London Awakening

Westminster Bridge

Westminster Bridge

What you are about to read is a story about one of the craziest, exhilarating, most independent things I’ve ever done in my life (and for those that know me, that is saying A LOT). It was an experience that I can wholeheartedly say changed my life, and showed me just what I am capable of. The story I am about to tell you has unlocked an entirely new world for me…a world in which I KNOW I can handle adventures and travels completely on my own, and a world in which I am FIRMLY holding the key to my fate. What I am referring to occurred this past January when I went to London on my own with no idea of where I was going to stay or what I was going to do, and the only thing I could lean on was the glorious fact that everyone spoke English (word of advice, never take that for granted). So, without hesitation, let me begin….

It all started with a huge transition in my life…I was leaving the restaurant job that I called home for two years while I went to school, and I would soon be starting my first “big girl” job after college graduation. Like any other post-grad, starting your first job is both totally terrifying and extremely exciting all at the same time. This is what you went to school for so long for, and now, all of that hard work, all of those long nights surviving off coffee and your iPod (Journey and Queen to be exact) are finally paying off. So anyways, I had put in my two weeks at the restaurant, and had a few days off before I started my new job. I had always wanted to go to London, and my desire to go was even more amplified because I had wanted to go during my Europe trip last summer but it ended up not working out, so it was shot to the top of the list of places I wanted to travel to in this world (and boy are there many). The home of the Spice Girls, Princess Diana, and fish & chips was calling my name, and I had no other option than to listen to the call.

Now, under normal circumstances, going to London for a few days spur of the moment would not have been possible, considering it costs an arm, a leg, and your family’s life savings to travel overseas. But, playing in my favor was the handy-dandy little fact that my mom works for the airline industry, so flying is cheaper than a value meal at McDonald’s (maybe not, but you get my point). It’s all stand-by of course, which means you only get a seat if there are extra seats available, but for the price (or lack of), it’s worth the risk. Especially when you have nothing to lose.

And that’s how it went. I had not the slightest clue of where I was going to stay, no idea of what I was going to do for those few days by myself, and if I would even get on the flight or not. All I knew was this was a place I wanted to see and experience, and nothing would get in my way.

I ended up flying stand-by to Chicago no problem, but then the problems arose when the flight I was supposed to get on to London was oversold. Pretty disheartening when you’re banking on an available seat to get you to where you want to. But, nonetheless, I ended up getting one of the last seats on the flight, business class and all. The flight over was nerve-wrecking and filled with anxiety. What the heck was I getting myself into? Why did I think this was a good idea to fly over to an entirely different country completely alone? What would I do if I couldn’t find a place to stay? I couldn’t figure out if it was courage, bravery, or straight up insanity that drove me to do something like this, but I would find out sooner than later.

I landed in London exhausted and tired, and thanked my lucky stars that I was in a country that spoke English. Exhaustion and trying to interpret a foreign language are a lethal combination, and I’m not sure I would have gotten out alive had that been the case, or at least successfully navigated to Tourist Information Services. I got off the plane, went through customs, and bee-lined for the nearest tourist information desk. They gave me the name of a hostel that was well-known in the area, and putting all my eggs in one basket and praying I wasn’t going to be on the receiving end of a scam, I made a reservation fit for a queen…getting the top bunk of a bunk bed in a room with 12 other women. But hey, I was here to meet people right? What better way than to share a room with 12 of your newest friends?

I found my way to the hostel, all the way in the south of London in Pimlico, and stumbled into the hostel. Although check-in wasn’t “technically” allowed until 2pm, the guy at the front desk let me into my room early to nap (although the cleaning crew cleaned around me while I slept, but hey, it happens). After taking a 3 hour nap, I woke up ready to take on what would be some of the best days of my life.

My Hostel!

My Hostel!

I think there is really something to be said for traveling on your own. Of course it’s fun to have a companion there with you to experience the exact same things you are experiencing; it’s comforting to know that you always have someone to talk to, and it’s a very safe feeling to know you are not alone. But swing the pendulum to the other side, and you will experience a freedom you’ve never felt or experienced before. To be able to do whatever you want, for as long as you want, is a completely underrated and addicting feeling. You can move as fast or as slow as you want, take as much time as you want looking at the Tower of London or in my case, shopping on Oxford Street, because the time is all yours, and yours alone.

I’m sure you’re thinking that I spent those five days in London completely alone, without anyone to spend time with or talk to. But in actuality, that was , in fact, very opposite the case. I made friends with people that were staying at my hostel, I made friends with the people who worked at the hostel…with people on a free walking tour I went one…with people who were simply going in the same direction as me (in this particular case it was finding the right train to take to London Bridge.) I had the absolute greatest time because I put myself out there and knew that I wanted to meet anyone and everyone I came into contact with. Between going on a pub crawl with people from the hostel, eating dinner in Camden Market with a new friend, having a long conversation with someone from Kazakhstan, learning how to salsa dance with people from Norway and Spain, and walking around the streets of London with someone from Australia, there was never a moment that I was NOT with someone.

I also soaked in the time I was able to spend by myself. I walked around Hyde Park while listening to my iPod and watching the swans in the lake, I strolled down Oxford Street and went into every store I could, and I stopped for cappuccinos more times than I’d like to admit. By the end of my week there, I was able to meet up with my mom, who had coincidentally worked a flight over to London. We went to see the Rosetta Stone, ate the best Spanish Tapas I have ever tasted, and saw the musical Shrek, along with just wandering the magical streets of London while feeling invincible and free.

Bangers 'n' Mash for Dinner!

Bangers ‘n’ Mash for Dinner!

I came back from my trip with an excitement and wonderment for life that I have for so long forgotten about. From the minute I boarded the flight back home, I had never been so sure of the fact that I can make it wherever I am. I can move across the world, I can move a few cities over, or I can simply move down the street, because no matter where I am, my thrill for life, my love of meeting other people, and my passion to embrace all things different and unknown will never leave me. Never Ever.

St. Paul's Cathedral!

St. Paul’s Cathedral!

“I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world” – Mary Anne Radmacher


Through New Eyes, Story Three

Trey & Lindsey!

Trey & Lindsey!

Every now and then, you meet someone who gives you hope that society and people as a whole are better than you think. Throw out that age-old idea that people are only looking out for themselves and ignore the pessimists that claim people are selfish, greedy, and cold. Because once in a while, once in a blue moon, someone comes into your life who restores your faith in humanity (sorry for the cliche) and makes you think, “Hey, there ARE still some really good people in this world.” We have all met people like this, and I’m sure as you read this, you are thinking of that one person right now that you yourself have encountered that has helped you see the “good” in all of the not-so-good things happening in the world today.

So, for the third installment of my “Through New Eyes” project, is a friend of mine who I have always looked up to and have always been in awe with for the simple fact that she takes time to get to know everyone that she meets and puts her heart into everything…in a way, you could say she is my “faith in humanity” person. I met Lindsey when I was working at a local restaurant in my hometown, and ever since, she has shown me to always look for the good in people, and to always try to inspire and push people to their very greatest potential.

Lindsey grew up in Medina, Ohio, about 30 minutes south of Cleveland, although it was always a dream of hers to travel the world; to see what else what was out there and to experience everything life had to offer. That dream and determination to travel led her to her now husband, Elvin! A friend of Lindsey’s had posted something on Facebook about joining the army, and after hearing about all the travel benefits and financial perks to joining the armed forces, that’s all it took her to start looking into the Air Force. Low and behold, right before she was going to see a recruiter, she met someone who was already in the Air Force, and they immediately hit it off. Twelve weeks later, they were walking down the aisle, and after 3 and half years of marriage (and the cutest little boy ever!), they now live in England, and will be there for the next four years because of her husband’s new orders.

Here is her story, in her own words…

How is life over in England? Have you found it easier or harder than you thought to get adjusted to everything over there?
Let’s just say England is one of the most gorgeous places I’ve ever been to (Although, overseas, I haven’t been to too many)! The weather and climate has taken some getting use to. It didn’t even get into the 70’s until around the 4th of July for the first time! When we first moved I thought the time difference (we’re 5 hours ahead of EST) would be hard to adjust to, especially with a two year old, but it was surprisingly easy! Only took a few days. Being able to wake up at a decent hour might have to be contributed to the fact that the sun starts to rise around 3:30am over here so by 4:30am it’s as if someone is shining a flashlight into your eyes! Oh and they drive on the opposite side of the road! We bought a European car as well, so the steering wheel is also on the opposite side than we’re use to. Let’s just say I’m finally able to drive without having to second guess every move I’m making, I’m not swiping curbs anymore, and the bicyclists see me coming and automatically know to just get out of the way now! *Wink*

How did you go about finding a house? Did you get to see a photo of it before you moved in?
The military has many resourced available to families that are PSCing to a new country. Websites that list all the houses available for rent in the local areas was where we found ours! The pictures didn’t quite do it justice! The house we found is about 20 minutes away from Base and has 5 bedrooms and 3.5 baths. Very roomy!! Only downside is closet space is almost non-existent. Actually storage space in general in England is very limited. We’ve had to strap a couple tool belts on and turn into real life Handy Manny’s on several occasions so far!

Where and how have you met other people over there?
FACEBOOK!! Facebook has been my lifesaver. There are a plethora of groups specifically for the Base here in England ranging from Spouse/mommy groups all the way to yard sale groups. Between interacting on those pages and meeting people in one of the workout classes I take on Base I’ve been able to grow my friend list exponentially in the last few months! Although it’s not hard to make new friends in the military, you have to! Moving every 3-4 years I think opens your eyes and heart to how important it is to have a support system. It’s not uncommon for a complete stranger to walk up to you and say “Hi, I’m Susie and we’re new here! Want to get together for coffee tomorrow?”

Have you had time to travel around England at all?
The first 5-6 weeks, no. We only had one vehicle the first month and a half Trey and I were here so during the week when Elvin was working, we had to keep around the house. Since then though, we’ve been a lot of places! Cambridge, Nottingham, Leeds, Bury St. Edmunds, Norwich, several different beaches on the east coast (about an hour’s drive from us) and I’m doing the London 5K Color Run on Sunday July 14th! The 11 is my birthday so next weekend Elvin is planning on taking us into London for a few nights to sightsee. Living in England is looking like the ultimate spot to live if you want to travel. Everything is very close to our fingertips and surprisingly cheap to get from one place to another!

So let’s talk about your job. You are a Beachbody coach, right? What is Beachbody and how did you hear about it initially?
Beachbody is the company that makes popular workout programs like P90X, Insanity, TurboFire, etc. So, when I was pregnant with Trey back in the fall of 2010, I had a friend who said she had bought this at home workout program called Insanity. I had kind of chuckled at the time because I had never thought of working out at home to be that effective. I had always believed that to really get that good workout in you needed to physically go to a gym and use their equipment. Prior to getting pregnant I liked to hit up the gym a few times a week but knew that with a baby, it would be difficult, if not impossible to get there. I figured my days of trying to be fit would have to be put on hold.

This friend I mentioned earlier said that I should try this workout she was doing at home once I had the baby. She told me a little about it and sparked my interest when she said it was one of the BEST workouts she had ever done. So that Christmas I ordered Insanity with the intention of starting it the second the doctor gave me the A-okay to do so. Up to that point, it was the BEST THING I HAVE EVER INVESTED IN! I lost all of my baby weight and started to see my body change right before my eyes. A body that I never thought I could possibly see after having a baby! The best part was, it wasn’t JUST my body changing, my moods were better, I had more energy, I was sleeping better (well the best anyone could sleep with a newborn in the house), and I could feel myself getting stronger. I had never actually experienced that high you get after a really good, sweaty workout. You know the kind, right?? So it was in that way that I was first introduced to the company Team Beachbody.

What pushed you from just doing the workouts to actually becoming a coach?
I had my “ah-ha” moment one day when I was talking to someone who had came to ME asking ME about advice on her workouts. I sat back and really thought about how common it was becoming for people to automatically come to me asking for fitness advice. I wasn’t an expert. I didn’t have any kind of nutrition training or background. My friends and family just knew me as the one who loved to worked out and stay active so I was automatically branded as the “go to” person when it came for a little extra motivation or advice. It was THEN that it hit me! I’m already coaching! I’m already doing exactly what these other coaches on my friend’s list are doing. The only difference is they are getting paid and I’m not! Holy Moses, why haven’t I jumped on this sooner?! The concept of working out everyday, eating healthy, and encouraging those around me to do the same AND getting paid to do it completely blew my mind! That “ah-ha” moment happened last fall, but with the big move to England coming up, I didn’t want to jump into something that I wouldn’t be able to give 100% to, so I put it on hold until April of this year.

How do you balance working on Beachbody, doing your workouts, and hanging out with Trey and Elvin?
I’ll be honest in saying this is my weak point; balancing work and family. I’ve spent the last two months trying to find that balancing line between the two! It seems there are so many things I want to do but not enough hours in the day to do them! I’m currently going through a 30 day Push Challenge with Chalene Johnson (creator of TurboJam, TurboFire, ChalenEXTREME etc.). She is really helping me dig deep to figure out what my top priorities and goals are and then is showing me how to turn them in realty through time management tools like to-do lists, schedules, daily goals, monthly goals and yearly goals. I was always a “list person” before, but now I’m becoming even more serious about it! I have my “working hours” and have those working hours scheduled out to a T. I know exactly what I need to get accomplished during that hour or two in the middle of the day while Trey is napping. My goal is to be able to focus on my business 100% during those set hours, and focus on everything and everyone else in my life outside of that time. It’s really been a struggle for me though like I said. I’m the kind of person that likes to take on too much at one time and it definitely carries over into my family life. I’m working on it though!

If someone wants to start a workout program, but has no idea what they want to do, how do you find the right program?
I just find out what their goals are! What do they want to accomplish? What are their dreams? If they could be ANYWHERE or ANYTHING in 6 months or a year’s time, where would they want to be? What is their ultimate dream? If money was not an issue, if time was not an issue, if life events were not an issue, what would they truly want for themselves? Once that is out in the open and established we talk about what kind of activities sound fun to them. Working out does not have to be, well a work out! Beachbody has so many variations of programs to choose from there is bound to be one that’s perfect for them.

What is a day in your life like?
Exciting, busy, fun, spontaneous, scheduled, and rewarding! You’re probably thinking “she just contradicted herself at least twice!” That’s the beauty of planning your day out. I schedule in my to-do’s and the important things that need to get done, but still leave time open where spontaneous ideas could take us anywhere (well as long as we’re back by dinner time *wink*).
I have a passion for fitness. The feeling I have after a great workout is just awesome. I’m not going to lie and tell you I’m great in the kitchen though, because I really stink at cooking! But where my cooking may lack in nutrition, my family is able to make up for it by drinking Shakeology (A crazy good dense-packed superfood shake that has over 70 all natural ingredients that your body needs in order to perform at its very best) everyday! My true dream is to help as many people as I can, realize the importance of making daily exercise and clean eating a lifestyle (making six digits a year is just the bonus)!!

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Oh man, I’ve asked myself this question over and over again the last couple months. I think it comes down to where I want my family to be by then. My main thing is to be financially free. All of my student loans, all of my credit cards, and any other debt I may have will be completely paid off. I will be making $8-10K a week (yes, I said a WEEK)! Also, Being in the military, we’ve been given an open door where the whole World is just on the other side. I want to see things and go places and experience different cultures around the World!
I want to be able to open and jump through that door knowing that money isn’t an issue.

Second, I want to look back and have no regrets. I want to know that I spent every second that I could helping and watching Trey grow. This loops back around to me making enough money to where I can stay home with him everyday and do just that!

Third, I want to be able to look back and know that I’ve genuinely made an impact on other people’s lives. That I’ve somehow, in one way or another, pushed them to become a better person and shown them that no dream is too big and as long as they believe in themselves, anything is possible!!

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars and change the world.”
-Harriet Tubman

**Check out what Lindsey is doing at or find her on Instagram @lindzrose

Lindsey & Family!

Lindsey & Family!