WCW: Hannah Fitzpatrick

April and May have been CRAZY for me! Tons of travel, a new VISA for England(YAY, finally), and two weeks in Hawaii! The list goes on. Without further ado… here is my belated April #WCW. 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 Hannah.

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Hannah and I met back in highschool in Upstate New York. I’m not even sure where? Maybe a field party. (LOL) But we always got along great and as we grew up realized we shared a common love for traveling. We had the chance to meet up when she came to visit me while I was living in Thailand and she was traveling through. We made so many memories that trip and realized how much our traveling, writer hearts had in common. I have watched her transition through many life milestones from afar (thanks social media) and always marvel at her ability to seem so incredibly present and grateful for the little things. I’ll let her take it from here.

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

I think any woman that is working to better herself is worth crushing over. Generally speaking, as a culture, we are all too quick to judge others. Even if it’s unintentional, sometimes we look at other females and whether it be out of jealousy or self righteousness, we think we’re somehow doing better. But at the end of the day, we all have struggles and I think every single woman that sets goals, small or large, and inspires other to do the same is worth crushing over.

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WCW: Hollie Azzopardi

WCW Series: Hollie Azzopardi 

I am bursting with joy to announce my new blog series- Women Crush Wednesday. Every month I am going to feature a woman who I know personally who inspires me and lights up my world. 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 Hollie.

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She came into my life by pure chance when I made a desperate semi-joking Facebook status when I moved to Sydney and needed to make friends. A mutual friend (she only met because she stayed in his place as an Air BnB) digitally introduced us and Hollie instantly was super welcoming and friendly as a native Sydneysider. We connected with our mutual passion for health and wellness. It took us a while to meet in real life but once we did it felt like we’d known each other for years.

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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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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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How to Stay Fit on the Road

 

Are you passionate about traveling and living a healthy lifestyle? Maybe you aren’t necessarily passionate about healthy living but you know you need it. That’s okay too. When traveling for work, play or anything in between- it tends be to struggle to get workouts in and eat healthy. Many friends of mine complain that they often gain lots of weight when they are traveling and come home feeling bloated, run down and exhausted. Alcohol is often a part of traveling to new places and indulging in the local cuisine so how can you enjoy your trip and still stick to the healthy habits you’ve been working so hard to create?

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First and foremost, like anything else in life-it  starts with the belief that you can in fact do it. If you write off every single weekend trip, vacation and work trip before you even start of course you aren’t going to follow through once you are on the road. If it is important to you, you need to believe that it’s possible(because I promise you it is), plan ahead and accept progress not perfection.

In 12 days my boyfriend and I are packing up our lives here in Australia(maybe we should have already started) and heading to Bali for a holiday. If you follow my blog or social media you know that we aren’t leaving by choice but due to visa complications. We have nicknamed Bali our “deported holiday”  and then we intend to move to New Zealand on a working holiday visa until we can sort out a new visa to come back to Australia.

My boyfriend and I are both very passionate about health and fitness and have spent the past year really making it a lifestyle and not a vicious cycle of backwards and forwards! Both of us have been working extremely hard on our nutrition and our training and it’s a bit intimidating to head out into the unknown.

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Luckily, I know what to do. I have the belief I can do it. I have the tools to stay on track. I have a loving relationship with my body, food and adventure. I will never miss out on life for the sake of 3% body fat or a few pounds. I actually have no idea how much I weigh and I don’t care. I don’t expect perfection but I know I want to feel strong, healthy and happy when our vacation is over.

I care about treating my body well, nourishing it with quality foods and treating it sometimes too because let’s be real, I love food. Going backwards or stopping all together on my fitness journey is something I did FOR YEARS. I backpacked through South East Asia and Australia in 2014 and I definitely got off track and ended my trips feeling really shitty. The crazy part is I was still implementing some of these and didn’t even give up completely. But not this time. I’m going to share my plan and my tips so that you can take on your next adventure with the right attitude and not feel like you missed out on a thing.

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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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What happens when you unexpectedly have to change your entire life?

 

28 days…My boyfriend and I walked out of the hearing room and looked at each other with half relief, half sadness, and a tiny bit of sparkle in our eyes. After a series of unfortunate events and being deceived by his previous employer we knew that his 457 sponsorship visa to stay in Australia was not going to go through. We applied in April of 2016 so basically half of our relationship we have been waiting for the outcome of this visa. We prepared ourselves for them saying we had to leave but actually knowing you have 28 days to leave the entire little life you built together behind is quite terrifying once you receive the email of doom.

Instead of dwelling on the logistics, like the apartment we need to sublet, the furniture we need to sell, jobs we have to resign from, accounts we have to close, flights we need to book, (OMG, my to do list is endless right now) I’m taking a different approach this time. Usually, I would freak out- cry, let my anxiety get all out of whack and take control, be a moody brat to my boyfriend, feel sorry for myself, but this time, I decided to take control. Here is my video announcement of the news.

After announcing our news and getting an outpouring of love and support I couldn’t help but feel grateful. Many people were impressed with how positive I was being. People even expressed confusion by my positivity. How? How can you stay so positive?

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Should you stop drinking for 30 days?

Dry January has become a pretty trendy health kick in the past few years. For the second year in a row my boyfriend and I decided to give it a try. Being an expat away from your family on the holidays usually calls for an excess amount of alcohol and parties to make up for it. Okay, let’s be real, being a millennial on planet earth usually calls for an excess amount of alcohol and parties. This year I definitely kept it in check much better than previous holiday binge months, but I still woke up on December 31st feeling ready to get back to my healthy ways. If you don’t have time to read this or you want some more details from my experience check out my vlog about this topic here.

Have you ever tried Dry January? What about giving up alcohol on purpose for an extended period of time? If you think.. “I don’t need to do that” or “I could never do that” then those are two warning signs you definitely do. Here’s a closer look at my experience and why you should give it a try.

Physical benefits– Personally I experienced much clearer skin, an increase in energy, a huge improvement in my sleeping pattern, more strength to push myself in my workouts and what I assume was some weight loss (I don’t have a scale.) When you aren’t drinking and hungover you can keep up with your fitness and nutrition goals much easier.  I don’t know about you but I’m not signing up for yoga class and eating a kale salad if I was out until 1 am drinking tequila. I’m not saying 30 days without alcohol will do all this for you but all of these benefits have been agreed upon by most who have given up alcohol for an extended period of time. You definitely aren’t hurting yourself physically.

Mental benefits– As someone who suffers from anxiety and ADHD, when I am hungover my anxiety and ADHD skyrocket. I feel guilty and nervous about the fact that I can’t complete my to do list, household chores and sometimes even get out of bed. 30 days without alcohol left me feeling like a much less scatterbrained version of myself. I felt very  positive and motivated and didn’t feel the “brain fog” that you often experience after a big night on the town. I feel like my thoughts quickly sharpened and I was better at making decisions.

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How to not give up this time.. even if you already did

Do you feel frustrated with yourself? Maybe you already broke your “resolution” for the new year or you “gave in” to Netflix and wine instead of what you thought you should be doing. Maybe you didn’t write down any goals but you still feel “the same” and you can’t figure out why? Or did you go in full force and now you feel like you failed because you’ve already skipped the gym for a couple days? Did you succumb to the persuasive power of Ben and Jerry again? Now is the time most people are quitting when the shiny glow of the new year starts to fade. How do you make yourself part of the group that didn’t give up this time…even if you already did?

STOP RIGHT THERE! Take a deep breath.

The new year is an awesome time to start chasing after new goals but the amazing part is, we get a clean slate everyday. You have the power to rewrite your story, every single day. The question is will you let yourself? Are you hiding behind fear? Let’s get to the bottom of this so you can figure out how not to give up this time.

Celebrate progress– Progress comes in many forms- small and large. Saying no to cookies in the staff room or choosing to take a deep breath instead of lose it on your partner- that’s progress. Even if it’s one time! Find something that you feel like was a success everyday and start building on that.

Acknowledge your power- When we give up on our goals we try to place blame on everything around us. I’m too busy, I’m just not good at eating healthy, I have no willpower. How many times can you feed yourself excuses before you begin to acknowledge that that is exactly what they are. Lying is awful and when you lie to yourself, you’re wasting everyone’s time and energy especially your own. YOU HAVE THE POWER. You always have. Act like it.

Try new things– If the same gym membership and Lean Cuisine diet isn’t doing it for you and it hasn’t for the past five years, why do you keep thinking this time will be different? If you want different results DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT. Don’t just say, “Yeah, that would be nice.” “Someday.” DO it now, for goodness sake. If you hate it, then at least you tried!

Non-food rewards– You are not a dog. You do a trick, you get a treat? Come on. Even if you LOVE food (trust me- so do I) try rewarding yourself with things other than food. Manicures, facials, massages, a bubble bath, new workout gear, or a Groupon for a fun and active date night.  Branch out. Stop saying okay, I ran 3 miles now I shall eat my body weight in pizza. You are not a pet, don’t treat yourself like one.

Allow yourself to quit– What? This sounds silly. No, it’s not. If you sign up for Crossfit and you end up HATING Crossfit, do yourself a favor and find something you do like. Human beings were born to MOVE, so I promise you there is something that will feel good for your body. Don’t see exercise as a punishment but as a gift and blessing.

Find your tribe– MAN. I don’t know how many times I can say this. Find people who motivate you. Find people who don’t sit around on the couch every night. Find people who want to plan the trip, take the class, run the race, start the business. Fire breeds fire. Find people who make you HOT!

Ask for help– You don’t have to do ANYTHING alone. If you are struggling with mental health issues, see a doctor. If you are struggling with your relationship- ask a friend or someone you trust for advice. If you can’t get your diet and exercise under control SEEK HELP! There are experts in every area of your life you want to improve and you’re probably already friends with them. It doesn’t have to be paid advice or programs, just seek out what you need and be open minded!
Be flexible– You should NEVER be so set in your ways that you hinder yourself from finding and creating the life of your dreams. This goes along with trying new things, allowing yourself to quit and asking for help. Be flexible. ALLOW yourself to grow. Don’t feel like you MUST do what you have always done. It’s so incredibly sexy and fulfilling to better yourself. HOP ON BOARD.

Continual Forgiveness– Alright, you messed up? Welcome to the club. Seriously, it will never be an uphill progression. It’s a roller coaster. Be kind to yourself. I don’t like to say be “easy” on yourself because that leaves  a lot of room for excuses. Be kind but firm. Alright, beauty you messed up- let’s do better tomorrow. YOU GOT THIS.

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The 2016 Collection: Travel

Travel

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“My biggest takeaway from all of my adventures living abroad in two radically different countries and returning back home to America in between, has been that the world is an absolutely captivating and magical place, if you allow it to be. Being open minded is the key to happiness, success, relationships and quite honestly, life.  I truly believe that for the most part people are their own worst enemies and let their fears hold them back from the life they deserve.”

“Traveling has forced me to be okay with not being in control(which if you know me was a VERY hard lesson for me to learn.) Traveling has forced me to see how taking risks is worth the reward. Traveling has forced me to savor the moments as they pass because you may only have a few nights with these new friends who you feel like you’ve known a lifetime. Traveling has made me realize that you don’t need a lot of money to travel you need a lot of GUTS. You need a lot of resilience. You need the willingness to get out of your OWN way and take some risks.”

“You have to be open minded in your approach to your traveling or you could circle the whole globe and not change a thing.”

“You are someone who decides that the desire to see the world is stronger than any other guiding factor.”

“Every traveler holds those stories in their memory, some to share and some to keep, but no two people will see the same world twice.”

“You can see a big and beautiful world or you can see a world full of pain and darkness. That is totally up to you.”

“Good and evil have existed since the beginning of time and will continue to exist. Traveling has reminded me to be open to the magic that this universe has to offer. Not just when you feel like it. Not just for a week or a stage in life. Be open to what the world has to offer you and see the magic in everyday life. Don’t ever stop seeing life as an adventure and that mindset will manifest your reality.  Leaving home does not mean that I never look back, I look back all the time. But my eyes have changed, my mind has expanded, my heart has opened.  I take life as it comes and I take people for what they are. I control myself (this is without a pitcher of sangria in my blood) because I know that’s the only thing I can control. I EMBRACE uncertainty because instead of holding myself back or being afraid of it, I am learning to celebrate the fact that I have no clue what’s next. None of us do. The more authentically you open your mind and your heart to the world around you the more the world around you opens. Allow the world to be the magical and captivating place that it is. Get out of your own way. I’m not saying everyone should quit their job to travel the world but DAMN, I am glad that I did.”

“The travel bug isn’t a creature you want to take lightly.”

“Traveling pushes me to my limits and pushed me out of my comfort zone to allow me the room to blossom into who I want to be. Or at least put me on the road to who I want to be. Traveling gave me the reason to start sharing my writing and the confidence to believe I had something to say.”

“When I lived in Syracuse last year for a short time, I might have taken for granted a nice dinner with Mom, an afternoon with my niece and nephew or getting ready with one of my best friends, but now, these moments feel like memories as they are happening. I cherish them with the sense of fragility and preciousness they deserve. Because I can’t see everyone I love as often as I want, I am able to invest fully in those moments and give my full self.”

“Wherever you are, and however you celebrate, remember to make this holiday season about love, celebration and admiration for life and the many blessings you have been given. It’s not wrong to miss what you’ve left behind, but don’t let it stop you from experiencing what is right in front of you.”

 

“Home will always be home for me. But the greatest feat of all, is feeling at home within yourself. I can be alone on the other side of the world but I am confident enough in who I am and where I’m going to feel at home.”