The Water Lily Way

A school counselor's story of how to live, work and play…the water lily way

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Be your own cheerleader & cheer on those around you…


What IF the only resolution you made was to love YOURSELF more? It seems like such a simple question, with what “should” be such a simple answer. But for many females in our society, young girls, teenage girls, young adult women, and adult women, loving ourselves is not always something that comes easy. I am 25 years old, and can say that in the past two or three years I have finally began coming to a place where I am feeling more comfortable, proud and confident in my own skin. Have I always felt this way about myself, my potential, my knowledge, skills and body? No. Was it easy to get to where I am now? Absolutely not. Did my negative self-talk hold me back in my roles as a student, friend, sister, daughter and partner? Uh huh. Did I compare myself to others throughout my teenage  years and into college? You bet. Does this still happen for me at times now if I am not mindful of my thoughts? Of course.

What scares me is not that I am alone in any of these experiences or thoughts that I just shared with you. What worries me is that there are WAY too many other women and young girls who are experiencing what I just spoke about (and more) daily. Our society has a way of telling females how we “should” be. What we “should” look like. What jobs we “should” have. All the tasks and responsibilities we “should” be able to manage. Our culture has created an environment of competition among women. Instead of empowering each other and advocating for one another, we compare, we contrast, we judge. We not only make assumptions and evaluate others, but we do this to ourselves. It seems like a never ending circle. It seems like a cultural epidemic that has no answer. And yet, if we try and understand this on a smaller scale, the solution does seem to be a bit more “manageable” (not sure I like that word, but you know what I am trying to get at 😉 ). If we stop and reflect on this vicious issue, we may find that it might not be as difficult as we think to create the change we’d all like to see in order to live in a world that encourages more self confidence and self expression and less judgment and competition.

With that said, as I am female who has struggled with self-talk, self-esteem,  and body image, I am not saying my journey or your journey in becoming more self confident will be simple. I definitely am not implying that. But what I am suggesting, is that the changes we make in our everyday lives can be simple. We can begin strengthening our self confidence and respecting our own self-worth. We can empower those around us, our friends, sisters, mothers, daughters, neighbors, collegues, classmates, the list goes on and on.

I wish more than anything I could give you, or my friends, or my little elementary girls who have very low self-esteem, something that would just take these struggles away. I wish I knew exactly what to tell you and how to tell you to love yourself, your body, and your special and unique qualities. But, I can’t. No one can. My own journey, and every woman’s journey, in learning to appreciate herself (myself) looks different. There’s no magic wand to make it happen. There’s no trick that allows you to wake up one day and poof, all of a sudden you’re confident and proud of the woman you are. Yet, there ARE a lot of us on this planet.  A lot of us that are in conflict with ourselves daily.  A lot of us being our own worst enemies. We can come together, we can struggle together, and we can find ways to support each other while we help ourselves learn to love who we are, all that we are, and all that we do.

Learning to love ourselves comes with time. It takes effort. It takes stepping in your own “stuff” and working through it. It takes strength, and an openness and willingness to grow and learn. While every experience will be different, and the process may take longer for some than others, we can still support one another. As I said before, I don’t know the “secret” but I would like to share some different ideas with you in this post and in posts in the future. Some of these are things that have helped me in my own journey in becoming a more confident individual. Others that I have listed are thoughts, websites, activities, etc., that stand out to me and I feel as though could be helpful to you or for others around you. As always, please feel free to share and exchange any thoughts of your own as well.

  • Be mindful of your thoughts, your self-talk and the way you present yourself to others. Is what you say something you would say to your best friend? To a co-worker? A sibling? Reflect on treatingt yourself the way you do to those you love.
  • Forgive yourself! Everyone makes mistakes, no one is “perfect”…
  • Avoid “shoulding” on yourself. If you find yourself saying, I “should have” or I “must” you might be placing unreasonable expectations on yourself.
  • Encourage yourself!!!! Be your own cheerleader.
  • Create a word for yourself, such as strong, beautiful, intelligent, caring, respectful, driven, etc. When you notice those negative thoughts, recognize that they are, but use your “word” to help you focus back on the positive and present.
  • Appreciate your body. Recognize ALL that it does for you each and every day.
  • Take notice of when you pass judgment and compare. What does this do for you? Instead of looking at how you’d like to be like someone else, VALUE all that you are.
  • Exercise! Exercise increases the release of endorphins (chemicals in your brain that fight stress). Exercise boosts self-esteem and helps decrease stress, tension and anxiety.
  • Listen to your body. Everyone’s needs for exercise, nutrition, sleep, socializing, etc. is DIFFERENT. Know what feels “right” for you. It’s amazing how wonderful we can feel by simply listening to our body and honoring what it asks of us.
  • An oldie, but a goodie! Dove Real Beauty Sketches:
  • Embrace and Empower (“Like” it on Facebook) – A page that encourages self-love and self-acceptance through inspirational quotes, resources, etc.
  • The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz (Just check it out… 😉 )
  • Yoga: This has been a big one for me. Yoga encourages mindfulness, awareness, and it connects you with your thoughts and body. Yoga has challenged me mentally, physically and has been an amazing part of my process. It’s help me learn to acknowledge my self-talk, but then has also supported me in not allowing negative thoughts to interfere with my practice. Basically,  the greatness I’ve found with yoga is that I’ve been able to integrate my awarenesses and greater self-appreciation that I continue to learn on my yoga mat into “real” life situations.
  • Gratitude journal. Treat yourself to a fun, little notebook and begin journaling about all that you are thankful for, and all the strengths and special qualities you have as an individual.
  • No more “fat” talk. “Fat talk” does not refer to just weight, it includes all that we say as women that brings us and others down. It’s more “negative” talk, in my perspective.  The following website is dedicated towards helping to eliminate negative talk.


In Schools:

  • Have a student sit on a chair in front of a whiteboard while other students write positive phrases on the board.
  • Tape a blank piece of paper on student’s backs. Students walk around and write positive comments on other student’s sheets.
  • “Friendship bracelets” —See “Noticing our Kindness” post  (individual/group activities)
  • Bucket Filling—See “Bucket Filling” post (under curriculum)

More to come here….



I hope you have a wonderful end to your week. And I hope you are able to begin embracing yourself, all that you are, and that you are also able to empower those around you to do the same. 🙂



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30 Minute Medicine Ball Circuit

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend so far, and hopefully found some time for YOU this weekend. If not, maybe you can squeeze in a little “you time” this afternoon or evening. I’m hoping to cook a little tonight, and get a little exercising in. It feels great to start the week off fresh, and relaxed after allowing for “self-care” time. If you had an extremely busy weekend, I encourage you to find a little time for yourself during the week. Schedule it on your calendar! Put a reminder on your phone! Whatever you need to do to make sure you’re allowing time for yourself.

I thought I would share with you what will be doing in my group exercise class tomorrow afternoon! I really enjoy  my Monday class. There is a consistent group of girls that come each week. We have fun, work hard, and of course, always chat a bit. 🙂 This workout could totally be done at home, and the medicine ball is simply a suggestion (you certainly can do this routine without one). Maybe this could be your YOU time this week! I included links for a few of the exercises, please feel free to e-mail me with any other questions. 🙂

Have fun & have a great week -hoping for double-digit temperatures this week!


30 Minute Medicine Ball Circuit

Complete each exercise for 1 minute with a 20 second break (allow as much break time as needed, this is only a suggestion!) Complete each round twice. Remember to warm-up before you begin the following exercises!


Squat with overhead press

Single arm medicine ball push-up

Balancing Burpee

Plank hold (Medicine ball underneath hands)

Jumping jacks with medicine ball


Russian twist

Toe taps (medicine ball on ground)

Sit up with medicine ball overhead

Jump squats (or regular squats)

Lunge with overhead press

Cool down, you’re done! Way-To-GO!


Stronger Than You Think: A Weekend of Fun & Fitness


I hope you all had a fantastic and hopefully somewhat relaxing weekend! I was fortunate to spend this weekend in Chicago at the Midwest Fit Fest which was held at the University of Illinois-Chicago. The conference was for group exercise instructors and personal trainers of various universities across that Midwest. There were some pretty big schools that attended: Purdue, Ohio State, University of Iowa, Notre Dame, and the list goes on (I believe there was about a total of 30 universities that participated). I traveled down with 8 other employees from our Student Recreation Center. We spent the FULL day on Saturday attending different sessions related to fitness and wellness. Thankfully on Sunday our day was only about four hours long, which seemed to go by very quick after an 11 hour day on Saturday.

My passion for group exercise really started when I was in high school, and actually is all because of my momma! I remember the first class I ever went to was cycling, and I only went because my mom begged me to go with her. 😉 Of course, I am so happy now that she got me on the fitness class train, and it is actually something we do together when I am back home (which makes it even that much better)! I continued attending group fitness classes all throughout college, it was a great way to meet people, it holds you accountable and there is so much variety when it comes to classes that are offered! When I worked as a wellness coordinator for a year at a YMCA I was certified in cycle, group exercise and yoga. It’s at the YMCA of Southern Nevada where I first began teaching classes, and then once I moved back to Wisconsin for graduate school I was determined to keep teaching! I consider my classes to be “teams” and I love being a part of the motivation, encouragement, relationship building, and all the other aspects that take place in group exercise environments. While I do enjoy classes such as yoga, where it much more independent and individualized, I also crave classes like bootcamp and cycle that bring participants together to cheer one another on!

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Back to the conference…I attended eight different group exercise classes throughout the weekend and one lecture. I don’t think I have ever participated in that many fitness classes in a week, let alone in a two-day span. However, that is what I, and the rest of my group ex family signed up for when we registered for the event! It was definitely challenging, both mentally and physically, but it’s really quite amazing to see all that your body can do when pushed to another level.

One of my favorite classes this weekend was called Bootcamp Battle and it was presented to us by three different instructors from the University of Iowa. It. Was. Awesome. The motivation from the instructors was unbelievable and definitely got the energy going early Saturday morning.  We did a ton of sprints, core work, circuits of strength and cardio and of course, push-ups. If you’re more interested in how the class was set up or the specific details of the workout, message me and I’d be happy to fill you in with further details. 🙂 I love the picture below! I can feel the determination just by looking at it!

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At the end of each class the instructors provided time for discussion. The first question that was asked was why the class was titled “Bootcamp Battle.” The instructors said that the class was a battle between our minds and our bodies. That often times we don’t have believe in ourselves and all that we are capable of, both mentally, and physically. Not only did this class really reinforce this idea for me, but really the whole weekend did as well.

It’s easy to forget how strong we really are! I hope you are all are able to go into this week and overcome any battles that may come your way…Remember, you are stronger than you think you are!

Have a happy Monday!

Jessica 🙂