Can you Thrive through the Holidays?

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Grief: It means something

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

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

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

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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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Make your bed= Change your life?

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

Everyone is asking me…How is New Zealand?

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


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

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

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Corey’s Heart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Loud and Heavy

The past week was full of a lot of important and meaningful days for me. Some hold significance for whole communities and some are simply significant to me, but they have culminated and left me feeling heavy…in a good way. I share a lot about One Wave, the nonprofit surf organization, that I have become a part of since I moved to Sydney a year ago. Every Friday I head to Bondi Beach in my Fluro gear and meet up with the most genuine group of people I have met here in Sydney. We have a group chat about mental health, share stories of struggle and inspiration, bring it in for a group hug and then the surfers head out to the ocean and the yogis practice on the beach. I got involved simply because I saw a Facebook event for sunrise yoga on Bondi beach when I first moved there. I have stayed involved because not only do I love the sunrise beach yoga but I love being supported and reminded how truly important mental health awareness is. Not to mention, I’ve met some of my closest friends there and every Friday we go to brunch together and check in on each other’s week in the most fulfilling and honest way. Everyone who attends is in some way affected by mental health (either in their own experiences or the experiences of loved ones close to them) so it gives me a very safe space to discuss my struggles and to be there for my friends who also are struggling.

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Almost Snoozed

Today I woke up late. I caved into the tricky snooze demon and missed my train to get to Friday morning yoga. I still woke up before it started but not in time to take the train & bus like I normally do. I was still nestled in my blankets when I texted my boyfriend and he told me to  leave right NOW & get a cab and that he would pay for it because he knows how much these Friday mornings with One Wave mean to me! He’s an absolute gem, I know. I feel so lucky to have him in my life because everyone deserves loved ones who support things that mean a lot to them. Even though I was ready to throw in the towel this morning he knew how much happier I would be and gave me a much needed voice of reason & encouragement. So into the taxi I went… 

The sunrise was unbelievable and I saw the familiar faces I’ve grown to expect on Friday mornings. Especially my friend Steph who shared her amazing story of her lifelong battle with depression, aneixty and body dysmorphia last week. I was very inspired by her strength. We started the morning with the usual group meeting/introduction and reminder about what One Wave is and what the community is for; raising awareness for mental health. Then Sam asked if anyone would like to share. Now if you know me personally you know I am always a talker and I’m never nervous to give my two cents in just about any situation but since I’ve started coming to One Wave Fluro Friday I have been an absorber. I have listened Friday after Friday and gleaned bits of hope, strength and courage from these good hearted, unguarded individuals. I knew one day I would share but I just wanted to listen for a while . So today, after the thirty dollar cab ride and the perfect sunrise, it seemed a better day than any.

I shared about how I accidentally got involved with One Wave because I saw a Facebook event for the Sunrise Bender yoga but coincidentally I have been a mental health advocate since I lost my best friend to suicide at 16 years old. I felt Corey’s presence with me as I spoke. I feel her presence every Friday morning on the beach when anyone speaks about suicide, depression, losing friends, or suffering of any sort. I talked about Corey’s life and her seemingly perfect exterior and how losing her changed my life and the lives of SO MANY forever. I talked about my mothers struggle with depression and bipolar disorder and how that affected me as a child. I talked about my wonderful cousin who also lost his battle to depression and suicide.  But mostly I focused on the fact that mental health affects EVERYONE not just the individuals who suffer from mental disorders but their loved ones, family, friends, the communities they are a part of. And to some degree, we ALL have struggles, ups and downs and unexplainable stress, aneixty and hardships on the road of life. You can not judge a person by the way they appear to be on the outside. You can not assume a person has a perfect life because that’s what it looks like on social media. We all have times of sadness and we all need compassion and understanding. We can change our world and our communities by the way we support each other and give individuals space to feel understood, looked after and cared about. You don’t need to know what to say, you just need to know how to listen without judgement. That is the best gift you can give anyone struggling with hardship, mental health related or not.

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Your Story Matters

Understanding people is one of my top priorities in growing my relationships and perspective on life. I always want to know why they are the way they are and what matters to them. In friends, students, family members and quite honestly strangers I meet traveling or out at the bar, I am insatiably curious to know their story. Storytellers also love hearing great stories. In my coaching business, we are often asked what our “why” is for being a part of this business. The question is asked when we begin the journey as coaches and then it is asked many times as our personal business evolves, naturally the “why” evolves. My mission not only in my new career but as a human being is to use my story, my struggles and my triumphs to lift others up and inspire them. I am surrounded by a team full of incredible people who share their deepest struggles with their body image, mental health, financial trouble, self-confidence issues, relationship problems, (the list goes on) with their followers, friends, family and anyone on the internet to see. As I evolve as a person, a writer, a business woman and a human being I realize that the story that I know so well, my own story, is not something I have put in the spotlight lately.

Now I am living on the other side of the planet with people who haven’t known me longer than 6 months at most. The funny thing about constantly meeting new people is they can only meet you where you are. We can share stories about our past but people tend to judge us by our present. I notice this when I walk down the crowded streets in Sydney. If I’m on my way to work in my “teacher dresses” I give off a much different persona then if I’m in my activewear going to the gym or my casual beach clothes. People deal with me in a much different manner as well. We subconsciously put strangers in boxes and molds and sharing our stories about the inside are the best way to break those. Sometimes I would like a sign on my forehead at the bar, “More than just a pretty face”. Not because I am looking to meet anyone, I am currently the happiest I’ve ever been in a relationship. I just want people to stop judging the shell of me and start being interested in what is underneath. Due to the overwhelming response from my friends, old and new, of how happy I look and seem, I want to go a bit deeper than that shell. Right now, I am happy. But the struggle it took to get here can not be forgotten.

Social media is terrifying when it is used to magnify the good and stifle the bad. I will always be an optimistic individual but I refuse to discount or discredit the struggle and the pain that have been such a real catalyst in shaping me into the woman I am today. I accidently became involved with an Australian organization called One Wave, which raises awareness for mental health. I found out about a free Sunrise Bender yoga class on Bondi Beach when I first moved to Sydney and decided I had to try it out. The first time I went I was sold and have been going back nearly every Friday since. One Wave is a surfing community raising awareness for mental health and every Friday they celebrate Fluro Friday, where everyone dresses in bright, neon, wacky, rave-esque outfits and comes together to surf (or do free yoga for those of us who don’t surf). They kick off the morning with someone sharing their story about mental health and how it has affected their life, either their own battle with a mental illness or someone close to them. It is incredible to hear their stories and see the courage and refuge they have found in having a positive community to support them. We all deeply crave to feel love and acceptance. Why not help eachother get that satisfaction? I decided one early morning on the beach that I wanted to share my story. Not that morning. But some morning in the future. I will keep that promise to myself. For now, I am choosing to share it with you. My family, friends, and followers. Many of you know parts of this story, some of you know most of it, none of you know it all. I often exhaust all my energy on helping others because right now I am strong enough to do so. But it has not always been that way. It is pretty terrifying to be so vulnerable but at this point in my life and my journey, I know that I am ready.

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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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