New Sneakers + How Struggle Has Made Me More Appreciative

Hi there friends! I wanted to share something personal with you today. Growing up I was a shy kid, who was very unsure of my place in the world. I was creative but I don’t remember much value being placed on it at the time, I did know that if you were smart it opened these doors and if you were athletic it opened those doors but I don’t recall feeling much worth around my creativity. My mom (& dad) saw it for the gift it was and believed in what it could be for me someday. But I questioned it all the time.

So I was shy, insecure about my talents or lack there of, was long and lean (for a long, long time), had little confidence and didn’t really shine on the fashion front either. There wasn’t a lot of extra money for clothes, sneakers, shoes, bikes, etc.. so I was given a lot from friends and family. Let me just say, there is nothing wrong with this, in fact I actually think there is a blessing in it. When my parents did buy something new, it was either something they saved for or was put on lay away for months (remember that?!). My dad had a heart attack at 40 (I was 2) and he was forced to retire early. He controlled airplanes and because of the nature & stress of the job he couldn’t return. My mom took a part time job at the local elementary school as a lunch monitor to pay for extras. From the time I was 3 someone was either in college or getting married & this went on until I went to college many years later. My poor parents! I remember needing sneakers one summer, I was around 8 at the time and my mom said, “Jen, we just don’t have the money right now.” I must have really needed them because next thing I know she brought home a pair from the grocery store. I am going to be honest, I didn’t want to wear them. After some tears I wore them. All I wanted was to fit in and be like everyone else, which is typically what an 8 year old wants. It’s funny, I don’t remember any other pair of shoes or sneakers I had as a kid except those baby blue ones from Pathmark. But I do remember the sneakers I desperately wanted at that time, they were the 3 stripe Adidas’. Everyone seemed to have them and of course that made me want them even more.

I will be 44 in a few weeks and I just bought myself those 3 stripe Adidas’!!! The thing I realize as I get older and hopefully wiser, is when there is struggle there comes a genuine appreciation for things and people you wouldn’t ordinarily have. An appreciation that comes from the depths of your soul, that is raw, honest and pure.  It’s the kind that changes you as a person and makes you a better version of yourself. There is humility that comes from struggle and if we are lucky it makes us softer, kinder and more accepting of others in struggle. And that is such a beautiful thing!

On a professional front, all the feelings of trying the climb this broken ladder all those years and to finally be here, in a place where I wake up inspired and happy to start each new day, gives me such joy. I am so incredibly grateful for my struggle because I take none of this for granted. Not one day or moment!

On a side note I have been taking a parenting class over at Brene Brown and there was something she touched on early in the class that was such an ah-ha moment for me. She said your children are hard wired for failure and to fall. Oh my gosh, light bulb! And that in the struggle they find courage and learn to rise & it’s our job as parents to help them navigate through it. When I think back to how many times I tried to prevent any kind struggle or hardship for my boys, oh my goodness! Then to realize all the good lessons they have learned through a situation that was hard and the amazing conversations we have had because of it! It’s life changing! I have read every single book of hers but THIS one and just ordered for the summer, you can find the trailer HERE.

Brene Brown QuoteMy mom would always say “march to the beat of your own drum.” And boy was she right! I am hoping you can relate to this post. I wanted to open up with you, because I honestly believe that through vulnerability we find connection.

Have a happy day friends!

Similar Posts


  1. Thank you for your honesty. In a world that seems to be so full of everyone trying to out do one another it is refreshing to read that someone else has similar thoughts and experiences and willing to share it.

    1. I am glad you found a connection to this post Nicole! Thank you for writing such a sincere comment. Have a good night, Jen

  2. Thank you for your story,hardships are so good for the soul.Good job on all your achievements. Love the shoes.

  3. Jen, I was reading this and thinking…”I remember not having the cool clothes OR shoes and being so embarrassed.” Now, I’m so tender to those that have that same struggle and I can reach out to them with real understanding and compassion. I love how my struggles can now be used to comfort someone else, just as you have done here. Thank you!

  4. What I think is noteworthy is that your true reward is not the sneakers but what you’ve learned along your journey. ……

  5. That’s the beauty of wisdom, you never get too old for it! Blessings Jen

  6. Hi Jen! I recently discovered your blog and I’ve been loving your posts. I had to leave a comment today though, to thank you for sharing openly and being vulnerable with us. I love Brene Brown and I am so excited when I read about other people having lightbulb moments because of her work. You are totally right- vulnerability is how we have true connection. Thank you again for sharing!

    1. Thank you Mallory, I appreciate your vote of confidence. Love Brene! Have a happy day! Jen

  7. Thanks Jen for sharing the story of the struggle that your parents had when you were growing up. I raised 4 children as a single mom and always worked multiple jobs in order to support them. It was excruitiating emotionally to me when I couldn’t always afford to give them everything that I wanted to. They are all grown up now with children of their own. They are all hard workers and very appreciative of everything that they have and like you are very grateful for everything that they have.

    1. Thank you Bonnie for sharing your story. All those years ago I never thought I would see it as a blessing in disguise but it certainly has been. You are a wonderful mom and your children are undoubted amazing parents as well for the foundation you built for them, kudos to you!!! Happy Sunday! Jen

  8. Dear Jen, I would translate your comments of your childhood experiences as “character building” – God bless you for your honesty and integrity!

    1. Thank you Olivia. That’s right, I like that character building:). Have a nice weekend! Jen

  9. Dear Jen,
    I had a single Mom who struggled to make ends meet, but always gave me unconditional love. She taught me many valuable lessons that I have passed on to my children. I remember wearing hand me downs and feeling not so good about it. Now, I have so much appreciation for what I have. I learned to take care of things that I have so they will last! Struggles make us stronger and more appreciate for sure. Loved your story!

    1. Hi Erin, thank you so much for sharing your story with me! It sounds like you have an amazing mom! I agree with you 100%, they do make you stronger & more appreciative. xoxo Jen

Comments are closed.