Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The most rewarding journey of my life....

Buckingham Palace April 2006 and December 2008. Same location...but a very different me!

Today is our last day in Siberia, we are finally moving home to the US. This past week has been an emotional one for me. We are of course thrilled that we are moving back home, but we are also sad to say goodbye to dear friends and the countless memories we have made here over the past 3 years. So allow me for one moment to look back on how this journey began...

I remember getting the call from my husband that we needed to talk about an offer that had been presented to him. We sat down to discuss the new opportunity and at the time I had no idea the adventures that were in store for us. He started off by saying, the offer is in Russia. My first thought was, "Ok, Moscow, that is not too bad. Very western. A big city, lots to do". Then he proceeded to tell me, well it is actually in Siberia. Without hesitation, I looked at him and simply said "Yes, let's go for it". For years my husband put off working internationally so that I could go to school, and now it was my time to repay him by allowing him to expand his career by taking a risk, one that has proven in many ways to be the best decision we could have made.

With my passport empty, we started off on a journey unknown to us. In my mind, I had envisioned all the new experiences we would soon be apart of. I wanted to see the world! We started off in Canada, I remember getting the first stamp on my passport and I was thrilled! Now, 3 years and 25 countries later, I am a new person. I see things in life differently, it truly has changed me forever.

I will never forget when we landed in Moscow. I was so excited to try one of the two Russian phrases that I learned...Where is the bathroom. I ventured off on my own in the airport and asked a girl behind a counter and she looked a bit puzzled. I am quite sure I butchered the phase big time with my Texas accent, but nevertheless, I asked again and it worked! I was on my way to the bathroom, I did it! I asked by myself and got an answer! Bravo, I thought, I can make it here, no problem. When we arrived in our new city Tyumen, I could not help but think that Siberia was a bit different than I had envisioned in my mind. It was better, however it still was not home. I new that we would be here for at least 2 years and it was up to me how I would spend my time here.

In April of that year, we took our first vacation to London and Paris. You can imagine the excitement I had getting to visit two of the most amazing cites of the world. I had always dreamed of seeing the Eiffel tower, and I knew it was a moment I would never forget. At the end of each day we would review through our pictures and reminisce about the memories we had just made. It was here, that I had a feeling come over me I will never forget. I remember seeing a pictures of me in front of the Eiffel tower as well as Buckingham Palace. I was speechless. I did not recognize in any way the girl who was in the photo. It broke my heart. Who was I?

You see, I was never overweight growing up. It was not until college that I let myself go. Once I was married in 1999, the weight gain escalated big time. I was married to the man of my dreams, a real living prince if I ever knew one. He loved me unconditionally and reminded me of this every day. But he loved me so much that he did not see the weight that I gained over those first 6 years of our life together. I was blissfully happy with our marriage, but at the same time, the girl I once knew was gone, forever....or so I thought.

Now, 3 years later, I am slowly seeing the girl I once knew back in high school. I was telling someone the other day that I never knew I would age in reverse, and it is true. I feel as if I have added years on to my life. There are countless blessings that have come as a result of us moving here, but the most rewarding is by far that I have turned my life around. I am no longer the girl who cries when I see photos of myself. I never again want to feel as if life is just passing me by. I want to take hold of every challenge and reach for all that I dream of. I want to shout from the rooftops to everyone who is out there hurting that you CAN change you life, you can make a fresh start TODAY. The best decision I made was to not let fear stand in my way of reaching my dreams. Yes, I was afraid of failure, but just like 3 years ago moving to Siberia, it was a risk I was willing to take, and I am forever thankful that I did.

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-- I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." Robert Frost

September 2006 compared to December 2008.

26 comments:

Krissa said...

What a beautiful story. You are such a beautiful girl.

I bought a heart rate monitor with a calorie burn option like you. I am going to start being a REALLY good record keeper like you :) Maybe even use spark people to log my meals! You are a huge inspiration. You have accomplished so much. I cannot imagine getting to see 25 different countries. AMAZING!

Angela said...

Jen you have inspired and motivated so much. I'm sure there are many others who feel the same. Keep being you. Have a safe trip home.

Big HUGS!!!

erin said...

I had to post on here and on SP because this post is just so wonderful! :)

SusanSerene said...

Jen, thank you so much for sharing your incredible journey to good health with us. You continue to inspire and challenge me and I wish you and your husband the very best as you relocate to Texas and begin a new adventure. God bless you both.

RunTX said...

congrats on the transformation...I'm sure your story will inspire many

Sandrelle said...

Jen,

I loved reading your story, so many of my own memories are the same, it brought a tear to my eye, a happy one! Yes, we CAN change. It is possible!! You are beautiful and amazing and such an inspiration. Hope all your travels are safe and comfortable and that you get home safely. :)

Dee said...

I loved finally reading the beginning of your journey. You are an inspiration to "older" women as well as young ones. You have accomplished so much with your dedication and hard work. Congratulations on this tremendous success story! I am sure you are having all those emotions of leaving the new friends you have made, but so excited about finally being HOME. I look forward to reading more of your weight loss and healthy living journey.

Bobbi Jo said...

What a wonderful post. What an exciting time for you again to come back to the states.
You look awesome. I am just at that beginning of my journey to the gal I use to know and it is scary to say the least.
Hugs, Bobbi Jo

Mom of Two Red Heads said...

I too want to recognize the girl in the photos again...

Cara said...

You make me want to move right now! This sounds amazing! Are you moving back to Texas?

Jacey said...

Krissa put it best for me - your story is truly beautiful and so are you. What a fantastic adventure!

Best of luck on your move. Can't wait to read your first post from your new home in the States.

dailygoods said...

that is an amazing story! I just found your blog and I love it, you are such an inspiration! have a safe trip :)

*a said...

I too let myself go during my first round of college! I gained so much weight my freshman year, I always joked that whoever named it the "freshman 15" should have really called it the "freshman 30." Now that I'm getting married to the man of my dreams, I've decided to lose weight and change my habits to healthier ones.

I just wanted to let you know that seeing your photos today really inspired me, so thank you for that!

SuperDave said...

I love this post! I welcome you back yo the US -almost.. Got to get here first. haha
Being married and getting too comfortable was my downfall - same as you. You look great and your story is so very inspiring.

Denise said...

WOW. Amazing pictures. You're adorable and should be so proud of yourself!

Leigh said...

I absolutely loved your story and can relate to a lot of it. I have the heart rate monitor that you recommended and LOVE IT! I hope you have a safe trip back to HOME and look forward to your first post when you get here! U have had an amazing journey thus far and I'm sure you will have many more. You are a true inspiration, thanks for blogging to us :)

Heather McD (Heather Eats Almond Butter) said...

What an amazing story...you're beautiful! Best of luck with the move back home!

tisha85 said...

Jen you look amazing. I liked reading the back story about your time in Siberia and the journey you've taken. Come on home now!

Kek said...

The photos are amazing and so are you. :o)

I know how it is to be stuck in a body you don't recognise, and also how difficult it can be to make the necessary changes. Many people think they want to change, but fear holds them back.

Congratulations on having the courage to step out of your comfort zone in so many ways. When we do, the rewards are always surprising.

MitchWendy said...

You know I "Big Puffy Heart" You! And I LOVE LOVE LOVE what you wrote here....

I wanted to cry reading it. You are such an inspiration, and tell a great story.

What a blessing it is to know you, and to share this journey with you. Thank you for this....

You inspire all of us "sparkfriends" and the many more you touch through this site.

Have a great trip, and WELCOME HOME!!!!!!!!

Bren said...

Jen you are an amazing young lady and I am so bless to have met you. Thank you for sharing your story.

celmore said...

Incredible. You are amazing. Congratulations. Very motivating!

mybeforeandafter said...

What an amazing story!!! I look forward to reading more now that I've discovered your blog!

I've actually just started my own "Before & After" website that includes a blog, photo gallery and forum:

www.mybeforeandafter.info

Please check it out if you get a chance.

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

You look fantastic. I have seen a lot of before and after's but I have never seen someone completely change the way you have.

I really like your blog. It's very inspirational to see someone else that is athletic as well.

Chaka said...

I've seen a lot of transformation pictures over the years and those are some of the best. I like the fact that you did it over 3 years not 3 months. Those are inspirational.

Jen's Journey said...

Thank you so much. Everyone's support has been incredible! It means a great deal to me.

Reach high!
Jen