Grief: It means something

Every year it’s hard to see October 30th on the calendar. I used to hate October in general. Last year, it was the 10th anniversary of losing my best friend Corey to suicide. Luckily, I created a small project which you can read about here and I felt very connected to all of those who loved her in planning this surprise.  I also had the opportunity to share her story at my One Wave Fluro Friday in Bondi and it was received with so much compassion and love. That really meant something.

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This year, I am in a brand new town and apartment in England with my wonderful partner. I’m working from home so I will probably spend most of the day on my own working. Luckily, I feel deeply connected to my work- helping others work on their health  mind-body-spirit. Giving women their confidence back. Helping people pay attention to their mental health, self care and internal voice more than ever before.  Every year the emotions I feel today surprise me. I try to let myself feel and work through them however I can. It hurts but I want to make it mean something.

I think of Corey every single day of my life. If you have lost a loved one close to you, I’m sure you understand that this is not an exaggeration. Grief is a roller coaster ride and even 11 years later I am very much still on the ride. But I have leaned into that grief. I have dealt with it in a variety of ways, healthy and unhealthy. Losing Corey was the single greatest catalyst for learning to use my writing as therapy. As a 15 year old, I didn’t know how to cope. I didn’t want to ask for help. I didn’t even really know how to fully express my thoughts and feelings (hell some adults still don’t.) But when I wrote, it made me feel better. When I wrote the pain wasn’t too much to bear. That is why today, I write because it means something.

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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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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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Single, Taken, Heartbreakin: Why we all need Self-Love

Valentine’s Day seems to be a day we obsess over being in love and more so being lonely. I have friends who hate Valentine’s day whether they are in a relationship or single. But love is so much more than the feeling that people share in a romantic partnership. How can you love yourself a little more today? Are you sick of hearing about self-love? Are you confused by what people even mean by that term? I don’t care if you’re married, divorced, or a baby right out of the womb- we all deserve our own affection, attention and adoration. Self-love is a necessary component to being fulfilled, challenged and whole. Ultimately, you loving yourself shapes a better world for all of us. What should you remember to ensure you’re practicing self-love today and everyday?

It’s not selfish– People are typically hesitant to take time for themselves. “I’m too busy.” We pour ourselves fully into our jobs, families, lovers and hobbies so that at the end of the day what is left over for us? Nada. It’s not selfish to put yourself first in fact, that is the only way to ensure you are the greatest lover, teacher, friend, daughter, mother, or  coworker possible. You cannot pour from an empty cup. The first step towards loving yourself fully is realizing it’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity.

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The 2016 Collection: Change 

Change


“When you focus on changing yourself for the better, everything around you gets better too. My goal is to continue to fight HARD to be the best me I can be. I am so happy with my life right now but that is a continual process not a finish line.”

“I tried to get a few friends to come with me but everyone was busy, instead of NOT going I decided just to go by myself.People are friendlier than you think, JUST GO FOR IT.”

“If you are brokenhearted by the “perfect guy” I promise you that is not your good guy. As hard as that might be to accept, in hindsight you will see it all too clearly. A good guy is not your whole life but he makes your heart feel whole. You will never forget the pain of true heartbreak but luckily it shapes you into an even better partner to your good guy.”

“Traveling and being an entrepreneur have both opened my eyes to following MY path even if it’s not the path I expected. “A #girlboss is someone who’s in charge of her own life. She gets what she wants because she works for it…You’re a fighter-you know when to throw punches and when to roll with them”

I am learning and growing and being pushed to better myself every single day. I am immersed in a world full of dreamers and it’s so much better on the other side.”

 “Because I believed that the best was yet to come… the best came and is still coming.”

“So whether you are having a shit week or an awesome one, the moments are fleeting and the impermanence of your circumstance is what makes life the unique, fragile and beautiful experience that it is. Carry love with you and spread it around whenever you can and I promise if you do that, when you need love, it will be there for you.”

“I don’t just wake up everyday feeling awesome and motivated and ready to take on the world. I found things that MAKE ME feel that way, like exercising first thing in the morning, yoga, reading personal development books, and listening to inspiring podcasts. I also am highly influenced by the company I keep so I have learned to find a solid, positive and supportive tribe wherever I wander. When I don’t do these things, I don’t feel as motivated. I know myself and I know when I don’t keep myself busy I get into trouble, which is why I have designed a life where I am entertained, challenged and engaged constantly.”

“If you are making the transition to a healthier lifestyle, just remember it does not have to be all or nothing. Deciding that you are going to change takes effort, practice, and a whole lot of self reflection and control. But if you find things that speak to your soul, if you find things that make you truly happy- do more of those and less of things that drag you down.”
“But make a decision to consciously seek things that light you up and when you find them LISTEN. I feel so free to live my life the way I please. I feel free to push myself towards my dreams and have a damn good time while I’m at it. Don’t waste time sticking yourself into categories or worrying about what other people think- let your true self come alive and keep feeding yourself things your soul likes (mine really likes donuts and blogging.)”

“The day I gave myself permission to evolve was the day I started living.”

The 2016 Collection: Pain

This week I’m going to hit you with all 7 themes I collected from reading & reflecting on my 2016 blog posts. All excerpts are from past blogs.  Before we move on and chase new horizons, it’s important to acknowledge all we have learned on the current journey.  Hope you enjoy the look back… I know I sure did 

Pain


“I grew up with sadness. It shaped me into myself. I didn’t hide from my pain. Sometimes I definitely drank through it.”

“Today, if you meet me or when you look at me, you DO see a girl who “looks so happy” and for the first time in a very long time, I can say I genuinely am. Losing Corey at such a young age and fighting for myself in the sadness afterwards made me into this person who is not afraid to take chances. I learned my lesson quickly and painfully that our time is so limited and we must explore, absorb and cherish the world around us every single day. So many people don’t have the capability to follow their dreams due to a plethora of reasons, but I am so fortunate that I am capable, supported, willing and EAGER to live a life that matters. For such a seemingly happy person, it feels strange to have such a strong tie to death, sadness, grief and despair, but I refuse to be silent about things that matter. I am here to tell you and to show you that there is HOPE no matter what situation you are in, things will always change and things can always get better. Don’t shy away from how you feel. Don’t forget WHAT YOU FELT.”

” ‘Storms make trees make deeper roots’ Struggles give us a deeper connection to the world around us and to ourselves and successful people become unstoppable when they learn to mold that struggle into a message.”

“The more I learn about people the more I learn about myself. The more I realize how important it is to be vocal about things that hurt us. I genuinely believe on focusing on the positive aspects of every situation but not in a manner that discounts the pain. Pain and hard times are real and important. They teach us a lot about life and about others. Pain, like joy, goes away quickly…”

“What is meant for you never passes you by. Respond to life with courage, compassion and a dose of honesty. It’s refreshing for you and everyone that crosses your path. We all feel pain in different degrees and at different stages of our lives. Pain is powerful. Pain is real. Pain is not something we can avoid but we can construct what we do with it. The choice is yours. I choose to use my pain for you and for me. I choose to paint my pain in words like watercolors on a canvas hoping that slowly the colors bleed into something beautiful, meaningful and worth keeping. The pain isn’t worth keeping but the stories are. Remember that next time you start to worry, respond to life with action and transform the pain into passion.”

“We need to realize that everyone struggles, cries, eats a whole tub of ice cream for dinner (that can’t just be me) but we also need to recognize that we live in a world where so many women are still voiceless. We need to be the voice of reason, respect, and dignity for those women who live in places where they don’t receive any of that. We need to be women who our husbands are proud to call theirs, and our children and grandchildren will be proud of our legacy long after we are gone. We need to think about what we send out into the universe, what we represent and how we make others feel. We need to realize that being all of these things, does not mean we need to hide our flaws, shortcomings and imperfections. We need flaws to be. We need to constantly question who we are, where we are going, and what impact we want to leave on the world.”

“Right now, I feel vulnerable in pretty much every area of my life, but I refuse to lose my capacity to feel that. I refuse to wait until the storm has passed to find the rainbow. I truly believe that the ability to take risks is a double edged sword. When you risk it all, you also risk things not turning out the way you expected. It’s scary. It’s painful. But, fortunately, when you focus on all the abundance still overflowing in your life, the tides will turn and you wash ashore.”

My Space

As I sit and stare at the Opera House on a sunny Thursday afternoon in Sydney, my mind is taken to so many different places and spaces. I want to live in this moment again and again. I’m not sure how …

And then my laptop died. To me, a sign from the Universe to drink in that moment and write about it later. Remembering it now, it still feels like just as sweet of a space.  

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I feel as if I am neglecting my words like the VCR that slowly got replaced by the DVD player or the walkman that got tossed aside for the iPod. But every time I turn to them again it feels like an old, familiar, and comforting friend. My words are the ratty t-shirt you wear to sleep that has a hole and some permanent stains but still feels just right. Even when things steal my attention (Facebook Live) or make it difficult for me to write (broken laptop) I still know in my heart this is my purest form of expression, therapy, joy and creation. My words are my space. 

So here I am, on a Sunday night, with my ever looming to-do list and my stack of ungraded papers. My apartment is clean, my workout is complete and my inbox is empty- all of which give me great satisfaction. But my words are still looming waiting to form and reflect. My words still give me the deepest satisfaction I can ask for and that’s how I know they are my truth and my space.

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But you’re always happy..

 

There is something that happens when you begin to share your journey on a large scale with an audience whether it be through a blog, social media, Youtube, or any other online platforms. When we open up and become vulnerable with our past hardships and struggles and how we overcame them, we have a chance to sugar coat the story with hindsight, distance and almost a narrator’s perspective. Even when we share the pain, it tends to sound beautiful and meaningful.  Part of being a powerful voice and sharing your life to inspire others is the fine line of how to be open with present struggles and difficult times in your life without encroaching on your own clarity, experience or privacy.

Social media, for even the most vulnerable and open people, is meant to be a highlight reel. We get to choose what we share and what we don’t. “But you’re always happy.” False. I show you my optimistic positive self because that is who I aim to be but that does not mean I’m happy 24/7. It is extremely unattractive for people to complain and vent negatively on their social media. It is sad to see people’s private lives and matters thrown all over media outlets or Facebook and Instagram. Luckily, with the gift of creativity and inspiration, we slowly learn what pulls on our heart to share and what we know is too fragile or too personal.

I try to be an open book. It’s how I am in person and basically the only way I know how to be. I can’t lie- I feel as if I have been cheating on my writing. Ever since I have started using Facebook Live consistently to speak about topics weighing on my mind and answering questions from clients, friends or my social media circle- I’ve found it hard to write my weekly headspace. No matter who you are, how inspired you feel, how many podcasts and self-help books you are reading- we all run out of material. I read a great blog post from a friend of mine reminding me of this right when I needed to hear it. So, I feel compelled to write this.

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