Break All The Rules

Ok, maybe don’t break ALL the rules…but I think it is ok to break some of the rules some of the time. When it comes to running that is. And I broke one of the cardinal rules of running at the Spartan Super this past weekend.

And no it wasn’t that I wore something cotton. I am not THAT crazy. Cotton is not for race day or for running at all. Period. Just say no to cotton people.

So what did I do?

I wore something new on race day.

*GASP* I KNOW!

I wore this.

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So yeah, I know that this technically wasn’t too crazy of a thing to wear. But I have never worn it before even though I have had it for a while. I wasn’t sure how it would fit, what it would feel like, if it would chafe me or be uncomfortable. But the alternative was that if I didn’t wear it than I would be dependent upon the aid stations on the course and although there were plenty of aid stations, I wanted more than just water.

At the Sprint I was so thirsty and I spent a better part of the race dreaming of slurpees and hamburgers so I figured I should be more prepared for the Super.

And guess what? My rule breaking turned out for the best. I LOVED having my hydration pack with me. I filled it with Lemonade Gatorade and inside the zipper pockets I had gels and sports beans. I also stashed my inhaler and car key in there as well!

In addition to having everything I needed, the hydration pack turned out to be super comfy and most of the time I didn’t even realize I had it on!

Being a rule breaker has its perks after all!

 

Now I want to hear about a time that you broke a “rule”….running related or otherwise!

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Spartan Super Chicago Recap

Guess what? My first Spartan Race Trifecta is now two-thirds of the way complete! Aroo!

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As you may already know, I got my Sprint medal back in April in Indiana and my newest addition, the Super medal, was just added to my collection this past weekend! Want to find out how the Super went? Of course, you do!

The Super was held just outside of Chicago and just about a half an hour from the hotel we were staying at. The bf paid for VIP parking because we find it more convenient to be able to walk back and forth freely to our car instead of dealing with the bus. (It is worth the money, I swear.) There was quite a bit of backup at the VIP parking entrance because some people didn’t get the memo that you had to purchase the VIP parking in advance or park at the shuttle lot instead. And once we finally got into the lot we had to drive around for a little while looking for an open space. All in all it wasn’t a big deal but I felt like it took more time than it needed to.

Once we parked we picked up our packet which is always super easy since we look up our bib number before we head out to the race and we also bring our signed waiver with us.

After picking up our packet we strolled around the festival area familiarizing ourselves with the layout and the obstacles. Here is a look at some of the obstacles that spectators were able to see.

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Obviously we are not in any of the photos but we did do the obstacles. I even wore one of those bright orange life jackets like some of the other swimmers because I thought they were super stylish and I didn’t want to drown. A strong swimmer I am not.

But I digress. Let’s get back to the rundown of the event. After we took some pictures (and by we, I mean Chris) we headed over to the start line. We were in the 11:30am wave which is a bit later than I prefer but it worked out just fine. There was a wall you had to get over before you could actually get to the start line. I love it when races do that. It sets the tone for the race in my opinion.

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The start line emcee was pretty darn good… no Sean Corvelle from Tough Mudder but really who could even come close to topping Sean?!

Once we crossed the start line Chris and I put our plan in motion. The plan was to Take. It Easy. since we have the Beast scheduled one week from our Super. Taking it easy meant doing a lot of walking and doing what felt right at the time.

The course as I expected, had very difficult terrain. Lots and lots of hills. Some straight up, I kid you not. And since we were a later wave, the part of the hills that were used the most had become very slippery and difficult to pass forcing us and the others to go off course and up the hill where we could actually get traction or at least a couple of trees to hang onto. I think at one point I told Chris that if I saw another hill I was going to scream. Naturally there were more hills after that and I do believe that I did scream. Out of joy of course.

In addition to the hills, there was a ton of mud (which I like) and where there wasn’t mud there was hard packed dirt with deep grooves made from off roading vehicles. (These races just make me want a Jeep again so dang bad!)

Some of the obstacles were the same as the Sprint but there were lots that were different as well. I enjoyed the variety.

The Super had the Atlas Carry which is just a giant ball of cement. The women’s weighed in at 80 pounds and I could not budge the darn thing. There was a bunny hop area where you put a band around your feet and hop in a circle. It looked fun but it was hard!  There was a balance beam type obstacle which was close to the ground but it was at the point in the race where you legs were starting to shake so because of that it was difficult. There was a log carry which was relatively easy and a tire pull area. There are probably lots of others that I am just not thinking of at this moment…..it’s hard to keep that much activity straight in your mind.

I am happy to say that I conquered a few obstacles at the Super that gave me difficulties at the Sprint. I did the sandbag hoist without a problem. I am not sure if they were lighter at the Super or what the deal was because I couldn’t budge it at the Sprint.

I am also happy to report that they didn’t have the cinder block pull at the Super like they did at the Sprint. I hate that darn thing so I am sure I will see it at the Beast. That’s what I get for mentioning it out loud.

They also didn’t have my arch nemesis there, thankfully. But they did have a cargo net that was positioned straight up and down which gave me the similar type of panic at the top. The net was so muddy, slippery and unstable I didn’t think I was going to do it. In fact, I got all the way to the top and froze so I started climbing down. A guy next to me said “Hey you’re not going down. You’re going to get over this. You don’t want to do burpees do you?” No, no I don’t nice Spartan Racer Guy. And with his help, I got over the darn thing.

Speaking of nice Spartan Racer Guy, I have to just say one thing to those Tough Mudder devotees / Spartan haters. You know those Tough Mudders who like to hate on Spartans because according to them there is no team work at Spartan Races? I don’t know what Spartan Race they have been a part of but every time I needed a hand (and even when I didn’t) there was someone there waiting with their hand out. The camaraderie on that course could rival the camaraderie on a Tough Mudder course any day! And I am a Tough Mudder as well, so I should know.

With the help of nice Spartan Racer Guy and others on the course, Chris and I conquered our first Super in about three and a half hours which is about an hour more than it took us to do the Sprint. Not too shabby.

After we crossed the finish line we collected our finishers medals, our grub (Spartan does a good job with having decent food at the finish line and water throughout the course, no garbage can water! Yay!), our race shirt (am I the only one that wishes they were different instead of getting the same shirt at each event?) and then hit the showers aka the hoses for some cleaning.

We had a great time at the Chicago Spartan Super and we are looking forward to conquering the Beast this coming weekend!

(And in case this recap wasn’t enough for you, head over to the bf’s blog to read his!)

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Next Up: Spartan Super Chicago

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You guessed it! Chris and I will be running the Spartan Super in Chicago this weekend!

I would love to tell you that I am completely trained and prepared but that would be a lie. And I won’t lie to you. I will however say that I am excited and looking forward to the fun that lies ahead of us.

The Chicago Super is being held at Cliff’s Insane Terrain which is an off-road park. So I am guessing that the course may be similar to the Sprint that we ran in Indiana since that was held at a similar type of park. Which basically means we are in for a beating BUT this time the beating will last a bit longer. Which is exciting and frightening all at the same time!

As you may know, Chris and I are going for the Spartan Trifecta this year and with the Sprint already under our belt, the Super will get us two thirds of the way there! The other third to the Trifecta is going to be the Beast in Ohio which is exactly one week after we run the Super.

So what’s our game plan for the Super? Take. It. Easy. With the Beast just a week away we really need to be gentle on ourselves. If we walk a lot of the course, we walk a lot of the course. Ain’t no shame in our game.

I should also mention that Chris has a full day of sightseeing planned for us in Chicago. For the DAY BEFORE the Super. I guess we will consider that our shake-out run. Hold me.

Are you thinking about running a Spartan race too? YOU. SHOULD! And you should sign up by clicking HERE (yes, it is my affiliate link but it supports my running habit, I am sure you understand) and use one of the promo codes below.

For 10% off any US race use code FINISH10 (valid through 12/31/14)

For $10 off any US race use code SPEAR10 (valid through 12/31/14)

 

Anyone else racing this weekend?

What other weekend plans do you have?

 

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Manitoba Harvest HempPro 70 Review

Disclosure: I received two packets of Manitoba Harvest HempPro 70 to review. All opinions are my own!

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Thanks to Manitoba Harvest I got to try out their brand new HempPro 70 flavors – vanilla and chocolate! HempPro 70 is a hemp protein powder that is water-soluble so it is easily mixed into any drink of your choice.

I choose to throw mine into a shaker cup with almond milk. and although I preferred the chocolate (not a big surprise there), I thought that both of the flavors were good.

Here are some other details about the HempPro 70:

- It is a plant-based protein.

- It is sweetened with organic coconut sugar.

- Both flavors are high in protein!

Want to try to win a case of HempPro 70? Manitoba Harvest is hosting an Instagram contest. All you have to do is tag Manitoba Harvest in a picture that you post to Instagram (or on Twitter, if you prefer) and use the hash tag #pro70 by 9/30/14. Good luck!

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Listen to the Whispers

Listen to the Whispers

You all know by now how smitten I was with Oprah’s The Life You Want Tour and how inspired I felt after I left the show. In honor of that fab weekend, I figured I would share some of that inspiration with you!

One of the things that she said that resonated the most with me was:

“Listen to the whispers.”

We all have those whispers, I am sure of that. And I am also sure that all of us will have a different opinion on where those whispers come from. Perhaps you believe that they are your subconscious speaking to you, your gut, your heart or maybe they are even coming from your God. There is no right answer, it is whatever you believe to be true.

What is most important about those whispers, in my opinion, is that you are listening to them. And that they are truly your whispers, not the whispers of your family, friends, society or any other voice that sometimes gets mistaken as our own.

I know I have certainly have had my share of times when I listened to the voices of others instead of my own….and that didn’t lead me any closer to living my best life. Trying to please others was often at the expense of my own happiness and that is no way to live.

I think every person has to find a way that they can get in touch with the whispers inside themselves. For some it might be meditation, going for a walk, writing in a journal etc. For me it has always been running. Running helps me clear my mind so that it can be open and ready to receive my truest thoughts. (Which is one of the reasons I am probably the best version of myself when I am running consistently.)

Once you get in touch with your whispers, you then need to LISTEN and ACT on your whispers. If you don’t listen and act on them, eventually you will find yourself hitting a brick wall and the whispers will turn into yells that say “I told you so!”

I have certainly hit many bricks walls in my life. My marriage to B’s Dad turned into a GIANT brick wall. I ignored the whispers for a long long time and ended up at the brick wall wondering how I got there…but deep down I knew how I got there. I think we all know how we got to those brick walls.

Outside of the brick wall debacle, I would say the most challenging thing about listening to the whispers is that they don’t always offer a clear direction. Perhaps your whispers are giving you a destination but the route to get there isn’t clearly laid out. I know I have a few of those types of whispers in my head lately and I will share two of them with you.

The first is that my heart really wants to have a job where I can drop B off at school and pick him up after school instead of having to use latchkey. I know that it would make both him and I happy but at this time, I am not sure how to get to that point.

The other is that my heart keeps on telling me that it wants to run a marathon. Not just any marathon but a trail marathon. My body keeps on trying to tell my heart that we are not conditioned to do such a thing at this time nor do we have the time to commit to such training. The whisper doesn’t care. It is still there.

For now, I just recognize that those whispers are there and keep an eye out for a route that will get me to those destinations.

 So tell me, are you listening to your whispers?

What are they saying?

 

 

 

 

 

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Wildtree Party

Recently a friend of mine told me she was hosting a Wildtree party. Being behind the times, I did not know what Wildtree was. After she explained that Wildtree is a company that makes spices, herbs and other culinary items that are healthy (free of all the bad stuff like chemicals, additives etc) and that if I attended the party I would walk away with TEN meals to throw in the freezer to eat later, I was in!

How does it work?

After I signed up to attend that party, I received detailed instructions and a shopping list from Cindy, the Wildtree rep that was in charge of the party. Initially I found all of the information to be a bit overwhelming, but I eventually put on my big girl panties and got down to business.

I took the easy route with the meats that were on the shopping list by ordering them from Cindy’s butcher. The meat was high quality and it was already packaged in 10 different bags ready  for me to make into meals. Easy peasy.

In addition to purchasing a Wildtree packet for the party I also needed to get some miscellaneous items from the grocery store. Although I did have some of the items already on hand at home, the bulk of the items had to be purchased.

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After I purchased all the items, there was just one more thing left to do before the party. Following Cindy’s instructions, I numbered the bags and filled them with the appropriate items that I had bought at the grocery store.

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Later at the party I would add my meats and Wildtree seasonings to the bags that I had prepped.

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The party itself was very low key and relaxed. Everyone knew each other but me. lol Regardless, it was a fun time.

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And after about an hour, I had 10 meals prepped and I was feeling pretty accomplished! Meal time around our house can be pretty hectic so having 10 healthy meals on hand ready to be cooked feels pretty darn good!

Just in case you were wondering, I have not been compensated in any way for this post. It was a fun experience, so I wanted to share it with you.

Have you been to a Wildtree party or something similar?

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Tart Cherry Juice Review

Disclosure: I received a bottle of Tart Cherry Juice from Elite Gold Solutions for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

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There has been a lot of buzz in the running community about the benefits of using tart cherry juice. It is rumored to help you sleep better and help you recover faster among many other reported benefits.

Thanks to Elite Gold Solutions, I got to test those statements out for myself as I received a bottle of their Organic Tart Cherry juice concentrate  to review.

The directions on the bottle are quite simple. Just take two tablespoons of the tart cherry juice about 2-3 hours before you go to bed. You can take the juice straight up, although I will warn you it is very tart. You can also mix the juice into something as well. So basically just find out the way that works best for you.

I did find that I slept better once I started taking the tart cherry juice. I haven’t noticed any recovery benefits at this time but I am not really doing anything too strenuous currently either. Although you may want to check back with me after I run my two Spartan races which are coming up in a few weeks! lol That should be a strenuous enough of a test.

I like the idea of using the tart cherry juice instead of medicine. I think any time you can use something that is natural you are much better off. 

Have you tried chart cherry juice? What are your thoughts about it?

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

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Stitch Fix Review #2

Disclosure: This post contains referral and affiliate links that will help support my StitchFix addiction. All sign ups through my referral link are greatly appreciated!

Something happened to me after I received my first Stitch Fix last month…..I became obsessed with getting my next one! I started pinning to my Pinterest style board like a mad woman (my stylist uses it to decide what to send me) and counting down the days till I would get my next fix.

Here it is!! My 2nd Stitch Fix!

Here it is!! My 2nd Stitch Fix!

In case you are not familiar with Stitch Fix, let me bring you up to speed. Stitch Fix is a monthly subscription service (although you don’t have to get one every month, you pick how often) that sends you clothes and accessories based on a style profile that you fill out. You can keep what you like and send back what you don’t. There is a $20 styling fee but if you keep any of the items, the $20 fee is deducted from the total purchase price of the items you keep. Basically it is like playing dress up as an adult…..and it is both fun and addicting!

Let’s take a look at what I got this time around!

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Item #1: Harriet Chevron Print Detail Dress

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My note from my stylist Megan said that pieces that she selected for me were inspired by my Pinterest board and this was actually one of the dresses that I had pinned! I love it as much in person as I did on Pinterest. It is perfect for work but still casual enough for everyday wear as well!

Status: Kept!

Item #2: Lenora Crochet Detail Tie-Neck Blouse

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I love all of the detail on both the front and the back of this shirt! It is a little longer in length than I would prefer, but that is something that I am used to since I am petite. I can compensate for the length by tucking the shirt in or adding a belt…..and that is what I plan to do because this shirt is a winner in every other way!

Status: Kept!

Item #3: Abrianna Lightweight Knit Cardigan

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This was the only item in my box that wasn’t black or white. I like black and white but I love color too! I also thought that this was a tad too long for my frame but it was so comfy and perfect in every other way so it is a keeper anyways!

Status: Kept!

Item 4: Ariana Embelished Detail V-Neck Blouse

Ignore the price tag and the clutter. lol

Ignore the tag and the clutter. lol

Like most of the pieces in this box, this is another item that can be dressed up or dressed down. I love clothes that can play double duty. I also love the embellishments on the neckline and the cutout on the top of the back (that you can’t see).

Status: Kept!

Item #5: Walt Striped Skirt

I hope you enjoy my goofy poses as much as I do!

I hope you enjoy my goofy poses as much as I do!

I wear a lot of dresses and skirts to work and this skirt is perfect for work! I have several items already in my closet that would go great with this skirt not to mention the v-neck shirt that came in this month’s Stitch Fix box.

Status: Kept!

So as you can tell I kept every single item that came in this month’s Stitch Fix box! (My stylist Megan, nailed it!) At first I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get any accessories this month but once I saw all of the fabulous clothes I received, the disappointment quickly faded away!

And because I kept all of the items, I received 25% off the total purchase price which was a great deal. In addition to that, I had someone sign up using my referral link last month so I had a credit on my account. Thank you new bff, you are the best! ;)

If you are thinking of signing up for Stitch Fix, I highly recommend it and  I would love it if you would sign up by clicking HERE, to help support my habit.

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Freedom Super Foods Cacao Powder Review


Disclosure: I received a package of Cacao Powder from Freedom Super Foods to review. All opinions are my own. 

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You all know by now how much I love chocolate. And not just any old chocolate but GOOD chocolate. This rule even holds true when I bake with chocolate.

Thanks to the folks at Freedom Super Foods I got to try their Cacao Powder which not only tastes good but is good for you! Their Cacao Powder is organic, natural, unsweetened and full of nutrients. It is the perfect Cacao Powder for any dark chocolate recipe and it comes in a convenient resealable 1 pound bag. And believe it or not the Cacao Powder from Freedom Super Foods comes with a 60 day money back guarantee!

So what did I make with the Cacao Powder?

First I started with a dessert that isn’t very healthy but it is a favorite from my childhood so I couldn’t resist!

No Bake Cookies!

No Bake Cookies!

My Mom made these cookies all the time for my brother and I and they were as good as I remembered them. Click here for the recipe to make them for yourself!

The second thing that I made with the Cacao Powder was a healthified version of Chocolate Cupcakes from the recipe book that I received from Freedom Super Foods. When you order your Cacao Powder from them you will get one as well and it is full of great recipes!

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The cupcakes were B approved so you know they have to be good since he is our resident picky eater!

What would you make with the Freedom Super Foods Cacao Powder?

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

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Oprah’s The Life You Want Weekend Review: Day 2

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As you read yesterday, Karla and I had an awesome time on the first day of Oprah’s The Life You Want Weekend BUT we were feeling a bit left out. Let me explain. It seemed that everyone but us had a fancy dancy Oprah bracelet that lit up periodically during the show. And gosh darn it, we wanted one for ourselves.

After a bit of research we found out that the bracelet we lusted over could be ours by going to O Town which was an attraction all of its own right outside of the Palace. We didn’t have time to go to O Town before the event started on Friday night but we made sure to make time to head over there Saturday morning. We also discovered that we could save some time standing in line by downloading The Life You Want app and pre-registering ourselves for the bracelets. It was a HUGE time saver let me tell you.

The fancy dancy bracelet and program!

The fancy dancy bracelet and program!

While in O Town we did check out a few of the tents. Although it was quite cold out so we didn’t stay out there for long.

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After our chilly tour of O Town we headed inside to get day two started! But first a selfie and a tweet …. which was featured on the Oprah screen!!! We were so stoked about that. lol It’s the little things.

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After Oprah opened the show, her Trailblazers were brought onto stage one by one.

The first Trailblazer was Mark Nepo, a cancer survivor and the author of countless books including The Book of Awakening. I had never heard of him and to be honest he was my least favorite speaker out of all the ones that were on stage that day. He had a good message but it was spoken in a way that sounded like he was trying to hypnotize me and I found that to be distracting.

After Mark Nepo spoke, Oprah was back on stage so that we could do an activity in our workbook. I enjoyed the workbook activities because it helped me to apply what we had been listening to and it kept the day very interactive.

Next up was another Trailblazer….this time it was Elizabeth Gilbert the author of Eat, Pray, Love. I had certainly heard of Elizabeth before but I had not read her book. (Although I am currently reading it now!) I found Elizabeth to be a very entertaining speaker that conveyed her message in a way that way very relateable. She talked about how all of us will need to go on a quest at some point in our lives and discussed the one that she took and wrote about.

After Elizabeth was done, Oprah lead us through another workbook activity. This one had us look at all of the areas of our lives and how we felt we were doing in those areas compared to how we wished we were doing in them. It really made me think about what is most important in my life and what I need to be giving my attention to.

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The next Trailblazer on stage was Rob Bell. Rob is a pastor and a Michigan native who started an innovative church in Grand Rapids. He has also written many books and done countless other things. Again, I had never heard about Rob and since I am not a religious person I was unsure if I would be able to relate to his message. Surprisingly I found him very easy to relate to and quite enjoyed his time on stage. He is definitely not your typical pastor and I found his approach and message to be very refreshing. I may even pick up one of his books in the future.

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After Rob spoke we had a lengthy lunch break and then we came back to workout. Yep, I said workout. A representative from SoulCycle led the large crowd through a 15 minute exercise routine that was both fun and invigorating. If you have a SoulCycle near you I am jealous because it seems like an awesome way to workout both your insides and your outsides. Let’s hope they expand soon!

After our workout the last Trailblazer of the day came on stage. Again it was someone who I was not familiar with but the crowd seemed to know her quite well. Her name is Iyanla Vanzant and she is a star on the OWN Network among many other things. We were not able to listen to her for very long as I had to leave early since Chris’s son’s birthday party was that same day. But for the short amount of time that we did hear her talk I enjoyed her message and her ability to connect with the audience. I may have to check out her show on OWN!

Although I had to leave the event early on Saturday I feel like I walked away feeling very inspired and motivated to make some changes in my life. To listen to the “whispers” of my soul and to trust my gut instincts.

As cheesy as it sounds, I truly believe that I won those tickets for a reason and that Karla accompanied me for a reason. These types of things just don’t happen. We were meant to be there. And I think we both plan to make the most of our experience to shape our lives into the best possible version that they can be!

 

 

 

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