Tag Archives: Joey Jello

I did it! For real this time!


photo-2Today I did something that one year ago would have seemed impossible. I ran & walked a 5k in 46min & 47sec! That’s faster than any of my treadmill training runs! I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw the time clock at the finish line.

I entered the Big Bubba’s 5k Dash on the advice of a consultant at the YMCA. It seemed like a great opportunity to practice running outside and get an idea of what a race is actually like before my big memorial race in Austin. Plus the proceeds go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and I love the idea of helping kids. So I registered thinking, “Even if I just walk it, it will be good practice.”

I kept playing it down, thinking this would just be another workout for me, so I was a bit taken aback to find that this became an extremely emotional event.  Read the rest of this entry

Here I come!!!


Playing_With_a_Fire_Bird_by_princess_phoenixFlights have been booked for me and Mama Jello. – We’re heading to Austin June 21 through the 23rd so that I can run the Keep Austin Weird 5k and carry Joey’s ashes to the finish line with me. Which means I have a finish line to reach, on an actual day just over a month away!  I know it’s going to be a very emotional run for me, but I also believe it will be healing.

Today at the gym, I found myself sandwiched between two other runners, and to be honest, at first I was a bit intimidated, but then I realized – I’m a runner, too! I may be slow; I may not be able to run as long or as far as these; but I am doing this. And it was so exhilarating to recognize that, and to hear Joey’s voice singing, “You have it, too; you have it, too; you have it, too…” Read the rest of this entry

A funny thing happened on the way to becoming a runner


yoga-for-runnersThe last time I attempted to become a runner, nearly a decade and a half ago, I did so on the advice of my cousin (though it may as easily have been G-ma speaking for her). I was told to keep going and eventually I would become so dependent on it that missing a run might make me grumpy. After a couple of months, I called her a liar (though not to her face – sorry, Tina). I still HATED running and looked for any excuse to miss a run.

So imagine my surprise this time around, as I feel my legs just itching to get back on the treadmill, even though my head and throat are demanding I curl up in bed instead. It’s pretty exciting to feel this change taking place, and I must admit that I’m pretty proud of myself for keeping my momentum going.

But I have to recognize for a moment all the reasons why this time is so different. The major change is that now I have goals, running races, taking Joey’s ashes along and honoring his passion for life by pursuing my own. Technology is definitely in my corner now, too. The C25K (couch to 5k) app for iPhone is amazing. I can listen to my own playlist, but the app cuts in to let me know when to walk and when to run. It’s fantastic, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking to get started running. I also follow running magazines on Twitter and C25K on Facebook for encouragement and testimonials from other runners.

Ok, that’s probably more commercial than a blog about Joey Jello’s influence ever needed. I’m just amazed that this is happening. I’m becoming a runner!

(Maybe someday soon, I’ll even have my own running photo)

The Sun Also Rises

jello 2

Photo by John Curley

I’m halfway through week 2 of the 8-week Couch to 5K program now, and some interesting things are happening.

On my run/walk yesterday, I started out feeling like I couldn’t get enough air, but by the second running interval, I was feeling a bit better. And by the time I got to my final running interval, something amazing had happened. I actually felt, well…good. Like my body was working with me for once instead of against me.

It might be the only time in my life I can ever remember thinking that. Read the rest of this entry

Sweat & Tears


IMG_0020You may have noticed I haven’t written in a while. Almost 3 weeks ago, I joined the local YMCA, and Noah has started soccer for the first time ever. Not to mention we’ve actually had some warmish weather which when you have 3 boys absolutely REQUIRES time outdoors. So, needless to say, it’s been busy around here.

But the good kind of busy. The busy that includes….duh, duh, da-duh!…starting running intervals! 

I’ll be honest, running for 60 seconds at a time is hard for me. I haven’t run since I was in high school, I think. But it’s so good, too. At the end of a session, when I’m still walking on the treadmill with sweat pouring down my face and music in my ears, I inevitably begin to cry. It’s not that I’m sad, though I am sad that Joey’s not here to see this. But I am overwhelmed with bittersweet pride that I am becoming a better version of me…because of him.

For me running, even in 60 second bursts, is the beginning of the Phoenix rising from the ashes. I have been in mourning; I am in mourning still, but there is hope, hope for the day when I run that first 5k race, Joey’s ashes around my neck, knowing that our adventures together aren’t over.

Let’s just be honest here…


486574_3979162991807_1112941746_nThis is my brother. He is dead. I MISS HIM! I cry… a lot. 90% of the time it’s because I’m missing my brother, and the other 10% of the time, it’s because of something else that seems 100 times worse because I miss my brother.

I’m a positive person, and I’m doing everything I can to keep living my life and not let Joey’s death be the end of my story, so people say, “Look at how great you’re doing. You lost you’re brother, but you’re ok.” But I’m not ok. I’m not “over it.” I am working through it EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I would give anything to have one more hour to talk to Joe about all the things that I’ve discovered about myself, about life, even about him. But that’s not going to happen, so I just have to keep moving, keep living, keep trying. Read the rest of this entry

Who am I?

Photo courtesy of Susan Peck Photography

Photo courtesy of Susan Peck Photography

Over the last few days, I’ve been thinking a lot about who I am, and how I can be me – better. After all, that’s what NEVER BETRAY is all about. The hard thing about being totally true to yourself is that sometimes it means that you no longer fit in the places where you had made yourself fit. This is where I find myself now as I tentatively stretch my limbs to occupy the space I was created for. (As I type this, I’m remembering seeing Joey stretch, and being awed by the amount of space he took up – not just physically but with his entire essence).

I’ve written about how I came to recognize my limited understanding of what it means to follow Christ, and as I continue to explore my thoughts about death, heaven, God, and living a life of purpose, the question of who I am seems to be central to the conflict within me.

I know the answer at least begins with “I am a person who loves generously and honestly.” This is something I’ve always known about myself, and it is the thing I’ve struggled with most. I’ve been hurt over and over again by friends who weren’t all in. And it made me start withholding myself. In the last few years, there have been many friendships that I have kept at arms’ length because I didn’t want to be be rejected again. I’ve avoided whole conversations rather than be the one who thinks differently. Read the rest of this entry

She did it! Sarah did it!


joey-thumbsNo, I haven’t run my first 5k, yet, but I did reach my first major fitness achievement of walking a total of 100 miles!

Maybe that doesn’t sound like much to some, but to me it’s an indication of sticking to something for once in my life. It’s about making good choices for myself, feeling strong and capable. It’s about doing life better.

As it happens, I hit my goal on Sunday, December 9th, which was also my 35th birthday. It’s certainly not the first birthday I’ve celebrated without my brother, considering it often fell during finals week while I was in college, and Joe had lived in Austin for the last 2 years. But there was no phone call, no text from him – even the next day, as he was apt to text me after I’d already gone to bed. I miss him terribly, but every day, I strive to live that much more purposefully because of him.

If I’m really honest, I must admit that Joey’s death knocked me down. I feel as though my worldview has been shattered in a way, and yet, as the pieces have fallen, they’ve found a new way to go back together that oddly makes much more sense and stands stronger against the winds of trial and tragedy.

Bad stuff happens. It happens to everyone – even me. I can let it kill my spirit, or I can choose to be stronger, to live better.

I choose to be better, to live fuller, and to love extravagantly. 

For me, getting fit is part of loving myself so that I have more love to give away. In January, I plan to join the local YMCA and start running and training in earnest for my first 5k. I know Joe would be proud of the physical accomplishments I’m making, but I think mostly he would be proud of the way I’m growing as a person. My 35th year saw the biggest challenges of my life so far, but I see year 36 getting better and better. Maybe by my 40th, I can take Joe for that sky-dive I’ve always dreamed of.



Joey loved music more than anyone I know, and not just listening to it or writing it. He loved to research it, analyze it and absorb it. His tastes ranged from classical to punk and everything in between. He could find the musicality in almost anything, and innovation where others might just hear noise. He could even appreciate that different people required different soundtracks. That’s why even though we liked very different styles, he’s responsible for most of the music in my itunes library. Read the rest of this entry



I never used to be the type of person to worry much or imagine worst case scenarios, to fear death of myself or others. But that was before.

The summer before Joey turned 15, we went to visit some family in Texas, and our cousin’s boyfriend had an extra four-wheeler he let Joey ride while we were there. One morning, I woke to my aunt yelling for my dad to come out to the garage quickly. Joe had gotten up early to ride up and down the country road before we met up with some other family. At some point, he got off the road going faster than he intended and when he tried to maneuver between a steel tube fence and a large oak tree, a low-hanging branch nearly scalped him. Amazingly, he didn’t lose consciousness, and was able to get off the four-wheeler and jog back to our uncle’s house, but he was bleeding profusely and ended up being life-flighted to the nearest hospital. The damage was all superficial, and the surgeon managed to give him a relatively smooth horse-shoe shaped scar from ear to ear.

It was probably the scariest moment of my life up to that point, but afterwards I fell into the belief that my brother was invincible. The next time we visited my uncle, that oak tree was dead. We took it as a sign that he was unbeatable.

Maybe that’s why I had such a hard time believing that an idiot driver was the cause of his demise.

And in the weeks and months since, I’ve been consistently struck by the fragility of life. What I had seen before as a great chasm between life and death now looks like nothing more than a thin veil. I’m reminded of the lyrics to an Ingrid Michaelson song,

Have you ever thought about what protects our hearts?
Just a cage of rib bones and other various parts.
So it’s fairly simple to cut right through the mess,
And to stop the muscle that makes us confess.

And we are so fragile,
And our cracking bones make noise,
And we are just,
Breakable, breakable, breakable girls and boys.