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The most rewarding journey of my life...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

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

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I have read your story/sparkpage a couple of times and you have such a positive spirit! You are very inspirational and I am glad I found your page. As I begin my journey, a big thanks for the motivation!
    4323 days ago
    You provide such inspiration! Thank you.
    4328 days ago
    Thanks so much for writing this great entry! Well done in all you have achieved and all that awaites.
    From one yellow rose to another. Keep on bloomin'!
    4329 days ago
    Jen I will say it again as i said a year ago, you are one beautiful girl inside and out. I just love your smile. You are doing so great and am glad you had the chance to discover so many places in our world. I had the opportunity but was too young to appreciate it.
    HUGS and welcome back to North America!
    4332 days ago
    What an amazing journey and a beautiful journal. It is so great to hear and to know how wonderful your future will be.

    You look great but what is better, is that you feel great.
    4341 days ago
  • ~LASYL~
    Hi Jen. It's been a while since I've been on Spark. I am truly happy one of the first stops I made was to your page. By now you must be back home, I hope all is great in your return. Thanks for always inspiring me...., these next few weeks will be a time for me to reflect and strategies my life...., I'm sure I will be visiting your page more often, as you are and will continue to be a great mentor and motivator like no other to me.

    Love you,
    4341 days ago
    Wow...what an exciting journey you have had. You have given me motivation...you look amazing!! Hope your move has went well and I pray that the entire transition of your jobs, friends and family goes well. Best of luck to you and keep up the good work.
    4342 days ago
  • TAURUS22
    It sounds like you have made some pretty amazing memories and learned some invaluable lessons over the past few years! Congratulations on all your success and good luck to you in the future!
    4342 days ago
  • CORKY1303
    Wow! You are such an inspiration! I wish I had only half of your passion and your drive! You honestly look amazing! Congrats and I hope your move back to the States goes smoothly! I can't wait to hear more about your journeys! emoticon emoticon
    4342 days ago
    Great blog Jen, I am so proud and inspired by you! LOVE YOU GIRL!
    4343 days ago
    I just wanted to say that your blog post and spark page are inspiring and motivating, just what I needed this evening. Congratulations on your new lifestyle, it sounds like you are really living the good life. Thanks for sharing your story! I will be checking back often to read more of your blog and Sparkpage.
    4344 days ago
  • no profile photo MRSTUCKER812
    Awesome awesome awesome, that's all I can say :D
    4345 days ago
    you are simply amazing, inside & out.
    4345 days ago
  • _BECA_
    Jen your blog brought me to tears it is amazing how so many of us will let weight rob us of our self worth , I can so relate to yous story i too have let my weight sky rock out of control and yes it does change who you truly are. I am so thankful that i found sparks and met different people like you who inspire us all. I like you feel blessed to have that awakening although I am not at goal I have manage to lose over fifty pounds from my highest point.
    You continue to amaze me your inner beauty now radiates more than ever congrats for taking back that which was yours YOUR LIFE!
    emoticon emoticon emoticon

    4345 days ago
    You're so beautiful, Jen - in both photos. I always love hearing about your travels. Thank you for sharing. You are such an inspiration. Congratulations on the beautiful life that you have!! And once again, welcome home.
    4346 days ago
    i missed this. hope you guys are settling in! you before and afters are so amazing. congrats on all your hard work and dedication.
    4346 days ago
    Congratulations on all that you have accomplished. You look wonderful and you have inspired so many other sparkers to follow in your steps. Thanks for being such a force of strength and motivation to so many. I understand how you feel about leaving Russia as we prepare to leave Japan behind. It is bitter sweet going home again and yet leaving so much behind. You are about to embark on a whole new phase and I wish you so much luck! I know you will make a huge success of your life back home. My heart goes out to you with all that you must be feeling right now.

    Much luv

    4347 days ago
    Im about to make a big move in my life, Im moving to Spain and this blog touched me very much, yes Im not going to Spain looking as I really wanna look but I know I can do it, when I was reading your blog and looking at he pics in your profile I was like "This girl went to the same places I wanna go"..and I was like "WOW"...and then I looked at the AWESOME TRANSFORMATION of yourself and I was like "DOUBLE WOW"....U LOOK AWESOME, GORGEOUS! U look like an Angel!
    U have the same smile but now your eyes smile also!
    I bless the Lord for your life and I bless you for writting this blog, you've helped me allot!!! If u can do it, I think I can do it also! THANK YOU!
    God Bless You!!!
    Massive Hugs Cutie,
    -A- emoticon

    Thanks for the motivation!
    4347 days ago

    Comment edited on: 2/20/2009 7:00:51 PM
    Your story is so inspiring, so amazing! It's so wonderful all you have learned and experienced in your travels. Welcome "home" and I hope there are many more adventures in store for you.
    4347 days ago
    As always, you are sooooo motivating! Thanks for always sharing and inspiring others (including myself) to stay on this journey to a better life!

    4347 days ago
    I was attracted to your page (at first) because your before and after pics remind me of my own - the only trouble is that I am heading rapidly back in the direction of my before pics, AGAIN! ugh! I so thought I had this figured out and licked. I am such a stress/emotional eater. I had it under control until life kept beating up on me until I went back to food. Your blogs remind me what I should be doing and where I would be IF I would follow your lead. Congrats on your continued success and zest for life. Have a safe trip back to the states!

    4348 days ago
    Congratulations!!!!!! And welcome back to the US too. You really did age in reverse, your before looks like a pretty 32 year old, the after looks like a hot 21 year old. I am always impressed beyond words with your workouts and I'm even more impressed now. Thank you for posting your pictures, you are an inspiration.
    4348 days ago
    I came upon your SP and found it inspirating and uplifting. I have added you as a friend so that I can keep up with your blogs.
    4348 days ago
    Wow! What an amazing story! Thanks for sharing it! You are truely an inspiration to all of us!! Thank you!
    4348 days ago
  • ERIN1022
    A great post and a Robert Frost quote=perfection! Jen, this post is amazing, as so many others have already said. It is a gift to know you through Spark and to be inspired by you, and I am so thankful to you for sharing your story and your encouragement. You have done amazing things already, and I know you will keep doing them!
    4348 days ago
    Congrats on your AWESOME accomplishments!! You are gorgeous and I can just see the new found youth and happiness in your smile!!
    4348 days ago
    What an awesome story! I have often wondered how you came to live in Russia... now that I know the story, I also think that there is nothing you cannot do if you just put your mind to it - which is true for all of us in theory, but you have definitely put that into practice! It is a HUGE leap to leave family and friends and travel literally to the ends of the earth.... and you did it without batting an eyelash! I love your sense of adventure and your faith in yourself! I look forward to reading about your new challenges and successes during this next chapter of your life!
    4348 days ago
    Thanks for taking us down memory lane. I'm so glad your time in Siberia has helped you regain your youth (you obviously never lost your sense of adventure or you may not have been so willing to move in the first place!). You are beautiful and an absolute inspiration and I'm so excited for your move back to the US! Keep up all your excellent work.
    4348 days ago
  • CINDYY00
    Wow I am speechless. I have been there where u did not recognize yourself in pictures and seen those pictures something need to change. You inspired me and I thank you. Congratulations on adding years on to your life. I will do the same with mine. Thank you again.
    4348 days ago
  • no profile photo MRSPRINCESS07
    Jen I am crying right now!!! That is an amazing blog and I am at a loss of words! You are so inspirational to me and I am so thankful that I have had the pleasure of getting to know you here! I am so happy for you in many ways and I hope and pray that life continues to bloom for you! Thank you for sharing your story as it helps so many of us each and every day! Enjoy your flight home and my this be the start of many great things to come!

    Looking at your pics, you look so much younger and happier now; you HAVE aged in reverse! You rock it girl!!!
    4348 days ago
    You look beautiful! Congrats on all your amazing progress keep up the good work!!! Love the before and after shots!!
    4348 days ago
    WOW- I can only imagine how it must feel to look back at the last 3 years-- sure enough you got to see and do more than most people do in their entire lifetime! You are truly blessed!
    Welcome to the new chapter of Jen's life story: It is about to start!!!!!
    4348 days ago
  • SUNNY332
    You are totally amazing and such an inspiration. Thanks so much!

    4348 days ago
  • no profile photo JENN38
    Thank you for being such an inspiration. You have such a positive energy.
    4348 days ago
    You are absolutly BEAUTIFUL!! Have a sweet HEART!! and you are very THOUGHTFUL!!


    4348 days ago
  • AEL7680
    Thank you so much for sharing your story! You should be so incredibly proud of yourself!
    4349 days ago
  • no profile photo ANGELNOOK2
    Jen you are a true inspiration. If anyone believes that it can't be done, there's no way they would feel the same after hearing your story. What an amazing journey for you this has been! Have a safe trip home.

    4349 days ago
    So awesome Jen! You are such an inspiration to so many and I just adore you. Welcome home and so glad your my spark bud! Have a safe trip. Can't wait to see that first blog from "home"!!
    4349 days ago
    Ah girl. This was great!!!

    Welcome home! ;)
    4349 days ago
    This is an amazing journey... congratulations on what you've been able to achieve, it's really inspiring. You just look so radiant and shining on that second picture !!
    4349 days ago
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