plant-based diet. Maybe someday, but not right now!

What is most interesting about the Bible when it talks about food is how much FEASTING there is all throughout the entire book. The old testament drips with talk of feasts and parties that God planned into the year to give people a break and let them… simply party. And from what I understand those parties lasted weeks sometimes. Gorging on food and drinks during seasonal planned events was a lifestyle. These times of feasting remind me very much of the holiday season we are currently in.

It’s interesting because as much as feasting was a part of the picture, so was fasting.  It’s just that we don’t hear about the fasting as much. It’s not really talked about. There are only a few verses in the new testament about fasting. But we know it happened. And for me personally, breakthrough occurred when I married these two concepts of feasting and fasting together and coming up with The Fattened Calf Mentality.

There is a time to fast. There is a time to withhold from eating. There is a time to give up. There is a time to be okay with being hungry. I think we have been lied to, through marketing, about needing to eat 3 times a day + snacks. When I embraced the idea of being hungry, that it’s actually really healthy for my body to be hungry, I felt better doing that act of letting my digestive system rest and refrain from eating. The health benefits of fasting are quite good for you. Just Google all the positive things that intermittent fasting can do for your body. Even a 24 or 36 hour fast to just rest your body and give it a break from all the digesting and breaking down it’s constantly doing from the generally heavy foods we dump into our systems, is cleansing and healing and has many health benefits. I choose to embrace hunger at times, to me it feels better than being stuffed.

But let’s not forget the feasting. If you shock your body with too much food every once in a while, this can actually jump start your metabolism to kick it up a notch and burn more. Also, food produces dopamine and serotonin—naturally produced chemicals in your brain that simply make you feel “happy!” This is science. But beyond the science, feasting and parties are historically and culturally important around the world. Why does so much of our world revolve around food? Feasting is important and over doing it with food is actually… okay, I think. I used to beat myself up when I ate too much, but not anymore. I appreciate knowing that God blessed me with too much food to enjoy. Gosh, what’s better than a good meal with awesome people?

And for me, though refrain from many foods and am slowly walking into a more plant-based diet, I can’t forget The Fattened Calf.

One story Jesus tells his followers is of the “prodigal son” who leaves his family trying to make it on his own. Definitely paraphrasing here, but the son ran out of money, spending it on women and booze, and was too embarrassed after going broke to return home. He got a job at a pig farm, and because he was starving would eat the pig slop he fed the pigs because he had nothing else. Eventually he realized that the servants that took care of his Dad’s property were taken better care of than his current situation. He decided to go home and see if his Dad would hire him to work his property after so many months away.

The Dad who loved his son waited months for his return. And that particular day, seeing his son a long way off coming up to the property, ran for him. He hugged his dirty, smelly son, and the moment called for a party. He ordered the fattened calf to be killed. Though I don’t fully understand the historical and cultural meaning behind the fattened calf, I’ve heard it was a big deal. (The story comes from Luke 15.)

I’ve learned that there are times and seasons each year to go crazy and eat big, binging and having a good time. There are times to kill the fattened calf and enjoy it. Then, there are other times to fast, embrace being hungry, and refrain from eating the same way as the kings of the world through history. (Seriously only kings though time ate the way our first world nations eat and it’s crazy the surplus of food we consume.)

There is so much more I could say on The Fattened Calf Mentality that I’ve adopted when considering food consumption in my life, but I will end it there for now.

Diet and food are complex. But by simplifying it to the one phrase has helped me grow in leaps and bounds by having a healthier relationship with food. I know I can enjoy food to its fullest, like now, during this holiday season, while making fasting as much a part of my life, if not more, at other times. After unpacking my research and history, I’m hoping this post brings freedom to those who are controlling, strict, and limited with eating as I used to be– and shed light on how we can enjoy food, and drinking even (without actually becoming gluttonous-drunks).

My encouragement is this: be cognizant of what you eat, you only have one body and need to take care of it. But be sure to recognize, embrace, and celebrate those fattened calf moments in life and consume food that you normally wouldn’t– like meat, wine, and an extra dessert– without guilt.