Why hello!!

Saturday, August 17, 2019

So now that I have published a book, I feel like I am trying to merge two identities, and things might get a little confusing. So I want to have this post explain a little bit about what is going on for any new travelers to the squeaky world of Jess and Paula.

My name is Jessica Smith. I publish under a pen name of Paula Jean Ferri. The two names are interchangeable in my mind though. While I was born as Jessica, around the age of 17, I developed a new lifelong friend, who I affectionately call Paula. Her name is a little more searchable than mine is. Besides, I probably wouldn't have had anything to write about without her, so she became the author.

Feel free to wander the blog and discover a little more about Paula's antics. I am also on Medium writing as often as I can between my three outlets (books, blog and Medium). I would LOVE to hear more about you and any questions you may have. Please send an email to Paula@paulajeanferri.com.

Last, but CERTAINLY not least... I can't thank you enough for visiting!! I LOVE that you are here and hope to see more of you! Be sure to keep up to date on my website:


Try Something New, I'll Join You

Thursday, April 5, 2018

I wanted to try something different today. You see, I have this awesome friend who has taught me quite a bit as of late. I have known him a few years, but he recently started a blog and I am just loving his content and how much it has helped me personally, as well as with my TS. Who knew sports could do such a thing? Coming from someone who never really did any athletics before, I had no idea what I was missing.

Sometimes I feel like I have no control over... anything. Tourette Syndrome has that effect I think. I can't control what comes out of my mouth and I can't control my body's actions. But sometimes I forget that while I don't have that control all of the time, it doesn't mean I don't have any. Maybe I just didn't learn to push myself, or train myself to do the things that I want to do. I have been thinking I might have to run a 5k, just to test all this stuff out that Austin talks about. I'll keep you posted.

Anyways, I shot him a few questions and I'll share them with you. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. But first, some backstory. Because stories. 

Photo of Austin Patten by Wes Photography
Austin Patten is from a suburb of Chicago, IL. After serving a 2-year mission for his church in Brazil, he graduated from BYU-Idaho in business management. Despite being busy as a business analyst, Austin is dedicated to his health and athletics. He takes the time to practice every day and helps others along the way.

In addition to sports, Austin loves hanging out with friends, movies, camping, the stock market and puzzles.

Austin and I have attended the same congregation, or ward, for several years. Somewhere along the many activities our ward does together, we became friends and I am a better person because of it. He is always serving and giving.

I guess that's all the more reason I like the stuff he posts. It's all incredibly real. This is how he lives life every day. It's not just pretty words on a page with a few nice pictures. I asked him a few questions, see for yourself some of these great lessons he has:

1. Tell me a little about why you started this blog. Have you always been a writer?

I have not always been a writer. I think the last paper I wrote in college was for a freshman writing course that was a general ed class. Since then, I haven't written a whole lot. I love to think. Often times I think of my life philosophy. I have found that writing these thoughts down, helps me develop them better so I can have a more clear image of my philosophy as well as what I am doing good and what I can improve on. It helps me remember my thoughts better to so when I talk to people I can remember my talking points better.

 I wanted to show people that there are lessons for life buried in athletics. Often times people just race because they want to win and have bragging rights. But there are real lessons that occur in training and racing that we often do not recognize. 
I want to help people see these. I also want people to live the best life they can. Sports have given me so much, especially the endurance sports (running, biking, and swimming) so I want to share it with people and encourage them to try it. They changed my life, I know they can change others lives too. Most will not decide to run a marathon but they might decide to run a 5k or just start walking every night instead of watching an hour of TV. We live in a world where we are all plugged in all day every day. These activities give you a break from the negativity we see in the news on Facebook and TV. They help us get some fresh air which is good for our brains and bodies and relieve the stress from life. It helps clear the brain so we can approach our problems more clearly and come up with better ways to solve them. I want people to have these experiences.

2. Were you always a natural born athlete?

  I wouldn't say I was always a natural born athlete but I have always had a passion for sports. It started when I was a toddler and my parents bought me a baseball and a glove and signed me up for t-ball (now you see why I love baseball and softball so much). I have played a ton of sports in organized competition in my life including baseball, softball, soccer, basketball, cross country, football, wrestling, marathons, and triathlons; and many others just for fun. I have never excelled at any of them but I love to play so I do. I work on improving every time I play. The sports I have excelled the most at are marathons and triathlons. I have also spent a few years coaching people for running 5ks, half marathons, and marathons. This includes kids as young as 9 all the way up to college students.

3. How did you get where you are now?

A. I started running after high school. It was really casual until I got back from my mission in Brazil. Then it picked up to marathon training. In high school, I hated running. I think what changed was I wanted to challenge myself so I decided to run a marathon and many of my friends told me I would not end up doing it. I had to prove them wrong. Little did I know it would change my life and lead me to love running. When I started training for a marathon, I could barely run a half mile. That was my starting point. I worked my way up until I could run a marathon in under 3.5 hours. Now I do triathlons. I still hate swimming but know that if I want to be good at them, I need to work on what we call a "race limiter". This is something that can prevent you from racing your best. Swimming is a limiter for me
so I make sure I get in the pool three times a week in addition to my running and cycling training. Most of the time, I do not want to be in the pool swimming but I have come so far. I never took swimming lessons as a kid and could really only swim to stay alive before. I know that sounds crazy for a 29 year old to say but its true. I started out struggling to swim 100 meters. now I can swim 1.5 miles without stopping. There is no point that is too low to start. I am so glad I decided to get in the pool and start swimming because it has allowed me to become a more well rounded and stronger athlete.

4. What was the hardest thing you have ever done as an athlete?

I ran a relay race from Rexburg, ID to Idaho Falls, ID. It was supposed to be on a team of 8 people and a distance of 37 miles. I did the entire thing alone. It took me more than 7 hours to complete. I was in tears several times during the race. It hurt so much physically, mentally, and emotionally. But I learned so much about me, relationships, and God. It gave me more than 7 hours to think both negatively and positively. I had the opportunity to see what others do to help. as well as the excitement others had for my achievement. There were so many lessons I learned here both in training and in racing it. There were times I sat on the curb during the race and just cried while I caught my breath. Then my best friend would tell me to keep going. I remember telling him over and over when I reached a certain point I was stopping. Then when I got there he would tell me to keep going. This situation would repeat over and over for the last 10k of the race. Almost every half mile. That is how hard it was. I would get somewhere and then keep going to only 3 minutes later wish I had stopped. I did not stop and ended up finishing. I was the last one to come through the line but I came through the line and learned so much over that 37 miles. I would not take that experience away for anything.

5. If you could do anything differently in your career as an athlete, what would it be?

 I would have kept playing baseball in middle school and high school. I would have started all the sports for triathlon much earlier in life so I could be stronger than I am now. And I would have taken my nutrition away from sports more serious. I love candy, ice cream, cookies, pie and all the sweets. Over the past year, I have worked on portion control, reducing sugar intake, and increasing my fruits and vegetables. It has made a huge difference in how I feel and what I can do! I still eat all those sweets but in much smaller quantities. You really are what you eat. If you want to perform well in races, you have to take care of your body when you aren't running, biking, or swimming. Training is 24 hours a day. It's what you eat, how much you sleep, what extracurricular activities you do, and how you take care of the muscles and brain.

6. Where would a person be able to find more information or contact you with questions?
I have a Facebook page called "The LDS Triathlete"
They can find me on Instagram @ldstriathlete
I write on Medium as well. Everything I write can be found at https://medium.com/@ldstriathlete
If needed I can also be reached via email at ldstriathlete@gmail.com

It's Not a Party Without Paula

Saturday, March 24, 2018

It's my birthday week. Which is an even bigger deal than birthday month. It has been such a great week, too. On the actual day of my birthday, a group of friends and I went to a restaurant in Salt Lake called Prohibition. You walk in the door to a small room with odds and ends similar to a pawn shop. After showing ID, you go through the bookcase to the bar/restaurant that had a live band and swing dancing and even showed silent movies. Paula blended in quite well with all the noise.

On Friday (because weekends are better and you get more people), we went to an Italian place called Buca di Beppos. One of my favorites for the eclectic decorations and great atmosphere, not to mention awesome food. It had been a fairly mild day with tics, so I didn't think much of it as we sat down to dinner. We had half of the party room while another group had the other half.

But it just wouldn't be a party without Paula. She made a lovely appearance about halfway through the party. Half of the room was very confused. Some of the poor faces I saw. Sometimes I think I should be a little bit more considerate and explain what is going on, but at the same time I was entertaining a group of people for a birthday party.

And what better way to entertain than to invite Paula...

How to Get What (Paula) Wants

Monday, March 19, 2018

Sometimes Poor Paula doesn't always get what she wants. Sometimes, just like a little kid, she manages to weasel her way back into getting her way. She manages to stay in good graces with people, and usually by making them laugh with just the right amount of guilt.

My new co-workers know that I repeat things, and they are trying very hard to get Paula to sing a particular song, one of Beethoven's symphonies. The other day, Paula was chattering (but not singing) and Keely said Paula isn't allowed to come unless she is going to sing for us. Poor Paula must have gotten her feelings hurt, because she let out a very miserable-sounding, "Awwww...."

At this point, Keely's face went into utter sympathy mode. She said, "I take it back! Paula can come! I'm so sorry!" Met with Paula's joyful chatter, we then had a nice laugh for a few minutes. This "child" of mine sure knows how to get what she wants!

Now if I could just figure out the same...

How to Make an Entrance

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Paula really likes attention. Maybe a bit much. Then again, this is part of why I call her my little diva. Combine the attention seeking with her musical abilities and there is bound to be shenanigans. At the time of this story, I had recently seen The Greatest Showman and had fallen in love with the music. it was pretty much all I listened to for a week solid afterward. I guess Paula wanted some of the attention back on her.

One morning as I was walking into my new job, Paula decided she was the greatest showman and had to make an entrance. So as I opened the door to step into the office- early in the morning, mind you, it was 7 AM- she lets out a very high pitched tone with vibrato and everything. Jealous much, Paula? She really knows how to make an entrance (and make sure everyone is awake for work).

Oh yeah... Paula Likes Sleep, Too.

Monday, March 5, 2018

I have missed writing. I haven't written much in the past month since I was starting a new job and all sorts of changes happening in my life. So I decided to finally take the advice of several mentors who have recommended getting up at 5 AM. Apparently, it's life-changing. I'm on day 1, and I can already see it in more ways than I ever thought.

First off, I was amazed at how much energy I actually had through the day. I wasn't as tired as I thought I was going to be during most of it. I definitely started to slow down at the end of the day though. I should have gone to bed earlier. I thought it would be ok. I thought I was fine. Paula reminded me it is not ok. I guess she is more of a sleepyhead than I am, as much as I love my sleep.

Getting up earlier means I have to go to bed earlier. Which is hard when you are trying to have a social life. I got about 6 hrs of sleep and around noon, Paula started to punish me for not going to bed on time. She was violent with my shoulder today. Had to get another doctor appointment to fix me up. Seriously, chiropractors are life savers!

So I may have thought I was ok, but then I wound up exhausted and in pain. Guess I am going to bed early tonight...

Here It Comes

I started a new job. Again. I seem to do that a lot...

I just really like how it connects me to new people and the great new stories that come from it. Good thing Paula thrives off of it, too. I'm already so behind with great stories! So stay tuned for more updates...

My very first day at this new job Paula, of course, had to make herself known. After the initial explanations, I explained that I have a form of TS called Echolalia, so I repeat the things I hear often. Suddenly, several of my new coworkers start trying to create a new tic. Every once in a while, they break out singing one of Beethoven's symphonies.

Little do they know how much Paula also likes to think for herself. She picks the tics, not me. She catches on to some noises faster than others, so sometimes it takes a bit of persistence to get her to make a new tic. Or a really good story. She likes those. I'll let you know if that eventually catches on.

New faces always make Paula want to show off, so be sure to check back as the stories unfold, she already has several. Sometimes it's hard to keep up with her!
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