WCW: Elle Deal

It’s the last month of 2018 and I have some catching up to do with my #WCW series. So for the month of December I am going to feature a new woman crush of mine every week! 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 Lauren aka “Elle”

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Lauren and I met at our annual business conference in Nashville three years ago. From the moment I met Lauren I knew I wanted to be her friend. Her personality is infectious, her smile quite literally lights up the room and she has the insane talent of making best friends with everyone. We instantly clicked but as soon as we met I was off to Australia and Lauren was living in Pennsylvania at the time. Luckily, with the nature of our online business and our partnership with the same company, we still spent a lot of time together on video chats, business meetings, phone calls and of course, social media support.

 

Quickly I realized Lauren was not just an ordinary “work friend.” She is like a missing part of me. We bonded over the fact that we were both classroom teachers as our day jobs. We both were passionate teachers who really loved teaching but also couldn’t deny the flaws in the school system and the general dissatisfaction we had with pursuing a career in a classroom forever. Lauren called me while I was living in New Zealand and we had a really long discussion about her gut feeling she wanted to move to Florida. I encouraged her to take the risk, what’s the worst that could happen? She did and she flourished and I got the chance to visit her a couple times before she just recently moved on to her next adventure. I’ll let her take it from here.

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WCW: Laura Oxley

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! December’s WCW is a special traveling sista. 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 Laura

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The crazy part is…I met Laura online in a travel group and reached out to her for some advice about New Zealand. Remember when I told you to meet strangers online.. I meant it. She quickly became one of the most helpful online pals I’ve ever met! She was so thorough and genuinely wanted to help me enjoy my time in Auckland. I was and still am very grateful. She ended up being Canadian but she moving to the U.K. so we kept in contact and are still in the process of meeting IRL. She interviewed me for her blog and I feel as if I’ve gotten to know her so well through her blog, her social media presence and bonding over expat struggles.  I’m so grateful I met you Laura and I can’t fricken wait to meet up IRL soon!! I’ll let her take it from here– just by her answers it’s clear to see why I like her so much!

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

Confidence. Someone who knows who she is and really doesn’t give a Sh*t what people think about that (one way or another). I think society makes it hard for women (and men too) to be who they really want to be without the stigma of “is that what the norm is?”. So I have so much respect for women who are so unapologetically themselves in every situation.

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WCW: Davila Thompson

For September’s WCW I have a special treat for you. 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 Davila. 

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Davila and I met through social media. She reached out to me about my online health and fitness challenges I run and oddly enough she was also a New Yorker moving to Australia. I coached her online the month before she came to Sydney and we instantly clicked when we got to meet for the first time in person. Davila is such an intelligent, funny and motivated person. She takes her health very seriously but she doesn’t take life too seriously.

 

She has taught me a lot about veganism and I can always run to her with any plant-based questions that pop into my brain. Luckily, we got to spend quality time together while I was still living in Sydney and have stayed in touch since I’ve been away. I can always count on Dav to listen to my feelings and genuinely care about what is happening in my life and vice versa. I am honored to feature her here and to have her in my life. Thanks for your light and your friendship, Davila. I’ll let her take it from here.

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WCW: Julie Diamond

I didn’t forget about my WCW series on my travels. I had this beauty waiting on deck for August.  So fashionably late due to my blogging sabbatical (I’m just making things up now) … here is my August 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 Julie. 

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I met Julie at WVU. We were in different sororities but at the time we were dating close friends so we became friends through them. Julie is someone who you instantly like when you meet her and although we weren’t close friends in college we had a friendship connection that has flourished since we left WVU due to our shared passion for fitness (I’ll spare you the throw back pictures of us because they are all at Chaser’s or Tabu.)

I am so impressed by Julie because not only is she a fitspo queen and a Monster cycle instructor in NYC –she is a bloody brainiac. She got her PHD in radiation oncology at NYU. She definitely embodies a woman worthy of crushing over: smart, driven, healthy AF, caring and FUN. It has been a pleasure watching you blossom into yourself and I cherish your light in my life– even if it’s from a distance, Julie! Thanks for making time for this interview and I can’t wait to see what you accomplish next.

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WCW: Hollie Azzopardi

WCW Series: Hollie Azzopardi 

I am bursting with joy to announce my new blog series- Women Crush Wednesday. Every month I am going to feature a woman who I know personally who inspires me and lights up my world. The Women Crush Wednesday hashtag and social media trend is nothing new. But I am trying to reclaim that title not just for half naked celebrities or women you actually know nothing about. The women I crush over are using their womenhood, their voice and their passions to make our world brighter. I have some incredible women in my life so I am honored to share them with you. I hope you find them as inspiring as I do.

Meet Hollie.

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

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A note from someone left behind

Do you understand what losing someone to suicide is really like? Do you know what it’s like to be someone left behind? Do you think you have a better idea after watching the latest TV show? Well, I watched it. And my best friend killed herself when I was 15. Here’s my two cents.

The latest Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” was another show clogging up my social media newsfeed. Much like a viral funny video, a big news story or controversial celebrity gossip, you start to see it everywhere and it makes you quite curious. I am on social media constantly working my business so I tend to be on the up and up with trendy things in pop culture.

When I heard about the show, I googled it and saw the subject matter. At first I was surprised to see this subject matter as a mainstream Netflix series. I was intrigued. I am a mental health advocate. I’m part of a non-profit surf organization, One Wave,  which is raising awareness for mental health so I am very vocal about this difficult and often taboo subject matter. I lost my best friend to suicide in 2006 and grew up with my mother suffering from severe mental health issues. My family is also riddled with mental illness and I suffer from mental health issues myself. So, I may not be a psychologist or a doctor, but I have a lot of real-life first hand experience that I feel must be shared.

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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.”

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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My Space

As I sit and stare at the Opera House on a sunny Thursday afternoon in Sydney, my mind is taken to so many different places and spaces. I want to live in this moment again and again. I’m not sure how …

And then my laptop died. To me, a sign from the Universe to drink in that moment and write about it later. Remembering it now, it still feels like just as sweet of a space.  

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I feel as if I am neglecting my words like the VCR that slowly got replaced by the DVD player or the walkman that got tossed aside for the iPod. But every time I turn to them again it feels like an old, familiar, and comforting friend. My words are the ratty t-shirt you wear to sleep that has a hole and some permanent stains but still feels just right. Even when things steal my attention (Facebook Live) or make it difficult for me to write (broken laptop) I still know in my heart this is my purest form of expression, therapy, joy and creation. My words are my space. 

So here I am, on a Sunday night, with my ever looming to-do list and my stack of ungraded papers. My apartment is clean, my workout is complete and my inbox is empty- all of which give me great satisfaction. But my words are still looming waiting to form and reflect. My words still give me the deepest satisfaction I can ask for and that’s how I know they are my truth and my space.

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