links of heart

LIFE // Dear 2013 Joanne

As time passes by I reflect back at the person I've become over the past two years. I think about the fears that I felt when I hired a fitness coach to help me reach my goal of getting control of my health and wellness. 

Experience and time has taught me so much about who I can be and if there were words of advice I can give myself two years ago this is what I would say:

Dear 2013 Joanne,

You're tired. It hurts so much I know. Your heart grieves in a way that no one else feels and you're so tired of carrying the pain. I see what no one else arounds you see: the anger, the frustration, the sheer disappointment you feel each time you've regained the courage to focus on health and fitness and fail. This time will be different you'll see.

I know you're scared. You're not sure what will happen, you won't know if you can stick to the commitment you made, and that's perfectly OKAY. But guess what you WILL! I know you feel entirely alone in making this lifestyle change. None of your friends are committing to a 12 week fitness plan, none of your friends are learning how to meal prep, and everything about lifting weights and cardio just sounds like a chore! Everything is new to you and I know you're not sure about your own abilities, but just keep going.

You're going to surpass the first goals you set and it's going to be incredible you'll see! After you make the first step, after running out of all the excuses you're going to make, just remember why you're doing this. Remember that you're tired of hating yourself, you're tired of being depressed, and you just want to be happy in your own skin. Your husband deserves a happy wife. Your daughters deserve a happy mother. Most importantly you deserve to be happy with yourself. Just hang on to ONE more week, one more month, and you'll see. The things you're worried about losing, you will gain 10 fold. I promise you that in a year things will be different and the year after that you'll still be keep moving forward. The road ahead of you will be rough at first. You will have moments you'll want to give up and that's okay. But in those moments that you want to give up, DON'T! KEEP GOING! YOU GOT THIS!

You're not alone. You're not the only one struggling with the same self image issues. You'll learn that sharing your story empowers so many women around you, you'll change your world. You'll gain friendships that go past any depths you've had in the past. They will help push you through when you need the motivation. 

You'll achieve greatness! You'll prove to yourself that nothing is impossible. I believe in you.

Love,

2015 Joanne

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LIFE // Link of Hearts

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I received one of the sweetest gifts in the mail yesterday from Link of Hearts, who's mission is to inspire and connect the voices and empower those who are fighting the stigma of mental illnesses such as depression. Each piece is handcrafted with an inspirational word or phrase of your choice. 

On the Bar of Goodness I chose: Let Go, Courage, Inspire, and Relentless. There is one abusive experience in my life that I have recently discovered that I haven't quite let go of. At the age of 11, I was molested by a family friend. An experience that scarred me to think I wasn't worth it, that I wasn't enough, and that rocked my entire world. This little secret I carried was a burden I held onto until recently when my husband asked me one morning in bed, "what's something I do not know about you." Being that he's been my partner in life for the past 13 years, the only thing he didn't know about me was that. Hearing me say it outloud to someone who wasn't my my therapist or parents felt like a stress lifted off my shoulders, but it was something that was buried so deeply in my heart. Each day I have to remind myself to let go of this pain, to accept that the young Joanne didn't do anything wrong, yes I happen to be a statistic which is a painful truth, but it's okay. Each day I find the courage to continue, to move forward, to forgive myself and to embrace all of life's challenges. Relentless is a word that brings so much meaning to my 2015. I feel like its the theme word of my year. It's a reminder to keep pushing no matter what and to always demand more out of myself so that I can grow and to continue to inspire those around me especially my daughters.

The Cuff me with Love has the words you are enough as a constant reminder to myself that I AM ENOUGH! I AM WORTH IT! There have been times in my life where I believed I wasn't enough. There were even times in my marriage where I thought I wasn't enough for my husband, that I didn't love him enough, that I wasn't worth being his wife because I held on to a past that didn't allow me to be fully intimate with him. I remember saying the words "I'm not good enough to be your wife" over and over to him. And each time he would always reassure me that I was his his everything. 

Learn more about Link of Heart by visiting their site. The owner, Elizabeth has an incredible story. It was when I stumbled upon Links of Heart during this recent episode of depression did I find the courage to share my own.  Use the promo code gofitjo  before the end of the month and get 15% off your order.

The photos below were taken by my 11 year old daughter during a night I needed my family the most during my most recent onset of a depressive episode. She saw me cry and she saw her father comfort me, a sight then when looking at these images I hope that she can look up to the both us and find a love that will hold her world together when times get tough.

I share my story because I know I'm not alone in my struggles. I'm not perfect and I don't ever want to be perceived as the woman who has it all figured out because the truth is I am working on it, every single day. I hope that by sharing my life that it inspires you to find the courage to connect with others because your story is important. 

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If you think dealing with issues like worthiness and authenticity and vulnerability are not worthwhile because there are more pressing issues, like the bottom line or attendance or standardized test scores, you are sadly, sadly mistaken. It underpins everything.
— Brene Brown