Dear Grief: An open letter

Dear Grief, 

Today I woke up with a heavy heart. October 30th has been the hardest day of my life for the last 13 years. My chest is heavy. My stomach hurts. Today is the day the world lost the most beautiful soul, Corinne Marie Craig. One of my childhood best friends. 

23023834_10210133064027879_2052717288_n

13 years is a long time but grief I never should underestimate your power.

How do you know to make my chest tight?

How do you bring tears to my eyes?

How do you coax me to my laptop because you know words are the only way for me to make sense of what I feel?

If you’re new to your relationship with my friend grief: let me help you out. Grief is a roller coaster. You never know what to expect. Grief can be the life of the party or the person who can’t get out of bed. Everyone experiences this friend differently, and let me tell you many would not consider you a friend, grief. But I do. 

I consider you a friend because you are an emotion and experience that has been with me for nearly half of my life. I’ve gotten to know you well. I don’t want to forget you because I will never forget her. 

My Corey. That silly laugh & kind heart. That sassy attitude & philosophical mind. How many times could we watch Now & Then and a Walk to Remember? A friend so loyal and willing to listen that she taught me to do the same. A rockstar cheerleader. A sensitive soul. A force to be reckoned with. 

It’s been 13 years since we’ve had the pleasure of having Corey earth side but I know without a shadow of a doubt she has been with me every step of my journey. The sassiest guardian angel out there. 

Over the years I have shared about a lot regarding Corey’s life, death & everything in between (you can click the links if you want to read more): Dealing with the anniversary abroad , my journey with grief  , Corey’s story  , The impact she has had , remembering 10 years without her , My own mental health struggles and What it’s like being left behind by suicide. 

Grief taught me to be patient with people having a bad day, whether they can express that or not because  we all have silent battles to fight.

Every single one of us.

 Grief taught me to reach out to loved ones (even the ones who seem really happy) reach out when someone is in your dream, or a memory comes rushing back to you. 

Reach out if you haven’t talked in years and you just want to say that they are on your mind. 

Grief taught me to express myself and to find my voice. 

Grief is what lead me to writing and I know that I am grateful for that. 

Grief has taught me to continue to use my voice & know that the impact spreads farther than you might imagine. 

Last year I wrote about my journey to understanding when grief actually ends

The answer is it doesn’t. 

A lot of people feel pressure from society, even loved ones or friends to “move on” but I’m here to tell you, you don’t have to. 

Grief is an incredible teacher if you let it be. 

Sadness and joy can coexist and for me that pain and sorrow of losing my best friend at 16 will never go away but it has changed the trajectory of my life because I let it. 

I let grief in. Even when it was paralyzing. Even when I need to scream and cry and punch pillows and throw water bottles. It didn’t happen overnight. And because of self-medicating I didn’t fully “grieve” right away. 

But that doesn’t mean I’m not committed to this process & relationship with grief. 

Because what’s your alternative? Denial? Numbing? Ruining you future because you’re running from feelings begging to be felt? 

I don’t claim to know it all. I never do. Grief has taught me that even when you “do” all of the right things, go to therapy, remember your loved one or friend in positive ways, cry, rest, pick up new hobbies, grief can still turn up and throw everything for a loop. It’s relentless. 

At times grief has made me angry, guilty, depressed, scared, frustrated, devastated, but it’s also made me kind, resilient, thoughtful, driven and vulnerable. 

My best advice when it comes to grief? 

Feel everything. 

Laugh when you want to laugh about silly memories or inside jokes, cry when you feel like things are unfair, talk it out when you just want someone to remember your loved one you lost, get angry, sad, whatever emotion comes up- let it come and realize that you can survive & thrive alongside those feelings. 

Time won’t heal your wounds. Your wound is the absence of a person who touched your life deeply. That doesn’t go away. But time does give you perspective. It allows you to find purpose and remember that they WANT you to be happy. 

They want you to live and I believe we owe it to them to do so. 

So, believe in yourself. 

Believe in the impact your experience of loss and your relationship with grief can have on others. 

Believe in the legacy you have left to built in keeping your loved one’s memory alive. 

If you feel the call to share your loved ones story or your story DO IT. 

Grief is different for everyone but I can tell you I wouldn’t have gotten through it without my words for self expression, without the support of our Bishop Ludden Community and without the courage to keep telling this story of life, death, loss, grief, mental illness and all the beautiful bits that happen in between. 

 I tell Corey’s story as frequently as possible because it matters and so many people in life have been there, are there or are trying to help someone who is. Mental health struggles and suicide add a whole entire layer to the grieving process and it’s a huge part of the reason I advocate for proactive mental health consistently. 

I’ve tried my best as time goes on to not resent you grief, to not get angry at stolen moments and get angry at growing older & growing further away from the chapter of life that Corey lived a long side me. I still have those moments of anger. 

Any time someone I love loses someone they love, grief floods through my bones and reminds me of it’s presence. My heart aches for you if you have to join this twisted relationship with grief. Not if, when. It’s inevitable. 

Grief is not something you can escape in your lifetime, but if you feel it fully, if you let it, it will change who you are and hopefully for the better. 

So grief, it’s been a long journey, one that I know that will never end but I am confident that neither will my relationship with Corey. “Death ends a life not a relationship” is a quote that got me through some of my darkest days.

 Grief is heavy, these words are heavy, but I am strong. My love for Corey is strong. If you are at any stage of you grieving process, I see you. I feel  you. I am here for you. We don’t have to have all the answers to offer our experiences, we just have to have courage and I’m confident Corey left me with some of hers. 

Corey, as always, I carry your heart. Thank you for the most recent messages. I am still trying my best to understand what they mean & take action. 

So grief, today you feel heavy.  You don’t feel like a friend. 

I miss my dear friend.

 I shouldn’t let you take me by surprise after all this time but in the same respect I am humbled. Humbled by the fact that pain can be deeply intertwined in our bodies calendar.

The pain reminds me just how much human connection can impact our hearts & souls despite loss, time, distance, and years gone by. This inspires me to be a better human while I’m here on earth and help others find that ever changing dance between sadness and joy. 

I’m not sure how much sense this makes but based on my truth of understanding grief, just getting something out helps. .

Remember, wherever you are reading this, whatever emotions it brings up,

feel everything

& know you are never alone. 

Love,

Susie

 

When Does Grief End?

Every year, October 30th creeps up and every year it stings just as badly. Immediately I turn to my words as a place of comfort and solace.  I woke up this morning and immediately started clicking away at my keyboard snuggled in my childhood bed (I’m visiting my parents in New York from England.) The sense of grief is overwhelming today. October 30th is the day one of my very best childhood friends took her own life at the tender age of 16. 12 years have passed. Every day grief is present but I’m sure anyone who has lost someone very close to them, anniversaries present a fresh wound each and every year.

IMG_9685

Corey’s life and story has been such a driving force for my own life. I talk about her all the time. I tell her story. I advocate for mental health. I spread the message of hope far and wide. Unfortunately, this does not bring my very goofy, kind and fun loving friend back. It doesn’t replace the years we have lost. I never stop wondering who she would be now and what awesome memories we would have made. I never stop worrying about her sweet parents. I never stop feeling guilty.

IMG_7473IMG_7472IMG_0089

Nothing makes me more frustrated than when people tell others who are grieving that it’s time to “move on” or “get over it.” I live a very full life. I have incredible friends and a partner who I want to spend my future with, a loving family, a career and business I am building from the ground up and travel stories for days. I have lived such a beautiful life because as soon as I lost my best friend at 16, I was taken into grief and survival mode. Some people get angry, depressed, lonely, desperate. I drank through a lot of the sadness but I also WOKE UP.

 I knew that life was short and that it was my duty to life it to the fullest. It was my job. Despite the overwhelming grief I knew I had to “cherish every day” (which I got tattooed on my foot.) It doesn’t mean the grief isn’t there, it means I’ve done something with it. I didn’t get over my grief, I used it to shape me into a kinder, more passionate, let’s do it right-fricken-now kind of person. So, I proudly have never gotten over the traumatic loss of my best friend, I have carried it with me and learned how to grieve and live simultaneously. Something that continues to be a work in progress.

Continue reading

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.

image1

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.”

Continue reading

#WCW: What we need to be

I heard a little girl speaking to her mother on the elevator asking why she had to go to her classmate’s birthday party even though it wasn’t her friend. Her mother said, “We need to be kind to everyone in our class not just our friends. We need to think about how we want friends at our birthday party so we do the same for others. We need to be…” DING. The elevator door opened to their floor and I didn’t catch the end of her statement. I wanted to chase after the woman and squeeze her frail and tired body. I started creating a whole list of things in my head  that “We need to be” particularly as women. I’ve spent a lot of time in the past 6 years around groups of women. I was in a sorority in college and my coaching team is predominantly female. I’ve met and befriended women from all over the world and I have grown such a deep respect and admiration for women who are fighting the good fight. I am in several online communities in the digital world that promote women traveling, exercising, writing, and pretty much owning their personal passions.  I love women who are standing up for what they believe in, especially when it isn’t something that everyone believes in. We need more women like that.

 I am fascinated by the fact that feminism seems to be such a dirty word reserved for granola, crunchy hippies who hate men and live with 10 cats. Alright, that is a harsh generalization but I think you know what I mean by a “dirty word.” It has a  lot of stigma attached to it, such as words like racism, mental health, suicide, rich, money, conservative, business, abortion, Muslim, gay etc. All words with a stigma attached to them are  topics that are highly misunderstood, quite taboo to talk about, and generally the people who do talk about them are people who don’t represent them in the first place. I believe in strong  women, feminism and women having a voice. So, here it is. I don’t hate men. I love men. I was raised by an incredible man, grew up with two wonderful guys as my older brothers and I am currently in love with one of the good ones. But, I, in fact am a woman. And I have a voice. A voice I can proudly articulate. Today is World Gratitude Day and I am beyond grateful that I have a voice. Magic Lessons with Elizabeth GIlbert seems to be a weekly reference point lately, but I truly feel so connected to her message, her guests and somehow my life seems to coincide perfectly. Gilbert said on this week’s episode, “To be criticized is the tax that you pay for having a public voice. To be rejected is the tax that you pay for having a public voice. There is a very simple way to make sure that you are never criticized and never rejected and that is to never have a public voice.”

IMG_5086

Continue reading

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.

14233547_10206917522241344_1113772170_o

Continue reading

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?

Always NOW

Here’s my weekly “Head Space”. I give you my thoughts in a pretty unrefined manner. I’m not sure who it’s for but writing is my own form of therapy and I truly need it this week.  This week has been a roller coaster for me emotionally. My head space has been very full. But as usual my weekly Friday ritual of sunrise yoga on the beach & joining with a group of like minded people supporting an awesome local mental health awareness organization has reenergized me and left me feeling inspired, invigorated and peaceful. I got painful news this week that my four legged best friend and sibling of 14 years was losing his battle with cancer. My mom told me the news that my precious pup Connery was gone and it hit a tender spot in my heart.

Why do we love our pets so much? Why do humans create such an attachment to their animals that they quite literally are part of the family? Luckily, thanks to the universe, I am currently reading The Power of Now. The Power of Now focuses on the difference between our mind and our Being. It stresses the importance of living in the now because that is physically the only “time” we ever have. It is always Now.

We attach ourselves so strongly to our pets and that love is such a wonderful representation of Being. We can’t chat with our dogs,  ask them about their day, or argue with them over frivolous things. But we form a bond with them, we love their presence and their companionship. They remind us what it is like to be loved and to love unconditionally.  They don’t worry about the past. If you are angry with them for destroying your new shoes or stealing food off the counter, dogs don’t dwell on it. They sulk in sadness because they can feel your anger but a few minutes later they act as if nothing happened and go right back to living in the now. Dogs don’t care what your goals are or if you reached your sales quota for the month. They won’t judge you if you eat ice cream straight out of the tub. They definitely don’t care how expensive your car is or what brand your purse is. Our relationships with our dogs or any pet for that matter, represent all of the best qualities of a loving and pure relationship and a satisfied present life. They depend on you and you depend on them. They can sense when you need love and extra snuggles and they have an uncanny ability to find ways to cheer you up. (Side note:If you are a dog person and you haven’t read The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein grab a box of tissues and go buy it immediately. It will change the way you look at dogs forever.)

Through this great sadness of losing my dog I gained great clarity as well. I’m not sure why sadness gives me such perspective on life but I have come to realize that I don’t let pain sit long with me. I immediately need to craft it into something more. I use pain to propel me forward and remind me what matters to me, what I need to let go of and what more I can do to help others through pain. “You can use a challenge to awaken you, or you can allow it to pull you into even deeper sleep.” The pain of losing my dog coupled with the power of reading this book have pushed me back a few steps and allowed me to take a moment to appreciate what is. When you reflect on your relationship with your dog, the bond you share, and the incredibly genuine and raw sadness you feel to lose that life you are immediately reminded of what matters the most in life. Dogs teach us a lot about life, how to love, how to forgive, how to be fiercely loyal to the ones we love and who treat us right and most importantly, how to live in the moment. As for my sweet puppy, I will love you always Connery Bell. You were an amazing companion and the most polite gentleman puppy brother a girl could ask for. My love and our families bond with you will last forever.  Dogs aren’t thinking about next week, stressful deadlines, or what their friends are doing, they are thinking about what is right in front of them, whether it is food, a squirrel, a treat, or a ball they are chasing…they put their whole heart and attention into that moment. We could all learn a lot from our dogs.

IMG_9977

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading