Costa Rica Week 1: Dancing in the Rain

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Costa Rica – the land of green landscape, volcanos, beautiful beaches, world-class waves and “Pura Vida” or the pure life.

I arrived last Tuesday ready to embrace everything Costa Rica had to offer and begin another Iron Gypsy adventure.

One of the things on my list was “Latin dancing.” I love to dance; however, one of my limiting beliefs is that when a partner is added — all of sudden I go from a free spirit with a little bit of rhythm to an awkward teenager dancing with a boy at the junior high dance for the first time.

Either way, my idea of dancing and what the universe delivered must have gotten lost in translation – but the experience was very similar in that I once again felt like an awkward teenager.

Stick with me, and let me explain.

The arrival

I arrived on a rainy night after dark. It’s rainy season and since Costa Rica is close to the equator, it gets dark by about 6 pm and light by 6 am year-round.

I had arranged for a trustworthy tour company to transport me the 90 minute drive from San Jose to Jaco. As a single female traveler, I do not mess around with public transport when I arrive in a new place at night. NOT WORTH SAVING A BUCK!

Everything went smoothly. He showed me around the small city of Jaco, took me to the local grocery store (Costa Rica’s version of Wal-Mart), translated the check-in conversation with the guards at the complex and helped me get all of my bags up to my condo in the pouring rain. He was a genuinely kind soul, and I felt very fortunate.

When I woke up the next day, I literally had to pinch myself. I was in Costa Rica! EEEEEK! I’ve wanted to travel here for so long! A couple of of years ago, I looked into surf camps here. But since I am now living this “nomadic gypsy lifestyle,” why not try Costa Rica for a little longer? Combine surfing and scenery with a city that has highspeed Wifi and the comforts of home – like a coffee pot and a gym with a squat rack.  Therefore, I decided to rent a place in Jaco for two months.

My first outing was nice. I saw the beach, checked out the city seeing all of the American options like Subway and KFC tucked in next to the Costa Rican “sodas.”

I checked into a local gym where there were a few others who appeared to be “non-local” but the majority were speaking Spanish and looked very “at home.” I immediately felt disconnected from people and embarassed that I do not speak fluent Spanish.  Yes, I’ve traveled to many countries where I did not speak the language. Spanish is different. I  wish that I had more command of the language than the few words I’ve managed to hold onto from senior year of high school.

Connection is HUGE for me…And this made me very uncomfortable and ashamed.

Then the rain came…

This time of the year, it’s typical for rain to set in during the afternoon. Sometimes it rains all day. So I committed that I would enjoy the mornings while the sun was out – walking the beach to get to the gym, handling any other errands on my way home and possibly hitting the beach early in the day – allowing me to focus on work in the afternoons when the rain set in.

This was the routine for most of last week. I  felt a shift – adapting to a new energy, a new routine, a new culture, a different climate, a language barrier, etc. I usually do feel a shift and a time of transition when I come to a new place; however, during my previous travels I was in each location for such a short time it felt much different. It was much less “permanent.” If the vibe was off – not to worry. I would be in a new location in a week or less.

Then the weekend set in. The shift in energy became more intense.

I woke up on Saturday to rain — and Sunday as well. Plans to go surfing were cancelled due to rain.

As I spent those days alone in my place besides the rainy trips to the gym, my mind began to fixate on everything that was wrong with this situation – AND BEYOND THAT — everything that is wrong with ME.

My body.

My business.

My personality.

The place.

My inner dialogue was ugly!

So what the “f” happened? How did this positive “Iron Gypsy” completely fall off everything she talks about daily? Everything she stands for? Everything she coaches? Everything she’s worked so hard to change in herself?

Learning to dance

At this moment, I don’t know exactly where all of these bullshit stories came from or why I suddenly became overwhelmed with them – but I do know there is a reason that is bigger than what I can comprehend today.

I know reading this, at least half of you will have an extremely negative response, and I don’t blame you. Looking back at it, I’m ashamed – embarrassed – that I thought this way.

I am completely aware that I was in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, living my dream of helping people live healthier, happier lives, steps away from the beach in a great condo — and I was finding everything wrong with this place, me and life in general.

#firstworldproblems

Yup. I agree. Part of me believes it’s despicable and embarrassing.

So why am I sharing this? Why is someone so dedicated to “self-love” sharing a post about how she spent her first five days in one of the most beautiful countries in the world beating herself up and questioning everything about her life?

Because…It needs to be shared.

Yes, I’m ashamed. Yes, I’m embarrassed. Yes, I’m quite surprised by what came over me, but at the same time – I hear the voice of my soul saying:

“You’re human.”

Often times we hold ourselves and others to a God-like standard. I catch myself thinking that because I have “done the work,” and have learned the lesson once before that I am never allowed a moment of what feels like going backwards. I expect perfection and a journey forward with no bumps. I judge myself for being HUMAN — when that’s what we are  created to be.

If we were capable of being representations of God, living in a state of perfection at every moment – would we be here? I honestly don’t know. What I do believe is that we are here to learn. And sometimes it takes us “falling off our pedestal” – the one we mentally put ourselves on and the ones that we place others on — to be reminded of the bigger picture. We’re here to learn, and we are created to be HUMAN not GOD.

We have God in us – absolutely. When we work with our Creator, we are capable of anything and everything. However, that doesn’t always unfold the way WE want it to. The lessons and the rainy days and the “awkward” dances are there to teach us something. I believe the Creator’s job is not to make us believe we are perfect in every moment, but to help us see that we are perfect in every moment because of our imperfection.

So…now can you relate?

How many times have all of us been in a similar position – where we feel sorry for ourselves, get all “woe is me” – yet we know how blessed we are? And then we beat ourselves up for  having those stupid thoughts, and we feel even worse about ourselves.

Ring any bells?

Yes, this can happen whether the situation is a gypsy living in Costa Rica, someone with a beautiful family or famous athlete or performer making millions of dollars a year.

Our location and circumstances do not always dictate how “happy” and sane our thoughts are.

One thing is certain, this was not a setback, but a moment of growth. The fact that I was able to dip so low and pull myself out of it (with a little help from a great mentor) is a victory in my book!

So what do I believe really happened here? What is the lesson? And what did I do to pull myself out of this?

 CLIFFHANGER!

Watch for next weeks’ blog post where I will share what I did to get back to me and how my “dancing” skills and rhythm are getting better every day here in Costa Rica.

But…know this. EVERY IRON GYPSY STORY WILL HAVE A HAPPILY EVER AFTER.

No need to worry mom and dad — or all my beautiful family members, Tribe members and friends throughout the world. I am in LOVE with this place and rhythm I have found here! I mean that!

Since these days are behind me everything looks different – I MEAN EVERYTHING! It even smells different! It’s beautiful and everything I hoped it would be! It wasn’t the location. IT WAS ME!

Most importantly, I am growing throughout this experience and that my friends, is why I am here! I am living my true purpose every day.

The smile you see in the photos – it’s real. When it’s not real, you will know. Also, know this. Even on the days when I don’t feel like smiling, deep down, I know I’m exactly where I’m meant to be.

I’m trusting the process, enjoying the journey, writing my own story and learning to dance – even in the rain!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The journey continues: Costa Rica

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It was an early morning for this lovely lady (my mom) and I considering I had a 6:50 flight and a 2 hour drive to the airport prior. I don’t believe in “goodbyes” only “see you laters.”

Today, I begin another phase in my journey. I’m headed to Costa Rica for two months – ready for more adventure, learning and growing.

On my last flight, I asked myself what I hope to find in Costa Rica. Of course there are things I want to do and see – exploring, surfing, gym time, yoga, writing, days at the beach, learning about a new culture and continuing to serve my Iron Gypsy clients. Sure, it’d be great if I met some interesting people – or maybe the love of my life. Haha!

But as far as major expectations, the truth is — once again — I have no idea why I’m going to Costa Rica.

And that feels like…

Freedom!

Each day, I’m learning about letting go. Being present. Choosing to create harmony in every situation and choosing to see life through the lens of unconditional love.

I could take this same journey anywhere! I’m fortunate that my life path and my intuition has led me to do it in Costa Rica.

I’ve realized is that this journey is not about finding answers or being attached to specific ideas about what it will be. It’s about letting go of the need – the attachment – to a specific outcome.

I do not know why my heart has called me to this place. I do not know what interesting adventures I will have, what amazing people I will meet or what lessons I will learn.

I do know that looking back at where I’ve come from and where I am today, all of the pieces fit together as part of a crazy, one-of-a-kind masterpiece. There is beauty in the twists, turns, bumps and even the pit stops.

This is sure to be another brushstroke, another piece, another gorgeous jewel in the masterpiece I am creating in each moment.

I can embrace each moment — knowing I’m exactly where I’m meant to be.

And so, the Iron Gypsy Journey continues.

Today, I will simply enjoy the act of creating.

I will enjoy the journey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forgiveness and Unconditional Love

Today marks the beginning of a new era for the Iron Gypsy blog. 

As you know, it’s been quite some time since my last post. I have been focusing on giving my all to my Iron Gypsy Coaching clients, attending additional courses (including Tony Robbins Business Mastery, Tony Robbins Leadership Academy and Reiki Level I and II certification), continuing with my own spiritual and health journey and growing other social media platforms including the Iron Gypsy YouTube channel.

All the while, I’ve been beating myself up for neglecting my passion project — the Iron Gypsy blog. 

So today, I made a decision. No longer will the fear of imperfection get in the way of progress. No longer will the fear of not being perfect get in the way of sharing the Iron Gypsy mission. No longer will I continue to beat myself up for what I’m NOT doing with the Iron Gypsy blog.

I will focus on WHAT I CAN DO! 

So, from here on out, you will see more stories! Some of the stories will be content that was shared through other social media platforms. Some will be snippets of content that I’m sharing with the Iron Gypsy Tribe (aka my coaching clients). Some will be raw, nearly unedited original content or a melding of content from various sources.

It will be imperfect. But it will be content that I feel passionate about sharing. This will also allow me to continue to reach those not on other social media platforms, while at the same time continue to place emphasis on my current projects and my future (other) passion project — a book! 

To kick things off, I want to share some content originally developed for Instagram that really captures the moment and essence of this decision. 

Next week, I leave for Costa Rica, so stay tuned for that. Additionally, I will be sharing random thoughts that have come up over the last couple of months since my last post. One thing is for certain when it comes to the future of Iron Gypsy — it will be a real, beautifully raw and wild ride!

Stay with me, friends! Love and light to you all! 

xoxo,

Kesley (aka Iron Gypsy) 

“Forgive yourself.”

This was what came to me in meditation this morning when I completed the assignment given to me by my reiki and spiritual teacher.

“Forgive myself for what?”

All the places I should be, other than where I am. All the things I should be doing, other than what I am doing. All the things I didn’t do. All the people I didn’t help. All the things I am not.

I find myself focusing on and beating myself up for all I am “NOT” instead of finding peace in the present and WHAT IS.

Why do I deserve this forgiveness?

We all do. We are all human. We were born to be perfectly imperfect.

If we cannot love and forgive ourselves, how can we find that same forgiveness for others? At our core, we are all the same — HUMAN.

So as I continue to reflect on the topic of unconditional love…this is where I am today.

To love we must forgive. And forgiveness and love starts in YOU.

 

Confessions of an Iron Gypsy: “I love love”  

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Yes, embarrassing as it is, I was once that angry, man-hating female! I had given up on finding true, passionate, lifetime love. What happened? Well, I got back to who I am at my center. I chose again because that was not ME. I choose love! I choose to love LOVE! 

It’s 4 am. And like any other blog article that I’ve felt I “called” to write, here I am sitting up in bed in the wee hours of the morning because the universe has me wide awake as if to say, “you’re going to sit down and write this NOW. If I let you go back to sleep, you’ll put it off or avoid it, or your rational brain will talk you out of writing this one. Nope, not this time. You’re doing this, and I’m not going to let you sleep until you do.”

It seems there are a lot of topics that would be so much easier to cover at this point in time. I haven’t even had a chance to summarize all the learnings from my trip! (Which I will do, so stay tuned!)

…But no. The universe keeps staring me in the face with the one topic that I haven’t fully come to terms with yet.

It’s one word. Four letters. A word that, suddenly, I’m using all the time. Now that I’m back in North Dakota, it’s in my face constantly as I’m surrounded by couples married for 10, 20, 30+ years. As my parents celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary, it was front and center. As I witnessed my younger brother’s wedding, I could not escape it.

LOVE.

It wasn’t long ago, the thought of this word gave me a gag reflex. I remember the day I took it out of my vocabulary.

As I was typing an email to a co-worker — likely someone higher up on the food chain than I — I made the decision to take the word “love” out of the first line of my email and replace it with more appropriate and business-like words. The sentence was something like, “I would love to meet with you to discuss…” and I changed it to “I would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you to discuss…”

I had changed only a few words, but changing those words was a conscious decision to change how I allowed myself to view the world. I had stripped out the passion and emotion and the “real me” in my vocabulary and my state of being. I exchanged it for an achieving, linear-thinking mentality, which I told myself was more acceptable.

I’m not exactly sure, but I believe I removed the word “love” from my personal life around the same time. After one too many failed relationships, I’d had it with this whole “love” thing. In fact, I wondered if true love really existed.

Initially, when I was awoken from my slumber by a Higher Power and “told” I would write this blog post, I thought I might take the easy way out. Maybe I could ask other people for their views on love? Maybe I could get by with writing about the love I have for the beauty of creation? Or the love we have for one another in a community and family and friendships?

But no. I’m pretty sure that’s not what the Big Guy Upstairs was looking for in this situation. “Really?” I asked. “Do I really have to go there NOW?” I could hear a silent but firm response. “Yes, it’s time.”

My own relationships and divorce are something I’ve avoided “publicly” discussing in the “Iron Gypsy” blog. And honestly, I don’t believe I need to go there. Not because it’s difficult for me to talk about, but because rehashing and blaming and dissecting will not serve me at this point. It’s time to move on – and has been for a long time. It’s time to be in the present and look toward to a promising and bright future.

I’ve put those events behind me. It always takes two. I’ve looked closely at where I can take responsibility for the breakdown in my marriage and relationships and have decided I will learn the lessons, remember the good times and have gratitude for the experiences that have shaped who I am today.

As I stood near the alter for my brother’s wedding, I viewed marriage and weddings in a whole new light. For the first time, I actually listened to the words in the famous Bible verse 1 Corinthians.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

Wow. I had never really “heard” those words before. Yes, I’d heard the words, but the meaning behind them didn’t really sink in. In my mind, love had always been about an exchange. “You do this for me. In return, I do this for you.” I had viewed love as a business transaction – a bartering system or form of romantic currency.

So this whole love thing…Apparently, we are just supposed to accept and trust and hope? That’s freaking scary! Not so much the giving part. I’m all for that. But what if they reject your love? That’s got to be the scariest feeling of all!

And this is something I’ve really had to come to terms with recently. My biggest fear in relationships is being used. It’s giving and giving and having that person REJECT my love. What if I’m not enough? What if I’m too much? What if they don’t love me back? But apparently that is how love is supposed to be? We give without expectation? What?!

So maybe the key is in picking the right partner – someone who is “safe.” So, what if I pick someone who is just like me? That will allow me to easily recognize exactly what that person is thinking. Seems like the most logical solution. We’ll enjoy the same things. We’ll get annoyed by the same things. We’ll love the same way. We’ll have the same needs and values. I’ll just meet a guy who likes the exact things I do, and we’ll live happily ever after!

But wait…Don’t they say opposites attract? In my experience the answer to that is yes. I’ve always been most attracted to the people who exhibit characteristics that I am lacking or want to develop in myself. From what I’ve seen and experienced in relationships and from what I’ve gathered, lasting love is not based solely on similarities, but we also need passion in a fulfilling relationship. In order to have passion, we need differences — polarity. If we have a relationship with someone just like us, we won’t grow. We won’t be exposed to new things. We won’t have the perfect balance of yin and yang – of masculine and feminine energy. It will feel kind of – blah!

I can honestly say I’ve had passion in my relationships. I’ve had love in my relationships. I’ve probably had both for periods of time. This whole “having both” thing for an extended period of time – not to mention for the rest of a lifetime —  is exactly where I start to question whether true, passionate, love really exists. I don’t question that it exists at all…I mean, I’ve seen it…But does it exist for me? Maybe there are people who just aren’t meant to have a partner in this lifetime?

But…I’ve decided. I mean, one day I literally decided. I got so pissed off and mad and sad and scared and exhausted — every emotion in the book — that I had no choice but to make a choice. I could go on deciding that love is too scary and that true, lasting, passionate love doesn’t exist – or at least not for me. Or I could make the decision that love is real and that true, passionate love is available to everyone – even me – in this lifetime.

Witnessing a wedding for the first time with fresh eyes was absolutely beautiful. It’s odd how I always got choked up when the bride and the groom hug their family. I think it’s because I had experienced this type of real, unconditional love firsthand – in a deep and meaningful way. I’m blessed with two amazing, wonderful, loving parents. Historically, when the bride and the groom said their vows, it never really got to me. It’s as if I was questioning whether or not the vows they were making were “real” or just another step in the journey of life. This is not a knock on any marriages I have witnessed — but was tainted by my own limiting beliefs.

But this time…no…this time was different. Through the readings, the sermon and the vows, I hung on every word. I believe these two are a very special couple. I wish the new Mr. and Mrs. Tweed the very best. They, along with their parents and the other couples I saw interact throughout the wedding day, demonstrated how love can be a beautiful balance and how it can lift individuals, join them together and set them on a journey toward becoming even better, more complete versions of themselves. All I can say is — it’s beautiful. Breathtaking really.

I don’t believe that in this day and age we need to be with a partner. Things have come a long way from the days when women were the gatherers and men were the hunters. However, as someone devoted to making the most out of this lifetime, I do believe that a partner can be the perfect way to learn more about life, learn more about ourselves and teach us about the most powerful and scary emotion of all – love.

Love is the biggest risk and also the biggest reward. It’s the one thing we all want most in life, whether we admit it or not. I believe, we were created for love. We all fear not being enough to be loved.

I can go on believing my negative, limiting beliefs about love. Or I can make a choice that I will open to this powerful emotion. The day I made this choice, the universe actually made me quote my own blog articles. Yes, the one about leaving the “old baggage” in the past. And the one about “choosing again” when we don’t like our initial response to something.

So, I choose again. I choose love.

I choose to love, love.

When I was first called to write this article, I fought back hard against my gut feeling. I haven’t experienced my own happily ever, lifetime love yet. What do I have to say about love? Will people view a single woman writing about love as a desperate plea for attention, like a blog version of a personal ad? Would I suddenly have a bunch of creepers reaching out, knowing I’m single and having read my internal thoughts?

Well, I could come up with at least 10 reasons why every “Iron Gypsy” article I’ve ever posted should NOT have have been shared. I believe finding a “real” voice in social media and in the world today is hard to find.

That’s my commitment to you. I write what’s on my mind. Many of you have cautioned me about that. Read this knowing that I hear you. And I thank you. But I need to remain true to my mission – writing with honesty, transparency and raw, real emotion. So prior to my prince charming, happily ever after ending here I am sharing anyway – fears, authenticity and risk of the desperate “single-middle-aged-woman with a ticking biological clock” stigma.

I’ve picked up an important theme from a couple of my favorite authors and mentors. You teach what you need to learn. You write about what you need to process. There isn’t always a beginning, a middle and a “they lived happily ever after” ending, but there’s always a real and honest look inside my crazy “Iron Gypsy” brain.

I believe there are five reasons why I was “asked” to write this. I share this because if you are still reading, likely one of these is meant for you.

  1. Proof that we need to pay attention to the gut feelings and the crazy ideas that just come to us. I’m not certain, but I believe something really powerful will come from this article. Maybe not for me, but maybe for someone who will read it.
  2. Proof of how powerful love is. When I made the decision to love love again, I believe something shifted inside me. I felt more free than I’ve ever felt before – like I had conquered my biggest fear. I felt more alive, more feminine and more like an “Iron Gypsy” than I ever knew I could. Love brings the power to heal and to transform and to open us to our true power.
  3. To those in relationships, this is a gentle reminder to express more love and reflect more on love. It’s easy to take our relationships for granted; we all do it! I did it. I still do it. It’s especially challenging with those we see every day. Commit to love and passion in your relationships — especially your romantic ones. Commit to gratitude and creativity and communication and understanding and exploring what could take your love to the next level. Be the perfect partner, and you will have the perfect partner.
  4. To all the single people and those who’ve been through what feels like unbearable pain – I write this to inspire and restore faith in love. You can choose to stay stuck in a “love sucks,” “love is pain,” “men are assholes,” “women are crazy bitches” mentality (like I did for a long time), or you can choose to LOVE love. I challenge you. I dare you to do whatever it takes to restore your faith in love. There is someone out there for you. I dare you to stop being a sissy when it comes to love and be fearless in your pursuit of real, love and passion. Commit to growth – to becoming the perfect partner for your future partner. I choose to believe we will all experience the magic of love in this lifetime if we choose to believe in this magic.
  5. Finally, I write this to request your help. Yes, as I said earlier, we teach what we need to learn. I’m writing about love because I’m a freakin’ lover. I LOVE love. But that doesn’t mean I understand everything about this crazy, emotion. And I definitely don’t understand everything about what it takes to keep a marriage or long-term relationship on fire, forever. I invite you to share what you’ve learned with me. Young or old, married or single — I want to hear from you! Share your “love wisdom” here, with me individually  — or go bold and do it in social media! (And please tag me!) We can all learn from one another.

So, in closing, although there isn’t a “prince charming, happily ever after” ending to this story – yet — there is still a happily ever after.

For my story, the happily ever after is that today, I’m happy – I’m more than happy… I’m in LOVE with LIFE! I believe my perfect partner is out there, and in the meantime I’m working on becoming the perfect partner for that person.

And most importantly, I choose to love LOVE!

The journey to “I AM”: What I learned on my “Date with Destiny”

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When I signed up for Tony Robbins’ ” Date with Destiny,” I was not looking for a guru and didn’t feel like I needed saving. That’s a bold statement, I know. Stick with me. 

Like most others who attended “Date with Destiny,” I signed up because no matter how amazing life is, I believe we should always look for opportunities to level up and become the best version of ourselves. Tony Robbins is one of those people who has the unique ability to pull that out of all he interacts with. I attended Robbins’ Unleash the Power Within” (UPW) one year prior and left the event having walked on fire and having made the decision to take a bold step to pursue my true passion for health and fitness.

What I didn’t anticipate with the “Date with Destiny” experience was that I would leave feeling LESS like a new person and feeling MORE like I’m finally living the “ME” I was born to be. “Date with Destiny” is much more about uncovering who we are at our core and developing strategies to live true to that core than it is about about rewiring who we are. I left feeling like a more authentic, alive version of myself. I now have the courage to step into and live from this place. The event was six days of non-stop jumping, dancing, networking, connecting and putting in hard work to uncover parts of myself that I felt I had lost somewhere along the way.

Through sharing my experience, I hope it will help you remember something you’ve forgotten about yourself or overcome deeply rooted fears or limiting beliefs.

Secondly, I hope that you will consider your own journey to uncovering who you truly are – whether it’s attending a program like “Unleash the Power Within,” “Date with Destiny” or another method of self-reflection. Make time for you. 

Nearly every single person in the room had at least one breakthrough during the six-day event. (I know because Tony asked us to raise our hands.) Even if you think you have no work to do, life is all about expansion. Although perfection is not the goal, continued progress is.  Progress, not perfection, is the key to happiness and fulfillment! 

Here are a few of my top reflections and learnings from my Date with Destiny experience.  

My values and priorities did not align with what I wanted out of life: We completed an activity in which we looked at the filters of “self,” “relationships,” and “work” and how we prioritize each. We also looked at the needs we are trying to fill under each of these areas. (Learn more about the six human needs here.) This was a breakthrough moment for me! So much in fact that when Tony asked us to raise our hands to share, my hand went up so fast I didn’t have time to talk myself out of it. Next thing I knew, I was on the big screen explaining my realization in front of 1,700 people. I was prioritizing everything above love and relationships, hoping that I could “achieve” my way to earning love from others. Despite having success in many areas of my life, relationships (in particular romantic relationships) were a struggle! The reason suddenly became apparent. I was putting relationships last. 

I was clinging to certainty: When I attended “Unleash the Power Within,” I took a close look at the six human needs and determined my top two. Robbins says it’s the top two that shape our lives. If significance or certainty are on the top, we’re in for a tough road ahead. “Certainty” was not one of my top two – or at least not that I could recognize at the time. It was not until “Date with Destiny” that I realized that all of my “achieving” was not only an attempt to earn love but also an attempt at control and create certainty in my life. One of my favorite quotes from Tony is, “The quality of our life is in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty you can comfortably deal with.” To live a life that we are passionate about, we must take risks! Mediocrity does not create a life that makes us want to jump out of bed in the morning. I was clinging to certainty and safety instead of going for what I REALLY wanted to avoid my fear of not being enough.

I had limiting beliefs about masculine and feminine energy: Among the participants I’ve talked to, our learnings about masculine and feminine energy seemed to be most impactful. Going into this event, I believed feminine energy was weak, needy and dependent. I told myself that masculine energy is controlling and egotistical – but also the way to get ahead in life.  (Sorry guys. I know better now. ) I had programmed myself to operate from a masculine energy the majority of the time because this was the path to success and the way to earn love, I thought. I learned about masculine and feminine energy and saw the beautiful dynamic that exists when we operate from our core. More importantly, I felt it — the polarity of masculine and feminine energy. BEAUTIFUL!

“Adult-ing” caused me to forget who I was created to be: We did several activities to help us remember who we are, who we were created to be and what truly lights us up. Part of this was removing the “masks” we’ve learned to wear to make us less masculine or feminine than we are at our core. But I also remembered many of the things that I loved to do as a child and how these are the activities and emotions that get me excited to this day! I’ve always loved to move my body – specifically to dance. We did plenty of that, and it woke me up inside! I remembered how much I’ve always loved to create and write and how I treasure beauty. (One of my first words was ‘pretty’ after all.) It feels good to remember all the things that being an “adult” and having to “produce” helped me to forget. Now that I remember, I’ll be doing a whole lot more of them!

I wasn’t clear about what I really wanted out of life: Another of Tony’s famous quotes is “Where focus goes, energy flows.” Sure, I’ve thought about my values. I’ve set goals and have even put them in writing. But I can’t say I selected my path carefully and created a roadmap for getting there that flows from my core and values and aligns with my purpose. Heck, many of us go through life never really thinking about our purpose. Or we spend our whole life trying to identify a grandiose reason we are on this planet. I now have a written life purpose, and it’s SIMPLE. But I truly believe in it! Sure, it may change, but for today it feels right. I have a list of values that I’m going to live by. I’ve prioritized these values in a way that helps me to make better decisions in life. Sure, these values may change, but for today it feels 100 percent like the best way to live. I’m now living life true to who I am, 100 percent certainty I’m headed in the right direction and 100 percent certainty that there is NO SUCH THING as CERTAINTY. Life is a journey! My purpose here on this planet is to simply, “Enjoy the journey.”

If any of this struck a chord with you, I strongly encourage you to begin a journey of your own self-discovery. Leveling up and fulfilling your destiny simply begins with a commitment. Decide today that you want to live true to all that you are at your core.

Remember this…”I AM.” (Thank you to one of my group leaders for planting these two powerful words inside me.) Everything you want to be, and have, and do is already inside you. You already ARE all these things and emotions and attributes. You just need the clarity and courage to step into your true self. Make today the day you begin to live true to the “I AM” you were born to be and the powerful “I AM” you already are.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our bodies: Tools, mirrors & art

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Sharing this image with this post put a feeling of fear in my gut. It was taken as part of an impromptu photoshoot on a rooftop in Bangkok. (Yes, I am still completely covered in the front despite what it looks like!) I absolutely love it! Everything about how it happened to how it turned out. To me, it’s art. But I thought about the reaction it might get. “Will I be judged? Is it too much?” The answer to that question for some of you is probably “yes.” I’m sharing it anyway…Not as a cry for attention but in hopes that seeing another human taking a step out to love herself and the beauty of the human body will help others see the beauty in themselves and others.

We are not our bodies. But our bodies are not the enemy.

I’m not trying to be confusing or philosophical. As I’m transitioning to a career in fitness and also on a path to greater self-acceptance, I’ve been thinking a lot about the body, what it means to me and the perception of the physical body in society.

Throughout most of my life, I’ve viewed my body like it was the enemy and my “healthy lifestyle” was the war. I was angry at my body for not responding properly to all the exercise I was doing and all the “bad food” I was not eating. “I should be skinny,” I always thought to myself. “Does this body not realize everything I’m doing for it?” I was angry not only at my body but also at myself for my failures. I was a martyr, sacrificing daily for this ungrateful, unresponsive body.

Slowly, as I began to take up bodybuilding and saw how diet and training allow us to shape the body, things began to shift. As I finished my first competition, I immediately shifted focus to the second and getting my WBFF pro card. Soon, I was gearing up for training twice a day and a crazy-strict diet for a show that was months away. Every morning I would wake up and take progress photos, my entire self-worth determined by whether or not I was feeling “fluffy” that day. At that point, the body was no longer the enemy. It was my identity.

Now that I am a fitness professional, this brings a whole new perspective to how I view my body. I work in an industry in which the body is a billboard. The industry consists of two extremes. At one end, there are those who believe that showing your body to the world is part of the job and the way to make it in the industry. The more skin, the more ab shots, the more gym selfies – the better. Then there is the second group. These people are anti-selfie and focus 100 percent on sharing hardcore training tips and the science behind it all. There are many who fall somewhere in the middle. I do not believe either opinion is bad. What I do believe is that it’s important to know where I stand on this continuum.

Whether you are a personal trainer, or someone who is also struggling to come to peace with your body image, I challenge you to look at how your view your body and how your self-worth and identity may be tied to it. We spend every day inside our bodies. The least we can do is determine what kind of relationship we want to have with it. By no means am I telling you what to believe, but I will share my own personal beliefs in hopes that it will give you some food for thought.

After much reflection, here is what I believe about the human body:

The body is a tool.

We are not our body, but the body is here to help us move through and experience life. If we take good care of this body, it can run like a brand new Ferrari. If we treat it poorly, it will be in the shop often or move through life at the pace of a Fred Flintstone car. You are not your body, but your body is critical to living, experiencing and enjoying life. Treat it with kindness, fuel it properly and it will reciprocate.

The body is a mirror.

I believe that if we are in a good place on the inside, our bodies will reflect this energy. Our energy radiates from the inside out. To be beautiful, believe you are beautiful. To be strong and masculine, believe you have this energy inside of you. Reflect these emotions to the external world, and your body will change with your internal state. It all starts with deciding to live in a beautiful, peaceful, positive, self-loving, non-egotistical state.

The body is art.

Often times we look at the fitness industry, particularly the bodybuilding world, like it’s full of half-crazy, self-obsessed people. And, yes, those things can be true. However, what I’ve found is that these half-crazy bodybuilders can be more like artists and scientists. I’ve learned an important lesson from bodybuilding – our bodies are art. I used to look at pictures of models in magazines with envy believing they were somehow granted magical powers and that could never be me. “It’s not fair,” I would think. “I can’t have that.” Bodybuilding has taught me that if we focus our effort and energy, in this case our bodies, we can create what we envision. It may not be exactly what we see in a magazine if we’re choosing an all-natural, non-photoshop approach, but it will be beautiful because it’s our creation, marked with our own signature and struggles.

As I grow my new business, I will share images of my own body (like the one accompanying this blog post.) I share in hopes that seeing another human appreciating her body will help others see the beauty in themselves and others. I will never have the perfect body. Perfection is not the goal. Perfection is the lowest human standard. Let’s appreciate the bodies we were blessed with while striving to be the healthiest versions of ourselves.

Let’s also respect and recognize the beauty of the bodies of others by practicing non-judgment. Whether it’s looking in the mirror, looking at social media or in everyday life and whether we are looking a body covered in frumpy clothing or half-naked, let’s appreciate the beauty of the human body as artistic expression of the journey through life.  The bodies are art. Art is all about valuing the differences and the imperfections.

The body is physical representation of something much bigger – YOU! Let’s be a society that honors, uses, appreciates, admires, creates and loves our bodies rather than a society that is obsessed, abusive, judgmental and ashamed of our bodies. Let’s see our bodies for what they are – not our identity or the enemy but tools, mirrors and art. Let’s spend our energy building from the inside out. Nourish your body, respect your body and believe anything is possible. Your body will respond.