My Twenties; Living at Warp Speed

I’ll be turning 30 in a couple of weeks, and I’ve been doing a lot of reflection since the New Year and it’s crazy how much has changed in a year and how much I’ve grown too. Last year, I committed myself to my healing and ending my twenties on a positive note so that I can enter my thirties with joy instead of fear. I had no idea what my year would look like, or if it would even work, but at the same time I felt like I had no choice. I know people say that you can do whatever you put your mind to, and of course we all know this to be true. However, you don’t really realize just how far you’ve come unless you take the time to look. So that’s what I’m going to do, I’m going to take a look back at my twenties, give thanks, show myself some love and share some of the lessons that I’ve learned.

Lesson 1: I Move at Warp Speed, and I need to learn to slow down

I have a shit ton of energy. I’m like the energizer bunny when I’m excited and motivated. There is no stopping. This is both a blessing and a curse. For one thing; I get a lot of shit done and I get it done quick. Decide to switch careers? BAM new job, in a new industry in like 2 and a half months. Maybe it’s divine timing? Or a mix of divine timing and my strength of will? Who knows. The point is, I’ve done a lot of things, but I easily forget. I need to stop and remind myself to reflect and breath. That was what I realized I needed the most last year when I decided to get better. I never really took a lot of time in my twenties to reflect upon what I was doing, where I was going, or who I was going with. My twenties were a blur until I began approaching my thirties and I didn’t like where I was. When you move as quickly as I do, and you don’t spend enough time with yourself, you begin to loose sight of who you are, what you want, and what you need to be happy and fulfilled. That’s what happened to me. Suddenly, nothing felt right. When in reality, things didn’t feel right for a while. I just never took the time to be with myself to figure out why or how to change it. Not until I became deeply depressed.

Having depression forced me to finally slow down. I didn’t realize how tired I was or how much I really needed to rest, re-group, and restore myself in all aspects of my life. I was exhausting myself, my finances, my relationships, everything until I literally couldn’t give anymore or take anymore either. I had nothing left. I didn’t know how to stop. It doesn’t help that I’m full of pride either. I could not let anyone know how much I was suffering. I did not want to give up the life I had or the life I thought I “should” have. Even if all the methods I was using to have that life weren’t working. Even if it wasn’t making me feel good. Even if the return on investment wasn’t worth it. I did not want that to be known. I would just do my best to continue, business as usual, because in my mind it wasn’t anyone else’s problem. I just had to figure out how to make it all work so that no one would know. Can you see the hamster wheel I was running on? I’m unhappy, I don’t like the work I’m doing, I’m not making much money, I want to be independent but I don’t know how to do that because the job I’ve chosen, and my lifestyle etc. don’t fit into the life I want to have, and here I am frantically trying to close the gap!!! Imagine the terror, and anxiety of trying to make everyone happy, always saying yes to everyone else’s plans because you have no real plans for yourself anymore because you find your own life so overwhelming. Then WHAM! Life puts the breaks on hard and I threw my hands up in the air. That’s it. No more running Alex. You’re out of gas, there’s nothing left in the tank and you need to surrender.

It was terrifying at first to surrender, but at the same time it was also the most beautiful and loving thing I could have ever done for myself. It was hard to admit that I didn’t know everything, and that the way I was living wasn’t working. Not everything in my life was broken, but enough to make me unhealthy and unhappy. For someone who preaches health and wellness, I wasn’t really practicing what I preached. Another frog I had to swallow. Last year was the most humbling year of my life. I volunteered at a yoga studio for the majority of the year every Friday evening in exchange for yoga. I spent a lot of evenings and weekends alone with a kitty cat, journaling, meditating, reading, watching Netflix; just resting and getting my body and my mind right. I cooked a lot this past year. I danced and I sang a lot too. I cried a lot, I laughed a lot, but the most transformative thing for me was that I was honest. I opened my heart and let it all out. I let go of my pride, broke down my walls and let it all hangout here on this blog. I was more honest with myself, and therefore more honest with friends and loved ones. This helped strengthen my relationship with myself and others as well. For me, there is nothing I value more than the relationships that I’ve built. However, I learned the hard way that the most important relationship that you build is the one you build with yourself. So that’s what I did, I slowed down and focused solely on myself. I was never good at just focusing on myself, and that’s why I needed to go so far off in the opposite direction and really just BE with myself. In my thirties I will definitely continue to implement the lessons that I’ve learned in my twenties and really make myself, and my happiness a priority. Slowing down, rest, and relax. You don’t need to hyperventilate or freak out to prove that you care about someone or something. You can’t control everything, you can only control yourself. So if you do your best to be your best every single day, then chill!!!! Cause there’s literally nothing else you can do. Work hard babe, but rest hard too! You deserve it!


The Four Step Process of Forgiveness

I’ve talked a lot about forgiveness on my blog, and forgiveness has been a major theme for me this year. I did not realise until this week that there is an actually process to forgiving someone, especially someone who you felt has deeply wronged you. This past weekend I was reminded of the deep seeded anger that I felt towards someone who I felt had deeply wronged me in the past. I thought that I had forgiven this person but the anger I felt told me that I was wrong, and I still had some work to do. So, I logged back on to BetterHelp, the online therapy tool I’ve been using and saw that there was a “forgiveness worksheet” that my therapist had given me that I never completed. I took a whole day to complete the worksheet, and then the very next day I was listening to my favourite podcast Dissect where the major theme just happened to be forgiveness. At the end of the show, the host talked about The Enright Process Model of Psychological Forgiveness. The very same process model I used the day before! God has a strong sense of irony, and I took it as a sign that I’m on the right path and that this is something that I should share with others as well.

So, without further ado, I will explain the four step process of forgiveness. But first, let me explain what forgiveness is. According to Enright, forgiveness is the “foregoing of resentment or revenge” when the wrongdoers actions deserve it and instead giving the offender gifts of “mercy, generosity and love” or “beneficence” when the wrongdoer does not deserve them. In other words, when people forgive, they basically give up the anger to which they are entitled and give to their offender a gift to which he or she is not entitled. How long and painful the forgiving process is all depends on the seriousness of the event, and how long the person has lived with and/or denied the severity of the harm caused. I decided to explain what forgiveness is first before describing the actual process of forgiveness because a common and major obstacle to forgiveness is misunderstanding what forgiveness is. “Forgiveness stands on the truth that what happened to me was unfair, it is unfair, and it will always be unfair, but I will have a new response to it.”- Robert Enright. Forgiveness is a moral virtue like patience or kindness and it must be practised on a continual basis with everyone we meet. It takes strength, courage, and discipline to decide to forgive and to continue to practice forgiveness every single day despite the injustices we may face. It is easy to respond to injustice with malice, revenge, anger, hate, even if those feelings never get expressed. I tend to repress these feelings as a way to make them “go away” so I can go on as if this person never hurt me and I’m “okay.” No. Forgiveness is feeling those feelings, understanding where they came from, deciding to forgive them or let those feelings go; then find compassion for the person who hurt you by trying to understand where they might be coming from, and then accepting the fact that despite the injustice of their actions, we cannot change it and the only way to heal is to have love and compassion for all parties involved. 

Step One: The Uncovering Phase 

It is during this phase that you confront the nature of the offence and uncover the consequences of having been offended. It is during this phase that you must objectively as possible describe who did what to whom. You cannot forgive an offence that did not occur, however, you may be able to resolve the anger aroused by a perceived offence when the actual nature of the offence is understood. This part I did with my therapist, someone who is objective. I highly suggest doing this, because it’s hard to look at the event itself and sometimes it’s hard to look past the traumatic event to see all the consequences you suffered. Especially if you’re the type of person who tends to repress your negative feelings. In order to uncover the consequences of what happened it is important to see not only the original unfairness of the event, but also your reactions to the injustice and how it has affected your life. A therapist can help you see the connection between not having forgiven and the experience of various physical or psychological difficulties that are the result of suppressed or repressed anger. This may involve discovering and working through various layers of pain in addition to justifiable anger. These layers of pain may look like: shame, guilt, obsessive thoughts about the offender and/or thoughts about the offence, temporary or permanent life changes due to the offence, and changes in one’s view about the justice of the world and of God. Lastly, when you uncover the pain and trauma from past events or injuries caused by an offender, you learn that you cannot psychologically forgive certain actions like abuse, or drunk driving but you can forgive the offender for the secondary consequences of their actions; emotional pain, distress and loss. 

Step Two: The Decision Phase

During this phase a person gains an accurate understanding of the nature of forgiveness and makes a decision to commit to forgiving based on this understanding. Forgiveness is and must be a free choice. For me, I decided to forgive my offender because I realised that what I was doing to try and overcome the harm and suffering caused by the offence was not working. I was still angry, I still held resentment and even though I have no direct contact with this person, when I would learn of their continued attempts to hurt me all of my anger would come boiling up to the top. I would get so upset and concerned with the fact that they couldn’t see the harm they were causing. I would get upset at the fact that I was not doing anything to cause them pain yet they still felt the need to cause me harm. I would get upset over the injustice of this all. I finally realised that this person may never stop trying to cause me harm, but I can choose how I react to their attempts to cause me harm. The more I react with anger, the more damage is caused to my well-being, and the more time and energy I waste being upset over something that may never change. That is why I have decided to forgive them. Not because they deserve it but because I deserve happiness. 

Third Step: Work Phase

This is the phase where you actually work on forgiving. In this phase a person gains a cognitive understanding of the offender and begins to view the offender in a new light. For me, I have no real relationship with my offender and to be honest I don’t know much about them. This lack of understanding was a major roadblock in my ability to forgive them. In order for me to gain some understanding and compassion for my offender, I had to ask one of the people closest to them for some background information. When you begin to try and understand your offender and see them in a new light this results in a positive change towards the offender, the self, and the relationship as a whole. It is during this phase that you begin to see your offender as a human being and not as “evil incarnate.” Once you start to think differently towards your offender, you can begin to feel more positively towards them. This leads to feelings of empathy and compassion for those who have hurt you most. You courageously bear the pain caused by the offence and eventually you bear the gift of forgiveness to your offender. This phase is called the “work phase” because it is the most challenging phase but also the most rewarding. Forgiveness is difficult but it is impossible without understanding and compassion for the other. Don’t feel like you need to rush through this phase. Take your time. Just be honest in your attempt to see your offender as human. 

Fourth and Final Step: The Deepening Phase 

I would say that I am currently in this stage of forgiveness, especially after all the work that I did recently in trying to understand my offender and where they might have been coming from during the offence. This is the phase where you find increased meaning in the suffering you endured. You begin to feel more connected with others, you begin to experience decreased negative affects and, at times, a renewed purpose in life. I would say that this is currently how I feel. It is through the process of forgiveness that I have put myself through for all the traumatic experiences I’ve had in the past that has given me a new sense of purpose and connection to others. It is through this blog that I’ve found connection and healing, which is why I continue to share my experiences. It is through my writing that I deepen my forgiveness and compassion that I feel towards others.

It is during the process of forgiveness that you may find release from the emotional prison of choosing not to forgive, of bitterness, anger and resentment. It is through the deepening phase that you may find meaning in the things you suffered from. You may even find yourself asking for forgiveness for the pain you may have caused others, or even your offender if it applies. For me, I’m not sure if I’ll ever have the opportunity to apologise for any harm I may have caused my offender. I do take responsibility for my reactions to the injustice I felt I was experiencing at the time. Either way, I am choosing to forgive, to learn, and to move past those experiences. 

Those are the four phases of forgiveness. Like anything in life, the process of forgiveness is not necessarily linear. You may find yourself oscillating back and forth from one phase to another. The objective is to choose forgiveness, to try to find understanding for the other, which will hopefully lead to some compassion and empathy towards your offender. This will eventually lead to forgiveness, and then a deepening of that forgiveness which comes from a deeper sense of meaning for all the things that happened. 

“‘Men who lack conscious will even lie to themselves. A friend once said and I even found it to be true, that everyday people, they lie to God too. So what makes you think that they won’t lie to you.’ The dishonest people Ms. Hill speaks of, live a life based on a complex series of lies. First, and most importantly, they lie to themselves falsely justifying their behaviour and character which allows them to lie to their family, partners and friends, and God. Ultimately this passage lends insight to one’s ability to forgive. If we view the malice of others as acts of ignorance. As acts rooted in their own self deception, insecurity and unhappiness. We realise that their behaviour is unconscious expressions of those insecurities and unhappiness. With this understanding we can evolve from viewing these acts as completely unrelatable. Rather, they’re extreme representations of emotions we all experience. This provides a pathway to empathy. And with practice we can pray for rehabilitation not retaliation. We can empathise rather than exasperate or escalate. We can forgive but not forget.” Cole Cuchna Dissect Podcast MS1E6.


I wear my heart on my sleeve. So What?

About two weeks ago, I was having a phone conversation with a new friend of mine. The conversation did not end well, and that was because they had said that “I need to learn how to control my emotions,” in response to me getting emotional on the phone as I was trying to explain to them my thoughts and feelings about a previous conversation we had, had. I don’t even remember what I was trying to tell them anymore because all of that got erased the second they told me that my crying was making them feel uncomfortable and that I need to learn how to control my emotions. To be fair, now that I’ve had more time to reflect on that conversation, I don’t think they were trying to be malicious in their response to my emotions. However, the damage was done. It’s fair that crying may make someone feel uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean you should have to hide your emotions and your feelings just because it makes someone else feel uncomfortable. This is something that has taken me a long time to learn.

The second they had told me to control my emotions the conversation, and I had completely shut down. I stopped crying and said, “I’m sorry that my crying is making you feel uncomfortable, but I have a lot of really good friends who don’t mind me or my crying. So this conversation is over. Especially since I’ve told you that I have not been able to fully express my feelings, and that I’ve actually repressed and denied a lot of my pain for a really long time.” Looking back, I regret apologizing for making them feel uncomfortable. I guess I’m so used to apologizing for being myself. I cry. I’m emotional. I wear my heart on my sleeve. So What? At least it’s honest. I’m done repressing my emotions, and my pain in order to make someone feel more comfortable being around me. I haven’t really talked to this friend ever since. It’s not that I hate this person, there is the occasional text but I know that they can no longer be the friend that I need. They cannot support me in the way I need. My feelings, my crying is NOT THE PROBLEM! I’m not a psychologist but I do know that them feeling uncomfortable and then projecting their discomfort on to me, and making me out to be the problem is actually about them. They have some repressed emotions, whether they be anger or sadness, whatever, and me expressing those types of emotions reminds them of their own unhappiness. I was mirroring the parts of their self-hood that they did not want to see. It’s cool. Like I said, I have plenty of other healthy outlets for me to express myself.

This message is for everyone and anyone, girl, boy, whatever. Don’t be afraid to express yourself in any way that feels authentic to you. I know this is easier said than done, but it is so important. I’ve realized that the more I tried to hide my depression, hold my tears back, deny my anger, and my sadness the bigger it became. My sadness, and guilt got so big that it spilled over into uncontrollable tears this past New Years Eve. By denying my feelings, and holding back my emotions I turned into an emotional mess. I became a sad, sad person. Someone who now would cry very easily (not that I didn’t cry easily before) but it wasn’t as often. I literally couldn’t stop myself on New Years Eve. Who was that girl? I have no idea. I mean it was me, but I became someone I could hardly recognize because I was repressing a big part of who I am. I have always been an emotional and intuitive person. There have been times where I would own this part of myself proudly. Those were the happiest times for me. I feel like that was when I was living more authentically. I was emotional, but I wasn’t sad.

Now, I’m relearning how important it is to feel all your feelings. Let them out in a way that is healthy and productive. If you need to cry,? Then fucking cry. If you’re angry? Then find a way to express that anger. Maybe you need to blow off some steam, go for a run or workout. Maybe you write an angry letter and then burn it. It is a lot less damaging to release your negative emotions then to repress them and bury them deep. Doing this only leads to more destructive behavior. Trust me. I’ve seen it in myself, and in some of my close friends. You put on a strong front, act like everything is fine, because deep down that’s all you really want. All we really want in life is to feel safe, happy, and loved. When we don’t feel safe to be ourselves, we do bad things to ourselves and to others. Our pain manifests in violence against ourselves or others, self-medicating, emotional eating, eating disorders, the list goes on. We see this all the time with ourselves, our friends, celebrities. EVERYONE DOES THIS. It is only human to have emotions and feelings. They are not bad. Being angry or sad is not bad. It’s not fun, but it’s life. When we feel this way, we just want to be heard. We want to know that how we’re feeling is okay, and that we’re going to be okay. That’s literally what EVERY SINGLE HUMAN ON THIS EARTH WANTS! I really do think that we would be healthier as humans if we allowed ourselves and others to express their emotions and feelings in a way that is healthy and productive. A lot of the violence, and pain that we experience in this world would be reduced if we were allowed to talk openly about anything and everything. However, that is not the case. I’m hopeful that one day we might reach that point, but in the mean time the best thing we can do is to make each other feel safe. To listen openly and honestly to our friends and family. To give each other the love that any human deserves. When we feel loved and safe we are capable of doing amazing things for ourselves and for others.

Growing up, I’ve been teased for my emotions. I would try to hide my tears even though I did a very bad job of this. I would turn my face away from people and cry silently by myself. You’d be surprised how much what your parents, teachers, and other kids say to you effects you. I was told by one of my grade eight teachers (who was a woman) that my emotions would be seen as a weakness by other people and I should learn how to manage them. A lot of people believe this. That crying is weak, and that is should be done in privacy. I’ve been told my whole life that “I’m too sensitive,” or that “I care too much.” I’ve definitely internalized these things and believed them to a certain degree. Enough for me to feel the need to hide my feelings, my emotions, and the negative things that have happened to me in order to have other people feel safe around me. This was the most damaging thing I ever did to myself. It’s a lot of work to constantly pretend that everything is okay, and really it’s a waste of time. People can eventually see right through your feeble attempts to be someone you’re not. So why bother? I’m done. I’m tired. That time and energy I’ve started to redirect to myself, and my own well being. I’m learning to see the power and strength behind my sensitivity, emotions, and intuition. Some of the most beautiful pieces of music, art, dance, whatever, comes from real, raw emotions. There is power in being honest, their is bravery in being yourself and expressing every part of you, even the parts that make you feel uncomfortable. That’s how you grow. When you allow yourself to be yourself, to feel all the feelings, and to live in the moment, that is when you are the happiest. They say happiness is a choice, and I agree. However, it is much easier to make the choice to be happy when you’re able to fully express all of your other emotions too. I’m a much happier person now then I was at the beginning of 2018, and that’s because I’ve found ways to express my feelings and emotions in a healthy and productive way. I’ve found a way to be more honest with myself and with others. I do feel like I’m living a fuller life now then I was in the past. I don’t have much more material things, or a ton of new friends, but because I’ve stopped fighting myself, I have a lot more energy to focus on the things that do make me happy. I put my feelings, my emotions, my heart into my work, my blog, my journal, my food, my workouts, my solo dance numbers in the comfort of my home, my casual showers singing, my yoga practice, into me. I’ve been opening my heart up slowly but surely and I think it’s paying off.

A selfie of Alexandra Rinaldo without makeup


Trust Yourself, Trust the Process, the Results Will Come

Originally I wanted to talk about my fitness career and how it has evolved over time to the place where I am now. However, once I started writing this piece I realized that really it’s about how I equated my career with my self-worth. I have never truly admitted this to anyone, and it’s funny how I’m posting it online, but for some reason this just feels right, so I’m not going to question it. I’m sure some of my loved ones already know what I’m about to say because I’ve been circling around it for a while now, but I have been dealing with depression. Tears are streaming down my face as I write this. It’s been really hard for me to admit, and I’ve been trying to fight it as hard as I can on my own but I know now that, that isn’t getting me very far. I do believe that depression is a very personal battle, one that you can only truly overcome on your own. However, not talking about it, or not talking about your fears only makes things harder. It’s like trying to climb a mountain with rocks in your backpack instead of food and water. And man, I’m tired. I’m done fighting alone. I think I knew that this piece was coming, I think I knew in my heart I had to write this, but I could only write it when I was ready. Hence the almost two-week break from my last piece.

I’ve realized that my biggest fears and my greatest joys surround fitness and my career (my career is in fitness) so really they are one in the same. It is very much my personality to always want to be surrounded by loads of people. I am highly extroverted and I’ve never really liked being on my own, until recently. I also have a tendency to respond more readily to outside expectations rather than expectations that I have placed upon myself. I am always the dependable friend who you can call on any time of day and I will be there for you 110%. I think that is why I love my job so much. It is so easy for me to think of others first, and to readily respond to their needs first. This is not to say that I don’t ever do what I want, but for the most part what I want is what others want. These are some of my greatest strengths but they have also been a hindrance for me, because they were always the easy thing for me to do. These things made it easier for me to pretend that everything was fine in my life, and to not tackle the things in my life that worried me the most. It was easier for me to focus on others, a coping mechanism if you will. I knew and/or believed that others needed me, so therefore I had to be the “strong one.” At least this was the expectation I placed upon myself. I didn’t want to burden others with what I was feeling or going through so I didn’t talk about it much, or at least not to the detail I would have liked. I am the type of person that feels this need to be brutally honest about everything. I need to talk about everything, but for some reason there were many things that I had a very hard time talking about. This was foreign to me and it never really made me feel good. But now the “strong one,” feels left behind. It’s no one’s fault, and that I guess is the hardest pill to swallow. It’s really hard when you’ve found yourself in a bad place, a place that you never thought you would be, and then to look back on your life and the decisions you made without shame, guilt, or regret. It’s really hard to not punish yourself, and make yourself feel small. However, what I do know for a fact is that when you find yourself in this place, a place that you no longer want to call home. A place where your fears are big (real or imagined) this is the time where you need to build yourself up. This is the time where you need to be brave. Because you will never free yourself of the regret, guilt, and shame if you don’t forgive yourself first. You did your best with the knowledge you had. Now you know better because you are in a place you never wanted to be in the first place. It is really hard to not take this personally because it is very personal. It’s your life!!! But crying, wallowing, and making yourself feel small will not make these problems go away. If anything they will continue to fester and grow.

I made the decision to be brave this past September. That is when it truly dawned on me that I can no longer live my life the way I was, something had to change. I realized that the way I was living was bringing me nowhere near the life I always wanted. I needed to take a step back and refocus myself onto myself. I needed to take the time to heal, and to realign myself with my core values, with the things that brought me the most joy, with the things that made me feel the most like myself. It started off small. I started to cut out habits that I had formed as a way of distracting myself from my worries and my pain. I then started to get myself to do more fitness classes with my friends, and I even started running outside (in the winter) with my friends. A task I truly hated because I am a terrible runner, let alone running in the cold. But I also enjoyed it because it got me moving. I felt great after every run, and I was so proud of myself for even trying. I also started to really clean up my diet during this time. I really started to eat more vegetarian. I don’t know it just feels right to me.

Eventually, my healing process lead me to make a soul map. This was a powerful tool for me, and it really helped me to put a lot of my thoughts into perspective. My weekend in Collingwood for New Years with my closest friends was the tipping point for me. It was the point where I could no longer hold my bottled up emotions in and they spilled out uncontrollably. Not my finest hour, but I’m so glad it happened. Because it opened up the flood gates and it was really the catalyst to my healing. Ever since that day I have been making a conscious effort towards my healing every single day. I journal, read, meditate, sing and dance, listen to podcasts, do yoga, eat the best I can, and so on every single day. It is because of all this I have been able to face my fears, to be honest with myself, and ultimately honest with everyone else. It is a big reason why these past few blog pieces have been so deep. It just feels right. I’m doing this for me, putting it online, and into the world is so therapeutic to me because the second I hit the publish button it is no longer in my control. By posting it I am surrendering to whatever happens. Not only is that super scary but it is also so comforting too. It’s weird. I’ve noticed that with my last two pieces, yes they drained me emotionally, physically, and mentally to produce, but at the same time they gave me so much energy and happiness. I have not reread them. I might one day, but for now I don’t feel the need to. Also, the song I’ll be missing you by P Diddy and Faith Evans no longer makes me cry. I know that talking openly about my depression will free me from it. Maybe not right away, but it no longer has so much control over me anymore. Even just typing about it at the beginning of this post was such a release. So much so, that I’m not emotional anymore about it (right now at least). I do feel that I can now speak in person to people about my depression and actually call it what it is. It doesn’t scare me anymore because now it has a name.

It has been really hard for me to allow myself to feel the things I need to feel. I’ve been fighting it for so long. I’m naturally an annoyingly positive person and I guess part of me thought that if I allowed myself to openly feel the negative things I was feeling I would no longer be that positive person. I now know that, that isn’t true. How do I know that? Well for starters, just because you aren’t being completely open about your pain doesn’t mean that other people can’t sense it, and no matter how fast you try to outrun your feelings they will always be there. Because you can’t outrun your feelings. If your life is out of alignment with who you truly are (and not who you think you are aka your ego) the universe will constantly remind you. The universe will keep smacking you down until you’ve finally had enough; until you can finally surrender and let it be.

I always knew that fitness and the gym was such a great metaphor for life. It really, really is and I don’t care about how corny it makes me sound. First of all, one phrase that my coach would always say to me when I was training for my bodybuilding shows was “trust the process.” I will never forget it. I fully trusted the process when it came to my bodybuilding training and I followed his guidelines to a tee! I did EVERYTHING HE SAID AS BEST I COULD and I knew that the rest would follow. I knew that if I put in the work, the results would show, and well… It worked! Man, I went from 8th place Bikini in November 2014 to second place Figure in 11 months! I look back and it makes me laugh that I had so much trust in myself, my coach, and the process when it came to bodybuilding but I had a hard time applying that trust to myself when it came to my career. It makes me sad that I allowed the negative experiences in my career that I came across post university to have me questioning myself, and the process. It’s a trap! It’s really hard to not take events that happen in your life, especially negative events, personally. It’s really hard to separate yourself from the bad job, or bad boss, or the fact that you’re not making any money. I’ve experienced all of those things trying to “make it” in the fitness industry. I always knew this was my calling, but I didn’t realize how challenging it was going to be. Instead of taking these experiences as lessons, and motivations to work harder to get past the grunt work and into the light, I allowed myself to become arrogant. I allowed myself to become a victim of circumstance, and because I was thinking of myself as a victim, all the terrible things were happening to me. In my mind, I wasn’t doing it to myself but rather life was doing it to me. I was thinking that I should be farther along in my career, not realizing just how much work is involved to really “make it” in any career, let alone my own. For some unknown reason I thought I deserved more than what I was getting. I’m re-learning that things don’t just come to you. I’ve always known that, but sometimes when you think that life has gotten the best of you, it’s hard to see through the fog of your own mind. Like I said before, put in the work and trust the process, the results will come. The more clear your are with your outcome, and you have aligned everything in your life with that outcome, eventually you will succeed. I’ve been there, done that, and here I am doing it again. I’ll be doing this process again and again for the rest of my life. The only positive is that I know what it’s like when you don’t trust yourself and the process, and I don’t ever want to feel that again. I can’t promise that I never will, but because I’ve learned it once before, it will be easier in the future to keep the faith.

The second major gym metaphor/lesson that I’ve learned is that failure is good, and if anything its welcome. The only difference is, failure in the gym doesn’t hurt as much. I mean it hurts! But in more of a physical sense, it BURNS!!! But it doesn’t have a lasting emotional and mental pain that failure can have in real life if you allow it to. Failure is essential to your physical fitness. You need to fail in order to fully understand where your fitness ability lies. You will never know how much you can physically do until you do it until failure. That’s when you know where your physical breaking point is, and you can only build from there. Literally, your muscle’s potential for growth if you do an exercise to failure is exponential! Getting to failure in the gym is HARD! It hurts A LOT! And the whole time your brain is screaming MAKE IT STOP FOR GOD’S SAKE!!! Man, I remember my coach would make me do bicep curls until I physically couldn’t curl anymore. Then he would help me get to a static bicep curl hold and make me hold the bicep curl until my arms fell limp. Like noodles. They would just fall and I couldn’t stop it. He was like “you’re not done until you can no longer physically curl your arm.” Damn… most people don’t get there. I did, several times. It hurt so much, but at the same time it felt oh so good! Why? Well, first of all it was over! Thank God! The pain was over, and all the was left was this feeling of exhaustion and accomplishment. Holy shit! I’ve never pushed myself so hard in my life and it feels so good! Now, apply that to your life. Sounds simple right? Nope it’s not. It hurts a lot. I would argue that it hurts more. If you fail in real life it’s not just you who may feel the impact of your failures and that sucks. However, what I’ve come to understand is that failures and obstacles are brought into your life because you were meant to overcome them. And they will keep manifesting in your life until you learn to overcome them. They are lessons. It is when your fighting through the pain, the fears, this is where you have the highest potential for growth. Failure informs you of what you’re capable of, the same way failure in the gym does. It took me some time to really understand this. The more you push yourself out of your comfort zone and risk failure, the more potential you have to grow. I see that now. It’s hard, and I’m still working through it but if you truly want to have an exceptional life full of purpose, you need to fail. Failure is good, and it is welcome, a new mantra to live by.

There was a full paragraph that I edited out where I was outlining the points in my life where my depression was the most apparent. I was describing the times where I wasn’t writing my blog regularly, working out regularly, etc. I’ve realized that no one cares, and I don’t need to prove to anyone that I am no longer living that way, so I deleted it. Happiness, success, love, they all speak for themselves. These are all the things I will forever be working towards. To me happiness is balance, and what I’ve learned recently is that balance is a verb and not a noun. You must always practice balance, because the second you think you have balance, you’ve lost it and you need to find it again. I’m proud of myself for the progress I’ve made, and I know that my depression does not define me. I know that even though I’ve been suffering from depression, I’m still a positive person. I’m still here, fighting through the pain, and trusting the process, the results will come.

 

 

 


Are you brave enough to break your own heart? A second letter to myself, a new beginning….

Dear: Alexandra,

Wow! I’m so fucking proud of you! Honestly, the first heart breaking letter that you wrote and shared with the world this past Saturday was a huge shift for you in the right direction. As I’m sure you know, writing that letter felt bad; it was super scary and uncomfortable to write let alone put it on the internet. It felt super fucking good at the same time. It was also so liberating! Which is why it felt right. Abuse of any kind is really hard to talk about, however, I’ve been realizing just how important it was to talk about. Not only for yourself but for women, and people anywhere who’s found themselves in a toxic situation. You were able to write about your experience in such a candid and fair way because you were far enough away from that part of yourself that you were able to see it clear as day. You were able to see the bigger picture, you were able to accept it, forgive your abuser, and let it be. That part of yourself no longer serves you, you recognized it and you let it die. YAAAAAAAAS GIRL!!!

But here I am again about to break your heart yet again and let you in on some news that I know you know deep in your heart; this isn’t over. In fact, it’s only just begun. This isn’t going to play out how you originally thought. You’re not just going to write one or two heartfelt, painful letters to yourself. You actually have so, so many letters to write. You have to be brave and fight for yourself, and for what you believe in. You know that you have to anchor yourself in your dreams, values, and beliefs but you must be flexible in how you achieve them. You may not have thought at first that maybe this would be an avenue for you to live out your dreams, and yet here you are doing it. When you wrote your first blog post for 2018, you felt a burning sensation that just wouldn’t go away. You knew that it was important to write about your experience and to put it out in the universe. That was the beginning of your powerful and necessary journey to rediscover your power. You even wrote in that very blog your intention for this year was to find your power. Well bitch, this is your power. You’ve been told your entire life how you’re so loud, that your voice carries. Your voice has always been, and will forever be powerful. You know that. Which is why you know that you have to keep using your power, using your voice to fight for yourself. Your own wellness, and well the wellness of others as well.

You are a strong, powerful, opinionated, educated, able-bodied woman who has a talent for writing. You’re a storyteller. This has never been new to you but I’m here to remind you of this power. Words have always held power for you. Ever since you were a part of the “writing club” in elementary school. Why do you think you like writing this blog in the first place? Why has using a journal been so helpful? Why do you think you’ve fallen deeply in love with reading again? It’s not a coincidence. It’s a calling. A call that you now must answer. If you believe strongly in health and wellness then you need to use your ability as a story-teller to help convey that message to as many people as possible. You know that wellness is holistic. You know that mental health, physical health, emotional health, and spiritual health are all important. They must all be balanced in order for you to be the highest version of yourself. You must always strive to achieve this balance for yourself and part of doing that is writing your pain for others to see. For whatever it just feels right. It’s scary and it’s hard but you know you have a voice and you must use that voice to speak about things that are difficult to talk about. Pain and suffering is part of the human condition. Bad things happen to everyone, good or bad, rich or poor, it really doesn’t discriminate. But wellness can also be had by all. Wellness is something that you must always be working towards. You are the happiest, most positive, most loving, most powerful person when you’re working everyday at being the highest version of yourself. You have always seen yourself as a leader, but now you know that in order to be a leader you must always do your best to BE a leader. A leader in the wellness community. A leader that brings love, compassion, and integrity to EVERYTHING she does. Your writing, your classes, your private sessions with your clients because at the end of the day this is bigger than you.

By breaking yourself down in front of the “world” (the people who read your blog) you are not only able to build yourself back up, but maybe someone else as well? I’ve realized that there is power in making yourself vulnerable through these letters. Every time you write about your own experiences, and the lessons you had to learn, you are stepping more and more into the light. And when you step into the light, you will look over your shoulder and see that you’re not alone. That there are actually many people who know your pain too. People who are working through their own turmoil. Pain is relative. Everyone experiences pain in their lives, it is through your courage that you face your fears, your pain, and therefore let them go.

Image result for fear begets fear cheryl strayed

As the author Cheryl Strayed has said that quotes are little instruction manuals for the soul and I have to say that I agree. Like I’ve said above, there is power in words and your voice is powerful. Use it to regain your power, to be more in alignment for what you believe is your soul’s purpose. I know that you know, that you were made to serve others. You were put on this earth to do everything you can to lead people to bettering themselves and therefore bettering the world. But in order to do that you must do that for yourself first. You have to continue down this path of vulnerability to reach a higher version of yourself, and when you are at your best, it will encourage others to hopefully do the same. The best in you will therefore inspire the best in others. You need to believe that and keep fighting. Fight for your wellness, and the wellness of others. I know you believe that this is your soul’s purpose, but it’s going to be hard. Exposing yourself in this way, is painful but it’s powerful. You know that there’s great opportunity in candidly sharing your story with others. It’s a big part of who you are, how you came to be, but letting it go and putting it out in the universe also frees you to be whoever you were meant to be. Your highest version.

Keep fighting, use your power.

Alexandra Rinaldo


Are you brave enough to break your own heart? A letter to myself before I turn 29.

Dear: Alexandra,

It only seems fitting that you write your last series of blog posts before turning 29 next week in the form of a letter addressed to yourself. This is probably the hardest thing you’ve ever convinced yourself to write, and who knows what’s going to happen after you press the “publish” button here on WordPress and all of a sudden this letter no longer belongs to you. Once you’ve put this letter out into the universe it will be an official letting go of a bunch of shit that you’ve been holding on to your entire twenties. A bunch of shit that no longer serves you, and is in fact weighing you down. I want my last year of my twenties to be of liberation, so that when my 30th birthday rolls around it’s not filled with dread. I’ve never really been afraid of getting older because I’ve never thought of myself as old, and I still don’t feel that way. I feel like my life has only just begun, and there’s still plenty of things to learn, see, and do, which is why I feel like this letter is so important. I have no idea what the future will hold, but I know that if I want my life to be full of happiness, love, and abundance, there’s a lot of shit that I need to let go of. I need to break your heart Alex, and let go of this idea of who Alex is. I need to be brave enough to admit all of my faults; to let myself be truly vulnerable. This is the first step to acceptance and growth. As I’ve mentioned in my previous post, you can’t change your reality for the better until you accept it first. You need to be honest about exactly what you’re dealing with in order to make a lasting change.

So here it goes. Ever since I’ve made reading, writing a journal, writing my blog, meditation, podcasts made by people I admire, and yoga more of a regular practice (I pretty much try to do most of these things daily), I’ve made great strides in my own personal self-healing and overall growth. I’ve learned a lot about myself, and the things that I convinced myself were true, but aren’t. I’ve really done my absolute best to dig deep, and to be present. I’ve realized a lot about the language I’ve been using to describe myself, not only to myself but to others. I’ve realized that I am a pretty good story-teller, and I’m pretty good at convincing others of my shit, including myself. However, when I say that I feel like so much has changed in the last two months of 2018, I really do mean it! But if I was truly honest, this wave of change began way before my New Years Eve breakdown. I felt the reckoning coming for a while. The people who know me the best, know this to be true as well. I’ve been saying that I want to change, that I want to be better, and do better for myself ever since I’ve moved to Toronto in September 2016. That is when I would say that I was asking for change the most. Even in my blog posts at the time, if you read them, there was a promise of change. The problem was, I really didn’t know how this change would look like, or how it would feel. Or I knew how all along, I just wasn’t open to the idea just yet. I was still very much trapped in fear, trapped in my own Ego. If you want me to get super real, I haven’t been as happy as I thought I was when I was attending school at Laurier. I convinced myself that, that was the happiest time for myself, and so I’ve held on strong to this version of Alex for a long time. Until now, when I’ve finally realized that this version of Alex no longer serves me. She never really existed. Well she did, but not as how you would like to remember her, and so here is the breaking of your heart Alex.

This past Tuesday you did a Yoga with Kassandra video in your Toronto home, and it was a Yin Yoga meditation focusing on the Sacral Chakra of Creativity and Sensuality. This is the third chakra video that you’ve followed made by Kassandra, and every time you have discovered something new about yourself. Generally, in these video she has come up with a mantra pertaining to each chakra, or if you’re focusing on one particular chakra all of the mantras said throughout the practice deal with the different aspects of that chakra. When you did this particular video, the mantra “I am open and receptive to connection and intimacy,” didn’t sit right with you because you knew that you’re weren’t ready for connection and intimacy just yet. If anything you had no real desire to talk to men in a romantic way at all because you felt as though you didn’t have the energy for it right now. Which is all really true, and totally okay. But why? Especially when most people know that what you want most in the world is true love with a romantic partner. You want a family of your own and someone to fight alongside you through life. So why do you feel as though you’re not ready for this right now? Well, you’ve told your friends that you want to focus on yourself, your finances this year, and your business. This is true, and you are already doing this to better all these aspects of your life, but why aren’t you ready to for romantic love?

We know it’s not because you’re incapable of love, because you have many loving relationships with your friends and family, but for some reason you’re constantly experiencing a Ground Hog Day scenario when it comes to your boyfriends. In many ways they all seem to be similar versions of the same guy, you’re only truly conscious of this fact now through your own self-reflection and meditation. But why are all these guys so similar to one another? Well, that answer came to you as clear as day after you reflected on your conversation with your roommate about her sister’s manipulative ex boyfriend. She was telling you how her sister was finally being honest about how terribly manipulative, and emotionally abusive her boyfriend really was, and that she had no idea that this was even happening. In fact, your roommate had believed that this guy was really great because on the surface he seemed great. You said that you could relate because your university boyfriend turned into a manipulative, and emotional abusive ex boyfriend. You went into detail about the shitty things he said and did during your fourth year of university, that I don’t need to repeat in this letter. However, after you left that conversation on Thursday night, you meditated on what you said and realized that every time you brought up the terrible things your university ex boyfriend did, you only talked about the things he did post break-up. If anything you never, admitted to yourself, or to anyone else that he was actually not a great boyfriend either. And if you did, you didn’t fully believe it. Sure, you both were very much in love with each other, but that love did blind you to the toxicity of that relationship. There were warning signs, and you know it. You knew it all along, but why was it so hard to admit that he wasn’t a good boyfriend? He was your first true love, but he was also a big lesson as well. He used you as an emotional crutch because he had a lot of his own shit that he was going through that he was never able to be honest about with you, or anyone else, including himself. That doesn’t make him a bad person, though this is something that you’ve told yourself ever since you broke up because it helped with the pain. He did a lot of hurtful things to you, he would guilt trip you, he cheated on you, and he would constantly depend on you for almost everything. It was exhausting and yet you still loved him. I know you felt stupid after the breakup, and after you saw just how terrible he was treating you post breakup. You were so upset with yourself for not knowing that he cheated, and for allowing him to manipulate you and make you feel bad for him as a means of keeping you around. But even still, you had and always will have love for him and THAT is even harder to admit.

For a while you hated him. You hated him so, so much. Now he doesn’t really seem to affect you, or so you thought. Yet here we are. It’s okay Alex that you loved him, that you still have love for him, and that he hurt you terribly. It doesn’t make you any less of a person. It doesn’t make him a good person, or a bad person, just human. You are both human. You were also very young. He made mistakes, he was in pain and unfortunately there was nothing that you could do to help at the time. He would never have been able to be the guy you needed him to be, and the love that you had for each other was real but it no longer serves you. It is not the love you need, nor is it the love you deserve. Whether or not you find true love, even though it is a wish of yours, may never come true if you don’t acknowledge the process healing you had to endure during your twenties. This is your final goodbye to your university ex boyfriend, who was in fact not a very good boyfriend to you at all. It was a toxic relationship when you were together and it was even more so when you were out of it. You loved him, you hated him, and now you have forgiven him. Now you know that he had his own pain that he unfortunately was inflicting on you because he did not know at the time what to do with it. That sucks. It’s not right, it will never be right, but it happened, and it’s going to keep on happening until you realize that it has nothing to do with you. This bullshit happens to many people all of the time, but it doesn’t have to define you either. Let it go. It’s over, and now you can truly move on in a very real way. You may have thought you’ve moved on but you didn’t. It wasn’t until you woke up after that conversation with your roommate where you realized that you’ve only been speaking about the negative aspects of your relationship with him from the breakup onwards, but your rarely ever speak about the hard times when you were together. That’s when you knew that he wasn’t his best self with you as much as he should have been. Nobody is perfect, but we can strive to be our best selves the majority of the time, especially when it comes to those we love. And for whatever reason he just could not do that for you. That’s hard to admit, because you loved him so, but it’s the truth. Now that you know all of this, and you have put it out into the universe, it no longer has power over you.

It’s weird to finally realize that by trying to not let it have power of me, it actually had power of me all this time. Pretending that it wasn’t there only made it more present in my life (all the boys I’ve dated who were just not right). Now that I’ve realized the power of presence and meditation, I can finally free myself of the burdens that I’ve been carrying through out my twenties. Goodbye university boyfriend, goodbye forever. Now that this part of you is gone, you can now be fully open to the possibility of true love, the love you’ve always wanted for yourself but could never figure out why it wasn’t happening.

You’re welcome.

Alexandra Rinaldo

love quote

Quote by Cheryl Strayed. I want to love myself and everyone else for real and to do so I must be real. I feel compelled to write these letters because I do believe in health and wellness. Healing both physically and emotionally is a big part of that.