Getting Back on the Wagon

I am announcing this secret to the world again: There is NO WAGON.

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I made a post on Instagram about this and I got a lot of feedback so I just did an IGTV about it too! Why not throw in a blog post? In my post and my IGTV, I was relating this to fitness. This time of year Halloween- New Years people throw a giant blanket of excuses called “the holidays.” I can eat that… it’s the holidays. I don’t have to workout … it’s the holidays. I can drink five days a week…it’s the holidays. I don’t need to save money… it’s the holidays. And come January every decides they need to get back on that healthy wagon. But my secret is THERE IS NO WAGON. There is no wagon for health and fitness and there is no wagon for life. Ebbs and flows are natural. Last year around this time I wrote a blog about the concept of tilting, and told you that balance doesn’t really exist.

I am still singing the same tune. This concept is not to make excuses for poor choices around the holidays, but because being at peace with a life that is not linear is the most liberating gift you can give yourself this holiday season. Ups and downs are inevitable. Weight fluctuation is inevitable. You can’t go too far one way or the other without paying the consequences but veering off course a little bit each way is acceptable, normal, and just HUMAN for goodness sake. Instead of relating it all to health and fitness, I’ll show you an example of there being NO WAGON when it comes to your creative pursuits (in my case, my blog but for you it may be song writing, painting, jewelry making, or pole dancing.)

Every year since I have started my blog in 2013, I have started the next year thinking “This year is the YEAR! I am going to become and A+ blogger, I’ll write a blog at least once a week, reformat my website, include vlogs, master Pinterest, learn SEOs and knock it out of the park!” I’m reminded every year that: 

  1. That’s not why I started my blog
  2. I don’t do well with pressure, self inflicted or not
  3. I have a successful coaching business & my blog hasn’t ever been used to make me money..AND it doesn’t have to be
  4. It’s really hard to write soulfully every week on top of the other content I produce for my social media platforms
  5. My blog= my rules.

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New Year, New You: Balance is a lie  

Some days I amaze myself, other days I eat hummus with a spoon and no pants. It’s all about that balance, right?

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Wrong. What if I told you balance is a lie. It’s a false ideology that you are never going to achieve and actually may cause you more heartache than inspiration. Well, that’s dramatic. But parts of it really ring true so let me help you shift your perspective a bit.

I wrote this blog post last night and I woke up early sat on my couch with my essential oils and my crystals and pressed play on the Calm app for my meditation as I do almost every morning. Each day has a theme and today’s was “Sharpening your Saw” I always wrack my brain for what it could mean  and then it’s always better than I expected. Oddly enough(you’ll laugh when you read the rest of this blog) the meditation was about balance. But the sharpening of the saw analogy is one I must share.

A woodcutter who was very busy cutting wood started with a very sharp saw. The more he cuts the more dull the blade becomes and the less efficient he is cutting wood. But he worries about stopping the process to sharpen the blade because he already has so much cutting to do. Little does he know stopping will actually maximize his efficiency and improve the process overall. She equated this to our self care practices. Often times we believe we don’t have time to exercise, meditate, go for walks or take a nice bubble bath. But stopping to “sharpen our saw” doesn’t waste time, it in fact allows us to have more energy for all our other responsibilities and relationships. It might seem like you are using your energy selfishly for self-care but truly it is the most beneficial thing we can tilt our time and energy into. Listening to this was eye-opening and reinforced the concept I am about to share with you.

About a year ago I read an article, by my beautiful and talented friend  Hollie, about tilting. I understood this concept for myself but I never knew it had a name. Hollie explained, “Tilting prioritises making choices each day depending on what is going on in that moment.”

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WCW: Laura Oxley

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! December’s WCW is a special traveling sista. The Women Crush Wednesday hashtag and social media trend is nothing new. But I am trying to reclaim that title not just for half naked celebrities or women you actually know nothing about. The women I crush over are using their womenhood, their voice and their passions to make our world brighter. I have some incredible women in my life so I am honored to share them with you. I hope you find them as inspiring as I do.

Meet Laura

Montreal

The crazy part is…I met Laura online in a travel group and reached out to her for some advice about New Zealand. Remember when I told you to meet strangers online.. I meant it. She quickly became one of the most helpful online pals I’ve ever met! She was so thorough and genuinely wanted to help me enjoy my time in Auckland. I was and still am very grateful. She ended up being Canadian but she moving to the U.K. so we kept in contact and are still in the process of meeting IRL. She interviewed me for her blog and I feel as if I’ve gotten to know her so well through her blog, her social media presence and bonding over expat struggles.  I’m so grateful I met you Laura and I can’t fricken wait to meet up IRL soon!! I’ll let her take it from here– just by her answers it’s clear to see why I like her so much!

  1. What do you think makes a woman worth “crushing” over?

Confidence. Someone who knows who she is and really doesn’t give a Sh*t what people think about that (one way or another). I think society makes it hard for women (and men too) to be who they really want to be without the stigma of “is that what the norm is?”. So I have so much respect for women who are so unapologetically themselves in every situation.

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The No BS Truth about Following your Dreams

“Every quest begins with a question– what did I come here to do with my life?”

Listening to Oprah’s podcast this morning featuring one of my greatest inspirations in my writing career, Elizabeth Gilbert, I was brought to tears. At  8 o’clock in the morning. In the middle of my workout. In my apartment by myself. Why are you crying Susie? It’s not even that time of the month. She discussed finding your calling in life. We all have this question spring up. Luckily, we live in a time in our society and world that we have the ability(especially as women)to follow our calling in a way that wasn’t feasible before. But it can’t be depicted as rainbows and butterflies, flashy aesthetically pleasing Instagram feeds and comped trips around the world. Following your dreams may look like that– but that is not the whole true story.

Follow your dreams, quit your 9-5, travel the world and all will be right in the world. No. The part that we don’t want to talk about following your dreams is that is hurts. It is a lot of work. You question yourself every single day. You question your worth. You cry a lot. You question your capabilities. You feel like you want to give up and retreat to safety and comfort– a “normal life.” You would rather watch Netflix and chill. Sometimes you definitely do watch Netflix and chill. You have to learn to rewrite your internal dialogue and be your own biggest fan. You have to seek self improvement, keep yourself motivated, organized and inspired. You have to do all of that and you have to LIKE IT– because you’re lucky. You’re following your dreams for goodness sake.

Why doesn’t everyone get started then? I’ll chase my dreams when I have enough money. I’ll do it when I have more time. I’ll do it once my kids grow up or I pay off my loans or I figure out what my dream really is. I don’t have anything I’m that passionate about. I’m happy doing what I do.. For now.

My dream since I was a young girl was to be a writer. I wanted it from deep within my bones. I wrote stories for fun at and age most kids couldn’t construct a paragraph. I didn’t understand why anyone would complain about an essay assignment. At one point I wanted it so badly, I decided I would be a teacher, and then become a professor and THEN I could publish my book. Once I had some street cred. I wanted to be a writer so I felt like I would just take those traditional steps, ones that felt comfortable and logical in my academic family. I wanted it so I knew I would do what it took.

Once my best friend Corey committed suicide when I was 16 years old my world turned upside down and I decided that would be my first book. A story honoring her life and her story. I started writing it then and I still haven’t finished. But I know that I will. I often wonder why I haven’t yet.

But I didn’t ever lose sight of this dream. It is real to me. It’s not a far fetched thing. It exists in my future. But I can’t say it was always at the forefront of my actions. I felt called to write but I didn’t always do it. I had the calling– but I didn’t always listen and hear it.

And then, I started my blog. I realized that I didn’t have to write a 10 page research paper with cited references and quotations to write. I realized I didn’t have to write the perfect young adult novel to get my words out there.  I realized that my voice and my words were relevant. They were important. I realized that the only way to be a writer is to write. And once I started to share what I wrote about my travels, I realized that other people cared what I was writing. They liked it and they thought I was kinda talented.

I knew this, but I didn’t own it. I questioned it. I was frightened to step into my truth and be a creator not a consumer. I was frightened that no one would care. But finally, I realized that I didn’t need them to care. I love that people respond to my work and my words. I love motivating and inspiring others. But I don’t need them to love what I write because I love it. I feel as if it is my calling to construct words, poems, blog posts, content, and novels. I don’t feel like it is an option– and I do it for free. I would continue to do it for free forever.

I also have gone down the path of becoming an entrepreneur… starting a business that is based predominantly on social media marketing and creating content. I still followed the traditional path and got my BA in English and my MA in Secondary Education. I taught for 3.5 years but I decided to do it in Thailand and Australia. On the side I started my blog– for fun and I also started my business– as a hobby. Through it all, I have been given the chance to use my calling– and I listened. You don’t have to have a blog to do what I do. I often put my words on the back burner because I need to complete my MIT’s(most important tasks) for the day. But now I realize that I have an even bigger chance to use my calling for impact, creativity and  information. Why wouldn’t I?  

That’s why I’m here writing this today.  I do it because I love it. It’s where life makes the most sense and I experience true flow. I could write for hours and never get bored.

That is how I know that this is my calling. That is why I was crying in my living room listening to this podcast at 8am because you can hear the same message 100 times but it is up to you to HEAR it. It’s up to you to HEAR your calling from inside and to act upon it. And it will not be easy but that’s not what you have to focus on.

As I was writing this– an Amazon delivery arrived at my house(weird, that never happens) and I received a book I’ve been wanting to read for ages. The Universe Has Your Back. How ironic. I began to read the introduction before I finished this. This line nearly had me in tears again, “You may be doing all you can to create freedom, connect to flow, and release your fear-based habits, but it’s likely that the moment you feel some sense of relief, you’re blindsided by the shadow of fear that dwells below the surface.” Touche Universe, I hear you.

For everyone following your dreams and pursuing your calling- either as a career or as a hobby.. I see you. I feel you. I applaud you. Turning your passion into your career isn’t just a catchy motivational quote on Instagram. It is a recipe for magic. It is painful. Don’t negate the emotional rollercoaster you have to endure. Don’t pretend it’s all rainbows and butterflies.

If you are following your dreams or if you need that extra nudge- I hope I can encourage you to pursue your calling, listen & hear your true purpose and then ACT upon it. Imagine the vision of your life.

And then level up– evolve and transform until your life matches that vision.

The essence of who you are should be personified in what you create and if it’s not– keep creating.

Summon that abundance into your life by taking ACTION.

To be a writer, you have to write.

Here I am showing up for you, not with the answers but with the question– what did you come here to do with your life?

I came here to write so that’s what I’ll do. I’m so grateful that you come along. Let’s use this beautiful day as a moment to pause- listen & hear and then take action. Because, you beautiful creature, the Universe definitely has your back.

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Offline is the new luxury: Why you should stop blogging

I’ve come back to my blog after 2 glorious months away traveling. I’ve been to 7 countries, rode quad bikes all over the island of Santorini, drank sangria and hiked along the Costa Brava in Spain, took a boat cruise through the canals of Amsterdam, drank cocktails on rooftops in NYC, got lost in the endless streets of mansions in New Orleans, explored old quaint villages in England,  met my boyfriend’s family and friends had him meet mine and didn’t blog about one second of it.

But all of that material and content. Those photos must be amazing. Those are spots a lot of people would love to have some tips for. That is like a blogger’s heaven.

A funny thing happened to me on the course of this trip. One that I’ve talked about before and continues to tug aggressively at my heartstrings. I realized even more deeply that offline is now our greatest luxury. I think it is far more tantalizing for someone to hop over to the Maldives and not plaster it on their Insta story, Live Youtube channel and have 4 blog posts written before they even leave. Oh yeah, I’ve been to Barcelona this summer too! But I couldn’t tell from your social account… But Susie, it’s your JOB.

It is my job. But it is also my job to question my satisfaction constantly. It’s my job to color outside the lines. Just because you start building an online business doesn’t mean you should all of sudden be blind to the strong emotional and psychological ties we all are forming to our individual devices and technology as a whole. I can’t pretend I don’t feel it. I can’t pretend that I don’t see it changing our world, our youth and our relationships. As usual, when I feel something I can’t keep my mouth shut about it.

My heart and soul seriously struggles with the fact that as an online business owner it is my job to stay connected. It is my job to constantly share, create content, engage my audience, come up with clever captions, content, free resources and recipes and basically rewrite and translate the Bible (on Facebook live) while traveling in a foreign land–not to mention 365 days a year. When you start out with your own business, you don’t have someone to do it for you. And consistency is key if you want the algorithm to work in your favor. You’ll lose followers. You have to remain relevant. This doesn’t feel like freedom to me.

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What to Pack For Bali: Confessions of an Over packer Part 2

Before I moved away from Australia I wrote about how I am a habitual over packer. I think this is a general trait for most women I know- at least the ones I’m friends with. When I left Australia it was in a serious hurry because my boyfriend and I had 28 days to leave.( If you don’t know what I’m talking about here’s the story

We planned a holiday to Bali and knew that we were moving to New Zealand right after and in a few short months (now days away) embarking on our epic summer travels across American and Europe to meet each other’s families, celebrate big events and have some new adventures. So I had to pack for every season, polar opposite climates, fancy events, active wear (duh), work clothes and somehow not forget my English sidekick either. Let’s just say it was no easy feat.

While in Bali I knew I would not need half of what I brought but we had to bring the 25 kilo (overweight) suitcases and lug them everywhere like total amateurs because of our circumstance. It’s not everyday a couple gets deported. Once we were in Bali this post came to me. I wanted to document what I actually used-honestly. Sure, I can give you a list of what I think you SHOULD pack. But, from one over packer to another- I gotta be real. This is what I packed and actually ended up wearing on my trip.

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Is Bali Overrated?

Bali is one of the most magical places I have ever been. Overrated?? Absolutely NOT. I would visit there 100 times. I hope to live there long term at some point in my wild ride of a life. I’ve been promising this Bali blog since March and I currently have about four friends waiting from advice from me. So- I think it’s time. Here is my ultimate advice on Bali- what do, where to stay, what to eat, etc.

I’ve been twice. The first time with three American single girlfriends and myself (at the time also single)  and the second time with my partner. Needless to say the trips were very different but the magic about Bali was the same. You want to talk about vibes- Bali has the best vibes of any place I have ever experienced. It feels like the energy levels are sky high and you’re floating in a dream. I’ll write this with the thought that you haven’t already visited South East Asia so some things might be what you already know.

Airport: Stay somewhere where the airport shuttle is included. The nicer hotels are cheap enough that you can stay there for the first few nights (or the whole time depending on your budget) and save yourself the hassle of getting ripped off by the taxi drivers. They will be waiting for you at the airport with a sign and it just eliminates initial culture shock.

Taxis: Speaking of taxis, this is one of the worst parts about Bali. The incessant hounding for people to give you a taxi or motorbike ride or tour. This is an amazing way to see a lot in one day- we did it. But you have to make sure it’s someone you trust. Shop around and BARTER. Do not just pay the first amount they say- even if it seems cheap when you convert it. Your safest bet is using Blue Bird taxis and making sure they have the meter on. Some taxis pretend to be Blue Bird and even have a fake similar logo but you can spot the real from the fake. By far the cheapest  route is to rent a motorbike- but just make sure you take photos of it before so they don’t try to charge you for damages and that you are confident driving in the crazy Bali traffic.

Places to go:

Canggu– This is an up and coming area! I think in a few years it will be much more crowded- so get there now. It’s really peaceful and relaxed and there is a beach close by(which is good for surfing I don’t surf but my boyfriend enjoyed it.) The variety of restaurants is amazing and lots of fun nightlife. The town is mixed right in with rice fields and you don’t feel like you’re overrun by tourists but there are still people about. I would recommend 4 nights in Canggu or longer if you aim is to chill out and have a more relaxed Bali vacation.

Accommodation: We stayed at The Apartments at Canggu- highly recommend. We had our own private villa and pool. Very clean and helpful staff. Great location.

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Food & Nightlife: Nalu Bowls, Crate Cafe (MUST GO) , Finn’s Beach Club

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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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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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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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