“I Did That.”

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I do this thing every year where I book a vacation on a few days short notice. I tell my clients, do not tell my friends, and venture off on my own to a sunny destination outside of America where I can turn my phone off, fill up on vitamin sea, and disconnect from the rest of the world. Some find it odd, some find it impressive, some find it admirable, some find it weird; I find it necessary.

On this particular day I woke up in paradise to the sun shining through my windows gently hitting my (very sun burnt skin) and the rhythmic swaying sounds of the palm trees outside my palapa.

Yes, I woke up in paradise, but the reason I awoke was due to a dream; one that often haunts me at times. I don’t talk about them often, as I don’t want to give too much light to situations that I don’t have much time for in my everyday life. It’s a reoccurring dream to some degree and has been happening for years.

In this particular dream I was somehow back with my ex-husband. We were in the kitchen and had recently celebrated something as the large cake in the fridge had suggested. The fridge was a reminder that despite being back together there were still trust issues. There were old photos of girls from the past, post it’s attached to the outside of the fridge with magnets (yet the blank side of the post it was facing me), and I had an unexplainable feeling of disconnect. I knew that if I tried to talk to him and ask about these things that I would immediately be shot down, and that despite whatever he may have said I wouldn’t feel confident trusting in his responses.

It was throughout that period of my life that I trusted others more than I trusted myself. I allowed their words to be more bold, more confident, and hold more value than my own.

When I realized what was going on I knew I had two choices; continue to try and sleep and attempt to determine where this particular dream was headed, or wake up. Waking up was the clear choice, however not always easy, I view it as more than a physical state but a metaphorical one as well. As I took a stretch and I found myself in a state of appreciation I was reminded that those particular happenings were no longer a part of my life, they were no longer a part of my life because I made the ultimate decision. I chose to leave. At the time I didn’t know exactly what that would entail and what feelings would arise in the short term, and long term, but I knew they were much, much greater than the feelings that would have continued to develop had I stayed. I reminded myself that years ago I had a choice in the matter even though in that moment the pain and agony was so strong that I didn’t quite feel that way.

While continuing to wake up, I told myself over and over that I no longer had to live that life. Yes, it may come back as a reminder of what I had to grow through in order to get to myself in the present day, but that’s all it is; a reminder. We have a tendency to get caught up in the past, and allow our past experiences  to define or put such great emphasis on our future that we get stuck in the same cyclic cycle without any sense of forward motion.

Although those dreams are not warranted and aren’t pretty, and can be rather redundant it allows me to be reminded that no matter what I’ll always have a choice. The choices and the way that they present themselves aren’t always easy ones, but they are ultimately ours for the taking. …As I threw on my clothes, brushed my teeth, and grabbed my laptop to write this post, I headed to breakfast on the beach overlooking the sea, and was pleasantly reminded that; “I did that.”

No, it’s not always going to be easy but I’m creating a life worth living, I get to decide who I’m going to be, and that my voice doesn’t necessarily have to be the loudest in the room, it just needs to be loud enough to make an impact.

So, for all of you that are struggling with where you want to be, and which direction you’re headed—remember that you have a choice- you have a say in this thing called life and you deserve to make an impact. Know that your life doesn’t have to be perfect for you to be proud!

Jayel_Sig

What’s Next?

jayellewisday1sep172016_pinkoutift_fave-0101Everyone is looking for more meaning in their lives- it’s what holds true meaning that they can’t always seem to find.

Since moving back to the states (it’ll be four years in May) I’ve given my all to “what’s next” — for me it originated from a place of not being enough and ultimately having to move on from my marriage, divorce, and loss of what felt like the only life I had ever known. At that point, what’s next for me was learning how to be completely independent (mainly financially) and not allowing myself to look back in the rearview mirror. I put everything I had into my marriage to ultimately walk away knowing that it was the best possible decision and that over time I would learn some of the reasons as to why things didn’t work out.

I have.

In the coming years I did what most people told me I could not. I hustled; I independently built my fitness brand, made quite a name for myself in the industry, graced several magazine pages (even a cover), and made business connections some would kill for. All of which have been monumental for me, yet still leaving me with the question of “what’s next?”

Throughout the past year I’ve been more financially stable than ever before, have partnered with, been sponsored by, or affiliated with over eight major brands and have gotten more recognition than I’m typically comfortable with.

People in the industry often view my roles as “having it made.” While I don’t necessarily disagree, I’ve paid a very high price of not valuing my emotional well being, sacrificing relationships (both with myself and others), and losing some of my deep seeded passion along the way.

From a business perspective, I truly couldn’t ask for more. Yet, at the end of the day all of the endorsements, awards, accolades, financial security and running a business that I love, I still find myself wondering what’s next, and is it enough? In a sense, it’s a blessing and a curse– yes I should always be thinking of what’s ahead but I’m slowly learning that planning everything out (especially being the perfectionist that I am) gives me no time to appreciate what’s right in front of me.

I’ve become obsessed with making the impossible possible, and as a result I fail to give myself credit for what I’ve built (and will continue to build), because I’m so overworked and overwhelmed that I fail to see things clearly. I thought that what’s next was always something I had to ask myself, and have a concrete thought-out answer as my response, and in turn that would make me happy. Wrong.

I’ve put pressure on myself, I’ve set unattainable standards for myself and what I expect from others–and it’s failing. I’m failing myself– making a living has turned into forgetting to live and I only have myself to blame for that. At times I’m so focused on the bigger picture that I fail to see that the bigger picture is in fact made up of tiny snapshots along the way.

What’s next, you ask– working on my own personal relationship with myself. I’m learning that the most important relationship has to start from within, even if that includes guilt for feeling selfish. I’ve neglected my emotional wellbeing for years and the candle can only continue to burn on both ends for so long.

So, the next time you ask yourself, or someone else asks you “what’s next?” Remember that by always living in forward motion and not your current state of being you’re putting yourself at risk for a potential downward spiral. What’s next for me is continuing to build a name for myself and my brand, but focusing in on the things that truly matter in life, taking a step back when necessary and reminding myself that no matter what- I’m enough.

 

“I Did.” > “I Do.”

jl-14I’ve had a lot of recent successes- what feels like success to me, and I suppose what looks like success to others. In the past few months I was invited to give a keynote speech to hundreds of women about my journey (big moment for me), I landed the cover of Be Well Philly’s annual health and wellness magazine, and I graced the pages of the New Balance Women’s catalog as more than a fitness model, but rather a role model. I’d say I’m well on my way to making a name for myself in the fitness industry.

I’ve gotten an overwhelming amount of “congrats” and “I’m so proud of you” moments, and I so appreciate them, but…there’s more, more that you probably won’t see me gracing any magazine pages for- more that may be passe to speak of because my exterior paints a much different picture than my interior. It’s an image of seemingly doing well that people are proud of, yet it was not doing well that has led me to the point in my career that is now considered successful.

Too often people fear sharing the not so pretty side of their seemingly glamorous life, but I truly believe that to be a mistake.

As I’m sure you know, and it’s rather apparent- I haven’t been blogging as often as I once did, for various reasons but one in particular that makes me feel like a phony, because I’m not practicing what I preach.

I preach the importance of making time for yourself, and to make time for what truly matters. Yet I’m failing time and time again to realize how much matter. The phrase “I matter” is something I still struggle with because I’m so used to putting others first; their schedules, health concerns, and feelings. Yet as I tell each client the importance of giving back to themselves, at the end of the day I find myself with nothing left to give.

This isn’t something that happened overnight, it’s something that I’ve allowed to happen for years. When returning back to the sates (three years ago) I threw every fiber of my being into my business, allowing me to solely focus on the present, without truly facing or dealing with my past. As I’m reminded by my past I force myself to be grateful, and thankful for my present and my future- yet I struggle with allowing myself to just be, whether that’s here or there.

Yesterday was, or what would have been my sixth wedding anniversary. I didn’t really speak much of it but I felt (the memory of what I once imagined life to look like) staring back at me.

Please believe me when I say I don’t want that life…I did then, but I don’t now. I’ve learned so much about myself, and continue to do so on a regular basis and for that I’m thankful. Yet taking time out for myself is something I need to make a priority. Often times I don’t deal with my feelings as they arise, but later on when I have no other choice but to confront them. I’m just like everyone else who struggles with negative coping mechanisms. Moments of drinking too much, attempting to eat my way through feeling better, and overall just feeling bad about myself-but I know I’m not alone, and as cliche as that may sound, I believe it to be true. I know I’m not the only person that struggles with demons from the past and that’s why I continue to share the realness of my life.

It’s so important for me to be transparent in a world of people that are driven by fear (I’m often one of those people too), to allow others to see that their journey and what they feel may be a failure is indeed not that. It’s an opportunity for change.

I think sometimes because something happened years ago we think shouldn’t discuss it, that we should automatically be over it, and no longer have any feelings associated with that memory. I call bullshit. In fact, I think it’s important that no matter what you’re feeling, you address it, and remind yourself that there is no right or wrong here, there just is.

For me, it’s reassuring myself that it’s ok to invest in my personal life as much as my business. I’ve grown my business with purpose and through potential, and I’ve learned to be ok with the ups and downs of that, yet I still need a lot of work when it comes to being fully capable of giving myself permission to potentially fall on my face and be less guarded in my personal life.

This is mainly for me, but also for all of you reading this- as long as you’re moving, you’re creating. Take time out for yourself and begin to create. Forward motion.

Jayel_Sig

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.

Jayel_Sig

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 

Jayel_Sig