Name: Jay Esposito
Shining Credits: Overcoming personal fear to accomplish three items on the “bucket list” — quitting smoking, finishing a masters degree program, and embarking on a 365-day running challenge.
Shining Soundtrack: Take Your Mama, Scissor Sisters
Personal Hero: My mom, Theresa Esposito — she was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease) more than six years ago. Most patients diagnosed are expected to live for six months to a year. My Mom has been battling against this disease every single day since her diagnosis in March 2006. She exercises regularly, eats nutrient-dense organic foods, visits nutritionists and Reiki masters and massage therapists frequently. My Mom went from being a vivacious, constantly on-the-go young woman in her mid-40s to being forced into retirement. She has attacked this disease with grace, persistence, grit, and determination. Where most people would likely crumble under the weight of such circumstances, my Mom consistently rises to the challenge and proves to be made of steel. She is an inspiration to me day after day and when things seem insurmountable I look to her as a role model.
Smoking Years: I started smoking at the end of 7th grade. I was young, stupid and believed I was totally invincible. I also had myself fully convinced I was in control of the habit and could stop at any time.
Quitting Attempts: Believe it or not, I never tried quitting before because I knew it wouldn’t stick.
Kicking the Habit: At the beginning of 2012, I promised myself that I’d quit before the year’s end. Then one day after an Oktoberfest party, I woke up and had three cigarettes left in my pack. I made a pot of coffee, smoked the three cigarettes, and drove to my parents’ house. On the way, I decided on a whim to stop at Walgreen’s and buy a box of nicotine patches.
365 Day Running Challenge: The rules are simple – you must run a minimum of ten minutes per day, every single day, for one year straight — with absolutely no exceptions. This challenge started as a friendly challenge between two of my married friends. Both of them completed their year. After that it had a rippling effect, several other friends signed up for the challenge. My friend, Natalie, finished her year of running in October 2012 — and managed to do so as a mother of three children under the age of three!
I decided on November 8, 2012 — the day after President Obama was reelected –that this was my year. So far the competition is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, hands down. I’m now on Day 51– I’ve only known running in the cold for this competition and it has completely changed my perspective on it — in fact, I thoroughly enjoy it now. It gives you something to scratch off your list of accomplishments each day, which if you’re a list person like I am is extremely rewarding.
Life Improvements: In less than two months, my breathing has dramatically improved; I’m no longer winded when I get in from my run. In my first week of the challenge I got dizzy at the end of each run because I was struggling with breathing. That hasn’t happened since mid-November. When I began running, I was averaging about ten minutes per mile which I’ve now shaved down to roughly eight and a half minutes per mile.
However, the most significant improvement has been conquering tasks that I told myself I couldn’t conquer in the past. The greatest life lesson I’ve picked up over the past year or so. For a few years I felt stagnant — I was in a deteriorating relationship, a dead-end job, and had become complacent in my day-to-day to the point of near-paralysis. Very slowly but surely I started making decisions to change things one by one — ending the relationship, going back to school, and so forth. The decision to participate in the running challenge is the latest in a series of choices that I’ve made to stop telling myself I can’t do something.
How do I get your shine? Recognize when fear is preventing you from making forward progress and conquer it head on. Try something completely out of your comfort zone. And treat yourself the same love, respect, admiration, and forgiveness you treat your best friends and loved ones. You deserve it!
Or, better yet, meet me at the bar for a drink. I’ll share some shine with you, free of charge 🙂
6 Word Life Mission Statement: When you change nothing, nothing changes.
Masters Degree: I took one class at Penn in 2007 but the timing wasn’t right to pursue a degree. In the spring of 2011, shortly after ending a 5-year relationship, it was time to stop putting it on hold. This fell directly in line with the whole “when you change nothing, nothing changes” theme that occurred in the last two years or so for me. I knew my own indecisiveness was holding me back. I simply needed to dive in with both feet. I doubled up on the course load and finished my final graduate research paper in less than six weeks. In August 2012 I graduated with a Master of Liberal Arts in Media, Politics, and Society from the University of Pennsylvania.
Be the change you want.
You are stronger than you think.
Now let’s grab a drink!
Double Dog Dare: Ask yourself what your three biggest fears are or what three challenges you’d like overcome. Pick one of them and take the very first step toward conquering that fear or facing that challenge. Not sure how to start? Go to your tribe — your circle of best friends and loved ones — and share the three items on your list. The resources are all there, you just need to take the first step.
A Warrior Princess