Sunday, January 13, 2019

Allow me to introduce myself...again.

For those of you who are new here, allow me to introduce myself...for those of you who have followed with me you can skip on down. My name is Jessica, but I go by Jess or Crash or The Martinator. So unless you're my 90 year-old grandma or you're about to ground me for joy riding in your Lexus, don't call me Jessica. I am a science geek with a masters and more letters after my name than actually make up my own name. I love to learn, like to a point where my parents have lost hope that I'll ever leave school, but hey student loans are erased upon death so I have that going for me...

I never announced this, but in August 2018 I accepted the position teaching anatomy & physiology at Kansas State University. I decided to leave a job and people that I love at Missouri State University for an opportunity and a new challenge. It's been one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. There have been more skype calls and used phone minutes than ever before, many hours spent on the road driving back and forth and more tears shed than I care to admit, but you'll never grow in your comfort zone. I have big dreams I plan to conquer and unfortunately taking this step was one way to get me closer to those dreams. 

I am a bionic human held together with dental floss, some fishing wire, a role of duct tape, and a couple of screws my surgeon found at the bottom of his briefcase; no lie here. A dozen surgeries in and I am still going (I really wanted to put strong after that, but at this point I'm just glad I'm still going, ha). I'm a former collegiate soccer player, nationally ranked off-road triathlete and mountain biker, an ultramarathoner and I've recently taken up snowboarding. So as you can tell from the all encompassing list above I do not enjoy adrenaline pumping through my veins what. so. ever.

This past August I had my fourth knee surgery. Yes, you read that correctly. Number four. After spending a week in the hospital and going into anaphylaxis three or four times while I was there, it was determined that my body was rejecting my previously implanted hardware in my reconstructed knee (from blowing it out two years ago). It was also determined that I had contracted Alpha Gal earlier in the's this awesome new food allergy that you get from a tick bite that causes you to become allergic to red meat *insert eye roll here*. Let's add that to celiac (allergy to gluten) and allergies to mangoes and pineapples. Ha the list of foods I'm able to eat is getting a little short these days...

The reason why I have decided to reintroduce myself and bring light to my food allergies is that I have decided yet again to push myself outside of my comfort zone and become a consultant with Arbonne. I was skeptical when introduced to them, I thought "oh great, another fad diet." But I wanted something that could help kickstart my nutrition and get me back into the gym after another surgery. My joints felt like crap and once I got to reading about them I was blown away at all of the science and clinical research that goes into their products...and as a cell & molecular biologist this carries a lot of weight with me. I gave them a try. I did the 30 days to healthy living with my own spin on it and their protein was the first one that didn't make my stomach hurt after ingesting. Anyway, I'm excited to try something new and embark upon this new journey. I'll be sharing my thoughts throughout and my progress along with more of my story of how I got to be where I am at today, should you want to hear it. Also, if you have questions feel free to give me a shout!

But for now I am off to watch some playoff football. 

Until next time friends.

- j

Saturday, April 21, 2018

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

I'm sitting here in an empty house in the middle of the night contemplating my life, working on homework and stressing myself out like normal, and wondering how I ended up here. I think about the things that have happened, good and bad, in the last year and a half since I last blogged. It's been awhile. A long while.

A friend once told me the reason that he talked so much was that he believed he had a lot to tell the world. I love that, mainly because I am a person who talks all the damn time. Ask anyone, especially the people who are closest to me and they will tell you that I have to talk about things until I am blue in the face...I'll take a breath and continue talking that topic to death. Especially if it's a situation that involved me doing something wrong/hurting someone (I mean, come on...I'm writing a blog on it too for goodness sake). I have no idea why I am this way, but I have been this way for my entire life so I guess I will run with it. But in the last year and a half (besides my last lil post) I guess I just haven't had a lot to say.

Lately I've been on this weird kick of evaluating who and what is important in my life. Does it make me happy or cause me stress? Is this person making me better or worse? Am I satisfied with the life I am leading or am I merely going through the motions?

These questions have been stressing me the hell out. Mainly because I am a chronic over-thinker, like to the point where I can make myself sick...In fact I broke down in my professor's office yesterday, hysterical about something I said to someone that will probably not matter in the next month. But it happened and I need to look at why so that is doesn't happen again.

One of my goals this year was to let people in more, no not further in my front door or allow those to enter my closet of an office. I mean emotionally. I am AWESOME at keeping people at a distance, far enough that they can see I am blonde and have blue eyes - but not really, far enough they can see that I am sarcastic and goofy and apparently have a resting face that is equivalent to that of the human version of a grumpy cat. Nothing more and nothing less. They don't get to see the side of me that cries in her car at 2am because she hurt her friend's feelings or the girl that laughs so effing hard that she snorts and has snot running out of her nose. They don't get to see that because they are not in my bubble. I spent plenty of years being taunted and put down for my loud and big personality and my goofiness, so you better believe that the people I have allowed into my bubble have been thoroughly vetted. The only people that get to see that side are the ones who I trust with my heart in their hands.

I've lost a little bit of that happy girl...the one who laughs until she snorts. I miss her and her inability to hold a conversation because she's laughing too hard. The girl that laughs at jokes from three days ago or randomly busts out laughing in the middle of class. She's still here, but in hiding. I see glimpses of her now and again. I'm working on getting her back, but it will take some time and some self-love.

As I wrote in my last post I am not an emotionally attached person. I am that way for a multitude of reasons that I will not get into here, because frankly they're run of the mill at best and kind of boring. I run away when people get close enough to see my emotional scars. I have done this my entire life and I am TRYING so damn hard to not do this anymore. It's scary. It is literally one of the scariest things that I have ever done in my life. Scarier than traveling to China or being dropped from 300ft in the air attached to nothing more than a glorified piece of dental floss or jumping from a two-story rock in Honduras or relearning how to walk or when faced with the reality that I could die from complications of past surgeries. The physical pain I can handle and will embrace all damn day, but emotional and mental...uhhh yeah no. Don't sign me up for that.

One of the things that keeps me awake at night, besides my brain reminding me of my top 100 favorite songs of my life, is when I get scared or hurt by something or I have hurt someone, I shut down or accidently hurt people in return with my responses to things. I can become cold and distant almost immediately. It was a coping mechanism that I used growing up to avoid the pain I was in. It's hard to explain, but if you know me at all then you may catch my drift, maybe. The last few weeks have been a roller coaster of emotions. I feel like I have been up and down and all over the place. This is not me, normally. Instead of running away, I have dug my heels in determined to stay put, and because I am insecure and uncomfortable, I have lashed out and said things I didn't mean, unintentionally hurting people that I love...which in turn causes me to lay in bed, hate myself and cry hysterically. When will I learn? Why am I this way? These are just a few of the questions that run through my head. The fact that I get uncomfortable and insecure has nothing to do with anyone other than myself and this weird need to have barriers up at all times. It's something that I always feel the need to explain and talk through, but let's get real...even my closest friends will get sick of hearing me ramble about the same thing, like I'm on a repeating loop. But because I am an over-thinker and an over-talker, I have a hard time of letting things go. It's fucking annoying, let me tell ya because I have some pretty awesome, badass people in my life who love me very much...which I know I make difficult at times, and who I love immensely in return. They remind me of this daily and yet I fail them more often than I would care to admit. And on the days when my world feels like it is crashing down around me and I feel like I have ruined everything I look back through my text messages from the people who I love and who love me in return (yes I am one of those people that screenshots texts that are meaningful). Because more often than not sometimes I need that reminder that I am doing okay in life, even though I falter, that my existence brings hope and joy to people, most days...and that one day I will look back and be stronger for the struggles that I have endured.

I've been trying to do a better job of letting people know how much they mean to me, simply by telling them, hiding notes, doing a task for them, asking them how they are and about their life (<-- I love when people ask me this) and then I sit and wait for an answer, not with the intention or replying, but to engage in a conversation with them. I BELIEVE THAT YOU CAN NEVER OVEREXPRESS HOW MUCH YOU CARE FOR SOMEONE (I'm serious about that, in case the all caps didn't give it away)...but none of those things will ever be enough if I keep having these [insert word here] that shows them otherwise. I've been praying a lot. The Big Guy upstairs and I are still playing phone tag, but I have been leaving quite a few messages lately. In earlier posts I have explained my struggle, struggle is not a good word here...but I can't think of anything better at the moment...with my faith. The only thing that I can continue to do is thank God daily for the people he has put in my life and promise to do better with each interaction, each day, each week by showing how grateful I am for them.

"Please stop overthinking life like you have to have an answer to every feeling or situation. That's not how life works. We figure it all out by just living, by fucking up, by missing an opportunity, by seeking advice and not taking it. We learn what's important and what isn't. Sometimes we have no fucking idea what to do and it's scary but it's okay. Always trust your gut and know that everything will work out exactly the way it is supposed to be. It always does. Relax, we were never in control anyway."
- Anonymous 

Sunday, March 4, 2018

All The Feels

I never know how to start these blog posts. I always sit down with something in mind that I want to talk about, the words flow through my head so quickly that I can't keep track of them and then by the time I sit down to write there is nothing. Absolutely nothing. Can I play the "brain card" here? If you don't get that reference you can look at my NYE post from a few years ago.

I'm sitting at my desk pondering where to start on my "to-do" list that includes 27 different things I need to get done, by yesterday. Needless to say I'm procrastinating, like normal. I've had enough caffeine to overdose a baby elephant so maybe I can get some things done later...

We're already in March, specifically the 63rd day of 2018. It blows my mind how fast time seems to move. Wasn't I just in Europe like last week? And preparing for my brother's wedding last month? They say time flies when you're having fun and let's be real, I have been having a lot of fun lately. I started a post recapping 2017, but I never published it. I don't know why. I got half through and decided it was boring so it is sitting in my draft folder. The beginning of this year was hard for me, I went through a breakup that affected more than I thought it would or should, I guess. For those of you who know me I am not an emotionally attached person, even though I try my hardest not to be, or at least hide it. "Try" being the key word there since my emotions might as well be tattooed on my forehead. It takes an extreme amount of work on my part to open up to people about my past, the hardships and traumas I've dealt with, my insecurities, my lack of self-confidence. I have perfected the art of putting up walls with people in order to prevent myself from being hurt, which is silly because how can you have a meaningful connection with someone if you aren't true to yourself and allow them to get to know the real you? (This is something that I question every. single. freaking. day). I'm working on this and I believe that it will be a life-long process. Anywho, my point is that I took a leap of faith last year and allowed myself to be emotionally vulnerable. It was scary as hell revealing my scars, physical and emotional, and essentially giving someone a look into the real me. It was scary and exhilarating and freeing and traumatic and ....insert any adjectives you'd like here. The experience was eye-opening for me. It taught me that by allowing myself to be vulnerable like that can lead to so much growth and healing. Even though the person that I shared that experience with is no longer apart of my life I can still look back and be thankful.

Fast forward to the beginning of the semester, classes have started (YAY! I love being back in school). I have met all kinds of new and interesting people. I am in my happy place. My walls are up, just enough that I can get to know new people, but they won't get to know me. I am comfortable, I am in my space. I am keeping everyone at arm's distance because that is what I do, from there is where I operate. *Cue new friend busting into my life demanding to be apart of it. Literally that's how I feel that it happened. At a point in my life where I was content to push everyone away, they kicked down my walls and illuminated my life in a way that few people have ever done. I have never clicked with someone so fast, as if you have known them for years, they seem to understand you better than you understand yourself. Never experienced the freedom to be truly and utterly my ridiculous the point where I am laughing so hard that I am crying, snorting, and having trouble breathing. Or sobbing because of something that happened to me when I was younger. We connected on a level where I was comfortable sharing my deepest and most guarded secrets, ones that I have never even said out loud before. I allowed myself to be vulnerable again, even though it scared me...and still does every day. I feel like I give a piece of myself to everyone I let into my life and eventually I will have no more of me left to give to anyone else. I bring this up because I caught myself reverting back to the insecure little girl who is used to disappointment. I made a stupid comment that was met with a "what the hell do you mean by that?" look. As soon as I said it I had a sinking feeling, pit of my stomach I need to vomit feeling. I don't even know why I said it. Maybe I was uncomfortable with how close I have let myself get to this person, maybe I was trying to prepare myself for them to leave, or maybe...who knows. It was stupid on my part. This person has shown me nothing but love and acceptance and I backhanded them with an insult that wasn't even warranted. I hurt them, which makes me feel, I need something better than "absolutely terrible." I let my insecurities come out in a situation where they shouldn't have. We hugged, I cried, they laughed, all is right in the world again.

I decided to write about this because it has been bothering me lately. It bothers me that I continue to allow my past to dictate my interactions with people. Not everyone will take a piece of me when they go, not everyone will use me to further their agenda, people will be put in my life to love me and for me to love them. This process, for me anyway, is a lifelong journey. It is a way of continuing to discover who I am and allowing people to come into my life and embrace who I am, even if I am not quite there myself.

On that note I believe that is all I have to rant about for now. I thank God every day for the people who have come into my life and continue to love me unconditionally even on days that I struggle to love myself...and for people who allow me to love them the best way I know how.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Where Does the Time Go?

It's been two and a half years since I blogged last. Where does the time go? Like seriously, how are we already going into 2018...

So much has happened in the last few years, but not much has changed. I'm still just a big kid trying to decide what I want to do when I grow up, but let's be real...I'm not planning on growing up anytime soon. Since I posted last I have:

- graduated grad school.
- run multiple ultramarathons.
- become an instructor of Anatomy at MSU.
- broken my leg & blown out my knee.
- come back from a career injury, again...
- gone to Asia, TWICE.
- backpacked Spain alone.
- begun dating someone.
- witnessed my baby brother get married.
- started another degree.

So many things have happened, big life things, but yet I feel like my life is relatively still the same. I still go to school multiple times per week, to teach this time, not as a student (until next semester any way). I still am on the soccer field almost every night, and I am still exploring the world going on adventures and meeting new people.

2016 sucked. Like really sucked. I finished 2015 on a high note and rolling into 2016 it looked to continue that pattern, I went to Hawaii to visit some friends for my birthday and then headed on to China . I fell in LOVE with Asia. Had an amazing trip visiting some amazing friends, but then I broke my leg and blew out my knee. See ya life. I spent 4 months in bed. 2 surgeries. Countless appointments and I am still working back from that. But that's okay, I'm used to fighting my way back.

2017 though, now this year and been a year of many firsts. So far this has been an INCREDIBLE year. I started it off with a bang. I decided to backpack Spain, alone, which was probably one of the best decisions I have ever made. I met so many people from so many different countries. It was scary at first, but what an unbelievable experience. I worked on my Spanish and grew as a person. Couldn't ask for much more.

Then before I knew it we were at summer. In July my brother and my cousin both married their sweethearts. I have never had so much fun in my life or danced as much as I did at those weddings. I met my boyfriend at my cousin's wedding. I decided to take a leap of faith and ask one of my cousin's cute groomsman to dance...I really shouldn't use ask because I mostly just pulled him onto the dance floor. It was later into the reception, I had noticed him all night and I figured, what the heck! I ran up to him, grabbed his hand and pulled him onto the dance floor. As I pulled this Army guy onto the dance floor I giggled as I said, "put that drink down, I need someone to dance with me...oh by the way, I'm Jess. Kevin's cousin." We danced the night away and have been together ever since. I love our story and the kind, sweet man that I took a risk on that night. Since summer this year there has been a lot of back and forth traveling for both of us, but you will find no complaining here. I'm happy with any time I can get with him.

The last big thing of the year, so far. I backpacked Asia with my best friend. We did China, Thailand, & Vietnam. What an adventure. We did so many interesting things. Saigon was not impressive, in fact we tried to leave early. The city was a typical big city with trash and graffiti everywhere, rats (gross), and touristy nonsense. We did visit the War Remnants Museum and see their view of the war. I knew the Vietnam War was bad, but lordy...

Thailand was probably the best of the Asia part of the trip. Surfing, swimming with elephants, driving a motorbike on the left side of the road were just a few of things we experienced...and the food. Delicious. Then after Thailand I got to spend an entire week with the BF. It was so fun! Definitely a change from our normal quick weekend trips to visit each other. I loved being able to just be with him. Doing normal life. Cooking dinner together, watching tv, working out. An experience I will not take for granted.

That has been life for me up until now. Sheesh, two and a half years. Don't worry friends, I won't take that much time off of blogging again I hope.

Until next time.

- j

Monday, May 11, 2015

Onto the Next Chapter: Life & Training

It has been awhile since I posted any updates on training or life in general, so here is what has happened in the 3 months since my last post.

I completed my last classes as a graduate student last week.

I take my last final exam as a graduate student tomorrow.

I taught my last class as a graduate assistant.

I defend my thesis in two weeks and I'm done.

It is finally starting to hit me that my journey as a "college kid" is coming to an end. It is surreal and odd, but exhilarating and somewhat exciting. I have been in college working towards something, anything since 2007. I can't believe I even admitted to that. I feel as if I have turned into what others refer to as a "professional student." But on Friday when I walk across that stage, no more student here. The last thing on the to-do list is to prep for and defend my thesis. It has been a long road and there were many times that I thought that I would not be able to complete this journey (I guess I technically haven't completed it yet...). There were a lot of tears involved, a lot of curse words, and melt-downs, but I suppose that is what graduate school is for. To teach you how to be strong and fight for what you want, even if it is just a piece of paper with a shiny emblem on it. That piece of paper represents a lot. It represents all the plans I canceled, the holidays I missed, the friends that got left behind. It represents my family's support, my sanity (or lack thereof), the number of Friday nights spent at home or in the lab. It represents a part of me that I knew was there, but I had to prove to everyone else. But most of all it represents all the sacrifices my family and I have made so that I could pursue a dream.

It's scary to close a chapter of your life because honestly I have no idea what comes next. Do I get a grown-up job? Do I apply for more schooling? Do I become a snow bum and move to the mountains? So many questions and no answers. For once I think I am okay with that. I'm excited to see what comes next for me.

Training Update -- for all of you who are curious about my training, well here is an update for ya! It's going great. I ran my longest run in 3+ years yesterday, 11 miles! I went slow and ran the entire way. I was nervous and anxious about this run, I didn't know how my body would respond. My back has been giving me problems for almost a month now. The run was great, the weather was nice, and I even got a nice little tan. That being said I am feeling even more confident about the 24k I have coming up at the end of the month at XTERRA Eureka Springs!

I realized something yesterday with all that time to think. I am not a pretty runner, I am not graceful or elegant as I run. I turn red and look as if I might pass out, my form is mediocre at best, and don't get me started on that posture of mine, but amidst all of that, I am a runner. It doesn't matter how fast I go or the mileage that I do, all that matters is that I lace up those shoes and I put one foot in front of the other. I don't need a cute outfit or the newest shoes. All I need is my music, my shoes, and the road/trail.

This journey so far has been interesting, it has helped me reconnect with a part of me that I thought died when I left the sport of triathlon. It has helped me realize that training for something bigger than yourself is more of a motivator that anything else. Running in support of the Rampy MS Foundation pushes me every day to be better because I know they are behind me 100%. I appreciate everyone who has given me words of encouragement and supported my cause. Because of you the fight against MS is stronger than it was before!

I should probably finish up this last lab report. Until next time.

- J

If you would like to donate to my fundraiser you can follow the link below:

Friday, February 6, 2015

50k Training/Life Update

It's been about three or four weeks since I announced that I am running a 50k. Here's an update on life since I dropped that bombshell.

School has been CRAZY. I get up at 4 am most mornings and try to be at school by 5 so that I can get myself ready for the day, work on homework, or my thesis paper. Load up five classes on top of that and I feel like I am slowly going crazy. Running around trying to figure out what it is I forgot to do this time.

Thesis paper is going okay. Slow, but progress is being made in some capacity...from what I am told that is a good thing. Teaching is GREAT. I love it, so much more than I thought I would.

Free time has been scarce so my training has been sporadic. I manage to get in about three days of running each long runs are already in the double digits! I feel great during my runs; strong, confident, like I could run forever (some days).

I try and make it to Crossfit when I can...which isn't as often as I would like. But I still make a couple of times a week.

I finally got my Donation Page set up so that anyone who wants to support me on this crazy ride of mine can! My 50k isn't until November, but I am starting my fundracin' early (you'll get it when you see my page). There you can read about my back story, if you haven't already heard me blab about it, as well as read about the Rampy MS Foundation.

That is all I have for now, off to the library.

If you want to donate following the link below. Thank you in advance for your support! I appreciate it more than you know!

- j

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Running a 50k....Insane or Ambitious?

Every year when this time of year comes around it gets me thinking. Thinking about my birthday and how much older I'll be. Did I accomplish what I wanted to or I thought I would by this age? Usually the answer to this is no. In fact I never thought that far in advance as a kid/teenager. I could hardly think past the next meal, let alone to what lay ten years down the road for me.

I'll be 26 next month. 26?! I can't believe that I am on the downhill slope of my twenties. Where did my time go? That shouldn't be a question really, more like a statement. I know where they went, if you check in the library of my last two universities you'll find the last 8 years of my life in the "reference" section. I love school, that is why I am still here. At least that is what I tell myself most days...I either love it enough to continue on sticking around or I'm afraid of what the real world holds. If I'm honest, it's both.

This semester will be a defining point in my graduate career as well as my life! I am technically in the last semester of my degree program, I am in the process of meeting all and more of my degree requirements and am finally moving in the right direction on my thesis. These next four months could be my last chance to put off wearing real pants anywhere. (As a college student I feel that being in school is still a valid excuse to wear sweatpants EVERYWHERE. When asked "why didn't you dress up to go out tonight?" "Oh yeah, I had a test today. My brain is more comfortable resting when I'm wearing sweats, but thanks for asking.") The decision I have before me now is whether to apply to PA (Physician Assistant) School, apply for my PhD, or to call it done and become an adult.

So many choices, so little time.

Oh and I started teaching today! It was amazing and so fun. I may be jumping the gun by saying that only after the first day, but it was great getting to share my passion and my knowledge about anatomy with students who are exciting to learn more about it! Or are there by no choice of their own. On top of that I am taking 5 grad classes. Yep you read that right, 5. I'm only on my third day and have barely slept, have papers and assignments that are due soon, but no one ever said that grad school was easy.

Now that I have gotten all of those thoughts out of the way, the real reason behind this blog was to share with you a milestone that I have decided to tackle this year, a 50K! How crazy and exciting is that?! I am nervous yet excited to be taking on something of this magnitude. It was be a 31 mile trail run in November. Who would've thought I would ever tackle that. I have always wanted to run a marathon, but felt like that was something that I couldn't accomplish because of multiple hip surgeries. Now I say screw it, I'm gonna try anyway. Even if my body can't take the training load, at least I will know that I gave my heart and soul to it. The even cooler thing....I will be racing with Team Endurance for MS, which is an AWESOME organization out of NW Arkansas that has partnered with University of Arkansas to find a cure for MS. I am overjoyed to join them on my way to conquering this goal of mine.

If you have any interest in checking them out, which you should, go to their website!; they are doing amazing things, and they are amazing people. Did I mention I know them? I think that ups my cred some. Kidding.

Since I will be running for their team my goal this year is to raise $750 for their cause. Will you support me? You can give me a penny per mile or any amount of your choosing. Help us beat MS!

Allow me to introduce myself...again.

For those of you who are new here, allow me to introduce myself...for those of you who have followed with me you can skip on down. My name ...