Growing Pains

Last week my headspace was very much fueled by sadness and anger for the victims of yet another gun violence tragedy in the United States. This week I am coming from a fairly different angle after experiencing a weekend full of not strictly positive experiences but instead experiences that encouraged heightened awareness of not only the good but also the bad.

Friday, I got back to the beach with my One Wave crew for sunrise yoga and a meaningful cup of coffee with my yogi friends. As I have mentioned before, One Wave is an organization that promotes mental health awareness so most people who attend are either suffering from mental health issues themselves or are closely connected to someone who is.

It doesn’t matter who you are, we are all affected by mental health and ultimately the natural highs and lows and peaks and valleys of life. We talked in depth over coffee about going through hard times, changing our frequency levels so that we can attract good things and actually believing that they are possible and warranted for our lives. It is amazing to me how deeply human beings crave the need to be understood. It is not something that is unique to a gender, age group, nationality, or personality type. We all want to feel like we aren’t in this thing alone. It is a beautiful feeling when you can make someone else believe they are not alone and usually all that requires is listening to them. We all have that power.

 

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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?

Life is a Special Occasion

My apologies for missing a week of head space. Last week I worked over 80 hours between my two teaching jobs and my coaching job and I came down with a nasty cold mid-week. I haven’t been sick since I moved to Australia and I honestly can’t really remember the last time even before that. I am extremely conscious of my health; what food I  put into my body, getting enough sleep, and exercising at least 6 times per week most weeks so getting sick is not something that happens to me very often. I also live according to the law of attraction. I believe I won’t get sick and I am very healthy; so I am. But unfortunately and fortunately, sometimes we all fall victim to a creeping bug that is going around.

My headspace this week is reflecting on the serious juxtaposition  between my week last week and my week this week. Last week forced me to slow down. I know, I know, 80 hour work weeks surely don’t sound like slowing down. But- I took 3 days off from exercise and also spent 2 days with strictly yoga. That is the longest break I have taken  from intense exercise since my backpacking trip last July when I first moved to Australia. Since then I have conquered the difficult task of training my free spirit to have and enjoy  consistency. The easiest way for me to give my day structure and consistency is to control my mind and body with exercise early in the morning. This puts me in a great mood, lets go of my nervous energy and sets me up for a productive day. I have been full fledge chasing my dreams for the past 6 months and I rarely take time for myself but I am also learning slowly the power of consistency in RELAXING & SHUTTING OFF.  Only you understand your own mind and body and so often we listen to what society thinks, our boss thinks, or what our inner circles think that we stop thinking at all.

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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.

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Stereotype Me, I Dare You

                As promised I am back with my weekly thoughts. I started reading “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle two days ago and I can’t put it down. Every free second I have I have been gobbling it up. But I promised myself that I would write and the power of now makes me want to get these thoughts out immediately. In recent news and media, especially in America, there has been an overwhelming amount of stereotyping and blatant racism, sexism, and discrimination. Both in the political campaign for President of the United States and everyday affairs with riots, protests, and a whirlwind of media attention directed toward the police force and their treatment of criminals, particularly African American people. Now, more than ever, I am disgusted by the fact that people strongly  protest against these injustices toward the group they identify with while simultaneously insulting or stereotyping another group of people in the process. This happens across the boards in our world. It is not socially acceptable to call someone  fat, overweight or too heavy but it is socially acceptable to call someone too skinny, skin and bones, tell someone they need to eat or criticize them for their obsession with bodybuilding or being fit. It’s not acceptable to call someone uneducated, ignorant, or stupid but it is acceptable to call someone a nerd or a weirdo for being intelligent or highly interested in a certain subject matter. Why do we deem some discrimination okay? Why is it socially acceptable to judge certain people but looked at as politically incorrect, cruel, and evil spirited to judge others?

          When I look back at my life, I realize that I have a tendency to associate with groups that are often stereotyped. First and foremost we are all stereotyped by gender, that is inevitable. In my lifetime I have received stereotypes  for being “too smart” or “a nerd” as a child. Once I grew into my looks, got rid of my braces, glasses and unibrow and barely grew into my lanky body I was then stereotyped for being “pretty” and “skinny”. When deciding on a university, I landed on my dream definition of the college experience but was then stereotyped for going to a  “party school” where I studied to become a teacher which is a career that is highly misunderstood and publicly chastised. To make matters worse I joined a sorority and entered into one of the most stereotyped organizations I can think of. After that I decided to veer from the beaten path of American culture and  move abroad after graduate school. I became stereotyped as a “backpacker” or someone who needed to “find themselves.” Life lead me into an opportunity to turn my passion for health and fitness into a career in a network marketing company and I began my journey as a young entrepreneur building a following and business predominately through social media. Yet again, network marketing companies are a group that are highly misunderstood and blatantly stereotyped.  Now let me rephrase that paragraph, and show you not how others decided to categorize me but how I, in fact, see it myself.

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MOST

Disclaimer: I think A LOT. That’s why I love to write. I want to make an effort to make one blog post a week that is just my THOUGHTS! Call it a rant if you want, but hey, it’s my blog I can do as I please. I’m trying to think of a clever name for my weekly thought post, On my Mind.. (so boring) but I just want to have an outlet and less formal way to post on my blog instead of writing the post in my head for days/weeks sometimes! So, if you have any ideas drop it in the comments below.

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Here is what is on my mind today. Honestly, before I was a coach I thought it was quite strange how people who are into fitness always posted photos of themselves at the gym or their muscles so frequently. I remember thinking “we get it you like to work out” and apparently you love yourself a lot too. Fast forward to now my perspective and perception has shifted. We live in a world that is driven by images. We are attracted to things we look at. As a health and wellness coach, I can talk about my programs all day. I can show how they have changed my life and my perspective. I can talk about how coaching has impacted my ability to dream big and seize opportunities . But people are people and they are the most attracted by that before and after photo. It’s just the way it is.

As a writer, I try to paint a picture with my words but many people are too lazy to read them. No hard feelings, to each their own. When I post a photo of my results and my hard work it is to promote physical fitness and exercise but the purpose is really the message behind it. When you simultaneously work on your mind, body, and spirit at the same time your physical results also represent your mental expansion and your spiritual elevation. I wish I could show you a picture of my brain and the “transformation Tuesday” that is currently happening inside but instead I rely on my words to depict this growth and the work I physically put into my body consistently.

We live in a world where what matters MOST does not matter to most.

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This is Happier

“Life is too short to be in a hurry.” If we are always on the go, we are reacting to the exigencies of day-to-day life rather than allowing ourselves the space to create a happy life.”  If we simply react to life, how can we possibly feel satisfied? How can we ever feel happy and connected to the present moment? For me, reading is a wonderful way to focus on the present moment. I have so many things to juggle  currently my teaching job at an English language college here in Australia , building my online coaching business and supporting the coaches that I mentor to start their own businesses, running my challenge groups and connecting with people to help introduce them to the programs that have changed my life, teaching classes part time in Korea via Skype, not to mention trying to save time for my blog, my own fitness, my personal life, keeping up with cooking healthy meals and squeezing in fun time, too. As I have mentioned numerous times before, no matter what stage of life I am in, I’ve always been someone who fills up their life with TONS of responsibilities, activities, commitments, and people. “We must simplify our lives; we must slow down. The good news is that simplifying our lives, doing less rather than more, does not have to come at the expense of success.”

Keeping things simple in the 21st century seems like an impossible feat. Since I run an online business which is based out of America and there is a 15 hour time difference I often feel like I have to be constantly connected to properly stay in contact with my coaches and my clients. For someone who is an extremely outgoing, social person and someone who is building an online health and fitness coaching business; it seems crazy to think that I hate being so connected, but I do. I have many aspects of my personality and passions that lend me toward the hippy free spirit life. Being free is my absolute favorite feeling. But, the old saying “with freedom comes responsibility” proves itself to be true time and time again. You can’t be free without taking the time and effort to allow yourself that luxury. Luckily, I have learned to satisfy my desire for freedom through more immediate avenues; like traveling the world, moving abroad, hiking near the ocean and doing yoga. “Being enslaved by the exigencies of life and by our constitution does not preclude the possibility that we can feel free. We experience freedom when we choose a path that provides us both meaning and pleasure.” Although life itself is full with responsibilities (especially this whole adult gig) when we are choosing what life we make our own it is much easier to feel free and satisfied.

Since we live in a world that is constantly connected, one of the most pure and surefire way for me to disconnect is to read. Reading requires all of my attention and focus and I really feel like I can get lost in good book. The most recent book I read was “Happier” by Tal Ben-Shahar and it was one of those books you read and want to shout from the mountain tops so that everyone can read it and be enlightened. Ben-Shahar tackles the monumental question, “Can you learn to be happy?”  For someone who has been actively pursuing happiness for as long as I can remember, his message and research really hit home for me. In this piece I have included some of my favorite quotes because I simply could not have said it better myself. I had so many “Ah-ha” moments while reading this book and I felt reassured that my desire for happiness, meaning, and purpose are something to be celebrated not chastised. “Time is a zero-sum game, a limited resource. Life is too short to do only what we have to do; it is barely long enough to do what we want to do.”

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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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Just Decide to Do It

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Over the long holiday weekend I spent a LOT of time in the car by myself driving all over the east coast to spend Memorial Day weekend with friends and family. Whenever I am in the car alone for hours upon hours, my mind darts in 100,000 different directions. Usually I call my whole phone book for my overdue catch up conversations, and no one answers but my mom (who I see everyday). So I go back to chugging ice coffee, blasting beats and mull over my next blog post in my head. I realized this weekend that I haven’t actually written those well-calculated road trip posts in far too long. I apologize for drifting away from my blog and I realize now as I write what clarity and satisfaction I glean from condensing my thoughts into words.

The mind is an incredible instrument and machine, but the mind of a woman who is a teacher, writer, Gemini, and suffers from extreme ADHD; it is almost unfathomable for most. I have hundreds of “tabs open” every waking second of the day. My release is when I can verbalize those into a medium I dearly love and understand: words. When I was traveling I was so excited to share about my adventures and so disconnected from my once known world that it was easy to stay inspired and motivated to consistently post. I was going through so much change and writing was the best way to reflect and understand how I truly felt about those eye-opening experiences. The pace of life and my career in Thailand also allowed me the most precious gift of all: time. I had time to write and read, rewrite, reflect, recharge, and release. Now I am lucky if I have time to charge my phone. But without the release of writing my mind hasn’t fully been synthesizing my life and my experiences.Despite the lesson plans, special ed paperwork, work for my coaching business, certification online workshop, laundry, and the 85 other things on my to do list, I am pressing pause and spending time to remember, reflect and release.

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