Learn How To Say No | Stop Glorifying Being Busy

I pull over on the side of the road, get out of car in front of some vineyards and stop to take a photo of me doing a yoga pose. As I'm moving out of the yoga pose, I start to see spots, feel dizzy, and woozy, and everything is spinning. I nearly fall over and immediately work to get back to my car. This was episode one of my dizzy spell and I knew something was very wrong. I e-mailed my doctor the next day and told her my symptoms and she immediately ordered up a blood panel. Now this is the first of strange things that have taken place this last week. On Saturday I was capturing a wedding (my day job is wedding photography) and a girl came up to me in the middle of me capturing some detail shots, and asked if I felt okay. She explained she was a nurse and and I told her no, things have felt off lately. I've been feeling fatigued, having dizzy spells, shorts of breath, and hypotension. She asked to look inside my lower lips and under my eyelids and said, "Oh no, I think you are at a level 6." "Huh?" I replied back. "Your hemoglobin, I'm presuming is at a level 6. You need to contact your doctor immediately and have her do a full blood panel on you. I was shocked by her ballsiness and thankful for her wit, because this girl was spot on! The next week of events to transpire are something I never care to go through again. 

I went in for blood tests on Monday, got my results back early Tuesday morning. My doctors called me on Tuesday in the afternoon, and sounded very concerned. My white blood cell count and red blood cell count looked normal. Thank god! My hemoglobin levels are at a 6 and my ferritin levels is at a negative 5. Healthy adults should be a level 12 hemoglobin level! What this means is I'm extremely anemic (like we're talking at the panic level) and my body isn't absorbing iron. I've talked about this before on my blog, but for anyone that's new here, I have benign fibroids which are benign tumors all over my uterus that cause me to have very heavy periods and cause me to clot a lot. Where most women have a period for 3-5 days, mine typically last 8-days long. Fibroids are awful and I don't wish them on anyone. I want to have children eventually, so a hysterectomy is out of the question. Going back to this week. My doctor is very worried and is in shock that my OBGYN didn't catch this in time. I'm sitting here wondering why I'm having all of these weird symptoms and wondering why my normal, high energy self, has been hit with major fatigue for the last few weeks. Being me, though I ignored the symptoms and my body just got use to running on nearly empty. To say I've been burning the candle at both ends is a major understand. Let's put it this way: If a candle had 10-ends, I've already burned through all of them, and then went back and burned through them all again, twice. I'm working on my master's degree in nutrition, I run two businesses, this blog and my wedding photography business, I have wedding every single weekend in May, I'm working with a company all month long on events, I'm shooting and editing food videos, and I never sleep! To say I've run my body into the ground is fact and now I'm paying the price. So how did we get here, you may be asking? Well, I don't eat meat, and I stopped taking iron 3-months after my surgery. This is the lowest my iron levels have ever been and surely the lowest my hemoglobin has ever been. Without iron, you body cannot replenish itself, hemoglobin represents about two-thirds of your bodies iron, if you don't have enough iron, your body can't produce enough healthy oxygen-carrying red blood cells, and basically everything goes haywire. Hence, the strange symptoms of dizziness, seeing stars out of my left eye, feeling fatigued and super tired, and run down. I couldn't for the life of me figure out why I was having such a hard time running my 5K's. Welp. It turns out lack of iron and low hemoglobin levels is the culprit. I also chew ice like a mad woman, but lately my ice chewing has taken a dark turn. I go through a bag every two days. I literally chew an entire bag of ice every two days.

Now, being anemic is nothing new to me. I've know I've had anemia, basically since I started menstruating. What I did not know was that I had fibroids up until about two years ago. The fibroids cause anemia due to heavy blood loss. Now, when you live with fibroids like I do, you are supposed to take iron, especially women like me who very rarely eat meat. So I did this to myself. I started feeling better and I stopped taking the iron. 6-months later, here we are, with me running myself ragged, having to let go of obligations, and get healthy again! Blood is super important and if you don't take care of you could be in serious trouble. Tomorrow, I go in for my first iron IV drip, which I'll to do for the next 5-weeks along with taking a iron supplement of 325-mg per day and eat red meat 3x-week. That's a ton of iron! But my body can't function without it. Then we will do another blood panel and hopefully I'll land at an 12 where I should be. I'm so sick of feeling like crap and I'm excited to start feeling better. They talked about me going into the ER and giving me a blood transfusion, but I'd like to avoid that as much as possible. Today, while I was at Costco that horrible dizzy, black out feeling came over me again, and I thought, I need to go to the ER. But then I got driven home, at an iron rich meal, slept, and felt slightly better, but only slightly. I'm telling you all of this, because this all happened because I got busy. So busy that I stopped taking my iron and wrecked havoc on my body. 

I'm so tired of seeing all of these Instagram posts where women are glorifying being busy. They're running around, thriving in it and it's not okay! Yes ladies, you read that right. It's not okay to be so busy that you put your health at stake. This is coming from a woman who knows busy like the back of her hand and whose an expert in it. If anyone has nailed down busy, it's me. I'm begging you all, shouting from the rooftops to look at your life and take a giant step back. Are you feeling so overwhelmed that you can't sleep at night? Are you starting to forget things? Are you missing out on YOU time because of some other task or obligation? This is what glorying busy is and it's not okay. We must stop this redderick that to be busy means to be living a fulfilling life, when in reality it's just the opposite actually. You may think you can handle being so busy you're missing out on sleep at night, but I can promise you that it all catches up to you one way or the other.

And when it catches up to you and affects your health, please wake up and realize you need to let some things go. Are you saving lives? No, probably not (if you are saving lives, you rock!) but unless you have a divine purpose for being so busy you can't see straight in the morning, give something up! And if you do have a diving purpose, trust me, it takes days off too. Take days off, not one day but DAYS off to fully relax and recover. Stop spending your precious moments scrolling through Instagram and turn your phone off and take some YOU time. 

I hope you can all learn from my experience and stop the glorification of being busy because nothing is worth your health. 

Take it from me and remember, health is wealth! 

12-Facts About Me: The Dirt, The Deets, The Details!

I started this blog as a way to document my weight-loss journey and it's become so much more than that now. It's become my little corner of the internet where I can come and vent and write and share about life with all of you! I'm grateful for this space and even more grateful for my readers. I'm humbled you take the time to read about my world, my thoughts, and my opinions so I thought I'd share some wacky facts about me. Wacky? Maybe not that scandalous, but some are pretty weird. (Insert laughing emoji here). I have some pretty weird habits that might terrify you, but hopefully, most of them will make you laugh out loud. Because isn't that the point really? To laugh as much as possible in this life. Join me while I share a list with you that I've never shared before with anyone! But most people know most of these...or do they? 

10-Hilarious Facts About me! 

1. I've had a love affair with Haagen-das since I was 19-years-old. My boyfriend at the time introduced me to this crack and I haven't been able to quit the stuff! In fact, I'm eating some at this very moment as I write this piece. I'll never forget the time Aiden took me down ice cream aisle at the Whole Foods that had recently opened up in our town. We had just gotten off a 10-hour shift at our swanky retail job and I was craving something sweet. I mean, I've had ice cream tons of times before, but when I met Haagen-das, it was a lasting love affair that will last a lifetime! 

2. Not only do I own 3-dogs, but I own 5-cats. Yup! You read that right, 5 crazy, quirky, wacky, furry, spunky cats and when I tell most people this, they either laugh or cry, I'm not really sure which is the better reaction.

3. I've loved jazz since I could walk. I opt to listen to it over anything, which I know surprises most of you since I'm always blasting 80's pop music on Instagram, but jazz and I go way, way, back. And by jazz, I mean the greats, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Coleman Hawkins, Diana Krall, Billie Holiday, the list goes on and on and on. I could talk about jazz for hours and hours. Big jazz nerd over here! Since we're on the topic of music I was raised on the greats too! Sinatra, Bennet, Anka, Martin, and off of the wonderful music that most people my age don't even know who I'm talking about....

4. I started this blog as a way to document my weight-loss. In 2014 I lost 155-pounds and have kept it off ever since! And in 2015 my weight-loss story was featured in Fitness Magazine! I haven't gained back a pound. But, with my surgery, last year by body changed slightly, but it's slowly getting back to what it was post-op. I use to weight 280-pounds and had a wake-up call when my doctor told me I could die if I didn't change my lifestyle. Talk about humiliating! I walked out of that office, got on a running plan, changed my eating habits, and started eating clean. The weight came off and I now workout and eat healthy to be the healthiest, happiest version of myself. I'm training for my first race this summer and I'm excited to be finally taking my running to the next level! Although, I do prefer running with Roxy over anything else! 

5. I'm currently working on my master's degree in nutrition which is a ton of work, but I know it will all be worth it in the end. I have my degree in journalism and was dead-set on being the next Christiane Amanpour but things change and my life took a different direction and I'm still doing what I love, journalism-wise. Reporting, eating all the amazing food, and writing for all of you! 

6. I've been working since I was 13-years-old. My parents always told me that if I wanted something, I'd have to go out and make it happen. I hated scooping ice cream till the wee hours of the night on weekends, but I respect my parents for pushing me to fend for myself. I now run two business's and I'm a female entrepreneur and I'm really proud of that. Thanks, dad!

7. I've been doing Karate since I could walk. My dad has a black belt in karate and taught me how to defend myself at a very young age. While I do not practice this beautiful art form any longer, I still practice from time to time to make sure I know my stuff. And I do the horse karate stance every single day for 5-minutes. I use to be able to do it for 30-minutes a day and I'm slowing working my way back to that. What's the horse stance? You can learn all about this amazing exercise here.  

8. I chew ice like a crazy person! No joke you guys, I go through a bag a week! I've been chewing ice since I found out I have severe anemia due to having benign fibroids. I eat very little meat in my diet and my fibroids cause me be anemic. Anemia affects 60% of women and should not be taken lightly. If you struggle with fatigue or have heavy periods, please go get your iron levels checked! I eat tons of dark, leafy, greens and my body still wants all the ice! My dentist says it's fine, as long I only chew the soft ice! There is only one brand of ice I'll buy and that's the Raley's brand because it's soft, almost like the ice you get in a snow cone. If I can't get my hands on it for one reason or another or I'm traveling, I won't chew ice that weekend.

9. I used to be a belly dancer! In college, I started taking belly dancing classes to blow some steam off, but then I became immersed in the culture and fell in love with the dance! I traveled all over performing in restaurants and shows, but the belly dancing world can be a dark one filled with many toxic people, so after a few years in that world, I got myself out of it. No regrets! I learned a lot about what it means to be a strong woman during that time. 

10. I moved to Los Angeles when I was just a baby! 18-years-old, because I wanted to be a movie star! I've been in commercials, indie films, plays, and have been doing theater since I was a baby. Although I don't live in LA anymore, I feel closer and closer to that world every day being a health and wellness blogger. What's really cool now is I'm lucky enough to combine all of my talents into one amazing job, fitness, acting, writing, photography, influencing, and cooking all the food! 

11. I love to travel! Tell me where we are going and what to pack and I'm there! Travel and photography are a huge part of my life and my goal is to travel all over the world one day. My next stops are Palm Springs, British Columbia, Italy, and Kauai. Although I've already been to Kauai, (I go every year!)  I secretly wish I could pack a bag, grab my dogs and cats, move to Kauai and open my own yoga studio there. I could certainly see myself living the Aloha lifestyle full time! My travel bucket list next stop is Thailand! I want to go and stay at the elephant retreat in Thailand and take care of all the rescued elephants! 

12. I want to be a certified yoga teacher. I've been practicing yoga since my first year of high school when my best friend gave me a DVD to try out, and I've been hooked every since! I love that yoga brings me back to my center. When I practice I feel free of all of my mistakes, my excoriation habit, my pain, bad memories, and heartbreak. When I'm moving and breathing in yoga I truly feel weightless and free. It's a feeling I hope everyone gets to experience and I want to share my passion of yoga with as many people as possible. My favorite style is Vinyasa and I'm currently reaching out to local studios for teacher training. I'm really hoping to be certified by 2018! 

Well, I could list a ton more facts, but this is all for now! 

 

P.S- Okay so one more! I have multiple tattoos but the one that's the most meaningful to me is: "La Bella Vita" which means The Beautiful Life in Italian and it's a saying my Grandfather would say to me on a daily basis. "Genevieve, life is La Bella Vita!" I miss him more than words could ever express. 

To health and happiness! 

Guilt: The Body Shaming of Emotions

You know how when you get that big promotion at work, or when you fit into those size-6 jeans (finally!), you don't feel guilty right? Because feeling guilty over these things would be silly. Or that's what society tells us to think. Yesterday, I started seeing a therapist for too many reasons to list here, but the mains are for excoriation and PTSD. Two very serious mental health issues that no one wants to talk about because they are uncomfortable. For those of you that don't know what excoriation is it's a picking disorder when one picks their skin uncontrollably. I've struggled with it most of my life and I've promised myself that the year I turned 30 would be the year I stop. So here I am in May of 2017 seeing a therapist. I did not have the best childhood growing up, so I'm also going to therapy for all of those things, and that list is more than one blog post can handle. 

My therapist asked me all kinds of questions yesterday since it was our first session, it's considered the "getting to know you session". I an open book and I have absolutely no issue opening up to people and I think that shocked her a little bit. Right off the bat, I was telling her everything, so much so, that I could feel her energy go from uplifting to being overwhelmed. She asked me several questions and decided that I have "general anxiety disorder." General huh? It feels a lot more than just general. She also says I most likely struggle with PTSD but there will be many more appointments and tests before we can know for sure. She asked me about my family relationships and I was completely honest with her about my relationship with my mom. I told her my mom is a functioning alcoholic and my relationship with her is tumultuous at best. She asked me to give her several examples of what it was like growing up with here and I did.

I told her about the time my mother threw a wine glass at my head when I was 10-years-old for wanting to decorate the Christmas tree. I told her about the time my mother sent me to the hospital on the eve of Thanksgiving when I was 8-years-old and convinced me I had a flesh eating disease in order to get me to stop picking. I told her about the time my mother left me with her crazy boyfriend and he and his son proceeded to yell and belittle me for two and half hours, among other things. I told her about the multiple times my mother left me at the elementary school until 9:00 at night, with no phone call or reason why she forgot to pick me up. There are many more examples, but I'll leave it at these for now.

After telling my therapist all of these things, she was very quiet for what felt like a very long time. I sat there uncomfortably and just waited. And waited. And waited. I started to fidget and looked at all of the items in her office. You can tell a lot about a person by what they have in their office. I noticed family photos, Chinese proverbs on the walls, and a ton of books about anxiety. In the middle of my looking around her office, she said: "Why do you continue to have a relationship with your mother?" Her words knocked the wind right out of me. I literally almost fell off my chair. "Why do I continue to have a relationship with with your mother?" Her sentence just repeated over and over and over again in my brain until I felt dizzy and light headed. She asked if I was okay and needed some water and I said: "I'm fine, I'm just stunned you would ask that." And she said: "Why are you stunned? I mean, you've done a really amazing job of getting rid of all of the other toxic people in your life, why do you still continue a relationship with the most toxic one of them all?"

I didn't have an answer for her. It was the first time in a long time that a person was able to make me quiet. I had nothing to say and that question has been rolling around in my head since the session. The only thing I could say to my therapist was that I still talk to her because I feel guilty. She asked me why I felt guilty and I told her because my mom doesn't have anyone else. Most of her friends stopped speaking to her because of her drinking and she only has her brother and sister left.....and me. My therapist explained to me that there is no reason to feel guilty if the person you are dealing with on a regular basis completely drags you down. I kept insisting that the reason why I feel so guilty is because she is my mom. This isn't just a friend or an aunt, this is my mom. The woman who gave birth to me! She said it doesn't matter if they're friends or blood or family or whatever if they drag you down and make you feel worthless then they are not worth it. 

She's right. It shocks me and it may take a few days for the shock to wear off, but ultimately she is right. Why do we feel so guilty over letting certain people go? I'm constantly preaching to my audience to get rid of and walk away from anything or anyone that no longer serves you and yet I cannot do it myself. My mom breaks my heart on a daily basis and takes over my brain space and it's not worth it anymore. Yet, I continue to talk to her and let her slide on everything. Why? I guess I'm hoping that one day will have that "normal" mother/daughter relationship that I've always longed for. I suppose though if it hasn't happened yet, it's most likely not going to happen now. I need to get to the root of why I feel guilty about this. And an even bigger question I ask all of you is why do we guilty over certain things? Why do we feel guilty about wanting a bigger home, a bigger car, a smaller ribcage, better abs? Since when did it become cool and normal to feel guilty? Do you know how guilt weighs us down emotionally? It's like walking through quicksand all of the time. It's not healthy and it doesn't serve us in any way shape or form so why do we feel it all of the time? Mom's feel it, daughters feel it, teachers feel it, parents feel it, everyone feels guilty. Guilt is the body shaming on emotions. It's the norm to call women skinny, fat, heavy, too tall, too short, and it's now normal to feel guilty over things we should never feel guilty over.  I live on 15-acres and I have a wonderful home and yet I want a bigger one. I find myself feeling guilty about this. Why? It's human nature to always want more so why do we feel guilty about it? And why do I feel so guilty about breaking up with my relationship with my mom? 

Guilt does absolutely nothing but bring us down and make us feel useless. It's time we stop placing guilt on ourselves about everything and start taking a different approach. Instead of feeling guilty, let's feel empowered. Instead of wading in the quicksand let's go dive in the ocean.

Now, I don't have all of the answers and it's going to take me some time to figure out what to do about my relationship with my mom, but in the interim, I'm done feeling guilty about all of it. I'm freeing myself from guilt and breaking out of the brain jail I've locked myself in for so many years. 

How do you deal with guilt? Do you feel it's a waste of time? What the point of guilt? 

Everyone Doesn't Have to Like You | Actually It's A Good Thing!

I'm standing in my kitchen at 3am attempting to eat a pint of Hagen Daas Peanut Butter Chocolate Ice Cream, staring at my cat Lucca, and remembering that time in second grade when I walked out of the classroom for recess to meet my friend who I assumed was waiting for me at the pole with her peanut butter jelly sandwich in hand, only to find out she no longer wanted to spend recess with me anymore. "I don't want to eat with you anymore, I'm going to go eat with Nicole now," I remember tears welling up in my eyes, I ran into the bathroom stall, eating lunch alone, feeling like the loneliest girl in the world with tears streaming down my face. I went home crying to my Dad asking him why Amanda didn't like me anymore. And he point-blankly said, "Because that's life kid, not everyone's going to like you and that's a good thing!" I remember thinking my dad was crazy at the time. Flash forward to me being 30-years-old now and you know what? He's right! It only took 27 years for me to realize it, but that has been some of the best advice my dad has ever given me. 

If you're anything like me, you probably scroll through Instagram wondering if the accounts who follow you actually like you. Well, this use to be me before I turned 30 and had an epiphany one day that it didn't matter at all if they liked me. What matters is if I like me. Some days I would look at other bloggers and see their interactions with each other and yearn to be apart of their "it-club." Instagram started feeling like high-school and less like that place I would refer to as a community. It was at that moment, I realized I needed to stop caring whether or not anyone liked me. I needed to focus on myself and love myself. And you know what? Everything changed. All those bloggers who once ignored me started interacting with me. those "it-girls" started coming to me for advice and started asking me questions. I realized that I was putting out an energy that wasn't welcoming and it was not until I truly started to love myself, that I gave and continue to give off some really positive vibes. Everything changed for me, it was as if I moved out my own way and paved the way for new opportunities. Doors opened, birds chirped, and all of the sudden I was flooded with all the love. 

But with all this new found love comes a trickle of jealousy too. Does everyone like me? No. Are people online mean and do condescending digs? All the time. Do I pay attention to it anymore? Not even a little but. I simply don't care if other's like me because I LOVE MYSELF. Yup. I did in all caps because it's true. You cannot get upset when other's don't like you, because my darling, most people don't even like themselves. There's a reason that quote when viral on the internet overnight because it's true. Most people wake up in the morning, say something gross about themselves to themselves in the mirror and continue this negative mindset all day long, dragging everyone else in the mud along with them. I wake up in the morning, look at myself the mirror and say: "Damn girl, you are gorgeous, and today is going to be amazing!" And it works, not only does it work, but I find myself dancing and singing throughout the day and having a really good time, by myself. Does anyone watch my IG stories? If you do, then you'll see all the dancing! 

Loving yourself is the only way to truly be free. Let go what other's may or may not think of you and just do you and when you do you, OWN IT! If you do it, say it, be it, stand behind it and own it. Give yourself an air-kiss in the mirror everything morning and tell yourself how amazing you are, beause you are amazing! Stop asking for permissiona and start sharing your amazingness with the world! 

Love yourself and doors you never thought possible will open far and wide! 

8 Ways To Fall In Love In Love With Yourself

Do you ever wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and say "Yuck, I look horrible." Or "Ughh this face is horrible." Every woman wakes up in the morning, looks at herself in the mirror, and frowns on herself. And half the time we don't even know we are doing it. The first thought you say to yourself either out loud or in your head sets the entire tone for the day. If you start your day off saying something negative to yourself, then you are automatically bringing all of that negative energy to everything you set your focus on the rest of the day. Think about it, the days you started saying something negative about yourself in the mirror, did you have amazing days those days? Or did things not go your way? I believe that everything should go exactly your way and the first way to start doing that is to say something nice to yourself when you look in the mirror. And I don't mean something small, I mean something really nice about yourself like, "Girl you are absolutely gorgeous and today is your day!"  This is just one of the ways to fall in love with yourself. 

Here are 10-ways to fall in love with yourself and be your best self! 

1. Wake up, look in the mirror, and say: "You are beautiful, you are strong, you are capable."

2. Hit that unfollow button! Yes, ladies I'm instructing you to un-follow people. It can be really hard to feel good about yourself when you are constantly scrolling someone's social media feed. Instagram is what always gets me and the moment those feelings of self-doubt and the "I'm not enough" feelings, I immediatly put my phone down and focus on something else. Sometimes I even un-follow the person if it's someone whose feed causes me to doubt my abilities. 

3. We feel good when we look good. Now, looking good is different for everyone. For example, sometimes I feel my hottest when I wearing my nikes, a hat, and a cute workout outfit. Some days I want to be wearing the reddest lipstick I own and a boots with a really cute outfit. The point is, wear something that makes you feel good, or do your hair, just do or wear whatever makes you feel good. If you feel good, you'll give off a good vibe which will make others feel good too. Spread all that goodness around! 

4. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise! Girl get your sweat on! When I was heavier and found out that I needed to lose weight, exercise saved my life, literally. Now, I do it because it's an integral part of my day and it makes me feel so good. Even on the days when I don't feel like doing it, I still love working out because when I'm done I feel like an entirely new person. I feel motivated and ready to take on any task that comes my way. I don't think there has ever been a time when I've gotten done working out where I haven't felt good. I literally feel good every single time and sweat helps keep your skin clear, so another reason to exercise, exercise, exercise!

5. Make a decadent, gorgeous drink the morning. And no, I don't mean something super sugary and sweet, I mean make yourself a gorgeous cup of coffee with tons of yummy spices and frothy foam. Or make yourself a beautiful smoothie and top with healthy toppings like peanut butter, pepitas, and unsweetened shredded coconut. Make yourself a gorgeous drink and enjoy every sip of it. Don't scroll through your phone, don't check your e-mail, just be with yourself and enjoy your drink before doing anything else.

6.  Do self care. Take a bath, fill the tub up with epsom salts, fresh flowers (yes I said flowers) and lavender essential oil and enjoy every single minute of that bath. And again, turn your phone off, and just chill with yourself girl, this is YOU time, not anyone else's time. Remember that when you are scrolling through your phone, you are not using your time, you are using someone else's time. You are looking at someone else's photos and videos. You are using your precious time to look into things that took someone else a bunch of time. I bet you've never thought about social media like that before. You are not using your time, you are using up someone else's time.

7. Do Yoga, meditate, breath. Start a yoga practice, begin a meditation practice, even if it's just for 15-minutes a day, these two things work. I'm hosting a #FitDailyYoga Challenge for 30-days on Instagram right now and it's not to late to join in on the fun! For me starting out my day with yoga right after I've had my gorgeous cup of Bullet Proof Coffee sets the tone for the entire day. And let me tell you, it works! Many of you know that I struggle with anxiety and yoga has helped immensly with my anxiety. I do it in a pretty space in my house, filled with plants, and lots of light. I turn my phone off, and I focus on my practice. 

8. Throughout the day tell yourself how awesome you are. Go back and look in the mirror and tell yourself how amazing you are! You are awesome! You can do this and you will achieve everything you set your mind to. Tell yourself that and look at how much your day will change. Also, do reset. I do this constantly if I'm having an off day. Do a reset, start over, make yourself a fresh cup of coffee, take a minute to yourself, and start over. Just because you are having a bad moment or a bad hour, doesn't mean the entire day has to be bad. Remember that! Reset and start over and see how wonderful your day will become! 

I hope these things can help you truly love yourself. Love every single inch of yourself and stop putting bad vibes on yourself. Tell yourself how amazing you are and walk around with some swagger and love yourself! Tell yourself that you are gorgeous every time you look in the mirror, tell yourself that you will land that campaign or book that gig, or whatever your goal may be. Write post-it's and place them all around your house and write quotes on them that make you feel good. For example, mine say "I can do this, I'm amazing!"

These little exercises help and will over time help you fall in love yourself and 100% accept yourself. Every single flaw and all, but they are not flaws, they are the tiny little gems that make you, you and sets you apart from the rest of the world! 

The Cracks Beneath My Skin

It's 9 pm at night and I walk into my bathroom, turn all of the lights on and stare into the mirror. There's one, there's another, and there is a good one. I see the one I want to get first, and I go up really close to my mirror, stare at my face, and begin. The sharp edge of my nail pierces the first layer of my skin and it starts to bleed. As blood is dripping down my face, I wince a little, but then the overwhelming feeling of euphoria comes over me and I feel relief, followed by the feeling of exhaustion and intense guilt. This cycle continues until I've picked all of the scabs off my face and there's nothing left. I have a picking addiction, otherwise known as Excoriation. Many people struggle with what I go through, but no one talks about it. By looking at me from afar or watching me perform on stage, you would never know that I struggle with this addiction that over 40% of the American population struggles with daily. But if you look at me closely, with no makeup on, you'll see my scars. 

I first started picking when I was 5-years-old as a coping mechanism to deal with my parents brutal and ugly divorce. Or that's at least how a therapist once told it to me. I was once called into the principles office when I was in second grade because my teacher thought my mother was burning me with cigarette buds, which was hilarious because my parents don't smoke. She looked at me and said, "Honey, does your mother hurt you with cigarettes?" I looked straight into her eyes and said, "No, ma'am, I'm a picker." She said, "What?" and I replied back with, "I pick my skin ma'am." She didn't know what to do with the information I gave her. She couldn't understand why I had scabs all over my arms and why I insisted on wearing sweaters when it was 90-degrees outside. She refrained from calling Child Protective Services but told my mother, I needed to see a therapist right away. Then there was the time when I was in high school and my arm was bleeding as I got out the pool during swim practice. My swim coach asked me if I had cut myself on the drain and I told him no, and hurriedly ran into the locker room while wrapping my arm with a towel to stop the bleeding. My friends were always too polite to say anything about it to me. No one seemed to want to know why I had scars all over me, or why I carried tweezers in my bag to help rip the skin off my face in the girl's bathroom during recess. No one seemed to care that I was in a great deal of pain and that picking was my way of telling them, asking them, begging them to help me. I remember a time when I was 11 when I went to get my hair cut, and the girl was washing my hair, she felt a lump on my head. She asked my mother was it was, and my mom said it was nothing. It wasn't nothing, it was a scab the size of a golf ball, that I had been gnawing away with my fingers for months. I still remember that time and think of how lucky I was that I didn't get a horrible infection in my brain at the time. 

Then there was the time when my mother tried to rid me of my habit that same year, the night before Thanksgiving. I was set to go to Half Moon Bay the following morning to visit my Dad and his family, and my mother decided that would be the night to scare the living hell out of her 11-year-old daughter. She took my arms as I was going to bed, shook me, and told me I had a flesh-eating disease, and it was something I had brought on myself. She yelled and screamed at me to get dressed, and insisted on taking me to the emergency room. I cried, and begged and pleaded, begging her not to take me the hospital. She told me they were going to take me away if I didn't stop picking, and I remember running into my closet, locking the door, sobbing all night long, and hiding in there until morning. The picking only got worse after that. I picked until I couldn't feel my skin some days, and stayed up till the wee hours picking my skin so badly, that I had to go to bed with makeup on so my mother wouldn't ask questions. I got really good at hiding it, conveniently covering the parts of me I picked, and strategically never picking the areas like my legs that people would see in the summer months. 

Year and years of therapy later and I still pick. I've been struggling with Excoriation since I was three-years-old and most therapists don't have a clue about what Excoriation actually is. I go through a battle with myself ever single day. I start the day promising myself that I'm not going to pick today, and then something stressful will happen, and most of the time I don't even know I'm doing it until it's over. 

I hate that I pick my skin. I hate that I voluntarily make myself ugly. I hate that I have scars and that I'm unable to get a handle on my addiction. I hate that I'm ashamed when I look in the mirror. But I can't stop. I can't control my hands from ripping layers, upon layers from my skin. Excoriation is one of the most hidden addictions in American because no one knows what do with it. And when parents witness their children doing it, they rarely get to the bottom of why they're doing it. I love my parents dearly, but I do wish they did more investigating, and more research when I was a child, into the reasons behind my picking. I pick because my parents divorced when I was three years old and I was left feeling alone and like it was all my fault. I pick because I picked horrible boyfriends in high school who couldn't take no for an answer, and who felt like beating me anytime they got bored or frustrated. I pick because I'm insecure and although I have a highly confident exterior on the outside, I'm very frustrated on the inside. I pick because this addiction is not something someone just gets over. It's something I will be struggling with for the rest of my life.

I'm ready to rid my habit to the best of my ability and am researching and interviewing therapists who have actual experience with Excoriation addiction and who know the proper tools to help me. I want to share my message and story with the world because mental health and addiction is something that needs to be talked about and needs to be brought to the forefront.  

We can end this together if we instill the proper tools in our children and open up our eyes to find out why this disease happens at such a young age and what can be done to stop it. I work on my addiction every single day. I workout to keep me from getting overly anxious, I maintain a proper diet to help me stay calm, I do yoga because for me it's a form of therapy. I get my nails down so that they're thicker and cannot shred my skin as easily. I have a diligent skin care routine, although you'd never know it, but it helps keep me from picking late into the night.

I hope that this blog piece helps someone out there who may be struggling with the same addiction I am. I hope we can find a way to end this and help anyone who needs it. 

I could write pages and pages on my addiction, but for now, I'll leave it at this. I'm a happy person, I love my life, I'm beyond blessed and there is absolutely no sound reason for me to pick my skin. But the demons from my childhood creep up into me and take over. The depths of my despair cannot be explained through simple words. I will write many pieces on this addiction and what I'm doing to alleviate it and find a path to healing....

I'm here for you and would love anyone to reach out to me who struggles with excoriation or knows a friend who is struggling with it. No one should have to go through this alone. And while I don't have all of the answers, I know that talking about it helps immensely.

I'm here for you and I want to help. 

 

 

 

I Am Empowered | Why Every Woman Should Go On An All Women's Retreat

What if they don't like me? What if I make a fool out of myself? What if I can't run as fast as everyone else? What if I don't wake up on time for the 6 am runs?! These were the thoughts racing through my head the night before as I packed for the I Am Empowered Yoga, Run, and Wine retreat in Sonoma, hosted by Empowered Events and Sweat Pink. I anxiously packed, picking out every outfit in great detail, trying them on, making sure everything looked good and was functional. When I got word that Empowered Events and Fit Approach (Sweat Pink) was hosting an all women's weekend yoga + running retreat less than two hours away from my house, I was excited and nervous. I had never gone on a retreat before, yet alone one with a bunch of women I didn't know. I mean, sure I followed some of them online, but this was all new to me. I've always been a social butterfly, but in situations unfamiliar to me, I become shy, reserved, and quiet. I knew I needed to go on this adventure, but I was nervous about it and how it would go. Luckily, my sweet husband and friends told me that I would be fine and that having anxiety about this type of thing was totally normal for a first timer such as myself. 

I anxiously waited the weeks for the retreat with eager anticipation and the closer it got, the more excited I became. The night before the retreat finally arrived, and although I could barely sleep, I woke up the following day excited to meet my fellow Sweat Pinkers. I headed out to Sonoma and arrived there in the cutest outfit I could find, with the warm sun shining on my eager face. I was immediately greeted by all Jamie, Nicci, and Liz, the wonderful women who from Fit Approach and felt completely at ease. They welcomed me with open arms and kind hugs, and I knew the weekend was going to be amazing!

The first thing we did was get into our cabins which were decorated beautifully by the folks at Westerbeke Ranch, and let me tell you, this place was stunning! From the gorgeous, blue, sparkling pool, to the all of the greenery and succulents, it's no wonder this place is knowns for their amazing retreats and hospitality. The cabins were full of color and definitely had a ranch-like feel to them with a wrap around porch and comfy porch chairs. After we got settled in, I went down to meet everyone. This was the most nerve-racking part of the retreat. I didn't know anyone really and immediately it seemed like old friends were re-connecting and I admit it, I got a tad wigged out. But then, I met a woman from San Francisco who also didn't know anyone, we headed to our first yoga class together and bonded our $4,000 beds at home and our love for the Bay Area. 

After intro's where we named our spirit animal, where I instead talked about rock climbing, looking back, I should have said my spirit animal is a hummingbird, but that's a post for another time. The first yoga class with Jamie was hard and fantastic and I was dripping in a pool of sweat afterward and was very excited at the thought of dinner. The food was amazing, healthy, nutrient-dense packed food that made my belly happy and my heart full. During dinner, we sat under the stars and talked about where we were all from, what we did, and how we found out about this retreat. I went to bed excited about the following day and not so worried that I would miss my 6 am alarm.

I barely slept a wink that night and was up before my bunk mates ready to greet the sunrise with an open heart and open mind. We all ventured out on our run that morning and I still remember how wonderful that crisp, Sonoma morning air felt. It was a tad chilly, but once we were moving we were fine. We passed a horse along the way and hiked up the hard hills, then came back for a morning yoga class and breakfast. The second run of the day was a tad harder for me as the yoga classes and running seemed almost back to back, but we had a blast and the scenery was beautiful atop the Sonoma outlook. Afterward, we came back to free time and I mustered up the courage to walk around in my two piece bikini, curves and all. The best moment of the retreat was when we all jumped in the freezing cold pool together and it was captured on video. It was truly a moment I'll never forget! A very cold, but very memorable moment! 

That night, we did HIIT Yoga and boot camp and I swear my abs are still sore from that class, but I loved it. Drenched in sweat we moved onto the second yoga class with the sun setting, ready for a big, healthy, dinner and some wine. I slept better the second night and wished every day could be like this. The following morning, sleepy-eyed, groggy, and with sore muscles, I headed to a sunrise yoga class with Nicci that was invigorating and felt amazing on my sore muscles. The last run/hike of the weekend was atop a gorgeous hill filled with huge trees and beautiful views of the lake. I felt happy and calm at breakfast that day and was eagerly anticipating the next retreat with these amazing, inspiring women. 

I now firmly believe that every woman should go on a retreat with other women they've never met before. I walked away from this experience a genuinely happier, calmer, more centered, and saner person. The week after, everyone on social media said I seemed more calm and happy and I solely agree. I've been sleeping better, waking up earlier, keeping my daily yoga practice up, and feel an immense gratitude to be a part of such the amazing group like Sweat Pink. I'm honored and humbled that these beautiful souls have accepted me into their tribe as one of their own and I cannot wait for the next retreat and Empowered Event's event

And a very special thank you to all of the sponsors, PrAna, Sweat Cosmetics, Designer Protein, Amazing Grass, Clearly Kombucha, and Goddess Garden for all of the amazing goodies they gave us for this super fun weekend!

I'm excited to announce I will be racing in my very first 5k this summer August 5th and 6th through the I Am Empowered Series first ever women's race and yoga weekend at the Craneway Pavillion near the San Francisco Bay Area. 

Join on this amazing weekend and sign up for this race through the links above or here. Feel free to message me or leave a comment below with any questions. I'm excited to be embarking on my first race as I know this will be the first of many races to come! 

Seeker Of The Light

Today, as I was running I saw a girl skid off the trail and fall into a pile of mud. She was upset, dirty, crying, and mumbled how this was her life, something about always being stuck in the mud. It was at that moment that I felt a deep amount of sympathy for her. I felt so sad that there is someone in the world who walks around in life expecting the next worst thing to happen to them. I helped her up, offered her a hand, and went about my run. But the event stuck in my mind the rest of the miles on. Why do people walk around so jaded? Since when did it become okay to think that nothing good is coming your way? It's completely heartbreaking to me that someone doesn't have the ability to look at the bright side, especially a young woman whose just starting out in life. 

I grew up in a home where I was always told I could do more, be better, act greater, and think bigger. I've always had this perpetual positivity that beams through me. I'm an eternal optimist and I always believe the universe will have my back. That was until last March when I was snapped into reality when I had a health scare that changed everything for me. Luckily (and I thank my lucky stars every single day) everything turned out to be okay, I healed quickly, and was back to normal life again. But the entire experience really got me thinking. What about the people who aren't okay? What about the people who don't bounce back? Why is it that when we receive scary news about our health, that's when our perspective's change?

It's coming up on a year since my surgery for a benign cyst removal in my right ovary, but I'll never forget the feelings I felt during that time. I was terrified leading up to my surgery and a complete wreck. Now I thank god for every single day, because I know I'm lucky to be healthy and happy. I wanted to shake that girl on the trail and say to her, "You're alive! Go live your life, think positively, and be happy! Get your head out of the gutter, life is fleeting!" Instead I just helped her up and felt sorrow for her. 

I'm an eternal optimist and I'm positive most of the time, but since my surgery I've struggled with anxiety disorder and months after my surgery I was diagnosed with PTSD. My symptoms seem to be getting better now that it's been almost a year since my surgery, but some nights I wake up in a cold sweat, drenched, screaming for help. Some days I feel trapped in my own mind and my anxiety overcomes me like a black, thick, fog that suffocates me. Some days my worries pile one on top of the other over the other like snakes replicating themselves in a terrible nightmare where you're trapped and consciously you know what's going on, but you can't wake up. I now envy people who have never struggled with anxiety disorder. I envy people who never worry about health conditions or have "white coat syndrome". I find myself getting agitated when I see people on social media complain about little things, like having to get their oil changed, or being worried about their thick thighs. 

I've reached the point in my life where I try not to worry about the small stuff, because at the end of the day it doesn't matter. What matters is how we react to the small stuff and how kind we are to others. What matters is how we take charge in the big stuff and how we don't act mean or single anyone out. I'm so over the mean girl thing, hey ladies on Instagram, mean girls are out, kind women are in! I wish I could wake up tomorrow and have my anxiety be gone. I wish I had the ability to never worry about a single disease again. I wish my mind would never turn to the dark side. And I wish that everyone could be eternal optimists and stop complaining about silly things. 

I'm a seeker of the light, I always have been. Heck, I make a living off chasing light with my camera. Despite how my anxiety monsters attempt to take over some days, I will always choose the light. I will always believe in the better, bigger, kinder, side of life. And the next time I see a  girl fall off her bike in the mud, not only will I help her, but I will tell her to seek the light. 

Hidden Ghosts, Dirty Laundry

Growing up I witnessed many odd things involving food. My Mother has this strange relationship with food. Almost like it was a prize she was trying to win at a carnival, but once she got the prize she would lock it away, and only take it out when she absolutely needed it. Food was almost taboo in our household. We would go to the grocery store and shop, but my Mother would buy the oddest things. Steaks, wine, ice, brandy, more steaks, and more wine. I think you get the picture here. I would ask for certain things, and she would say, "only with your Father," or "You can eat that junk when you're thirty. " Treats were never allowed, and if I had ice cream I would be told to go run around the block 5 or 6 times. I was eight years old when this first happened. I was a tiny child, born pre-maturely, I didn't have much weight on me. In fact, the doctors said I needed to eat more than the average child in order to grow properly. My parents divorced when I was four year old, but decided to keep their nightmare show on for years after. My Dad would get me on the weekends and would fill my backpack with cookies, cakes, and candy. I was fed cheeseburgers and milkshakes from the Palo Alto Creamery and I was allowed to drink soda. Years later he would tell me he regrets having fed me this way as a child and felt he was making up for something. Fast forward to me now entering my thirties and having struggled with food addiction, anorexia, and hating myself all before I turned eighteen. 

Don't get this whole thing wrong, I was very loved growing up, my parents are good, decent people. They always made sure I had everything I needed, but because of my Mom I do feel I had a very strange relationship with food growing up. When I was ten-years-old, my Mother met a man at my dance class. His daughter was a friend of mine in the same class and my Mother and...will call him Charles, bonded over jazz and Tony Bennet. They got together fast and things became even stranger after that. They had a volatile relationship from the get-go and I as child witnessed things no 10-year-old should ever have to witness. I grew up very fast, and by the time I was thirteen I was bulimic, binging on food then throwing it up ten minutes later when I knew no one was around. It was a sick cycle of eating crap and then puking so hard afterwards that my inside's ached. Charles had very un-healthy relationship with food. He wouldn't let his kids eat anything that wasn't approved on first. No carbs, no sugar, nothing to drink except water, no meat, and so on and so on. His children were so terrified of messing up around him that I remember my step-sister cringing when we all sat down to dinner. Dinner which consisted of sprouts, carrots, and a tall glass of room temperature water. He would always tell us that having ice would kill our insides. I'm addicted to ice now, and I sometimes wonder if there is a connection between the two.

My Mother stayed with Charles because she felt she could do no better, that we could do no better. All the while, I was staying out late with my boyfriend, drinking, not eating, and basically doing everything I could to stay away from that house and to mask my pain. Charles and my Mother finally broke up for good, but it wasn't until years later when I turned nineteen and I was on my own. We endured years and years of abuse from Charles and there are some things I will never recover from. My Mother still has a weird relationship with food and when we go out to eat today she only nibbles and picks at her food, only pretending to eat the food on her plate. Growing up I remember my Grandmother would tell her how many calories each thing was that she was eating, so my weird relationship with food dates back generations. This was the complete opposite to my fathers side of the family who had no issues with food. Strong Italians who loved to eat and talk about the importance of family and food. I remember I preferred staying at my dad's side of the families house than my mom's. My dad's side was peaceful, loving, and had bread that I was allowed to eat without being told how many calories was in each slice. To this day, I can still smell that fresh bread wafting through my Grandma Mary's house. 

In 2011 I had gotten so heavy that my doctor told me I could die if I didn't turn things around. I went from being a 120-pounds to 280 in what seemed like no time flat. My relationship with food turned deadly and things had to change. I remember going home that night feeling devastated, ashamed, and hating my parents. I hated my mother for putting me through this turmoil and turning me into a food addict. I hated my father for allowing my mother to torment me about food and make me feel worthless. The list goes on and on and up until that cold day in November, the cycle had too. I blamed my parents for my picking addiction and my inability to keep a boyfriend. I hated them for filing up head with useless lies and for making me feel un-loved. In retrospect I think the person I truly hated was myself, but at the time I was so angry it didn't matter. I needed someone to blame. After leaving the doctor's that November day and after days of thinking about all of it, I realized I was the one to blame. Yes, my parents instilled horrible habits in me, but at nineteen years old I let them stick. I let them take over my mind and consume me. Something needed to change. I joined a gym on my way home that night and stopped eating fast food. I quit making myself throw up, quit soda and ice cream and started drinking tons of water. 

None of it was easy, but it was all necessary. I needed to change and I was the only person in charge of my own life. I lost the weight, quit the gym membership, and started working out at home filming my workout videos, learning about proper form, and teaching myself everything. I taught myself about clean eating, weight lifting, water intake, supplements, all of it. I became a different person and healed myself through food and exercise. Was it easy? Of course not, did I want to quit? Several times! I kept going and today I help others achieve their health and wellness goals and have a successful business and blog. I've lost 155-pounds and have kept it off. The journey has been challenging, but I've learned so much about myself and my threshold. There are days when those bad habits sneak back in, when the choice to drink the water or eat the slice of cake takes over, when the need to starve myself to prove a point leaves a lasting impression in my brain. When I have children of my own, especially when I have a little girl on my own, I want her to love herself. I want her know that eating food is healthy and needed and that leading a healthy lifestyle is essential to adopting a healthy mindset. I have a healthy relationship with food and I would consider myself a foodie. So much has changed for the better because of those experiences and I'm a stronger person today. 

My parents are great people, they are genuinely decent human beings who did not grow up in the best environment's so their judgement is a bit clouded. My mother will always have a painful relationship with food that I have to battle it every time I see her. It's been a tough journey, but if you have a weird relationship with food I know what you are going through and I'm here for you. 

Reach out to me any time with any questions, any thing at all. I'm here for you and you are loved. 

Twists, Turns, And Quite The Stir: January 2017, A Reflection

January got off to a rocky start for me. The month didn't start off the way I thought it would and I thought the entire year was doomed or jinxed. I kept seeing all of these amazing posts on social media about people having the time of their lives on vacation or people getting these amazing promotions at work, while I was sitting scrolling through my phone wondering if I would ever have good news to report again. I was frustrated, sad, fearful, and annoyed that everyone else had it going for them except me. Late at night when I was really feeling down on myself I would get these horrible sugar cravings and raid my fridge for cake and ice cream.

I didn't realize it at the time but the connection between freak outs and sugar are actually very closely related. Week two of January came around and I decided the sugar habit needed to be thrown in the trash so I quit sugar cold turkey. After the first few nights of frustration and the utter need to want to soak my head in a chocolate bowl, the sugar cravings eventually subsided. After a few days off sugar I noticed my energy levels changing, and my attitude improving. One of my main goals for 2017 was to quit sugar and I successfully did it. After I quit the sugar everything else started to improve. New opportunities starting rolling in, my "grass is always greener on the side" Instagram lust disappeared and I started to realize how awesome my life actually is. 

Running keeps me sane and I know some people say that in jest, but no literally running keeps me sane. My second goal of January was to start my running back up again. Prior to the holidays I was running consistently 5-6 miles 5-6 days per week. Then the holidays hit and my running priorities became less and less. Running keeps me sane. It keeps my anxiety levels in check and the cellulite off of my legs. I'm surprised I stopped running for a few months because it really helps with my daily life. I'm a lot calmer when I'm running consistently, I'm a lot nicer, and let's face it I look a lot better. I started running again two weeks ago and I'm back in the running game. I'm happy that I'm keeping up with it and I don't see myself stopping anytime soon. With the wether getting warmer (it's been freezing and raining here in Cali) outdoors runs and I are officially dating again and I think we are both very happy about this decision. 

You know that saying "Get it done first thing or don't do it at all"? My third goal of January was to workout first thing in the morning after I've had my heaping cup of bulletproof coffee. Now, I don't ever miss my workouts and I stay on top of them like I do my coffee consumption. But, during the holidays I got into this awful habit of working out at night and then I would be frazzled and awake all night with loads of energy causing my sleeping patterns to be completely off. And by off, I mean going to bed at 4am. My sleeping patterns have not quite gotten back to normal yet, but I'm working on it. Working out at night works for many people and it's great for me to do in the summer months, but in the winter months I need to be working out right when I wake up because I'm a lot happier throughout the day and I'm not wide awake at night. Plus, if I get my workout done in the am, that leaves my outdoor runs for the afternoons and then I'm exhausted by nightfall. It's a really good schedule and I look forward to keeping up with it. 

I would not call my self an expert yogi, but I will call myself a learning yogi. I've been practicing yoga since high school and I've fallen in love with. I have a membership to YogaGlo and my goal is to practice every day. My second goal to yoga was to begin a meditation practice along with it, but so far no luck. I sit down and plan to meditate for five minutes and I end up thinking about the book the Art of War or wondering what would happen if I really did scale a 8.11 wall at the rock climbing gym. You get the picture. I have not had one successful meditation practice this month yet, and oh look it's the 31st. My goal for February is to really try to meditate because for a person who struggles with anxiety such as myself it really is important. 

I should probably also cut off my caffeine consumption at 3pm, but hey they didn't build Rome in a day right? 

What were your goals for this month and did you accomplish them? If so, do you have new goals for February or are you sticking to the same goals each month? If not, will you try again in February? 

I Haven't Tied My Shoes Yet | Sugar Detox Part Two

I haven't tied my shoes yet, and already the massive headache strikes. There is a pounding in my head and my heart is beating faster than normal. I feel anxious and tired all at the same time. I feel crabby and filled with an overwhelmingly feeling of self-doubt.

This morning I woke up feel horrible. I felt inflamed, awoke with a raging headache, my skin felt itchy and tingly, my mind was foggy and I instantly had mean-brain. I felt angry, annoyed, and the happy confidence I've been feeling each day since getting off sugar turned into hating myself. I'm experiencing what experts call a sugar hangover. I feel as if I've had 2-bottles of champagne, I feel like I've drunk loads of alcohol. I feel horrible. I do not really drink now, so these feelings are non-existent until today. My main concern is how utterly low and crappy I'm feeling about myself today. I feel like I have super low self-esteem and my mind is doing that whole, "you're not doing anything right" stuff. It's all from consuming a pint of ice cream last night. Yes, you read that right. I consumed an entire pint of Hagen Das Peanut Butter Chocolate Ice Cream which totally seemed like a good idea at the time. Little did I know that being off sugar for 9-days and then eating is again would cause this reaction in my body. 

Yesterday I was fired up about new opportunities and the progress I've been making and today I feel slow moving as if I'm going backward's. I feel like I'm attempting to walk a tightrope in a pool of sloppy, thick, deep, mud. I'm anxious, sad, and crabby. Really, really crabby. My skin looks terrible too. I've broken out, it's itchy, and it feels tingling. All reactions to eating sugar after being off it for a week. 

Why did I feel the need to eat the ice cream last night after being off it for a week and feeling great? Why did I let the craving and thought process take over and binge on ice cream? Throughout my sugar detox, I still cannot pinpoint the reason why I feel the need to eat it. I never feel good after it and the feeling of guilt consumes me. I feel rotten about breaking this deal with myself. I keep my deals, so breaking one myself is the worst kind of deal to break. I know I'm perfectly capable of getting off sugar for good so why don't I? Why do I still buy ice cream? Why do I spend $14.99 on the decadent cake from Bel-Air. Yeah, expensive for a piece of cake, I know! What is it that is so great about eating the sugar in the first place? I know it tastes good, but not this good. It's not healthy to go put my mind and my heart through this turmoil. It's not right to break deals with myself. It's not okay to make my body feel these feelings of un-want, shame, and guilt. 

I've released this now. What's done is done and it's over. Today is a new day, free of sugar, filled with grace, love, and water. Lot's of water. Today, I move on from my mistake last night and I begin again. I'm not starting my sugar detox over, just doing a simple reset. I messed up. I'm fessing up to it, writing about it, and sharing my experiences from it with all of you. 

If you break a deal with yourself, move slowly and surely with grace. Remember these feelings and move on. Drink lots of water, eat lots of kale, and move forward with grace. 

Now, I can finally tie my shoes again..... 

Before And After Home Office Re-Design | New Year, New Space!

Have you ever walked in your office or a space in your house an thought, what has this space done to me to deserve such treatment? That was me every single time I walked in my office. I would think to myself, did this room do something personally to me? Did it hurt me in some way, stab me in the back, frown at me? I say this because this room was awful. Messy, cluttered, distracting and there was piles of stuff everywhere I turned. My desk was a stacking shelf rather than a clean space for me to think and write. The space became a place for books, magazines, the gazillion's of KFBK post-it's that I use to remind me of upcoming events, which blog posts I want to write, youtube video ideas and so on. Piles of stuff would appear on a Monday and by the end of the week you could barely see the wood material that my desk is built out of. After so many months of this, I decided I needed to make a change and the first month of 2017 was the time to do it. Unfortunately, I didn't take very many "before" photos except this one on Snapchat, but I assure you the space was awful.

Clutter is toxic to the mind, heart, and brain. People do not realize just how negative clutter is in your life. It seeps into your mind, and some even say that the state of your home is the state of your mind. Have you ever heard that quote? It's very true. Think about it, when you clean out your fridge, aren't you actually cleaning out the stress in your head? Is there something in your life you are avoiding? I bet if you cleaned out your fridge, you would face the issue that's taking up all of that brain space in your mind. And make your bed every day! Making your bed every day is life changing! I now cannot start my day until my bed is made. I'm naturally a pretty neat person, and my goal this year is to live the minimalistic lifestyle. It surprises me that I had a messy desk before all of this, because I do my dishes right after I eat. I saw a quote on a minimalist Pinterest page that said, "clean up after yourself, never leave a mess, you are what you surround yourself with." And that quote stuck so I decided it was finally time to clean out my office and desk space and re-do it. 

The office wall that sits atop my desk was filled with photographs I took in mismatched frames, old-momentos from years back, and many inspiring quotes, yet the wall was anything but inspiring. Looking at that wall actually gave me anxiety and made my mind race.

Step one: I removed all of the old frame, quotes, and anything else that stuck to that wall and wiped it down with a cloth.

Step two: I cleared my entire desk off (making sure my hard drives were properly dismantled before shutting down my computer) and started with a fresh slate. Then I went to home depot and got the brightest, whitest paint I could find for the wall which was called: Bright White, by Behr Paint. Fitting isn't it? I painted the wall and began dreaming up what would go perfectly on it. While my paint dried, I perused Pinterest for inspiration and reached out to friends on snapchat who had a lot of ideas. After discovering boards that spoke to me, I went to Home Goods and Target and made my purchases. 

My budget was $100 for everything and I was adament about not going over it. I did not want to shell out a bunch of money on new stuff, when the stuff that was on the wall before was mostly taken by me. I went into Cost Plus first and although everything there was fabulous, it was too pricey for the budget I wanted to stick to. Next, I hit up Target and found this adorable decorative, woven wall hanging by Threshold. You can find a similar one on Amazon here.

The next awesome piece I found was this adorable gold elephant painting. A similar one can be found here. 

This lovely Thomas Edison quote (one of my favorites) and can be found here along with these other smaller pieces. 

These are some of the similar pieces I used to decorate my wall. Make the space your own and invite in a happy, healthy, clear space and clear mind.

What rooms in your casa are you looking to clean out and give a good spruce to? 

7-Days Without Cake And Cookies And Ice Cream And Sugar....

I'm a relatively fit person. I've successfully lost 155-pounds and haven't gained any of it back. I workout every day and run on a regular basis. I live for kale and eat as cleanly as humanly possible. But there is one exception to all of this. I'm addicted to cake. And not just any kind of cake, but chocolate cake to be exact. The Double Dutch Chocolate Cake from Bel-Air to be super exact. It's not good for me at all and has ingredients in it I cannot even pronounce, but I can't help. I'm in LOVE with this cake. The ironic thing about all of this is my obsession with this chocolaty goodness started after my weightloss. Prior to losing 155-pounds I never ate cake. I'm not sure why I have such an obsession with it now. The only thing I can really think of is there is some need I'm attempting to fulfill by consuming cake on a nightly basis. What need that is, I do not know as of yet, but this week I'm working towards figuring it out. 

I'm going off cake and sugar of any kind for the next 7-days. So far I have successfully completed day 1 and I'm feeling great! Last night was tough, and it took every ounce of my will power not to give into my sugar dragon, but once I got past the first 15-minutes it really wasn't so bad. I've also made sure to eat every 2-3 hours to keep myself from getting hungry.

Here is what my typical detox day looks like:

I wake up in the am and start my day with a strong cup of bullet proof coffee made with all the fixings: coconut oil, turmeric, honey, a scoop of Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides, and some cream. Then for lunch, I sautee 2-cups of kale in lemon juice, pink Himalayan sea salt and pepper. I fry up a Vital Farms egg and opt for just that or I add slivered almonds and mango. So far I'm only on day 2, but I'm feeling really good. It's amazing how quickly the body bounces back from not consuming refined sugars. This morning I didn't wake up with that awful sugar headache and I'm not as bloated. There is no inflammation around my face and I feel lighter and more energized. 

My goal throughout these next days are to find out the real reason why I feel the need to eat the cake and why when nighttime strikes, is when I'm feeling the most vulnerable. For example, I don't care to eat cake during the day. It's only at night when the sugar devil appears tapping my shoulder telling me to go to the kitchen and eat all the cake! As soon as I consume the cake I feel sick, bloated, puffy, and an enormous amount of guilt sweeps over me like a bad omen. I know I'm not eating the cake because I'm hungry, I'm eating the cake for other reasons. Why, I'm not quite sure yet, but I'm determined to get to the bottom of this. 

I will be posting a second blog post at the end of these 7-days with updates on how I'm feeling, how my clothes are fitting, and most importantly with hopefully the reasons why I have a nightly obession to cake, chocoate cake to be exact. 

Staying Organized and Motivated This Month | How To Keep Your Momentum Going Strong

So far 2017 is off to a bangin start and people are smashing their goals left and right. The trick though is to not lose that momentum after the month starts. Half way through the month is when people start to lag and their goals seem further and further away. I've some tips and tricks on how stay to motivated and keep the money in your pocket and the goal diggin going.

The first trick I do is I use Pinterest and pin inspirational boards to Pinterest and trying different workouts. I also like to make a meal plan for the week and meal prep on Sunday's. This saves me tons of time and money. I like do a weekly fridge check on Saturday and keep a running inventory on all of the items in my pantry and fridge so that I never over buy. I cleaned out our pantry last month and realized just how much I over bought on food products we never eat. It was very eye opening to see where all that money went and how much food we don't actually consume. We eat pretty simply and buying a bunch of stuff for our pantry was silly and pointless because we didn't need all of that food. Now that I keep a running inventory of everything we eat on a regular basis, what we eat and spend on food stay consistent and I'm even able to stash a bit of mad money into savings. 

Cable TV: I know we all love our weekly real housewives fix and we all need grey's in our life, but do you really need to be spending $80 plus on a bunch of cable channels you probably never watch? Opt for a netflix and hulu account and you'll be savings tons of year. You can put away that money every month towards a vacation account and save up enough for your dream vacation. You'll be at your vacation goal in no time and cable will seem like a silly memory. 

Spending Habits: I adore Target and that mug that says, "I adore long, romantic walks down the Target aisle" was truly made for me, but let's face it. Do I really need to be spending anywhere from $45-$100 a week at Target on items I don't really need? I mean, I know I want the newest workout leggings and I must have that book that's out on Amazon's must-read list, but that money adds up quickly and I would rather put that money away in a saving's account where it can grow instead of being depleted on Target items. If you love to shop like I do, make various savings account for items on your must-have list. Save up for a new FitBit or book, rather than spending the money right away. You might even find that you didn't really need that new book in the first place and you may be able to find that must-have book at your local library. Long, romantic walks down the aisle at Target are great, but not if it means not having a savings account. 

Purge your closet: Purging and going through my close room (yup, you read that right, closet room) was a truly eye-opening experience for me. Do I really need 100 pairs of workout leggings (oh I counted them) 25 sports bras and 20 outdoor jackets? More importantly, do I really an entire room solely dedicated to clothes, accessories, and shoes? Instead, I bought a cheap wardrobe from Ikea, got rid of any shoes I haven't worn in a year, and moved my dresser into my bedroom. Now, I have a dedicated workout space which feels so much better than having that room be dedicated to clothes. I'm still in the daunting process of purging all of the clothes I don't need, but I'm doing the work and getting rid of anything that doesn't bring me joy. And I'm talking literal joy here, if I don't absolutely love it, I'm not keeping it. Now, when I go into that room I can workout in it and breath a sigh of relief. Plus, having dedicated workout space that's all my own is an awesome stress reducer. 

YouTube: I have a YouTube channel where I do a lot of cooking tutorials and how-to's. YouTube is an absolute life saver when you don't know how to do something, but need to learn fast. Thinking of spending the money on hiring a web desiger? YouTube it first before you shell out the cash. Want to learn how to make some crafty? YouTube is fantastic for this too! I use YouTube like I use google and I have to say both of these are super life savers. 

Redo!: Want a bigger space? Want to brighten things up for the New Year? Go to Home Depot, buy some buckets of white paint, go home take everything down in the room and get to painting. Painting is a simple and affordable way to make a space pop without knocking down walls or doing any major construction. My in the process of re-doing my office/blogging space and I plan on panting the room white. Then, I'm going to pick up some fun succulents from Trader Joe's, grab some wooden, triangle shelves, and re-do the entire space. Not only will all of the clutter be gone, but my writing space with be a motivating, safe, place for me pour my heart out and write away. 

Have any tips for me on how to save money and keep the momentum going in the New Year? Comment below and tell me how you plan on achieving all of your goals this year. Do you want to go on a trip? Are you saving up money to buy a house? Do you have a room that you want to purge and re-do? I want to know! 

I hope these tips help you have a wonderful and prosperous 2017! 

 

I Can Fail, I'll Survive, I Can Fall, I will Float

Last night when I was doing Yoga on Yoga Glo, this Yoga teacher said the saying,"I can fail, I'll survive, I can fall, I will float." And this saying really struck a chord with me. I can fail and I will get myself back up again no matter what happens. Everybody fails. Failing happens and it happens to every body and it's okay. It's okay to fail. Failing is apart of life, failing is how we get better and how we achieve our goals faster. There is this notion that failing means the end, but most of the time failing just means that we are onto something bigger and what we failed at simply wasn't meant to be. Failing usually breaks the mold and gets us to the bigger picture and takes us to our next level in life. But most of the time when we are failing we feel like we are lost and going nowhere. If we get out of the failure mindset, and get our brain out of the fog, it's usually the failure that propels us forward into what we are really meant to do. If we are strong enough, we will survive the failure and fail better next go round. You can fail as many times as need be, but as long as you fail better each time then you are on the right path. 

Yoga tends to bring up a lot of emotions in me that I didn't even know I had. Twisting poses, and  back bends, certain balance poses set me off. Usually, I'll fall and feel awful that I couldn't hold the pose. But then I realize isn't that what yoga is all about? Moving through the poses and practicing the ones I'm not good at. You don't need to be perfect in yoga. Yoga doesn't judge, it doesn't make an opinion of you if you can't hold a pose. It doesn't care if you're wearing the right brand of clothing or if you can handstand. Yoga is all about the journey and moving through the poses with grace. Knowing when to hold a pose and knowing when to let go. If I fall, so what? If I fall and face plant into my yoga mat, my yoga mat isn't going to care. The important part is that I get back up and do the pose again and again until I can move through the poses with grace. 

Grace is so important when going through tough times and having grace can help a person when they feel like all they're doing is failing in life. 

Have faith, proceed with grace, and know that the tough times are temporary and are only preparing us for greatness. 

2017: What's Coming, What's Past, What's Here

 

2016 was a tough year for me. It was filled with ups and downs and at the beginning of it I made a deal with myself to "face my fears". And oh boy did I ever face some fears that I never care to face again. Parts of 2016 were absolutely terrifying for me and quite frankly, I'm glad it's coming to an end. There were several up's of 2016 that were amazing though. I became an ambassador with Sweat Pink and therapeutic, I started this health and wellness blog, I started my You Tube channel, I raised my prices in my business, I became stronger, faster, wiser, smarter. I got accepted into Arizona State University which I will be attending this January. 2016 had a lot of amazing things happen in it. 

I want 2017 to be better. I'm a person who always strives for better. I want ALL of 2017 to be as badass as humanly possible. I want to ride the wave and achieve every goal I set for myself. Including working on my writing everyday. I want to blog every day not only because I majored in Journalism, but because writing is so therapeutic for me. I'm able to get everything out on paper (or on computer screen) and release all the stuff going around in my ever evolving brain. I also want to run a marathon and put all of my daily 5-mile runs to good use. I see people doing running these amazing marathon's on Instagram and I want to say that I did that. I adore running and it helps me manage my anxiety so opting for marathons seems like the right choice. I took up rock climbing in February of this year and I have a gym membership to my local rock climbing gym, but life has gotten so busy that my climbing partner and I rarely go now. I need to go rock climbing twice a week. It's good for my brain and my body and I'm going to make sure we go at-least twice a week. Why else should I shell out $90 bucks a month on a membership? I need to get back on those walls! 

I have some deeply personal goals I would like to work on for 2017 as well and I guess once I publish them on here they will not be so personal anymore, but I'm an open book so here goes. I want to finally, once and for all conquer my picking addiction. Being a habitual picker is like constantly fighting with your brain on telling your hands what to do and what not to do and it's awful. I do not wish this horrific habit on anyone. Not only has my skin suffered, but the permanent, mental damage it does to the brain seems irreversible at times. I pray I can battle this awful habit once and for all and finally win and beat my demons at their own game. It's not going to be easy, but I'm willing to put the effort it. If I could go 24-hours without picking my skin, that would truly be a miracle. I want this to be the year that this addiction ends once and for all. I also want to manage my white coat syndrome syndrome syndrome. Yes, I'm that girl who fears she has every disease known to man, but it didn't start until post syndrome surgery for me. Something during or after my surgery happened and my brain has been rewired and on overdrive ever since. Every pain in my stomach, pressure, bump, strain, scab on my body, elicits a freak out only night terrors would understand. White coat syndrome or PTSD or whatever I have that my therapist says I only need anxiety classes for has gone into over drive and I need to get past it. I cannot live like this anymore, I feel like I'm a prisoner in my own thoughts. 

My other goals of 2017 are to obtain my degree in Nutrition from Arizona State University (I start in January) and teach fitness classes. I would also like to take this blog to the next level and be able to make some extra money with it. I pretty happy where I'm at fitness wise, but I will conquer 5 full pull ups this year no matter what. My new pull up bar should help with that! I also hope to achieve handstand and headstand because I'm still terrible at both, but with taking up my daily yoga practice again, I'm positive I'm not that far away from achieve both of these goals. 

Goals take time, but tying them out and sharing them with the world shows just how important they are to me and helps keep me accountable. What are your goals of 2017? Notice, I did not use the word resolutions, because people give up on those. You are way less likely to give up on a goal that is important to you. But a resolution? Oh come on it's too easy to drop and move onto to the next thing. I'm excited about all of the amazing life events to come in 2017 and I'm thankful that another year has come and passed. 

Now, I feel like I should go apply to Harvard Business School or something.....

Perfectionism: A Silly and Daunting Goal

I'm standing in the kitchen about to make a recipe and I have to have everything in perfect order. Before I can even begin, I must have all of my ingredients out, all of my cooking utensils and bowls, all of my spices, and everything must be in perfectly photographable order. Sounds crazy right? Yes, it does sound crazy because it is crazy.

Perfectionism is something many people strive for, but it's like chasing a hummingbird. You're never gonna catch it, yet you continue to chase it because it's gorgeous and you must know how their wings flap so fast. Or something like that. I see people trying to be perfect all of the time. My friends don't accomplish their goals because they feel they're not even good enough to start. The need to be perfect is what keeps people from achieving their dreams before they can achieve them. I see it all the time in blogging world. People say, "Well I better not begin because I don't know how to get started."  What people fail to realize is you just have to start.

Starting is the hardest part. No, it's not going to be perfect because perfect doesn't exist. In fact, who came up with the word perfect? People may look like they have a "perfect life" on social media, but then you look behind the closed doors and see the person you are idolising is bulimic and pukes up her food, or cuts herself in order to deal with life. I'm just saying that although someone may look perfect, their lives are anything but. Social media was made to make people feel terrible about themselves. Think about it, who puts up the nitty and gritty on social media? Not many people that I know. All I see if perfectly photoshopped photos taken at perfect angles in really good light. Do they look like that in real life? No, probably not. Do they have a list of insecurities and things they are worried about? Yes, of course they do because they are human. 

Where did this strive for perfectionism come from? Why are always striving to be the best? I know why I do, but I would love to hear why some of you do it. I have this thing called vaulting ambition. It's a wonderful and horrible curse all at the same time. Some days it's the only thing that get's me out of bed in the morning. Other days it's why I'm able to be ballsy and just put it all out there. But when things are slow, or nothing is moving in the direction I want it too, vaulting ambition is the devil that sits on my shoulder and tells me I'm not good enough. I strive for perfectionism 24/7. I started a YouTube Channel recently and right away I saw all the mistakes in the second video I put up. In fact, I almost did not put the video up at all for fear of rejection or hurtful comments. But then I thought, who cares? Who cares if people say mean stuff? Who cares if they think it's silly? Who cares? Am I doing this for them or for me? Then I put the video up because at the end of the day I'm doing all of this for me. The blogging, the writing, the weight loss, the working out, the fitness, the YouTube Channel, the social media, the photography, it's all for me. I know I have good information to share with people and I need to get that information out there. The only way to do that is to make videos and put the information out there and share my story with the world. I've lost over 155-pounds without pills, surgery, or fads. I did it all by myself, on my own, simply by eating clean and working out. Some people would say that's a miracle. My story needs to be shared with the world, which is why I've started a YouTube Channel, it's not perfect, but it's a start. And you've got to start somewhere right? 

Remember this the next time you are doubting yourself: The fastest way to fail is by doing nothing at all. 

Here are my first two YouTube Video's in case you're interested in subscribing and following along on my journey. Videos come out weekly. 

The Art Of Letting Go......

I've never been very good at goodbyes. I cry at the end of movies, and I hate it when a show I've come to know and love on Netflix comes to an end. I have a very hard time letting go. When my first love broke up with me, I cried for moths, didn't eat for weeks, and lived in dark state of emotions. I'm terrible at breakups and hate it when I finish up a really good book. I've never been very good at good byes.

A few days ago I got a message from a close friend of mine. Without getting into to many details, she said that we bring out the worst in each other and that it was time to move on. I felt the tears well up in my eyes immediately. I've never been told I bring out the worst in someone. I guess I'm not very good at friendships. My intentions are always good, but I somehow end up messing everything up. I let my overly competitive spirit get in the way, I let my vaulting ambition overshadow the fact that this is a real person, not a competitive meter. We've been friends for two years, which doesn't seem like a long time to most people, but I considered her a good friend. We had a lot in common: blogging, writing, DIY, minimalist lifestyle, fitness blender, eating healthy, lots of stuff. We met on Instagram and have since developed a fun, online friendship. There were days when I felt I annoyed her, or that I thought that she thought that she was better than me, (just writing that last line now shows how silly I was being) but for the most part I thought we were pretty close. I suppose I made the mistake of getting too close. I let my guard down, and I let my emotions take over. I let my competitive spirit reer it's ugly head and take shape of the devil and it's been down hill ever since.

I have to respect her space and what she wants. She doesn't want to be my friend anymore, and I must admit I'm taking it really hard. I've had bouts of crying spells, I go to message her and realize she doesn't want me to talk to her. I'm really sad. I feel awful that I let the bad parts about me get in the way of having a good friendship. I wish I could tell her how truly sorry I am and that I won't let me competitive spirit get in the way of being a good friend. But it's over now, and she's done and I have to respect that. Losing a close girlfriend is almost worst that losing a boyfriend. And by girlfriend I mean, a close friend who you can share stories with and laugh with. I don't like losing close friends and I'm not very good at rejection. Ever since we stopped being friends, my world has been turned upside down. You know the saying, "You never know how much someone means to you until they're gone" well that saying has knocked me on my ass. I cannot seem to pick up the pieces I shattered like a old, damaged mirror. Normally, I bounce back from things pretty fast, but so far I'm having a really hard time letting go of this.

i know I need to let go and move on. I know that tomorrow the sun will rise and eventually in time, the pain will heal and things won't feel as bad. But right now, I'm really hurt, the pain is there, and all I want to do is cry. Writing helps, thinking about my goals and focusing helps, but I miss her. There is one thing I've learned with turning thirty, you must respect people's wishes. You must let them go. You cannot force people to like you, you cannot force people to want to be friends with you. 

You must learn, (I must learn) the art of letting go......

My First You Tube Video And Why I'm Excited About This New Venture

Hello, friends, family, and supports of my health and wellness website! I'm super excited to announce that I've started my very own You Tube Channel that is all about health and wellness. This channel will feature all of my recipes, cooking how-to's, what I eat in a day videos, fitness and health tips and lots of other fun stuff and exciting stuff! I had a You Tube channel before which was pretty successful so I'm excited to see where this one takes me. My goal is to be on the Food Network or Cooking Channel and I truly believe that if you put the vibes out there, everything you want will come back to you ten-fold from the universe. I've always loved being in front of and behind the camera. My day-job is wedding photography and I'll always love capturing couples in their most important life moments, but health and wellness is a major passion of mine. I want to take this website next level, and starting a You Tube channel does just that. Besides, as my Grandfather always said, "No one ever got anywhere by staying in their comfort zone." 

This is my way of telling the universe what I truly want. My passion has always been acting and making awesome recipes. I feel I can combine all of love's into this You Tube channel and I'm excited to have you all along for the journey. For the celebration of this new venture, I've teamed up with Vital Proteins to offer you guys an amazing giveaway on my Instagram. All you have to do to enter is follow me, follow Vital Proteins, and watch my first video and subscribe to my You Tube Channel. That's it! It's that easy and fun! I will be offering lots of fun giveaways in the future on my You Tube Channel and I'm excited to share this all with you. 

Follow along on the ride won't you? 

To enter the giveaway, click on my Instagram link above and you'll see the Vital Proteins Giveaway announced there. 

Thank you for all of the support and I hope you guys enjoy my first recipe video!

 

 

 

 

Harley: The Dog Who Saved My Life

Harley came into my life without warning. I was dropped from an assignment that meant the world to me and I felt as if my life was over. I was driving home, depressed, sad, pissed off, and decided to go into the animal shelter on a whim. It was on my way home, and I wanted to look at dogs. There he was, sitting in the cage, big brown eyes, an adorable tongue, plus he looked like a wart hog with his adorable cow spots which made him that much cuter. He couldn't have been more than 10-pounds. (You should see him now...) he immediately licked the cage when I went up to him and the attendant told me he did not respond to anyone like that. She also told me the next part that dictated my decision to take him home that day. He was found in a local city near by, nearly beaten to death, starved, and was a bait dog from a local dog fighting ring they had busted the week before. I still remember the bruises on his ribs and the gashes around his face. This dog took a beating and I remember feeling nothing but hate for the bastards that did this to him. I still feel that hate every time I think about how Harley was found. The attendant told me that if I didn't adopt him, he would be put to sleep the following week. "I'll take him." I said matter of factly.

I didn't tell anyone I was adopting a dog, because I didn't know I would be adopting a dog that day. Harley is my life, my saving grace, my kid, my boo-dog. This dog sleeps at my feet every night and is there by my side when I wake up every morning. He's my workout partner and my protector. He has horribly bad habits from being a former bait dog, such as being obsessed with jumping the fence, and a terrible fear of tall men and other dogs. He's with me at all times when I'm at home and he's a watchdog over our other pets. This dog would do anything for me and I'm grateful I took him home on one of the most saddest days of my life. Harley was the spark that made everything better durning that very dark time of my life. He was the key to me putting everything back together that I let fall apart. Two weeks later, that assignment I was dropped from didn't matter because I was offered my first radio job. I talked about Harley a lot of the radio. Everyone loved him. He's boo-dog, the big lug that the attendant swore to me wouldn't grow bigger than 60-pounds. 60-pounds huh? He's 90-pounds now. Yes, you read that right, 90-pounds. Harley protects his little sisters and barks at airplanes. He has a silly relationship with a squirrel and adores our cats, especially Giovianni. He's just a big dog who loves to give big kisses. 

What I've learned from owning Harley is how awful humans are. How biased they can be, and how most people who are stupid hate his breed. Without even giving my dog and I a chance, they turn and walk the other way when they see us coming. People are so judge-mental that they cannot see past their own blindness. I've learned how cruel people are to this breed, and I wish I could line every one of those bastards up and well....I'll save that for a different post. I've learned how terrified my dog is of other humans he doesn't know. How he would take a bullet for me if he had too. He's my protector, my pal, my boo-dog. And despite all of the idiots in the world who has some stupid pre-conceived notion on this breed, we will still thrive. We will prove all of them wrong. And, hopefully crooks will stop using these dogs for horrific things too. The dogs need to live in safe homes with decent people who will take good care of them. All these dogs want is love and affection, a good human to lay their head on, and a warm place to sleep. All these dogs want is love. I think we can all relate to that, can't we? 

I own two other dogs and an insane amount of cats, but Harley's story is different and it deserves to be heard. I will write about my other babies in another post, but in this one Harley is the star.