When I was in a long-term relationship I remember feeling like all my single friends were on at least one dating site (now, 3 years later it’s both dating Apps AND dating sites). This of course got me thinking “oh man, if I was single would that be me? Is that how people date? I wouldn’t even know how to be alone.” I was so far out of the dating game, and so unused to being alone that I was genuinely concerned about what would happen if it came to being alone.

Ironically, I became single a few months later.

Being alone is not an easy thing.

At times, being alone is the most uncomfortable feeling one can experience. You’re forced to get to know yourself, and like yourself, and if you don’t like who you are? You have to figure out how to get to the point where you do.

When my long-term relationship ended, I had to learn how to feel alone and be okay with it.

That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life. 

Even when you feel lonely while being in a relationship, you still know what to expect, and there is comfort in that. You still have another human lying beside you at night. You still have another human you can pick up the phone and text or call or email when you are feeling an uncomfortable emotion whether that be sadness, worry, anger, hurt, loneliness, etc, or when you can’t sleep at night. You still have another human you can talk to about a bad day. You know you have someone to spend Friday nights with. You know you have someone to spend birthdays with.

When I was figuring out how to be alone, I procrastinated coming home every evening for months.

I just couldn’t do it.

For the first (and only, haha) time in my life, I dreaded Fridays and couldn’t wait for Mondays.

I stayed out as late as possible-it didn’t even matter what I was doing-in a bar with friends, dancing with girlfriends, taking the latest possible class at my gym-anything to keep me out late enough, or exhaust me enough, that I could come home and just immediately pass out.

Whatever it took, I did not want to be alone because I was faced with being alone with my thoughts. Forced to be alone with myself, someone I did not know anymore and did not like anymore.

Alone with my worries and fears and feelings of self-doubt.

What will I do?

What do I like doing anymore? What do I do for me?

Oh Goooooood, tomorrow’s Friday…what are some things I can do this weekend…alone? I can’t do this. I don’t want to do this. How am I supposed to entertain myself for an entire 48 hours?!

I hated going to sleep alone.

I hated waking up alone.

I don’t even know how I got myself up, and dressed, and held a job for a good…9 months after my relationship ended.

That whole period is a fragmented, blurry memory.

I was that broken.

But at the same time I knew I needed to be alone. I truly believe we all have to be alone at some point to truly get to know ourselves.

It is when you are at your absolute rock bottom, so shattered and so broken, and making mistakes because you are that shattered and broken and, oh Gooooooood, you are just struggling to move forward, sometimes struggling so hard you don’t even know what you are doing, you are just fighting to move because it’s as if you’re drowning and if you are still for even a second you will be forever submerged…so you just move. You just fight to stay above water because while you have no idea what you’re doing, you know, in that moment, that the only thing you can do is fight to keep moving so you aren’t swallowed whole… it is in this pain and personal struggle that you catapult yourself into your life and your future. It is when you are faced with serious inner struggle that you discover who you are. It is when you are hurt to the point that every day you wake up with the thought: “roll over, just roll over and shut your alarm off. Okay. Good. Now put your feet on the floor. Sit up. Sit. Up. You have to sit up. Okay good. Stand. Deep breath. YOU WILL GET THROUGH TODAY. YOU WILL SMILE AND YOU WILL FAKE IT TIL YOU MAKE IT. Just. Get. Through. Today. Don’t even think about tomorrow yet, it’s too daunting. One day at a time. One foot at a time. You’ve got this…” that you really begin to discover yourself, pushing your limits and breaking down personal barriers.

For weeks I ignored the phone calls of my friends and family-texting them back that I couldn’t talk. I was done talking. I had nothing else to say. I had nothing more to give and I was tired of saying I was okay because I was not.

But I knew I would be, and that is key, my friends. Always know that you WILL be okay, someday, and it may take longer than you want-or, God forbid, longer than other people think it should take-but you WILL BE OKAY.

I remember one point when I finally talked on the phone to my sister Karen and I was telling her how I had hardly been able to get up and get myself water, couldn’t stomach food, and showering was out of the picture. But that I was convinced “tomorrow I will get up and get in a shower and go to work-I think tomorrow I can act human again.”

And Karen said one of the most poignant things I still, to this day, have ever heard. A point I constantly reiterate to friends going through painful situations. A point that was an enormous turning point for me in my journey towards health, towards living.

Karen said to me “Laura, the crying, the being too sick to eat or move, the being terrified of being alone and yet wanting only to be alone, and not talk to anyone…that IS human.

This was a major turning point in my life. This one comment.

She also assured me that it might take a year or two until I felt whole again and that was okay.

Karen gave me permission to face my emotions. Something I had not done for myself. I was too prideful, I was too hard on myself, I was always too busy worrying about the future rather than facing whatever I was feeling in the moment and living in the present, to face my emotions. I had even developed an eating disorder to avoid facing my emotions.

She gave me permission to accept that I might struggle for months, if not over a year, but that was okay and there was no appropriate timeline, nor any rush, to feel “better”, that it was individualized and it was acceptable because it is a human experience.

She gave me permission to feel broken and damaged and raw.

Being alone is extremely uncomfortable at times, especially after a break-up because it is an adjustment, but I do not think you have to go through a painful breakup to feel alone, nor do I think you have to go through a painful breakup to want to distract yourself from how uncomfortable it feels to feel alone.

I spent my 25th birthday completely alone. It was the first birthday I was completely alone and I did not have a single plan. And I was okay with that. I didn’t plan anything for myself and no one planned anything for me, yet that was perfectly okay with me. *** Side note: David, whom I was still months away from dating at the time, found out I had no plans and took me out for a drink, saying “It’s your quarter century birthday! At least let me buy you one drink.” Ha, life is amazing-actually started sobbing giant dinosaur tears when I realized this as I type this up.

Learning to be alone, and realizing I had permission to go through, and face, all of these uncomfortable emotions, was a major turning point for me because binge eating is an escape. Like any other addictive, compulsive behavior, binge eating is a way to avoid an uncomfortable situation or emotion. A distraction. An avoidance technique. An escape from reality.

As I learned to be okay feeling alone, and to face my emotions, to really feel them, it turned out Karen was right-it took months. Months. 

I slept so far on what used to be “my side” of the bed that I was practically falling off.

I had one friend whom knew exactly what I needed, he also happened to be male so in that sense he was totally cool with not saying a word, whereas females (totally speaking for myself here-I internalize everything) tend to start to internalize the non-communication (“are you mad at me? Why don’t you want to talk? But we always talk about everything.”). This particular friend simply stayed on the phone with me until I drifted off to sleep-often neither of us saying anything-and then he would hang up.

But because I had given myself permission to take as long as I needed to pick up the pieces, it didn’t matter how long it took, because the journey of self-discovery, and learning to be alone, is transcendent if you let it happen.

As time went by, I got more productive with my alone time, and it got to the point where I looked forward to coming home after work and being alone. I would no longer stay out all night long on weekends (in NYC closing time is between 4:00-5:00AM), I would duck out by 1:00AM so I could come home and read for a bit in bed before drifting off.

I got to the point where I loved sprawling out in the entire bed and rather than needing to distract myself from myself, I spent alone time sitting in the quiet and reflecting on self and life in a meditative state.

As a woman I feel like I am constantly having discussions with female friends regarding being alone. When a female friend is considering ending a relationship, the tendency is often: “I would rather stick it out than be alone, I don’t know how to be alone”. I get it, I’ve been there. I will never sugar coat how difficult it is to learn to be alone.

But I am living proof that you can and you will learn how to be alone.

I promise you.

If a girl who had been with the same guy from age 16-24, moved across the country with him, and had been struggling with an eating disorder for 5 years with zero idea of how to “gain control” can do it? Then anyone can do it.

Being alone is perhaps the ultimate step outside of the comfort zone.

Humans are incredibly social. When humans get involved in a relationship, they begin to pride themselves, and define themselves, as being one piece of a partnership.

It is not until you are alone that you are forced to re-discover who you are and what you like.

It took me months to stop saying ‘we like’ or ‘we do’, despite the fact there had been no ‘we’ for months.

Feeling alone, feeling damaged, feeling broken, feeling scared, feeling overwhelmed, feeling like you want to escape does not make you weak. It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. It doesn’t mean you’re “crazy”.

At the age of 18, for whatever reason (and maybe there doesn’t have to be a reason) I started to fear all of these uncomfortable emotions, and I continued to avoid them at all costs for the next 6 years.

It was when I gave myself permission to face all of these emotions, embrace the uncomfortable, face my fears and do it anyway, that I truly started living my life. I had to face feeling and being alone and discovering who I was, even the darkest parts of myself that I wanted to hide from the world, hide from myself, that I truly started living my life. That I truly started to figure out who I was and what I stood for and uncover the woman I wanted to be.

I think it’s safe to say that all of us will feel one or more of these emotions, and maybe even a sinking loneliness (although I sincerely wish that on no one), at some point during our lives, but we all have the choice to give ourselves permission to feel those emotions, to learn from them and to keep moving forward-even if you can only manage one day at a time for a while.

I believe in being strong when 

everything seems to be going wrong.

I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls.

I believe that tomorrow is another day

and I believe in miracles.

~Audrey Hepburn

Cheers,

L

When the season starts to turn, and the days get shorter and cooler…it is SO much easier to let healthy habits fall by the wayside.

To me? Staying consistent, and motivated, in the cold weather months is challenging at best, absent at worst.

Even for those with the best of intentions, or for people who had been powering through workouts all summer, eating healthy and readily available produce, drinking lots of water to cool off in summer’s heat…cold weather can cause motivation to come to a screeching halt.

When my alarm goes off and it is dark out, it is so much more challenging to get up in the morning.

I am so much more likely to stay in bed and scratch the morning workout I had planned.

Even if I plan on a post-work sweat sesh? When leaving the office and it’s already dark I am SO much more likely to want to go straight home and snuggle up with warming foods and warming drinks. Especially as the temperature continues to drop.

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In addition to it being harder to self-motivate to exercise, it’s also so much easier to let healthy eating go by the wayside when the weather is cooler and daylight is short.

Between Sunday Funday, months of holidays filled with excuses to eat all the holiday foods and drink all the holiday drinks, concealing clothing that totally allows you to comfortably gain a few pounds and let’s face it… Doing any more than you have to when it’s cold and dark outside (read: anything beyond schlepping yourself to work or class) is the least appealing thing ever.

But if you take a hiatus between October and April every year-you are always going to be playing catch up. Every year you will have the same 7-20 el bees to lose (the average American gains 7 pounds (!!) between Halloween and New Year’s Eve).

Every year Spring will be a misery fest as you slog through April and May feeling like you’ve never had an honest workout in your life.

Every April will be filled with regret and fretting about getting fit as you head into beach and wedding season.

You’ll finally be feeling good by August. Just in time to do it all over again.

Isn’t it easier to just stay consistent all year long?

Despite how difficult it is, and boy does it take self-motivation, no denying that, it is really so much easier to stay consistent throughout the year by figuring out how you can stay motivated despite inclement weather.

Valles Caldera 1/1/13

I get it, when the weather turns, I stop craving salads and fruits and cooling foods and I start craving heavier, warming foods and having to check my water intake because when it’s cold, drinking cold water isn’t nearly as appealing.

I too absolutely loathe getting up early to an alarm and having to put on layers of clothing to head out into what feels and looks like the middle of the night.

I too want to head straight home from work and skip the gym, digging into hearty Fall or Winter foods, washed down with my favorite “Fall/Winter” wine or beer.

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But I know that if I don’t dig deep down for motivation now to keep going, I will feel even more sluggish come April.

I also know that sometimes for me if I don’t want to workout and I’ve depleted every single motivating factor in the book (you want to be healthy, it’s good for your heart, you’ll feel better mentally after an endorphin trip, you have that race coming up, etc.) sometimes the only motivating factor is vanity: “you want to feel confident in all those summer dresses you love”. Yep. I’m human. But when you’re wearing three sweaters and long underwear under your jeans? Even vanity isn’t always enough to be a driving force. So…I like to tell myself, that I want to be “bikini ready” at all times. You never know when someone will sweep you off to the Caribbean in January. ;)

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Bottom line? Even when you are wearing so many layers that you feel like a hockey goalie, it is all about feeling confident underneath it all. Confidence comes from within and confidence translates into all areas of your life: your competence as a professional, your intelligence, your friendships, your relationships, your likeliness to go after that promotion, on and on. And let’s face it, we are human, a huge part of confidence is feeling good about yourself-and a piece of that comes from taking care of yourself and feeling confident about yourself physically. Wanting to look good physically does not make you superficial. It makes you human.

So how does one stay motivated between October and April? Here are some things that work for me. 

1. Get everything ready the night before. If you are an AM exerciser, I find, when it’s cold out, it is even more important to get everything ready for the previous day the night before. Pack your breakfast and lunch for the next day, lay out your workout clothes, have your gym/work bag packed with your work outfit, laptop, makeup and hair products-whatever you’ll need for the following day. I like to follow this tip all year long, but I find it especially important in cold weather months when I literally cannot think about what I’m about to do (get out of my nice, warm bed to go to the gym when it’s so early and so cold) because if I do? No way is my ass getting out of bed. It’s like ripping a Band-Aid for me in the winter. I really just do it and don’t think about it. The more automated I can make this by prepping everything at night? The more likely I’m going to be to stick to it.

2. If you are a PM or lunch-time exerciser, Tip #1 still follows. Even if you aren’t getting out the door as early and you have time to wake up with hot coffee and a hot shower rather than the gym, I still find it infinitely more challenging to go from work to the gym at the end of the day during cold weather. When it’s cold and already dark by the time I leave the office? The last thing I want to do is hit the gym. Hell, when we were having fun with the ol’ Polar Vortex last winter, you couldn’t even pay me to go to happy hour after work, much less the gym. And this girl loves both socializing and beer. If I go home from work to change for the gym? No way am I heading back out to go to the gym. I will crack open a fave winter beer or make hot tea and get immediately into sweats and not leave the comfort and warmth of home. So, if I am working out after work I again have to prep everything the night before and go to the gym straight from work.

Getting my sweat on New Year's Day 2013, in sub-zero temps

3. Consider becoming a weekend warrior. If you live in an area with snow sports, this is even more awesome because you will want to spend your weekends enjoying outdoor activities. But even if you’re not somewhere with mountains or you’re in a city, you can still make more time to workout during the weekends (it’s so much easier when there’s daylight and maybe even sun) whether it’s a cold-weather run or simply hitting the gym during the day. In general, it is recommended amongst health professionals to workout between 5-6 days a week. Well, for a lot of working professionals, working out Monday through Friday is the easiest because you can incorporate exercise into your already very regimented daily routines. But what if you find you still aren’t motivated to workout when it’s dark and cold both before and after work? Choose 2-3 days during the work week to get to the gym. Play around and see which time of day you are more likely to go (the best time of day to exercise is the time of day you’ll actually do it), and put those days in your calendar. Mentally getting to the gym on Tuesdays and Thursdays or Monday/Wednesday/Friday is wayyyyyy easier to swallow than looking ahead and seeing 5 days on your calendar. Then, you can get in workouts on Saturdays and Sundays when you can go during the day for a total of 4-5 days a week-enough to keep or get you fit!

New Year's Day Snow Shoe Adventure at the Valles Caldera in Northern NM

4. Brainstorm at-home workout ideas. There are a slew of workout DVDs out there, as well as online programs you can download on the spot. Most of these programs require very little equipment and very little space. If you know you will not make it to the gym often during the Fall and Winter, maybe consider saving money and doing at-home workout videos a few times during the work week and going outside for some exercise, fresh air and vitamin D on the weekend days.

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4. Don’t forget to eat fresh. While it’s so much easier to eat fruits and vegetables in the summer, there are still plenty of good options, especially in the Fall. Apples, pears, sweet potatoes, cranberries, pomegranates, winter squash (butternut, acorn, kabocha, pumpkin), winter greens (Swiss chard, Collard Greens, etc.), Brussels sprouts, turnips, and rutabagas are just some of the cooler weather produce you can enjoy.

5. Don’t forget to hydrate. You may have to remind yourself to drink water when it’s cold out, but it’s still just as important. Staying hydrated boosts energy, helps with all cellular processes and helps power you through those workouts you’ve so carefully planned out. ;)

6. Enlist a workout buddy. Having someone to keep you accountable helps A TON. It can be someone in your same city, a roommate, or even a friend across the country-discuss your weekly workout plans on Sunday and then check in with each other every evening to give each other motivation.

7. Reward yourself. In the Fall I like to treat myself to two new cooler weather outfits: a work and/or “fun” outfit and a workout outfit. The work/fun outfit will keep you wanting to stay fit and will boost your confidence while the new cold weather workout outfit will help you stay motivated to actually workout. THEN, when Spring clothes start appearing (months before it warms up-why do stores switch to warm weather clothes as soon as January 1st hits?!), treat yourself-or save up for something you see-to a new Spring outfit or two (you can do the same as the Fall-a fun new work/social outfit and new Spring workout gear). I am a huge proponent of rewarding yourself, and coming up with incentives for sticking to healthy habits, and find new clothes can be both motivating and give one a little confidence boost.

7. Enjoy the season and the holidays (and football viewing!) that come with it. Despite all the above, at the end of the day, life is about living. It’s about not feeling restricted. It’s about feeling good about yourself. It’s about feeling like you are in the driver’s seat of your own life. You WILL miss workouts for holiday parties or traveling or having family visit and that’s okay. Enjoy the season for all it is. Enjoy Saturday afternoons snuggled up while it snows or rains outside. As long as you stay remotely consistent during the Fall and Winter, you will set yourself up for a much better Spring and Summer. Trust me, in just my 26 years of life I have spent 6 of those Spring and Summer seasons absolutely scrambling to get back in shape and it is not fun. I also know it gets harder and harder to get back into shape the older I get. I would much rather keep some modicum of fitness, even if it does mean being slightly easier on myself, so I can enjoy life-and feel confident-all year long.

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How are you going to motivate yourself to stay in shape now that the weather is getting colder?

Not in an exercise routine now? Start today! You will already be in a routine come January 1st. :)

Off to the gym. ;)

Cheers,

L

There are only We still have a little over two months left of 2014.

New Year’s is such an interesting cultural phenomena.

People wait all year to begin making changes to their lives until the New Year.

Then the clock strikes midnight, turning the calendar into a New Year, and suddenly people give themselves permission to have fresh motivation. Permission to chase personal goals and make necessary, and sometimes difficult, changes in their own life.

Promises that this year is THE year, replacing the previous thoughts of “ohhhh, well, it’s the holidays, everyone overspends/overeats/fill in the blank during the holidays” or “well, there’s always next year”.

Not only does this type of thinking set yourself of for unrealistic expectations (an all or nothing type mindset), but…why not start today?

We are just about a month into Fall 2014.

Fall is the perfect opportunity to re-assess where the year, up to this point, has led you.

What has been a challenge?

What major accomplishments have you already had?

What aversive events and experiences did you encounter?

What did you learn about yourself, and the world, by experiencing and overcoming these challenging experiences?

Who came into your life that challenged your view of self and life and broadened your view of the world?

Are you a resolution person? If so-how are you meeting your personal and professional goals for the year? With approximately 10 weeks left of the year, you can still crank through your list. Hell, make a new list and come up with ways to accomplish these new goals before we ring in 2015.

Life is about taking your previous conceptions of yourself, and of the world, and of other people, and constantly changing them as you learn, as you experience, as you fail, as you get back up and start over again, as you live

Have the goals changed because you faced unexpected-both positive and negative-events? What new goals-or direction-did you uncover because life happened?

If you are not a resolution person, I challenge you to reflect on 2014 anyway, and think about what you want to accomplish both now and in the next 6 months to a year.

Fall is the perfect time to not only get back on track with the boost of motivation so many people experience in January (only to have it nearly completely diminished by Valentine’s Day), but also to set yourself up for a strong year ahead, whether or not you are a “resolution” person.

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When I left the permanent job I had, in a company I did ultimately love, last December, I really had no idea what was in store for me.

All I knew was that I needed a change.

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But I had lost sight of what really matters to me.

I had lost sight of where I came from, and I was on a quest to make money, have an impressive title (New York loveeeeees titles-that’s why we make up shit like “New Business Development Representative”-ummmm, you’re a sales person, get over yourself-and yes, that was my title at one point).

A year ago I think I maybe even have had a slight sense of entitlement driving and influencing the direction I was thinking I should take my career, rather than listening to what I value and what my natural passions are.

And guess what? I failed. I failed in my hunt to find an impressive office job-regardless of how qualified or unqualified I am/was for any of the jobs I’ve tried for.

And you know why I failed?

Because I didn’t want it. I wasn’t being my authentic self. I was following a path I felt I should be following, rather than creating my own path. I was worried about all the impressive things everyone else was doing, rather than the path I should be starting on for myself.

I admit I am quick to tell others “oh, well, you aren’t doing it (it being something someone constantly talks about wanting to do but then not doing it) because maybe you just don’t want it. When we truly want something, we make it happen.”

But it’s always easier to look outward and when you turn that spotlight inward? It’s much more difficult to ask yourself: “do I really want this? Or am I doing it for the wrong reasons?”

I firmly believe we do our best work, and are our best versions of ourselves, when we truly believe in the work we are doing or the mission of our work.

I uphold the belief that we are not only happiest, but the most successful, when we are our authentic selves while going after something.

I didn’t come here to be average.

~Michael Jordan

I finally woke up, after a long year of struggling to fit into someone else’s mold of the “perfect” career path, and remembered/realized this, and I realized You’re wasting your talent, Randy!

I am turning over a new leaf.

This Thursday I will (fingers crossed, if all goes well!) be starting a new job.

This job is something that will drive my economic engine, which is important because I love New York City and would be torn up to leave for financial reasons.

But it is also a job that I feel is very important.

It is a zero-sense-of-entitlement job.

It is a job that aligns greatly with what I deem most important in this world.

It is a job several people suggested to me last December when I was first looking for jobs, but back then I saw it as regression, I saw it as “giving up”, I was letting other people’s opinions/passions/goals overshadow my own to the extent that I even lashed back at anyone who suggested said job.

If you were to turn over a new leaf starting today, what would your list of Top 5 goals be?

What is one thing you can do today to begin working on those goals?

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By taking the time to stop and appreciate

who you are and what you’ve achieved

-and perhaps learned through a few mistakes, stumbles and losses-

you actually can enhance everything about you.

Self-acknowledgement and appreciation

are what give you the insights and awareness 

to move forward toward higher goals

and accomplishments.

~Jack Canfield

Cheers,

L

Beauty is being the best possible

version of yourself

inside and out.

Beauty is confidence. 

Beauty is individuality.

When I first started thinking about, questioning and exploring what it meant to be female, and femininity, I was around fourth grade.

I remember suddenly wanting to look up hairstyles, blow drying and styling my hair, wanting all the things from Bath and Body Works, and even wanting to shave my legs.

As the above anecdote attests to, during this early period of life when girls start “caring” how they look, I was the ultimate girly girl when it came to beauty products and messing around with my hair. Don’t get me wrong, I was still the girl playing all the sports with all the boys any chance I got, but I was a girly girl with my little clique of other fourth grade girls while doing it.

By the time I reached middle school all this effort and attention to my beauty routine was already starting to dwindle.

This was, admittedly, largely in part to the fact that by eighth grade I was training for swimming twice a day and…well, that’s a lot of work on hair and makeup in the morning when you have a short window to race to class and know you’ll be jumping in a pool again as soon as school lets out.

By the time I got to college I was just about completely disinterested in makeup, unless I was going out. But even then I went to college in Southern California-women don’t get super dressed up to go out. I felt strongly about natural beauty and admired women who wore little to no makeup because, to me, at the time, it meant she was so confident in her own skin that she didn’t feel the need to put much effort into her appearance. I also admittedly had inner conflict that, as a woman who pushes women’s rights and equality, women should not be focused on outer beauty, that outer beauty is superficial and plays too greatly into gender and societal norms and detracts from the personality and intellectual contributions an individual female will be seen and remembered for. I didn’t want to be seen as “just another pretty face”, like girls are supposed to be.

When I moved to New York City at the age of 22 my idea of women, femininity, self-confidence, self-expression, and beauty again transformed. I still am very (very, haha) minimalist when it comes to my makeup and hair, but I have just as much respect for women who DO put a lot of time, effort and money into their appearance as the women who choose to be more “natural”. To me it’s not “high maintenance”, it’s self-expression. It’s fashion. It’s art. It’s creative energy and creative expression. It’s what makes her feel beautiful. I firmly believe how and why you choose your unique self-expression and personal style should have ZERO weight on how your competency as a professional, as a lover, as a mother, as a daughter, as a student, as an athlete, as a woman is perceived.

The thing is, women should feel beautiful, and do things to make themselves feel beautiful REGARDLESS of what other women are doing. Regardless of what messages society, media and social norms are sending women in regards to what the current definition of beauty is.

I believe every woman wants to feel beautiful.

I believe it doesn’t matter how high-powered your career path or how self-assured you are or how much of a humanitarian you are or how much you love makeup or how many kids you have or how much of a feminist you are…

We all want to feel beautiful whether we are at home, alone or when surrounded by other people, whether those “people” are men or other women. 

How a woman chooses to present herself through her own unique, personal style is incredibly individualized. Every woman should choose her unique personal style in a way that makes her feel confident and makes her feel beautiful, whatever her personal definition of beauty is. And what makes us feel beautiful as we go through life is dynamic, changing as we navigate life and grow and learn and go through experiences.

A rose can never be a sunflower,

and a sunflower can never be a rose.

All flowers are beautiful in their own way,

and that’s like women too.

~Miranda Kerr

Confidence is beauty, and while you can and should absolutely “fake it til you make it” with confidence (and ohhhhhh have I faked confidence during certain periods of my life), you need to do whatever it is to make you feel beautiful so that you can radiate confidence, whether you feel confident or not, in any given moment.

Eventually, you will not just be acting confident, you will feel confident.

This is why a woman changes her hairstyle after a bad breakup, because it is a fresh start.

This is why a woman treats herself to a mani/pedi after a bad day at work, because she is taking time for herself, pampering herself and showing herself she deserves to be treated with love.

This is why a woman goes for a run, because she feels most beautiful when she is challenging her body and mind, when she feels strong.

This is why a woman wears a beautiful, sexy dress, because she’s feels feminine, sensual and beautiful.

This is why a woman wears a “power suit” in a man-driven corporate world, because she feels smart, beautiful and still radiates femininity.

From an early age women are bombarded with mixed signals of what it means to Be Beautiful: be feminine, but don’t be too feminine; be smart, but not as smart as the boys, they won’t like you if you intimidate them; be strong, but don’t be a “tom boy”; be sexual, but don’t be a slut; be naturally beautiful, but don’t act like you’ve “let yourself go”; fix your hair, but don’t be high-maintenance; be a leader, but don’t be bossy; be skinny, but not too skinny…

I have two challenges for you:

1. Take some time and think about, or discover through actions, when you feel the most beautiful. Is it right after a workout? Or right out of the shower? Is it when you’re dressed to the nines, ready to go out? Is it in a T-shirt and jeans? Is it first thing in the morning? Is it when you stand in front of your colleagues and drive a presentation? Why do you feel the most beautiful in that moment? How does that feeling boost your confidence? How can you translate this feeling into every aspect of your day/life?

2. The next time you see another woman and your brain immediately jumps to a judging comment about how much or how little effort you perceive she put into her “look”, stop yourself and remember how you want to feel beautiful, and well…so does she.

Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin.

That, or a kick-ass red lipstick.

~Gwyneth Paltrow

Cheers,

L

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.

C.S. Lewis

As we go through life, we constantly conceptualize, categorize and compartmentalize aspects of life in order to better comprehend and come to terms with them.

Between the ages of 2 and 3, humans begin to put items in categories (animals, flowers, etc.) and between 3 and 4 years, children start to conceptualize in schemas (as referred to in psychology, first coined by psychologist Jean Piaget).

Schemas are a neural framework that allow us to conceptualize the things around us. We have schemas of self, roles, person, and events, to name a few. The problem with schemas is that they can make it difficult for us, as we go through life, to understand or accept something that is OUTSIDE of the schema we already have built. When we already have a conception of what we believe to be true about something, we can have a difficult time adapting and this can cause us to interpret a situation incorrectly because we are unwilling to adapt our beliefs when faced with a situation that challenges pre-existing beliefs.

I think as we go through life, our schema of self changes greatly.

I have written about this multiple times, and learning to adapt my schema of self (and roles and events, particularly) is something I am slowly coming to embrace, even as I continue to search for a career (or hell, even a job) that makes me feel fulfilled.

As I navigate my twenties in this fast-paced, dynamic city, this what I currently believe to be true about myself, and about the world, as I know it:

1. A job does not define you. We all have special gifts, talents and passions to share with the world. Find a way to bless the world with your gifts regardless of whether or not those gifts happen to align with how you make your livelihood.

2. It’s okay to be the one who is willing to roll up your sleeves, the woman or man who is always willing to “do whatever it takes”, but it is NOT okay to be taken advantage of or under-appreciated BECAUSE you are willing to work hard and want to be liked.

3. Along those lines, it’s great to be nice, it’s great to be like-able, but there’s such a thing as being too nice or trying too hard to be like-able. Practice drawing a proverbial line in the sand and setting boundaries. You can still be a compassionate, caring person while having grit.

4. Don’t be afraid to value yourself more highly than you feel someone else (an employer) will accept. Obviously, don’t be greedy, but you know how hard you’ve worked and will work, what your skill-set is, and what your value is. Do not settle for anything less than what you believe is your value.

5. Know the market value for jobs you are applying for. If you go in and are educated about what someone with your skill-set, experience, education, and role is making in your geo-location and use that to negotiate a salary, you will be way better prepared, and frankly seen as more favorable because you know your shit. I hate to say it, but this is especially true if you are a woman.

6. Never settle for something less than you desire because you’re tired of searching for the job, education, athletic goal, business venture, partner, whatever IT is that makes you feel simultaneously challenged and fulfilled.

7. Even worse, never settle for something because it’s what society (I’m including friends and family with “society” here) would be most impressed with. Sheryl Sandberg moved to Silicon Valley at a time when everyone advised her against it. She took a lower level position to work for a 23-year-old, against nearly everyone else’s “advice”. Ummm…we all know she made the right decision.

8. Never wanting to settle is NOT the same thing as a sense of entitlement. It doesn’t matter what age you are, walking around with the belief that the world owes you something will never be looked upon favorably. You can want to be intellectually stretched and always growing and learning, you can demand self-respect which will get you the respect of others (you have to love yourself and respect yourself FIRST), and you can always strive for self-improvement without having any sense entitlement.

9. Being alone is simultaneously the most challenging and most important thing to learn.

10. When all else fails…exercise and music will rejuvenate the mind, body and soul.  Currently listening to: Duke Ellington.

If you can’t fly, then run.

If you can’t run, then walk.

If you can’t walk, then crawl,

but whatever you do,

you have to keep moving forward.

~Martin Luther King Jr.

Anddddddd….for fun, here are some pictures of life lately…

BIG Salads Fo Liiiife!

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Giant NM burritos with homemade red chile. Nourishment for body and soul.

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Brussels sprouts are baaaaaack! On the left are the LJ speciality-red chile powder, garlic powder, salt and peppa…on the right are Trader Joe’s Seasoned Brussels Sprouts…David liked mine “waaaaaay better”. Smart man.

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Mahi mahi marinated in tons of lime juice, jalapenos and (duh) red chile powder.

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All together! With rice and beans, because…ummmm, I’m from NM and I need a daily fix of beans in some way. Oh-and covered in fresh jalapeno because the hotter the better.

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Home sick in bed because this Type A freak likes to get herself sick when she’s stressed and run-down. First bad virus in a while, though, so totally okay with it.

Homemade Southwest Chicken and Orzo soup makes everything better. Especially when eaten in bed.

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Check out this bed side table haha! Water, coconut water, Ibu, Vicks vapo-rub, “natural” vapo-rub…er…”night grinder” (mouth guard, like Tina Fey in Date Night, haha)…totally didn’t know that was in the picture til now…haha.

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Beautiful sunset walk by home. Oh heyyyyy, Atlantic Ocean.

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‘Tis the season!!

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Happy Thursday!

Cheers,

L

Ramble on.

Today I went for an interview for a temp job that would be starting tomorrow. I don’t have a single appropriate outfit for said job, and I barely have the money to buy a new outfit much less a wardrobe to carry me through 6 day work weeks for the next two months.

I left the interview and started sobbing.

I continued sobbing as I walked for an hour through the city, taking the longest possible route to the train simply because I needed to walk and I needed to let months of built up frustration finally bubble up.

I quit a permanent, full time role in mid-December of 2013.

2014 has since consisted of me searching, searching, searching for something. Sometimes, for…anything.

It has been even longer, since October 2012, since I first started trying to make a career move (at the time within my current company), to no avail.

Job hunting is hard work.

You put yourself out there over and over.

You advocate for yourself in cover letter after cover letter and interview after interview-hoping you are perfectly toeing the line of being confident in your presentation of yourself and what you can bring to the role and the company while not sounding like an arrogant asshole.

You start to question why no one will give you a shot.

What did I say wrong?

What did I NOT say?

2014 has been a year of such inconsistency and uncertainty and self-doubt in my professional life that today’s bubbling over of emotion just needed to happen.

Sometimes you need to just let your emotions go and for a few minutes, or hours, take a break from the very exhausting job of telling yourself “things will look up!” and just allow yourself to be sad, angry, frustrated…whatever you’re feeling.

Then…

You get up, dust yourself off and…start doing the things you enjoy.

Like writing. ;)

Or carving time out of your day for fitness (totally going to the gym later this afternoon-something that has fallen by the wayside for almost 2 months, I’m embarrassed to admit).

Even if you aren’t where you want to be in some aspect of your life, be it your professional or your personal life, don’t let the things you love doing, the things that make you you, fall by the wayside.

It’s so easy to let go of the things you enjoy doing, to get in a rut and fall into a thought pattern of “why me?”, but it is in these times, when your shit is NOT together, that it is the MOST important time to take time EVERY DAY to do the things that speak to you, to do the things that feed your soul.

So…while I still have not found that ideal job, and am even further away from a career path, both of which are very hard for me, I know what I’ve gotta do…

Ramble on, my friends. Ramble on.

Life is not easy for any of us.

But what of that?

We must have perseverance 

and above all confidence in ourselves.

We must believe that we are gifted for something 

and that this thing must be attained.

~Marie Curie

Cheers,

L

 

Fearless.

One of my favorite Pink Floyd songs.

Keep Calm…Pink Floyd

Life is about climbing one hill after the next.

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We climb hills in order to reach goals.

We climb hills in order to overcome personal struggle.

We climb hills to climb up the proverbial corporate ladder.

We climb hills to improve or increase our health.

We climb hills in relationships.

We climb hills as we grieve.

Sometimes someone-whether that someone is the voice inside yourself or an acquaintance-tells you “you can’t climb THIS hill, this hill is too steep for you to climb.”

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BE FEARLESS.

We must continue to climb hills throughout our lives.

We overcome one hill only to be faced with the next.

Embrace these hills, this is the beauty of being human and having the power to choose the path we want and then to GO FOR IT.

Climb to overcome.

Climb to better yourself.

Climb to reach the dream you have for yourself.

Climb to numb, and, eventually, get over, the pain.

What hill are you climbing?

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Never stop climbing.

For fun…here is a fun video roll set to Pink Floyd’s Fearless. Enjoy!

****************************************

And a special birthday tribute to my sister, Karen, who is currently living in England while she works on her Master’s . Cheers to the start of your 25th year. I am so proud of all you have already accomplished and know this next endeavor will bring you even more success and fulfillment. :)

In Hawaii…

With Karen in Hawaii

As little girls, with our closest childhood friends, Mary and Jean (Karen and I are in the middle).

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At Karen’s high school graduation in 2008.

Karen's high school graduation in 2008

Summer 2014 in the Austrian Alps.

Austrian Alps!! Summer 2014

Salzburg! Karen and Maria.

Salzburg 2014-Karen and Maria

Keep continuing to jump into the unknown and live your dream. Happy 25th!!!

Go ahead-LEAP! My sister Karen-today is her birthday!!

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Happy Thursday, friends!!

Cheers,

L

Hey friends! It’s almost the weeeeeeeekend!

Since it’s Friday, let’s keep it light-hearted, shall we? :)

Here’s a little snap shot of life lately….

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Signing up for impromptu 10 mile races…

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Subway at 6:30AM on Sunday on the way to said race wondering what I’m thinking.

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Unsurprisingly, had a blast running and riding an endorphin high…

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Slightly less creepy selfie, haha.

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Post-run Shake Shack…

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The real reason I signed up. :)

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With my friend and fellow health coach Ali!

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Me, Ali and Wendy! All survived the early morning run! :)

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My boys managed to get out of bed and cheer us on…Me, David and Lil D…

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Sunday funday with friends…and David. :)

DJ and LJ

” LJ look at the camera!” Managed to turn away from the guac long enough for a quick smile.

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Paparazzi shot showing a typical glimpse into daily life-Singing at the top of my lungs while David roots around for a snack or a drink haha.

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Andddddd still singing…

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More weekend fun…rooftop Cranium!

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David, me, Karen and George…

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Love these people!! Srujan, me, David, Karen, George, and Connie.

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How I bribe myself to run on Saturday mornings…

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Almond milk cortado!

Fitting in as many veggies as I can in every dish…yellow bell pepper, basil and sundried tomatoes on top of pasta…

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Sauteed chard…

IMG_3082IMG_3086Breakfast at work…fresh berries, almond butter, chia seeds, cinnamon and Greek yogurt.

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Summer tomatoes! With basil, sea salt, avocado, balsamic and fresh ground pepper.

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Weekly taco night!

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Fresh jalapeno and onion…

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Ubiquitous New Mex green chile-my go-to once I’ve depleted my freezer stash until chile season rolls around again (right now!!! :) ).

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I love weekend breakfasts…

Saturday pancakes…

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Sunday burritos… Jalapeno sausage, scrambled eggs and tortillas…

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And…more green chile…

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Massaged kale with ‘cado and feta…

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Sauces I pour on everything…

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Perfect especially for beef bulgogi and brown rice…

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A treat I couldn’t pass up from Trader Joe’s…

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Multi-colored carrots and delicious cukes…

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Smorgasburg! George, Karen, me and David…

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Still holding the pose, no idea if Lil D is taking any pictures or not, I started laughing at the 4 of us standing there like clowns…

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And…David and I are the proud parents of our new baby…

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Could we BE any more ostentatious?

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Of course-we could have gotten orange. ;)

David and I have a number of things in common that we noticed before we knew each other that well…we are both huge foodies (and beer snobs), love all music (he was familiar with somewhat obscure songs that most people I ask aren’t familiar with-instant way to get my attention, haha), and…we both love cars.

We had been shopping around for a while…we had every intention of getting black (on black, ha) or dark grey but I fell in love with the red and when he agreed we went for it.

She’s a fun ride. :)

Happy Friday friends!

Cheers,

L

 

In the middle of May I attended a weekend long Health Coach conference here in New York City put on by Institute For Integrative Nutrton.

The event was at Lincoln Center and people flew in from all over the world. It was, without a doubt, one of the most inspiring and fun weekends of my life-and I’ve had an awesome life. :)

The speakers were incredible-everyone from Dr.  Oz to Marie Forleo, and some of the biggest names in the fitness industry led workouts throughout to get the blood flowing and demonstrate  how you can get a lot-both mentally and physically-out of just 20 minutes. Yep. I was in my glory.

 

Loveeee all things exercise! Sunrise workout this morning!!

Loveeee all things exercise! Sunrise workout this morning!!

One of my favorite speakers (#boldstatement) was Mastin Kipp of The Daily Love.

Early on in his talk, Mastin puts out to the audience, “what if anxiety, exhilaration, excitement are the same thing?”.

Wow.

What a way  to take an uncomfortable emotion, an emotion that could hold us back from following our dreams, and turning it into a positive, action prompting emotion.

He continued on… “The quality of your life is directly related to the amount of uncertainty you’re comfortable with.”

Mind. Blown.

Think about times in your life when you’ve felt miserable.

Were you trapped in a miserable job but comfortable?

Were you unhappy in a relationship but terrified of being alone, read: comfortable?

Were you living someone else’s life but knew what to expect, and were thus comfortable?

The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.

I know for me, my quality of life has sky rocketed since I got willing to be uncomfortable.

Since the level of uncertainty in my life has increased significantly, so too has my quality of life.

Becoming willing to accept uncertainty and face change (and fear), has been the best decision and action I’ve made in my entire life because it has directly influenced and effected every facet of my life, from health to career to relationships to friendships to self-acceptance.

Courageous action is doing things you’re terrified of.

What if when you are afraid to ask for that promotion, or leave an unfulfilling or draining job, or walk away from that toxic friendship or relationship, (or, hell it doesn’t have to be toxic, it could simply just not serve you-and that’s okay), you instead decide to view fear and nervousness as a compass guiding rather than a reason to avoid something uncomfortable.

Here’s my challenge to you. The next time you’re in fear mode-stop.

Take a breath.

Never stop climbing

Breathe Deep and Journey On

 

Ask yourself this: what is the worst thing that could possibly happen if I far this fear head-on?

Can you handle it?

Yes. You can always handle more than you think. Always.

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Live Your Dream-Barbados January 2014

There are 4 months of 2014 left. Are you happy with your quality of life? Is there a goal you have yet to accomplish? Or to start?

Get out of your comfort zone and go live your life, something beautiful always awaits when you take charge.

 

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Happy Tuesday!

Cheers,

L

 

 

One of my all time favorite movies is Good Will Hunting. I think the storyline is beautiful, the character development is so real and it is one of those movies that, to me, is entertaining while still touching on the human condition.

Maybe you’re perfect right now. Maybe you don’t want to ruin that. I think that’s a super philosophy, Will, that way you can go through your entire life without ever really having to know anybody.

~Robin Williams

People who know me really well know that I have perfectionist tendencies to a potentially dangerous extent.

People who don’t know me *as well* think I am care free, fun-loving, bubbly and even a little bit reckless.

Barbados 2014

Barbados 2014

I am both of these “people” depending on who I’m with, what is going on in my life and my current situation and circumstances.

I am someone who gets very close with people. Throughout every stage of life I have gotten incredibly close to people around me in every aspect of my life: school, sports, work… I am an open book about myself and challenges I’ve overcome and personal struggles I’ve had. I do not hide this nor do I feel shame about it, and, because of this I feel incredibly blessed that people approach me when they need an open ear.

Yet, because of this dichotomy of crazy Type A versus carefree social butterfly, very few people see what I consider to be me at my core, the difficult, even dark, side of myself.

Here’s an example, when I swam competitively, if I didn’t hit the intervals I wanted to for timed sets in every practice I would either stay late to get it right or I would go for a run or lift weights after practice to make sure I had at least made some improvement that day.

Yeah.

This had nothing to do with weight, either, it has to do with me setting a *goal* for myself (often times something not even realistic) and then beating myself up if I didn’t hit that mark I’d set.

I want to be perfect. I want to constantly challenge and improve myself. I want to have all my shit together, all the time.

Luckily, in the 8 years since graduating high school I have gotten way more balanced. Less and less people see this perfectionist side simply because I have gone through a lot of life experience since high school (who hasn’t?!) and am therefore significantly less hard on myself.

About a month ago I started a new job. I hadn’t had a traditional office job since December and I came into this job with an extraordinary list of daily things I must get done.

I had not been this rigid in a long time and I am still working through why I got so extreme after having not been for a while.

I think in part it’s because I had no set schedule for a good 7 or so months and now because I finally had one (I love schedules, shocking haha) I had to make it perfect.

Alarm goes off at 5:10AM–>go to gym, get home by 7:00AM and get ready for work, out the door by 7:40AM, get to work at 9:00AM–>work til 5:30/6:00PM home by 7:15PM–>cook, clean, pack breakfast and lunch for next day, shower, in bed around 10:30PM, blog…bed by 11:30PM/midnight.

Ummmm does this look sustainable to anyone?

Yeah, completely insane.

But, you see, I finally had something to control. Something to put all my energy into and make perfect and feel a sense of accomplishment from.

This came to a stop just two weeks in when I freaked out because I didn’t get in a workout or blog before work. God forbid. I was yelling, crying, going on and on about how my whole day was ruined and now I had to cancel dinner plans with a friend because I had to get everything that day, and now clearly could not.

Luckily, all that self-awareness and life experience I have gleaned (combined with the most supportive boyfriend I could ever ask for, who calls me out when I need to be and knows what’s bothering me before I even do) meant that by mid-morning I realized I needed to take a step back and stop controlling everything.

David keeps me grounded...

David keeps me grounded…

Now I get all those things done *most days* but I am doing it in a way that is very sustainable and allowing me more than 5 hours of sleep per night (FYI, if I let myself, I’m a 9 hour a night kinda girl). And if one “task” isn’t completed that day? That’s okay.

The truth is: Belonging starts with self-acceptance. Your level of belonging, in fact, can never be greater than your level of self-acceptance, because believing that you’re enough is what gives you the courage to be authentic, vulnerable and imperfect.

~Brene Brown

While “levels” of “perfectionism” varies greatly from person to person, by nature humans want to appear perfect.

People want the perfect job, the perfect relationship, the perfect bank roll, the perfect appearance, the perfect Rolodex, the perfect house.

I get it, I want those things too.

But I realized in the last 4 years since coming to NYC with no job, no plan and knowing very few people, that the best opportunities, friendships, relationships, self-discovery and moments in life are not the perfect moments when you have all your proverbial ducks in a row.

They are the moments when human interaction, human emotion, and life itself is raw, unplanned, dirty and eye opening.

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I have come to love the plan less side of myself, the part of myself that doesn’t have it all figured out, doesn’t know exactly what’s next, the part of me that is raw and maybe even a little bit sloppy.

And because of this I have had the most awakening, inspiring experiences these past 4 years and, the human connection, both intrapersonal (self-awareness, personal growth and change) and interpersonal, I’ve since experienced, is so real and raw that I no longer care about seeming perfect. I want to truly know people. I want to truly know myself.

Be your authentic self. You will find life so much more accepting, fulfilling and beautiful.

I always find beauty in things that are odd and imperfect-they are muc more interesting.

~Marc Jacobs 

Cheers,

L

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