Worst Sick Days of 2017

One step forward, two steps back.

Sadly, this has been my reality for the past few days. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been sick every year around the holidays. It’s like clockwork. This time around, I know it’s completely stress-related. I’ve been running on fumes, battling extremely high levels of stress and anxiety for over 8-months. And finally, when I get a chance to breathe and the huge weight is lifted from my shoulders — BOOM! My body shuts down, completely worn out from this fight-or-flight living.

At one point, I found myself thinking, “Why does my body always let me down when I need it the most?” And that thought stuck with me for quite awhile. It’s a rare occasion when I get sick, but why does it happen when I really don’t have the time to rest and take care of myself properly? Perhaps, it’s my stubborn resistance that always let’s my body down. Because when sickness hits, it comes with full and unrelenting force. And in those moments, I have two choices; either continue fighting it, making myself miserable with the constant chatter in my head or embrace it, letting the healing power within work its magic. And I always choose the former.

That terrible feeling of not being productive has been consuming me. My body needs to rest, but the mind doesn’t like to rest; the mind wants to move, it wants to feel powerful and productive. Despite feeling extremely lethargic and barely able to function, I got a lot accomplished this week, including a huge cleaning project at home. Closets and drawers were emptied, furniture was reorganized and clutter began to clear out. But I’m not sure if that’s something to be proud of. I was so excited about getting back to work on Friday. Movement makes you feel better, right? Wrong. Exercise doesn’t create energy, it expends it. I went home from work, feeling the worst that I’ve felt all week.

Until I accepted my resistance to rest completely, I couldn’t start the healing process. So, I gave myself permission to rest — to be in bed and sleep for as long as I could and not feel guilty. If I read a book or binged on Netflix, I didn’t feel guilty for not wanting to take care of errands. And the more I gave myself permission to do so, the more I settled into feeling my sickness and allowing my body to heal.

Once we are on the other side of illness and are aware enough to put the pieces together, healing can provide plenty of time for personal reflection, so that we might see our typical patterns and choose to re-enter the world with a new perspective and with meaningful focus. As Danielle LaPorte once said, this week was all “finish line fatigue, letting go hangover.” And at this point, I think I’ve purged out every last yucky bit of 2017; I’m ready for the new year.

Totally Legitimate Feelings (12/5/2017)

I refuse to walk into the next year with a heavy heart, so I feel the need to purge the last remaining negative feelings that are weighing me down. Because I‘ll admit, I’m holding on to quite a bit of resentment. 2017, while you had your share of extremely wonderful moments, I can’t help but feel extremely humbled by the multitude of ways you kicked my ass. I spent most of the year feeling completely overworked, overlooked and under-appreciated both professionally and personally. I’ve kept my head down, nose to the grind and gone above and beyond what was expected, but it always feel like it was never enough. Truthfully, I felt like a failure every single day.

But sometimes you learn that the disappointments in life are truly blessings in disguise. Having nothing will allow you to appreciate everything. It’s failing miserably over and over again that will allow you to succeed. Failing is one of the greatest things in the world, as it reminds us how imperfect we are. It reminds us how much we need to learn in order to become the people we truly wish to be. Because sometimes the life you’re leading is so far from the life you are meant to be living that losing everything is the only way you can make it out on top. The moment you realize that not even loss itself can stop you, that sadness, despair, anger and fear cannot hold you back, is the moment you become perfect. Perfectly flawed, but perfect nonetheless.

Today, I acknowledge that the biggest failures in my life have become some of my greatest assets. After experiencing a number of major disappointments this week, I immediately turned my heart towards gratitude and found the strength to stand in my power to advocate for my needs and set important boundaries.

Whenever we’re getting our ass handed to us, we always like to say “karma is a bitch,” to make the sting feel less harsh. But karma is really a mirror of both positive and negative energies. I truly believe that whatever we put out into the world is exactly what we get back. And there’s no timeline for the return. Keeping this in mind, I know my time will come and the hard work will eventually pay off. But in the interim, I need to keep my heart open, free from resentment and honor the legitimacy of all of these feelings, even the negative ones.

Exercise is Not Punishment

Thanksgiving has come and gone; how are you feeling?

Happy and successful for sticking to your commitments and not derailing your healthy eating habits? Or miserable because you completely missed the mark and went on a binge for the whole holiday weekend? I’m guessing it’s the latter, so you’re hitting the gym harder than usual and vowing to eat kale until Christmas. But feeling guilty is only a trap that keeps you caught in that vicious cycle of shame.

Perhaps there’s a better conversation to be had, because I’m sure there’s quite few of you dedicated souls that stuck to your healthy eating habits and feel bad because you missed out or felt left out while everyone else enjoyed the holiday with carefree abandon.

Okay, I know this idea of negating our bad eating habits with exercise seems to come from a place that makes sense. To avoid weight gain, calories-in has to equal calories-out. To lose weight, calories-in has to be less than calories-out. And if we eat more calories than usual, we start to devise ways to bolster the “calories-out” side of the equation so that we avoid gaining weight. In that sense, yes it seems logical. But obsessing over that logic is making us crazy!

Exercise is not punishment! Moving your body should never be done as punishment and you do not have to earn your food. And losing weight does not change negative body image. Less will always be more — less judgement, less shame, less self-criticism, less worry, less stress. Stop being your own worst enemy. Abandon the guilt and move forward with a positive outlook that doesn’t criticize your mistakes and shortcomings, but builds up your self esteem.

Dear Tribe, I Love You

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” (Proust)

Surround yourself with people who truly get you; find your tribe, love them hard. I feel a tremendous amount of gratitude for my amazing tribe! One picture could never pay tribute to the HUGE extended family that I have created for myself through the years. If you’re reading this, you are likely part of that tribe and I thank you for that. No matter how big or small, your presence in my life has created an impact.

Dear tribe, I simply love and adore you. This note of gratitude is for you…

Thank you for making so many ordinary moments, extraordinary. Thank you for always giving me the extra push I need. Thank you for telling me the truth, even when it hurts. Thank you for talking things out with me. Thank you for meeting me halfway. Thank you for being compassionate. Thank you for thinking of me as often as you do. Thank you for making time for me. Thank you for your full presence. Thank you for knowing when something is wrong with me. Thank you for making the extra effort to understand me. Thank you for not acting, judging, or treating me like you know me better than I know myself. Thank you for being willing to be wrong. Thank you for supporting my decisions. Thank you for being loyal, even when we are apart. Thank you for being there through good times and bad. Thank you for knowing that I can’t always be strong. Thank you for facing problems with me. Thank you for going out of your way for me, even when it’s not convenient. Thank you for actually wanting to be there for me. Thank you for walking the talk. Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for encouraging me when I stumble. Thank you for using caring words. Thank you for accepting me just the way I am. Thank you for making me feel comfortable in my skin. Thank you for simply enjoying my company. Thank you for valuing my time. Thank you for supporting me in making myself a priority. Thank you for sincerely loving me. Thank you for helping me love myself more too. Thank you for all the little things you do that make a big difference. Thank you for being patient and forgiving when I step on your toes. Thank you for not expecting our relationship to always be easy. Thank you for giving me the solitude and space I need.

Thank you for being YOU. And most importantly, thank you for your unconditional love and the blessing of allowing me to learn from your process.

Thanksgiving Gratitude

Sometimes you have to go through the worst to arrive at your best, because our most significant opportunities are found in times of great difficulty. Knowing that no part of the journey is ever wasted is an incredible blessing.

Today, I am grateful for my beautiful tribe, the chosen family of friends, colleagues and a truly loving significant other. Thank you for your full presence, for accepting me just the way that I am, for being there through the good times and bad, for making the ordinary moments extraordinary, for always meeting me halfway, for believing in me and supporting my decisions, for your encouragement and kind words, for knowing that I can’t always be strong and never failing to show me compassion in my weak moments, for giving me the extra push that I need, for going out of your way even when it’s not convenient and for all the little things you do that make the biggest difference in my world.

This year, I feel especially grateful for my real family and the lessons in compassion and forgiveness that I am continually immersed in through my interactions with them. In these lessons, I’m slowly finding a true place of peace and dynamic healing that I never imagined possible. It’s allowing my heart to be open and appreciative for the hard things, the heartache and trauma. Everything happens for a reason and dwelling on things that occurred in the past or imagining scenarios that may or may not have happened is fruitless and painful. I’m learning how to let go and have faith. Because family is precious. And although we cannot choose our families, they are the people we can usually relate to the most. Unconditional love is not easy to come by and life is short.

So take every opportunity to express love and gratitude to those around you. Tomorrow might be too late, so just do it now. Thank people, hug them, tell them you love them and let go of old baggage that doesn’t matter anymore. We’ll never regret telling people that they matter and mean something to us.

The more we express our gratitude, the more reasons we will find to be grateful. Without running away from discomfort, frequently turning our attention to the many things we have to be grateful for will multiply our reasons for expressing gratitude. Making it a habit is one of the best tools we can learn to bring about joy and fulfillment in our lives.

Time is precious and there is never enough of it. It’s our most valuable commodity; we can’t afford to not fill the time we are given as consciously as we can. Count your blessings and enjoy time spent with the ones you love today. Let’s begin the holiday season with an attitude of gratitude and continue to cultivate this positive mindset year-round.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Slow Down for the Holidays

Scheduled to the max, rushed to the point of distraction and we still can’t seem to get it all done. Our obsession with productivity may make us efficient, but is it worth it?

The holidays are a time of celebration, spending time with friends and family, reflecting on the passing year and slowing down before another busy year begins. It’s a time for gratitude and compassion, things that are impossible for us to embrace if our cups are full. We can’t take the time to be sensitive to others and truly care for them when we are in a constant hurry. So, I’ll say it again — SLOW DOWN! Sometimes it’s hard to be fully present in the moment when we’re overwhelmed and stressed about gift giving, tons of parties to attend and juggling our loved ones through it all. It helps to step back and take it all in.

You have a decision to make this holiday season — to slow down, or not to slow down. Instead of viewing holiday enjoyment as procrastination or even a burden, consider it as an opportunity to refuel. The healthier your state of mind as you enter the new year, the more effective you’ll be. Give your mind the rest it needs. Power down, take a break and enjoy the company of friends and family — your brain and body will thank you! Let your presence be your present this holiday season.

What is Beauty?

When someone tells me that they think I’m beautiful, it makes me completely uncomfortable because what I’m hearing them say is, “You have a wonderful heart. You’re a good person.” Here is my confession, I have never felt beautiful. And I know that I’m not alone in that sentiment. If you have ever struggled with feeling beautiful, this message is for you. These pictures represent years of shedding layers and growing comfortable in my own skin. Truthfully, I hate seeing myself in pictures; I have only recently grown comfortable being in front of the camera as opposed to standing behind it.

There’s a lot of pressure these days to love your body, to love yourself and embrace your unique beauty. Truthfully, I see beauty all around me. It’s not a matter of not being able to recognize beauty when I see it. It’s a matter of not seeing beauty in my own face or my own body.

I grew up constantly feeling like the ugly-duckling. My awkward phase was not the endearing kind that people laugh about later in life, but the kind that makes you want to burn all evidence of it. And it didn’t help having parents that reinforced my insecurities by consistently pointing them out and instilling within me a belief that I had to make up for my lack of beauty in other ways. If I couldn’t be beautiful, I could be smart, ambitious and driven. If I couldn’t be beautiful, I could be selfless, compassionate and caring. If I couldn’t be beautiful, I could be a good friend and shoulder to cry on in times of need. If I couldn’t be beautiful, I could be strong and athletic. And I became all of these things. Underneath these successes was the fear, the anger and the sadness of a lifetime spent believing, knowing, breathing unworthiness — of telling myself, to the core, that I don’t measure up. Because of this, I could never fully appreciate my accomplishments. Because of this, I always felt perpetually stuck and unfulfilled.

For most of my life, I have struggled with eating disorders. Saying this out loud and making it public offers some relief from the daily struggles that I have faced since early childhood. It began with purposely not eating, followed by exercising too much. With so much of my identity wrapped up into weight-loss and workouts, what better way to punish myself and carry a sense of self/hatred, than to become someone that works in the fitness/wellness world? Don’t get me wrong, I am truly grateful for this amazing career that has blessed me with the opportunity to improve countless lives. I am grateful for the connections and friendship that I have made through this work. But truthfully, I am tired of working in this broken industry that earns millions of dollars by exploiting our collective pain and insecurities. I’m tired of burying my head in the sandbox, wishing there was a better way. Because on most days, I would rather hug your inner child than teach you how to perfect your push-up or explain the nuances of proper nutrition. I would rather hold sacred space for you to get vulnerable and go deeper on a soul-level than encourage you to push your body harder or get in that extra workout. I would want you to know that you will be the same person 20-pounds lighter or 20-pounds heavier if you do not actively embrace your true beauty and essence.

Beauty is a daring action. One that is built on your authentic intention instead of being attached to the outcome. You are beautiful when you are afraid to do something and you do it anyway. If you have been to hell and back, your resilience is beautiful. Strong opinions are beautiful. Respecting other people’s strong opinions is beautiful too. Humility is beautiful. Wisdom is beautiful.

And in case you haven’t been told lately or just need to hear it again, you are beautiful — just as you are.