How I'm Coping with Big Life Changes

Photo by:  @andiwanders

Photo by: @andiwanders

It is the first day of October. My favorite month, in fact. I thought it was about time to shake the dust off of the laptop, and tell you why I haven’t been writing lately.

Have you ever felt like you aren’t sure what you want to do with your life? Do you ever feel like none of what you are spending your time, energy and resources on really matters? Does your motivation ever just vanish? Hello, and welcome to a little life event I like to call an existential crisis. I got married and moved across the country within a span of one week. Existential crisis, comin’ right up!

Before deciding to move to California, I had a list of projects that I was working on. It seemed like I was doing a photo shoot every week with a local photographer. I was meeting new movers and shakers in my community. I was attending events and networking. I was getting freelance work for social media influencing and creating. I had received some basic training on launching a podcast and purchased the equipment. I wrote an e-book with plans for a second.

If everything was so great, why did I decide to move?

I have wanted to move for a very long time. West Virginia was my home but never quite felt like home. I was very grateful that in the months leading up to my move, I was able to see it in a new light. I felt like there was more long term opportunity in California, especially in the fields of work I hope to be in. I also have always (always) wanted to live by the beach and in a politically progressive place. And I wanted more access to vegan food (and other vegans!) I really do love it here. I wasn’t quite expecting, though, to lose so much of my excitement and fervor for my projects. I guess, maybe, I have been a bit too hard on myself and not hard enough, all at once. On the one hand, I have only lived here a very short amount of time. On the other, I could sit down and get the podcast going, I could sit down and produce multiple blog posts. I just haven’t felt like creating, and that is why I am writing this and doing it anyway.

Sometimes, it isn’t about what you feel like doing. It’s just fucking doing it anyway. It’s about believing in yourself. It’s allowing yourself space to question if anything you are doing matters, while also moving forward with the conviction that it does.

So, how am I coping?

Some days I cry a lot. Some days I laugh a lot. Sometimes it’s both in the same day. I have been going to the beach as much as possible. I have been exploring my new city, sometimes I feel brave enough to do this on my own and sometimes I don’t. I have been spending time with the friends that I have here. I have been working out, eating healthy. Sometimes I bite Danny’s head off for no reason and other times I collapse into his chest. I have been avoiding this blog. I have been mentally selling my talent (and myself) short.

What’s my advice?

Look, life is messy. And sometimes life is just really fucking tough. Give yourself some credit, though. And stop being so hard on yourself. I’m not telling you that the scariest thing you will ever do is to say “yes” to that scary decision you have been thinking about. Honestly? The scariest part will probably come after. The magic is in the follow through. The magic is in the patience, the trust. Find the courage, and keep the courage. And some days, allow yourself to fall apart if that is what you need. Take a hiatus. Take deep breaths. Do whatever you need to live a fearlessly full life of your wildest imagination.

Bet on yourself. Go all in.

What scary decisions have you been considering lately?

Feeling Sexy with the Light ON

Feeling sexy with  As You Are Boudoir

Feeling sexy with As You Are Boudoir

I get asked a lot how I feel sexy *even with the lights on*. Most women hold back during sex because they aren't 100% confident about the way their body looks. Maybe you have flipped the lights off and gotten under the covers before you let your partner see you. When we live in this state of shame, self-consciousness or mental distraction we are totally pussy-blocking ourselves and missing out on the joy of connection. So let's talk about how we can love ourselves a little more and leave those lights on.

When you spend time worrying about what body parts may be too soft, too jiggly, too saggy, too small, you end up ruining your own good time (and your partners).

We've all read and heard time and time again that the key to looking and feeling sexy is confidence. But it is never that simple. If you find yourself freaking out about being on top because of your belly rolls, or reaching to turn the lights out every time things get frisky you're making yourself enjoy it less by not being present in the moment. Not to mention you are missing out on a lot of fun! It isn't fair to deny yourself of those simple but profound joys in life.

Throughout this journey these past few years, I have really been confronted with my own self loathing. It might come as a shock that I can still go to those places of calling myself names, comparing and finding myself stuck staring in the mirror. Yes, I have conquered body shame and self acceptance by embracing my sexual pleasure but that doesn't mean that I don't still struggle. It doesn't mean sometimes I don't want to turn the lights off. There are days when I forgo having sex because my shame demons are roaring so loudly between my ears that I can't even fathom being intimate.

Photo by As You Are Boudoir

Photo by As You Are Boudoir

Am I a fake— or am I simply keepin' it real? I guess you get to be the judge of that, friends. I have been able to heal so much of the damage that I have walked around with for most of my life when it comes to my sexuality and my body. But everyday, when I wake up and start my day anew, it takes a little bit of courage to love myself just as I am. On those days that I wake up with bloat, it's a little harder than other days. On the days when there is stress in my life and I feel overwhelmed, I am most quick to attack my own self. 

Self loving is a practice. Feeling sexy is a practice. Let's practice together.

Yes, we will have hard days. If you are just starting out on your self-love journey, know that there will be more difficult days than easy. It may take you months before you feel ready to start feeling confident with the lights on. But know that it is worth it, and that you are capable.  I want you to love yourself in and out of the bedroom, with the lights on and the lights off, upside down and right-side up. It’s time to bring your sexy back. Find out how I quiet those voices in my head and start feeling sexy...

I have linked my ebook below which outlines all of the ways that I was able to find my self-confidence and revolutionize my sexuality. Practicing these steps allowed for me to feel more loving, confident and sexy in my own damn skin, and that shit is priceless. 

Vegan Donuts & Morning Sex eBook
1.99 4.99

5 simple and easy vegan breakfast recipes, 10 tips and tools to empower you to feel like your sexiest self & a few surprises. . .

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Self-Love Lessons from the Women's Locker Room

Secret Lagoon hot pot in Iceland

Secret Lagoon hot pot in Iceland

How a hot pot locker room in Iceland reminded me that body image is cultural and that self-love is a continual practice.

When was the last time you got naked in front of strangers? I practice getting metaphorically naked in front of strangers all the time on the internet in the form of baring my feelings, vulnerabilities and thoughts to the internet. However, on this last trip to Iceland, I learned that there are many ways to practice self-love and that just because we think we are comfortable in our bodies, there will always be lessons to learn. 

It was a cold late-January afternoon and we had decided to spend time at Gamla Laugin (or Secret Lagoon) which is a natural hot spring in the Golden Circle area of Iceland. After paying for my ticket, the worker reminded me that they do ask that we shower without a swimsuit on prior to entering the hot pot. (Many of Iceland’s pools have minimal or no chlorine in them, so for everyone’s peace of mind, all who get into the water have to make sure their body isn’t polluting it with germs.) I nodded, and headed towards the women's locker room.

I entered the fairly empty locker room with my friend that I was traveling with. We both chose a locker and began to strip off our many layers of winter clothing. I wasn't sure where the showers were located, so I wandered around getting oriented with the locker room. There was a concrete divider to separate the main part of the locker room with the line of shower heads. There were no curtain to divide them, no privacy. There were posters highlighting all the regions you must lather attentively: head, armpits, undercarriage, feet.

I meandered back to my locker with my mind racing. "I know they said to shower naked but I am sure it will be fine if I just keep my swimsuit on!", "Okay, my mind is made up, I will just wear my swimsuit into the shower, take it off momentarily and then pull it back on." I looked to my friend and voiced my concern. In America, we just aren't raised to see other women (or people) naked like in Europe or other cultures. In locker rooms, we have totally separate showers or, at the very least, they are separated by a curtain. 

Then, while still deciding what I was going to do, I noticed an older woman entering the shower area completely naked, like it was the most natural thing in the world. And that is when I realized it IS the most natural thing in the world. I felt a bit of jealousy for the women of Iceland, not just because they have the privilege of calling this beautiful country home but because they get to grow up feeling comfortable with the female form. They grow up feeling comfortable with their own body but also the bodies of real women. Real women with saggy breasts, pregnant bellies, stretch marks, cellulite, tall and thin, tall and squishy. There is no Photoshop in the locker rooms.

These few moments in the women's locker room were turning out to be quite introspective. What was I apprehensive about? What was I afraid of? What was making me uncomfortable? It was that woman that gave me courage. I pulled off my clothes and headed into the shower (which no one else was in, by the way). I felt proud of myself for not allowing whatever body-image demons that were lingering in my mind to win that day. I also felt this sense of freedom. I pulled on my swimsuit and opened the door to an arctic blast of wind. I hurried into the hot spring, and felt instant relief from the biting cold.

“I think the swimming pools are what make it possible to live here,” the young artist Ragnheidur Harpa Leifsdottir said. “You have storms, you have darkness, but the swimming pool is a place for you to find yourself again.”

When it was time to exit the hot spring and head back into the locker room, I had no apprehension. I peeled off my wet swimsuit and headed into the shower. I did take notice that there was a woman showering with her bikini on. I wondered if she was having an introspective moment of her own. I hoped that my courage would rub off on her. I hoped that she had a self-love practice. 

I wanted to tell you this story because it felt trans-formative for me. I wanted to remind you that self-love is a continual and daily practice. Shame demons come from nowhere sometimes, and that is okay. I encourage you to find your own "Icelandic hot pot locker room" moment. Practice standing in front of a mirror, naked, and speaking all the things that you love about your body.  Surround yourself with real women, real bodies. Stop punishing yourself trying to look like someone that you aren't or an image that was curated. 

Secret Lagoon

On another note, if you do find yourself in Iceland in search of the nearest hot pot, I highly recommend this website

The Importance of Self-Love - An Interview With @Brigheenfit

Find Bridget on Instagram @brigheenfit

Find Bridget on Instagram @brigheenfit

I met Bridget through Instagram (duh) and have come to consider her a friend. She continually inspires me with her outlook on life. She is fun-loving, kind and down to earth. If you struggle with balance? Follow this girl. She gets it. Our fitness journeys are really similar, so I feel very connected to her, but different enough that I think many of you will benefit from hearing what she has to say... enjoy!

What is your name and How old are you? Bridget, 24 

How long have you been on Instagram? I began my fitness Instagram in January of 2014.  I remember being home for Christmas and talking about my new year's resolution with my mom.  Every year I would have the same goal to"lose weight", and I decided that this would truly be my year.  I decided to make the Instagram to hold myself accountable. (If I could go back in time, I would have changed my goal to being healthy and strong!)

What is your go-to healthy meal? What about your go-to cocktail? I'm a huge breakfast person!  I will seriously eat breakfast foods no matter the time of the day.  Something I usually make would be egg whites topped with feta cheese, Simply Potatoes hash browns, bell peppers and onions, and Lightlife Veggie bacon strips with side of reduced sugar ketchup! Go-to cocktail? 98% champagne with 2% OJ!  

 What would you say sparked your interest in the community? Nothing seemed to work in terms of me reaching any type of fitness goal.  At first I just wanted to lose weight.  This was something I would dream about, wish for, cry over all the time, yet I never had a plan to execute it.  I remember thinking, nothing will change if I change nothing.  My fitness account was a platform I could post "proof" of what I was eating and what I was doing to be active.  Then I began making connections with women all over the world with the same struggles and aspirations, and they kept me motivated and inspired me.  I never knew that making an fitness account would change my life, but it did.

What is your best advice for someone who is struggling with comparison and negative self-talk?Our parents/guardians didn't grow up with social media.  They could avoid beauty magazines easily.  Us?  We have these platforms at our fingertips to not only use to help us, but to unfortunately tear us down.  I sometimes can't help scrolling through my IG feed and comparing myself to these beautiful women, or being worried of my boyfriend doing the same thing.  My best advice?  Someone else's beauty does not take away from yours.  You are seeing highlight reels of people's lives.  We're all human, we all have "flaws", we all have things we don't like about ourselves that other's admire.  I use to feel competitive towards other females, but now I realize we all need each other to feel loved, to feel empowered, to feel HAPPY.  I want every single person on this Earth to find true self love.  That would have a direct positive impact on any relationship they have with others.  As for the negative self-talk, it might be cliche, but if you wouldn't say it to your best friend you shouldn't be saying it to yourself.  Instead of pointing out what you don't like about yourself, decide goals you want to achieve that will help you love yourself more (mentally and physically). 

What does being 'body positive' mean to you? How do you practice that? This is so important!  I've been unhealthily heavy, I've been unhealthily underweight, and I am where I am at now.  I will tell you this, at every stage I had something that was bothering me, something I wanted to "fix".  I still struggle with this, but I am at a much better place now.  Body positive used to mean that I would look in the mirror and be in love with the way I look.  Now, body positive means loving my body for all that it does for me.  I went from not being able to jog for a straight minute to being able to run 5k's for fun, from not being able to do a single push up to being able to do burpees.  I can now hike without being exhausted, paddleboard without losing balance, climb over a fence when I'm running from the police... just kidding.  But seriously, our bodies are amazing and do so much for us.  I finally began to feel guilt.  Not for having cellulite and stretch marks, for having belly rolls, or for having a little chub by my arms when I wear a push up bra (AKA for being a human)-- I felt guilty for being so harsh and mean to a body that has done nothing but carry me through my best and worst days.  I decided loving my body doesn't mean just loving the way it looked, but fueling it with foods that will make it healthy.  I practice this every day by finding balance.  For redefining what the word "flaw" is that society has driven into my brain since I was a little girl.  I think I am beautiful, and I don't think that is wrong.  I would love for every man and woman to feel that way.

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What has been the biggest breakthrough for you personally in your health journey or what would you most want someone to understand about your story? The importance of self respect and self love.  I've always been told, "You must love yourself first before being able to love anyone else" and I just never actually understood it (I thought I had).  Because I didn't respect or love myself the amount that we all should, I found myself dependent on being in a relationship so that I didn't feel "alone" and dependent of feeling accepted by my peers, whether they were kind, genuine people or not.  I ended up in a horrible relationship with a boy that did not respect me.  He looked down on my friends, isolated me, tore down my self esteem, controlled what I did, what I wore, and who I would hang out with.  The worst part of it all was I lost myself.  I didn't recognize who I saw in the mirror.  I faked happiness when I would see people, I would cry every single day, and I put up with someone who belittled me and called it love.  I cannot put into words what fitness has done for me.  When I began to work out and eat healthier for ME, I began to create a healthy relationship with myself.  It sometimes brings me to tears thinking back on who I use to be.  I wish I could hug her and let her know it's going to be okay.  Then one day, I began to see results and I couldn't believe it.  I remember sharing my excitement, but this person I was in a relationship with told me to delete my account, that I just wanted attention, and asked me if I was trying to be more attractive for other people.  That was the moment it clicked.  I realized that I am starting to care for my body, to make it healthier, and yet I am doing nothing for my mind.  I am putting up with a dark shadow that is trying to stop me from being the best version of myself.  That was the day I decided to never talk to him again.  That was the day I found out how tough I truly was.  That was the day I found out what self love and respect really meant.  That was the day that changed my life forever.  I now have an amazing relationship with my parents, have the most supporting, caring friends, and found the love of my life who reminds me how proud he is of my everyday.  

If you find yourself in a relationship, whether it be a friendship or romantic, that brings nothing but negativity, that doesn't support you being a kinder, healthier version of yourself, that talks down on you, or makes you lose a sense of who you are- please get help.  I promise you that you have control over this, that there are people willing to help you, that you can have the life you've always wanted and that you deserve.  And if you do feel alone, you can always reach out to me. Life is too short to be miserable every single day.  You deserve happiness!

 

Trust Your Voice

As many of you know, I started graduate school this semester to begin my pursuit of a Master’s degree in the Humanities. The first day of class, my advisor and also the professor of this course asked more seasoned academics in the class to give me advice on writing. The graduate assistant said, learn to trust your voice. You know how when you read something or someone says something that clicks with you on such a deep level that you weren’t even braced for the impact of their words? Yeah, that happened then. 

Wow. For how many years have you been going through life without trusting YOUR voice? For how long have we all been looking outward rather than inward for the reassurance of what is right? What is true? Our own intuition, our own opinion, our own version of the truth. THAT is what we have to learn to listen for, what we have to learn to express.

It is a challenge for me to use and trust my voice, especially in regards to this blog and to my Instagram. I know how it feels to want to look outside of yourself for guidance, reassurance and validation but everyone you need comes from within. Stay true to your authentic self and you can't go wrong.

How can you apply this to your life? Maybe you aren’t a student or an aspiring writer but maybe you are a mother. Maybe you are a wife. A CEO. A business owner. A woman. In all areas of your life, trusting your own voice is paramount. Maybe you need to whisper before you can roar, I get that. I’m with you. Insecurities are normal. Fear is common. As women, we were told for a great number of years that our voice was insignificant; we were told that silence was beautiful; we were warned about speaking our mind. I am here to say, fuck that. 

You possess the power to find your own unique voice. And when you do? USE IT. TRUST IT.