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!


I Just Wanted You to Know…

Dear: Young Alexandra Rinaldo,

There are just a few things that I wanted you to know. I’ve realized a lot of things this year, and one of the biggest things I’ve realized is that I forgot who I was. I let a lot of darkness into my life, and this darkness dimmed my light. I decided that since this year is almost over, I would write out a few of the lessons that I’ve learned. Let this serve as a reminder of all the things you know deep in your heart to be true so that you may never again forget who you are.

four year old Alexandra Rinaldo in a dress and curls at a wedding

I brought this young photo of you home with me to Toronto, you’re probably 4 or 5 years old here. I know, you look older, but you’ve always looked older than your age during your childhood. You always had this maturity about you. I took this photo because it reminds me of you Alexandra. This is you at your best. This is you at your highest version. To me, there is no other photo that is as authentically you as this one. This photo also reminds me of one of your most vivid memories where you were able to attend a wedding that not many kids were allowed to go to, including your sisters. For the first time since sisters was born, you were able to have both of your parents all to yourself. Not only that, you got a new dress, shoes, and your hair professionally done. Look at you! Shining with your hair done, nails done, everything did! Holding a fancy champagne glass with punch! Work it girl! Plus you just have this look of confidence in your face. Who are you at 4/5 years old?! A Queen that’s for sure! And you knew it. I remember the feeling of being this tiny human under the giant dryer dome with rollers in your hair feeling special as fuck. Not only were you the only child in the salon, you were there right when it opened, so you basically had the place to yourself. I just wanted you to know that you are special, you are beautiful, and you most definitely are a Queen. You don’t have a crown in this photo but its implicitly there. Never forget who you are Alexandra. For a child of 4 or 5 years old, you seem pretty damn sure of it!

There was a time where you let the opinions of others rule how you felt about yourself. You needed a ton of validation to have yourself feel a little bit like the princess in this photo. Girl, you don’t need it. I just wanted you to know that your worth has never changed no matter what other people may have felt about you. Whatever negativity that was pushed your way, especially as a child, had absolutely nothing to do with you! Those adults who told you, you were too fat, called you “chubbina,” “husky,” or whatever is bullshit and they are just projecting their own self-hate unto you. Sucks, but it’s true. I just thought you should know because it’s so easy to forget. And your body or your beauty isn’t the most important thing about you. There was a good part of your life where you believed this to be true. You’ve spent part of your life hating your body and the way you looked, then when you realized that only a few people thought you were ugly but the vast majority thought the opposite, you spent the rest of the time trying to look “perfect.” Obsessing over your makeup, hair, and clothes. You love dressing up, and I will never tell you to stop but I will tell you that you don’t need to worry so much about your appearance. You’re beautiful baby with or without makeup, and boys liked you when you felt fat, ugly, and insecure, so chill. You have so much more to offer the world than just the way you look and people won’t ever be able to see that if you can’t see that for yourself.

This brings me to my next lesson; don’t be afraid of your intelligence. Don’t hide your intelligence because you think that people might like you more for it. It is such a waste of time and energy. You will always be intelligent, God gave you this gift! Don’t let it go to waste because you think that being beautiful is more important. It’s not. Your body has absolutely no worth without the power of the mind, I just thought you should know. Your mind has the power to create anything. It has the power to build you up or break you down but only you decide that. You’ve spent too much time using your own mind against yourself. All of the prayers, and pep talks you’ve given yourself, keep that shit up! It is the biggest factor to your success. This is something you will have to re-learn later on in life. Meditation, yoga, and your spirituality have been some of the greatest gifts to your sanity and the health of your mind. When your mind is healthy, everything else follows.

“Mind over matter is magic, I do magic.” – Frank Ocean

Alexandra, you have always given such good advice to everyone else but yourself. This is not the first time that I’ve told you this, but I want to make sure that it’s clear. When you speak to others and give them love, remember that you need to hear it too. Each and every person that comes into your life is an opportunity for you to grow as a human being and become closer to God. When you share love, you are sharing the holy spirit that is inside of you. We are all in this together. We are all souls living a human experience, and the best thing you could ever do for yourself and for others is to share love. Alexandra, your love was never meant for everyone else but you. No! It’s meant for you so that you can share it with the world, I just wanted you to know.

Alexandra, you will never know of your magnitude but know that it exists. Every time you think you don’t have an impact in this world, I want you to think about all the people in your life and the impact that they have had on you. I’m sure you can think of countless people who have affected you in some way. If you want to be successful, you have to share your magnitude with others. It is in your bigness or your light where people and things grow. This light will forever exist in your heart even when you have chosen to deny this for yourself. This denial of love for yourself comes from a deep sense of guilt and it will lead you to sorrow and pain, but know that you will find your way back. All roads lead to heaven. Even if you choose to go through the dark for a bit, there is always light and love and the end of the tunnel. Where does this guilt come from? It comes from all the pain, hurt, and fear that you’ve held in your heart. In an attempt to free yourself of this pain, you tried to project it onto others by blaming them for your hurt. However, the more you blame others, the bigger the victim you become and the more guilt you’ll feel. Guilt is a prison of the heart. It’s heavy, it weighs you down, and holds you in place. Nothing really grows in darkness except for darkness. Baby if you want to be happy, you need to understand that no one is guilty and no one is to blame for the things of the past. We are all just trying to do our best here on earth, and you don’t need accept darkness into your life. The only reason why those things of your past hurt you so much is because you believed them to be true. You chose darkness over light. You decided to make yourself small because you didn’t know of your magnitude. You are not small and no matter how many times others may try to make you small they never can, unless you allow them to.

Alexandra, life doesn’t happen in your past or in your future. Neither of them exist because neither of them are happening right now. Weird, I know. Life is happening right now, and if you keep holding on to the past, you will keep repeating it in your future, while you completely miss what’s happening right now. Presence is the single most important lesson of your entire life. It is in the present where peace and happiness lies, it is also where God lives. The more you focus on the present the better you’ll be able to see and experience God and all the joy that comes with it. Literally nothing else in this world matters, I just thought you should know. How do you become more present? Do shit you LOVE! Things that make you smile from the inside out. For us Alex, that’s food, eating food, cooking food, sharing food. It’s music!!! It’s dance, it’s books, it’s yoga, it’s your family and friends. It’s cats, or just animals in general. It’s nature, it’s sunlight. So many things! Take a moment to enjoy yourself, your talents, and the things that make you smile. That’s presence, and that’s love.

“Less morose and more present. Dwell on my gifts for a second.” – Frank Ocean

Alexandra, I don’t think that everything in life is supposed to be hard. As they say, everyone experiences pain, only you decide how long you suffer. Alex, you’ve always been very good at having fun, laughing, dancing, singing, all the fun things, keep that up! It eases the pain, and stops the suffering. However, there’s a difference between truly living life and having fun, and going through the motions in an attempt to avoid the pain. You can never avoid pain, it will always be there until you address it head on. How do you do that? You seek help from powers greater than yourself. You will never be able to get through your pain alone because life was never meant to be lived alone. Life, just like love is meant to be shared. Share your pain with God, with loved ones, with whoever you trust, and you will find the answers you need to rid yourself of pain. Hide your pain from God, from yourself, and the world, and the bigger it grows. Only light can rid yourself of darkness. Shine a light on the pain in your life, take a moment to really see it for what it is, and suddenly it’s not so scary anymore. Eventually, it all goes away. These are just some things I thought you should know.

All my love,

Alexandra Rinaldo


Remembering Who You Are; Part One

I attempted to write this piece over a month ago. I wrote the title and that’s about it. I wasn’t even sure about the title at the time because I wasn’t completely sure of the direction I wanted this piece to take. It wasn’t until last week when I had dinner with my best friend, I was reminded of the importance of personal values and how they keep you grounded. How the things that you were taught by your parents, and grandparents inform you of where you came from, who you are, and what is the most important to you. These things were either taught to you in a positive way, leading by example, or in a negative way, where they show you what you don’t want in your life. I have to say that for the most part, my parents and family have been a positive influence. I was lucky. My family is not perfect that’s for sure, we are all human at the end of the day, but they have taught me a strong value and belief system that I still hold strong today. It is these core values that has helped me to fight against my own depression.

My depression has been a very humbling experience. I got into my depression by slowly forgetting about who I am, what I stand for, and who I dreamed I could be. Little by little, I let fear and self-doubt take over. Depression doesn’t just happen. It’s not like one day you wake up depressed, even though it can definitely feel that way. However, depression starts slow, it’s an accumulation of all the soul wounds you’ve experienced in your life. It comes from you constantly trying to “fight” your reality using defense mechanisms that only isolate you more and have you feeling worse than you did before. The thing is, when you’re living your life you don’t always recognize the negative events in your life as lessons, but rather as punishments. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be upset or feel pain when bad things happen to you. In fact, the only real way to turn these events into lessons is for you to feel all the pain that comes with it. Surrender yourself to the pain, don’t hide from the pain. Don’t drink your pain away, don’t smoke your pain away, don’t party your pain away, don’t try to pretend that you don’t feel hurt. Been there, done that. It doesn’t work.

For me, I lived the majority of my life deflecting my pain. When I was hurt deeply by someone else or by an event in my life, I would cry and be upset, then I would say “it’s fine, I’ll be okay.” I never wanted people to worry too much about me, seeing their fear for me would only amplify the fear I already felt. For example, my parents are great. They love me and my sisters more than anything in the entire world. I would always joke that my parents “care too much.” I know this sounds crazy, how could your parents “care too much?” Especially when some kids desperately want their parents to care about them just a little bit. I know this might make me sound like a spoiled little brat, and maybe I am, I don’t know. But eventually I stopped being honest with my family and friends as a defense mechanism. I was already feeling overwhelmed, and ashamed by the things happening in my life, I couldn’t bring myself to speak honestly about it with anybody, let alone the people who loved me most. I carried my crosses my entire adult life up until this point mostly on my own. I would sometimes drop hints here and there, but I would never allow people to help me. I would always say “this is my problem, don’t worry about it, I’ll figure it out,” or “I know you can’t help me, so what’s the point of talking about it?” So very foolish, and naive of me. I still do this, old habits die-hard. However, writing about my struggles in this way has helped to free myself of my own pain. It has allowed me to lift some of the heaviness I feel. It has slowly freed up space in my mind, body, and soul. Depression is like wearing chains and restraints that you have put on yourself, as punishment for not being able to do better, be better, for you basically being unworthy of happiness for whatever reason.

I think that we forget that we ourselves are human. We make mistakes. Whatever we did “wrong” in the past only happened because we didn’t know any better, or it happened because we weren’t ready to change. If you weren’t ready, it’s because you were scared. And that is OKAY!!! Punishing yourself for being scared, only keeps you living in fear. For me, I was always pretending that I wasn’t scared because I didn’t want anyone else to be scared. I was doing that to protect other people but also to protect myself. For me, it was easier to focus on helping other people because I would never have to really face my own fears. The things that scared me most. I’m extremely extroverted, and so I poured a lot of my energy into my friendships with others. Always being there for them in any way I could. I don’t regret this. Yes, doing this has put me in the place I’m in today, but at the same time it has allowed me to establish a really strong foundation and tribe for myself that allows me to now focus on myself fully and freely without fear. I know I don’t have to worry about loosing my friendships or my family. No matter what happens through this healing process, I know I have several people who love and support me. It is so very comforting. I now know that I don’t always have to be “around.” I don’t need to see them every single weekend like I used to. I don’t have to do EVERYTHING with my friends. I can be alone with myself and my thoughts now more than I ever could before. Not only is this important, it is healthy. I needed to learn to love myself, and to forgive myself for all the things I used to punish myself for, even things that I would punish myself for that I couldn’t control. I needed to let go of the shame and guilt that I’ve been carrying. The same feelings that brought me to my lowest point on New Years Eve 2018. I was with all my best friends, in a beautiful Air B&B celebrating the New Year, new possibilities, and I felt so scared and alone. I had this heavy guilt and shame on my chest. I broke down, I was bawling my eyes out, and I was hyperventilating. The thing is, I wasn’t alone, and my friends reminded me of that. Having all my closest friends there during my lowest point reminded me that I was safe. It reminded me that no matter what I am deeply loved. That is so powerful. New Years Eve may have been my lowest point, but it was also the most honest I’ve been in a while. I could no longer keep the barriers up that I worked so hard to build in order to protect myself. They were no longer helping me, instead they were preventing me from my own healing. That moment, looking back now, showed me just that.

This knowledge, that I can be completely vulnerable and show the parts of myself that I don’t like about myself to the people I love the most and they would still love me was huge. It gave me the courage to continue to be honest. A value that my parents, especially my mom instilled in us at a very young age. Honesty was probably the one value that my mom stressed the most. This is probably why I’m actually a terrible liar and why I wear my heart on my sleeve. I’m actually a very genuine and honest person. I only withheld the truth because I thought at the time it was what I needed to do to get through the shit I was going through. I now know how detrimental it was to go against my own values and intuition. It only made me feel more isolated and overwhelmed with the stresses going on in my life. It’s still very hard for me to talk candidly about what’s going on in my life. I still find myself focusing more on the positive aspects of my life when I speak to my loved ones, because again, I don’t want them to worry about me. I’m in a better place today because I’ve found healthy outlets for myself. Writing these blogs allows me to speak my truth in a way that feels safe to me. I have complete control over my story in this way. When I write about my thoughts, feelings, or the things that I’ve been through, I am the protagonist of my life story, and I am no longer the victim. It is my story to tell, and well, I’m a story-teller. Always have been, always will be. Another truth about myself that I’ve rediscovered. If you’ve been following my blog, you will know that there have been lapses in my posts that would last months. I lost my inspiration, my creativity, my motivation. I couldn’t bring myself to write. My life was too stressful at the time, and when I did write it was out of “necessity for my business.” It wasn’t really for me, it wasn’t genuine. I guess you can say I’m grateful for my depression, because it’s humbled me to come back to square one. To come back to my roots. To learn to be honest again, and to learn the importance of telling my story, of speaking my truth. That is the only way I can really help myself and therefore the world. We’re all human, we make mistakes but if God or the universe loves us then we’re gonna be alright.

 


A love letter to Myself

Dear: Alexandra,

It’s been over a month since your last letter to yourself and a lot has changed since then. I’m so proud of you for being able to pour your heart out like that for the world to see. Ever since then, your awareness of yourself has only grown. You have learned so much from yourself, and from other people over the past two months.┬áRecently, you have made a new friend through your volunteer work at Moksha Yoga who said to you, “Imagine the things you could do if you gave yourself half the love that you give to others.” It still makes you feel emotional when you think about it because it’s true. Alex, you’re in this unhappy place right now because you don’t value yourself the way you should. You have given so much of yourself away over the past few years, that now it seems like you don’t even know who you are anymore. You have lost yourself in other people. You have allowed too many people to take your energy away from you. Because of this, you’ve constantly been questioning yourself, and your value. Well, I’m here to tell you that there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU. You are not the problem. The problem is that you have put yourself on the side line. You have put the needs of others before your own needs. This teaches other people that it is okay to walk all over you. If you don’t show enough respect for yourself, how is someone else supposed to respect you? You know this. You’ve just wasted too much of your energy trying to take care of others instead of taking care of yourself. So here we are.

You used to tell people, “you are the most important person in your life.” It seems like you haven’t taken your own advice. For some reason that rule applied to everyone else but you. Well no more. We know that this cannot go on, you have no other choice now but to put yourself first. This is your life Alex, you need to take charge of it. I see you doing it and I’m so proud! Don’t give up. Every obstacle that life gives you is just that, an obstacle. An obstacle that is meant to be overcome. The universe is testing you, God is testing you, to see if you really want this. To see if you’re ready for the new challenges ahead. You are ready, you’ve been ready. I know it. You know it. That is the whole point of this letter. I love you Alexandra Michelle Rinaldo, and I refuse to see you fall. I’m picking you back up because no one else can. You are a warrior. You are one of the strongest people I know. You are generous, kind, and compassionate. You have so much love to give, and now it’s time to give that all to yourself. You know that if your passion in life is to serve others, then you must serve yourself first. You are of no use to other people if you can’t walk the talk yourself. The best way you can help anyone else is to help yourself first. Lead by example. This is the greatest gift that you could give yourself or anyone else. As Michael Jackson says, “If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change.” As corny as that is, I don’t care. It’s true. The story of your life, your happiness begins and ends with you. Just you, that’s it.

A week or so ago, you were listening to a beautiful podcast with Alanis Morisette and Oprah, and Alanis said that “art is cathartic but it’s not healing.” I thought that was very interesting. She said that it “could be a catalyst for investigation.” In some ways, I agree. I think that these letters or short stories, whatever you want to call them are my own creative expression, and therefore my own form of art. I do find them to be very cathartic, but I don’t know if I would say they are healing. They have healing properties, and I find them to be very helpful to the healing process. But just because we’ve written these letters, does not mean that we don’t need to still do the loving work of always taking care of ourself first Alex. These letters are a symbol of us ridding ourselves of the things that no longer serve us in our life. They are a symbol of us choosing to move forward with our life, but we still need to be active in moving forward.

You’re doing all the right things. I know you’re doing your best. Keep it up. The more you invest in yourself, the better you will be. Your life, your happiness is what you put into it. No one else can do it for you. You have to do the work. It’s a labour of love. You work hard in the gym because you deserve to feel good, look good, and you deserve to have the strength and the power to take care of your damn self! You eat healthy and vegetarian because it makes sense for you. Because you value your body, and your health. You write because you love it. It gives you energy and you have something to say. What you write has value. You plan and cook your own meals because you care about what you feed yourself. Because for you, food is love. Food has always been a focal point in your life. You are a talented cook, you know that. For a long time you would work hard in the kitchen for the benefit of others. Now you are learning new ways of cooking completely for yourself. Good for you! You deserve only the best! Remember that. Work hard everyday so that you can provide yourself with only the best in life. You have done a great job of creating and maintaining relationships with amazing friends and family who love and support you no matter what. Keep finding positive people who give you energy, who teach you new things. The better you treat yourself, the higher your vibrations will be, and you will be able to attract others who are on the same wavelength as you. Good things are coming Alex! I can feel it. Keep loving yourself, keep working on yourself everyday. Everyday is a challenge but you got this!

I believe in you and I love you.

Alexandra Rinaldo


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