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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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.”

Positive Pain

Pain is such a powerful emotion and one that fueled the beginnings of my passion for writing. Like many of us, creativity was something I always had as a child. I always loved to tell stories to my dolls, about my dolls and I could create alternate universes that I would get lost in for hours. I loved to read stories and then once I developed the ability to write I loved to write them, too. It wasn’t until I lost my best friend Corey in high school that I realized what a therapeutic experience writing was for me and I truly can’t comprehend what my grief process would have been like without this incredible outlet. For the past year I feel as if my blog and the stories I have crafted have given you a very uplifting and positive voice, one that I constantly strive for. I have mentioned before but I feel obligated to again, positive people are not happy all the time.

I repeat, I am not happy all the time. In the past few weeks I have been overcome with stress, anxiety and a multitude of confusing feelings. Instead of stifling them I realize that the only thing more powerful than an uplifting and motivational piece is a stone cold honest one. Usually, when I admit my struggles that is what people connect to. It’s almost as if by acknowledging my own pain I give others the right to feel theirs.

Luckily for me, I have learned and have crafted a lifestyle where I am constantly surrounding myself by positivity and agents for change. I surround myself with good people, motivating podcasts, inspirational books, the life-altering practice of yoga and now I am dabbling in meditation as well. In one my favorite podcasts Magic Lessons by the goddess Elizabeth Gilbert, I was single handedly talked out of my negative thought spiral by one quote from her, “The definition of responsibility is the ability to respond. The definition of responsibility is not how many hours you put into the work week but how well as a human being you are able to respond to life.” I sat there with a gaping mouth and  I dragged my index finger along my phone screen and played it again. Ms. Gilbert? Are you speaking straight to me? I replayed this quote six times until I wrote it safely in the quote section on my notepad and digested the relevance and the power in the simple statement. I am still digesting it’s power.

I am a worrier. I always have been and I am slowly learning that I don’t always have to be. I am a woman. I am a Gemini. I have ADHD and anxiety. I live life intentionally by the seat of my pants. I quit my job and move to foreign countries with my backpack and a dream. I believe so deeply in that fact that life will work out and the universe will send me in the right direction but that doesn’t stop the amount of time I spend worrying. My mind is moving and thinking at every moment of everyday.When I’m not teaching, I’m grading papers, researching lesson plans, creating materials or working on my business, talking to clients, working on my blog, helping people discover their goals, running challenges, reading personal development books, writing notes, creating goal charts, researching travel destinations, reading blogs, stalking puppies and/or food instagrams, are you tired yet? I haven’t even touched on my social life. The funny part is that my whole life I have chose to do this to myself. Since I know I run a million miles an hour, I think I can do a million things and I genuinely want to do them all. But I also can make myself crazy with stress and anxiety and to be honest the past few weeks, I have been fighting so hard to stay away from the constant pile of worries that are piling up in my brain.

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Life matters

My headspace is inundated by a topic that has been saturating the media like wildfire in the past few days and really for the past few years. My blog is my space and my words are intended to express my personal thoughts and beliefs. They may be opposite or different than yours, but I expect you to be able to entertain thoughts that are different from your own. If we can not attempt to understand other people’s opinions on controversial matters, we are doomed to this cycle of  hatred, violence, protest and pain. Social media has allowed people an outlet to unload their emotions before they have the time to properly reflect, educate, research and compose themselves. I don’t blame anyone who releases their emotions, especially their hurt emotions, but I do implore everyone to remember that one voice, your voice, does make a difference, whether you choose to acknowledge that or not. What you spread onto the internet has far reaching repercussions for the morale, stigmas, and social movements happening in our country and around the world. Just because some people cannot artfully and respectfully verbalize their opinion does not mean that people who can should be silenced. We need more solutions and we need more voices, stop complacently watching as this horror unfolds.

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I am involved in an incredible online community where women from all over the world join together in their love for traveling. In this extremely active community, we often address the issues of the world and breaking news in a manner that relates and reflects on how it affects us as global citizens and travelers. The conversation was sparked about the recent murders of two African American males in the past two days in the United States and as usual, many different and emotionally charged comments were presented.

Many women posted articles and opinions and a discussion formed about the “Black Lives Matter” movement and the “All Lives Matter” counter criticism. I tried to read the articles and remain open to different perspectives. I read a few articles that I believe are extremely eye opening and  beneficial to read despite your stance on the subject. In a message board on Reddit.com the user, Geek Aesthete, artfully describes that the “Black Lives Matter” movement has an implicit “too” not an implicit “only”. Another blogger, Tyler Huckabee,  at relevantmagazine.com eloquently reminds us how important context is in this campaign. Again, “Black Lives matter” does not need the answer “All lives matter” because that is negating and dismissive to the current situation and context at hand. Huckabee states,“There is a difference between true and relevant”. Charles P. Pierce on esquire.com also acknowledges that All lives matter is not infact an appropriate response or movement and Pierce says,

“ Too much All Lives Matter rhetoric has been shot through with excusing even the most egregious and deadly police misconduct because of the “dangerous job” that police have in controlling not only actual criminals, but the spectral predators in the common mind.”

After reading close to 20 different articles from a variety of platforms, authors, opinions and subject matter and a heated two hour long phone phone conversation with my mom in America, I will humbly attempt to raise my voice in hopes to make a difference.

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Leave Your Shadow

I’m passionate about discussing and sharing about difficult topics in order to allow other people to feel more at peace and beautiful within their own skin. It’s easy to talk about happy, exciting things but what we really need to talk about is the hard stuff. My thoughts today are on body image. As a health and fitness nut and coach I am constantly talking about, thinking about working on my own and helping others to have a positive body image. Self love and confidence is one of the MOST important gifts which I hope to instill and inspire in others but also one of the hardest things to attain. I think I have a very unique perspective and one I’m willing to share with you to try to expand your grasp of what it means to love yourself and the journey I went on to get there.

As a child I was the epitome of awkward; lanky, big feet, glasses, braces and of course the infamous unibrow. I was a nerd and a bookworm but genuinely a pretty warm and loving kid. I could play in my imagination for hours upon hours. Luckily, today that still is the case.

In my adolescence I realized that most girls were very concerned with how “skinny” they were. I could eat cheeseburgers, pizza, ice cream every night and nothing stuck. I’m not saying this to brag whatsoever, I am simply stating the facts. It is hilarious to me how people can poke fun at themselves for being overweight as a child or in the past but as soon as you mention the opposite problem people want to shut you up real quick. I was teased by friends and strangers about being skinny but I knew I couldn’t help it so I just laughed it off.

As I grew into a teenager I suffered the tremendous loss of my childhood best friend to suicide. She was absolutely gorgeous and “perfect” from an outsider’s perspective. I had countless people ask me, “what did SHE have to be sad about!?” Simply based on the way she looked. Why does an attractive exterior mean that you have an attractive interior? Why should struggling and feeling depressed be exclusive to people who have less appealing appearances? How can people be so ignorant as to not acknowledge that life is NOT all about how we look?

I spent the rest of high school learning what it felt like to look “pretty” and “skinny” on the outside but inside I was carrying so much grief, suffering and pain. I struggled for years trying to cope with the loss of my best friend and sure, I appeared normal and attractive on the outside but my inside soul and mind were in constant turmoil and anguish. I didn’t know what to say when people could only comment (negatively) about how lucky I was about being skinny. Or “shut up, you wouldn’t understand.” How selfish of you to exclude me from the “suffering club” based on my appearance? But, yet again, how is this something that any teenager could verbalize? Most adults still wouldn’t. But you know what, if I have learned anything about life, it’s that it is too damn short to walk on eggshells. I will bare my soul to you even if it’s about topics that are hard to discuss because real recognizes real and I simply refuse to silence my heart now that I have learned how to love myself properly.

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America: Enough is Enough

When I try to categorize my blog for others or even when I categorize my own posts on my page I often don’t know how to do so. My blog, much like my life, has so many idiosyncrasies that don’t quite fit into one category. I like to think that it’s a travel and lifestyle blog but I try more than anything to make it a blog of honesty, rawness, emotion and inspiration. Again, much like my life, I don’t think it has to have a specific category that makes everyone else more comfortable with digesting it. I can and I always will be unapologetically me. That being said, I am going to touch on ground that is controversial here. I firmly stand by the principles that we should focus on what we want more of instead of simply criticizing things we don’t agree with but in light of recent events; I feel compelled to voice my thoughts and I feel roused to be a voice in the madness.

In today’s world when any tragedy or newsworthy event happens our culture flocks to social media to voice our opinions on the matter. Some people go on angry rants, some offer messages of hope, and some down right attack ideas, people, and situations usually having minimal facts and strong biases attached to their statuses or articles or opinions. As someone who uses social media predominantly for my business but also for a hobby and a positive tool to connect and relate to friends and strangers all over the world; I want to keep my voice and message I leave behind in the digital world as a positive one. I try not to rant and rave about things that frustrate me but instead share things that inspire me and bring me joy. I try to remind my friends and family to be grateful, to take chances and to buy those plane tickets and go for adventures.

Today, waking up in Australia to the news of the largest mass shooting in U.S. history happening last night and over 50 innocent people killed and so many more injured and the news of a high school friend of mine losing his life to addiction, I can’t help but share my thoughts on the matter. As an American citizen, I grew up in a culture where guns are very much a part of everyday life. In my personal experience, I was brought up to fear guns and see no place for them. As I grew older, I realized why my father had such a strong hatred for guns and I also started to formulate my own opinion. I never dwelled on the issue, to me, it’s straightforward and simple, violence is unnecessary and guns are used, for the most part, for violence, therefore I see no point for guns. With the issue of gun control gaining more and more popularity and media attention in the last decade I realized that this is an extremely polarizing topic for American people. Since backpacking and having discussions with people from all over the world about a range of topics, I have seen the serious difference in gun control laws in other countries and the sheer shock that most European and Australian people have when we talk about the gun control laws in America. This is a topic that, for the most part, I keep quiet about because as I said most people are undereducated, over opinionated and biased. At this point, I can’t help but share my opinion now.

Violence has always and will always be a part of our world. Guns neither cause violence or  stop violence. Violence exists all over the world, not just in the United States.  Owning a gun is something that many Americans believe is their right, as is stated by the Second Amendment. Instead of looking at it from a biased perspective…let’s look at the facts. Since I was born in 1990, three countries(that I now have strong ties to) which have similar Western cultures (the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom) have all had mass shootings. In the UK there have been 3 mass shootings, in Australia there have been 16 mass shooting, and in the US there have been 75. The gun control laws are very strict in both the United Kingdom and Australia. Instead of debating the gun control laws, I think everyone involved can agree that the gun violence in the United States is out of control. When something does not work,  we change it. Just because something once was legal does not mean that the law can’t and shouldn’t be reviewed, revised and changed based on the current society and the issues it is facing. At one point it was legal to own people as personal property in the United States, clearly we realized that was not a law that was benefiting the population of the United States. Regardless of what the second amendment says, America needs to figure out how this law needs be adjusted, changed or revised so that it protects our people. We need ACTUAL background checks and qualifications to own a firearm. It’s harder to become an Uber driver than it is to purchase a firearm… that is what is wrong with America. When I lived in America, I thought that the mass shootings were devastating and horrible but unfortunately I was somewhat jaded by them. I didn’t necessarily question the gun possession but the sanity of the shooter. Now, being removed from our culture and living abroad in two vastly different countries on the other side of the world and seeing  whole new perspectives, cultures and ways of life… I can’t believe how normal gun violence and mass shootings are made out to be in America. It’s not normal. It should never be considered normal. In some countries, the active duty police officers don’t even carry firearms. It is an absolute disgrace that it is taking us this long to realize our country has a serious problem on our hands that IS within our control or at least within our influence.

I don’t claim to have all of the answers whatsoever, but I do know that ACTION has to be taken. It is painful to watch from afar and mourn for yet another group of innocent victims, their families and friends and everyone involved. The outpour of “Pray for Orlando” responses are heartfelt and wonderful. I will pray for them and send all of my good vibes into the Universe but bottom line; SOMETHING HAS TO CHANGE. How many times can we pray after a tragedy before we put measures into place so this can’t easily happen again 3 months later?  I don’t care what your religion is, your political views or your beliefs about the second Amendment: WE NEED TO PROTECT OURSELVES, not with more violence but with eliminating the problem at it’s root. Maybe it won’t work and of course, it won’t work right away but what if the people who were abolishing slavery simply decided they shouldn’t try to outlaw slavery because it’s been like that for years and it would be too difficult eliminate. We need forward progress so America can be a more peaceful, safe and positive environment.  

Despite the darkness, there is always light. I am such a fan of the goodness that exudes from all around the world to support and grieve with us. There are helpers everywhere and I do look for them. I hope you look for them, too. I think good will always prevail over evil but I can’t sit back and believe that everything is going to change. America, the ball is in our court and we need to figure out how to make it change. I don’t know about you but I would prefer to feel safe, free and supported in my country if I’m on a school campus, at a nightclub or at a movie theatre. The aura of violence is suffocating.Enough is enough. If we’re the land of the free and the home of the brave, why don’t we start acting like it?

QUIT, PACK, OPEN

When I started writing my weekly headspace pieces I had no idea how awesome this weekly release of my thoughts would be. I did know and have proved to myself how hard it is to keep up with your blog even if it is once a week. I see why people do this as an actual career in itself because it’s a lot of work and you truly have to carve out the time for it. I wanted my weekly headspace to be a concrete way for me to write more, even if it wasn’t particularly well designed or crafted pieces. These are my thoughts plain and simple. In this process I have realized that I have A LOT of thoughts in one week. I mean, like, A LOT. Sometimes it’s hard to decide what thoughts to synthesize and what thoughts to dismiss. I talk to hundreds of people on a weekly basis because my business is all about talking to people and connecting with them. It doesn’t matter if it’s people who have known me since childhood or high school or friends that I have connected to through common interests  like fitness and traveling via social media, almost everyone asks me the same question, “Australia? WOW! How is it living there?”

I had my friend and  fellow coach ask me a while ago,  “What is your biggest takeaway  from all your adventures? What have you learned about yourself, other cultures, and the world?”  I realized that I think about this almost every day for one reason or another. I have lived it and I am living it. I have watched my mind expand and my heart break and connected to people from all over the world for about 3 years now. But no one has lived it all with me. Luckily, I have many companions, especially Jackie, who have experienced a huge chunk of it and the bond we share because of it is truly something special.  Through my blog I try to convey what traveling has done for me but I love to pause and reflect for new followers and because I am not sure if I have ever answered that question explicitly, my biggest takeaway from all of my adventures. I am feeling quite nostalgic as my 26th birthday approaches at the beginning of June and  I keep thinking about how different my life was last June. I had high expectations for twenty five but my expectations have been blown out of the water. Because I believed that the best was yet to come… the best came and is still coming.

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.

Despite the fact that I was living in a third world country, backpacking through many South East Asian  third world countries, prancing around the fancy beach clubs in Bali, eating traditional meals with locals, paying more for my brunch then I did for my hostel, hiking active volcanoes at sunrise, making friends from every country you could imagine and experiencing something new almost every single day I finally realized how similar we all are. I worry this sounds cliche but that has truly been my personal experience.  Human beings are so similar it is actually quite scary. It’s such a mind blowing experiencing because not only do you see how similar you are but you are forced to perceive the world in a totally new and unique manner.

Despite having similar cores, we do have so many differences in our life experiences, family upbringing, cultures, educations, work experience, travel experience, views on politics, religion, dating, happiness and success. Nothing is more thrilling to me than chatting with friends from Germany, Holland, Vietnam, Indonesia, Italy, England, Wales, France, Canada, you name it,  and learning things you never could find in a  history book or experience in a college lecture hall. 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 willing to go to countries you know nothing about. You have to be willing to sleep on overnight buses for 17 hours in Vietnam. You have to be willing to play charades and to point to random food and pray you don’t get food poisoning, or take it like a champ when you do. You have to be open minded in your approach to your traveling or you could circle the whole globe and not change a thing.

I truly don’t believe everyone should quit their job and travel the world. I honestly do believe it is the single best decision I have ever made. Quit.. Pack… Open..Not only did I  find a way to make my career work in two new countries I gained the confidence to follow ANYTHING that tugs on my heart strings. Traveling wasn’t an option for me, it was a calling and a voice that needed to be answered. Wanderlust is not going to Disney World twice a year and on a cruise every five. Wanderlust is sincerely wanting to experience a new culture, a new way of life and a willingness to learn that everything you have ever thought could very well be wrong. Traveling forced me to get in touch with my truest self and make some huge sacrifices along the way. It is a whole different level of commitment when you decide to live abroad and become a permanent adventurer. You no longer are someone who leaves and comes back with cool stories to tell your friends and family. You are someone who leaves. You are someone who has to miss important weddings and special occasions. You have to construct dysfunctional holiday celebrations that show what the true spirit of those holidays actually mean.  You are someone who decides that the desire to see the world is stronger than any other guiding factor.

This is a terrifying inner voice to listen to. But when you do, it shows you why being open minded is so important. I know that all people have their opinions about other people’s life choices and many times people like to judge a path that is different from their own or the norm. I think that the 21st century has developed a whole generation of dreamers, doers, seekers and people who very well might quit their job and travel the world. That scares the HELL out of close minded people. It always has and it always will. But traveling teaches you to focus on the good. You don’t look back and dwell on the moments you missed your ferry, were hungover puking on your ferry, nearly died in traffic in Bangkok, got hit on by men, ladyboys, women, or anything with two legs. You look back and remember the people, the laughs, the views, the kick ass food and booze and experience that you simply can’t just look at photos of you have to EXPERIENCE yourself. I think that is the most special part of traveling. Even in today’s world of Instagram, blogs, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, any other social media site that people use to document their every move on a trip; pictures, videos, words, and blog articles can NEVER replace experiencing it for yourself. It never has and it never will. 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 learn more about yourself traveling than any other life experience. You form bonds with your traveling companions that can’t be put into words. You are forced to coexist with people you have never imagined you be in the same room with let alone getting naked in front of and sharing a wall socket for your chargers. When you are traveling you  see humanity in such raw form, the good, the bad and the ugly. So when I try to reflect on my biggest take away from my adventures I have to say that it is so complex but actually pretty simple; being open minded is the key to life. It can be applied to every situation across the boards and it is a lesson I continually use in my classroom, my business, my friendships, my relationship and my life. 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. 

This is Happier

“Life is too short to be in a hurry.” If we are always on the go, we are reacting to the exigencies of day-to-day life rather than allowing ourselves the space to create a happy life.”  If we simply react to life, how can we possibly feel satisfied? How can we ever feel happy and connected to the present moment? For me, reading is a wonderful way to focus on the present moment. I have so many things to juggle  currently my teaching job at an English language college here in Australia , building my online coaching business and supporting the coaches that I mentor to start their own businesses, running my challenge groups and connecting with people to help introduce them to the programs that have changed my life, teaching classes part time in Korea via Skype, not to mention trying to save time for my blog, my own fitness, my personal life, keeping up with cooking healthy meals and squeezing in fun time, too. As I have mentioned numerous times before, no matter what stage of life I am in, I’ve always been someone who fills up their life with TONS of responsibilities, activities, commitments, and people. “We must simplify our lives; we must slow down. The good news is that simplifying our lives, doing less rather than more, does not have to come at the expense of success.”

Keeping things simple in the 21st century seems like an impossible feat. Since I run an online business which is based out of America and there is a 15 hour time difference I often feel like I have to be constantly connected to properly stay in contact with my coaches and my clients. For someone who is an extremely outgoing, social person and someone who is building an online health and fitness coaching business; it seems crazy to think that I hate being so connected, but I do. I have many aspects of my personality and passions that lend me toward the hippy free spirit life. Being free is my absolute favorite feeling. But, the old saying “with freedom comes responsibility” proves itself to be true time and time again. You can’t be free without taking the time and effort to allow yourself that luxury. Luckily, I have learned to satisfy my desire for freedom through more immediate avenues; like traveling the world, moving abroad, hiking near the ocean and doing yoga. “Being enslaved by the exigencies of life and by our constitution does not preclude the possibility that we can feel free. We experience freedom when we choose a path that provides us both meaning and pleasure.” Although life itself is full with responsibilities (especially this whole adult gig) when we are choosing what life we make our own it is much easier to feel free and satisfied.

Since we live in a world that is constantly connected, one of the most pure and surefire way for me to disconnect is to read. Reading requires all of my attention and focus and I really feel like I can get lost in good book. The most recent book I read was “Happier” by Tal Ben-Shahar and it was one of those books you read and want to shout from the mountain tops so that everyone can read it and be enlightened. Ben-Shahar tackles the monumental question, “Can you learn to be happy?”  For someone who has been actively pursuing happiness for as long as I can remember, his message and research really hit home for me. In this piece I have included some of my favorite quotes because I simply could not have said it better myself. I had so many “Ah-ha” moments while reading this book and I felt reassured that my desire for happiness, meaning, and purpose are something to be celebrated not chastised. “Time is a zero-sum game, a limited resource. Life is too short to do only what we have to do; it is barely long enough to do what we want to do.”

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Your Story Matters

Understanding people is one of my top priorities in growing my relationships and perspective on life. I always want to know why they are the way they are and what matters to them. In friends, students, family members and quite honestly strangers I meet traveling or out at the bar, I am insatiably curious to know their story. Storytellers also love hearing great stories. In my coaching business, we are often asked what our “why” is for being a part of this business. The question is asked when we begin the journey as coaches and then it is asked many times as our personal business evolves, naturally the “why” evolves. My mission not only in my new career but as a human being is to use my story, my struggles and my triumphs to lift others up and inspire them. I am surrounded by a team full of incredible people who share their deepest struggles with their body image, mental health, financial trouble, self-confidence issues, relationship problems, (the list goes on) with their followers, friends, family and anyone on the internet to see. As I evolve as a person, a writer, a business woman and a human being I realize that the story that I know so well, my own story, is not something I have put in the spotlight lately.

Now I am living on the other side of the planet with people who haven’t known me longer than 6 months at most. The funny thing about constantly meeting new people is they can only meet you where you are. We can share stories about our past but people tend to judge us by our present. I notice this when I walk down the crowded streets in Sydney. If I’m on my way to work in my “teacher dresses” I give off a much different persona then if I’m in my activewear going to the gym or my casual beach clothes. People deal with me in a much different manner as well. We subconsciously put strangers in boxes and molds and sharing our stories about the inside are the best way to break those. Sometimes I would like a sign on my forehead at the bar, “More than just a pretty face”. Not because I am looking to meet anyone, I am currently the happiest I’ve ever been in a relationship. I just want people to stop judging the shell of me and start being interested in what is underneath. Due to the overwhelming response from my friends, old and new, of how happy I look and seem, I want to go a bit deeper than that shell. Right now, I am happy. But the struggle it took to get here can not be forgotten.

Social media is terrifying when it is used to magnify the good and stifle the bad. I will always be an optimistic individual but I refuse to discount or discredit the struggle and the pain that have been such a real catalyst in shaping me into the woman I am today. I accidently became involved with an Australian organization called One Wave, which raises awareness for mental health. I found out about a free Sunrise Bender yoga class on Bondi Beach when I first moved to Sydney and decided I had to try it out. The first time I went I was sold and have been going back nearly every Friday since. One Wave is a surfing community raising awareness for mental health and every Friday they celebrate Fluro Friday, where everyone dresses in bright, neon, wacky, rave-esque outfits and comes together to surf (or do free yoga for those of us who don’t surf). They kick off the morning with someone sharing their story about mental health and how it has affected their life, either their own battle with a mental illness or someone close to them. It is incredible to hear their stories and see the courage and refuge they have found in having a positive community to support them. We all deeply crave to feel love and acceptance. Why not help eachother get that satisfaction? I decided one early morning on the beach that I wanted to share my story. Not that morning. But some morning in the future. I will keep that promise to myself. For now, I am choosing to share it with you. My family, friends, and followers. Many of you know parts of this story, some of you know most of it, none of you know it all. I often exhaust all my energy on helping others because right now I am strong enough to do so. But it has not always been that way. It is pretty terrifying to be so vulnerable but at this point in my life and my journey, I know that I am ready.

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Be More…

I wrote this blog post a few days ago. I usually write/edit  my posts for at least 2 or 3 days depending on the subject matter. My message is even more important now that I have received terribly heartbreaking news today that another one of my friends from WVU has passed away far too young. Brad Fagula, you were a hilarious and loving spirit who always knew how to have fun. You were a great friend to so many and I truly can’t believe you are gone. I still think my sentiments for this blog post are very pertinent to my feelings but the sense of urgency for gratitude has increased tenfold. When you go to sleep you never know what or who will be there when you wake up. All we have is right now. Memories and love truly do go on long after a physical body leaves this earth but I pray that my WVU family, Brad’s family and all of those affected by losing someone they love too soon, find peace and strength in this hard time. Our time is the greatest tool and the greatest gift we can give to those we love. I appreciate you taking the time to read this and I hope it adds a smile and some inspiration to your day. ❤ RIP Brad

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This morning I am reflecting on how many people have reached out to me in the past few months whether it was about my piece about Corey, a blog post about my crazy traveling life or a fitness related post I have had friends from near and far tell me that they connected to my story, my words or were inspired by my attitude or positivity in some way. Some of these friends consistently like my posts, share or comment on them, but some of them I had no idea even read my blog or appreciated my work. It was eye opening to realize that just because someone is inspired by you does not mean you know it. Just like people hide pain and struggle, we often don’t publicize things that affect us positively. This is not a bad thing. There are many aspects of my life I leave off of social media even though as a writer and an online health and fitness coach it is part of my job to share my journey, we all live the majority of our lives outside the cyberworld.

When I post something I hope to add value to your day, bring a smile to your face, encourage you to work out, try a new recipe, quit that job you hate, or stand up to someone who is making you feel inferior. I am humbled and inspired by how many people respond positively to my story and I urge you to never hesitate to tell the person who inspires you that you feel that way. One incredibly small gesture means more than you know, especially for those of us whose main aim is to help others. The world needs more of that.That being said I am constantly inspired by my coach and friend Amy for helping so many people start their own business and running a kick ass business of her own. She leads with her heart and never gives up on anyone. I am inspired by every single one of you who has reached out to me and told me that I have helped or am helping you in some way. It is not always easy to share my thoughts, but I do it anyway because of the tremendous amount of support and positive feedback I receive. I know it also takes your time and effort to reach out and that in itself is worthy of a “thank you.”

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