Hi, Everyone! With Rene hosting the 2013 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration in Orlando, we wanted to try something a little different. We asked the moms and dads heading down to the conference May 8-12 to answer our Life Lessons questions with a Disney twist, of course. Like the GEMS they are, they took to the task. We will be running their answers in the regular Life Lessons slot. Oh, and don’t worry. You still have a chance to share. Just email Ella and she will get the information to you. Now, we present our Disney Social Media Mom of the day, Jennifer.
Are you happy at the moment?
I am happier now than I have been in a long time, primarily because of a recent commitment to embrace a healthier lifestyle. In July 2012, I started a weight loss journey that included making better food choices and exercising regularly. I successfully lost 55 pounds and I met my goal weight in February 2013! The extra pounds weighed so heavy on my joints, back and emotional state. Today, I feel so much better inside and out.
If you could go back and say anything to your 16 year old self now – what would it be?
Decide for yourself what makes you happy (not what others are doing or tell you you should be doing) and then go after it. Take calculated risks…try new things. It’s ok to make mistakes. Take what you do seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously!
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned this year?
I think this year I’ve finally learned what I should have learned when I was 16 (see advice above!). I’ve also discovered that I am stronger than I thought I was both physically and mentally.
What do you most want to achieve in the next 12 months?
I want to continue on my path to better health by setting goals that keep me active. I ran a 5K in November and then another one (a bit faster) in February. I am signed up to run a 10K in April, I am planning to do a sprint triathlon in September and I’m saving my pennies and looking for sponsors so I can achieve my life list #61 to run the Disney Princess Half-Marathon at Disney World in February 2014! Professionally, I hope to have my byline appear in a large magazine with national distribution and I’m going to start writing that book! For reals.
What’s your secret to happiness?
I try to always have something “on the books” to look forward to. Whether it’s something small like a date with my husband, lunch with a friend, or a manicure appointment or something big like a family vacation to Disney World, I find that the anticipation of something fun planned down the road makes it easier to get through a rough day. Our family trip to Disney in May has been such a blessing for me lately. I can’t wait to spend time together with my kids and husband at the happiest place on earth!
What one ritual or practice keeps you grounded?
I exercise almost every day, usually right after the kids go to school in the morning. Even just 30 minutes gives me so much energy for the rest of my day. I also use that time (especially when I run) to reflect and pray. It’s a very centering and cleansing time for me. When I’m overly anxious or things are out of balance, even a brisk walk will usually help me put things back in perspective. I’m also addicted to People magazine. Does that count as a grounding ritual?! I’m going with it.
What’s your biggest regret?
I wish I had traveled more before I started my career and then settled down to raise a family especially during and right after college. There are so many countries and places I’d like to explore and traveling when you are younger is easier and less expensive! But I’m excited to say that I am finally going to one of my life list destinations this summer. Paris!
What’s the most important lesson you’ve taught your kid(s)?
Be kind to people and have a sense of humor. I use humor a lot when dealing with tough situations. Laughter can be healing. True story.
What bad habit would you most like to change about yourself?
Because I work from home, it’s hard to draw the line between being “at work” and “off the clock”. I’m ashamed to admit that I say “five more minutes” or answer questions my family asks me while facing the computer instead of looking them in the eyes more than I should. I need to establish clearer office hours so when I’m with my family I’m fully present. Because really, it’s me that’s missing out if I’m not.
Aside from motherhood and marriage what are you most proud of in your life?
I am proud that I worked hard to put myself through college. I waited tables and held down two internships while going to school full-time and still graduated within four years. I remember people telling me when I struggled that I was building character. At the time, I thought maybe I could do with a little less character and a little more free-time. or at least good wine! But I learned a lot about discipline and working towards a goal.
Who is your favorite Disney princess and what has she taught you about parenting?
I love the movie Tangled! Rapunzel is a princess with characteristics to be admired. She doesn’t give in to her fears, she trusts her instincts, she is persistent in following her dreams, she makes a big sacrifice in the name of love and she’s fierce with a frying pan!
As a mother, I feel like I often have to trust my own instincts about decisions that need to be made for my children. They don’t give you a handbook! And I definitely make sacrifices…but they are so worth it in the long run!
What ten words best describe you?
Stubborn, persistent, outgoing, witty, creative, open-minded, supportive, enthusiastic, vulnerable, smart.
Jennifer Patrick is a freelance writer who lives in Houston with her husband and two children. On her blog, www.StillLivingTheDream.com, she writes about living life to the fullest while raising two young kids in her forties. When she’s not checking items off her life list such as #59, see 200 different species of birds, or blogging about travel tips and adventures in health and fitness, you’ll most likely find her pinning her latest arts or crafts creation on Pinterest or visiting with friends on Facebook and Twitter.
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