6 Months and Counting, Baby

 “What brought you to New York?” is a question I am asked an average of 3 times every week. Of course, depending on who’s asking, I have a different answer. My usual go to is, “Oh, I moved because I had been in Chicago for 6 years and was ready for a change. I have always wanted to be closer to my family.” My PR response? “I was offered an incredible position with Prosek Partners and knew the move would bring me much closer to family. It was an opportunity I could not pass up!” (Insert smile and enthusiasm here). The truth is, I moved from Chicago because I had to, I was drowning. To clarify, I say “I had to” because I did not see drowning as a viable life option. I knew I had to get out, so I did.

Today marks 6 months of living in NYC. From the day my mom dropped me off at my cousin’s house after our 13 hour drive from Chicago until now, it’s been 182 days of New York City living. Has it been easy? Absolutely not. The past six months have been filled with so many tears, countless moments of confusion, sadness and feelings of complete loss. Has it been worth it? Absolutely.

The past six months have been some of the most transformatory (I realize this is not a word…but it should be 😉 ) months of my life. I have learned so much about myself and what I need to be happy and live a fulfilled life. I have also learned so much about what I will not stand for, what I will not accept and more importantly, what I do not deserve. I have learned how to love myself so much more than I have ever loved myself before.I moved here, to New York, very broken. In the beginning, there was not a day that went by that I did not breakdown and cry. After months of being here, there still was not a day that I did not breakdown and cry. But now, six months and counting, I can finally say I am on my road to a more peaceful place. I can finally say “I am okay,” and actually mean it. Do you know how powerful that feels? To have someone ask you how you are and be able to say, “I’m okay! You?” And actually mean it?

New York City did not take away my pain, but it gave me the opportunity to begin to heal. Trust me, it’s still stress city for me. I am still fighting sadness, although it is more fleeting now than ever before and I still hold my breathe every time my Mom or Dad calls me, but it’s different now. It’s less stress city than ever before. My heart is lighter for the first time in many months and I am okay. I am moving forward. Do I still think of the real reasons that brought me to New York? Every single day. But, does that stop me? Not one bit. I’m moving forward and I have never looked back.

So, cheers, cheers to all the balls, all the walls. Cheers to 6 months and counting in this beautiful new city I am beginning to call home.

JFW NYC_Central Park (2){Fav. walking spot in Central Park ~ August 2015}

23 Things I Learned During 23

This past year, 23, was the hardest, most challenging year of my life so far.  I’ve experienced some pretty difficult years too, but this one definitely took the cake. With that said, I’m a big believer in the power of reflection, whether it is in your head, out loud, in a journal, etc., I think reflection is key to keep learning, keep moving forward, and to help you continue to grow into your best self. In the spirit of reflection I have created a list of 23 things I have learned during my 23rd year. Cheers to the end of 23 and taking all of these ‘hard earned’ lessons with me on the journey of 24.

23 Things I Learned During 23

1. It’s okay to start over.
2. Social media does not always tell the truth.
3. Most likely, at all times, you are doing better than you think.
4. Sometimes love is not enough.
5. That age old saying, “everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle,” is true. Everyone is fighting a hard battle.
6. Bravery can still be present, even in the face of fear.
7. Sometimes really good people do really bad things.
8. When you think you have hit rock bottom, you can always go deeper. And, because I believe there is an opposite to almost everything, with this I also believe that if you think you are so happy, having the time of your life, you can always be happier, reach greater depths of joy, etc.
9. A weekend spent with a best friend will always help you heal.
10. There is such strength in vulnerability.
11. Jumping in and showing up is the hardest part, what comes next is easy.
12. About 99% of the time when you think, “I can’t do this alone,” you can.
13. Brutal honesty is always better than the harshest lie.
14. Acceptance is the key to growth, to happiness and to peace.
15. “No.” is a complete sentence. It is okay to say no and not offer an explanation.
16. When you are going through a hard time and all you did in a day was shower, make it into work and then come home, you’re doing a great job.
17. It is called “going through it” for a reason. If you’re going through something, you will come out of it.
18. Scars come in all forms and some scars we cannot see. Be mindful of other people’s scars.
19. It is okay to not be okay and to acknowledge it by saying, “I am not okay, I am sad.”
20. Always answer the phone. Even if you need to say “I need to call you back.” Always answer the phone.
21. Never underestimate the power of sending a thoughtful card through the mail to a friend in need. Someday you may be that friend.
22. You are much stronger than you think you are.
23. Be kind to yourself and when you think you are being kind to yourself, be kinder.

NYC Marathon, Here I Come!

julia race 2{2013 Boston Half Marathon ~ Me and Sissy}

As many of you know, I have signed up to run the New York City Marathon this year! I know…you’re probably thinking I’m insane…I am. As most crazy, big decisions in my life, I usually have a baseline feeling about them, but then just jump right in. Some would call that impulsive, and some decisions have been impulsive (…Beau) but other decisions, although made swiftly, felt 100% right the second the idea came into my head (…leaving Chicago)….choosing to run in the NYC marathon was just this.

I have run two half-marathons and my first was a huge accomplishment- overcoming a three year struggle with painful, painful knee problems. The second, run last year, definitely felt like a success but I barely trained for it and it was pretty easy. Running a marathon has been on my “mental life list” for years now, knowing that I wanted to run one before I turned 30 years old, so, when I was inspired by my girlfriend Jacquie to live a ‘fearless 2015’ I jumped right in.

Accomplishing this marathon and getting through all of the necessary training will be one of the most challenging experiences of my life so far (physical over mental, of course). Although I would argue stronger than anyone that running is a mental game, for me the physical aspect will be the challenge. Every time I set out for a run I am afraid I will come back limping and unable to walk up the stairs. Every time I feel even the slightest knee pain, I feel so much discouragement, anticipating my knee pain and the problems it brings coming back for good. Accomplishing this marathon will be an incredible feat  (“feet”) for me (no pun intended 😉 ) and I have a feeling it will bring together, full-circle, my move to NYC. When I run I feel empowered and I feel strong. Accomplishing the marathon, in New York City, in my new city, will be one of the best feelings in the world.

AND…on top of all of this, I am able to run with an INCREDIBLE charity. I will be running with Team Camp Hole in the Wall. Paul Newman opened up this camp, in Ashford, CT, in 1988. The Camp, which served 288 campers its first year now serves over 30,000 children and family members annually. This AWESOME camp is for kids with cancer and other severe illnesses. My kick-ass cousin Taylor attended this camp for five years! I’ve included a note from my cousin Taylor below. This camp is incredible and as a whole running team, we are trying to raise enough money to fully support over 160 campers to attend camp this summer! To learn more about Camp Hole in the Wall you can visit: http://www.holeinthewallgang.org/

I will also be fundraising for this team. My personal goal for fundraising is $3,000. If you would like to donate you can visit: https://www.crowdrise.com/juliaw-teamhitw2015nycmarathon

Note from my cousin Taylor:
For five years I attended this camp and stayed in a cabin with other girls with different illnesses and disabilities. The things I remember most about this wonderful camp is once you entered the camp there was a brightly colored sign that said you are here! And counselors waved you in with warm smiling faces! I always remember the dining hall because after every single meal, breakfast, lunch and dinner the counselors would make you get up and shake your tail feathers which was one of the songs that we danced to. The counselors always made everything fun. If you were feeling homesick they would comfort you, if you wanted someone to dance with after a meal they would be there for you. I could go on and on about this amazing camp but now it’s all a BIG memory! Good luck Julia, I’ll be rooting for ya!!!

My Summer Reading List!

                 

   

1. Dark Places By Gillian Flynn

2. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

3. Paper Towns, John Green

4. The Keeper of Lost Causes, Jussi Adler-Olsen

5. The Cuckoo’s Calling, Robert Galbraith

6. Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro

7. The Vacationers by Emma Straub

8. Girls In White Dresses by Jennifer Close

9. How To Start A Fire by Lisa Lutz

10. Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Bad Blood

Okay. Can we just talk about this for a second. HOLY HECK. Taylor Swift. This song and video kills it, just kills it.

I mean… Lena Dunham smoking a cigar. Ellie Goulding firing a gigantic bazooka. Ellen Pompeo looking like a bad ass. And Cindy Crawford looking sexy as fuck.

I mean, who can’t relate to this…?

{Oh, it’s so sad to think about the good times, you and I…’Cause, baby, now we got bad blood, you know it used to be mad love. So take a look what you’ve done, ’cause, baby, now we got bad blood.}

Split Image

I wanted to share an article I just read on ESPN.com, “Split Image.” The piece features University of Pennsylvania student Madison Holleran’s life and death by committing suicide. This article is a powerful read and highlights so many important issues that everyone around us face each day, especially, the issues surrounding social media and the negative role it can play in our daily life.

From a personal standpoint, I know I am guilty of looking at someone’s Instagram account and thinking, “Gosh, they look so happy and like they are living an incredible life!” I also know that same person is not as happy as they seem and is struggling with some really hard issues currently. I can’t tell you how many photos I’ve been in where it looks like I’m having the time of my life, but 20 minutes before the photo was taken I was in the bathroom crying. It happens to all of us. I remember talking to my friend Ceara on the phone when I was going through a really hard time, catching up on our lives, and once I was done giving her an update on mine, she goes, “but I don’t get it, you look so happy and beautiful in all of your Facebook photos!”

I hope you read the article, it is powerful and moving. Let me know what you think!

{Split Image – ESPN.com – May 8, 2015}

{On My List}

Maxie

{Maxie McCoy}
Maxie has been one of my favorite bloggers for a long time now. Her posts are ALWAYS inspiring and range from conquering fear and raw vulnerability to being silly and laughing your ass off. What I love about Maxie is that her posts are real and they are filled with honesty and emotion. She is a real person and she experiences life in a real way, just like the rest of us. This is actually a great time to include her in {On My List} because she JUST launched her new website! Www.maxiemccoy.com…go check her out, I PROMISE you, you will be inspired!

 

{image}
{Big Love}
Since I moved to New York City I have become a pile of mush by 7:00 pm every single night and on the weekends. Before I moved everyone told me how exhausting this city would be and how it was “different” than other cities. I heard them but it never really clicked with me. Let me tell you- this city is exhausting. Definitely not a bad exhausting, but exhausting none the less. After every night when I come home from work all I want to do is sit on the couch and watch TV. Obviously, with such a busy schedule, my couch time is almost non-existent, BUT when I do have the time I cannot stop watching Big Love on HBO Go. Have you seen it? It’s a drama about a fictional fundamentalist Mormon family (read one husband, three wives (!!!)) in Utah that practices polygamy. It is slow moving but soooo entertaining. The intricacies of Polygamy just fascinate me! Let me know if you start to watch it!

{No Labels, No Drama, Right? – New York Times}
Last week the New York Times published the article, “No Labels, No Drama, Right?” to their online style section. Did you see it? If not, it’s a must read for everyone, especially for us, the millennials, who’s college years were surrounded by this no label dating, hookup culture. One of my favorite quotes from the article is:

“…All the while, we avoid labels and try to bury our emotions. We aren’t supposed to want anything serious; not now, anyway. But a void is created when we refrain from telling it like it is, from allowing ourselves to feel how we feel. And in that unoccupied space, we’re dangerously free to create our own realities…”

If you have an extra 5 minutes to spare, definitely take a read!