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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Should I start running again?

Two weeks ago, in a moment of confusion, I chugged my pre workout, laced up my running shoes, searched for 20 minutes for my ever elusive iPhone compatible headphones and then I hit the pavement for a run.

I used to run every single day of my life.

I was on the cross country team in middle school and I realized very quickly that while I wasn’t particularly talented at sports I was fast and I had a natural endurance for distance running.

I started writing this blog with intentions of just telling the story of getting back into running last month with my random solo mid week 10k and I ended up writing 4,000 words about my journey from non-athlete child to the new girl at private school who went to basketball practice to make friends and stayed with it because of the deep love for that sense of belonging on a team. Then I went from cross country team runner to all season lacrosse athlete in high school, gym bunny and runner at University and in graduate school when I was burning the candle from both ends, I discovered Insanity, the at home workout program that serendipitously lead me into my future career as an online health & lifestyle coach. I’m still processing how this story flowed so freely out of me and how much it is all linked together. But I’ll save that for another day, I just want to tell you about this run.

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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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Bah, Humbug: How to Cope with Holidays Abroad

This is the part they don’t talk about. Quit your job, travel the world, you will have the best adventures, change your life and find yourself. But what about the hard stuff? Moving across the world can’t always be easy… Missing weddings, holidays, birthdays, and all of the silly days in between is not easy. Sure, you are the one who chose to leave but that doesn’t mean you don’t miss the people who you left behind. It doesn’t mean that half the stories out of your mouth aren’t about your family, this one time in college or the adorable photos you just got of your niece in the Nutcracker. The travel blogs and instagrams you idolize may not show photos of them tearing up in the middle of the street because they just want to go home. Or the feeling when all of your family is together and you are sick in bed. As usual, I am committed to being raw and sharing all parts of my adventures with you, so here is the truth behind never being home for the holidays.

Moving abroad to Thailand and Australia and being able to teach and adventure in both places have been the most rewarding experiences of my life but that is not to say they haven’t had their fair share of lonely moments as well. Yes, you will feel homesick. Yes, you will get sick of being the face on the Facetime screen, so close and yet so far from being involved in all the memories happening at home without you. The holidays make it especially difficult so I wanted to send some encouragement to my fellow expats, travelers, or anyone who can’t make it where they consider “home” this holiday season. This is the most wonderful time of the year, but like all good things, that puts a hell of a lot of pressure on you to feel merry and bright. Here is how I survive the holidays:

Bring traditions with you– If you are far away from home, find a way to decorate and spread a little Christmas or Hanukkah cheer. Watch your favorite Christmas movies, bake your Grandma’s famous recipe and make sure to share it with the people you’ve met or love abroad. Sharing our traditions with others makes them special for a whole new set of people. Luckily, I am a teacher so I always get free reign to teach my students all about American culture and holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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But you’re always happy..

 

There is something that happens when you begin to share your journey on a large scale with an audience whether it be through a blog, social media, Youtube, or any other online platforms. When we open up and become vulnerable with our past hardships and struggles and how we overcame them, we have a chance to sugar coat the story with hindsight, distance and almost a narrator’s perspective. Even when we share the pain, it tends to sound beautiful and meaningful.  Part of being a powerful voice and sharing your life to inspire others is the fine line of how to be open with present struggles and difficult times in your life without encroaching on your own clarity, experience or privacy.

Social media, for even the most vulnerable and open people, is meant to be a highlight reel. We get to choose what we share and what we don’t. “But you’re always happy.” False. I show you my optimistic positive self because that is who I aim to be but that does not mean I’m happy 24/7. It is extremely unattractive for people to complain and vent negatively on their social media. It is sad to see people’s private lives and matters thrown all over media outlets or Facebook and Instagram. Luckily, with the gift of creativity and inspiration, we slowly learn what pulls on our heart to share and what we know is too fragile or too personal.

I try to be an open book. It’s how I am in person and basically the only way I know how to be. I can’t lie- I feel as if I have been cheating on my writing. Ever since I have started using Facebook Live consistently to speak about topics weighing on my mind and answering questions from clients, friends or my social media circle- I’ve found it hard to write my weekly headspace. No matter who you are, how inspired you feel, how many podcasts and self-help books you are reading- we all run out of material. I read a great blog post from a friend of mine reminding me of this right when I needed to hear it. So, I feel compelled to write this.

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The flow knows where to go

This week and weekend I experienced the feeling of flow so many times that I felt as if I needed to pinch myself. But when you experience flow.. you go with it. C’mon we learned that when we were like ten.  While I was teaching on Monday, a few of my students seemed to be showing tremendous progress from where they started. I felt excited for them and so proud. Hearing and watching someone transform their language, communication skills and confidence is incredibly rewarding. Not only did I feel fulfilled in my teaching job but I had an awesome week with my coaching business as well. I started a new fitness challenge and have another engaged and fun group of women who are making positive, sustainable changes to their health and nutrition. Guiding people through the process of change and believing in the power of their body and especially their mind is so satisfying. I also experimented with going live and sharing some of my thoughts to inspire those who follow along with my journey. It is incredible what a difference it can make for people to hear your voice and feel connected. I am excited to have yet another medium in which I can express myself and impact the lives of others.

Balance is a continual struggle for me and I think it is the true elusive desire of most people. This week the weather has been getting very warm in Australia, which is the complete opposite of the other side of the world. Not only does this make the balancing act of work an play more difficult but this serves as my humbling reminder that we are not all there is. There is  a whole other hemispheres, planets, galaxies and who knows what out there and we are just a mere blip in the radar. But in our day to day life we often get trapped into narrow minded thinking. We get sucked into feeling like our problems are certainly the end of the world and our successes are something that must be celebrated by everyone who knows us.

But here is the thing, although we think we matter a lot, in the scheme of things we matter very little. Some people use this as an excuse to live on a small scale. I view it as the opposite. I use this fact to propel me forward into my future with as much passion, action, adventure and chutzpah as humanly possible. In the end, the only one who knows if you lived the life you are capable of is you.

 You answer to yourself.Personally, I am a very harsh critic. I will be massively successful in all areas of my life.  I refuse not to be. Being mediocre is the most terrifying fate in my book. Sometimes I let this drive me to be a workaholic but thank god I have learned to channel both my workaholic and my free spirit simultaneously. It’s not easy to do this. I continue to struggle with balancing work and play.

But I try to break my life into 1 hour increments. What can I do for the next hour that will be the most beneficial for me? Now, beneficial sometimes means for my business, my mental health, my relationship, my blog, my sanity, my teaching job. If I don’t have an hour-I break it down into half hour segments. It is amazing what you can do when you utilize the time in your day the way YOU want to.

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Dear Sydney…

Dear Sydney,

The past week has been overflowing with more reflection than usual for me. If I gave you an hour inside of my brain I assume you would be quite exhausted and possibly terrified. I am celebrating a year of living here in Sydney. I moved to Australia at the end of July 2015 but I went backpacking for two months up the East coast and I landed in Sydney at the end of September 2015, for what I thought was a few weeks. When I moved to Australia it was my intention to live in Melbourne. My teacher besties I met in Thailand moved there and when I visited the fall before I fell in love. I came to Australia not knowing exactly where I would end up, but I had an open mind and an open heart. After a few weeks in the hostel I was running out of money, so I knew it was time to get another job. My job search began and I made the Library of New South Wales my go-to spot. Something about being in a library makes me feel safe and at home.  It was while I was living in this cheap hostel, searching for a job, checking my bank account after every purchase, exploring the city on my own, that I began stressing about the future and if I really made the right decision. I struggled with loneliness and intense anxiety.  I wrote in my blog a year ago how I took myself out to dinner for the first time at a fancy restaurant and forced myself to enjoy my own company, without my phone or any hesitation. It felt weird and uncomfortable but overall, it was liberating.

A year ago I had no idea that at this hostel I would meet the man that I am now in love and happily living with. I had no idea that my passion for health and wellness, helping others, and sharing my journey would turn into such a huge driving force in my career and my life. For all my travelers out there, I know you can understand why traveling makes you so reflective but if you don’t travel much, I would love to explain why. When you travel or live abroad, especially for long periods of time, your life goes into a time warp and months seem like years and days seem like minutes. It feels like you just left home but it also feels as if you have existed in this universe forever. You develop a routine in your new turf because despite the need for freedom and adventure, human beings are all creatures of habits. When you move away from everything you’ve ever known, you are left with yourself. You are left to define yourself, in whatever manner you desire. The people you meet may learn about your past from stories, photographs and Facebook stalking, but a traveler meets everyone at face value, as the person they are today. It’s a beautiful way to approach life and a particularly comforting way to approach people.

The whole concept of the travel bug sounded silly to me at first. It sounded cliche and overused and quite frankly, trite. But a harsh reality you face in this world, is that cliches only construct meaning in your life when they are relevant to you. The travel bug isn’t a creature you want to take lightly. Now that I have lived abroad for 2 out of the last 3 years of my 20’s, I am heavily addicted. I am in love with the way it feels to explore new cities and look at every minute moment as something special and worth remembering. I am in love with the feeling of coming and going because it constantly reminds you how good you have it. When I travel home, I see the same city I grew up in with fresh eyes. All my favorites of home become that much more divine and sacred. Even though I have lived in Sydney for a year now, it still feels fresh and exciting to me. When I got my teaching job, experienced a few weeks of summer in Sydney and met my handsome Englishman, I felt an overwhelming feeling of contentment. I felt satisfied, grounded and “home” in a way that is difficult to verbalize. I asked myself out-loud, and many of my friends, “Why would you ever choose to leave this?”

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More is possible

In April, I promised to appear weekly with a “headspace” blog post which certainly has turned into an incredible outlet for getting out my weekly thoughts, experiences and reflections. If you are a writer, you understand the often grueling process that goes into our craft and I desired a space to express myself without fretting over my sentence structure or my word choice. Of course, I pay attention to these things but for my weekly writing the actual use of my blog as a “headspace” or a “brain dump” was much more important than the mechanics of the piece. After discovering that one of my favorite authors Elizabeth Gilbert has her own podcast (called Magic Lessons, PLEASE LISTEN) I am feeling more inspired than ever to continue my journey as a writer and push my creativity to higher levels. Coincidentally, I also got an offer to be a contributing writer to an up and coming website that is seeking to be one of the biggest blogging websites on the world wide web. I am so honored and excited because the offer to write for them is completely aligned with my aim for myself as a writer. They encouraged me to write about whatever inspires me the most and see this as an opportunity to connect to a whole new community of writers and readers. Coincidence? I think not. That my friends is the power of the universe.

After binge listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s podcast (trust me a podcast binge is so much more fulfilling and stimulating than a Netflix one) I felt an intense pull at my heart strings to pursue and cherish the gift and the passion I have for my writing. The stories inside of me are not something that I feel as if I can survive without telling. That may sound extremely dramatic to those of you who do not have specific creative calling(that you are aware of) but to me it is plain and simple. Like the feeling of hunger, excitement, joy, or sleepiness. The feeling to create is plain and simple for me and it is relentless. The more I listen to it, the freer I feel. You can expect to see more from me in the coming months as I pursue my new venture as a contributing writer. I am honored and downright ecstatic based on the continual support I get from those around me. My mother, will always be my most faithful reader and artful critic. But I notice and appreciate every bit of feedback you give me. The truth is, I would and will write despite the fact that anyone reads or enjoys it. But the fact that you read and enjoy it channels my inner “flow” of spirit. The more genuine I am to my most inner thoughts and feelings the more my audience responds favorably. To me, that is simply a testament of this incredible gift. One of my favorite quotes, that I have included on the homepage of my blog, “Great writers remind us that more is possible”- Kiddler & Todd. Simply put, I can not think of a better mantra for what I am to aiming to bring to my readers. More is possible, in so many facets and nuances of life, writing, troubles, and happiness. More is infinitely available but impressively elusive. Let’s go find it together. 

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