The Ugly Duckling

Today is the birthday of a woman I will never meet, but yet she is a woman who forever changed my life.

Growing up they called her names. Her teeth weren’t straight. She never thought a man would fancy her. She was very insecure, believing what most people said about her to be true, and often admit she was an “ugly duckling.” But she firmly believed that a person’s prospects in life were not totally dependent on their physical beauty.

When a particular young man showed interest in her, she decided not to take him to a fancy social event, but took him into the inner slums of the Lower East Side, where she often worked tirelessly aiding young immigrant families.

The rich, sheltered young man saw things he would never forget — sweat shops where women labored and squalid tenements where children worked until they dropped with exhaustion. Pain, suffering, and poverty.

His walking tour with her profoundly changed his life and he “could not believe human beings lived that way.”

The young man’s name was Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the young woman, who changed his life forever? Better yet, a woman who would change the world forever? Eleanor Roosevelt.

Eleanor is one of my heroes. She was my inspiration in high school. I longed to be like Eleanor. (PS..I am 90% sure if I ever have a daughter her name will be Eleanor something.)

I’ll never forget the moment I fell in love with Eleanor. I was feeling downtrodden, distraught, having a pity party on my grandmother’s back steps because I didn’t fit in where I lived and that day I hadn’t been invited to go on a group outing. I always seemed to be enduring some joke about Africa, being an MK, or being “Miss Goody-Two Shoes”. My grandmother sat down beside me and told me something that has forever shaped me into who I am. She lovingly stroked my hair, rubbed my shoulder and said: “Honey, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. Do you know who said that?” As I shook my head no, she said: “Eleanor.” She told me of being a young farm wife during the time of Eleanor’s reign as First Lady.  But more about how she was so much more than just another First Lady. During her life, Eleanor would be nominated three times for a Nobel Peace Prize. She was a renowned social and political activist, journalist, educator, and diplomat. As the First Lady, she was a high profile supporter of the Civil Rights Movement, equal rights for women, and social reforms to uplift the poor. She was instrumental in helping the Tuskegee Airmen in their successful effort to become the first black combat pilots.

Eleanor wasn’t afraid. She was who she was, and made no excuses for her passion. She lived in the world of politics, but seemingly used it to help benefit her many causes.

Even after Franklin’s passing, she would remain active in politics for the rest of her life. She chaired President Kennedy’s ground-breaking committee (which helped start second-wave feminism!), and the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women.

While she may have endured being called “ugly duckling” growing up, to the world, she was a beautiful swan whose beauty inside helped her speak the truth, making the world a little better for all.

Happy Birthday Eleanor!

~ Eleanor Roosevelt, born on this day, October 11, 1884


One Eleanor Loving Lemon


To The Stranger I Met Today…

To the stranger I met today….

Thank you. Thank you for seeing the sad girl in the grocery store. She was trying to be invisible decked out in a messy bun and sweats because she was having a rough day and couldn’t bear to put makeup on. A girl hiding because calculating her groceries because she only has a limited budget sometimes embarrasses her.

Thank you for looking past her shield of sweat pants armor.

Thank you.

Thank you for seeing a girl who needed someone to talk to her today. Who needed someone to see that she wasn’t invisible. Who needed to feel like she mattered in the world.

What you didn’t know was that she was struggling today. She was having a rough day, a rough week, a rough month, a rough life. She endured a harsh tear down last night from someone close to her. She felt small, she felt like a failure, she felt despair, she felt like quitting.

But all you saw was a sad girl and you did something so small. So insignificant to anyone watching. But to her it was huge.

You squeezed her shoulder, smiled, waved and said hi.

Your smile, made her smile. Your hi, made her feel visible. Your wave made her day.

So thank you. I’ve never met you before, and probably never will again, but today you made an invisible girl feel like someone cared.

And that felt good.


One Roughing It Out Lemon

Sometimes it’s okay to be a mess…

“Do not worry about what other people think of you. The work I am doing in you is hidden at first. But eventually blossoms will burst forth, and abundant fruit will be borne.” ~ Jesus Calling

This season of my life hurts…and hurts bad. I’ve been quiet about it, but as I’ve learned (yet again) that I have to talk about things or else they stay bottled up inside.

I’ve been living on my own since December. It’s been amazing…but for the first time in my whole life I don’t have to deal with my family 24/7. I can come home, unwind and breath. But I have a lot of time to think, which is challenging. There are a lot of things about my family that the world doesn’t know. Things I’ve grown up and dealt with for over 20 years. For longest time, I thought all families were like that.

In April, my parents split up. On one hand, I’m happy for my mom. But it’s really hard. I felt caught between the middle of a war. I’ve prayed for years that God would heal my family. I was tired of the lies. Tired of hearing people say they love my dad and I have the best parents in the world. When behind the doors of our home, life was another story.

They’ve since filed for divorce….that’s not something that you are prepared to deal with at 27….or at any time in your life I feel like.

There are no rules, no explanations, just things that happen. The house you grew up in being sold. The splitting up of family heirlooms. The awkwardness of trying to figure out which parent to spend what holiday with. The constant battle of trying not to appear as if you’ve chosen a parent. The pain of having to deal with 20 years of bottled up emotions, anger, grief, brokenness.

I’ve cried so much in the past four weeks, I don’t think I can cry anymore. I made a decision recently and I’ve really begun to question whether I made the right decision or whether I’ve screwed up the best thing I’ve ever known.

Matt and I started dating in January and it was a whirlwind. It scared me to death how perfect it was in the beginning. Then life began happening and I began to slowly freakout. Instead of being honest with Matt about it, I didn’t tell him what was bothering me. He’s so sweet and loves me like crazy and I wasn’t sure how to handle that.

But then the drama with my parents started, and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. The more Matt tried to be there for me, the more I felt smothered and I did what I always do. I pushed him away.

I always do that. It’s a side effect of moving 24 times in 18 years. We never stayed in once place long enough to make friends. Eventually, it was just easier not to make any than to have to lose them when we moved. Anytime anyone got close, I would just push them away. It happens when people have hurt you your whole life. Good people..people who claim to love you…and care about you..only to stab you and your family in the back.

So I learned to push them away. I built up walls to protect my heart.

It’s been three weeks since I sat down with Matt and talked to him about some concerns I was having. I felt like my life was spiraling out of control. We decided to take a break. I told him that I thought everything with my mom and dad was playing into our relationship and that I needed some time to work on me and deal with that. Time to heal, time to breathe, time to go see my doctor. He agreed to a break and I was relieved.

Being a mess isn’t pretty, it’s not something I like to let people see. It’s not something I’ve shared with someone before. But lately, I’ve realized that I want him here by my side as I walk through this.

A week after we had that conversation, Matt came over to my house and told me he wanted to break up. He asked me if that was what I wanted and it was and it wasn’t. But I thought if it was what he really wanted, then I guess we should. So I said it was fine. (Yes, I know..I need to say what’s in my mind. I’m horribly guilty of saying I’m fine, when I’m not.)

But I was devastated. I literally fell onto the floor after he walked out of the door and cried for hours. I feel like someone has ripped my heart out of my chest.

I’m really not sure that we/I made the right decision. I know we have things in our relationship that we need to work on. What relationship doesn’t? I take responsibility for my part. I need to be honest with Matt.

These three weeks without him have been hell. I miss him so much I ache. I cry myself to sleep at night because I miss him. It’s never been like this before. I’ve never been in love with anyone. That night Matt asked me if I loved him, and I told him I didn’t know. Because I honestly didn’t know. But now, I do. I love his goofy Batman shirts, the way he always brings me flowers, the shoulder massages after a long day, and the fact that I can talk to him about anything. I love how hard he works, I love his family. The first time I ever met them, I was scared to death. But they instantly welcomed me into their home, hugged me (weird because we don’t do that in my family, but I secretly love it!), and let me help in the kitchen. I felt like I fit in with them, and that was a big deal for me.

I love the way Matt protects me, the way he can look at me and know something is up, the way he cherishes me, and holds my hand. The way he brings me coffee before we head to church. I just love him. I love that he leaves notes for me with his pyramid of XoXo’s.

And now I’m afraid that I’ve pushed the one thing I truly love away. I’ve had this delusion that if a guy truly loved me, he would fight for me. It was hard for me to fathom that Matt would give up on me/us after only a week.

I can’t fix me in a week. I need time to heal. I’ve had a lot to process with my family and work has been beyond stressful.

So I don’t know what to do. I don’t know whether to talk to Matt and tell him how I feel or just let him be.

He seems to be fine. He’s playing in a band and living life…and I’m sitting here on my couch, wearing glasses, hair in a messy bun, wishing I could stop crying and sniffling.

Yes, I am a mess. But you know what….sometimes it’s okay to be a mess.


One Teary Eyed, Confused Lemon

Lemon’s Here & Back to Running :)

Hey Lovelies!

I’ve been MIA for a little while. There’s a lot going on in my life and I’m not quite ready to share yet. But! I’ve gotten back into running after taking a small hiatus and here’s some fun “running” info about me :)

What’s your distance? I am a 5K girl :) It’s just the perfect distance for me, not to long and not to short. My goal is to become a 10K girl! I’ve been running since I was little. My dad is a marathoner and has been taking me running since before I could walk. I played soccer from the time I was in middle school all the way through college but never really enjoyed recreational running until November of 2012. My dad convinced me to run a 5K with him and I got hooked!

What has been my favorite race? My favorite race so far happened in 2013. It was the Firecracker 5000 in Hilton Head. I ran it with my best friend and her whole family on the Fourth of July. We had a blast! It was insane! Over 2,000 runners raced it and we had to watch out for gators along the route (that was a first for me!).

 If I could run any race in the world….I would probably run the half marathon in Antarctica. I think it’s an amazing race! My friend Ginger and her mom ran the Antarctica marathon a few years ago and their stories are awesome! It’s one of the most physically challenging marathons. PS: Ginger’s now run a marathon on every continent :)

Do I run for fun or to compete….I run mostly for fun and fitness. But being the athlete that I am..I get slightly competitive. In 2013 – 2014 it was a friendly competition between my dear friend, Nancy, and I to see who could run the most races. We typically train together and it is always fun on race day to see who’s going to come in first.

Have you ever won a race or placed in your age group? I haven’t won a race yet, but I have placed a few times (usually towards the bottom… But winning some bling at a race is on my bucket list :)

Have you experienced any trials/injuries/health issues that you have had to overcome? Totally! The past year and a half have been challenging for me! I was involved in a head on collision in August 2013 and it set me back quite a bit in my training. I had been preparing to race a 10K race in September but due to my injuries I had to bump down to the 5K race. It was a struggle. The doctor told me no running for 6-8 weeks, no intense cardio and no Zumba. The tendons in my ankle had been extremely strained and possibly torn, I had bone bruises, and they later discovered I had a tear in my IT band. It was frustrating and hard to go from training twice a day to hardly being able to walk. But here I am a year later and I’m really close to being back to my “pre-accident” running times. Hopefully, by the fall I’ll be back to running races :)

What does crossing the finish line feel like? Crossing the finish line is a huge moment for me! It’s hard, it’s glorious, it’s a visual representation of accomplishing a goal I set in my mind. It feels amazing. I feel proud knowing that it was something that I did by myself.

Do you have a specific distance and PR that you are proud of?  When I started running in 2012, my mile time was at 15 minutes and as a former NCAA soccer girl that was mind blowing. When I was playing in college, I could do 2-3 miles in that time. I knew I had to get my body back into athlete mode. I’m proud to say that I’m almost back to my soccer shape and I ran 3.46 miles in 25 minutes last week.

As a graphic designer, does your mind fill with millions of idea’s for projects while out on a run? Lol :)  As a graphic designer, my head stays full of a million ideas. When I’m running I am often inspired by the colors or textures I encounter. Running on my lunch break has been a great way for me to process through all the ideas that are constantly running through my head. I come back to the office with new thoughts and designs. I do let my mind roam. Sometimes it wants to think creatively and other times I think about nothing.

My most embarrassing running moment happened when…. It had been rather cold and I wad beginning to run in my running tights. I’d lost about 20lbs since I bought them but didn’t really think much about it. Needless to say, as I was running I noticed that my bum seemed to be a bit chilly. As I ran by some people I noticed they had a really funny look on their faces and were giggling. I looked down only to realize that my running tights had fallen down and I was pretty much mooning people. I was mortified! I immediately went back to the gym to change. I’ve since bought new running tights :)

I run because….. I want to break the cycle of unhealthiness my family genetics has handed me, I run for a cure for the cancer that took my best friend. I run to save my life.

How many countries have you ran in….. I’ve ran in Dakar, Senegal; Abijon, Cote D’Ivoire; Paris, France; and Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Are you a solo runner or a groupie…. I enjoy solo running. It’s one of the few moments of my day where it’s just the trail and me. No phone to answer, no emails, no text messages. It’s me disconnected from my world. I do train with 2 of my friends when our schedule allows and I enjoy of the dynamic of group workouts.

When I’m running I’m typically jamming out to…. Save Me by Shinedown and Swing Me into the 1920’s by DJ Dracula.

What’s with the detailed training log on your blog?  I’m horrible about not remembering what I’ve done if I don’t write it down. I’ve found that by keeping a detailed training log I’m better able to determine why I plateau and what I need to work on. It helps me track my consistency. I keep a detailed food log as well :)

When I go for a run I must have…. My Nike+ chip. It’s such a cool thing to not have to worry about keeping track of my pace and time as it automatically logs things for me. I also LOVE my Skullcandy headphones.

So we know you run, what else do you do? In my spare time, I love to swim. I’ve been a professional lifeguard/competitive swimmer for 10 years and I’ve been swimming since I was six months old. My mom says some days she thinks she birthed a fish instead of a daughter. I also coach a 6U soccer team and ride/train horses.

Who’s your #fitspo? So many people motivate me! I follow several people on Twitter who have such amazing weightloss stories. There is a huge community of #Fitfam people that are the best about tweeting you encouragement! My biggest motivation is my desire to break out of this horrible genetic cycle. I want my kids to have a lower risk of health problems and I know that it starts with me. I want to inspire people the way that several blogs did for me when I first started out.

Okay…you’ve got me interested. What should I do if I want to start running?  Start slow! Do your research. The key thing for me was getting fitted for the right shoes. Go to a running company and talk with them. Also, see if your community has a running club. We have an amazing one in town and they have been super about helping me as I started my running journey. They’ll teach you breathing techniques, pacing and interval workouts. Lastly, don’t give up when you get frustrated! It takes about 8 weeks for you to see the difference :)

What’s on Lemon’s bucket list?  My bucket list :) I have a long one..but I would love to travel to Italy and back to France. I want to run a race on every major holiday (so far I’ve done the 4th of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas). I want to get my Master’s degree (in progress!) and doctorate before I turn 30 (I’ve got 3 years left…eeek!). It’s my dream to run the New York or Boston Marathon :)

One weird thing about Lemon….I speak an African tribal language called Wolof, in addition to French and English, and I’m ambidextrous.

So :) What’s one running goal you have this summer?


One Running Slow (But Getting There) Lemon