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What’s my “S”? December 8, 2015

Posted by jeneypeney in a little help from my friends, all growed up, in it to gym it, life, return to athleticism, tattoos-day, Uncategorized.
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I have this great idea for a new tattoo. I want to get the outlines of all the states I have lived in together as they are on a map across my thigh; Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, North Dakota, and Minnesota. I also want to put a star on the spot of each town I have called home; Park Forest, Oak Creek, South Bend, Fargo, and Hewitt.

In my mind, this tattoo is badass and would echo those big changes in my life that always seem to be marked by a move.

But in reality, it will show so much more.

It will show the fact I never really found a place to truly call my home. It will show the sad truth that I’ve moved so much that I failed to keep in touch with SO many friends. This tattoo will show the matter of how I’ve never really found my footing in my professional career; I’ve never found my true passion. It will show that I have simply felt lost and alone for well over a decade.

All of this instability and uncertainty came to an epic climax when my mother died and no more than 3 months later my husband and I moved to a town with a population smaller than my high school graduating class. I was truly on the edge of a very long, very destructive downward spiral.

Alas, in the infamous words of my late grandfather, “Things work out.” And work out, things did.

You see, my mother’s passing kick-started a sort of obsession – not so much with health – but with not kicking the bucket. The last thing I wanted was to pass away from a heart attack that I could have prevented before I even turned 55. So when a good friend of mine entered me into a contest for a month of free personal training, I took her up on it. That is when 3S Fitness came into my life and I couldn’t be more grateful.

The 3 “S”s of 3S Fitness are strength, sweat, and soul. There is also an unofficial, invisible “S” – support. But in reality, the “S” that this company provides for ME that is most important is STABILITY. And I’m not just talking the kind that you get from the million and a half minutes of planks my trainer has assigned to me since starting my training program.

I have incredible workouts that I can count on to make me sore everyday (never has peeing or washing my hair been such a challenge) – and a trainer that I know will be with me every step of the way.

After years of depriving myself of foods and obsessing over calories, I have finally developed a healthy and satisfying relationship with food.

I now have a job that I adore. I work from home. I have been granted the opportunity to help women – and men! –  grow with fitness and healthy relationships with food. I am ACTUALLY using both of my degrees. I couldn’t have asked for a more rewarding and fulfilling career.

I finally have an incredible group of friends that transcend distance and location. The 3SFitFam is an incredible group of women who will lift you up when you are failing, congratulate your accomplishments, and tell you it’s okay when you really just don’t feel like being a human that day.

So what’s your “S”? I suggest you begin with START. 



Death is only hard for the living. May 11, 2015

Posted by jeneypeney in Uncategorized.
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“Three years ago, I spoke at my grandfather’s memorial service. At the time, the words came to me as clear as day and I had very little trouble putting words to paper. But I had written that speech in my head for years. I had time to figure out what I was going to say about my Grandpa Hodson long before he passed. But I had no idea how to write one of these for my mother. Not yet.”

The card you SHOULD have given me.

The card you SHOULD have given me.

Let’s be honest. I still have a hard time describing how the death of my mother has impacted my life. The hardest part was how it just… happened. My mother wasn’t sick. She didn’t have cancer or any other terminal condition. My mother wasn’t actively dying.

And then POOF! In the span of a few hours she was fucking dead.

You learn a lot when someone close to you dies. You learn even more when that person is a parent. But I am not writing this blog post to vomit all of that “seize the day” and “life is short” nonsense to you. What I want to do today is talk about how to handle the grieving adult children of the deceased. From my experience, no one really knows how to do that. No one.

My mother’s viewing and memorial service were two of the most painfully awkward and excruciatingly frustrating days of my life. Why? Because being a twenty-something with a dead parent is an elite club that a small fraction of our population belongs to. I get it – you have no idea how to handle me. You have zero clues to how I am feeling. You are at a complete loss for how to comfort me because candy and hugs and “mommy’s an angel now” talk stopped being a viable option roughly two decades ago. My dark and sarcastic dead mom jokes make you uncomfortable. I get it.

So I have pulled together five basic guidelines that will help you express your sympathies in a way that will help everyone involved get through the muck and the tears in one relative piece. Granted, everyone grieves in their own way and not all five of these guidelines will apply to every single young adult that loses a parent. But from my experience, these rules would have made laying my mother to rest just a bit more bearable.

1. Don’t expect us to act like children.
I cannot tell you why, but after most people were done giving me hugs and telling me how sorry they were for my loss, I felt like they kind of stood there almost waiting for me to entertain them. As if I was some seven year old girl who wants to tell you all about her new teddy bear so you can forget how awful death can be. But the truth is I am not a child anymore and I don’t have a new teddy bear; I have crippling debt from student loans and a car that needs an oil change. I may be a child of the deceased, but I am not a child. Whether you want to believe it or not, I graduated from the kids table at Thanksgiving a LONG time ago. I have had enough life experience to fully comprehend the gravity of the situation and the only cute thing I have to tell you is about the girl who just crashed my mom’s wake. You have treated me like an adult at every family function for years now – don’t make this day different.

2. Tell us your memories.
The priest who presided over my mother’s memorial continuously reiterated how important the sharing of stories was to the grieving process. With that being said, the only two people who told me anything were my dad and an old childhood friend of my mother. (The latter only divulged his story after I asked him to.) But people shared TONS of memories with my father. I can’t tell you what made me different – but it was disappointing to come away with barely anything after roughly 12 hours of being showered with sympathy. Pro tip: I WANTED to hear about my mom. It doesn’t hurt to remember the past or learn about her childhood. And just in case you don’t realize it: I am 29 years old and I probably participated in just as many shenanigans and done just as much stupid shit as she had by my age. I have had sex with multiple people. I have drank so much I gave lap dances I don’t remember doing. Your risqué story about how my parents met at a wet t-shirt contest is not going to soil my memory of mom – tell them!

3. Do not tell us about your dead parent.
This one might rub people the wrong way, but it has to be said: unless your parent died in almost the exact same fashion, around the same age, and when you were a young adult – don’t tell me about how hard it was to lose them. Yes, I understand that losing a parent is hard no matter when or how it happens. “Absolutely terrible” is an understatement and I don’t wish it on anyone. But to be quite frank, your mother dying in her 80s after a long battle with cancer does not mean you truly know how I am feeling. I will never get to buy my mother a “World’s Greatest Grandma” mug. I will never get to celebrate my parents’ 30th wedding anniversary (not to mention their 50th). My mother will never send me cheesy “You’re Old Now!” 30th birthday gifts. While you do know my pain of losing a parent – and I appreciate your attempt to sympathize with that – you will never comprehend the type of pain I am in.

4. Simply be there for us.
I have to say that I never would have survived the aftermath of my mother’s passing if it wasn’t for those who were simply just there. If I wanted to cry, they had a shoulder. If I wanted to scream, they had an ear. If I wanted to drink, they had a flask of whiskey. If I wanted to talk, they had a voice. If I needed to laugh, they had an arsenal of internet memes saved in their phone. Whatever I needed, they were there with it. No more, no less. When I was hurting I really just needed you to BE THERE for me in whatever capacity you could. It may not seem like a lot, but it was plenty.

5. Be careful which clichéd sympathetic phrases you tell us.
While I do appreciate that these are things you say to people who have lost a loved one, they sometimes can do more harm than good.

“God only gives you as much as you can handle.”
“She is always with you.”
“Everything happens for a reason”

That is the main trifecta that would send me in to a blind rage. “Well, God’s an asshole, no she’s NOT, and what goddamn reason?!” is all I want to scream back. Sometimes, a simple “I am so sorry, and I am here for you,” is all I needed to hear. Please keep the Hallmark sympathies to a minimum.

With Mother’s Day being this past weekend and the six-month mark approaching fast, my heart is heavier than it has been in recent months. I want you all to be thankful for whatever mother figure you have in your life – not matter how batshit crazy she might be. Someday, you’ll miss those neurotic fights and arguments.
And when that day comes? I am here for you. In whatever way you need me to be.

Your voice is strong, now right the wrong. November 7, 2013

Posted by jeneypeney in i'm just sayin', life, love harder, sports.
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A few months ago, I sat among a couple thousand people in a loud, dark arena taking in what was one of the best rock shows I had been to in a while. The music was phenomenal. The stage set was amazing. I was having the time of my life.

And I was crying.

We don’t have to take this, back against the wall.
We don’t have to take this. We can end it all.

“But Jeney – why on earth would you cry at a ROCK concert? Isn’t that an atmosphere full of screaming like a maniac, head-banging, and all-around shenanigans? Why on earth would this bring you to tears?”

I won’t lie. I was kind of embarrassed about crying at the show. I buried my head in The Actual’s chest and hid my face from my neighboring fans. But I couldn’t help it.

Because the band played one song for their encore. This song. And as the band was playing their final song, this video was projected on the screen behind the drum set. It was simply too much for me to handle.

It was too much.

All you’ll ever be is a fading memory of a bully.
Make another joke while they hang another rope. So lonely.

You see – these lyrics hit so close to home. They were sung by my youngest brother when he would come home bawling his eyes out because the kids at school were teasing him for not being able to read as well as they could.

They were sung by my other brother when he was shot in the face by a BB gun on the school bus because he wasn’t as social as the other kids.

They were sung by me when I was teased in front of everyone at a birthday party for having no idea what “being fingered” or “getting eaten out” meant.

They were sung by Amanda Todd, Rehtaeh Parsons, Jessica Laney, and countless others. Every time I hear a new story of someone being bullied, my heart rips itself apart.

Push them to the dirt till the words don’t hurt.
Can you hear me?

You’ve heard it before…  “Kids are cruel.”    “Boys will be boys.”

These are not excuses for us to continue to allow kids to be tormented to a point where they take their own lives; to be tormented at all.

“Football is a man’s sport! Get tough!”

And this. This is not an excuse for us – as adults – to perpetuate the problem.

No one’s gonna cry on the very day you die.
You’re a bully.

It would be redundant to sum up the current bullying scandal happening in the NFL because it is all over the internet. Pull your head out from the rock you live under and Google it. But I will say this:

I understand the locker room code everyone keeps preaching about. When I was at Notre Dame, the adventures of the locker room was something us women were never made privy to – none of it was allowed to leave the space and we weren’t allowed in.

Right now, there is a sign on the NDSU locker room that says, “What you see here, what you do here, what you hear here. Let it stay here when you leave here.”

I get it.

The locker room is a sacred space. It is a space for teams to bond, celebrate, and grieve away from the public eye and in their own way as a cohesive group. It is a space where the team can be exactly and only that – the team.

So when the team’s space violates a teammate’s ability to be a part of that cohesive group… when someone feels tormented in the team space by a member of their team… what does that say about “the team” and “the locker room”?

Regardless of the code, dehumanizing someone because they sought help for emotional distress doesn’t make them weak; it makes you foolish.

Proclaiming on national television that someone has ruined their career because they called someone out on bullying them does only one thing; perpetuates a culture of victim blaming.

All it takes is one child to hear about the football player who lost everything because he spoke up about being bullied. All it takes is for that one child to be hurt and ostracized by their own peers. All it takes is that child to suffer in silence because they fear the repercussions of speaking up.

All it takes? Is that child’s life.

Bullying is bullying. Regardless of age.

We don’t have to take this back against the wall.

We don’t have to take this. We can end it all.

You really want to man up? Take a stand against bullying.