Shoutout to your strong friends

Someone asked me where I’ve been.

For the past few months, I have been a little off the grid (I guess). I haven’t posted on the blog, I have turned down countless social invites, and rarely even check my personal social media accounts. Personally, I’ve had a lot going on. I started a new job where I am writing and on social media, ALL day, Patrick and I transitioned into living together again, my grandfather passed away, Misia (our dog) has been having health problems in her old age, and I have been struggling to maintain a healthy lifestyle, which has left me feeling tired and cranky AF.

But, while I work on getting myself back into order, I have also been spending a lot of time thinking about others. When I moved to Charleston, I lost friendships. Friendships that took me 25 years to build. Simply because it’s difficult to maintain friendships from 900 miles away, especially in your 30’s and everyone has careers, kids, spouses, etc. In the past 2 years, I have also lost both of my grandfathers, a great aunt, and my great grandmother (all expected, because that’s what happened in life).

Then recently the media has been filled with other major losses as well. A couple of weeks ago, I got sucked into watching the second season of Thirteen Reasons Why (a show centered around a teen who takes her own life). During that binge session, the world learned about the deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain to suicide and (while watching the show) I learned about the suicide-related death of a classmate of mine.

The talk of death, loss, and mental health were surrounding me. As someone who has struggled with anxiety, sometimes when things like this happen, I just can’t freaking stop thinking about it. In this case, the death of my classmate really kept me up at night (literally). While we weren’t friends, our younger brothers were, for probably the last 20 years. I spend 12 years walking the halls of the same schools as her, I followed her on social media, and we talked here and there. She was such a sweet, wonderful person and her passing really left a hole in my heart.

Now, I didn’t mean to start off my first blog post in 3 months on such a sad note, so stick with me! 

Then last week, I was talking to a friend of mine at work and she said that the same types of thoughts had been weighing on her mind, too. She went on a trip to NYC with some friends and during a spin class, the instructor paused to reflect on the issues of mental health in our society and asked that the class “check in on your strong friends.” No, not the friend who is killin’ on the bike next to you while you daydream about donuts and try not to pass out. 

But the friends who seem to have their shit together. The friends who, on social media, seem fine, happy, and content. The friends who we run to when we need help.

The friends who despite their outward appearance, may not be strong at all. So while the words aren’t mine, I think they’re powerful enough to share. And you don’t have to get all deep and creepy about it either. Just shoot them a little love note to say “Hey there! Just wanted to let you know I am thinking about you and I hope you’re doing well.”

That’s it. So whether it’s your former best friend from 3rd grade, a friend who is on the other side of the country, someone you talked to at a networking event a few times, or your friend who lives down the road that you just haven’t seen in awhile, reach out to them. Stay in touch and let them know that if they need someone, you’re there. It could mean the world to them.

So to MY friends- the friends from Northwood, East, NU, Canisius, volleyball, former jobs, my current job, The U.K., Charleston, and everywhere in between, please know I love you and I am always here.

Whether you need someone to listen or a partner to down a bottle (or two) of prosecco, just know I’ll be there.

XO – J

 

 

The Girls’ Weekend that Changed My Life: Part 1 – Self-Discovery

Last week in my 10 Ways to Practice Self-Love post, I mentioned that I was participating in a yoga retreat. This was a big deal for me because I have always encouraged and coached other women to invest in themselves, however, I never made a large investment in myself. I always invested in myself through nourishing my body with nutrient-dense, delicious food. But, I was afraid of making the larger investment. Why? I am not sure why. Maybe I was afraid of investing in  myself and coming across something I did not want to face? Who knows. But, I took a leap of faith and invested more money than I’ve ever spent in one weekend on a life-changing yoga retreat lead by the beautiful, Cortney Ostrosky.

I went into the weekend with an open mind. On the first night, we participated in a sister-circle. I am not going to lie, this is the one thing I was most afraid of. I did not know what type of hippie-dippie sh*t we were going to do and I did not know what to expect. I’ll tell you more about that experience next time, but for now, I’ll just say that I went into new experiences with a completely open mind, regardless of what my pre-judgments were.

sister circle

By the end of the first day, I was in awe of how much I discovered about myself! I could not believe how fast I opened up my heart and learned to feel what was really going on. I felt  my insecurities, I felt my creativity, I felt my loneliness, and I felt how my body was reacting to all of my emotions.

In addition to the sister-circle, Cortney lead us through workshops and yoga classes to align our Chakra’s , allow our body to flow in sync with our emotions, and relax into a state of mind that was comparable to an out of body experience. Through each activity, I learned that I was shutting off my emotions. I was shutting of my creativity. I was hiding my femininity and sexuality. I was allowing my fears to take over my dreams and I was shutting people out of my life in fear of getting hurt.

I learned that I CAN dream big. Like change careers and have a job I love. I learned that I CAN have emotions. I CAN cry. I CAN dance. I CAN love other women and create incredible bonds without drama or gossip. I CAN align my body with my emotions in a healthy way through the food I eat and the yoga I practice.

By the last day, Cortney lead us through a pop yoga class. In this class, we danced to Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off and literally shook it off! We shook our arms, did high kicks, and laughed at the people down on the beach who were clearly wondering what the hell these women were doing at 9 am out on a deck! I’ve listened and danced to that song 100x and this time I seriously got very emotional! I have NEVER felt so free! For the first time in my life, I felt like myself! I mean that!

For the first time in my life!

Isn’t that terrifying?? For 29 years I have been walking around as who? A lesser version of myself? Maybe! But now I know what makes me feel alive. It’s not one thing. It’s a combination of things like delicious vegan food that nourishes my body, gorgeous, soulful sisters who encourage me to be me, the ocean and the sound of the waves reminding me of how beautiful nature is, exercise to get my blood flowing, and fun music to dance to.

I am so happy and proud of myself for trying something new and investing in my own well-being. Whenever I get caught up in the stresses of life, work, loneliness, depression, and heartache, I try to take myself back to that weekend and remember that life really is fabulous when you make it fabulous.

 

XO – J

If Only I Could Shave my Legs While Driving

As I have written in my past few blog posts, moving to a new city has been an exciting and difficult transition. One week in, I started a new job, bought a house, and started teaching group fitness at a local gym. One month in, I have made new friends, got a promotion at the new job, and can finally make my way around without relying on my GPS.

There are things I am growing to LOVE about the new city. I am originally from Buffalo, NY which houses the best food in the world. So I am quit to judge when it comes what constitutes as good food. Well, the food in Charleston is VERY different, but very good! I have grow to love okra, which I had never had until I moved here and still can’t believe I can eat fresh produce year-round.

The people here are incredibly nice! Everyone acknowledges you on the streets, in elevators, and in groceries stores. People will talk to you about anything and everything as if they’re an old friend, and people are always willing to jump in and help if you need it. It’s a very big cultural difference compared to NY where everyone makes a point to ignore most other living creatures.

The weather is GORGEOUS! It was dreadfully hot and humid in July and August, but the days that weren’t too hot were absolutely perfect. Being about to go outside without a jacket is a drastic change from the 57 degree weather I would see in August in Buffalo! I can wear different clothes, sandals, not worry about bringing extra layers for after sundown. However, I do have to make sure my legs are shaved daily, whereas in NY, I wouldn’t shave most months out of the year!

All round, I am loving the transition and my one major complaint is the traffic. I was so used to my quick 20-30 minute commute in little traffic. Now, I drive the same distance, but the commute takes about an hour to an hour and a half EACH WAY when you’re crawling at 5 MPH in traffic. Sitting in that traffic is just a waste of time for me and it’s a very difficult thing to get used to. I treasure my precious time after work. Now, if only I could shave my legs while driving and put that time to good use.