Life is made up of moments.
I decided five years ago to start sharing mine. The good, the bad and all of the in-between. I’m far from perfect but I live this unapologetic life that FEELS perfect because i’ve learned that life is what you make of it.
In order to follow me, I think you need to get to know me. Let’s go back to where it all started, back in 1989. (If you just thought of Taylor Swift, we are basically already friends!)
I was born the youngest of three on August 17th 1987, in a little town called Greenville Pennsylvania. My little Nan, Other Nan and Nanny all lived just a field walk away. (For those that are not Italian, those names mean Great Great Grandmother, Great Grandmother and Grandma). Those field walks are one of my most treasured memories.
We lived in a house that my fathers mom owned. My parents wanted land and something of their own. My dad never believed in having debt and was always such a hard worker. As my mom would say, you couldn’t deny his hustle or work ethic. He worked on oil rigs and would travel for odd end jobs.
They bought a house on Leech Road that was 100 years old for $10,000 dollars in cash. It was in such awful shape that it should have been tore down. My dad gutted it with his bare hands. Even though they had little to no money they worked on what they could while we rented from his mom. My dad started to get DUIs, got arrested, stopped coming around and it wasn’t long before my mom found out he was staying with another woman. This wasn’t the first time. Fights happened, my mom had enough and before she knew it we were evicted from his parents property.
My mom moved us into my nannies house, fighting like hell to save enough money to make that house next door on Leech road livable.
In the end, my mom and nanny built that house I grew up in. Moral of that story, don’t mess with Italian woman on a mission.
I knew nothing bad about my dad. I idolized him. I think little girls are born with this gravitation to their fathers. I remember I always looked at his physical strength in awe. He was so muscular and fit. He had this silly personality where I don’t ever remember him being serious. In fact, my dad has never yelled at me one time in my entire life. When I was around him, I just felt… happy.
I can count our good memories on two hands though.
I was 18 months old when my dad left our house with no explanation for the last time. She worried for days more than once that maybe he had gotten into some sort of horrible car accident in the snow while going to get milk. Really though, he just walked away from his family long before that and towards alcohol, gambling and women.
Often times I walk into a room forgetting what I was doing in the first place, however I vividly remember how much I loved that house on Leech road.
If I wasn’t baking, I was eating
If I wasn’t singing, I was dancing
If I wasn’t playing house, I was covered in dirt.
I just remember being happy.
My mom so worked hard just to keep a roof over our heads. We had an Amish babysitter named Sarah who took excellent care of us as my mom was working any one of her three jobs. Although our family had very little, I never thought we were lacking.
My mom started dating a doctor. I was excited over the thought of having a father figure. He always brought us over-sized candy bars in his brief case and I always got two because my older sister would never accept one. What can I say, my heart could be won with chocolate. It wasn’t before long that she sat us down to tell us the news that she was getting re-married and we were moving to Ohio. I had mixed emotions. I think I cried for an entire day in our tree house. I couldn’t imagine being further than a field walk away from my family. The truth is, I had this fear that if we moved it would be harder for my biological dad to see us. I wanted to believe so bad that he was trying. My mom never kept us from him, in fact she would pretend that he “left” gifts for us or “sent” us just to see us smile.
For years I excitingly took his phone calls when he remembered me. I ripped open month late birthday cards with joy even though a few times the age on the card didn’t reflect the true number I was turning. I never cared. I went to bed praying that maybe… just maybe he would keep his promise of driving to Ohio to come see us.
I prayed a lot for empty promises.
From the 4th grade until I was 18 years old, is not really my detailed story to tell.
It was hard, embarrassing, emotional, frustrating and tiring.
Sure, there were some good times like the birth of my two younger siblings….howbeit most of it’s moments were internal scars for me. I can’t tell you how many times I asked God why? Leech road was so perfect, why change our path?
Throughout my life surrounded by chaos, I often wondered if I even mattered. Maybe I was just a mistake?
On the outside, we had it all. A nice house with a pool, vacations and a private school.
On the inside it was different. It was so different. Police cars, domestic violence, screaming, fear, sadness, debt and resentment. Things would get better for a few months only before they would again get worse. It was a cycle that was never broken. Certain friends were no longer allowed to come over and I was embarrassed to even go to school from what people knew.
I lived in a house that walked on egg shells.
My first real W-2 job was at 14. I babysat for years before that… and stole money out of my brothers birthday cards. I’m not proud of some of the actions or choices I made albeit looking back I was always in survival or planning mode to get out. At one point, I was working three jobs at the age of 17. I struggled through school my entire life. D+ student at best. Street smart, day dreamer and chatty were the most used words to describe me.
On my 18th Birthday, right before my senior year of high-school I moved out with all of my saved up money into this tiny little rented house. I had not been this happy since Leech Rd. Like most girls, I fell in love, formed amazing friendships but the one thing that always remained the same was this void I felt which I could never figure out how to fill. I tried drinking a few times, I tried smoking a few times, I was anorexic for a year, I binge ate to try to recover from not eating, I worked 60 hour weeks to have an abundance of money and I had sex before marriage.
I did all of these things to FEEL something yet all of these things made me feel more and more empty. The only way I ever felt anything was through dancing, which is where I spent 12 years of my life in a studio from the age of two. There was one thing I always yearned for since I was nine years old…. if I just had a family of my own to love me, I’ll feel like I matter to someone. Someone will need me and I’ll fill this empty void.
I struggled for years wondering if I could change something about myself to make my mom pick us over our circumstances to go back to Pennsylvania. To make my dad care about me. To call me. To visit. To take me to a daddy-daughter dance. To walk me down an isle one day. I’m not sure if he ever loved me or if he just loved the IDEA of loving me. He never kept a single promise though. He never showed up. I never got a single call on my actual Birthday. It became years rather than months that I spoke with him and the memories I once held close started to fade. He did do one thing for me……..
He showed me everything I didn’t want in a man to be the father of my children one day. He showed me that if I was to have children of my own, I would never make a promise I couldn’t keep. I wouldn’t break their heart if I could protect it.
I started going to church on my own. Little by little that void inside started to fill up. I started to break down all of these trust walls I built around me to let people back in. I moved on from relationships that were toxic to me at the time and I swore off dating for AT LEAST a year….
Until I got a Facebook message to give comforting advice over my three year relationship breakup.
He was the first man in my life whose first intention was to piece my heart back together again.
Within 9 months of Chinese take-out dinners, movie dates, dancing, running through Mirror Lake at Ohio state and camping at Hocking Hills, I fell in-love with everything about him.
He was in The National Guard and almost finished with his Bachelors degree at The Ohio State University. Immediately after graduation, he was headed off to The Army to go through selection to be a Green Beret in Special Forces. Once again, he sat me down to protect my heart.
He told me how hard it would be with high tempo deployments & schools. He told me there would be times that it would be lonely. He told me the Army could move us wherever they wanted. He told me there was always a chance he may not come home. He told me that there was no IF he was going to make it, that he WOULD be selected because this WAS his calling. He told me he completely understood if I needed to walk away…
I told him there was no way in hell. Where you go, I go. I can handle it. I’m not afraid of anything.
Almost every weekend I flew to visit him. I would have a countdown to Friday knowing I would see him.
At 19 years old I married the man behind that message in a court house wearing flip flops, linen checkered shorts and a t-shirt. Although I had this dream as a Disney fanatic with this fairy tale wedding vision, he exceeded every feeling I thought I would have. For the first six months I wore a string on my ring finger. We didn’t have any money, but we had a LOT of love.
We moved to North Carolina. We got pregnant with our 1st son Noah. I worked day and night at a hotel trying to help financially. Although we struggled with income, we thrived with love. The day I had Noah I was overcome with emotions. I cried tears of joy, shock and the most surprising of all, anger. It hit me so hard looking at this little baby that my dad CHOSE to walk away from THIS. It was HIS choice and I was yet again so confused on HOW anyone could make that CHOICE. It was in that very moment, within 60 seconds of him breathing his first breaths of life…. that I would never make a promise to him that I couldn’t keep. I would fight for him in any way. I would protect him. I would do the one thing I knew I could, I would love him with every ounce in my body.
I had it all. The husband, the baby, the cute dog… yet as the silent late nights started to compound over top of each other that stupid void started creeping back in. It was always the loudest when my life was the most quiet. That feeling that I wasn’t worthy to be loved. I turned to food and little by little the weight started to pack on.
In April of 2009, we received orders to move to Okinawa, Japan for 3 years. Adam was gone in the blink of an eye for duty and I was trying to piece life together.
I so badly wanted to be the best wife. I wanted to be the best mother. I wanted to be the amazing friend. I just struggled with putting myself first to BE that best version for everyone else.
Adam would come home for short burst of time and the first week would always be great. Somehow before he would always leave again there would be tension, tears and me not feeling appreciated for what I did. I didn’t feel like what I was doing for our family was enough for him. I threw around the divorce word just as I had heard my entire life. You’re not happy? You want a divorce. It’s all I knew. Thankfully my husband saw in me what I couldn’t see at the young age of 21. I just needed to believe I mattered. I needed to fight for myself. I needed to hear from him that he believed in me. I needed him to say he was thankful for what I did while he was away. I needed him to tell me there was no way in hell he was letting me quit on us. I needed to hear from him “I love you” instead of assuming I knew it every day.
He learned my love language was words of affirmation, I learned his was touch. He learned what made me tick, I learned what ticked him off. He cheered me on from afar and every day I just focused on making myself better one day at a time. I pressed play in our living room with my Beachbody fitness DVD, I watched food documentaries, read nutrition books and prepped my weekly food. Every morning I woke up diving into ANYTHING Chalene Johnson was teaching about life. She was my mentor from afar without knowing it. I read marriage books, went to therapy for my past and taught myself sign language to help our son with his speech delay.
I sweat out every bad ounce of energy every day and inhaled everything that was good in life.
I made a choice to see the good in everything.
I ended up losing 49 pounds and 10 pant sizes in 90 days. I shocked the crap out of him when he returned from his 3 month deployment.
I felt incredible, confident, strong, capable and above all… for the first time in 21 years I looked in the mirror and loved who God created. I didn’t see stretch marks, I saw warrior stripes. I didn’t see a broken heart from my parents, I saw someone so insanely full of love with those around me. I didn’t see what I wanted to change, I was proud at everything I had become. I believed I mattered.
I don’t know if you can relate with not feeling worthy at a time in your life nevertheless for me… once I cracked that CODE of knowing that I was enough…I wanted everyone to feel that way. I wanted to be the one that helped them through believing that like Beachbody did for me.
We had our second son Jonah on Valentines day of 2011. Shortly after, I won a free t-shirt for my 2009 weight loss results which you could say the rest is history. I won $500 bucks for my story. I became a coach to simply get a discount on my superfoods and pay it forward. I won a free round-trip experience to California where I got to hug the woman who helped change my life. Shortly after she picked me to be in her next upcoming TurboFire fitness dvd series. I’ll never forget how hard I cried over that. It wasn’t that I was going to be a cast member, it was that I was picked. She chose me out of thousands of others. Ever since that moment I looked at her as my momma bear. Someone who would tell me what was best for me. Someone who believed in me. Someone who saw something great in me. Someone who picked me.
When I was sitting in the audience at that first summit event that I had won, a moment hit my core pretty hard. I had plopped down for a second to watch a part of the recognition piece of others and an empty seat was next to me. A seat that made me miss my husband. As I watched these stories of others talk about how they paid off debt, brought their spouses home from their 9-5 jobs and were able to stay home with their kids I immediately asked myself…. Why not me? If I choose to believe in myself that I am capable of creating a legacy, then why can’t I do this? A decision was made at that moment. I had been a coach for only 2 short months however it was deeply rooted in my core that this was the opportunity to create a legacy for our family.
I won’t sugar coat my success with my business and say that it was ever easy. It was hard. I never once stopped sprinting though. I would hit a goal and make a new one. I was being recognized, I was being seen for my efforts and it felt So. Damn. Good. I would wake up to Facebook messages from individuals who had strengthened their marriage, who had lost weight, who had put on muscle or simply had started organizing their life. I set a goal to pay off a little over $35,000 of debt. I had to give up a little sleep and wake up a little early. I had to do things others were not willing to do around me because I never wanted an empty seat next to me again. I accomplished my goal within a few months. I set a new one to bring Adam home from the military.
That was my plan, not his. Adam wanted to be a lifer. He wanted to hunt bad guys, save people, and truly make a difference. As the motto of The Special Forces Green Berets goes – De Oppresso Liber…..To Liberate the Oppressed. He was always a Quiet Professional but I was his loudest supporter. This was his calling, his purpose. I supported him to no end. Every school he wanted or extra trip he needed, I said yes. I cheered him on. I prayed for him daily. I just had a back-up plan B incase he ever changed his mind.
It was September 2nd 2012 and we were laying on our living room floor. He was aimlessly scrolling his Facebook newsfeed, deep in thought as I rested my head on his back. The house was really quiet and I was just attached to his hip like a puppy dog. He was leaving in a week for a 10 month deployment to Afghanistan. I’ll never forget how I felt his body clinch up. How he backed away from his computer grabbing his head and pacing in circles. How I had no idea yet what he saw but that this was an Adam I had yet to see. The profanity screams started to echo in our house and the tears started pouring from his eyes. I tried to grab him to just tell me what was the matter however you could tell he didn’t want to even give the words truth. He wanted to believe that somehow what he saw was a lie.
On September 1st 2012 one of his teammates and best friends Jeremie S. Border was Killed in Action in Afghanistan and we had found out via a leaked RIP post in his newsfeed.
All I could do was hold him once he finally just fell into my arms.
He left the next day to go lay to rest one of his best friends in Texas. He walked his old bedroom and met all of his friends and family. He drank a shot of Tennessee Honey Jack Whiskey as one final salute to his brother. He flew back to Okinawa to give us one last hug before his deployment.
When I told him I was not afraid of anything back in 2007, it was in that final hug before he walked away that I lied.
I was beyond afraid of losing him.
Fear had paralyzed my body or ability to think of anything else but him. For the first week he was gone, everything was a fog. I held it together in front of the kids & on Skype with Adam. It was this silent code that when you were a wife of a military combat solider, you wore an armor as well to protect their focus for their mission at hand. I never wanted him to worry about how I was holding up or if the boys were handling his absence well. I would smile, kiss the screen and tell him how much I loved him. He would tell me everything was okay even though his convoy hit an IED just the day before.
The last thing I could think about was working my business. I would look over at the boys playing with their Batman toys and shut myself in the bathroom to pull it together for a moment. Jeremie brought Noah his first little Batman figure when my car broke down and Adam was deployed. He let me use his Jeep while mine got repaired “because he had another one.” It wasn’t until one night that I was driving late off-base that I saw him walking, pulled over and called him on his shit. We laughed so hard that he got caught in a lie and had been walking everywhere just so he could make sure I was taken care of for Adam. He didn’t want me to feel guilty using his Jeep.
That’s just how most of these guys were wired. They just wanted to serve people, help people and would give the shirt off their backs to do so.
About a month had passed and I was going through the ground hog moments of each day. The boys came home from their Japanese school, ate dinner, hopped in the bath and I was putting them to bed. I read them a story and could see that something was bothering Noah. When the book was finished I spent some extra time just stroking his long hair to the side as he stared at the ceiling. You could see hurt in his innocent blue eyes. He looked over at me and asked a question that forever changed my drive…. he said:
“Mommy, is daddy going to come home in a box like Uncle Jeremie?”
I literally swallowed the lump that formed in my throat. I immediately gently grabbed both of his little cheeks and PROMISED him that God willing, I was going to do everything I could to make sure this was Daddy’s last deployment by working my Beachbody business. Although he was only 5, I was always very careful with any promises I would make because if I made one…. I wouldn’t stop until I fulfilled it. Since Friday’s were always a day I looked forward to while dating their dad, I decided every Friday we would have “Party Night Friday” where all we did was something over-the-top fun together, completely unplugged from the world while we waited for their dad to come home. Fridays became a fun countdown.
I made over 30 flights in my 3 year career to and from Okinawa to attend events. We didn’t have the money to do that, I had to earn it. I had to grow so much through personal development. I worked 80 hour weeks and restlessly went after that promise. I had 9 months for him to make a decision that he felt secure in making that he could get out and know that our family would financially be okay if I could just double his income and make $200k a year.
Within those 9 months I became a Top 10 coach out of 100,000 in the network. I surpassed $200k. I became the highest ranking and first ever coach to go 15 SuperStar Diamond status while living Internationally. As a surprise, my first bonus was given right back to my team for fighting for this WHY that I had.
Adam decided within his last few weeks of that deployment that it would be his last so he could be present for our children and me.
I never begged. I was never mad at him. In fact, I told him once again… where you go, I will go. I’ll never forget that Skype call when he told me he made the decision to choose to come home for good.
You think that you couldn’t possibly love someone more than you already do until you hear them say, I choose you. At least with my past, that was true for me.
That brings me to today.
It’s 2016 and we have this team of over 7,000 incredible people that we call The Knockout Empire. We’ve been a top team for 3 years straight. We’ve been an Elite team for 3 years and have people becoming 6 figure earners. We hit The Millionaire Circle within 4 years of cumulative earnings with my account alone. We have control of how we spend every waking moment of our days together. We get to build this business of helping others TOGETHER. He is coaching track at an local school and I still get to be home raising our kids every day. We get to go on missionary trips together in Africa, take sporadic trips to Disney, and go on weekly date nights.
You know the biggest thing that has erased all of the questions of my past path though?
Watching him dance with our daughter Norah.
Watching how she adores her dad.
Watching how he reads “Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters” to be the best father he can be.
Watching how he gets up in the middle of the night to rock her back to sleep in his arms.
Being reminded that when we wake up in the same bed together, he choose to wake up next to me every morning.
For so long I wished that so many bad things didn’t have to happen to wake me up in life. I questioned everything. Why? What was the purpose of that awful thing?
Until I had to realize that although I may not understand it, life is made up of moments. It’s how I choose to respond to those moments that has and continues to shape my life. I choose to Knockout anything bad in my life rather than getting Knocked down. That’s why our company of coaches IS called The Knockout Empire, we ARE Knockouts.
Adam lived with a lot of guilt that he got to come home and Jeremie never did. I lived with a lot of guilt that his death had to be my wake up of how short and precious life can be. We both know he wouldn’t want that though. Instead we choose to always remember him. To honor his service and life he gave for our country. To drink a shot of Tennessee Honey Jack whiskey each year on the day he was taken too soon. To release a Batman balloon to a man who believed he was Batman himself.
To remember that every moment we have with those that we love is a gift. I’ve promised my family and to those that I love I won’t take this life for granted. For years I was filled with resentment and anger, today I have nothing but love and forgiveness. It’s amazing what personal development can do to better yourself. I wouldn’t change a single thing from my past because it’s shaped who I am today. I’ve learned through the recent years on social media that I have a half brother who is 6 months younger than me who serves our country. I have another half brother who just turned 18 and is also joining to serve our country. I’ve had some amazing conversations with them and hope to one day meet both of them.
I’m thankful that you’ve taken the time to get to know our family. We still have Party Night Friday every week to simply celebrate this life together. We are crazy, fun, loud and unapologetic in the messages that we share. My hope is not that everyone will like me, it’s that my message speaks to those that need to hear it. Who want my tough love coaching, who NEED that change in their life to believe that stirring in their soul that they were meant for more…. they are not mistake. You, reading this blog intro is not a mistake. We are now connected for a reason & it would be my honor to work with you towards unlocking your own potential!
I educate others on the importance of a holistic lifestyle. I travel to do motivational speaking. I coach others one-on-one with their diet, their workouts and hope to be a beneficial person of influence on their relationships. My main goal, is to show you that you matter. To teach you how to believe in yourself. To push past the hard moments of your past and believe that they do not define you, they shape the warrior you can become. My goal is to make you a Knockout.