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.

Taking Flight // Part Two

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We all have preset expectations of how our life is supposed to look, what we think we deserve, and how it will all play out. If I’m being honest with myself, and others- that’s bullshit.

I used to believe that my life would unfold the exact way I planned for it to-merely because that’s what I planned. I expected a few hiccups along the way, but I didn’t expect my life to be the exact opposite of what I had planned for.

Five years to the day, I took a flight that ultimately ended up changing my life. I moved abroad with my then husband into uncharted territory ready to pursue the next chapter in our lives. Five years later on this very day I’m flying to Boston- a place that holds meaning to me, and yet another place that changed the course of my life.

Upon graduating college (eight years ago) my girlfriends and I decided to take a road trip to Boston. We spent quite a few ridiculous nights in the heart of the city; going out to bars, having fancy roof top dinners, and introducing ourselves to unfamiliar faces. We were literally having the time of our lives. We unexpectedly walked into the Beantown Pub for yet another ridiculous night on the town. That night I ended up meeting my future husband. From that moment on my life was never the same. I fell in love, moved to a different state, got married, moved to a different country, watched my marriage fall apart, attempted to pick up the pieces while failing miserably, and eventually moved back to the states.

It was during those times of uncertainly that I began to figure out who I was, what I stood for, and how my own voice sounded when the background noise of others was no longer so influential.

Last year, on March 28th, I flew to Mexico. I needed a break, an adult time out from the rest of the world and I wasn’t quite sure why, why then…why I was breaking down. Facebook was kind enough to remind me why I was in such a state of angst, confusion, and misinterpretation of my own feelings. At the time of realization, tears began to roll down my face, they were tears of sadness, of loneliness, and a feeling that what I fought so long and so hard for was no longer my reality.

Yet, today, I’m back in Boston for a reason; it’s the rebirth of a new era. Two years ago, the thought of visiting the Beantown Pub would have made me go into a complete state of utter chaos, but today I’m more at peace knowing that a place that once held such a life altering experience is now a reminder that life can change at any moment, and for any unimaginable reason. In a sense it’s a form of closure.

This time the tears aren’t of pain, or of hurt, they’re tears of joy, and the ability to pursue my purposeful passion. It’s the roads that don’t always get discovered, but somehow manage to find their way to you. Not necessarily because you decided to go a different route, but because life decided that’s what was written in the stars for you. My mom continues to remind me that despite our desire to be in control, we’re not. The life we thought we planned for ourselves is nothing more than our purpose that was planned long before we can imagine. The future you thought you’d live wasn’t as meaningful as the present you’re currently living. Learning to embrace your fear, and a life you didn’t plan for can be a source of inspiration, but only if you allow it to.

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Recycle Your Pain

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I’m usually very focused, and my vision so clear, yet life got me. I lost myself and could no longer hear my voice. We get inundated and saturated with what should be, what our priorities should look like, and how we ought to feel, and then we shift. Often times we shift without even realizing we’re doing so, yet we feel it.

As of late there’s been a lot on my mind…a lot. With family members getting sick and people close to me losing their lives too soon you begin to focus on real world issues. Issues that you don’t necessarily want to put your energy towards but ones that won’t otherwise disappear.

I’ve also been working on forgiveness. It’s something that I 100% believe in, yet something I struggle with on a daily basis. It’s somewhat similar to the story of the boy who cried wolf. You never want to keep talking about the same old thing all the damn time-yet sometimes that’s life, that’s your life, and it’s part of my story, and I bet yours too.

Yes I was married, and yes I’m divorced. It’s behind me, yet also standing directly in front of me. There are obstacles and hurdles I must tackle to be the whole person I’m capable of being. Is this an overexerted topic of discussion? Perhaps, but it’s my topic of discussion and I’m owning it 110%. No, my divorce doesn’t define me, but it does allow a lot of issues to come to the surface. Issues that are ongoing that most choose not to discuss.

You hear it a lot;

“Forgiveness is for you, it’s not for them.”

“By forgiving someone you regain the power.”

“Forgive yourself first, and the rest will come.”

Although I realize it takes two to make a relationship work, as humans we have a tendency to blame ourselves for the downward spiral, and eventually the demise. Various scenarios will play out in your mind time and time again of how you could have fixed the situation, made it better, or done something differently. Yet the outcome still remains the same. For me, I think a large part of beginning to work on forgiveness is allowing myself to be both vulnerable and honest. Being vulnerable means putting yourself out there, but it also means dealing with the truths of what may come. Truths you don’t necessarily want to confront, but must deal with head on.

My husband was my mirror. I looked at him for happiness, for stability, for everything I couldn’t find within myself. I became so insecure because of his actions; infidelity, and lying. Truth is- I was insecure from the beginning of the relationship because I didn’t quite fully know how to trust myself, my truths, my emotions, my intuition, or my own personal journey. I didn’t want to know the truth because I knew it would hurt. I didn’t want to deal with the pain so I allowed myself to let him play the leading role of my doubts and my fear, when in reality, I should have taken a closer look in the mirror, because I too, was a lead actress. In a sense, he was me, and I was him. We mirrored one another; the good, the bad, and the ugly.

What I’m working on now, is forgiving myself for everything I feel I’m entitled to let go of. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you forget what they’ve done, it means you allow yourself the ability to move on in a positive direction without them having so much power over you.

Recycling pain occurs in various forms, it’s a cyclic cycle for someone that is suffering from it. They pain others because they too are in pain. Yet by learning that in certain situations there was nothing you could have done better to change the situation you learn (slowly) to recycle your pain in a more constructive and positive way. Recycling your pain doesn’t mean that the struggle isn’t real, and reoccurring, it means that you’re aware of it and able to focus your energy on letting go of the life you thought you should live, and embracing the one you are living.

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Photography: Michele Suits

Recommend Listening: Let it Go- James Bay

Objects in Mirror are Closer than They Appear

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If you’re like me, or any other human for that matter- you probably have a hard time finding balance. I fee like I’m constantly playing defense and I never get to play offense. I am so incredibly fortunate, and often feel like I can always save the day by fixing things. Yet, at the end of the day I come to realize that’s not always a role I’m capable of filling. I know I can’t fix everything in someones life, but if I can fix a part of it, I feel like I’m doing something right- on the flip side I fail time, and time again, at fixing myself and giving myself the same things that I tell others they need. 

If I can’t make my dream work then no one else can. Owning your own business means you get to be creative, but it also means you talk through things with yourself, structure your own budget, make the final cuts, and decide where to allocate the funds. You also decide (in theory) where your energy goes, and who you allow to draw from it. It’s not always easy, yet you see the refined product, so you keep going. I don’t struggle with sleeping on Sunday nights because I don’t love what I do, I struggle because I’m afraid I won’t be able to continue to fix something, or someone. Including myself.

We’re wired to be emotional beings, but when we’re advised to shut part of that system down, we no longer function as a whole. In our culture we’ve been conditioned that feeling pain, or an unpleasant emotion isn’t something we necessarily have to endure. Sadness is something we’d rather sweep under the carpet and deal with…never. It’s become part of our belief system, that we can simply “fix it”. The problem at hand, is that negative feelings are normal (to a degree), and they allow us to internalize what’s really going on. Without much thought we typically go the the pharmacy and pop a pill to ease the pain, control the uneasy feeling, or mask our negative emotions. The Greek word for pharmacy is pharmakeia; when broken down means both healing, and poison.

Whether we turn to medicine or not, we do this sort of healing, and poison on a regular basis. We pretend we’re not effected by whatever the origin of the problem is, we fail to look so deeply within ourselves because we don’t want to address the root cause. The real issue at hand is that the majority of the time we deflect our emotions onto something else, and choose to not deal with the negative emotions that are often associated with the truth. This cyclical habit applies to pretty much everything in life. Negative relationships, overeating, toxic people that we allow to stay in our lives…and all because we don’t feel like addressing it. We’re supposed to feel, yet we’ve been brainwashed to believe that feeling hurt, anger, or sadness, can all be washed away by something else.

For me, it’s the white noise that I can’t handle. Constantly staying busy is a numbing tactic I use to ease the pain. We must realize that however we choose to numb the pain, we also numb the joy, the true feelings that are warranted and necessary for us to function as a whole.

I’ve fought this battle long and hard, and continue to do so on a regular basis. I’m no superstar, I’m a human that’s managing my own problems. Not with ease, but day by day because I know I’m not comfortable succumbing to what our culture has made us to believe. We have to realize that we’re more than what society tells us we are. We’re human, with feelings of happiness, sadness, and everything else in between.  It’s much easier to have a glass of wine, take an anti-anxiety pill, or keep ourselves so incredibly busy that we don’t have time to process the truth, when the truth is- it’s going to hurt. Whatever it is that you’re dealing with- you have to face it. It’s going to hurt, but that’s natural. What isn’t natural is being numb for an extended period of time and not facing your reality.

No matter what we think, the grass is in fact not always greener on the other side. Addiction happens in various forms in our quick fix, consumer culture.

Truth: all of our problems cannot be solved by an image that claims something different, it’s time to look in the mirror and face it. 

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These are a Few of My Favorite Things…

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It’s that time of year again where we vow to break old habits, and create New Year’s resolutions for the year ahead. As a personal trainer I typically get a surge of new clients wanting to change their ways, and become a healthier version of themselves, I also get asked quite frequently “how do you do it all?” My abbreviated answer is that I make sure to set time aside for myself. While I genuinely love what I do on a day-to-day basis, fitting myself and my overall well being into my daily routine is 100% necessary.

As women, we wear multiple hats on any given day, and typically give more to others than we do ourselves. The importance of personal health isn’t just something we should talk about doing, but something that’s so necessary for us to implement into our daily routine/s. Giving back to myself is not only something that I practice, but also something that I preach to friends, family, and clients. We must remember that treating ourselves is both acceptable, and manageable.

The top four questions I get asked on a daily basis are;

1. When do you find time to get in a workout? Short answer, sometimes I don’t, my schedule gets busy and will change in the blink of an eye. Yet by scheduling something and making it just as important as a meeting with your accountant you’ll realize that it wasn’t only something you wanted to do, but something that was necessary to help you re-focus throughout the day. If you follow me on any form of social media, you know that Body Cycle Studio is my go to for a quick 45-minute cardio workout, that’s guaranteed to have me leaving in a good mood.

2. What do you eat on any given day? Truth be told, I don’t follow any one specific diet. I don’t even believe in the word “diet” — I fuel my body with the nutrients it needs on a regular basis. I always make it a point to incorporate proteins, healthy fats, carbohydrates, and my personal favorite (aside from carbs), fruits, and vegetables. If your life is anything like mine you’re constantly on the go and usually reaching for something in your fridge to toss into your bag. My new obsession with Stripp’d Juice has allowed me to do just that. The cold pressed blends are not only delicious and addicting, but quite appealing and full of color.

3. What do you do with your hair? That’s a great question to ask my stylist, Tasha. I don’t even own a blow dryer so I frequent AMS Salon for not only a blow out, but for fun sweat approved braids that will keep your hair looking as though you do it on a daily basis. Who knew there was such a thing as a braid bar? I can’t even…

4. Where would you recommend getting running shoes from? I used to be the type of person that solely (get it?) bought my shoes based on their design and overall exterior look. While, I still do that from time to time, I’ve realized that it’s not just about how the shoe looks, but also how it performs. My go to? Philadelphia Runner. From the moment you walk in the door, they’re friendly, eager to help, and have a real passion for performance training shoes. They also do a lot of amazing things for the community, which makes you feel like you’re not just a customer, but part of their community.

Treat yo self!

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