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. 

Jayel_Sig

Why Leaving my Husband was the Best Thing I’ve Ever Done

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It’s my two-year anniversary of moving back to America. Although a distant memory, one that will always feel like ‘just yesterday.’ I boarded my flight from Germany to DC, leaving behind everything that was comfortable…and immersed myself in the complete opposite; the unknown.

Leaving a place I called home, my husband, and the only life I knew was the bravest thing I’ve ever done. For so long I was scared of leaving, scared of being on my own, scared of what would happen next. Would I fail, would I be able to support myself, would life as I knew it no longer be?

Prior to leaving Germany I vividly remember driving home from my girlfriend’s house one night. On that drive home I plead with God to give me a sign. To let me know that I’d be ok, and that moving on was in fact something I could do on my own. I actually asked for Michael to be cheating on me. Not so I could go through the pain yet again, but so that I had a reason to leave my situation, to move on, to let go…

I got what I wanted, but was I ready to move on? I don’t know if we’re actually ever ready for the big leap of faith, to come face to face with our fears, to begin a life you know nothing about. Truthfully I thought about staying, trying to make things work (although I knew they never would), and living a life that I was so accustom to. One where we’re not happy but were programmed to think we are, because we have X,Y, and Z. But I didn’t want that. I wanted ME. Two letters that now equate to my entire being.

I realize it’s been well over two years since I last saw my ex, and that the stories of our relationship are no longer a part of my day to day life, but they have impacted me, they have changed me, and allowed me to become the person I am today. I don’t share these things so that people feel bad for me, or to stir up old emotions, I share things as a way for me to realize how far I’ve come, that my life could have ended up completely differently, and that no matter what- you always have a choice.

Sometimes I forget why I ask for certain things, mainly because they’re painful, or they teach me a lesson that I wasn’t quite ready for yet in the long run they only benefit me. It’s about trusting the process, knowing that the things you ask for aren’t necessarily delivered in the clean packaging you assumed it would come in, but rather a big messy ball of emotions, questions, and what if’s. Just know that once you put something out in the universe it does everything it can to help you get it–it’s just not always on your terms. That’s part of the process, the journey, and the reward.

It’s not that we expect too much, it’s that we have a very precise idea of what our expectations should look like. Let that shit go, because with each difficult situation we learn how to get through things a little easier.

I’ve become passionate about being honest, having an open book, being transparent, relatable, and feeling alive. Feeling alive doesn’t necessarily mean feeling great everyday, it means feeling the emotions you didn’t know you had, learning how to heal the scars you once stitched together, it’s learning that through your insecurities, self doubt, fear, shame, and guilt –you’re growing. That you can’t create your future by simply predicting it, you have to allow it to unfold the way it’s supposed to… not the way you intend for it to.

Perfection and the appearance of having it all together no longer excites me or inspires me to be a better person, in fact by struggling, veering off course, and getting in touch with feelings and emotions that were once untouchable, now fuel me.

Declare what you are and who you’re going to be. Say it boldly and unapologetically. And make each day an extension of you.

I turned my mess into my message, my dirty laundry into something I wanted to air out, I decided to make something beautiful out of my wounds, heartache, and something broken.

Not just for me, but for the women who have influenced me, and for the women that have and will continue to share their journeys through life, love, and fitness. It allows us as women to see that we’re all relatable, we all have common ground to stand on, and we all have a reason to uplift one another.

So today, two years later, I want to say thank you for letting me break, completely, into a million pieces and allow myself to see that I’m capable of so much more, of rebuilding, replanting, and growing independently.

Thank you for allowing me to realize that intuition never steers you wrong, that despite not knowing what to do with the answers we’re given…we ultimately know them.

Thank you for teaching me that settling is no longer an option for me, that when it’s time for me to be in a relationship I know what I want, and what I deserve.

Thank you for allowing me to make my mess my message, my defeats into triumphs, and feeling like I was the victim into my victories.

Be brave.

Take chances.

Experience everything.

Make it happen.

Jayel_Sig

 

Injured, but Not Broken

10257885_10152409344346698_7050246618784841032_nI did not grow up in an athletic family. Sure, I did gymnastics for a year and was part of a community track team for one season, but I never thought that athletics or fitness was something that I would need. Ever.  Growing up I was always tall and thin, often being questioned if I had an eating disorder because of my small size. When I was about 22 I started dating a guy who went to the gym every single day. I thought he was crazy. After a few months of dating he convinced me to join the gym with him so we could work out together. After one workout, I was hooked and it was then that I decided I wanted to transform my tall, skinny and lanky body into a toned and “athletic” looking body.

After a few months at the gym I decided I wanted a personal trainer to help me achieve these goals. He put me through the most difficult workouts I had ever done and helped me do exercises that I did not think were possible for me to do. Slowly, but surely he put me into the best shape of my life. I was working out every single day of the week alternating cardio and weight lifting days, and one day out of the week working out with my trainer.

In September 2013 (8 MONTHS BEFORE MY WEDDING) I suffered a very painful neck injury at the gym. While on a 10 foot high pull up cage I managed to severely pull my right trapezius, along with the nerve that runs from the base of my head all the way down to my fingertips on the right side and on top of all that also wound up with two slightly bulging discs in my neck. I could not move my neck or turn my head. At all. In a matter of seconds I went from being a completely independent and active woman to needing to depend on everybody else for everything because I couldn’t do anything. I was devastated. Simple activities that we take for granted were on my long list of DON’T. I couldn’t lift, push or pull ANYTHING. I had to sleep in the 2nd bedroom of the apartment I shared with my then fiancé because the mattress was firmer and I had to wear a neck brace to sleep every night. I was miserable.

I started physical therapy twice a week and was told by my therapist that the only thing I could do at the gym was the recumbent bike, or as I called it, “the senior citizen exercise bike.” But, I needed to do something. So everyday, depending on how my neck was feeling, I would make it over to the gym and sit on the “senior citizen bike” for an hour. After 5 months of physical therapy I was eventually given permission to start exercising with my personal trainer again. I jumped at the opportunity. We moved very, very slowly but I was determined to get back into the best shape of my life. I knew what I was capable of doing and I was going to do it. As I started feeling stronger I decided, along with my trainer to change up my exercise regimen and do some cross training. At this point in time I am spinning three times a week and taking boot camp, tabata and a weight lifting class along with working out with my trainer. More than a year after my injury I can happily say that I am stronger and in better shape than I was before that dreadful night at the gym. Now at the age of 30, I thank my 22 year old self for deciding that I needed fitness in my life.

Submitted By: Arielle Richman

Depression: Turns Out It’s a Real Thing

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Looking back, the universe was speaking to me. Unfortunately it wasn’t telling me what I wanted to hear but I was forced to listen. It was that voice that has allowed me to be open with not only myself, but also others and offer my strength when others can’t locate their own.

I really began to feel a shift once I broke my foot. It’s as if my body was the only thing left I felt I had control over. I had always been able to manipulate it, make it stronger…make myself appear strong. But with a broken foot I didn’t look the part, I not only looked weak but felt that way as well.

Yes, I was going through a divorce at the time, and in a relationship with someone I saw a future with but there was still this dark could above my head that wouldn’t seem to move.

It was around this time that I began to see a therapist regularly. It was something that made me uncomfortable to speak about because I thought there was a penalty flag thrown on the ground as soon as the word “therapist” came out of my mouth. Yet again it made me feel defeated, but I continued to go and attempted to answer questions that I didn’t seem to automatically have the answers to.

Such as; “When did you begin feeling like this?” This was anxious, jittery, and nervous.

I told her I remember feeling anxious when I began dating Michael (my ex-husband) because I didn’t trust him, was always concerned with what he was or wasn’t doing, and I felt out of control. That’s where it began. I had no idea that having bouts of anxiety would lead to this overwhelming sense of “wtf is wrong with me” the anxiety got worse once it hit me that we were married and I had put my dreams on hold for him…and that’s when I began to resent him. Although deep down I wasn’t thrilled about the marriage I knew it was the “next step” and I was content. Not overjoyed, exuberant, or OMG! I get to marry my best friend, I just felt like it was sequential order to get married and begin the next phase of my life.


The whole living across the world thing was new to me. I had never been more than a few hours away from my family and it took some getting used to. He was able to go to work everyday, be around people, and make new friends, all while I was at home trying to figure out what was next for me. I was basically a stay at home Mom–without the kids.

The resentment turned into a huge lack of emotions. I didn’t want to be around him, or his friends. I secluded myself making the situation even worse. I would call my friends back in the states and hear what they were up to, and it made me jealous.

I was doing what I thought was best, what everyone told me made sense…but it didn’t feel that way. I looked at all of the military wives and saw how much camaraderie they had, how they would put together bakes sales and were so proud of their husbands accomplishments…that wasn’t me. I was proud of my husband but I just didn’t seem to fit the “dependent” mold. Another term I hated, but that’s for another time.

Anyways, fast forward to to him leaving, dating a another woman, moving back in and trying to work on things to me leaving Germany and saying goodbye for good.

I’m home in the middle of a divorce and in therapy at the age of 28-aweomse. What kept me sane, was having to be sane around my clients, teach upwards of four spin classes a week and depending on the endorphins to get me through my days. At the time I wasn’t much of a runner, but that summer I literally tried to run away (mile by mile) from all of my problems. It didn’t work but it did help with my sanity. Long story short, it turns out I had a broken foot for 7 months and needed to schedule surgery immediately.

Post surgery I was in the dumps-big time. It was winter, snowy, dreary, and I was spending about $300 a month on Uber because I couldn’t walk anywhere.

With the pending divorce, my broken foot, and a new relationship, my emotions that I was unable to unleash (physically) turned into depression. I won’t call it severe because I’ve never suffered from depression before but it was BAD. I didn’t want to get out of bed, be active, eat healthy…nothing. I’d cry for no reason and I was constantly sad. I considered medication but later decided that wasn’t the route I wanted to take. I felt like I was losing my mind just trying to figure out why I was off, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.


It wasn’t one specific event but rather a collaboration of things that lead to that point. I now fully understand why they call it a breaking point. There were even days that I hoped I wouldn’t wake up, but I did…for a reason.

While dealing with all of my emotions I learned that I wasn’t weak, I was just going through a lot of shit and couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I learned that I wasn’t the only one going through depression, and that there were so many others that were open to talking about it and that it wasn’t something that needed to be hush hush. I learned that in order for ME to find my way out, I needed heal.

The healing process is different for everyone, but I needed to figure out who Jayel was, not who people wanted Jayel to be. I was so used to pleasing others that I forgot about pleasing myself. I was trying to keep up with my friends that were happily married and doing great things with their life. Really, I was trying to be someone I wasn’t. I learned that how and who I spent my energy on was crucial, and that comparison was the death of my potential joy.

I realize this is probably my longest post to date, but it’s also one of my most open ones. It’s something that needs to be discussed. I didn’t have many people that really understood what I was going through, and heck for the most part I didn’t understand what I was going through.

I’m thankful that the 2014 ship has sailed and that 2015 brings new possibilities. This year has already been better. For one, I’ve been legally divorced for quite some time now, both feet are fully functional and I see things differently. I don’t want what everyone else thinks makes sense, I want what makes sense to me. If that’s never getting married again-I’m fine with that. I’m more appreciative for the good times, days, and moments. I still have my off days, but I’m able to take a time out and reflect on what’s going right as opposed to what’s going wrong. I look back at times I was full of resentment, utterly lost, and chasing the wrong dream. I’m not there anymore. And to me, that’s the best thing I could ask for. I try to remember to celebrate the small victories, and constantly remind myself that I’m doing the very best I can.


I share these intimacies not so that you can feel bad for me, but so we as women can begin talking about uncomfortable situations that we often keep to ourselves for various reasons. So that hopefully my healing can allow someone else to begin theirs, so that someone else can realize they in fact are not alone.

We’re never 100% ready, but all it takes is a leap of faith.

Jayel_Sig

The Road Less Traveled

“Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?” 

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We’ve all had a dream, heartfelt and driven by pure passion. Yet, along the way of this thing called life they’ve been put on hold, put on the back burner or somehow lost in translation. We’ve forgotten who we are, what we’re capable of and what we deserve.

The problem isn’t people wanting us to be someone or something we’re not, the real problem lies in us changing in order to fit that mold. The mold of acceptance, one that doesn’t quite fit us, yet somehow we manage to see ourselves in it. The truth is; people will never accept you as you are. There will always be someone that wants you to break, that wants you to unravel, and see you scale back your dreams, simply because they were unable to conquer theirs.

We live in a people pleasing society that will only accept us in bits and pieces, our whole being is often times too much to handle. You’ll always be too much for some and not enough for others, too much of a dreamer and too much of a believer–in yourself. 

Believing in yourself is where you begin to take back the power. Being you; raw, unedited, passionate, and unscripted. That’s who you’re supposed to be. The thing is, we all have the potential to do things our way. To take the road less traveled without having a panic attack about it.

There’s two ways to go through life…take the road that’s been paved for us, or the path we decide to create for ourselves. We have more freedom than we think we do, yet we get stuck in this mindset that things need to be done one way in order for success to happen, but that’s where we’ve got it all wrong. We have the procedures of achievement backwards.

I myself am a type A personality, I come up with lists, of how things should happen, of what “should” make me happy, and I devise a way to get those “things.” Often times once we get those things, or we are able to cross them off of our list we feel a sense of happiness, yet that sense of happiness is fleeting. From this point our lists get longer, we have more things to check off, more things to feel happy about, more things that are fleeting…(stick with me here). The point I’m trying to make is that there’s this cyclic cycle of happiness coming and going, creating a constant void allowing us to feel anxious when we’re unable to cross something off our list, something that we’ve made up in our minds that we believe will eventually make us happy.

It’s the lists of things outside of ourselves that begin to create a desire that is almost always unachievable. We must learn to get in tune with our feelings, allowing our true self to be explored. We have to figure out how we want to feel when we accomplish A/B/C.

Since it’s this mold of a check list odds are crossing off A/B/C won’t necessarily make us happy, it will leave us feeling let down, confused as to why we ever longed for such things, and perplexed as to what’s next. We’re comfortable with being comfortable, and by playing it safe we allow fear to dictate our future.

The point I’m trying to make here is that we need to be driven by passion or not at all. Passion is what shapes our destiny. The potential is there, but often times it’s something we have to awaken. This happens by taking the road less traveled, by allowing our actions to be driven by desire.

There will be up’s and down’s, but sometimes you have to just let it roll, let it crumble, build it back up, yet always stay humble. Truth is, you can choose whichever road you want, but why would you want to travel someone else’s journey?

 

Jayel_Sig