Box of Truth

I used to keep a box on the floor of my closet. A lime green cardboard box contained every piece of paper collected during the legal process after my rape. Inside that box was my story: a Michael Jackson CD that was still covered in black finger print dust, printouts of his confession, copies of my medical documents. Every single thing that confirmed I was raped was inside that box. When my world would start to spin, I’d take it out of the closet. I’d lay out every document to settle my spinning heart. If I could see it, if I could read it, if it was in front of me in black and white, I could then fall asleep at night. 

When I meet Cole’s dad, I made him read all of it. I wanted to make sure he believed me. It was my box of truth, and I needed him to see it. 

When we moved to Alabama, that box was placed in my car. I couldn’t risk it being lost by the movers. It was my truth, and I needed to protect it. I repeated the same pattern when I moved to Tennessee. 

One day, as I was packing my belongs to move to a tiny apartment of my own, I came face to face with that box again. I was so sick of carrying it. I was done with the box. I was done carrying it inside of me. On the verge of divorce, I didn’t want to sit down with another person to share my box of truth. Instead of packing it, I took it in the backyard and burned it. 

I was done. That chapter was over. I promised to rid myself of it all. I promised myself I’d quit living inside that story. 

A few years later with the box turned to ashes, I was moving again. This time I was moving back to my hometown. I was moving back to the town where my rapist lived. I was moving back to the community that felt unsafe and scary. 

I didn’t want to move. I was scared. I didn’t want to face the faces of my past. I didn’t want to cross paths with the anger I felt lived in this town. I moved anyways. I needed my family. My son needed his grandparents. We desperately needed support. 

It had been nine years since the day I was raped. It had been eight years since the court system failed me. Certainly people matured and moved on. 

Two weeks after I moved home, I realized that some people never mature and move on. After a long night of waiting tables, I stopped at 7-11 to buy milk for Cole. He would need it for his breakfast. I grabbed the milk, turned around, and came face to face with two girls from high school. 

Are you Kristy Larson? 

You’re the one who accused (insert name) of rape? 

Insert long rant of name calling and physical assertiveness. 

A police officer showed up. He was her boyfriend. 

When is this ever going to go away! I don’t want to live this story anymore. I left crying and trembling and screaming. 

A few weeks later, I meet Christian. Where was my box of truth? Those girls made it clear that I’d never be able to move on. I would need to share this story with everyone I ever met. I’d never be able to be just Kristy. 

One night before we headed out to a concert, I sat beside Christian. I started to tell him my story. He needed to know it in case any of those drama-driven, gossip-hungry teenagers showed up again. I would not let them define me. I would not let them scare me. 

Christian stopped me after I said the words I was raped. He hugged me. He told me he didn’t care. He didn’t want to know the details. He couldn’t hear the details. His heart couldn’t hear the details. He held me, and he told me he’d take care of me. 

Christian and I saw one of those girls that night. Fortunately she stayed quiet, but sadly that night in 7-11 isn’t the only reminder of my rape I’ve experienced since moving back to my hometown. I’ve heard whispers between friends. That’s Kristy Larson while touring homes at homearama. I’ve been met by glares while grocery shopping. A person changed aisles while shopping at target. 

While they haven’t matured or moved on, I certainly have. It’s been a long time since I needed to pull the box of truth out of my closet. It’s been a long time since I needed to see it in black and white. When I met Christian, I didn’t need that box of truth. I didn’t need papers to validate my story. He believed me, and more importantly I BELIEVED ME. 

Another article about the Stanford rapist filled my Facebook newsfeed last night.  A statement was released by the lawyer of his victim. 

“I remain anonymous, yes to protect my identity. But it is also a statement, that all of these people are fighting for someone they don’t know. That’s the beauty of it. I don’t need labels, categories, to prove I am worthy of respect, to prove that I should be listened to. I am coming out to you as simply a woman wanting to be heard. Yes there is plenty more I’d like to tell you about me. For now, I am every woman.”

I applaud this woman, and I hope she remains anonymous. While there are millions of people just like me who want to celebrate her, support her, and thank her, there will always be a handful of people who thrive on anger. 

Their words hurt. Their actions are loud. Sometimes it takes eighteen years to hear the kindness. Sometimes it takes eighteen years to make the decision to no longer participate in the drama of something that happened to me when I was eighteen. 

The first eighteen years of my life I was naive. I had no fear. I was shy, awkward, and kind. The last eighteen years I’ve spent living inside a story. It’s followed me like a shadow. No longer naive, I’ve been afraid. I’ve been afraid to be strong. Staring down the next eighteen years of my life, I have a very simple intention. 

I plan on celebrating the fact that I am unbreakable. I plan on raising boys who are strong, kind and good.  

My story now belongs to you. It belongs to the people who need to find their strength. It belongs to those who are hurt and feeling broken. 

I promise you we are all unbreakable. 

Kindness is Quiet

“I’ve decide it is better to scream. Silence is the real crime against humanity.” ~Nadezhda Mandelstam

When I hit publish on the first blog post, So much more than no means no, I felt like an eighteen year old version of myself. I trembled. I took a shower and cried. In that shower and with those tears, I washed away the fear. I became empowered. 

I couldn’t sleep Monday night. A crack in my silence had formed, and I needed to get it out. I needed my words, my story, my voice on paper. In the dark while my house fell asleep, I wrote. 

Yesterday I went to hit publish again. It was time to scream: I was raped. I trembled. I took another shower and cried. This time it was a release. My body was squeezing out every what if I have ever played in my head. I was releasing every doubt, every bit of self blame, and every insecurity I’ve ever held. Putting my story on paper and hitting publish gave me my voice back. My story was no longer my burden to carry alone. I gave it back to the universe. 

Every single one of you caught me. You stood beside me. By reading my words, you offered to carry the weight with me. 

I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. You all have flooded me with love and compassion. You’ve lifted me up. You’ve celebrated my voice. You’ve made me feel safe. You’ve trusted me with your secrets.
At first it was my dear friends. The people who love me best today stood beside me. Then it was the people who loved me most during that year of my life. My heart exploded. I took the most comfort in the support from the people who have always provided it. Then friends of friends started reaching out followed by people I’ve never met. The ripple effect was beginning. My screams were being heard around the world.

Then I started to hear your stories too. My heart broke every time I received a message. I will carry your weight too. I will catch you. You are not alone. We are all stronger together. The words of support I received belong to you too. Please read them all. They are yours to keep. 

I couldn’t hear them when I was raped. During that year of my life, I heard the hatred. I felt the anger from all of his supporters. It was all I noticed. Eighteen years later, I see them for what they were: A small pack of teenagers who needed to be angry at someone. They were small in comparison to all of you. 

You didn’t just show up yesterday. You’ve been here the whole time. 

Kindness is quiet. It doesn’t scream from the rooftops. It doesn’t flood the streets of town with energy and anger. It doesn’t need to. It is kind. It is gentle. It is authentic. But what if it did? What if kindness flooded the streets with the same energy as anger?

In our broken society, we see and hear the broken.  We feel the anger. We highlight and focus on the bad, but kindness is everywhere. 

I am so sorry I couldn’t feel your kindness more. It was everywhere. From the boy who was brave enough to still like me the summer after high school. You brought me strawberry gum and candles because you knew I loved strawberries. I liked you too, but I was afraid. I no longer trusted the intentions of men, and I couldn’t see that you genuinely liked me. To the friends who didn’t know what do with this topic, neither one of us knew how to navigate the space. So many of you said sorry yesterday. I am sorry too. At eighteen, none of us should have to know how to deal with this. I’m sorry I didn’t trust your kindness. I’m sorry I let myself believe that no one believed me. To the people I let it, to the people who chose to love me, thank you. You are brave. You are strong. You suffered beside me, but I took all the attention. It was my burden to carry, but it spilt over on to you. Thank you for being strong enough to figure it out with me. 

I’m going to beg you all one more time. If you’ve taken the time to read this, help me make kindness loud. Today our world is flood with anger. It’s flooded with ego. It’s flooded with entitlement. It’s running for President. It’s raising our children. It’s shaping our future. 

Let’s make the world noisy with kindness. Be kind to your neighbor. Accept people for who they are. Celebrate our stories. Let’s assume we are all doing the best that we can, and let’s help each other do better. You all have showed me how to do it. 

Show up. 

We are stronger together. 

A few years ago, I got an email from my rapist. He wanted to know why I did that to him back then. I considered ignoring him, but I couldn’t. My response was simple. He has a different memory from that day. It has taken me my entire lifetime to recover from what he did to me, and I hope he can find his happiness as well. 

I tip toed around my story in this blog post: Loving Kindness. I wasn’t brave enough to share my truth then, but my heart found forgiveness. Today my heart has the same wish. 

May I be filled with loving kindness

May I be well

May I be peaceful and at ease 

May I be happy

May you be filled with loving kindness

May you be well

May you be peaceful and at ease 

May you be well

Please keep sharing. Please keep celebrating the young woman who was raped in Stanford. Let her feel our kindness. Share her story. Share my story. Share your story. But let’s heal the hearts of our rapist and their families too.  We have to stop the cycle. It doesn’t come from healing the survivors. It comes from healing the attackers. I hope that the Stanford rapist’s dad is able to fully examine how he lives life. I hope the rapist becomes aware of his evil. I hope my rapist can heal and do something wonderful with his life. I hope we can all heal. 

It is not us versus them. It is us. It is all of us. 

Help me make kindness heard. I’m so tired of anger being the only thing we hear. 

May you be filled with loving kindness 

May you be well

May you be peaceful and at ease

May you be happy




 

I was raped 

For five years, I’ve shared my story in this space but I always avoided it. I danced around it. I alluded to it. But I never acknowledged it. I never said the words I was raped on paper until yesterday. It’s never been a secret. It’s something I share in conversation with friends. It’s something I’ve never hid from, but why was I hiding here. Why did I consciously choose to not share? 

The answer is simple. Fear. I was afraid. I was afraid of people believing me. I was afraid people from my past would verbally attack me again. I was afraid I would be called a liar. I didn’t want to relive the trauma – not of the rape but of not being believed. 

Recent news has brought attention to the rape culture in our society. Today in 2016 a dad of a rapist believes that six months in jail is “too steep a price to pay for 20 minutes of action.” Today in 2016 a judge believes that six months in jail is a worthy sentencing for a man who raped an unconscious woman. When is our society going to stand together and say enough is enough. You will not do this to our children. You can not sexually violate my daughter or my son. 

Rape is historically a silent crime. The victims suffer in silence. 68% of all rapes are not reported to the police. 98% of rapist won’t spend one single day in jail. By remaining silent, we are sending the message that this is okay. IT IS NOT OKAY. It will never be okay. 

I remained quiet on my blog because of the same fear that silenced me in my journey. I was afraid, but today I’m breaking my silence. 

This is my story. 

This is my truth. 

I was raped. 


On May 4, 1998, a friend pulled into my driveway. As soon as I saw his car, my instincts told me to hide. I thought to myself, “I should pretend like I’m not home.” I quickly dismissed my thoughts as irrational, and I answered my door. We chatted. We hung out. He kissed me. He then disappeared upstairs. I called and called for him to come downstairs. He ignored me. Finally I ventured upstairs too. He needed to leave, but he wouldn’t get out.  He wouldn’t put me down. He wouldn’t stop touching me. He wouldn’t leave my pants on. He wouldn’t get off me. 

I begged him to stop. I said no over and over again. First as a statement then as a whisper. The more aggressive he became, the more I got lost in my fear. My nos turned to whispers. I became paralyzed by fear. I cried when he walked out of my room. As he finally went to walk out of my house he looked at me and said “I feel bad. You said no the whole time.” He left like nothing happened. He went about his day like what had just happened was normal. I was broken. 

I crawled into a ball on the couch because my bedroom felt disgusting. I cried myself to sleep. I entered a fog of confusion. In the days that followed, I seeked support. A phone call to a friend left me more confused. When I shared the details of the story, she told me “it’s normal. That happens to every girl.” Finally another friend looked at me and said “there is a term for what happened to you. It’s called date rape. Kristy, you were raped.” I was broken. 

My downward spiral continued. I slept in every class at school. A few teachers pulled me aside to ask if I was okay. I finally went to our brand new computer at home. We had just got internet and AOL. I searched date raped. I finally understood what happened to me. I understood the filth I felt all over my body. I was raped. I was broken. 

Four days after I was raped, I crawled into my parents bed late at night. I couldn’t stop crying. My dad had seen my searches on the computer. He knew. He called the police. 

What happened next I wasn’t prepared for. Police swarmed our house. Detectives took apart my bedroom. Fingerprint dust was spread on everything I remembered him touching. I was then taken to a local hospital with a rape center. In the middle of the night, I was escorted down back hallways to a secluded part of the hospital. I was greeted by a male nurse who explained everything that was about to happen. I was striped of my clothes. I was examined and photographed. Every part of my body was measured and touched and examined. My insides and my outsides were photgraphed. They were looking for all evidence of trauma. I laid naked on an examine table being photgraphed, and I cried.  I broke again. 

As wonderful as the detective was who oversaw my case, and as gentle and compassionate as the nurse was who guided me through a fragile moment, I felt exposed all over again, but this was just the beginning. 

My rapist was arrested at school. Rumors began to fly. He was released on bond, and quickly began talking. I became the attacker in the eyes of gossip-driven, drama-hungry high schoolers. I was the girl who cried rape. People stopped talking to me. They whispered as I walked by. Then it got worse. People started threatening to beat me up after school. I was afraid to walk down the hallways alone. I broke again. 

It didn’t stop. With my rapist back at school, I saw him. I saw him everywhere. I broke every single day. 

It didn’t stop there. In the middle of his science class, he threatened to kill me. He threatened to come to school and shoot me. He was finally asked to not return to school, but the attacks didn’t stop. His friends still threatened me. His supporters still tormented me. 

I was broken. I was lost. 

The next year of my life I relived every moment as I navigated the legal system. I went to therapy. I tried to create a life for myself that had nothing to do with rape, but it found me everywhere. I met my college boyfriend, and people told him not to date me because I was the girl who cried rape. While working at the mall, my rapist would walk back and forth in front of my store. My rape was everywhere. It clung to me. I couldn’t get it off my body or out of my life. I was broken. 

A year later, his court date finally arrived. Since it was the state versus my attacker, I was a witness in the courtroom. This meant I wasn’t allowed to be present during the court case. I could only be in the courtroom to testify and for the verdict. While I waited outside, I imagined pictures of my vagina being shown to the court, my rapist and his supporters. I know pictures of the lesions inside my body were shown. They shared my bruises. They shared my blood. They stole more of my privacy. 

During my testimony, I was asked hundreds of questions that felt irrelevant and confusing. Everyone wanted to know details about Internet searches and my understanding of the Internet. For what felt like a hour, I was asked about instant messaging and how I saved conversations. When he apologized to me for raping me over instant messager, I saved it. This became a focal point. When his highly paid attorney asked me questions, he got closer and closer to me in the witness stand. At one point his foot was propped up on the step that lead to my chair. I don’t know what he asked. I couldn’t breathe. My rapist was staring at me, and his lawyer was inches from my face. 

I was broken. Our system is broken. 

His lawyer is well known around town. He’s expensive, and to criminals, he’s worth every penny. I didn’t have a lawyer. I was a witness in a crime against the state of Virginia. The district attorney who was in charge of my case quit before the trail. The new lawyer meet me for the first time minutes before court began. 

He was found not guilty. He confessed to the detectives when he was arrested. He confessed to me over a recorded conversation set up by detectives. He apologized over instant messager. He was found not guilty. 

I ran and I ran and I ran. Down every flight of stairs in the courtroom. I ran until I hit a deadend, and I fell on the floor. I cried. I was broken. 

No one tells you what to do next. No one picks you up and tells you it’s okay. No one said they believed me. 

At nineteen years old, I had a solid (yet small) group of believers. My side of the courtroom was filled with my family, my boyfriend, and my two best friends. They believed me. They were my champions. They held me together when every piece of me fell apart. 

It’s been eighteen years, one month and  two days since I was raped. I take pride in overcoming something so large and so traumatic. I’m proud of my strength. But as I read the story of the rape survivor over the weekend, I still felt broken. I cried with her, and when she rose up and used her voice to fight back, I cheered her on! I would be her champion. I would share her words and rally behind her. But something deep inside of me still felt broken. Maybe you never heal. Maybe all the pieces never get put back together. 

I need to be her champion, but I need to be my champion too. 


For years I’ve been afraid. I’ve been afraid to put my story on paper because people don’t believe, didn’t believe, or won’t believe me. I don’t want to be the girl walking down the hallway in high school that hears nothing but whispers and fears for her physical safety. 

But this is my story. This is my truth. 

I was raped. 

But I’m not broken. 

I’ve always wonder which break hurt the worst: being raped or reliving the rape for the year after and during the trial. The wounds may heal, but the scars last a lifetime. 

I still panic the moment I feel like I don’t have control of my body. I’m sensitive to touch. I still have nightmares. 

But I’m not broken. 

Rape changed me forever. It altered my life path, and it has impacted all my life choices. It’s part of who I am. It’s part of my story. 

But it’s my story. It’s my story to tell. For nearly five years, I’ve avoided it because I still let the story belong to him. I let the story belong to his supports. 

Today I’m taking my voice back. 

I beg you. Please stand with me. Rape doesn’t come in one size fits all. It looks like my story. It looks like the woman’s story who was raped in Princton. It looks like the story of the approximately 293,000 woman and men who will be raped this year. We are millions of people strong. We deserve to have a voice. We deserve to be heard. We owe it to our children to rewrite the script of rape in our society. 

Share my story. Share your story. Please keep this conversation going. 

Rape is something that happened to me, but it is not who I am. I am a mother. I am a wife. I am a friend. I am strong. I am unbreakable. 

This is my story. 

So much more than No means No

There is an article floating around social media about a young woman who was raped. I read her words, and I cried. I read the details of her trial, and I cried. Then I started seeing more and more articles in my newsfeed. They focus on the rapist. He is portrayed as an Ivy League athlete instead of a rapist, but I don’t want to talk about him. He doesn’t deserve a voice. The day he choose to rape an unconscious woman, the day he took away her voice, is the day he lost his.

One day soon I will need to sit beside Cole and discuss with him consent. He sat in family life this year. He learned about sex, bullying and abuse. Every day he came home, and I asked him to share with me what he learned. With flushed cheeks he repeated the words of his teachers. While we both giggled a lot while he shared details, there was a reason I asked him these questions. I want to make sure we communicate. I want to make sure he knows he can talk to me even if we giggle our way through the conversation. I wanted to know what he was learning.

I wonder if they discuss rape? He never mentioned it. Do they teach them the basics? Do they teach our boys and our girls that no means no?

But the young lady that was raped couldn’t say no. She was unconscious. She wasn’t able to give consent. Rape is so much more than no means no. Consent isn’t given by the absence of no. Consent is given by participation.

I need to wrap my heart and my head around the words I’ll use to teach my boys about rape. As a society I think we teach the wrong script. We tell our girls how to avoid rape (really! Like any girl does anything to welcome it!). We teach our boys to stop if she says no. But what if she can’t say no? What if she’s unconscious? What if she whispers no instead of screams? What if she is so afraid that words can’t leave her lips? What if her eyes scream fear, but her body is paraylzed?

When I sit down next to Cole, I have my own story to tell him. I will tell him about me. I will tell him about being eighteen years old. I will tell him about my fear, my paralysis, and my rape. Rape doesn’t come in one size fits all. It doesn’t always happen in a dark alley after midnight by someone you have never met. Sometimes it happens after school by a friend who ignores your whispered nos and your pleas to leave.

When Cole is old enough and mature enough to consider having sex, I want him to know that it is meant to come from a loving place. It’s meant to be a celebration between two people. If for a moment he questions if his partner is willing, it’s his responsibility to stop.

I have so much admiration for the woman in the article. I applauded her strength, her courage and her vulnerability. She has taken her voice back. I hope I can find the same qualities as I sit beside my boys to discuss an incredibly important topic. I have to find my voice so I can guide them properly. We all do. We all owe it to our children, our sons and our daughters, to teach them more than no means no.

What if the rapist in the article’s parents sat beside him and told him to always make sure his partner was an active participant in sex. What if my rapist’s parents told him that even whispered nos mean no. Fear affects everyone differently. We don’t all fight back kicking and screaming. Rape doesn’t always look like it does in the movies.

Talk to your sons. Talk to your daughters. Let’s change the script of rape our society has written. Let’s save our next generation.

Every 107 seconds a rape occurs in America. 1 out of 6 American women will be raped. Take a moment to digest that number. That’s 17.7 million American woman.

It’s time we all take our voice back.

Lets guide our children to a different story

(Read more statistics and information on RAINN)
To read the rape survivors amazing words, Click Here

A Summer Promise

I’m guilty of it. I’m guilting of rearranging family life to accommodate a baby. There are families that seem to effortless transition into becoming parents and adding kids to their pack. I was not one of them. Chet stunned me in many ways. While I didn’t completely abandon everything, I did quit saying yes to scenarios I used to love because incorporating a baby overwhelmed me. Four years later No has become a reflex again. 

This summer I’m making a conscious effort to saying Yes to the things we love. This weekend was the first of many YESs this summer. When my parents asked us if we wanted to join them to listen to a friend and local musician play music, we said Yes. When friends invited us to a join them in a family beach day, we said Yes. 

What if Chet gets tired and cranky?

What if Chet is naughty?

What if Chet won’t leave my lap? 

I should know better by now. My adventurous and curious little guy thrives on being on the go. He never stops moving or talking. 

On Friday night I played glow stick sword battles with Chet while Cole stood front and center absorbing the energy of the band. He talked to the saxophone player about learning and growth. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset over the Sound. When our wedding song started playing, I got to dance with my husband (for a minute before both boys crashed the party). 

sunset at the Baja

On Saturday our entire family enjoyed an entire day in the sunshine on the beach. We stayed all day splashing in the waves and building sand castles. 

This summer I am going back to saying Yes to things that give me butterflies. 

Yes to more family beach days 

Yes to concerts on the beach

Yes to late night cruiser rides 

Yes to cookouts 

It’s no longer baby Chet that paralysis me from enjoying these summer moments (because he’s not a baby anymore). It’s the stress I assume I will feel if things don’t go according to plan. I’m sure there will be moments I’ll regret venturing out, but I’ll regret wasting away another summer even more. 

“The world is stuck because of the word ‘no’.” ~Dada Bhagwan

It’s time to revisit Saying Yes again. After all, it is one of the main reasons I started this blog. It’s no coincendenec that I always end up back here. Saying Yes has now become my reset button. When life and seasons change, bringing myself back to a place of Yes and possibility is how I make sure my wheels keep moving. 

(Maybe 40 day goals need to make a comeback too.)

I get nervous. 

I get nervous. Every few days, once a week, every now and then, I feel the anxiety attached to taking a leap of faith. Sometimes it consumes me. Other times it quickly leaves. 

Questions roll in looking for an answers. What are you doing? Where are you going? What’s next? Answers are no where to be found. 

This is the thing about leaping. You have to commit. You can’t jump and panic half way. You’ll tumble down, down, down if you let yourself over think. Once you leap, the only choice is to fly. 

A few years ago Christian and I took our mountain bikes to a local trail. It was new to me. I hadn’t looked at a map. I simply followed him. As we biked, the fall foliage quickly covered the trails. It was slippery. I felt unsteady. I couldn’t see where I was going. I got nervous. I started to panic. Where are we going? Which way does the trail go? What’s up ahead? 

Patient at first, Christian looked back to reassure me. All I had to do was follow him and the trail. The more unsure I became, the more I doubted him and our journey. All I had to do was follow him and the trail. 

Anxiety got the best of me that day. I got mad at him. I found my way back to our truck, I tossed my bike aside, and I sat there mad while he biked. I missed the entire experience. I never learned where I was headed or what was next because I didn’t trust the journey. 

Right now I’m half way through my leap. I’m in the phase where trusting is essential. As much as I’d like to think I’m digging in to the work needed to delivery me on the other side, I’m not. The real work right now is letting go. I’m still leaping. No work is required. I’ve already leaped. Can I trust the fall enough to truly let go? 

When the nerves creep in and the questions start to take over, can I trust myself and my intuition enough to continue to leap? 

I’ve stood on the edge of mountains and wondered will I catch myself? I’ve climbed mountains, and I’ve reached the middle wondering if it was smart to do this alone. I’ve always kept going. I’ve always leaped. I’ve always climbed. I’ve always been rewarded. 

Trusting the Fall

Every time Christian and I bike together, his favorite thing to yell at me is a moving wheel doesn’t fall over. You just have to keep moving. Anxiety and nerves make me stop in my tracks. They make me fall over. 

Right now isn’t the time to make my way back to the truck. It’s not the time to toss my bike aside. Right now is the time to embrace the experience. It’s time to live my husband’s advice. 

Like a bicycle, like a wheel, life only builds momentum when you keep moving. In life when taking a leap of faith, you have to trust the motion of rolling. Sometimes faster. Sometimes slower. Sometimes with no clear direction. But always further than yesterday. 

Take me back!

Defining Strength

Last October I crossed the finish line of the Chicago Marathon with a renewed love of running. I struggled emotionally through the entire training cycle. I cried during long runs by mile two. I questioned my strength, my ability and my worth. Over the course of 26.2 miles, I picked up all the broken pieces. I put myself back together. 

While I finished the race feeling whole, my body felt weak. Physically I lacked strength. When race photos were delivered, I was shocked by my appearance. It wasn’t a reflection of me (but maybe it was). My body caved in on itself. I folded in at my shoulders. My body was sinking. 


A new chapter began. I was on a quest to find my strength. I would become the one thing I’ve always doubted about myself. I would become strong. It was time to tell myself something new:

I am strong. 

It started as a physical quest. I joined a local gym (Evofit). Like all great transformations, working out has little to do with me physically. In this new space, my strength is becoming deeply rooted in my being. 

During the first week of April, I sat on the floor of the gym exhausted by the workout. In my training log, I wrote down the daily workout. Out of curiosity, I looked backwards. In March, I completed four workouts. In February, I completed two workouts. In January, four. In December, five. A seed was planted. Could I workout more during the first week of April than all of March? Could I workout more during April than the combined total since I joined the gym? I love a good challenge. My mission was set. 

The first week I was in class every day. On Friday, I celebrated. My body ached more than it has ever ached. Muscles hurt that I didn’t know I possessed. The trend continued. Every day I showed up. I finished April with twenty workouts in my training log. 


I’m carrying this new pattern with me through summer. Evofit sessions are the thing I log most on Strava. Running has taken a back burner. 

Through this process, I’m becoming aware of so much. By making an area of weakness my priority, I’m growing. I’m seeing myself from a different perspective. 

My greatest weakness was my weakness. My weakness is everything I saw in my pictures from Chicago. It’s caving in. It’s folding in on myself. It’s sinking. Physically. Emotionally. This is when I start to fall apart, and Evofit is showing me how to stay strong when this happens. 

While I’m finding a new physical strength that has me feeling stronger and running faster, it also has me standing taller. On days when I’m sinking, I now have a place to go that makes me feel strong. 

This journey to define my strength isn’t just bringing attention to areas of growth. It is also casting a spotlight on what has always made me strong. My strength has nothing to do with how many pounds I can lift or how quickly I can row 500 meters. The strength I’ve had inside of me this entire time is my ability to take on a challenge and welcome change. My strength is my ability to combine all aspects of growth and change. Transformation has to take place on every level, and I embrace this. 

Physically I’m changing, but this change is so much more than physical. This new chapter has exposed me to a brand new place to call home. 

“We can’t be brave in the big world without at least one small space to work through our fears and falls.” ~Brene Brown

How lucky am I that my space to work through all my fears and falls is my own body! 

Chicago Marathon (October). ODU 5k (April). Corpoate 5k (May).

Corporate 5k – People, Puddles and Purpose

Running is my therapy. Being on the trails feeds my soul. But racing! Racing is a different story. Racing always leaves me feeling vulnerable and exposed. I show up to every start line committed to giving it my best on that day, yet there is so much you can’t control. Some race finishes leave me feeling triumphant while other races leave me feeling like I’m face down in a mud puddle. 

I’m on a quest this summer to conquer the 5k PR I set in November 2013. The time to beat is 24:50 (7:59 pace). My plan is simple. Get strong. Run a 5k a month. Grab a new PR before I start training for half marathons this fall. 

Yesterday I ran my May 5k at the inaugural J&A Racing Corporate 5k. This race was a little different than most 5ks in the area. With a focus on employee wellness and corporate involvement, it was a 5k race after work with a tailgate party to follow. The race kicked off at 6:30pm just outside our local baseball stadium. 

I had all day to be nervous. I had all day to come up with scenarios of success and failure. Would I finish feeling triumphant or would I finish face down in the mud?

After a gentle reminder to let go of outcome expectations, I took a few deep breaths and made a mental list of my own expectations. What was I hoping to achieve?

  • Run faster than ODU 5k
  • Feel strong
  • Feel healthy 
  • Run mentally strong

There is a reason my 5k PR is nearly three years old. There were a few years where I mentally struggled with racing. I was afraid to get uncomfortable. I shut down when it got hard. I may still be wiping some of that mud off my face. All day I felt vulnerable and exposed. Would I end up back in the mud puddle after I’ve worked so hard to lift myself out of it. 

When I arrived in the parking lot of the race, rain decided to welcome me. It was nothing like a typical day in May in Virginia. Cold, wet and windy. My nerves would not relax. 

Rain or shine, I was running. Good day or bad, I was going to run with all I had to give. It was time to race. 

“I believe that vulnerability—the willingness to show up and be seen with no guarantee of outcome—is the only path to more love, belonging, and joy.” ~Brene Brown

With three great friends by my side, the race was off. The start was incredibly congested. Puddles filled the streets. My own personal game of leap frog started my race off strong. 

Mile 1 – 8:24

Mile 1 arrived, and I felt great. Had I gone out too slow? My good friend Karen stuck by my side for the race. She knew my goal was to run faster than a 8:30 pace. With her on pacing duties, I promised to not look at my watch once. There is no room for second guessing in a 5k.  Keep running hard. 


Mile 2 – 8:24

With little running since Shamrock, I was shocked by how good my cardio felt. My quads were burning, but my entire body felt engaged. Instead of focusing on what hurt, I focused on what felt strong. 

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. 

Mile 3 – 8:22

With the finish literally around the corner (around the baseball stadium straight towards home plate), I just focused on holding on. 
Final stretch – 7:42 pace 

Garmin finish – 3.22 miles, 26:51 (8:20 pace) 

Official finish – 5k, 26:52 (8:39 pace

Love hearing him announce my name at the finish

While the official time is a few seconds slower than the ODU 5k, the course was longer. The growth is clearly there. My pacing (and pacer) was perfect. I don’t think I’ve ever run a race this consistent. My body feels strong. My confidence is growing. 

This race was a huge win! 

Pushing through the fear of the unknown, of expectations, and discomfort is worth it every time. Sometimes you do end up face down in the mud, but sometimes you soar! Showing up and giving your best is only way to learn to fly. 

My Evofit Family

Twelve. 

I was twenty four years old the day Cole was born. Looking back, I was a baby. I got pregnant the summer after college having never worked an adult job. I spent that summer, fall and winter loving every moment of being pregnant. I was fascinated by the process. I read every book I could find. I educated myself on choices I knew new moms needed to make for their newborns. 

Always gravitating towards a more organic way of life, I was the black sheep in the small military town in lower Alabama. People thought I was crazy for wanting a natural child birth. A neighbor exclaimed that she prayed to God I’d only have girls because I didn’t support circumcision. I did my homework. I became a student of child birth. I became a student of how I wanted to birth and raise my baby. 

Moments after Cole was born, he was taken away from me to be treated for fluid in his lungs. After six hours of labor, I sat in a room alone and lonely. Every inch of me needed my baby next to me. Cole recovered quickly and was nursing a hour later, but in that one hour my instincts came to life. This was the moment I was born. Giving birth to Cole welcomed me to my true self. Cole became my compass. 

Cole has always been my compass. He has always been my guide. 


Today, on Cole’s twelfth birthday, there is a change in our relationship. When he was a baby, he was comforted by my nurturing. As a toddler, kisses and hugs made things better. As a boy, distractions and giggles made his worries disappear. He’s not a boy any more. He’s growing and maturing. He’s establishing who he is as a person. I’m establishing who I am as a mother. 

Cole has delivered me to where I belong, and now it’s my turn to guide him. It’s my turn to teach him all lessons he taught me. It’s my turn to be his compass. Nurturing, kisses, hugs, and giggles have been replaced with conversations and walks. We discuss breathing and what it feels like to be overwhelmed. He laughs at my guiding breathing instructions, but when I’m not looking I see him dileberately inhaling and exhaling. 

In so many ways Cole and I have grown up together. Our lives have always been parallel. As he transitions into teenage years, I’m transition too. He’s finding his wings as I’m finding freedom in mothering. Together we are learning to fly. 

Happy Birthday to the little boy who taught me how to live and love. Happy Birthday to the baby who made me a mother.