Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Feb. 26th 2010... My 35th Birthday!
In less than 10 days I will be celebrating my 35th birthday:) I would like to share some of the many blessings my life has known thus far...
I spent most of my childhood years growing up in California...swinging on the palm tree branches from the roof-top of our house (ahh the things mom never saw:), weekly trips to the beach...climbing the sand dunes, building sandcastles, the sound of the waves rolling in as my sister, brother and I played until we the sun went down. Walking the huge Santa Monica pier, the fishermen who would camp out all day for that big catch.
I remember sliding around in the back of the big "green machine" as we lovingly called my mother's station wagon. Those winding roads down to and back from the beach were filled with great laughter and fun!
All the trips to Disney we took as a family while we were there...the Christmas mornings we would run outside to ride our bikes after we opened what Santa had brought. It never got colder than 65 degrees..EVER!
Cleaning out and filling our swimming pool in our back yard each was an ALL DAY event! Riding my bike to school each day, trips to the library for the summer reading list!
Being a "Can-Can" girl for the school play in 4th grade:)
All the dance classes and performances, parades I marched in with Brownies and Girl Scouts.
How AMAZING every Birthday party and HOLIDAY was....because my MOTHER made it that way!! She was the world to me..still is!

Then the news my dad was being transferred back to Chicago (home to both my parents and their families)- we were moving ...I will never forget that day...tears rolling down our faces embarking upon a journey that would change all of our lives by starting somewhere new. The three day road trip to arrive in Illinois was a fun adventure....but pulling up in the driveway of our new home was a quiet moment for me. I was 11 and I would struggle to adjust to this new place we would grow to love so much...

We went sledding and ice skating and learned to really love the meaning of "A white Christmas"! I danced and I danced and I danced!!!! As much as my parents would became everything to me! I ran track - as a sprinter , tried cheerleading for a year also. I played 3 different instruments but realized that my passion was moving to that music rather than playing it. I auditioned and was accepted to the Chicago Academy for the Arts on scholarship- WOW- how amazing that felt! I turned it down to attend a public high school and dancing and many studios in the city and suburbs- a summer scholarship at Joel Hall as well.
That decision would most definitely take my life down a path that would have been very different had I taken the scholarship to the arts high school...a decision I am happy with to this day! Thank you mom and dad for your help and support through that!!

Then there were all those water skiing and barefoot water skiing memories with my uncle Phil! Those cold September and October runs were simply awesome! We'd ski until the bugs were hitting us in the face, the sun was sinking into the horizon and finally it was dark..Take your breath away moments! Phil (my mom's youngest brother) taught me to barefoot and gave me memories on the river and lakes that I will treasure always!
What a rush it is to feel the water under your feet...spray in your face, the sound of the boat, pulling on that handle to slalom across the wake. Riding that wake sitting down until you plant your feet firmly and instantly in the water, with the big possibility you could wipe out completely...OR plant your feet perfectly and fly across the water-like flight on water- barefoot- an experience only those crazy enough to try will know...LOL! The wipeouts were world class let me tell ya! Good times!

I have watched the sunrise from Hawaii's famous Haleakala peak...I played in the 7 famous ponds with my parents, sister and brother as well. I have loved with all I am and had my heart broken...walking away was one of the most difficult things to do-to find the man/friend I would share many adventures with and marry 4 years later.

I built friendships I still have to this day...those few special friends you can call at your lowest or highest moments of life that welcome you with open arms- Dana!

The road trips...ahhhh the road trips! Oh the places we've been!! The long 22 hr. road trips to Florida with friends Candi and Margaret...the laughter and memories we will never get tired of remembering:) Bungee jumping in Cancun Mexico and being the ONLY sober person on the entire trip..LOL...I was the story teller of that trip:)
Sky-diving in Florida with Candi and then a second time with my husband ( when we were still dating)....That moment in the airplane when you push down all your fears, adrenaline flooding your veins and without hesitation...JUMP....the feel of the air against your face and how small you realize you actually are...for that brief time, all those flying dreams become reality....

Backpacking in the back country:) Michael teaching me how to pump my drinking water from the streams, rivers. Hanging our packs in the trees so the bears wouldn't get into them or eat us!! Sterges..for the big biker event, climbing to the top of a Faye peak with our friend and travel partner Tim- he'll never forgive me for eating all his trail mix and m&m's..LOL!

All the fun we had clubbing in San Francisco, in the city of Chicago and more!
Sleeping on the beach near the Red Wood forest, the wet socks tied to the back of the car..LOL...
Cave spunking, river rafting, that plane ride with 5 dollar Frank-thought we were all going to die that day! Death Valley...watching the tire of Tim's truck roll past us on the highway- while we were in the vehicle...ohh that was a good one! Seeing "big bird" while driving at 3am. (Jim)!
We were on the road for weeks at a time...wind in our hair and adventure at every turn!
Rock climbing in West Virginia, Seattle Washington, jumpin' into every body of water we found and many, many more memories....

Then, after earning my associates degree from a community college I went away to school for my Junior and Senior years to earn my bachelor's degree- Western Illinois University...

the first time I would live on my own...
and find my wings...
I danced in the dance company, worked 3 part-time jobs and took 23 credit hrs...LOL sound was...and I LOVED every single second of it!!! Competed in my first bodybuilding competition and trained with the guys of "North Quad" gym on campus. Some really fun times...I think I laughed more during my time with those guys than ever...eating steamed chicken while everyone else ate nachos. Smitty looking at my plate and yanking away my food cause he was so hungry he was gonna eat his arm off ( my mixed pairs partner for that 1st show- the guy who talked me into competing). They all took me under their wing to help me with that first show..I will always be grateful for that first competition experience...who would have guessed what I would turn that into:))
Driving home to see all my brother's football games and Michael and I taking turns every other weekend to drive to see each other...put a lot of miles on that fire red Beretta during those years!

Then a trip to Venus Beach my belly button pierced, and wanted to move there!! I had finished my internship at the Sears Fitness Center World Headquarters and was working for Leo Burnett their fitness center (Revisions) in the city.....but life had other plans...and beautiful ones....
I was going to be a mother...I was going to have a baby...
We planned our wedding in 6 months...invited 300 people on Father's Day 1998! It was a fairytale wedding, 2 wedding showers, 2 baby showers and we bought our first home- a duplex just minutes from our parents'.
Our beautiful angel Alyssa Lynn was born in September...just 3 months after the big wedding!
I was waitressing at night and personal training by day- both part-time for a large chain in the suburbs...I decided to compete again when Alyssa was 15 months old...I won the overall and the bodybuilding story begins to snowball...

I started working at Skadden Arps Law Firm managing their fitness center...we moved to our home we have now lived in for 7 years and we got a puppy..."Spirit"
Then we had baby #2...our son Wade Michael!
Competed again when he was 17 months old and many more times thereafter...
I was building my clientele and my name in the bodybuilding and fitness industry...
"TEAM ABRAMS" became a recognized name...the start of the own business -"STEPS TO SUCCESS"!
Long summer afternoons playing by the river, the amazing clients that touched my life and brought so much meaning to my life as a professional, and as a person!
Loosing husband's father...a loss that would change all of us!!

Watching as other people close to us also lost loved ones...

The trying times... the ups and downs of life as a carpenter for Michael, would bring our family...then I competed at the Team U in 2006 and filmed my dvd. I took 3rd and was broken hearted but quickly found a "reason" for all of it. I had a miscarriage from an unexpected pregnancy after that show....
I quickly realized our family was incomplete and we had baby #3..LOGAN GARY...(Gary is my husband's father's name:)...I took a rain check on the honor of guest posing

"Return of the Lion" for promoter Kevin Noble to have our big boy Logie-bear....and as you all know, I redeemed that rain check last year when I performed "Return of the Lion", climbing out of that incredible cage my husband built for my performance! Walking alongside so many incredible people as they fullfilled their goals of competing!

The adventures have been incredible...I have experienced enough pain and sorrow to keep me humble and keep me so thankful and appreciative of the gifts in my life!
I don't know what life holds for me next but I do know I will make the most of whatever comes my way! I have my husband and children, both my parents, my sister, my brother, my best friend Dana and many other very important people in my life that have brought so many incredible moments and memories to the past 35 years...I could not ask for anything more of these years...I have a house full of healthy, happy kids, a man who loves me for "who I am" not what I am, I have a successful business and I have been able to pursue and fulfill my dreams while having all of this.
There is no greater success...there is no greater happiness!