Presents vs. Presence

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I haven’t been very present on my blog lately; that’s for several reasons, but the main one being I’ve needed to be more present in my own life. I think in this crazy world we live in, we’re so caught up, and inundated with what’s going on around us (it’s almost impossible not to be) that we often forget to put the focus back on ourselves. Our current pace of life is nothing short of fast, instant gratification that often leads to displeasure, and a sense of urgency that often leads us feeling lost.

Part of my job and who I am, is being a healer. I help people find some sort of balance in their daily lives- yet I fail time and time again at learning to teach myself those same fundamentals.

Since moving back to the states (three years ago) and finalizing my divorce, my career has been better than ever, and it’s partially due do a behavior trait that I acquired when my stress and anxiety levels seemed to be at their peak. I made myself believe that I couldn’t stop. I had my sights set on what success meant for me; being financially independent, getting my name and my message out there, cultivating meaningful business partnerships, etc. and I truly felt that in order to obtain all of those things I couldn’t slow down. That slowing down would lessen my chances of becoming successful, or decrease my odds of “getting it right” – yet it’s that same behavior that I’ve been repeating…not stopping the hustle, the daily grind, and the accelerated forward motion that’s made me realize how imperative it is for me to slow down in order to continue to be successful. I often tell others how important it is to reflect within, and that giving themselves the time and energy to do so is a true present. Imagine that, allowing yourself your own presence is a true present that can only be gifted by you.

I’m slowly realizing that I truly need to practice what I preach, and that if I don’t hit the pause button from time to time, I will begin to despise these pretenses of what success is, and how I view my accomplishments.

For me, it’s not just about the physical aspect of slowing down, but more so the ability to create a more balanced and purposeful emotional existence. The truth of the matter is that everyone is going through something on their own, but we forget that we don’t have to face it alone. The problem lies in the appearance we tend to give off, as though nothing is bothering us, everything is alright, and we’ve got it all together. That’s a lie if I’ve ever heard one (I’m calling my own bullshit here). No one truly has it all, or has it all together, but we allow this facade to become a leading role in our lives and then we begin to believe it to be true… until the reality of it all slaps us in the face.

When it’s so easy and comes like second nature to help others, let’s remember we can only truly do that if we’ve helped ourselves first.

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What’s Your Biggest Fear?


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A few weeks ago, I had the honor of being the keynote speaker for an incredible event that brought nearly 700 women together through fitness. I was asked to share my journey and how it’s impacted my life.

In Philadelphia Magazine, and on social channels it was displayed as such; “In the face of unexpected hardship and pain Jayel Lewis learned that the only way to overcome obstacles and rebuild the pieces of her life was to quit pretending to be perfect and just get real- with herself, her friends, her family. Through her inspiring story, Lewis will share how that one decision indelibly changed- perhaps even saved- her life.”

While preparing my speech and trying to find the right words that would connect to an audience that knew little to nothing about me, I found myself having a difficult time. Should I introduce myself, should I go right into my story, should I start from the beginning, or maybe the end? These were all questions that I didn’t necessarily have an answer to, but as time went on, I was left with one question…

What is your biggest fear? 

That’s how I opened my speech because it would get people thinking about what they were afraid of, it’s something we can all relate to.

As I went on to share my journey, and my story, my heartbeat began to slow down, my breathing was no longer shallow, and I didn’t have this sense of urgency when it came to explaining every little detail. I was at peace, I was in a place were I actually felt comfortable, and empowered to share how my story and how my biggest fears have lead me to where I am, and to who I am today.

Just a few years ago I was so incredibly uncomfortable telling people about where I was in life, because at the time I saw it as defeat, I saw it as something negative and was unable to see the possibility of it becoming positive. I was in a very dark place and didn’t know the “right” way out. I was so accustom to holding my feelings in and not sharing them with anyone, but by doing so; that made me sick. Not only physically, but mentally as well. Whether I liked it or not, I was living a lie, a lie that would eventually become my truth…

Although it often takes a lot of guts, and a lot of balls to share your truths, now matter how difficult they may be, that’s what will ultimately set you free. You see, we all have a choice- how we comeback, how we suffer, and how we overcome some of our biggest fears, whether they’ve already happened to us or not. What we take from those situations, and what we choose to apply to our everyday life is up to us.

It’s on us so we begin to pave the way for others; for others to find their voice, and to share it. We all have a voice, believe me, we do…we just have to have enough balls to speak up to whoever is  listening, and by doing so we begin to create a cyclic cycle, a pattern of positivity, of acceptance, and other women embracing one another for it all. Although the struggle may be real, we have to understand that we don’t have to struggle alone.

At the end of the day, most of us are fearful of the same thing – experiencing pain. Although the cause may be different, we fear suffering the same effect.

My fears…? At the time they were relevant, they ended up becoming my own worst nightmare, but it was also those individual fears that taught me lessons of how to overcome unexpected hardship, what success means, what triumph takes, and what defeat feels like. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to continue to speak my truths.

For the full speech: Click Here 

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Why Leaving My Husband is Still the Best Thing I’ve Ever Done – Three Years Later

AB-10It’s been three years since I boarded a plan from Germany, back to the States. It’s an anniversary I’ll always remember. While my friends surround me and celebrate the anniversary of their weddings, their children’s birth, and the day they bought their house, I’m reminded that my anniversary, this anniversary is just as important.

I may not be where my friends are in their lives, because I took a much different path to end up where I am today, but I’m so grateful I did. While it was not an easy road, and it’s still quite bumpy at times, it’s one I needed to take.

For years I tried to make my relationship with my then husband work time and time again, and time, and time again, it failed- yet at the time was failing to see that the relationship I needed to work on the most, was the one I had with myself. There were numerous times I wanted to leave, wasn’t happy, and was lying to everyone around me. I did this for so long that it became comfortable, it became normal, and I feared what was on the other side.

It was a place of the unknown.

Every time I wanted needed change, doubt crept in. Fear was at the forefront of my brain and all of the reasons why I shouldn’t ended up being the reasons why I did.

Being comfortable is something we all strive for. Whether it’s in the form of financial stability, job security, or in our relationships with others, and it’s a feeling that we tend to let lie around (in certain situations) for far too long.

Right before we’re supposed to take a leap of faith everything seems uncertain- it’s scary, and often paralyzing, yet we know it’s something that must be done in order to take the next steps.

I speak candidly when I say leaving my husband was the best thing I’ve ever done, but it wasn’t easy, by any means. To this day I struggle with commitment issues- that spans from where I’m going to make dinner reservations to my personal relationships with others. I still have anxiety over the unknown, and have a difficult time trusting people. I’m still in therapy (thank God), and truly fear loss. When people say that they’ve made the right choice, that doesn’t mean that it comes without baggage. It simply means that the choice they left behind, the one that didn’t make the cut, was far worse than the choice that they’ve made to move on.

Looking back I would have been in a relationship that I was trying to make work which ultimately never would have, but now I’ve learned to be in a much more open, honest, and genuine relationship…with myself.

I’ve learned so much about who I am, who I was, and who I no longer wish to be. I’ve become something I never thought imaginable and I have myself to thank, honor, and applaud for making a choice that seemed nearly impossible but oh so necessary. Whether I was still in a relationship with my ex, or where I am today- they all require great work and continuous effort.

Three years “sober” and free (I will use that word loosely) of my past, I’m a living testimony that we must leave what may seem comfortable for the mere reason that it no longer serves us in a way it once did.

The people that tell you it’s easy, are lying, but knowing you have a choice will set you free.

 

Secrets Keep You Sick

MH-21It’s no secret that the health and fitness industry isn’t all healthy. We have a tendency to continually ask our bodies to not only perform, but to perform better, harder, faster, and ultimately stronger.

What we fail to ask ourselves is – “What are doing for it?”

We (as a society) use negative talk, self doubt, have a false sense of reality, and pick apart every single thing we don’t like- yet we put no attention on the things we do like. We get mad when people belittle us, yet we do it to ourselves on a daily basis and somehow view it as acceptable.

Although I put a lot of blame on the media (especially social media), gender dominant roles, the ads we view on a regular basis (and believe to be true), I also blame us. We’ve allowed these outside influencers to put so much pressure on whom we should be, what we should look like, and how we should feel, yet in that moment, we forget how powerful our inner voice is.

We’re doing something wrong here.

From the girl that’s suffered from an eating disorder for years but fears speaking the truth about her struggles will make her seem weak, to the gym junkie that is truly addicted to the gym for all the wrong reasons because they aren’t dealing with the real problem at hand…we’re failing to embrace honesty time and time again.

Being honest with others is one thing, but being honest with ourselves takes effort, heart, and requires a lot of work. Instead of feeding into all the other “stories” that surround us, lets learn how to own our own.

We have a tendency to embrace the struggles others are suffering from, but don’t think we’re worthy of accepting our own.

It doesn’t matter what your story is- what matters is that its yours; to tell, to share, to embrace, to nurture, and to grow. By starting a conversation we begin to put ourselves on a much more positive path. A path that others will believe in- not because someone is telling them to, but because it’s raw, it’s honest, and it shows vulnerability.

That’s what people want.

That’s what people need.

EveryBODY has a story.  

 

Perception is a Bitch

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The way people perceive you will always be just that…the way that they perceive you. As I get older, I like to think that I’m becoming wiser, that the opinions others have formed about me don’t hold value, and that I am able to do it all. If only that were the case. When someone sees you, they view you from the outside looking in, they have no idea what it takes to be you on a daily basis. They see a glossy picture that they begin to create in their head of who you are, and at times we have a tendency to mirror that image–for various reasons. We want people to see us as having it all together, as being able to pull it off, and as picture perfect. The fact is that in that moment we’re given several options. We can continue to allow others to think that our life is as they see it, or we can begin to allow people to see us for who we really are.

Nowadays people are slowly becoming more authentic. Not that it wasn’t always there, but it’s something I think people struggle with; the truth. For both themselves and others. We all struggle with something, whether or not we choose to admit it. A few years ago people viewed my life as picture perfect, it was far from that, but yet I was trying my hardest to make it feel picture perfect. I had so much pressure coming from (none other than myself) to be in this magical relationship, to live a life others would dream of living, to smile at every possible thing I could, and yet, inside I was dying. My soul was unnourished, my heart was broken, and my story that I was portraying was no longer mine, it no longer belonged to me. It belonged to everyone else because they created it, and I allowed it to be my reality. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized I had a voice. That I was just as guilty as everyone else for allowing them to paint a picture of me, that in fact, didn’t resemble me at all. I realized that although my voice may have been muted for awhile, it still existed. It may not have been the loudest in the room, but it was mine. It didn’t always make sense, and it wasn’t always pretty, but it was still mine. Learning I had a voice, was me also learning that at any given moment, I had the ability to rewrite my own story, and thats when I began to be authentic. I didn’t care if people were listening, but it was something I needed to speak into life on my own.

For as long as I can remember I always held my feelings in, I didn’t know how to express them. I always kept quiet about the things that really bothered me, but that changed. It wasn’t until my world got turned upside down that I realized it was OK to discuss my feelings, both positive and negative.

At first it’s scary. You believe that you’re  supposed to be someone that has their shit together. For me, as a fitness professional, I felt I had to always be on, and I thought that allowing people to see that I wasn’t showed vulnerability, and that was something I didn’t like. It was a feeling that I wasn’t fully comfortable with. Hell, I still struggle with it. I thought about how sharing my weaknesses would discredit me, how opening up would leave room for someone, or something else to hurt me. I thought that people wouldn’t take me seriously, and would allow me to be less than. Yet I knew that I couldn’t live a lie forever.

People aren’t dumb. They know (at some point) when you’re faking it. When you’re pretending, when you’re no longer being your true self. I was the one to call myself out on my own bullshit, and I thank God I did. Authenticity is something you can’t fake, and as it turns out- people don’t want to connect to someone that they don’t view as real. We put so much pressure on ourselves to be one way or the other, when in reality we have to learn how to just be – whatever that may mean, and begin to not allow others to define us, because at the end of the day what will really happen if we don’t meet those preset expectations? Nothing.

Disclaimer; This is something that I must work on consistently, and be reminded of on a daily basis. This is not easy.

By being you and being the authentic you, you begin to create a better relationship with others, but more importantly yourself.

Less perfection, more authenticity.