Are you a victim of curated imperfection?

I don’t feel like myself.

Have you ever had a funk or a down period?

How often do you spend that funk comparing yourself to the biggest and brightest version of you that you know exists?

How much of what you share online is actually showing the authentic human experience you’re having right now?

Curated imperfection. What does that mean to you? I started to write this as an Instagram post and realized I had a lot more to say about this than I thought.

“Instagram is just a highlight reel” DUN*DUN*DUN* enter the dark evil twin.. CURATED IMPERFECTION.

What is this and why is it dangerous?

What does it mean for me personally and how am I going to try to combat it?

As much as the notion behind sharing more than just our highlight reel and letting followers have a glimpse at  our struggles is beautiful, it’s still a choice. A choice to show which part of the struggle we share. Often we share struggles in hindsight, talking about the trauma in childhood, past relationships or former jobs. I want you to show you I struggle just like you, but with a positive twist at the end too. Curated imperfection.

It’s much harder to share in real time. I believe it’s imperative to keep parts of our life private but I also can’t pretend that everything in my life is all positive-happy-fitness-travel all the time especially during weeks, like this week where I’m homesick, my mind is a mess, my schedule is crazy and my fitness is my sanity and release but still feels like a chore. I am struggling with my mental health and have broken in to tears multiple times this week(not just because of This is Us and Queer Eye but seriously, tear jerkers, am I right?)

But the flipside is, it’s all of our jobs to remember this about the beast of social media itself. That’s the point. It’s great to be real and share struggles but you get to decide what feels right for you and what sucky bits you want to air to the world.

It hard when it IS your job to INSPIRE.

What if you don’t feel inspiring?

Does that mean you don’t have to go to work today? Of course you do. Does that make you feel fake? How can you share the struggles authentically without being negative?

 It’s all of our individual jobs to stay immune to comparison-itis because otherwise social media won’t be the stimulating space of connection that it truly can be.

And when you already feel really low, I doubt your Instagram feed is going to be the place that gives you your ah-ha moment.

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Can you Thrive through the Holidays?

I wanted to write a holiday “survival”-esque blog post  based on the mental health check-in I did with my virtual wellness community. I saw a dramatic response that most people are struggling this time of year and not necessarily feeling merry and bright. So I took to the internet to see what others have done. Every article that I read for inspiration and research said how to “survive” the holidays. I understand that it is supposed to be a joyous time but also is a difficult time for a lot of people. But is that really the standard we want to set for ourselves? Merely surviving?

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There is often a battle happening inside of me. The darkness vs. the light. Usually the LIGHT wins. I’m not sure exactly what has programmed me to be this way but I know that my life and my holiday season is about much more than just surviving. Sometimes, some days, some seasons,  that is really all you can do. I completely understand that especially looking back to the days in my past I was full of grief and heartbreak. But I think to stay fixed in a mentality that surviving is what you are consistently doing is a serious disservice to yourself, others and our world as a whole.

I do want to give you some tips and reminders to take care of yourself just a little bit more this holiday season. If that means survival for your circumstance then that is what you can call it. But as I was watching another episode of Red Table Talk (if you haven’t watched head to Facebook right now and get on it) with Kid Cudi on mental health and a few things stuck out to me. Jada Pinkett Smith shared that sometimes all you can do is lean on something that “keeps your head above water.” I totally agree. But you can’t live there. You can’t stay there. She also said in the episode, “testimony is so much more powerful than advice.” I agree. So here is my testimony.

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Joking. Kinda. Here’s more of what helps me thrive…

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WCW: Melinda Bell

For November’s Woman Crush Wednesday and in honor of her birthday next week–  I am so excited to bring to you an interview with “My #1 Lady” as she is called in my iPhone contacts. This woman has raised me into the person I am today and I couldn’t be more proud of her and how far she has come. 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 Melinda.

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My momma. I usually explain how I met the person I’m interviewing but she’s been stuck with me since birth. This photo is my absolute favorite and how I could depict her spirit.  My mother is an extremely impressive example of resilience, kindness and intellect. Growing up– every single person I met was so jealous that she was my mom. Her students worshiped the ground she walked on and she knew how to make everyone feel special. But as a teenager I was moody, my mom was exhausted, and we both struggled with mental health issues and normal mother-daughter growing pains. It was a rocky road at one point. And then I grew up and realized what incredible sacrifices this woman made for us. I saw her as a human being– not just my mother. I realized I needed to be there for her in her times of struggle and remind her all the good in her she lost sight of from time to time. It’s impossible to paint our story without the pain because my mother worked so hard to come back from a hard place. And to me that’s what makes her even more of a superhero. 

But this story has a very happy ending. She is now a retired teacher and her mental health (and physical health) is on a steady incline. She is the happiest I’ve ever seen her! Not to mention she has recently gotten very serious about changing her diet and nutrition and with the help of her coach daughter’s suggestions has lost 31 pounds!!! I am over the moon excited to see her thriving in her retired life after going through such a tough period. She is a prime example of never giving up! 

This woman has taught me how to be a cheerleader. She is the kindest, most supportive person I’ve ever met. She feels every up and down I have and listens to me without judgement. She has read more books than anyone I know and I’m still waiting for her to apply for Who Wants to be a Millionaire? She is the queen of random knowledge. She’s a great cook, loves to go out to eat  at new restaurants and talk about food while eating food(like only the best kind of people do.) She is a pure genius (not kidding), eloquent, funny and  always willing to help. I could gush for days but I’ll let her do the rest.

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Grief: It means something

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

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

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

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What is it really like to have ADHD and anxiety?

Why are you thinking so much? Did you take your medicine?

You’re in a great mood, why are you worrying about that?

Why can’t you focus? Use some self control.. Come on.

But you really should be starting this now instead….after you send that email and check on that load of laundry. Oh look, you forgot about that you started yesterday. What should you really be doing right now?

It’s not that it won’t let you focus, it lets you focus on 75 things at once. That’s normal, right?

When you finally get that focus channeled, there is no stopping you. It may be hours dedicated to one task or project.

When you lose the passion and excitement for the task, it’s hard to recreate that type of focus.

When you don’t feel passionate about something, you will do it but it has some strange soul sucking quality to it. Don’t they feel that too?

When you feel nervous about the smallest thing, even though it has no relevance to the situation.

When your room or your house is a mess you literally feel sick to your stomach, and your eyes and brain are darting around the room endlessly.  If you just clean it you’ll feel better.

When you don’t want to have a plan, you’re a free spirit. But you need a plan. You need the steps to follow.  You’re nervous with one and you’re helpless without one.
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Make your bed= Change your life?

 So the burning question? Should you make your bed? JK.

Everyone is asking me…How is New Zealand?

I know you are picturing me in wide open grassy fields with picturesque mountains, huge sparkly lakes and perfect flowers in the foreground. Maybe bungee jumping, diving into caves or sipping wine in sunny vineyards? Quintessential adventure traveling in New Zeland. I wish that was the case but the nomad lifestyle isn’t always what Instagram portrays it to be. No matter how positive my attitude is the adjustment into a new country, culture, and lifestyle is never simple especially when you leave everything to sort out once you’ve already arrrived. Bank accounts, hours searching for apartments, flatshares, house shares, Air Bnb’s online and then viewing them only to be told they aren’t available for short term leases or you’re sharing the apartment with 6 other strangers. No wifi, finding new phone plans. This is not a rant or a complaining session, it’s simply a dose of reality because I want to help my readers to understand all aspects of the nomad lifestyle, even the not so sexy parts.


Luckily, my first week in New Zealand did start on a high note. My favorite nonprofit organization, One Wave celebrated it’s 4th birthday last Friday. If you haven’t read my blog before or you’re just stopping by One Wave is a non profit surf organization raising awareness for mental health by dressing up in Fluro gear every Friday and heading to the beach for surfing, yoga, and some serious heart to hearts about what it’s like to suffer from mental health struggles. This organization introduced me to the coolest humans and my closest friends in Australia and I was stoked when I found out for the 4th birthday they were celebrating at the a beach suburb in Auckland, Takapuna, which coincidentally was a 25 minute walk from our Air Bnb. I see you Universe, you beautiful thing.

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Harry experienced his first Fluro, I got to see my Fluro sista from Sydney who recently moved back to NZ, and we paddle boarded in the serene waters at Takapuna Beach. Nothing could make me feel more welcome than bringing my normal Friday tradition with me to my new home. Harry and I headed to the city for brunch and then entered into the life admin stage. Adulting sucks sometimes.

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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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Corey’s Heart

Anniversaries are traditionally special days where we celebrate important events. When the anniversary represents a painful event it sings a much different tune. Regardless, anniversaries make us nostalgic, reflective and in this case sad. But like John Green said, “It hurts because it matters.”

The amount of emotion the wells up in my chest, my heart, my conscious and subconscious brain around this time of year speaks volumes for how incredibly deep of an impact Corey had on the world and everyone who knew her. The amount of people who knew her should be remaining the same, but it seems as if the numbers grow.

The years creep past and suddenly, we have arrived at the ten year anniversary of her death. Ten years. That statement is surreal to me.  I swear that I can still hear her cackling laugh and I can still picture her mannerisms. I can chose what song she would play or which boy she would think was the cutest. Ten years. A decade without her sweet, beautiful, quirky self in this world.  

When I look back at one of the first pieces I wrote and shared publicly, Four Walls, I feel so much pure pain and emotion in my words- it always brings me to tears. I return to it now because sometimes I simply can’t say it better than myself.

“We are all surrounded by a new set of four walls. The walls are all different textures and colors. The wind whipping against the window pane smells different. The walls have different stories, and the rooms have different souls. Across the world, the country, through the state lines and the highways and the driveways, we still stare at our set of four walls.

No matter where we are, that insatiable pain is still there. We wrestle with the same thoughts. We breathe the same deep breaths. The breath you breathe so deep and so long just to know that you are alive. You’re still here.

Apart, we are solid colors, red, blue, white and green. We are strong and vivacious. We make an impact, cause a laugh, contribute to the team and shock others with our brilliance. That’s what we look like up close. We are separate entities that are just fine on their own. But much like the pixels of a television screen, when you look at us from a far…we are one. We come together to make a grander and even more powerful picture.”

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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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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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