Dear 41 year old me,They said my heart was too fragile… too sick… to damaged. They said I couldn’t survive. Then, when I did, they said I didn’t have long to live…Today marks 41 years of overcoming all of the things they said I couldn’t do and living into an inspiring life.This week, I’ve taken some quiet time (mostly while snuggling with my doggies) and thought about my life. I had to smile as I thought back to elementary school and meeting Mr. Larson, my 5th grade gym teacher and how he taught me I could overcome my heart condition. Heck, he taught me I could overcome anything. And he was right.And then I thought about high school. I was awkward, uncomfortable and insecure. But, it was during this awkward time that I joined my church’s youth group, led by Eric Hagely. I truly believe being a part of that youth group is a big reason why I have such faith and a love of life today. Thanks Eric, you’ll never know how much you did for me.Then as I went to Marietta College, it was the first time I heard my own voice- that voice that is inside of me that translates the tugs at my heart. It told me to dream big. I was afraid of that voice and I was afraid of my dreams. Perhaps i was afraid I might fail. But Marietta made it ok for me to fail and get right back up and try again.
As I began my first job at Accenture/Andersen Consulting, I began to travel and see different part of the world. I began to meet people from all over the world, learn about different cultures. All of this inspired my soul. But, I felt like that voice – that tug at my heart – was still speaking to me. And, I was afraid of it. It kept telling me I was only half-living. It kept telling me there was something more I was meant to do. But I silenced it, hoping it would go away.But, after running my first marathon in Alaska at 25, that voice grew louder and louder and I could no longer silence it. I knew that, if I could run 26.2 miles, my heart had overcome and all of the life expectations I had on my heart were – rubbish. My heart had fought back and won. My heart gave me a second chance at life. And so, when that voice started speaking to me again, I listened.And since I listened to it, so many incredible things have happened. I received a full scholarship to grad school to get my Master’s in Exercise Physiology from The Ohio State University. I studied under some of the most amazing and brilliant people I’ve ever met and still go back each year to speak to the students as a way to say thank you.I wrote a book, The 7 Life Miracles, and incredibly, with the help of the inspiring Craig Lerner, it was picked up by Changing Lives press and was published. I also created my own role at Accenture – moving from IT to HR/Wellness. I now lead the North American Wellness and Disability programs at Accenture. I won a business plan contest and received a package to open up my business, Seven Studios. I thank Columbus City Council and ECDI for believing in me. That studio has been one of the greatest gifts of my life. It brings me MORE JOY than I could have ever imagined. (That was for you, Jane- the person who taught me what More Joy means). Every single one of the instructors who teach at Seven inspire me. It has been so joyful to see each of them flourish and share their love of positivity and health with others. All 26 are special and amazing. (Humbly)We are so honored to have just won the #2 most favorite yoga studio in Columbus (so honored!) and it has everything to do with the energy they bring to class each day. My heart is full of joy.And, I was able to not only start sharing my story in public talks, but I’ve been able to give a TED Talk, have been picked up by a national speaker’s bureau and just landed my first international talk in London this spring.And, during this time, I became a mom to the 4 most beautiful and inspiring pets (3 dogs and 1 cat) I could ever imagine. They truly have taught me what it means to give and receive unconditional love. They have my heart and I love them more than I knew how to love before.I also have had my Tribe of friends by my side. It’s been 12+ years of friendship with these girls and I don’t know what I’d do without them. They have been there when I’ve cried until I’ve laughed and laughed until I’ve cried and everything in between.So that brings me to today. it’s been an incredible journey, and it is amazing that someone once thought I wouldn’t make it past the day I was born. I owe all of this to God and my faith and belief that I was given a second chance to live into my purpose, which I believe is to inspire others to live their most happy and powerful lives.As I look at the journey line, I realize how many years I spent ignoring that tug at my heart. It scared me. It made me anxious. It wasn’t a sure thing. It was risky. But, once I listened to it and started welcoming it into my life, I realized that this voice – this voice is why I was given a second chance.And the same is true with you. Don’t ignore that tug at your heart – that thing that makes your soul come alive. It will keep talking to you and nudging you until you listen.I am so grateful for my 41 years, and look forward to the next 41 – as I am certain the best is yet to come – my heart has a lot of dreams still to accomplish – and I am certain it will take care of me for a long long time. As long as I listen to it.May the light in me honor the light in you. May all of the good in me honor all the good in you. Here’s to finding MORE JOY in your life.