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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Be More…

I wrote this blog post a few days ago. I usually write/edit  my posts for at least 2 or 3 days depending on the subject matter. My message is even more important now that I have received terribly heartbreaking news today that another one of my friends from WVU has passed away far too young. Brad Fagula, you were a hilarious and loving spirit who always knew how to have fun. You were a great friend to so many and I truly can’t believe you are gone. I still think my sentiments for this blog post are very pertinent to my feelings but the sense of urgency for gratitude has increased tenfold. When you go to sleep you never know what or who will be there when you wake up. All we have is right now. Memories and love truly do go on long after a physical body leaves this earth but I pray that my WVU family, Brad’s family and all of those affected by losing someone they love too soon, find peace and strength in this hard time. Our time is the greatest tool and the greatest gift we can give to those we love. I appreciate you taking the time to read this and I hope it adds a smile and some inspiration to your day. ❤ RIP Brad

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This morning I am reflecting on how many people have reached out to me in the past few months whether it was about my piece about Corey, a blog post about my crazy traveling life or a fitness related post I have had friends from near and far tell me that they connected to my story, my words or were inspired by my attitude or positivity in some way. Some of these friends consistently like my posts, share or comment on them, but some of them I had no idea even read my blog or appreciated my work. It was eye opening to realize that just because someone is inspired by you does not mean you know it. Just like people hide pain and struggle, we often don’t publicize things that affect us positively. This is not a bad thing. There are many aspects of my life I leave off of social media even though as a writer and an online health and fitness coach it is part of my job to share my journey, we all live the majority of our lives outside the cyberworld.

When I post something I hope to add value to your day, bring a smile to your face, encourage you to work out, try a new recipe, quit that job you hate, or stand up to someone who is making you feel inferior. I am humbled and inspired by how many people respond positively to my story and I urge you to never hesitate to tell the person who inspires you that you feel that way. One incredibly small gesture means more than you know, especially for those of us whose main aim is to help others. The world needs more of that.That being said I am constantly inspired by my coach and friend Amy for helping so many people start their own business and running a kick ass business of her own. She leads with her heart and never gives up on anyone. I am inspired by every single one of you who has reached out to me and told me that I have helped or am helping you in some way. It is not always easy to share my thoughts, but I do it anyway because of the tremendous amount of support and positive feedback I receive. I know it also takes your time and effort to reach out and that in itself is worthy of a “thank you.”

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Cheers to you, Corinne Marie

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October is a month that many people look forward to. It is associated with fall weather and the start of the holiday season with Halloween. For the past decade, October has had a different aura attached to it. Nine years ago October 30, 2006 changed my life forever. To this day, I can not think of a single day that has impacted me more. Unfortunately, the whole month still puts a pain in my heart and an empty feeling in my stomach. Don’t get me wrong, I have slowly grown to appreciate pumpkin picking and carving, dressing up and fall decorations once again but there is a sadness attached to October I simply can’t shake. A huge part of my coaching business is personal development. The leaders on our team constantly demand and remind us how important it is to have a strong WHY for why we are in the business and why we decided to dedicate ourselves to helping others. Personally, as a writer, blogger, teacher, and self diagnosed over thinker I have always had a driving “why” in my life long before it became something I was asked to do for my career. The further I develop as a professional, a business owner, and a person; the more I realize how deeply intertwined my “why” really is with my life choices. If you know me well, you probably already know about my friend Corey and how deeply her life and friendship has impacted me. As time goes on and I continue to explore new countries, new horizons and add people to my ever growing network of humans I care about; I realize that Corey’s story is not something that is always at the forefront of conversation. October 30th and this time of the year is and always will be a reminder of her death but more importantly her life, her friendship and how her words are still a driving force and why in my life.

For those of you who don’t know Corey’s story I will give you a glimpse into who she was and what she taught not only me, but a whole community. Corey was an absolutely gorgeous girl from the inside out. She would befriend anyone and had an incredible talent at making everyone feel important. She gravitated towards people who needed an open ear or a shoulder to cry on, despite the fact that she was battling so much of her own pain. She was a talented cheerleader, a dedicated friend and student but deep down a huge goof ball. She was outgoing (once she got to know you) but extremely self-conscious and worried about her appearance and how others perceived her. She would randomly belt out singing as loud she could (usually Mariah Carey or a 90s boy band), eat tubs of raw cookie dough and spend hours listening to music or talking on the phone to her crushes or girlfriends. I had the honor of being her best friend for three years and have struggled to find a more loyal or supportive companion since. She sincerely wanted the BEST for everyone around her. She struggled deeply with depression and even in our tender teenage years she could verbalize a sadness that was hard for my mind to fathom. On October 30, 2006 Corey lost her struggle with depression and took her own life. The ripple she created is far more powerful today than any of us could have realized at the time.

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A Quarter You’d Better Hold Onto

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Quarters in college were such a hot commodity because without them you couldn’t do your laundry, you had to annoy everyone on your floor, beg the front desk RA’s, and ultimately wear no underwear for a few days until you could find enough to do your laundry. Obviously going to the bank was simply out of the question. Oh, the mind of an irrational college freshman… I surely don’t miss it.

I have a quarter for you that will remain of value no matter what age you are. A quarter century worth of wisdom that is. Turning 25 sounded monumental for some reason. Much older than 24 and definitely the age I told myself I would have it all figured out. As I get older I start to believe that every year is the year I told myself I would “have my life together.” What does that mean anyway? Now I have realized no 25 year old on this planet has it all figured out and only humor, liquor or empathy will get us through this tumultuous time in our lives.

On yet another long weekend road trip I had an abundance of time to think and reflect. Birthdays always remind me of the best there is to life and just how much I truly have to be grateful for. I feel obligated to share what I have learned in my quarter century on this planet but not in a list of course. That would make me a hypocrite. So, I will give you 25 snippets of wisdom I have gained from my short but incredibly meaningful existence, a few of which are still unanswered questions. Kudos to those who will still read it despite the lack of bolded headings and condensed thoughts.

First and foremost, life is hypocritical but that does not give you the right to be a hypocrite. Life has a funny way of contradicting itself. People tell you to act one way, give you great advice but they don’t follow through themselves. You learn lessons (at least you think) and you will inevitably make the same mistakes. But that also leads me to my belief that whatever you look for you will find. If you expect the worst out of a situation that is what you will get. If you look for good people, that is who you will find yourself surrounded by. There is enough of everything and everyone to go around in this world; you determine what you are surrounded by.

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Make it Matter

IMG_5974                When I started my blog I started with the intentions of sharing my journey in Thailand with my friends and family. I knew it would be hard to communicate and share all the details of life with everyone I cared for half way across the world. Technology is an incredible tool that like most things in life can be abused or can be used to enhance the lives of others. Once I began to share my stories, experiences, thoughts and feelings, I realized how powerful it is to share your life with others. Sometimes people share too much and are too concerned with what others think about their life. For me, I focused on all of the positive feedback I was receiving and how my story and my words were making a difference in the life of others. Once I started getting into my own blog, I spent a lot of time reading other’s work too. I began following many personal travel blogs, lifestyle blogs, poets, DIY experts, foodies…you name it. I have a vast range of interests and I respect and admire an assortment of expressions of life. I truly am awed and fascinated by people and what makes them tick. Blogging is an incredible way to jump into the driver’s seat of someone else’s life for 5-10 minutes and take a moment to immerse yourself in their reality. If you immerse yourself in someone else’s reality, you feel more connected to your own and more cognizant that the dreams you have and the struggles you face are not the only thing that matter.

While I was living in Thailand I went through many personal life changes. I got to know myself in a way that I didn’t even know was necessary. I suffered a life changing heartbreak that for the most part I lived through privately. I was given many “gifts”, as I fondly call them, of articles written about heartbreak, suffering loss, and finding yourself; but at that time I wasn’t ready or willing to air any “dirty laundry” through my own words. When you are going through something so personal, it helps to share but there is a very thin line between expressing yourself and being distasteful. I was raised in a manner to know that if I didn’t have anything nice to say I shouldn’t say at all. But I wrote every day for myself. I used my words to integrate all of the emotion I was experiencing into concrete expressions. I learned that as a person I not only like writing, I need it. I still was keeping up and writing my blog. I was being honest about my struggles but not in an overly explicit manner. I wasn’t able to comprehend my thoughts or understand how I would move forward in life so I chose to take that part of the journey privately.

Today, I am here to share what I have learned not because I need to but because I want to be that “gift” for someone else. Once you are on the advice giving side again and not the advice seeker, you tend to come full circle with situations. This article is about my heartbreak, but it is not about you. It is about me. If you are going to piss off a woman you shouldn’t piss off a woman who can write. Just ask any of Taylor Swift’s ex boyfriends. If you have the balls to do it, you should have the balls to read about it. And not just read about it, but read an eloquently constructed piece that evokes genuine emotion and empathy and possibly scorn from anyone who reads it. But again this piece isn’t about you…it’s about me. I actually wrote this blog post months ago, first with notes in my notepad on my phone, and then on my computer. To my surprise, I have never had one entry lost or deleted. I write everything on a word document and then post it as a draft on WordPress and then publish it. For some reason, when I went back to look for this entry, it was nowhere to be found. I think it was a sign that my thoughts had not come full circle and I wasn’t ready to synthesize my experiences into a meaningful, but honest piece. Today I am more than ready.

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Cherish Every Day

                  Happy Halloween from Thailand! Although fall is one of my favorite seasons with all of the fun festive activities and (usually) cooler weather, fall also brings back some of the hardest memories and ones that are the closest to my heart. Yesterday was the seven-year anniversary of my best friend Corey’s death. I was only 15 and in 11th grade when it happened and it turned my whole world upside down. My group of friends, classmates and community went through more grief than anyone should ever have to face. Thankfully, we came out stronger in the end and I know that because of Corey’s life and legacy I am more compassionate, understanding, selfless, and I especially have learned to “Cherish Every Day”. If I am having a bad day or being pessimistic I have a tattoo to remind me with that simple poignant phrase and Corey’s initials.

                   Since most of my friends and family are on the east coast of the States, I began to experience October 30th before anyone else. Seven years may seem like a long time, but just seeing that date on the calendar turns my stomach into knots. I try to remember her beautiful smile, laugh, goofy personality, and our countless inside jokes but the date brings me back to that dreadful day in 2006 and I relive each step of it. Now, it feels more like a bad dream than anything else. The day has a hazy quality to it and most of the experiences feel as if they were in slow motion. I also feel like my memories of the day are not from my perspective but rather from an outsider looking in on myself. I remind myself to be positive and know whole-heartedly that her spirit is always with me, but I think it is important to remember the pain.

                    Pain is unfortunately one of life’s greatest teachers and without it we cannot appreciate the good in life and we cannot change. The pain I felt after loosing my dear friend has guided me and given me purpose in life. Her belief in me while she was here on earth has not diminished. I feel her spirit pushing me to help others, to listen, to talk and give advice, and to be open to what life has to offer me. I received a voicemail from her the night before she died and one line rings in my ears, “You have so much potential, don’t waste it”. Sometimes it is a quiet whisper, and sometimes it is an angry shout. For most, this isn’t groundbreaking advice and may be words you’ve heard before, but to me…they are a final message of encouragement and obligation to someone who I love very much.

                My day at school yesterday was quite normal. After school Jackie and I went shopping and exploring in our town. We ventured to our local shopping mall where nearly everything is written or spoken in Thai. As we walked past one store I did a double take (why I don’t know) and saw a small sign over a display of shoes, the only English letters or words in sight “CMC”, Corey’s initials. I smiled and lingered for a second just to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. I felt at ease the rest of the day knowing that Corey will follow me wherever I choose to explore.  Seven years ago my three best friends and I chose to read this E.E. Cummings poem at Corey’s funeral, and have it engraved on special necklaces that we all have.  The words gave us so much comfort then and for me, even more so now. Corey lives on in the hearts of all that she met and even many who never knew her but were touched by her story. If you know Corey, I hope you find comfort in these words and purpose in her honor. If you don’t I hope you are reminded of the power of kindness, the vulnerability of human beings, the reality of mental illness and the everlasting quality of the human spirit. All that we touch and see in this world, and especially the people we meet, should be cherished, nurtured and celebrated.   I intend to do just that.

i carry your heart with me BY E.E. CUMMINGS

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in

my heart) i am never without it(anywhere

i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done

by only me is your doing, my darling)

i fear no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet) i want

no world(for beautiful you are my world, my true)

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you

 here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

 

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)Image