Meet Lea. Lea Flego.
She’s the girl I swam with under warm summer sun until our skin became wrinkled and pruney, snuck handfulls of butterscotch chips to nibble for dinner, clanged and clattered old pots and pans up and down the block to celebrate the new year.
I’ve seen her change her hair color from hot pink, to blue, to platinum blonde – been with her to watch the sunrise over Mt. Bachelor, gaze at the faint stars hovering over lush Hawaiian hills.
Lea is my cousin – my vibrant, gregarious, nine-days-older-than-me partner in crime who has been at my side since I first arrived into this world.
As her cousin, I have had the privilege of seeing her become the Strong Girl she is. But even if we weren’t related, you can bet I would have sought her out as a young woman to draw inspiration from.
So if our relatedness has made you curious enough to learn about this Strong Girl, I won’t keep you from her story any longer.
From breaking boards, to burgers, to brain science, here is Lea – one Strong Girl.
How does the word “movement” fit into your life, especially any changes that have happened over the last few months?
I’ve never moved anywhere in my life, so “movement” takes on a more psychological meaning.
Movement means growth.
As I enter into a new job, a new relationship and new friendships, and experience new challenges, I learn new skills, I develop emotionally and learn more about myself: who I am and what I want out of life.
I also think of movement in terms of what’s most important in my life right now and I view these aspects as moving bubbles. Some bubbles are bigger than others and are consistantly important to me, like TaeKwon Do, but other aspects of life that were once floating in the distance are now in the forefront of life, like getting a job when I finished school.
What are you currently doing and what brought you there?
Continuing with my vision of the bubbles, the biggest in my life right now are TaeKwon Do, my job at Burgerville and my blossoming relationship with a wonderful man.
In the last six months there have been a lot of changes in these three areas. I have been doing TKD for over 13 years and have remained a devoted student and teacher, but this year I dethroned the women’s grand champion, taking her title which I defended this November. I also graduated from Portland State University with a BA in psychology.
Not ready to begin graduate school to obtain a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy just yet, I took a year off and began working a minimum waged job. This is the first time I’ve ever had a steady income and have had a budget. Since I still live at home, I am saving most of my money to buy a blue Volkswagon Beetle. This is my first major purchase and I am both nervous and excited for it.
Six months ago, I also began seeing a man that turned out to be the love of my life. He has been so supportive of all these changes and encourages me to keep achieving everything my heart desires. I couldn’t have achieved any of this without his support and my own determination, discipline and continuous goal setting. I have to appreciate what I have now and envision the future in order to keep moving forward.
What is one goal you have for this year?
The biggest goal I have now is to get into my top school, Lewis and Clark, for their Marriage, Couple and Family Therapy program. Becoming a marriage and family therapist is a great desire of mine and it all depends on getting into this program.
Currently, who/what do you draw inspiration from? When you wake up in the morning, what pops into your head and gets you saying, “Today is my day!”?
Every morning I wake up and think, “what am I going to get done today?”
Goal setting is what motivates me, and the more I accomplish, the better I feel. I base these goals off of what I want out of life, but I get inspiration from all the role models in my life. A few examples include my TaeKwon Do instructor who has built an empire of TKD schools in Portland, my sister, who has been able to balace work, play, higher education and a new baby, with intelligence and grace, and my mother, who, despite many drawbacks, has done an amazing job of raising me and my sister single-handedly. I see these amazing women and think “I want to do that too.”
Now, what do I need to do to accomplish that?
What is one thing you know to be true? What is your statement of faith that drives you to keep doing what you’re doing?
There is a reason for everything that happens.
Growing up a Christian I have always believed that God has a plan for me. When things are going well in life, it’s easy to believe that I am doing what God has planned for me, but when things are difficult and unclear, I have to rethink what I’m doing. That is when I am most vulnerable to doubt. I have to remind myself that there is a point to all this, the good things and the bad, and that everything I encounter can be essential to the end result. I try and learn from every experience in life because I think that learning something new from everything that happens is what keeps me on the path that God has chosen for me.
What is something new that brings Joy to your life?
This Thanksgiving I was able to spend time with my entire family. My family is small, but we are spread out so it felt like a big deal. Seeing these people filled me with so much joy that I realized how important spending time with family is to me. I was so excited to wake up in the morning because I knew I would get to see them. I always thought family was important, but it was only recently that I realized just how important family is and how much joy they bring to my life.
Thanks, Lea, for sharing your story with us! Keep those goals close to your heart and know that God’s plan for you is beautiful.