Real and raw…the holes that don’t get filled

Some of the shirts from my races

Some of the shirts from my races

Our hearts are going to those who were working towards their goals and to those that were supporting those on that path in Boston.  I was in awe as I was watching the news yesterday.

I am very aware that our world will be focusing on the impact of the tragedies from the Boston marathon today and this will and already has made an impact on the fitness world.  I won’t be able to watch the news, open up Facebook or browse Twitter for a bit without seeing something positive and something negative about this recent craziness that our world is experiencing.  The media tends to grab hold of the negative parts and run them over and over until they are memorized by all that are watching.  It is during these next few weeks where I usually find myself going numb for a bit and just like to turn off all the media outlets until the negative words, finger pointing and blame is not as intense.

Change for me isn’t just about my physical body.  Change for me has been a full body, full mind and full spiritual event.  If I let one of those parts go, I am off balance.  Life has thrown me some interesting curves and challenges through my 36 years of living and finding that balance daily is hard but is something I have learned to do…but I am always finding that there are still days that I am thrown off and wondering how to get back to my normal.  Tragedies such as losing someone close to you leaves holes in your life and these are holes that you don’t want to fill in because it really is a part of you but somehow you still have to keep going on with this emptiness.  This “normal” that used to be is now new and different…and sometimes hard.  I know.  I explain why in a few more paragraphs.

America will be in a state of shock for a few days.  Those that are truly changed by these tragedies will remain in shock for years to come and will be trying to move on with their life and their new “normal”.

I see the words going across Facebook today that says, “wear a race shirt to show support” and that is great…but just know that sometimes those who have faced a tragedy don’t always want to see support.  Sometimes they just want to have their moment where they can escape and not be reminded of what has happened…if only for a brief moment.  Race shirts are everywhere and will always be a constant reminder for these families regardless of the day that they are worn.  Sometimes they might put a shirt on themselves in support of their family member that has been injured or who has died from this tragedy.  Sometimes they might want to burn them all or throw them out so they are never reminded again.  Balance may not be found for awhile…so just know that wearing a shirt is a nice gesture but may not be what is needed for all those changed by the tragedy that happened today.  Everyone is different.

As we go through the next few days remember that people are watching and listening to see our reactions.  I’m not going to tell you what is right or wrong because everyone is going to respond differently.  But I would suggest one thing…that whatever you do, do it with a purpose.  Don’t just go with the flow because others are doing it.  Do it because YOU see that it is important.  

image from

image from

Last night I was really at a tough place with all that was going on.  Our world needs more than just t-shirts people…our world needs actual change, love and good.  I know it is out there…we just need to step up, get uncomfortable a little bit and give to those who are acting out and who are making it well aware that they are off-balance.  Let’s not forget to give to those who are silently wanting to be loved.  These might even be harder to figure out but they are all around too.

I will always be real here at The Journey and I will always say what I’m really thinking.  I have promised that from the beginning.  Today I am raw and real and revealing more about myself than you might want to know.  I know that others are thinking the same things as me…they just aren’t going to say it to you.  Here is what I wrote last night on our Facebook page and below that is the reasoning behind it…aka, my personal experience with tragedy:

The Journey has a post for today but decided to just take a moment and pause after what happened in Boston today. I have noticed a lot of you writing and passing along that we should wear race shirts tomorrow. Don’t be mad at me or upset that I’m not showing support visually by presenting my latest race shirt on my torso but…I’m doing something different. I’m not wearing a race shirt because really, no one in Boston is going to see me. If you know me, you know I am already thinking of those in Boston today. What I think we should be doing instead…be nice to others, share a smile when maybe we don’t want to be nice or pay for a meal, gas or the groceries for the person behind us in line, give a hug or send a card to someone that you know needs some encouragement. Making positive changes in our world in times where we are surrounded by lots of negative talk might make a better impact to actually change some of this bad that surrounds us constantly. If you want…you can wear your race shirt at the same time you do a random act of kindness. Just a thought.

I was thinking about all of the race shirts that I have and guess what…each one was given to me as a result of me running for a specific cause.  I don’t always think about that specific reason as I am signing up for a race but it is in the back of my mind and sometimes it is even tough for me to show up for the event because I know who might be there.  Most of the time I am signing up because I just want to be part of the event at that specific date and time or because the race is one of the more popular ones that is very well organized.

Cancer seems to be the main theme in all of the shirts that I have stored in my closet and where the majority seem to be collecting dust.

Cancer is what left a hole in my family after my sister fought the cancer she had.  She was just a kid and passed away at 12 years old.  Today, I am still finding and adjusting to my new “normal” and it has been over 15 years since I last saw her.  The shirts are not always a happy memory for me.  That “c” word can be very intense at times.

I received some negative feedback yesterday from my post on Facebook.  I understand you may not agree with me but you don’t know how your actions will impact someone…even if it is just from wearing a shirt.

T-shirts aren’t for everyone…and I am just one of those people where it is more of a negative than a positive when a certain word is displayed.  T-shirts just don’t work for me to show support…they serve more as a reminder of the hole that can’t be filled.  I do take hugs though.  🙂

Jessica Williams

Jessica Williams


Jessica is a mom to three kids, a wife, a day care provider and a certified cycling instructor.  Her journey includes dropping 80+ pounds but also overcoming the tragedy of losing a sister who was 12 years old to Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.  She fought a great fight for 2 1/2 years and lost it just before getting a bone marrow transplant.  Jessica was a perfect match.

2 thoughts on “Real and raw…the holes that don’t get filled

  1. betsy ogren

    Beautifully written, Jessica. We truly never know what is going on in the lives of people we pass by every day. I’m so sorry about your sister. My mom HATED the breast cancer pink ribbon and seeing it anywhere drove her crazy in the 6 months she battled cancer. Of course, with best intentions, people wore them and sent them constantly. I do still wear one on a shirt every once in awhile, in her memory.


    1. mominminnesota Post author

      Thanks, Betsy! I have a few shirts with those pink ribbons on them too…but they are stashed in the closet and have been there awhile. 🙂 Everyone does have a story…I think we are sometimes too worried about being perfect rather than real and so our stories stay hidden. So sorry your family had to have a battle with the “c” word too. I know that those going through the treatments and the illness itself are some of the strongest people I have ever met…and those by their sides learn and experience more than they could ever imagine. Thanks for sharing, Betsy!



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