Author: Jess

Letters

20 Rules…


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20 rules I live my life by:

1. Always smile at yourself when you look in the mirror.
2. On a daily basis stand naked in front of the mirror and spin in a circle. Stare in aww at the beautiful body you have.
3. Cherish nature and the beauty it beholds.
4. Find the simple moments.
5. Don’t worry about money, it always comes and goes.
6. If you’re feeling down, laugh, it automatically brightens your day.
7. Dance in your car always, who cares what the person in the next lane thinks. They probably wish they were dancing too.
8. Never make a big life decision because of a man (or a woman). If you’re meant to be together you will make it work.
9. In a relationship make sure you both live your own lives. Have your own space and your own friends to be able to clear your mind.
10. Find new hobbies, try something new.
11. Never stop learning.
12. Take time for yourself.
13. Have faith, be patient.
14. If you make it to management level know how the jobs below you work. Don’t make an employee do something you wouldn’t like doing yourself, or you don’t know how to do.
15. Treat the janitor with the same respect you would the CEO.
16. Stay humble.
17. Know your worth.
18. Treat yourself. Spa day? Hell yeah! Fancy hotel? Why not! It’s okay to splurge a little to make you happy.
19. Take chances, even if they scare you.
20. Be kind to everyone you meet, and most importantly to yourself.

Love always,

Jess

Fitness, My Journey, Pole Dancing

Merry Christmas, Baby


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During the winter of 7th grade I was waiting at the bus stop with a girl named Jamie, and two other boys. Freezing our butts off Jaime asked me if I wanted to learn to pole dance. Not knowing what to expect I said sure and had my first lesson on a bus stop pole. Oddly enough I fell in love with pole dancing at that exact moment, and for the next 25 years I tried many different times to take an actual class, but it didn’t happen due to scheduling conflicts and sketchy studios. 

On February 11th, 2017 I was invited to a Burlesque Booty Camp class at Crystal Arts Dance Studio hosted by a guest instructor. Walking into the studio I had no idea what to expect, but I was greeted by a kind and vivacious woman named Christina. It turned out that I was the only one who had signed up for the class and so her and I spent the next hour dancing across the floor, in chairs, and doing floor work. Not only was the class fun, but the environment that she created allowed for my Goddess to open the door a crack and take a peek outside. It was during that class that Christina mentioned to me that she teaches pole dancing as well, so I knew I needed to go and take one of her pole classes. 

March 2nd was my first ever professional pole class and let me tell you, it was one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life. I knew back in 7th grade that pole dancing was something that I wanted needed to do in my life. It wasn’t because it was sexy, or drew the attention of men, but rather it was what my body, in all it’s curvaceous glory, was BORN. TO. DO. I say that with so much passion because there has never been anything else that has made me feel so alive. I’ve skied, ran 5ks, 10ks, half marathons, completed 9 Spartan races, and salsa danced, among many other things. But nothing, nothing, has ever made me feel like this first class, and every day after, has made me feel. 

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That first night in class there was Tiffany and myself who were the newbies. Our big sisters were Marisha, Audra, Seraphina and Amanda, with Christina as our instructor. Each of the girls were inviting, warm, helpful, and super kind. They took their time to answer our questions if Christina was busy teaching someone else and they cheered us on when we did a trick. My favorite part of the night happened after we were done learning tricks. The Pole Dance Movement classes end with a mini dance session. Depending on the week each girl gets the opportunity to dance to a song in a solo. For the new girls a small routine is provided as we grow into our Goddesses, but for the more experienced girls freestyles are encouraged. That night’s theme was textiles, something that makes you feel good, sexy, feminine, comfortable, etc. I loved dancing the small routine, but it was in watching our big sisters dance that I fell in love. I fell in love with the studio. I fell in love with the girls. I found my Goddess in pole dancing.

Obviously when your Goddess comes out of hiding you have to keep doing it, so naturally I dove in. I would leave Flying Curves feeling empowered, relaxed, and on nights when words couldn’t describe what I was feeling my tears spoke for me because I had finally found my home. Finding this home led me to the Goddesses Empowered The Show, which is something that Christina puts on once or twice a year. All of us Flying Curves ladies have the opportunity to get on stage and perform in solo or group pieces. When I heard about this opportunity I knew I wanted to do both a solo and a group piece, so I asked Christina if I could take one of the solo spots and she said absolutely! From the moment she saw me dance in the Burlesque Booty Camp she knew that I would be an excellent soloist. Hearing those words from her only boosted my confidence and told me that I was on the right path. 

If you know me, you know the confidence I exude on a daily basis. I’m human, so of course I have my off days, but for the most part I know who I am and I share it with the world. I wanted this to be brought across to each and every single audience member. I wanted them to leave that show feeling more confident in themselves and having a desire to go out into the world and fill their lives with passion for something. To get there though I needed to train, work hard, find my song, learn the tricks, and put together a piece that portrayed my Goddess.

We had 6 months to train and put together our routines. Knowing that it was a holiday show I started listening to Christmas music in June. I knew I wanted something slow, but with hits. My Goddess loves to shake her ass and move her hips, so I needed something that would showcase that. Finding a song was probably the most difficult part of this process. Your Goddess changes so much throughout your pole dancing journey that what works one month might not work the next. One night during a Goddess Flow class I danced to Hot for Teacher by Van Halen. At that point in time it had probably been my best dance yet and I thought I found my show song. I had planned it all out in my head on how it could be a holiday song. I would be a teacher that taught elves in Santa’s workshop. It was going to be super HOT. Alas, when I danced to it a couple of weeks later it didn’t have the same fire. See what I mean by your Goddess changing all of the time?

In all of our soloist workshops I would dance to many holiday songs and previously I had danced to Merry Christmas, Baby by Christina Aguilera. I liked it, but didn’t love it. It was slow, but didn’t have the big hits. I wanted the big hits! One night I played a holiday playlist and came across the Merry Christmas, Baby version sung by the Nashville cast. That was it! I found my song! It was slow, sensual, and it had high moments where I could shine my va va voom! Next I found my story. My boyfriend just proposed to me and I was going to show him a good night. Not having a guy to dance for on stage I decided to make the audience my boyfriend. That meant I would need audience interaction. Could I do it? Could I tease, make eye contact, and play with the audience? Of course I could! I love breaking the 4th wall!

Everything that happened after finding my song and story was a whirl wind. I had long days at work and late nights at the studio. My weekends were spent on the group pieces. I had moments of clarity, moments of emotional break down. I had visions of what I wanted to do followed by blockages. I received feedback after feedback from Christina. I spent my daily commutes listening to my song over and over again. I lived and breathed that routine. There were days where I was overworked and tired that I wanted to change my song altogether, but taking a day to step away from dance brought my perspective back. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that dance is easy. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that putting together routines is easy. It takes a lot of work, discipline, and patience. It’s totally worth it in the end, but the grind to get there is filled with it’s highs and lows, so take each moment as it comes. 

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PC: Kate Chianese

On the day of the show I was ready. I hadn’t performed on a stage in over 11 years, but all of those same feelings came back to me. Butterflies in my stomach, excitement, and happiness. I was finally back to where I belong, and it felt great! I was born to be a dancer. I was born to be a performer. I am by no means a professional on any level, but I am an entertainer nonetheless. For those of you who have ever had the opportunity to watch me perform, you know this. I belong up on a stage. Most importantly though, I belong up on a stage pole dancing. I still have a long ways to go in my pole journey, but I’ll be damned if I’m not back on that stage in the next show. My Goddess has found her home and I won’t take that away from her. She’s ecstatic, I’m ecstatic and together we will continue pursuing this dream we have been chasing for 25 years and we will succeed! 

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Love Always,

Jess

Recipes

Smoothies


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Ahhh! I can’t believe tomorrow is Thanksgiving. This year has flown by so fast and there are a few things I have left to finish before the year ends, but boy am I excited for the holidays coming up!

I know that tomorrow I will be pigging out on stuffing and mashed potatoes and gravy, so tonight for dinner I wanted to keep it simple. I also wanted something that would provide me enough nutrients and energy to get through 2 ½  hours of dance. So I made one of my fruit and kale smoothies. 

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This is what I used to blend together a 29 ounce smoothie:

14 Strawberries
14 blueberries
10 blackberries
8 raspberries
3 kale stems
8 ounces of water
1 handful of ice

These smoothies are quick and easy to make and take no more than 10 minutes, including cleanup time! They are also something super easy to prep for a week ahead of time. I normally grab 5-7 quart size baggies and then divide out the fruits and kale evenly. Grab a bag, throw it in the blender with the water and ice and a couple of minutes later you have your smoothie! 

I’m a huge strawberry fan, so I always make sure to put extra strawberries in the baggies because it makes the smoothie so much more flavorable. You can use any fruits and veggies you like, such as spinach or dandelion leaf (I struggle finding this one, but when I do find it I sang it up because it’s delicious), so experiment a little and try different things because the possibilities are endless. 

 

Now off to dance!

Love Always,

Jess

My Journey

Big Magic!


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Happy Monday everyone! I just sat down to watch a TV show with my family after finishing up painting my bedroom, cooking dinner (thanks sis for helping me), watching football and reading a couple of pages from the book Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Today was the first day of a book club I am doing with the Truth and Dare Movement ladies, Allie and Carly. I’ve been following these girls’ podcast for some time now and I just love their personalities and their view point on life. Because of that, I decided to join the book club they are starting, and the first book on the docket is Big Magic. I’m really excited about this book because over the past couple of months I have been trying to find my way back to my magic. For the next thirty days I will be joining hundreds of girls on a journey of self discovery as we dive into Big Magic and learn to live a creative life beyond fear. 

This month long journey includes journal prompts and meditations throughout each week. The first journal prompt this week is, “reflect on an idea that ran away from you, why did you dismiss it?” Below is my response:

If I were to choose one idea that ran away from me it would probably be my writing. I have published three books, but haven’t really written much since leaving college. I tried a few years back to start up this blog to write about my Spartan journey, but life just kept getting in the way. I am the type of person who is constantly on the go and trying new things. When I find something that intrigues me I throw myself in to it one hundred percent and other passions fall to the wayside. Over the last three years I have ran nine spartan races, joined two salsa dance teams, prepared for a pole/burlesque dance performance this coming December, and joined in on many other adventures. I have gotten to be a part of a lot of fun endeavors, but with my time focused solely on those writing became something I rarely do anymore.

Sadly, as much as I have been enjoying the many amazing activities, I have been feeling like something is missing from my life. So over the next month I am excited to explore deeper and discover my creative self. I hope that you will join me on this journey, and if you are at all interested in joining the book club please click the link above for Truth and Dare Movement. I promise that if you get anything from today’s blog post it will be the true joy Allie and Carly bring to your daily life. Stay tuned for my second journal prompt later this week. 

Love Always,

Jess

Poetry

History Repeats Itself


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They say history repeats itself
over and over and over
the same history is repeated daily in my head
the same words relayed in different forms
written
text
verbal
communication drowns out the fear
and laughter shines light on a darkened corner
only for a little while
you see, history repeats itself
when is healing supposed to begin
if the constant reminder of battles fought
rip open new wounds
the soft touch of love can cover the pain
but ever so fleeting my hand in yours
as the sweet taste of your lips gets lost to the wind
until tomorrow, we meet history again

My Journey

Probation to Promotion


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Hello! Wow, it’s been a while since I have written, so welcome back! I felt like today’s topic was extra important because my one year anniversary of being promoted to a finance manager just passed. It still blows my mind on the daily that I am a finance manager at 29 years old!!! The journey has not been an easy one, but rather one filled with a lot of tears, dragging myself through the muck of life, and finding the courage and bravery inside of myself to use my voice in a corporate environment.

In November of 2010 I was a recent college graduate embarking on her first ever career job. I began as a staff accountant at the former gaming company, THQ. I was surrounded by some amazing, hardworking individuals who to this day I am extremely thankful for. They helped shape the beginning of my career and saw something in me that I, at my young age, didn’t fully see in myself. Sometime around spring of 2012 things started to shift in the company. THQ was heading towards bankruptcy and a lot of upper management was leaving the company. With that came a change in my management chain. For a while things were great, but then I came back from vacation and was called into my manager’s office. I was being put on probation. My world crumbled beneath me. What I had I done? It turns out that during our year end close I made a mistake on an accrual. A mistake that came from the information I received from the finance department. A mistake that my reviewer didn’t catch, the manager didn’t catch, the controller didn’t catch and the auditors didn’t catch. With the demise of our company in sight they needed someone to place the blame on and that blame fell on my shoulders.

As part of my probation, weekly and bi-weekly meetings were set in place with the Sr. Accountant and my Manager. During our weekly meetings the Sr. Acct. would tell me that I was progressing and was doing great work, but then during our meetings with my Manager the complete opposite was said. I was making more and more mistakes and I wasn’t picking up on simple tasks. I just wasn’t cutting it. I felt betrayed by this person. I confided in a couple of people at work, those who saw the best in me. They were shocked and told me that it was the Sr. Acct. who was in fact struggling. In their opinions I was the stronger asset out of us two and I was a threat to job security.

After a couple of months on probation HR called me down and gave me an ultimatum. I take a job in the AP department or I pack up my things and leave that day. Man, that was a really hard decision to make. On one had I was miserable and didn’t want to take a $15,000 pay cut, but on the other hand I had student loans and no job on the horizon. I ended up taking the job, which shocked everyone in the company. I was pulled into many closed door meetings to ask me why I was taking a job beneath me, my skill set, and one that wasn’t projecting my career. Lying through my teeth I grinned and said I felt it was the best move for me.

What stung the most was the people who put me on probation told me that they were glad I took this job because I would straighten the department out and that I would be manager of the department in months. They knew I had the skills to make it. How do you go from putting me on probation to rooting me on?! To make matters worse, HR and my old manager promised to pay me my higher pay while I was training my replacement, but when it came down to getting my paycheck they told me I wasted time and took longer than needed to train this person and so I didn’t deserve the pay. My only saving grace was the upper management who saw my strengths and and pulled me onto projects that were needed for the bankruptcy, despite the objection from my old team. I was favored above them and so it felt nice to give them a little slap to the face.

Two months later I found a job, that included a promotion to Sr. Financial Analyst, at Universal Music Group and I began working there at the end of January 2013. I am coming up close to my five year anniversary here and I can say that without a doubt this company has been the greatest step in my career. Since day one the people on my team push me, pick my brain, and teach me more than I could have ever imagined. Amazing things are happening at this company for me and I am shedding more and more of the pain leftover from my THQ days.

I remember after my first year here I got called into one of my manager’s offices. I was beyond nervous that I was going to get into trouble for something. To my relief she wanted to tell me that after all of my hard work and dedication to my job over the last year she wanted to give me a raise. I kept my cool, but inside I was having a solo dance party! Immediately I ran to a friend in the company and told her what happened. She proceeded to tell me that I had the highest paid discretionary bonus in our group. This company was seeing something in me!! Could it be true? Could all of my doubts and and fears be behind me? The positive feedback I was getting from my coworkers solidified the feeling that I wasn’t the problem at THQ, but rather I was just a threat.

Since my first year here at UMG many changes have taken place. Our payroll accountant left the company and I was gifted the responsibility to manage our payroll systems. Then our department went through an outsourcing transition and I was tasked with training our team in India on our overhead entries. Both of these transitions allowed me to take on more of a leadership role, preparing me for my biggest role to date.

About a year and a half ago our VP was replaced and our central team was split down the middle between accounting and finance. This split was probably our most difficult change within the organization since I started. What came out of it though has been better than I could have ever imagined. Fall of 2016 was a very stressful time for me. My mom was diagnosed with cancer and in the midst of chemo, and I was working crazy amounts of overtime (80+ hour weeks). Everyone at work was working a ton of overtime and we were picking up the slack for one employee who was constantly gone due to family and medical struggles. Then one day, November 7th, we all came into work from a restful weekend to a note from her saying she resigned. No goodbyes, no chance of being trained on her duties, just poof, gone. This was my chance!

For the few months leading up to this moment I had been in talks with our VP about a pay raise. I knew a promotion wasn’t possible at that point in time, but I had been with the company for 4 years with barely any pay increase for the duties I had taken on. I felt like I deserved something. The day our Sr. Manager left I walked into our VP’s office and asked her what her plan was. I was ready to ask for that promotion, but she beat me to it. She told me she was going to promote me to Manager because she believed in me. I still had some things to learn to get to the Sr. Manager title, but I would get there soon enough. A few weeks later I went into her office to discuss pay with her. She suggested a salary and I felt I deserved more, but we compromised in the middle. Then something truly amazing happened. The following week she called me into her office and said she discussed my salary with her boss. He agreed to the number I wanted!! Wow, I had just scored myself a 42% pay raise all because I stood up for myself. I was blown away by this and left her office feeling extremely grateful!

A year ago I was promoted to finance manager and was provided a new endeavor in my career. This year as manager has been filled with learning curves, opportunities to voice my thoughts and opinions, and daily gratitude for what life provides when you put in the work. I am not perfect and am still learning how to be a better manager, but what I can say is that I went for it and I am being rewarded!

Life is never going to be perfect. You will go through your highs and lows and sometimes in those lows you get so down on yourself that you can’t possibly see how things could get better. My story is one of many that show that persevering, believing in yourself and being surrounded by people who see what you are capable of will get you places in life. Don’t ever give up on your dreams in life because you will get there, I promise!

Love Always,

Jess

My Journey

Injuries, setbacks, and the whole shebang


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Injuries and setbacks have been a part of my life since a young age. At 7 years old I broke my femur while rollerblading in PE and I ended up in traction for a month, a body cast for a month and on crutches for 6 weeks. From that point on I’ve always had what my family calls “femur fear.” This has often kept me from fully participating in any recreational sport. I would participate in almost any activity, but within my own mental limits. It was engrained in me that physical activity of any kind could lead to injury, which in turn holds you back from fully enjoying life.

As I have gotten older and become more physically active I have realized injuries are a part of the game. Obviously the whole point is to avoid injuries as much as possible, but that doesn’t always happen. Within the past year I have had quite a few injuries. I slammed my femur on a rock while mountain biking and now have a massive hematoma in my leg. I got glass stuck in the bottom of my foot and had to get it cut open. I have had my ribs broken and my most current injury is turf toe. I would have to say this is by far my worst injury. This is the one injury that scares me. When I tell people what my injury is the common reactions tend to be “huh?” from girls, because they don’t know too much about sports, and then the guys tend to cringe and tell me how they’d rather break bones than ever get turf toe.

Why does this one particular injury scare me the most though? Because it is a career ender for top athletes. Coaches hate hearing their star player has turf toe. Now, as I am beginning my Spartan lifestyle I have been handed over an injury that could potentially end my career right when it is starting. Trust me, I am not one to back down easily. When I slammed my femur on the rock last August, everyone told me I was crazy to even consider racing my half marathon 6 weeks later. I was showing up to the gym with crutches and pushing myself every day because I wanted, no needed, to cross that finish line. Not only did I cross that finish line, but I ran the entire race and crushed my records. I was determined! I was being beat down by the enemy and so I fought. I fought like hell, and I am going to do that now. I currently have to wear a metal plate in my shoe to prevent a lot of movement, but that isn’t going to stop me. I have received permission from the doctor to run. I stressed to her how much this race meant to me and so she is going to help me get back out there. I have this dream for my future, and racing is a BIG part of it. A lot of people around me just tell me to give up. To sit myself down on a couch and prevent further injury, but I can’t do that. For 24 years of my life I lived an unhealthy, under active life and I refuse to place myself back there again. Injuries come and go, they are easy to fix, but health is something you only have one shot at and health to me includes racing.

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There are other setbacks besides injuries. One of the things I have been struggling with is my weight loss. Prior to this year I had lost 65 pounds, but for some reason 2014 has gotten the best of me. I wasn’t motivated. I didn’t have my why clearly defined. However, over the past few months the Spartan races have changed my mindset completely. I have found my why. I have found a reason to continue to lose weight and get into shape. Since my last Spartan race up in Monterey I have been trying my damnedest to get back on track. This week I prepped all of my meals. I stuck to my daily workouts. I ate every 2-3 hours. I drank a ton of water. I stayed on track. This morning on my way to the gym I was feeling so excited to step on that scale and take my measurements. All week long I had been feeling energized, I wasn’t starving, I was back to my old motivational self. How could I not be feeling pumped to go to the gym? When Jason pulled out the scale and I stepped on it I was imagining the high-five I would receive for a job well done. Instead the scale read 144.0. Slowly I could feel my excitement slipping away. Next he took my measurements and with each one I could just feel the energy drain from me. The confidence I had left my every pore.

At the end of it all I had gained 4 pounds since June 4th, with a 2% body fat increase. How could this be? The tears came. The disappointment came. The feeling of letting myself down and letting all of those around me down. Internally I was calling myself a hypocrite, racking my brain around what had just happened; trying to find out what I had done wrong. Clearly none of this was adding up in my head. I have a feeling this has to do with the timing of my period as I have seen this type of jump before in my measurements, but any type of setback hurts regardless of the reasoning behind it. I still have no answer as to what happened, but it’s life and I have to move forward and leave this behind.

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I wrote the above yesterday as a reminder of how many days left until each event I have this summer. This was meant to be motivation and to keep me on track. It still is, but with these two recent setbacks (turf toe and weight gain) I find it hard to believe I can accomplish anything. If there is one thing I have learned though, it’s that I can do anything I set my mind to. I’ve lost 65 pounds. I ran a half marathon 6 weeks after a mountain biking injury. I have made myself a stronger, healthier me and there isn’t going to be a single thing that gets in my way from becoming a life long Spartan. Things happen in life, but it’s how you allow those things to affect you that determines the outcome. I won’t let today’s weigh in or this injury prevent me from reaching for the stars. I will come out on top no matter how hard I have to push!

As my family would say:

“suck it up and be a Jessica.”

“You’re a Trapp.”

“No pain, no gain.”

“Pain is weakness leaving the body.”

“Pain is good. Extreme pain is extremely good!”

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Love always,

Jess