How to Survive the Visa Process

How to Survive the visa process

A year ago today was one of the most emotional days of my entire life. 1 year and 48 hours prior, I received an email that I was waiting for four months. Four long months of being seperated from my partner in crime and the love of my life. Not by choice but because we were simply born in different countries and had different passports. I have to start by thanking everyone who supported us during that extremely difficult time in our lives. You kept me sane and I’m forever grateful.

On this email from the U.K. immigration office, it simply said that the decision for my visa application had been made, not what the decision was. I was staying at my childhood home visiting my parents until I got the decision. I had tracking on the package that contained the decision and my passport so I knew it was coming, I just didn’t know what time so I refreshed the app about 386 times that day.

My mom and I waited by the door the entire day peering out the windows for the UPS truck. I made her stand guard while I did my workout and showered. We took turns using the bathroom. We tried to watch cheesey rom coms to drown out our anxious thoughts but nothing was helping. I have never had so many butterflies in my stomach.

It was such a surreal experience when I saw the brown UPS truck park outside my house. I shot up from the couch and my mom had to catch me in her arms because my legs nearly gave out. I wasn’t sure if I could open it in front of my parents or what I would want to do. As soon as we got the package in the house, I barely remember what happened, the emotions and anticipation flooded my body.

My Dad opened the package for me with a letter opener and handed it to me without looking. My hands were shaking as I read the first line “You have been successfully granted your visa to the U.K…”  and burst into violent tears of joy. Straight up SOBBING.

“I GOT IT!!!!” I screamed eventually because my parents weren’t sure if they were happy or sad sobs. I immediately Facetimed my partner who was waiting for my call in England. I was still sobbing. I won’t lie, I’m a crier but I didn’t expect that reaction. He answered the phone and I was sobbing and within seconds I froze. He had no idea what was happening and thought I didn’t get it. I hung up and tried again and thankfully got a better connection. He was so relieved they were tears of joy. The stress and the build up of almost 2 years of international visa drama were over (for now), just like that with one UPS delivery.

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This all sounds very dramatic, trust me, it was. That’s why looking back a year later I can’t hardly believe that was our reality. When I was going through the process of applying for a partner visa in the U.K. I had no idea where to go to for advice and all I wanted was some personal experience. I couldn’t really find any blogs and all I wanted was someone who understood. It was so stressful it’s taken me a year to even be able to write about it. Every website had conflicting information and you had to pay a lot of money even to get an appointment to see if you wanted to potentially work with an immigration lawyer.

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WCW: Allyson Wettengel

February is the month of love and I made you wait all month for this lovely #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 Ally.

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The first time I went down to Bondi Beach for a free yoga event I had no idea what to expect. When I got there there were about 250 people there and I didn’t know a single soul. It was Ally’s first time ever teaching after her yoga teacher training and her familiar American accent and bubbly personality caught my attention right away. (One of us. One of us.) She took us through an awesome practice and shared such vulnerable pieces of her life story. After this experience I decided I would come back because she said there was free yoga at One Wave’s events every Friday. I quickly realized it was not just yoga but a whole non profit organization and community dedicated to breaking the stigma against mental health.

Slowly but surely Ally turned from my yoga teacher into my good friend but I felt like I knew her much more than she knew me because a yoga class with Ally is like experiencing part of her soul. She is such an incredible story teller and weaves themes throughout her classes in a way I’ve never seen someone else do. She is someone I am genuinely so grateful to know and I know that anyone who knows her feels the same. Thank you Ally, for shining your light in this world. For being vulnerable, strong, independent, funny and most of all caring. Your friendship and yoga teaching has inspired me in so many ways I’m not sure I could ever explain them all. I’ll let Ally take it from here so you can get to know her too.

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Stronger: Week 2

week 2 blog

Week 2 has come and gone and I am feeling an extremely positive energy this Monday. Watch my vlog and soak up some of those good vibes. The second week is typically harder because the newness wears off. The workouts are just as hard but they aren’t brand new so it’s easier to think about the reasons why you want to give up rather than the reasons you want to push harder.

I finished my workout this morning and I took my progress pictures and I was in awe by what I saw. In just 14 days I see a change in my body and spirit. I feel empowered. I feel disciplined. I feel confident.  I feel like I want to shout from the mountain tops. Movement. Whole foods.  Community & Support- THAT’S ALL YOU NEED. It doesnt’t mean that it is easy but it does mean that it’s simple. The recipe for success with your health and fitness is pretty simple but the mental journey is what sometimes makes it complicated.

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Why you should meet strangers on the Internet

The digital world can never replace in person interaction, connection and experiences. Life behind a computer screen can cause a lot of issues including comparison, unworthiness, and a feeling of “connection” but ultimately isolation. Then why would I tell you to talk to strangers on the Internet? Because in the past year and a half I have stumbled upon a few interweb connections that have changed my life and I want you to at least give it a shot. Here’s why:

You just moved to a new city- When you move to a new city, especially on your own (without a job or a place to live, wait is that just me?) your main concern should be finding a job and a place to live. If you are moving/ traveling abroad this might land you in a hostel where you could meet awesome people, (I met the love of my life) but you also meet a lot of people who are sleeping until 2 pm, partying all night, and complaining they can’t find a job. Let’s just say not the ideal crowd. If you stick to those friends you meet at the bar, you might not have the most motivated, positive, uplifting group surrounding you. CHOOSE your tribe wisely, don’t stumble into them.

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You can find out about events that peak your interest– Last year I found out about an awesome festival called Rad Livin on Instagram. It was full of inspiring stories from young creatives, live music, pizza, donuts and rad people. Their Instagram account followed me so I checked it out and it sounded like it was made for me. I couldn’t get any of my friends to join so I went alone and I made such cool friends and connections. Still time to go this year if it sounds like something you would like, just click this. I also attended many events in Sydney thanks to social media including Nike Training Tour, World Yoga Day Festival and Taste of Sydney. Cool events usually equal cool people and experiences are always worth the ticket price!

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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.”

Almost Snoozed

Today I woke up late. I caved into the tricky snooze demon and missed my train to get to Friday morning yoga. I still woke up before it started but not in time to take the train & bus like I normally do. I was still nestled in my blankets when I texted my boyfriend and he told me to  leave right NOW & get a cab and that he would pay for it because he knows how much these Friday mornings with One Wave mean to me! He’s an absolute gem, I know. I feel so lucky to have him in my life because everyone deserves loved ones who support things that mean a lot to them. Even though I was ready to throw in the towel this morning he knew how much happier I would be and gave me a much needed voice of reason & encouragement. So into the taxi I went… 

The sunrise was unbelievable and I saw the familiar faces I’ve grown to expect on Friday mornings. Especially my friend Steph who shared her amazing story of her lifelong battle with depression, aneixty and body dysmorphia last week. I was very inspired by her strength. We started the morning with the usual group meeting/introduction and reminder about what One Wave is and what the community is for; raising awareness for mental health. Then Sam asked if anyone would like to share. Now if you know me personally you know I am always a talker and I’m never nervous to give my two cents in just about any situation but since I’ve started coming to One Wave Fluro Friday I have been an absorber. I have listened Friday after Friday and gleaned bits of hope, strength and courage from these good hearted, unguarded individuals. I knew one day I would share but I just wanted to listen for a while . So today, after the thirty dollar cab ride and the perfect sunrise, it seemed a better day than any.

I shared about how I accidentally got involved with One Wave because I saw a Facebook event for the Sunrise Bender yoga but coincidentally I have been a mental health advocate since I lost my best friend to suicide at 16 years old. I felt Corey’s presence with me as I spoke. I feel her presence every Friday morning on the beach when anyone speaks about suicide, depression, losing friends, or suffering of any sort. I talked about Corey’s life and her seemingly perfect exterior and how losing her changed my life and the lives of SO MANY forever. I talked about my mothers struggle with depression and bipolar disorder and how that affected me as a child. I talked about my wonderful cousin who also lost his battle to depression and suicide.  But mostly I focused on the fact that mental health affects EVERYONE not just the individuals who suffer from mental disorders but their loved ones, family, friends, the communities they are a part of. And to some degree, we ALL have struggles, ups and downs and unexplainable stress, aneixty and hardships on the road of life. You can not judge a person by the way they appear to be on the outside. You can not assume a person has a perfect life because that’s what it looks like on social media. We all have times of sadness and we all need compassion and understanding. We can change our world and our communities by the way we support each other and give individuals space to feel understood, looked after and cared about. You don’t need to know what to say, you just need to know how to listen without judgement. That is the best gift you can give anyone struggling with hardship, mental health related or not.

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