One last peak at 2018 before I fully embrace 2019

I took just over a two week break from blogging for the holidays. I really just wanted to be with my family and friends. I spent a lot of time reflecting and remembering what things were like for me at this time last year. Man, last year at this time I was so fucking scared. It seems like a long time ago in comparison to how I feel right now; but at the same time it feels like it was just yesterday when I had a full breakdown at New Years Eve 2018. All I could think about was how unhappy I was and how badly I wanted and needed things to change. I was determined to get myself out of my despair, and to make some serious changes in my life but I was also so unsure of how I was going to do it, or if all the things I had planned out for myself in 2018 would work out.Despite all the confusion and fear, I didn’t know what else to do. So, I put my faith in God and wrote my first blog post of 2018. I literally couldn’t sleep, all I could think about was how I needed to get my emotions, my intentions out and blogging was the only thing that felt right. It was the only thing I could do. So, alone in my room listening to J. Cole I made my intentions for 2018 public and used that post as a mark for the very first day of the rest of my life.

Writing that blog post at the time may seem arbitrary to some, but it was the grandest gesture of love that I had done for myself in a really long time. It was also the most honest thing that I had written in a really long time. I don’t know about you, but for my entire life, whenever I would get really scared, I would not be able to make a single sound. Riding roller coasters as a kid, there would be moments where the fear that comes with the thrill of those rides would literally take my breath away. My stomach would fall out of my butt, and I would be mute until the fear went away and suddenly my voice would come back. That’s what it felt like when I was in the depths of my despair. I just shut down entirely. I would ball my eyes out and punish myself ruthlessly for being in such a bad place. This would only keep me from making healthy decisions. It was a vicious cycle of me being sad and afraid, putting on a brave face because I couldn’t let anyone really know just how afraid I felt because it would only make me feel more afraid. Then I would make some unhealthy decision to try and numb the fact that I was deeply afraid, and I had monsters that I just couldn’t bring myself to face. Then I would feel guilty for making that unhealthy decision. And the wheel keeps spinning.

Eventually, I would feel so much guilt that I would feel guilty about every decision that made me happy because I didn’t think I deserved happiness. I felt like I was fucking up so much at life that I didn’t deserve to go out, see my friends, spend any money on myself; anything really. I felt like I didn’t deserve anything. I would date guys who were so emotionally unavailable that when I needed them the most they were nowhere to be found. I mean they could literally be in the same room as me, and it would fee like I was completely alone. It was fucking exhausting. This mental warfare that I was raging against myself was exhausting. So exhausting that it prevented any motivation to do anything. I would Netflix and chill with the cat on a steady basis.

I’m heavily extroverted but I would only see my friends at party situations so that it would be really difficult to speak honestly with them. These were just some of the tactics I used to keep myself at an arms length from the people who cared about me the most. I fought a lot with my family. I lied a lot to them because I was so afraid of letting them know how much of a disappointment I was. I was so ashamed. No one had to shame me, and if they did, they were just reflecting the shame I was putting on to myself. I could see how afraid my parents were for my well-being, and their fear only added gasoline to the fire that I felt was blazing all around me. It was so hard to be around them because they reminded me of all the fear that I felt on a constant basis. Everything that I was too afraid to face, they would in a lot of ways would force me to face by being afraid themselves.

These were the fears, and feelings that I had walking into 2018. This was all my emotional baggage that I had to finally face in order to move my life forward in a constructive way. Looking back now, I’m so grateful to all of the people in my life who were honest with me. The people who helped me to take a deep look into the mirror and to see myself not for all my faults, and mistakes, but as a human being. Someone who is flawed but perfect and beautiful at the same time. Thank you Alexandra Rinaldo for listening. Thank you for being patient, loving, and understanding with yourself. Thank you for taking the time to take proper care of yourself and your dreams. Thank you for loving yourself enough to commit to yourself 150%. Thank you for being honest. Thank you for choosing to step towards the light despite how dark everything seemed to be. Thank you for finding your voice. Thank you for speaking out. It is because of you Alexandra that you can look back at this time last year with kindness in your heart. You can look back with loving eyes and with pride because of how far you’ve come. The Alexandra that you were then hasn’t gone just yet but you are much closer to letting that person go than ever before. She’s fading into the background. One day you won’t be able to recognise her. When that day comes it will be bittersweet; just like this blog post; full of love.

This year, as I had stated in my last blog post; https://alexrinaldo.wordpress.com/2018/12/18/concluding-2018-my-intention-recap/ I will be focusing on bringing more love into my life. I could not think of a better way to start doing that then by spending time with the people who love me most, this includes time that I devoted completely to myself. Something that I didn’t particularly enjoy before 2018. However, it was during 2018 that I had to learned how to be happy with myself, and by myself. I had to learn to love myself again in order to find my power. Without love, there would be no way that I would believe that I had any power at all. I’m still working on it but man has the love for myself grown. I feel so much happier and at peace with myself. I’m a lot more confident and optimistic for this year because I feel like I’ve put in the work. I’m ready to reap the benefits. I made a lot of hard choices. I humbled myself like I’ve never been humbled before. I poured my heart out onto the internet. I volunteered to clean a yoga studio every Friday evening in exchange for yoga. I decided to leave fitness entirely and to change my career path completely. I left my place in Liberty Village to move back into my parent’s place for a little while so that I could take better care of my health, save some money, and switch career paths. None of these decisions have been easy but they’ve been right. I know they’re right because the more I listen to myself and trust myself the quicker my life seems to improve. I feel so much more in touch with who I am as a person then I’ve felt in a really long time. I’m going to keep loving myself in this way because I know that this love will continue to spill out into all of my relationships, and life pursuits. There is literally nothing you can’t accomplish with a heart full of love.


Remembering Who You Are; Part Three

I have been thinking over and over again about how I would like to write this article. I was mostly thinking about how grateful I am; you know, counting my blessings. When I realized that what I really want to say is so much more than just gratitude even though that is a major part of it. I’ve learned so much this year that I cant help but share it! Not only does this keep it fresh in my mind, but when you share love, love comes back to you. Remembering who I am and where I came from has had a profound effect on my life, and how I see myself and my circumstances and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Spending a lot of quality time with family earlier in October reminded me of where a lot of these gifts came from. I am so grateful to God for showing me so much about my life that I couldn’t live without. Literally. Practices that keep me at my best, practices that have prevented me from falling further into depression, God has taught me through my family. It is because of the lessons that my family has taught me that I was able to build my own strong family of friends. People who support me in all aspects of my life. I couldn’t be more grateful for the quality relationships that I have been able to establish throughout my life. The fact that I have many people who take the time to think about me at all is amazing! It fills my heart with so much joy to know the love that exists in my life and I’m so grateful that I’ve learned to take the time to appreciate it all because it is so easy to forget when we get caught up in the daily grind of life. You can easily get swept away in the tidal waves of emotions that a single person can experience in one day.

However, it is through the very humbling experience of learning how to properly take care of all aspects of my well-being that  I was able to recognize these gifts and implement them into my life. My Nonno Dino on my Dad’s side of the family is to me, a symbol of what it means to take care of yourself. He taught me a lot about what it means to be the best version of yourself every single day. I am so proud that he is my Grandfather. Our relationship wasn’t always perfect but he has given me a tremendous gift, and I am forever grateful. Nonno Dino is a leader, someone who walks the walk, and leads by example. I went with my Father to visit my grandparents during the Thanksgiving weekend. I’m glad that all things considered, they are relatively healthy, and happy. However, my Nonno recently turned 87, and his health is significantly better than the health of my Nonna who is 82. Nonna, who has always been your typical 1950s house wife of Italian decent, was always taking care of and putting everyone else’s well-being above her own. A lot of people confuse “well being” with physical safety. A lot of people think that if you’re not currently experiencing a mortal threat, then you aren’t in danger. Reading this, I’m sure you know that, that is not true. You need to pay attention to the warning signs before they get to an unavoidable situation.

However, it is never too late! Obviously, the sooner the better, but I will never deny someone who needs to be healed, because I know that every person who comes to you in pain is an opportunity to heal both you and them. That is why I take this blog so seriously. My grandmother has Dementia, and she has literally lost the ability to take care of herself. My grandfather who has always made a practice of self-care is in relatively good health. Other than a pacemaker, he still exercises everyday and does his best to take care of my grandmother in any way he can. He’s even learned how to do simple cooking and cleaning. The only reason he was able to learn these new skills so late in life is because he has very strong habits built into his everyday life. Skills that he’s learned at a very young age. For my entire life, my grandfather has always exercised. Every day, he does some sort of physical activity. He has always been active his whole life. He played soccer, skied, he lifted weights, gardened, rode his bike, or at the very least he would go on a walk with Nonna every day after dinner. He still gardens, goes for walks, completes household chores. He’s in excellent shape for an 87 year old man.

My grandfather would keep his mind active, he was always working on something. I remember as kids, my grandfather had a huge garden. He grew grapes, he had apple and pear trees, a tomato garden, he grew so many different types of vegetables! He made his own wine and moonshine. He would fix his own car, he had many habits, hobbies and skills. He would always say things like, “if you don’t use it, you loose it.” He’s right. My grandmother spent the majority of her life, thinking and worry about other people. She didn’t take much time for herself to pursue her hobbies. She didn’t exercise as much as my grandfather did. I’m not blaming my grandmother. Her circumstances were completely different. She didn’t have the same freedoms and societal expectations as my grandfather. However, it is because of the sacrifices that my entire family has made, that I am able to grow up in a situation where I can look back and see the difference. I have the choice. Thank you God for helping me to see these important gifts that both my grandparents have given me, and my entire family. Thank you for helping recognize the importance of choice, and how much power I have over my own well being.

In reality, my grandparents are the reason why I live in Canada. My grandparents on both sides of my family made huge sacrifices. Left Italy and everything they knew to start over in Canada. Yes, their siblings came with them, but at the end of the day all they really had were one another. It was because of them that I have the amazing parents that I have, and the life that I have. It’s not just the importance of self-care that I’ve learned from my grandparents but all of the greatest life lessons have come from them. If they can come to a new country, learn a new language, find jobs, build a family and a home from nothing, there is nothing that I cannot do. My nonni (grandparents) inspire me every single day when I think back and realize all that they have done for me, I don’t think I know of a greater love.

Photo of Nonno Dino Rinaldo, Nonna Maria Rinaldo and Nonna Maria Battaglia

My Grandparents celebrating “Grandparent’s Day” (my Mom’s idea). Missing Nonno Battaglia who passed away before this photo was taken.


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.


My Quest For Happiness; A Reflection of The Past Month

About a week ago was February 1st, the beginning of the month, and it was also Groundhog Day. You might be asking yourself, who cares? Trust me, I feel you; who cares about Groundhog Day? It does seem like a very pointless holiday, however, it helped me piece together all of the things I’ve been learning this month through practicing mindfulness, or presence if you will (yoga, meditation, and writing a personal journal), and through my quest for happiness, which I will now change to my quest for balance. How did this holiday inspire my writing of this piece? Well, I remembered the movie Groundhog Day (1993) starring Bill Murray. This is a very funny movie, that I watched a long time ago with my Dad. I highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it, but basically the take away lesson of the movie is this; if you don’t learn from your mistakes you are doomed to repeat them. As they say, history always repeats itself, but I’m here to say that it doesn’t have to. In the movie Bill’s character gets stuck reliving Groundhog Day over and over again, and he is the only one conscious of this phenomenon. So he is stuck in his own personal hell, until he finds a way to break free of this cycle of it always being Groundhog Day. This is a very good metaphor for your everyday personal life, because if you think about it, we tend to make the same mistakes over and over again. If you reflect on your life I’m sure you can think of the many times you have lost or broken your phone, or the countless partners you have chosen who were never quite right, or just about anything in your life that you just can’t seem to get right. Why is that?

Well, first off, you can’t fix anything that you can’t see. If you’re not aware of this pattern, and I mean fully aware of it, then you can’t possibly fix it. There’s a difference between what you think you know, and what you actually know. You may “think,” you know why you keep doing the things you’re doing, but from my own personal journey, I’ve realized that thinking alone isn’t going to fix the problem. A lot of times, your thoughts are what stop you from being fully present in the moment. Your thoughts aka your fears are what cloud your judgement, and have you in this endless cycle of unhappiness; because what you end up doing is playing out your thoughts in your life, and therefore your fears end up becoming your reality. How do I fix that? How do I escape this “Groundhog Day” cycle of history repeating itself, and of me having a hard time being completely happy? The answer: 1. You need to work on being present in EVERY situation, or at least as much as possible. The more aware you are of your surroundings, the people in your life (good or bad), the opportunities around you, your thoughts, your feelings, the better you’ll be able to make healthier choices for yourself, and the better you’ll be able to find balance and/or happiness. 2. Once you are more present, and aware of yourself, the better you’ll be able to understand your past choices and accept them for what they are. You first need to accept the reality that you are in before you can change it. You MUST be honest about your reality, and who you are NOW in order to make a positive lasting change. If you’re always thinking about the person you should be, or the person you used to be, you will never be happy with the person you are now. You will never be able to change the things that are stopping you from being the person you know in your heart you could be because your head is telling you all the reasons why you can’t. “You can’t run like you used to, so why bother trying.” “You’re so fat, you need to be more like so and so, they have the life that you want.” Your thoughts or your Ego is what is stopping you by telling you stories about who you are, and what you can and cannot do. Even if you “try” to accomplish something in your life, like working out regularly, if you keep calling yourself “fat” for example, if you fail, the blow is easier on you because you have already told yourself you’re fat and so therefore you aren’t capable of regular workouts. You have told yourself this story about how you’re a fat person, and most likely you’re not even aware of all the choices you’ve made in your life that fulfill this story of you being a “fat” person. This is how you get stuck in your own personal hell, or Groundhog Day, and you can never escape it until you realize how you put yourself there in the first place.

It’s so funny, because in a way by writing this article, I’m also repeating some of the words I’ve said in articles that I’ve written in the past about chasing your dreams, letting go of your ego etc. I’ve touched on this subject many times, and each time I have learned something new, but not enough to break through the cycle. Life really does come full circle all the time, it’s as if a kid was scribbling a circle overlapping another circle over and over again. Even this article is coming full circle from the article I wrote at the beginning of 2018 about Resolutions. The only way to not repeat this circle, and to break the cycle is to pay attention to the lessons you face each and everyday. You may have a moment of clarity where everything makes sense, and you feel as though things are finally got things right, you’re on the right path, and then for some reason you lose it. You fall back into old habits. Maybe not to the same degree, but you still aren’t as far along in your progress as you would like to be. The key here is to not let this idea slow you down, because that is all it is. Only you have told yourself that what you are doing, who you are right now etc. isn’t enough. That is your Ego talking. Your ego is the voice in your head that is always talking to you, your ego is your thoughts, and your thoughts cause emotional responses that only reinforce your original thoughts. Both your emotions, and your thoughts will then dictate your choices, and your actions. You need to be mindful of this. This is the first step to breaking through a Groundhog Day scenario.

This may seem simple enough but it’s really not. The Ego does a really good job of convincing you that it is who you are. It convinces you that you are whatever you call yourself, fat, skinny, fit, pretty, ugly, old, poor. It also convinces you that what you “have” is a part of who you are. If you have a spouse, you’re married and that has a status, or if you own a house you are a homeowner, and again, that has a status. These ideas only feed your ego. Your ego will feed on anything in order to help define itself. I have cancer, I’m sick, therefore some people may use that to define themselves as a victim. Either way, having cancer is your reality, whether or not you are a victim is up to you. The situation which is cancer is neutral, it neither makes you more or less of a person. However, the stories that you tell yourself, about yourself do make you feel more or less of a person, but that doesn’t make it true. Also, the situation of cancer isn’t permanent. You can either overcome it, or succumb to it, again this does not say anything about you personally. It just means you’re human. Another example, what happens if you lose the house? Do you lose who you are too? Does it make you less of a person? For your ego, it does. Your ego will have a hard time with this loss, and it will therefore redefine itself through your thoughts and emotions maybe as a victim of loss. Your ego will separate you from the present, it will cloud your judgement, and make this loss a personal loss. You are not your house, your body, your career, and so on. Why? Because none of this shit matters when you die. All of these things are temporary, and when they’re gone the world still turns, and you are still you. All of those things can be taken away at any minute, and so you shouldn’t limit yourself to these things. They have value for sure, and they are a part of your life, but they aren’t who you are. They are a part of who you are, but they are subject to change, and when they do, for good or for bad, it shouldn’t change the person you are.

The problem is, to do that is difficult. You cannot simply remove your ego from yourself, it is a part of you. Especially when we live in a very egocentric world, it can be difficult to break free of this cycle of constantly needing more things, more money, more status, more of everything because your ego is never satisfied with the now. Once you have achieved a goal, or something good has come into your life, it is very easy to then slip back into the cycle of looking forward to the next big thing instead of being appreciative of what is happening now. This is unconsciousness. Never being present. Always looking to the future for more, or dwelling on the past. You are never satisfied with who you are now, because who you are now is never good enough. You are living in a constant state of scarcity or lack. And social media feeds your ego even more so than almost anything else we have in today’s society. It is a big reason why so many of us feel unhappy. First of all, most of us only post photos of the things we’re proud of, the things that make us feel good about ourselves. This boosts our ego, “look, I’m fit,” or “look I have a new house.” Then other people feed our egos by liking or commenting on our photos. This approval makes us feel good, our ego needs that and will then post more photos like it to get the energy it needs. However, as most of us know, none of that is real. A lot of it is filtered and it is only a fragment of our lives, so why do we put so much emphasis on it? Why do we care so much? Simple answer, our ego. Even negative feedback is still a reaction, your ego is still getting attention and will then fight back in order to reinforce itself. Either way your ego gets stronger. Basically, there is nothing wrong with wanting to share things on social media but be mindful of why you’re posting it in the first place. Do the likes and comments on your photos matter? Is it ever really satisfying? Because if it was, then we wouldn’t always be on it, always posting, always seeking more attention. Even if you don’t post much on social media, a lot of us use it to measure ourselves up against others. Again, this only keeps you in a state of lack, and it never moves you forward. You never grow, and you never end up where you want to be because you’re so focused on what you don’t have.

Like I said in my first article of 2018, “there’s no such thing as a life that’s better than yours,” Love Yourz by J.Cole. There is always going to be someone out there who seems to have more, who is more, but you will never know what you have unless you stop looking to others as a measure of your own success. “There’s beauty in the struggle,” again a quote from the same song. Basically, there’s beauty in the present, you just have to wake up and smell the roses. Be grateful for what you do have, appreciate the love in your life, and then share that with others. These are the things that are pushing you forward. The more you open your eyes to the things, the people, and the opportunities around you the happier you’ll be. It is so much easier to see the ego in others, and therefore it is much easier to pass along good advice. However, a lot of times those same people are a reflection of the ego in you. You tend to gravitate to the people who share the same thoughts and opinions as you, so a lot of times, those people also share a lot of the same fears as you. The ego that you see in them you can also recognize in yourself, that is why it’s so easy to see it in the other person. Hence the Alice in Wonderland quote from my first 2018 article “I give myself very good advice but I very seldom follow it.” Usually the advice you give to others is the same advice you need to hear yourself, the problem is you were to blinded by ego to see it.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that we all need to pay more attention, or else our egos and life in general are just going to get the best of us. I know this, because ever since I’ve made a conscious effort to be more present, I’ve realized how much of my life I haven’t been present. Always in my own head. I used to joke about it with family and friends that I sometimes live in La La Land. I never really thought of it as a problem, I just thought it was who I was. Alex just lives in her own world sometimes. But that’s not true. I’m not the only one who does this, and it doesn’t have to define me. Because living in a dream state, worrying about the future and fretting about the past alienates you from the present. Your thoughts can consume you and take you to a different place, and sometimes when you realize that you’ve left this planet for a second it’s too late. Something usually negative has happened to shock you awake, a fender bender, dropping your phone, breaking a glass, all usually occur because your head wasn’t in the game, you were distracted. More and more people are no longer living in the present. Distracted driving is a real thing. Our phones, social media, only feeds our thoughts, and fears. They help in keeping us distracted from the things happening right in front of us, instead we are worried about our next meeting, a deadline; constantly fixated on the things we need to do, to have, or accomplish. Fender benders, breaking your phone are just small examples, but a lot of the things that go wrong in our lives are because of us, whether you’re ready to admit that yet or not. Obviously, you don’t have control over everything that happens to you, but if you look back and you’re really honest about your mistakes, a lot of the time, it had nothing to do with you skills, or knowledge, it was mostly because your head wasn’t in the game. The moment you realize that “you” or the person who you think you are isn’t the problem, but the thoughts and fears that you constantly replay in your life are, that is when you can really make positive and lasting changes in your life. Why? Because the choices that you make out of presence, and mindfulness will come from a place of love and not fear. Presence allows you to separate your fears from reality, it stops you from personalizing everything in your life as a reflection of who you are for better or worse. Good things will happen, and bad things will happen, and only you can control your reaction to those things. However, the only way to make a positive change is to first take a moment, take a deep breath, try to calm yourself down, relax your mind from spinning out of control, and follow your heart. You know what to do, you know who to be, it’s your head that’s trying to tell you “protect” you with fear, but only your heart truly knows pure joy. Fear and joy live in the same space, the key is to live a life with courage. What is courage? Courage is accepting your fears, knowing that they exist and doing what makes you happy anyway. The more aware you are of your own thoughts and fears, the smaller they become, until they fully disappear. You can be and have whatever you want, you need to fully believe this by acknowledging and overcoming your fears. This is what I have been learning, and this is what I’ve been practicing and will continue to practice. This is something that you must strive to do always, if you don’t ever want to live in a Groundhog state again.

 

Image result for fear is a reaction courage is a decision meaning

Sir Winston Churchill


New Year’s Resolutions should be based on what makes you happy, and not based on what you think you should have…

Happy New Year! It’s officially 2018 and many of us have done some reflecting on the year past, and I’m sure many of us are now looking forward to the new year and all the possibilities that it brings. You don’t really need New Year’s Eve to decide to make a change in your life, but since many of us have decided to at least think about some of the things we want to see in 2018 (many of these things being fitness related) I decided to write a post that may help you with some of your fitness resolutions or your resolutions in general.

Over the past few months, but especially over the Christmas Holidays, I have been doing a lot of reflecting myself. I have thought a lot about the things that I want in my life, how I am currently living my life, and the gap between these two things. My intention for 2018 is to close the gap. However, I have also realized that if happiness is something that you ultimately want to achieve, losing 10 lbs, or getting that new job, won’t necessarily bring you the happiness that you desire. There’s nothing wrong with wanting more for yourself. You should always strive for personal growth, but it is the growth itself that brings joy, not the tangible goals. This is something that I’ve been learning, something that I couldn’t get out of my head last night. The lyrics from the song Love Yourz by J.Cole, “no such thing as a life that’s better than yours, no such things as a life that’s better than yours, no such thing, no such thing…” kept playing in my head over and over again. I literally had to apply some meditative breathing to slow down my thoughts so that I could actually get some rest. J.Cole is one of my favorite rappers. I love his music and his message, and I especially love this song. I think it’s such an important message, one that I think we need to keep reminding ourselves of. Most rappers flaunt all the things they have, as if that is important, and then you have J.Cole telling you that none of that really matters, because there’s always going to be someone out there who seems to have more than what you have. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and you’re never going to be happy until you love and appreciate the things you do have. When you are unhappy, or if you feel like you could be more happy, it’s easy to look to social media and think about all the things you don’t have. This will only keep you unhappy. “Comparison is the thief of joy,” as they say.

Social media only shows the glamour, all you see is “success” but you rarely see the struggle. You rarely see the journey that it took to get to that point. Referencing the same song Love Yourz “there’s beauty in the struggle…” This may seem hard to believe because so much of us are so focused on the end goal. We are so focused on having the perfect body, the perfect partner, the perfect life. It seems like we are always looking to others to fulfill ourselves, as if someone else has a better idea of how we can be a better/happier person. When you look at Instagram for example, it seems like these people have perfect lives, and perfect bodies. All you see are these beautifully presented dishes of healthy food, with these beautiful backdrops. It all looks so good! Who wouldn’t want that?! But no one ever really questions whether or not they really need those things to truly be happy? Instead, we are constantly focusing on the things we lack. I’m not saying that social media is all evil. It certainly is not! It’s a great place for us to connect with one another, to share ideas, and to lift each other up. It all depends on how the platform is used. It’s not the tool itself that’s bad, but it is how we use this tool, our intentions behind it. Constantly looking at your phone at beautiful images of other people is not going to change your life. You can most definitely learn from other people, but they cannot fix your problems, they can’t make you a happy person. Also, posting images of only the beautiful parts of your life is not going to mask the things that you are not happy with. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t celebrate the positives in your life. You most definitely should! All I’m saying is that running away from the things that scare you will not make them disappear. It’s very easy to pretend on social media, but what happens on Instagram or Facebook really doesn’t matter. For the most part, what we see on social media really doesn’t change our lives, only we have the power to change our lives.

It’s funny, I recently started reading this book called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, and on the fourth page I already found a nugget of truth that really spoke to me, “they say that people teach what they need to learn.” I read this line on the Go train yesterday and had a moment of realization. I am constantly teaching others to love and accept themselves. I’m constantly motivating others to be the best version of themselves, when I should really be doing that for myself. I’m always seeing the potential in others and doing all that I can to help those people realize that for themselves, but what about me? A quote from Alice in Wonderland, “she gave herself very good advice, though she very seldom followed it.” Here I am at the brink of 2018 feeling a huge amount of guilt because I know that I haven’t been the person I know I am. It was a huge weight sitting on my chest, it felt as though I couldn’t breath. Literally, just before midnight I had a breakdown. Thank God for my friends who were there for me, who helped me realize that I need to let this all go. I need to forgive myself for my mistakes, and I need to move on in order to be happy. I need to trust myself more. I know all there is to know about being happy because I’ve experienced it before. I know what makes me feel the most fulfilled. I know myself through and through, and I know that lately I have been lying to myself. So much so, that I’ve learned to not trust myself anymore. Now I find myself in a place where I don’t recognize who I am anymore. My intention for 2018 is to rediscover myself and my power, because I know that I am a strong and powerful person.

Now you may be asking yourself, why is she telling me all this stuff? What does any of this have to do with health and fitness? What does any of this have to do with my own resolutions and goals? First of all, I’m telling you all this because I felt like this was a big step in me being honest with myself, and being honest with the people who care about me most. I have not been as happy or motivated as I have been in the past. My life isn’t bad, but it’s not where I want to be, and I’ve come to realize that, that is okay. I may not be the person who I aspire to be yet, but that does not mean it’s impossible. I am everything that I need to be right now, and once I believe that completely there is nothing that I can’t do. I hope that this helps some of you realize the same thing. You are smart enough, strong enough, pretty enough, you are enough, and your life is enough. You have everything you need to be happy, and if you don’t, then you have the ability to change that.

What does this have to do with health and fitness? Your health and well-being is linked to your overall happiness. You will never have happiness if you don’t take care of your needs. Everyone has different physical, psychological, and emotional needs that need to be met on a daily basis in order to be happy. So, if happiness is the ultimate goal in life? Then you need to choose your fitness goals accordingly. Looking “perfect” won’t necessarily bring you happiness. Speaking from personal experience, I’ve done two bodybuilding shows, and at my second show I won second place. Looking back, I realize that it wasn’t the show itself that brought me happiness, or the body that I had. I mean I looked awesome, and that made me feel good, but, I didn’t love the things I had to do in order to achieve the condition I needed to be in for the stage, which is probably why I don’t plan on returning to the stage any time soon. But I did love all the things my body could do. I loved the challenge of prepping for a show. I loved the fact that I was taking time to take care of myself everyday. I wanted to win! And in order to win, I had to make myself a priority. I had to have all my meals prepped, I had to workout twice a day, and in order to do all of that I had to make a schedule and stick to it. This got me to be more organized, and productive. I loved that my show was an excuse for all my favorite people to come and support me, and celebrate with me. Even though they would have done this regardless of what I was doing. So, if you think about it? I loved all the byproducts that came from doing a show, not necessarily the show itself. The lesson that I’m trying to share with all of you is this: when you make yourself a priority and you take care of your needs first, you are more likely to be happy. And when you’re happy, you are better able to help make others happy as well.

This is a lesson that I am re-learning. I have allowed life and circumstance to get the best of me, and because of that I haven’t been meeting my needs in order to be happy. I haven’t been working out everyday. I haven’t had all my meals planned and prepped. I haven’t been as organized as I normally am, and therefore I haven’t been as  productive as I could be. The list goes on. However, I know how to do all of these things. I have done them before, and I know that I need these things in order to be happy. I need to feel productive, healthy, strong, and accomplished in order to be happy. I need to be around friends and family. I need to have fun, and let loose. I can go on and on, but basically for my New Years Resolutions this year, I do still have tangible goals that I want to achieve, however, I’m focusing more on my intentions for this year. What do I want to see happen for myself this year? Like I said earlier, I want to rediscover my power. Working out everyday, eating food that I’ve prepared that is healthy, setting a schedule and sticking to it, getting enough sleep, challenging myself in and out of my career, being with my friends and family, all of these things make me feel powerful. When I feel powerful, I feel like myself, and that is when I am the most happy. I like to think of myself as a fighter, and that is what I intend to be by the end of 2018. Best of luck with your own personal goals and intentions, but my advice to you (and to myself) is to love yours. Love yourself, love your life, be grateful for all that you have and for all that is to come. There’s no such thing as a life that’s better than yours, and you only get one, so once you believe that, you can be happy.

 

bond running

Crossing over into 2018 with some of the people I admire most ❤