To those trying to do good anyway 


To the ones trying to do good anyway:

The world is a scary place-especially in this place we congregate with strangers behind screens. 

It’s easy to get discouraged with the state of politics, the current state of the environment, racism, and inequalities across the globe. 

But when you look for them they are there. The people spreading light, creativity and joy. 

The single moms working hard and slaying motherhood with a sense of humor and a glass of wine. 

The millennials who might be eating overpriced avocado toast but they are also changing womens lives with nonprofits in Africa. 

The surfer dudes who started a nonprofit raising awareness for mental health and are making serious waves in spreading the light. 

The teachers who are up late at night making crafts, grading papers and worrying about their students and still getting criticized every day. 

The friends who would go to the ends of the earth to help someone they barely know.

The business owner who is helping hundreds of people get out of debt and create a life of freedom. 

The elderly woman who is protesting because she knows one voice can make a difference. 

The mothers who take care of their babies, even if their babies are 6’2 with a mortgage and 3 kids. 

The eating disorder survivor who instead of hiding their story in shame, shares about it publicly in hopes to save a girl like their former self.  

The college student who volunteers their time at the nursing home, despite getting a bad rep as a drunk idiot by most of society. 

Sometimes their voices are faint. They are the light spreaders. They don’t seek attention. They don’t want praise. But they do good anyway. 

When you spend your time finding what is wrong with the world, all your time will be spent. 

It may seem hard to find them at times, but I promise you, the world is full of them. And it’s our responsibility to make their voices louder than the sounds of hatred, darkness and ridicule. 

The negative aspects of society won’t ever go away but there will always be those who are trying to do good anyway. 

Cheers to you- despite all the voices in your head that tell you otherwise- it’s worth it. You’re making a difference. Our world needs people like you. When you are tired, rest. But don’t forget that the world won’t change with force and hatred. It changes with light. Shine bright and keep doing good anyway. 

Social Media: When will it start to click?

Social media is weird. There is no ifs, ands or buts about it. Social media is transforming business, education, social interactions, relationships, mental health, etc. The list goes on. The amount of time that we spend daily on social media would make our ancestors turn over in their graves. #embarassing

This is coming from a travel obsessed blogger and online health and wellness coach. I use social media constantly because it is my job to. #girlboss But just because I am building my business through social media does not mean I can’t be aware of it’s numerous downfalls. Can you say hypocrite? I often feel like a hypocrite because I believe so deeply in deep human connection. I adore people  and experiences that are so fun and consuming you forget to check your phone. But I feel extremely grateful to have a business that is based on social media because I fully understand the nature of the beast. I can proudly own the fact that I need to snap a few shots of my healthy meal for my Instagram. I’m not scared to take a selfie- coming from a girl who used to HATE selfies. I also proudly have business hours and when it’s not that time- I’m not working. I’m the first friend to tell people to put down their phones and be present.

I just read a quote my friend posted (on social media of course) “I’m so pro-selfie. There are so many bigger problems in this world than girls who think they are pretty. One of those is girls who don’t think are pretty.” Selfies aren’t the problem- what we interpret from the selfies, travel photos or lovey dovey couple photos are. The problem is the inability to check ourselves when we are tempted to scroll aimlessly, pull out our phone at dinner or stalk that person who really has nothing to do with us.

Like anything in life, over-indulgence can be fatal. Abusing or feeding into mindless stalking and scrolling on the internet is harmful for our psyche and our brain power. I am tremendously intrigued by how social media affects mental health and I have already embarked on some research that will unfold in an exciting project in years to come– so keep your eyes peeled. But this isn’t from a researcher’s perspective- it’s from a highly empathetic, perceptive individual who happens to build a business on social media. I let creativity take over and this is what happened. I hope this serves as a reminder to you and to all of us.

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Beautiful girl, what are you looking for

How long can you scroll before something starts to click

Yes, that’s a filter- no she did not #wakeuplikethis

We all have bed head, ugly pj pants, and weird stuffed animals

But that couple that is so perfect #relationshipgoals

They’ve been fighting for months

They’re getting a divorce

That #fitspo girl is basing her worth of her likes and her body fat percentage

Those abs required 27 attempts, perfect lighting, posing, angles

He did the deadlifts just for that video and went home

Is that any way to live?

But is that everyone? Of course not. But how can you tell?

When will it start to click?

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#Relationshipgoals

 

If you’ve read my blog for a while you might remember when I first moved to Sydney and took myself out on a solo date for the first time. It’s one thing to eat alone at a quick cafe or food court style restaurant but going out to a proper restaurant with white table cloths and a fancy menu- that’s different.

I promised myself- no matter how long I’m with my boyfriend or married in the future, even when I have a big family of my own- I vow to take myself out to a nice meal on my own at least once a year.

26 flew by and I realized I didn’t keep this promise with myself. But then the Universe stepped in. On the last day of my 26th year and the first one of my 27th, I unintentionally took myself out for a nice brunch. I planned on having a Fluro Friday event here in Auckland but the weather didn’t cooperate. It was pouring rain and I had the cutest Uber driver from India who was a part of an organization called Know Thyself which holds meditation retreats all over the world. We chatted about meditation, eating healthy and how more people need to be connected to the way they are feeling. We had a great chat so I didn’t realize what the weather forecast was until I had already took said (expensive) Uber to the other side of town.

I knew that people probably wouldn’t show but I decided to grab a coffee at the cafe right by the beach and wait for the rain to pass. I walked up in my crazy Fluro get up- flower crown and all. At first I felt a surge of sadness and disappointment. I knew in Australia my One Wave Bondi tribe would have been there rain or shine. I missed my brunch besties, my family and my friends from home all at the same time. But in a split second I reminded myself of my gratitude journal. Five things, Susie. I ordered my coffee and pulled my journal out of my bag and the five things came rushing out so easily.

I smiled because this 27 year old woman wasn’t scared to sit at a posh brunch spot alone in an 80’s bomber jacket and flower crown with tons of business men in suits. Sure, I was disappointed by the rain but we rescheduled for next week and it allowed me to keep my pact of a solo date each year.

I felt deeply grateful for the courage, self worth and confidence I have developed over the years but especially in the past few years. I can’t put into words how important it is to be able to truly and deeply love your own company- just as much as  your closest relationships with others. Much like a close friendship or family bond– it doesn’t matter how long you’ve strayed away from the loving relationship with yourself, when you return to it, it feels easy, you pick up just where you left off and your heart instantly swells with love and joy.

As I sit here at this brunch place, I’m still here and writing this on notebook paper since I didn’t bring my laptop. The sun is now shining- of course. But that means I get to do my meditation on the beach and go for a nice long walk along the ocean. After I write this, of course.  This is also like returning to an old friend. A comfortable, familiar feeling. Time and time again– I am floored by the power of words in my life and the immense sense of rightness I feel as soon as I’m creating words of my own or reading the words of others.

I won’t sugar coat it, the last couple months in New Zealand have been the most difficult of my life, probably since Corey died in 2006. But life has a funny way of contradicting itself because these struggles have led me to a more gratitude, more self actualization and most importantly more clarity on just how strong of a human I can be.

After brunch I popped in my headphones because I got an email that my favorite podcast, The Melissa Ambrosini Show, released a new episode about relationship goals. As I started listening to this awesome couple talk about love and relationships, I laughed to myself because right now I am #relationshipgoals with my own damn self.

Don’t get me wrong I’m in an incredible relationship with I am so in love with my funny, charming, English gentlman-but luckily that doesn’t exclude having a kickass relationship with myself too.

Starting my 27th year, I am committed to keeping my #relationshipgoals with myself thriving. I implore you to do the same. Loving yourself is not about posting pictures in your undies on social media #selflove. Dude, if you can do that and you feel great doing it, more power to you-but much like beautiful couple photos don’t define what love is actually about, self love is so much deeper than being confident and proud of your body. Let your relationship with yourself evolve and change, give yourself the grace, patience and encouragement you give others and most of all- keep those promises you make to yourself- You’re going going to write that book, start that degree, say that thing, plan that trip, and take yourself on that date. I guarantee you won’t regret it. Now that’s what I call #relationshipgoals.

 

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But I don’t have time for that…A lesson on Gratitude

It’s easy to get caught up in life being too busy. Since going back to working full time for someone else here in New Zealand- something I haven’t done in a couple years my life has exploded with things I “have to do”. I am working with a very specific end goal in mind- my 10 week trip with my boyfriend all across America and Europe, showing each other our home countries and meeting each other’s families. This trip is so important to us and since the unexpected move to New Zealand came things haven’t gone as expected for us. But we are both willing to sacrifice now to make that trip everything we dreamed it would be.

 It’s easy when we are busy working, running a side hustle, cooking, cleaning, being there for our family and friends and trying to be somewhat social to forget about things that light us up. But just because you don’t have tons of free time doesn’t mean you can’t use the time you do have wisely.

“Oh, I’m so busy right now.” I don’t have time to go for a hike, go to yoga class, write a blog post, or meditate. Hold up. Those are actually my favorite things to do. What is the point of living if you don’t save time for your favorite things? That may mean you have to give up other time fillers that simply don’t light you up as much such as watching tv,  drinking every night of the weekend or attending social events simply because you “have to”.

Make a list of the things that you love to do. With the free time you do have, no matter if it’s 20 or 30 minutes this week, you still have some time for you. Realistically, almost all of us have that time daily.  Figure out how you can schedule in those magical moments. Use it as a reward for completing your work week or simply a celebration of life. There is nothing wrong with taking time out to fill yourself up. Mental health wise- it’s required and I find it’s our duty to ourselves to do the things we know make us the brightest version of us.

If you are traveling, short- term or long term this goes for your travels as well. Don’t feel as if you need to jam pack your days with all the tourist attractions and instafamous locations in that area. Do what you LOVE to do on vacation. If that’s laying by the pool, go for it. If it’s finding the best cup of coffee, scoping out every art museum or hiking to the tallest mountain- do it! Don’t feel pressured to do things you don’t want to do just because that’s what other people do in that country or destination.

Right now, I have to save all of my pennies. I’m working 6 and usually 7 days a week with my own business and my full-time job. But there is still some time for adventure. Definitely not as much as I like, but I find that when I stop focusing on everything I have to do, just make a list of the things I have to do and a list of the things that I want to do. I make sure that I cross off from both lists. This Sunday, that meant waking up, working for an hour, working out, going for a mini adventure that was right near the local grocery store we shop in New Zealand. It was a quick little nature trail that ended with quite an impressive waterfall. It probably took an hour and a half or two hours of our Sunday and then we went on to grocery shop, meal prep, clean and work a bit more.

During that time in nature, I cleared my head and I spent quality time with my favorite person. I got my body moving. We talked about gratitude and how much we had to be grateful for despite the fact that life hadn’t been happening as we expected. Earlier that morning I was crying, feeling anxious, overworked, stressed and I took the time out of my day to do the things that fill me up, and what do you know? I felt better. Something is better than nothing. I would like to be immersed  in nature, deep in the mountains hiking or frolicking at the beach for my entire weekend (well, really my entire life) but if that’s not in the cards, well, it’s time to find little ways to find that calm, joy and gratitude.

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This isn’t the longest blog post or the most in depth and inspiring. But I showed up. Because sometimes that’s all that life is about. Showing up when life is wonderful is easy but showing up when life is less than ideal, that’s the hard part. That’s what sets you apart as someone who lets life happen to them or someone who creates their own reality. I refuse to take a back seat. And when things aren’t going my way, instead of fighting it, I’m working on embracing it, controlling what I can control and accepting that if I can see it or not there is a purpose for this part of my journey.

Make a to-do list of your responsibilities but don’t forget to make a to-do list of the things that bring you joy. Something is better than nothing. Fill up your cup a little bit at a time and focus on being grateful for the beauty. Interrupt that anxiety and stress with gratitude, not just once in awhile. Daily. Don’t just think, “oh yeah, that’s a nice idea.” Put it into action.

This Sunday I’m grateful for:

  1. Finishing 8 weeks of my workout program today feeling super bendy & strong
  2. Casual pit stops at waterfalls before grocery shopping-NZ life
  3. My bf delivering me an awesome lunch from a cafe down the road & meal prepping for us for the week
  4. Booking another flight for our summer adventure solely with my coaching income
  5. Ended the night by seeing a shooting star!

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Focus on gratitude and the feeling grows and spreads. Focus on your worries and they’ll be the one to grow. What five things are you grateful for?  How will you fill up your cup this week so that your tank feels full? I write this because I needed this reminder so bad this week and with the support of my lover, a large dose of gratitude and nature time yesterday, I transformed my mindset. You can do it, too.

Should you move abroad?

 

This is probably the most common and repeated question I am asked. Should I study abroad? I was thinking about teaching overseas, what’s it like? What brought you to Thailand…Australia.. New Zealand?When I sense this reoccurring theme I think… blog post. That’s what happens when you’ve been blogging for this long. It’s easier to just get out all the advice in one fell swoop.

So… you’re thinking about teaching abroad? Dreaming of leaving your boring job behind to travel the world? Want to meet a sexy foreign man and never return? Be careful.. It can really happen! Trust me, I’m speaking from experience here.

So let’s go through some pros and the cons and what I believe you need to be ready for no matter where you go or why.

Pros

Your life becomes a “holiday”— When you move abroad everything feels shiny, new and exciting. You always feel like you are traveling because, well, you are. You feel excited to do ordinary and mundane things and every single day someone comments on your accent. You are an outsider, which to me makes life fresh and unusual. And I love that.

You see so much-– I always say the best way to see a country is to live there. 2 weeks in a country. Forget it. You don’t actually get a real feel for the culture, the people, the struggles, the local spots and the hidden gems. Should you still go if that’s all the time you have? Of course. But the best way to see a country/ area of the world is to just move there already. Stop thinking so much.

You never have to say “what if”— I have had so many older people tell me that they wished they did what I did when they were young. I promised myself I would never be someone who looked back and regretted getting settled down too fast– and I am definitely keeping that promise. I would rather give it a shot and hate it, then never try and just dream about it for the rest of my life.

You gain a newfound respect for your home– You start to love and appreciate home more than ever. You understand what a gift it is to have familiar faces and places. You savor every second with loved ones. You realize how privileged you were to grow up where you did. (in my case, anyway) and you are proud to represent your country-no matter where you roam.

You find out what you actually like– Traveling and living abroad teaches you to actually figure out what hobbies and interests light you up. You can’t travel and see the world while having 17 random hobbies you only do because of your group of friends. You probably can’t get your nails done every two weeks and buy all the latest trendy outfits, but if you’re like me you’ll realize that shit didn’t really make you happy anyway.

You don’t define yourself the same way– When you live in your hometown, home state or even your home country: you are constantly defined by constructs outside of yourself. Your family, your church or religion, your friends, your college, your favorite sports team, your gym or your state. Once you cross the borders, you have to define you. Everything about your past is just a story and a memory. People meet you at face value–who are you today? You can be whoever you want to be. Sure, you never lose those parts of yourself but you get to decide how closely you let them define you.

You realize it’s not the only way– This was one of the biggest things for me. The perspective. The cultural differences. It’s absolutely mind blowing at first. I remember when I first moved to Thailand I felt so sorry for the young children playing in the streets with no shoes. I could tell that they lived in the small area at the back of their parents shop and I felt like I wanted to adopt them and “save them.” I quickly realized they had every single thing they needed and they were as happy as clams. I stopped feeling sorry for them and started feeling sorry for the  4 year old kids, glued to their iPad in the back seat of the Range Rover with 4 nannies and a serious lack of attention and interaction with their parents.

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A note from someone left behind

Do you understand what losing someone to suicide is really like? Do you know what it’s like to be someone left behind? Do you think you have a better idea after watching the latest TV show? Well, I watched it. And my best friend killed herself when I was 15. Here’s my two cents.

The latest Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” was another show clogging up my social media newsfeed. Much like a viral funny video, a big news story or controversial celebrity gossip, you start to see it everywhere and it makes you quite curious. I am on social media constantly working my business so I tend to be on the up and up with trendy things in pop culture.

When I heard about the show, I googled it and saw the subject matter. At first I was surprised to see this subject matter as a mainstream Netflix series. I was intrigued. I am a mental health advocate. I’m part of a non-profit surf organization, One Wave,  which is raising awareness for mental health so I am very vocal about this difficult and often taboo subject matter. I lost my best friend to suicide in 2006 and grew up with my mother suffering from severe mental health issues. My family is also riddled with mental illness and I suffer from mental health issues myself. So, I may not be a psychologist or a doctor, but I have a lot of real-life first hand experience that I feel must be shared.

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What is it really like to have ADHD and anxiety?

Why are you thinking so much? Did you take your medicine?

You’re in a great mood, why are you worrying about that?

Why can’t you focus? Use some self control.. Come on.

But you really should be starting this now instead….after you send that email and check on that load of laundry. Oh look, you forgot about that you started yesterday. What should you really be doing right now?

It’s not that it won’t let you focus, it lets you focus on 75 things at once. That’s normal, right?

When you finally get that focus channeled, there is no stopping you. It may be hours dedicated to one task or project.

When you lose the passion and excitement for the task, it’s hard to recreate that type of focus.

When you don’t feel passionate about something, you will do it but it has some strange soul sucking quality to it. Don’t they feel that too?

When you feel nervous about the smallest thing, even though it has no relevance to the situation.

When your room or your house is a mess you literally feel sick to your stomach, and your eyes and brain are darting around the room endlessly.  If you just clean it you’ll feel better.

When you don’t want to have a plan, you’re a free spirit. But you need a plan. You need the steps to follow.  You’re nervous with one and you’re helpless without one.
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Make your bed= Change your life?

 So the burning question? Should you make your bed? JK.

Everyone is asking me…How is New Zealand?

I know you are picturing me in wide open grassy fields with picturesque mountains, huge sparkly lakes and perfect flowers in the foreground. Maybe bungee jumping, diving into caves or sipping wine in sunny vineyards? Quintessential adventure traveling in New Zeland. I wish that was the case but the nomad lifestyle isn’t always what Instagram portrays it to be. No matter how positive my attitude is the adjustment into a new country, culture, and lifestyle is never simple especially when you leave everything to sort out once you’ve already arrrived. Bank accounts, hours searching for apartments, flatshares, house shares, Air Bnb’s online and then viewing them only to be told they aren’t available for short term leases or you’re sharing the apartment with 6 other strangers. No wifi, finding new phone plans. This is not a rant or a complaining session, it’s simply a dose of reality because I want to help my readers to understand all aspects of the nomad lifestyle, even the not so sexy parts.


Luckily, my first week in New Zealand did start on a high note. My favorite nonprofit organization, One Wave celebrated it’s 4th birthday last Friday. If you haven’t read my blog before or you’re just stopping by One Wave is a non profit surf organization raising awareness for mental health by dressing up in Fluro gear every Friday and heading to the beach for surfing, yoga, and some serious heart to hearts about what it’s like to suffer from mental health struggles. This organization introduced me to the coolest humans and my closest friends in Australia and I was stoked when I found out for the 4th birthday they were celebrating at the a beach suburb in Auckland, Takapuna, which coincidentally was a 25 minute walk from our Air Bnb. I see you Universe, you beautiful thing.

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Harry experienced his first Fluro, I got to see my Fluro sista from Sydney who recently moved back to NZ, and we paddle boarded in the serene waters at Takapuna Beach. Nothing could make me feel more welcome than bringing my normal Friday tradition with me to my new home. Harry and I headed to the city for brunch and then entered into the life admin stage. Adulting sucks sometimes.

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Confessions of an Over Packer

How does packing for a weekend trip, long vacation, or even a move make you feel? Are you an organized planner? Do you do a little bit each day for a few weeks or do you save it to the last minute?

Every traveler has to deal with the task of packing up their suitcase or backpack for their journey ahead. I am notorious for being a last minute over packer. I analyze every situation that might happen and why I just have to have that extra maxi dress. Not only has packing up this time called into question my packing habits but it also makes me question my relationship with material things in general.

After watching the Minimalism documentary on Netflix I felt very inspired to try to cut down the amount of stuff in my life. I have lived abroad for almost three of the past four years post graduate school. I learned to live off of one suitcase or even a couple backpacks for year-long stints living abroad but I also have a walk in closet and a whole bedroom full of “stuff” waiting for me at my parent’s home in New York. When I came home from Australia for a visit after a year of living there I felt truly shocked and saddened by the amount of clothes I had just sitting there. In some ways it was really exciting because it was like going shopping in my own closet. There were so many things I forgot I even had but I still had a full suitcase full of stuff I had brought with me. What’s the constant need for new stuff?

I will never be a true minimalist. I like clothes. I like fashion. I think the way we present ourselves to the outside world is important. When I dress well, I feel good. I live a diverse lifestyle and have different wardrobes based on those roles I play. I have my “teacher” or professional clothes, my growing activewear collection and then my casual wardrobe. I struggle with this because I truly do believe in experiences over things. I would way rather buy a plane ticket than a designer hand bag. But when I am packing I realize that I am still part of this material world., I can’t decide how I feel about that. I have donated a lot of things but my ADHD and anxiety lead me to worry easily about freeing myself of too many things. What if I “need it”? I am sure many of you reading this can relate. How often do you ask yourself these types of questions? How often do you go shopping for new things that you “need”? How many things just sit in your closet untouched?

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Repacking My Life and My Blog

Never fear, my free form headspace articles have not been forgotten. As my blog has evolved over the past few years, I have felt the desire to do more with it. With daydreams of being a nomad,  I have watched countless webinars and read many blog posts on how to turn your blog into a profitable business. I already have my own coaching business which I began separately from my blog. I started my blog as my passion project, a way to communicate with my friends and family when I moved abroad to Thailand in 2013. I had NO IDEA what would come of it.

At the time, I was graduating with my MA from WVU in Secondary Education with a specialization in English. My BA was in English. Since I was a young child, I loved to write. I loved reading, creative writing, and creating entire fictional universes. I couldn’t understand why my classmates hated writing so much. If the assignment was one page I wrote three. I couldn’t fathom why it was so difficult for most people, but it just came so naturally to me.

Take a minute and think of your favorite teacher you’ve ever had. Every single one of us have “that teacher.” For me it was my 9th and 10th grade English teacher, Chapman. Chap. Chapstick (my personal favorite.) He is a living legend when it comes to teaching and he saw something in me I couldn’t yet see in myself. I am happy today to call him a friend and mentor to this day. In recent years and more stints living in foreign countries, I haven’t spoke to him as frequently as I would like but he will always be someone who I credit for my passion for English and especially writing. He made me believe I had something special, an actual talent. Mind you, both my parents were incredible teachers and my mother was a phenomenal English teacher whom I greatly admire,  but it’s really hard to believe your parents when they tell you you’re “special.” Mr. Chapman was that teacher for me and for that, I will always be grateful. I wanted to pursue this hobby because of him and I’m not sure where I would be without that spark to this deeply burning flame.

In high school, shortly after Chapman’s English class, my best friend tragically committed suicide. How on earth does a 15 year old cope with that pain? Partying. Check. Drugs. Check. Numbing the pain. Check. Writing. Check. Writing was my saving grace. I turned to this former hobby and past time as a form of therapy- an escape. This was really the only healthy coping tool I had at the time. I didn’t share much with others but finally I decided to share something I wrote for the one year anniversary of Corey’s death(which I shared again here for the piece I wrote about the 10th anniversary earlier this year.) I quickly realized that my words could help people. They could reach people. They might even be able to save people.  Then I thought they might be saving me.

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