Are you a Sunday Morning person?

One of the best things about quarantine is realising I was living my ideal life. A life I was actually proud of. It took me 18 months of active building to create this life. A life I did not need to escape. In my flow of doing what made me feel alive. A flow of offering my gifts to the world… A flow of love.

As most people are sat at home thinking about their life and their decisions. I am sat here honouring the last 18 months of healthy decisions. Honestly, there were so many uncomfortable moments. Growth is extremely uncomfortable. I’m familiar with being uncomfortable, mentally and physically. I’m used to frustration resulting in tears. The infamous moment of looking to the sky to proclaim, “I cannot do this. Just tell me what you want?! Show me the way!” As if giving a voice to the moment, the sky opens, the heavens laugh, and the Universe snickers with, ‘I FINALLY got your attention, you stubborn little bugger!’ (It’s been a while since such a proclamation).

I’ve been very focused on building my [fun] hustle life. I’ve been focused on accepting my family life. I have been blissfully ignoring my personal life. Another beautiful realisation. Quarantine is the decision-maker for a life partner. For years, I joked about only taking myself out of celibacy for a Sunday morning person. I’m physically attractive. I would be remiss to ignore the objectifying attention I often get from men. Most days, I can brush it off but deep down, it tugs on my heartstrings when a man only sees the smile in my lips or the way my clothing tugs in certain ways. These men are called Saturday night people. A Sunday morning person offers more depth. They realise the real prize is the space between my ears and the thump in my chest. It’s been a few years, I’m so grateful for the quarantine because it’s exposing the Sunday morning people.

A walk in the park revealed a bunch of things today. To start, people were talking to one another. Eye contact. Intimacy. I haven’t seen this in quite some time. People enjoying their animals. I realise I’m a dog walker so acknowledging people are out playing with their own dog is well, not good for my business but it is good for the heart. Pet owners can still call me when they go on a holiday. Seriously though, a family was celebrating graduation. They made a person out of balloons for their grad. Dogs helped owners make friends. I heard laughter in random places. I’m usually the one laughing and today I heard it from so many places around the park. Families were enjoying time together. One family had some sort of tent, perhaps an adventure for their kids…

Ironically, I’ve been self-isolating. I’ve been minding my business and keeping to myself. In 8 weeks, I offered 80+ virtual fitness classes, joined countless virtual classes, learned some new recipes (banana skin bacon anyone?), caught up on reading, launched 2 coaching programmes, 5 guest speaking gigs, and napping. I’m back on track with giving my soul some TLC. BEING is just as important as DOING. Between all of this, I’ve only left the house 6 times in 8 weeks. Grocery shopping every 2 weeks and then 2 long walks (to the same park). I share in the spirit of personal self-control and minding the rules of social distancing. Plus, I have an essential worker as a housemate so I’m doing my part to reduce the spread.

For the first time in 18 months, I felt my entire outer world is in harmony with my inner world. 18 months of creating and holding boundaries with people who were accustomed to hurting me. 18 months of saying no to abuse or abusive people. 18 months of being ok with making other people uncomfortable (others should feel uncomfortable when they cross a boundary). 18 months of work. Hard work.

Being able to convert Chicago from a place of immense pain into a place of love has been a mission. Chicago is ground zero. Chicago is where my life was threatened on two occasions. First via strangulation and then via loaded gun. I’m a survivor of domestic violence. A majority of my blog has been open processing this chapter of my recovery journey. My mission, #JourneyToPeace.

During the last 18 months, I’ve been greeted with a bunch of adversity. Some people unwilling to accept my new healthy terms, others leveraging my ‘pre-conditioning’ as an invitation to test my healing, others just flat out broken and blissfully unaware of their garbage… and today, it felt right. I was able to witness, en masse, so many human beings choosing LOVE. Doing the little things. Paying attention. Sharing time. Sharing energy. Spreading love.

Quarantine has given me the opportunity to appreciate Sunday morning people. Whether it’s friends, dating, partnerships or tribe. Today, the Universe was offering me a nod. The Universe showed me an entire park filled with Sunday morning people.

Maybe it’s time to open my heart to the idea of dating…

The journey continues.

Detachment: Dancing Through the Storm

The last few days, I’ve been wrapped up in my feels. With the collective awakening, I’m tickled to be in the position I am currently in… I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

I for one, LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVEEEEEEE the awakening. The first time I was forced to deal with mortality was in 2004. My first reaction was anger. This is essentially what the world is experiencing. Mass anger (with an unhealthy dose of mass confusion). The second time I was forced to deal with mortality was in 2009. My first reaction was sadness (and confusion). The collective will shift into this space in the coming weeks… The third time I dealt with mortality was self-inflicted. It was pure indifference and I hope the collective skips this step. This time… I’m creating. I’m doing my best to stay connected to self and detached to others. I’m also making sure to be super intentional with what I’m consuming (news, people, energy, food… everything).

I was a digital nomad for a few years so it’s relatively managable for me to adjust to social distancing and what has become the new norm of life via virtual conferencing calls.

Surface level, I am in a good space. This is a massive opportunity to accept truth. I have a funny habit of seeing the potential in others rather than the reality. This global “bump” is making people’s intentions very obvious. Some truths are expected and others are kind of surprising. I honour having a good heart. I’m apprehensive on why I’m surprised with some truths. My rose coloured lens is still strong.

Going a bit deeper, I’m grounded. Mostly grounded. The only real sidestep is with my biological family. After a lifetime of being in denial of family abuse, my mother offered me an apology. I took my time to process this event. To be honest, this is a pretty big deal. The only question was the intention behind the apology. I’m grateful she shared her truth, the concept of family is prioritised over individual wellness. The only request remains for people to stop talking about me behind my back (an 8-year request). My brother and I have been estranged since 2012. My father and I have been estranged since 2017. My mother and I have been estranged since 2018. Domestic violence tends to put a strain on relationships. Especially when the abused refuses to well, accept abuse. I know they are doing the best they can with the tools they have. The truth remains you cannot force what is not meant to be. They are still very unhealthy (for me). My heart continues to hurt for the world they live in. I love them. I love my entire family.

Going even deeper, something is stirring. My dreams have been super active. My sleep is all over the place. My body is aching in places it hasn’t ached before. I’m trying to stay on top of my hydration and open to the Universe. Things are bothering me less. My mind seems to be more similar to ironman processing than trauma led.

I cannot help but remind myself of the training cycle. When I was training for Ironman, I put in the time for swimming, biking, running, nutrition and rest. Rest was a component of training I knew but often forgot. It’s time to take a moment to rest.

Rest and celebrate. I’m in a season of celebrating all things. All the relationships I have been curating. All the love I have been spreading. All the seeds I have been planting. THIS is the time for harvest. I’ve been super blessed to be surrounded by such empowered people.

It’s time to rest and honour the fact the Universe loves me. Super blessed. Super humbled. I know the Universe loves me because it’s offering me opportunities to laugh. Today’s laughter was my red solo cup. As the world goes crazy and argues over toilet paper, I decided to disengage by silent protest. Rather than use paper, I’ve been cleaning with a red solo cup. Today the water in my cup was cold. I nearly froze my lady bits. I almost fell into the toilet. The Universe always provides a good laugh…

The journey continues…

What is Love? Forgiveness? Reconciliation? Acknowledgement?

I dunno about you but I’m low key excited about this entire coronavirus situation. Is it scary? Yes. Can bad things happen? Possibly. Can good things happen? ABSOLUTELY!!!

As the world goes stark raving mad, I acknowledge I’m in a very unique place. Mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I’m holding space for myself and continuing to look after my wellbeing. I struggled to find helpers so I decided to be one. Whilst waiting for my gym to communicate their decision to group fitness instructors, I opted to test the waters with virtual classes. This was a first. A big first. My decision was to spread love via one of my favourite tools: fitness.

A lot has happened in the last week and it’s time to honour it.

Group Fitness classes were suspended. Since my entire world is filled with self-care practices or hustles that I genuinely LOVE, this stung. I love my students. I love what I do. I love being paid to work out and share my energy with others. Radical truth in this situation means I was going to find out if/how my company values my contributions to the company. Huge opportunity to get swept away in an external validation world.

Family. The disconnect between me and my mother still hurts. She was my person for most aspects of my world. Her absence hurts but I’m doing what I can to manage. Last week, she acknowledged the family abuse. I cannot fault her for ignoring the abuse because I did the same for a very long time. I harboured a bit of resentment when I decided to break my silence. I often forgot even though I was ready to confront the truth, she wasn’t. Now that she acknowledges the abuse, I find myself in a very cautious position. Radical truth is if this is a trap (hoovering) or genuine reconnection? She is still my person, even from afar. How do I lean into this shift? Huge opportunity for something but I’m not exactly sure what…

Community. My dog clients are reaching out to make sure I’m stable through the shutdowns. They are even cheerleaders in helping share my online workout sessions with their friends. My coaching clients are starting to experience wins in abundance and have become friends. (they become friends after successfully graduating my programme). People in big and small ways are showing up. A VERY dear friend opened her home to me as a backup location to host virtual workouts whilst the gyms are closed. So much love. So much love is around me.

A few predators have come around to test the waters. Perhaps to see if I will entertain them. Perhaps to test my healing. Who knows. Who cares. Predators will be predators and continue to do predatory things. They are lesser and lesser which is good. I feel blessed they are disappearing back to the shadows. I’m very much in a space of honouring those that honour me. All of me. Scars and all.

Coronavirus is forcing people to look within. It’s forcing people to be painfully honest with themselves and their life. Do they like what they see in the mirror? If yes, cool. If no, then today is day one. Put in the work. In 2017, I looked in the mirror. I did not like who I saw. Every aspect of my world was created because of someone else. I almost married someone to escape my family. I accepted criticisms and judgement from my family. Most of my friendships were based on what I did for others; so many takers. In 2017, I was not living my best life. I had everything but nothing at the same time. 2017 is when I started my concentrated efforts to do The Work. And now, coronavirus has created an opportunity for others to do The Work. I remember the early days of my personal transformation being a very confusing and chaotic time. Months filled with big emotions I was otherwise very comfortable ignoring. Currently, people are getting bumped and what spills out of their cups is very telling…

As I continue to honour my gifts to the world, I honour the fact that I’m confused. I want nothing more than to see my mother and give her a big bear hug. It’s been a few years and I miss her very much. For the first time, she acknowledged the family abuse. The first time. With a million things to celebrate and a million things to consider, my heart is with her.

I’m not sure what prompted her willingness to acknowledge family abuse. I’m not clear on the test being presented. The Universe is testing me. This much is clear. Is this a step towards reconciliation? Acknowledging family abuse has been a difficult journey filled with countless plot twists. I guess the more difficult the journey, the sweeter the reward. Love is giving someone the opportunity to hurt you but trusting they won’t. No. Everyone is going to hurt you, it’s just a matter of knowing who is worth the pain… No. Love is…

I’m in my heart. I am trying to shut down my head. Trying to slow down my thoughts… When you have wanted something for so long (mended relationship), what do you do when it finally presents itself? All I know is I miss her. Very much. I’m going to stop distracting myself and actually sit with my emotions for a while. I miss her… gosh how I miss my mom.

The journey continues…

Places of trauma are playgrounds for self-discovery

My week has been filled with interactions with love bugs. Perhaps I should allow a powerful conversation to stir a bit but as I do, I’m going to open process. My dear friend asked me about my why? Why Chicago? Of all the places in the world, why Chicago?

WHY? – It’s simple. I know what love feels like. I also know what abuse feels like. One of the first rules of recovery is to remove yourself from whatever was destroying you. My ego wants to challenge this concept. My heart needs to be an example, if anything for those unable to remove themselves from whatever is destroying them. For me, domestic violence is what was destroying me. Chicago is where the abuse took place.

WHY? – Slightly more complicated. I’m a firm believer in the saying, ‘you can take the dog out of the fight but you cannot take the fight out of the dog’. Staying in Chicago is proving to myself and others that it’s OK to love your abusers. It’s ok to miss your abusers. Abuse cycles are filled with ups and downs. When things get calm, that’s when the body tries to sabotage itself. Withdrawal. Subconsciously, we look for ways to compromise our continued health and wellness. We are still learning how to be at rest. We are learning how to simply be. Having love for someone that hurt you does NOT mean they are allowed access to you.

WHY? – It’s complicated. Love an abuser? Really, Jess?! Love an abuser. Yes. Everyone has the capacity to abuse others. Until one does the work to acknowledge the abuser within, they will abuse others. I’ve abused others. Others have abused me. The saying, “hurt people, hurt people” is often said to justify or dismiss abusive behaviour. Supporting personal development and healing, a counter saying: ‘the abuser in me would never do anything to cause you harm. I’ve done too much work on myself to allow that to happen.’ I’m able to understand people are doing the best they can. The plot twist is when the behaviour is targeted. If it’s the best they can, then it’s the same ignorant treatment to everyone. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. When it’s targeted, it’s abuse, not ignorant or hurt behaviour. There is a difference.

WHY? – The journey. Being at peace. Accepting myself and others for where they are. Not potential but actual or reality. In this exact moment. As I continue to expand my heart and love myself, I am breaking cycles. I am setting a new standard for future generations. I am creating a path and priotising health. The light cannot exist without the dark. Both are within, it’s not a case of ‘I do this because others did that.’ It’s the battle within. Is the abuser within still causing harm to self?

WHY? – The truth. Last night, I acknowledged a pain in my heart. Over the last 4 months, one of my housemates was testing boundaries. One of the tests was allegedly contacting my family. At first, I was concerned about this for obvious reasons: my safety. My family has tried to kill me so I needed to really ask myself if I was at risk or in harm’s way. Rational vs emotional mind. Then, as I sat with my emotions, I came to realise I have faith in my guardian angels. No matter what, I’m protected. What was I really concerned about? Truth. I was scared of the truth.

What is the truth? In 2017, I asked my mother if I could move in with her. I was about to walk out of an engagement. I realised I almost made a questionable decision with a life partner because I was refusing to deal with what others commonly said was ‘daddy issues’. Moving back to the USA meant I would have to acknowledge the root cause of my issues. Was it really me or something else? If it was me then, how would I address, heal, move through it? For years, I told myself my father/brother never made efforts towards me because I lived on the other side of the world. Moving back to my hometown removed that excuse. Either they show up or they don’t. They did not. I lost half my family in 2017. Or at least accepted truth on where they stood. 2018, I was in the same situation but with my mother. I have been telling myself my mother wasn’t making an effort because she didn’t know where I lived. I was forced to confront this truth. My email is the same. My phone number is the same. My social media accounts remain public. My mother did not make the effort.

The interesting thing about this revelation, yes, I had an emotional release about this… It wasn’t so much me questioning what to do to be a better daughter or sister. It was acknowledging they are doing the best they can do. It’s acknowledging the more work I do with myself, the more it helps me and them. I’m finally at a place to accept the behaviour of others has absolutely nothing to do with me.

People will continue to try and use me, abuse me, or destroy me. What they try vs what I allow will always be different. Always. I was momentarily caught in the crossfire of self-destructive people. Through their self-destruction, I’m blessed with an opportunity to test my healing. Test my growth. Observe where my mind wanders. Observe where my heart sits. And then catch myself; to repeat old habits or stand in my truth. I have been standing in my truth. It’s 2020. My family can easily access me. No one needs to divulge any details. My family made a choice and continues to make a choice. With each passing day, my heart accepts this truth with a bit more love.

My journey continues…

Bittersweet beginnings

A few years ago I decided to break my silence. I didn’t know what I was walking into. I just knew when I told friends in private, it did not result in safe situations. My options were to continue to ignore the darkness, embrace more darkness or expose all of the darkness in public. The problem with exposing the darkness is… well, society loves to have a villain and a victor. With domestic violence, NO ONE WINS.

Each time I hit publish, part of my heart breaks. It breaks because I got caught in the crossfire of someone lacking tools to productively process their own emotions. Generally speaking, they are doing the best they can. So talking about this hurts my heart. For them. What kind of human being am I to publicly share when someone fails? Why should I be concerned with how they feel? Am I still in a cycle by even considering them or does that simply make me human?

A majority of my blog and sharing has been me openly processing my own story of domestic violence. Coming to terms with everything. Identifying the various types of abuse. Lots of confusion. Remembering to focus on my healing and allow karma to take care of the rest. Feeling heavy because I hate seeing others hurt themselves. But mostly, just wanting the pain to stop.

I completely understand when people commit suicide. I was there at one point in my life. I believed the lies that I was not worthy. I lacked healthy boundaries and my inner critic was echoed by just about everyone allowed in my space. I was in a very dark place for a few years. Nearly every person I opened up to in private tried to take advantage of me. People I trusted. Broken trust. Today, it makes sense only because my main trust system, family, was shattered. I didn’t even know I was making unhealthy decisions.

My name is Jessica Corvo. I’m a survivor of domestic violence. Members of my family tried to end my life. Some days I pity myself for having to heal from this and other days, my heart simply hurts to acknowledge that I lost my entire family during my healing journey. The moment I decided to break my silence, I lost everything.

Sometimes I’m not sure why I do certain things. I just lean into my intuition and stop questioning. Just flow into something. This is what happened with writing. I didn’t have an actual goal. The process was #JourneyToPeace. I have many articles where I questioned what that even means? Peace? Peace from what? How does one quantify peace? Does the pain ever actually go away? Or have I just been desensitised to it?

Perhaps my heart stings because everyone has moved on. My father is doing this own thing. My mother is doing her own thing. Yes, I have a brother and he is even doing his own thing. I could not give you details about any of them because we have not spoken in a few years. Some days I’m ok with this and other days I’m not. Often, I question whether or not I’m a good daughter. Often, I question if it was all worth it. With a heavy heart, some people can still catch glimpses of my sadness. It’s during the moments of nothingness that things start to crop up. During these moments, I allow myself to get lost in the feels.

When Kobe and his daughter died in the helicopter crash. I broke down in tears from reading a meme that suggested, during the last moments, Kobe was comforting his daughter. Rather than panic, it was an acceptance of the situation and ability to comfort a scared child. Kobe might have been a bunch of things but that is what made him a legend in my mind. And heart. After everything, simply a father that was comforting his daughter during a life-altering moment.

I continue to have my moments. Am I sad because my father is incapable of doing the same? Perhaps I’m still questioning why I am not good enough to have a father willing to protect or comfort me. I’m not sure. I guess it’s not really THAT important… just something to observe. Detach with love. He did the best he could. I still love my father. Despite everything. I love him.

Today, I sit with my emotions. Oftentimes, I’m suggesting to clients to have a tea party with their emotions. Rather than suppress, just observe. I’m taking my own advice. A few weeks ago, I was accepted as a full-time writer for a national non-profit that advocates for survivors of domestic violence. All volunteers are survivors. It’s a very strong family, filled with love. Full-time writer means I submit an article a week. The editor offers a bunch of topics and the writers pick something and off we go. Research. Sit. Create. Share. My first writing assignment, how does domestic violence affect your heart health?

In my feels: Last year, my mother had emergency open-heart surgery. Yes, I picked this topic. I leaned in. Everything in my life is intentional. Whether it’s a conscious decision or the Universe nudging me… well, that’s a different story.

The article was published yesterday. I shared it with a handful of friends and already, it’s being used as a discussion topic for TedX conversations around heart health. A few firefighters and medical practitioners complimented my accuracy. Of course, those closest to me didn’t have actual words but sent their love. Some asked if I have seen my mom since her surgery. Others are just waiting for me to be ready to talk about it. I struggle to talk about my mother.

I’m at a point where I’m able to once again use my emotions as fuel to accomplish a goal. My mission is to promote health and wellness. Sometimes that will look like sharing actual examples of my life. Other times, it’s spending a ridiculous amount of time collecting data and statistics.

Today, I honour myself. Today, I’m a writer and my words are fuelled by a deep love. Love for a family that I miss very much. But a family that is no longer.

I’m dancing in my feels and I’m ok with it… When my tears fall., it’s no longer about releasing pain but acknowledging how much I am capable of love. Loving self and loving others.

My journey continues…

Giving back & expanding my reach

Getting the juices flowing. I’ve just secured a new gig… I’m going to be a weekly contributor to a very VERY very important non-profit! I’m over the moon excited. It’s going to allow me to stay in the recovery space in a productive way. Rather than blabber on about things happening in my world, I get to help others share their story. Or more broadly, share more formalised blog-style snippets of various stages of domestic violence (and recovery). I’ve not been given writing assignments in quite some time. This will be a challenge that I’m embracing with an open heart.

Spit-firing ideas to get my juices flowing. Let me know if you want to hear about anything specific…

  • Skills learned through domestic violence
  • Benefits of breaking the silence
  • What to expect when sh*t hits the fan
  • Are police really equipped to help
  • When the walls start caving in
  • Self care 30-day challenge
  • Redefining family
  • The Universe thinks I’m a badass; I need a nap
  • Can I just be an adult next week
  • Plot Twists & Curve Balls
  • Recovery: falling in love with calm
  • Fleas, Flying Monkeys & Surveillance Cameras

I think I’m a professional at titles. I fondly remember doing 6 word stories to get comfortable with being vulnerable. Vulnerability has not always been a safe place. Sharing what scares me resulted in predators trying to harm me. Sharing what I love resulted in predators trying to destroy things that brought me joy. Sharing the identities of my inner circle resulted in learning truth on who is living in their integrity.

Historically, my perfectionist side has attracted some pretty unhealthy people. My humble side makes them think I’m incompetent. My previous low self-esteem allowed them into my space. Once they recognised my inner strength, they sought to destroy. Sharing snippets of the knuckleheads I used to entertain was healing. If anything to hold myself accountable for growth. It never seemed toxic when I kept quiet. I was far too busy making excuses for unethical behaviour. It was only once I started writing things down that I began to see the flaws in my own character. No more are the days where I make excuses for others. And this new gig is going to take my continued healing (growth) to another level!!!

I’m super excited about this upcoming chapter!

Health spot check (Nov 2017): words to build. words to break.

The journey continues…

Normal is Overrated. Aspire for Magical.

Sometimes I have to admit my definition of normal is anything but, well, normal. Especially in context of what is considered easy.

Last week, I had the great pleasure to speak to a handful of people that are further along in their (group fitness) instructor journey than I am. They teach on the upside of 20-25 classes/week. At first, I thought they were bananas. I teach HIIT (cardio/strength) and cannot imagine teaching 20-25 hours/week of this format.

Mind you, I do the workout with my students. I completed MORE than this during Ironman training… but multi discipline training is multi discipline. This is straight cardio/strength…

“Jess, you are an INSTRUCTOR. INSTRUCTOR. INSTRUCT your students. You don’t have to do the workout with them.”

“Yeah but… part of my joy is telling people that I get paid to work out. hahahaha”

*face palm*

It occurred to me I was selling myself short. I am currently teaching 10 classes/week. I could easily increase to 20-25 classes/week. It might take time to create an ideal schedule but it is possible. Anything is possible.

Let’s be honest. Anything is possible.

Current situation: my days are spent hustling between teaching class, coaching clients, walking dogs… and meal prep. I’m back in grind mode so relaxing to enjoy a meal in my armchair whilst watching the world turn through a large picture window is not always possible. Instead, I have been enjoying my meals at Union Station, in the locker room of one of my 9 gyms… or simply in one of my favourite lounges. I have quiet places sprinkled all over the city.

I’m blessed because I get to catch sunrise over the lake a few times a week.

I’m blessed because my students think I’m hilarious. I’ve heard a few comment on my perkiness and most appreciate my eagerness to workout with them whilst gentle correcting form and keeping the intensity level up.

I’m convinced the Universe is conspiring to help me. My home has not been peaceful for a few months. The more I think about it, the more I can appreciate that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

If my house was peaceful, I would not have been incentivized to leave it. I’d be fluffing around, most likely dancing in my kitchen and creating the most magical meals on a daily basis. Grind mode (my current mode) requires me to schedule me time. Sacred space where no one is allowed access to me.

Perhaps if I’m grinding towards 20-25 classes then it’s time I get super intentional about my time. After all, being a coach, I need to walk my walk and lead by example…

A few weeks ago, I aspired to have 8 classes on a weekly basis. Now, my new normal will be 20.

I just created a new norm. Nothing about my life is normal. That is exactly what makes it magical.

The journey continues…

6 Lessons Learned: Breaking My Silence

Breaking the silence on abuse is not always possible. It can be very dangerous. Depending on the type of abuse and the emotional stability (or lack thereof) of the abuser, it can lead to murder. That said, I have found great comfort in a few truths…

Reputation

I would rather people think I’m “crazy” and remain alive than be “normal” and in a casket. The truth is, being a speaker of truth comes with its share of naysayers. To me, naysayers are useful. They offer content to start another conversation and an opportunity to practice compassion towards unhealed people. This is also a fantastic opportunity to practice self-care and remind yourself that others will sometimes paint you as a villain to justify their treatment towards you. Ignore reputation and try your best to focus on character.

Intuition

I feel things at a very deep level. Publicly sharing dreams (or situations) does not make sense but I did it. Starting a series on Facebook called CONVERSATIONS did not make sense but I did it. Removing my sunny disposition filter did not make sense but I did it. Why? Because it felt like the right thing to do. Sure enough, most of the things I have leaned into have resulted in feeling better about myself. It’s not my intention to embarrass anyone, it’s a way to hold myself accountable. It’s not my intention to threaten others, it’s a way to protect myself. I’m very strategic when it comes to protecting my wellness. I wish I could offer a one size fits all formula but I cannot. I can only share what has worked for me. Leaning into intuition is scary but going through the darkness is how one cultivates light.

Predators

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My housemate spent a month testing my boundaries. As I held my boundary, their behaviour escalated to a point of a smear campaign where they admitted to contacting my family. They know I’m a survivor of gun violence and they know my family does not value my life. Their end goal was to convince me to move out. As much as I would love to believe others have my best interest in mind, it’s simply not true. The best way to deal with predators is to understand what is happening. Rationally. Identify triggers and understand when in an emotional state. Ground and take things one thing at a time. Is my safety at risk? Yes, then take steps to protect myself. If no, then process the emotions as they surface. This is NOT easy work. Also, try to identify the type of predator. Knowledge is power and the priority is to always remain safe. For this example, if I’m dealing with a narcissist, peace will be restored and they will redirect their attention to an easier target. If I’m dealing with a psychopath, then their destructive retaliatory behaviour will continue. If I’m dealing with a sociopath, then things will escalate and my physical safety will be at risk. It’s important to understand what type of predator you are dealing with and take measures to protect yourself.

Community

Processing trauma at ground zero and dealing with people with unethical behaviour forced me to get fluent with personality disorders, local laws, criminal laws, housing laws, domestic violence support groups, lawyers, police officers and even spend time at City Hall and at the State’s Attorney’s Office. On a lighter note, dealing with unethical people has also helped me find my tribe (people willing to stand with me when I feel defeated), expand my businesses; dog care clients are aware of my recovery journey and when I told them about the recent smear campaign, they vamped up referrals resulting in new clients. My coaching business is next level as I’ve been able to create a few new coaching programmes based on experience. People are amazing.

Breath

I am overdue for a 10-day vipassana sit. Embracing the consequences of breaking my silence has taught me the importance of returning to my breath. For nearly two decades, deep breathing was automatic. I am a trained sprinter and Ironman athlete. My favourite drug is running. It’s virtually impossible to escape my breath during a long run. Taking a year off from sports and cultivating a new tool (writing) to navigate my emotions was humbling and empowering. Whether I’m running or writing, the common thread is returning to my breath. Meditation also helps restore my inner balance. As long as I can find my breath, anything is possible.

Immortality

Everyone dies but not everyone truly lives. I continue to live my life with love and compassion. I continue to relish in the simple pleasures and honour both myself and those I allow into my space. I firmly believe the soul is having a human experience. As long as I continue to stay in my lane, I know I’m protected and, Universally loved.

The journey continues…

Only as sick as the secrets we keep

December has not always been a peaceful month in my world. Yes, it’s my birthday but it’s also when people try to hurt me. It’s when my brother plays games to be seen. It’s when my father fails at managing his emotions. It’s when my mother has her dark days. December has been a perfect storm with fingers pointing at me.

I’ve been working extremely hard to shift how I feel about December. It’s a cloudy month when I’m not sure about most things. I tend to pull back from social events. I sneak into my shell. I shut out the world with intention to listen to my heart. If anything, so I can remind myself of it’s strong beat.

Last year, December was a month I celebrated my birthday three times. The actual day I was born and then the two times someone tried to kill me. Those days are now known as my rebirth days.

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This year, December was just December. It did not carry the same weight as last year. I made sure to have quiet time to stay connected with my emotions. Feel the feels. I’m a huge fan of distractions. Anything so I didn’t have to feel the heavy feelings. And the more I tucked those emotions to the deepest place of my soul, the more disharmony I experienced in my external world.

December is a month to honour myself. My wellness. My existence. I’ve released a bunch of tears. I’ve sat in silence. I’ve made some phenomenal food. I’ve hugged dogs. I’ve also hugged humans. My heart has been shattered – I’m not pointing fingers at anyone because my focus isn’t on the fault, rather, my focus is on the responsibility… to heal. And with healing… it’s acknowledging truth.

My truth is still difficult to digest. I love differently than my family. They gave me tools to use my voice and stand up for myself. They taught me to never settle for “less than”. They taught me that it doesn’t matter who is against me as long as I believe in myself. These rules applied to everyone outside the family… And so breaking cycles has been hard.

I continue to light a candle and ask the angels to look after my mother. I miss her very much. Sometimes, I think I’m getting in my own way and I should just hop on a train to visit. And then I remind myself trains go both ways. There is nothing stopping my family from visiting me. And allegedly, my housemate told my family where I live so… now they know. It’s a waiting game. My group fitness schedule has been posted online for a few months so in all honesty, it’s not difficult to find me.

I’ve been waiting for over 500 days. My phone doesn’t ring. My email box is still empty. My father might still be reading my blog. There was a time he verbalised he knows I’m ok because I continue to write. That is his truth. The last time my blog views spiked, I still went into survival mode. I disengaged from my normal posting to simply observe. I was vigilant to squeaky wheels. And then I stopped myself. There is nothing to fear. I’ve aired ALL MY DIRTY laundry on the internet. Sure, people might try to use my blog against me to prove “mental instability” but who cares. I’ve shared over a million words for my recovery journey. I’ve shared emotions, heavy emotions, as I came to terms that others wanted to end my life. I’ve shared my deepest and darkest fears with the world because I simply didn’t know who to trust.

Do I regret sharing the pain in my heart? Not.at.all.

If given the choice to do it all again, I would in a heartbeat. Why? Because we are only as sick as the secrets we keep. I have ZERO secrets.

***

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Today I fell into an old habit. Shopping therapy. I needed a 2020 diary and ended up with two pairs of shoes, a vest, workout shirts, socks and some caramel / nut candies. It’s December and I have a pimple on my face. It’s a sign of poor eating. Why? Sadness. And the fact I bought what i bought supports it. When mom and I shop, when undecided, just get both. I don’t need two pairs of shoes but… It’s December and tomorrow is New Year’s Eve. Every year with exception to 2014, whilst I lived in Asia, I was home during the last two weeks of December. Last week and this week are the weeks I would be sipping hot chocolate with my mother. Laughing with her. Playing in the snow. Cooking up a storm. Grocery shopping. Watching movies. And then bringing in the new year. I feel a great loss right now. I miss her.

Trains go both ways. I am living less than 40 miles from my mother. It’s been 500+ days. They have not caused trouble… does my heart hurt more with silence or with being treated as if my life doesn’t matter? Does it matter how they value me? I used to think it mattered but I’m coming to terms that it really doesn’t.

It’s taken me some time to clear out their noise and listen to my heart. My life is filled with love. As much as I would love to invite them into my world, I’m not sure they would accept the invitation. But does it matter?

Trains go both ways.

My journey continues…

Emotional Wellness Spot-check (August 2017)

 

Empower Myself through Self Care Practices

As the decade comes to a close, I cannot help but think about all the progress I’ve made personally, professionally and spiritually. About 500 days ago, I made a promise to myself. The promise was to make Chicago home. Turn a city of pain into my new playground. Create a life filled with love. Hold people accountable for less than behaviour… in my presence. About 500 days ago, I made a promise to myself to BE MY OWN HERO.

Part of the year was dedicated to developing new self care practices. These practices are constantly expanding.

Music

Each day, I would dedicate a song to myself. Usually sharing the song on IG Stories. Sometimes the songs were symbolic of how I was feeling. Sometimes I couldn’t find words so just flowed through song. Sometimes, the songs were personal declarations to simply keep going. Song dedications helped me articulate the emotion that was stirring within…

Food

Food is love. Food is fuel. Food is an event in my world. Specifically breakfast. I have made some of the most ridiculous breakfasts. On occasion, I’ll share my feast with others but for the most part, a colourful plate was my way to say I LOVE YOU to my body. My go-to is sweet potato hash. I have this down to a science.

Silence

Being a PR professional, a writer and somewhat of a self proclaimed entertainer… silence is in fact GOLDEN. I picked up this habit during meditation retreats. Observing 10 days of noble silence is not always possible but making sure that part of my day is silent has been so enormously beneficial for my overall wellbeing. Granted, there are times where I have a full head and a sharp tongue, and it’s catching myself in those moments that I exercise self-control. I allow the emotions to fly out just as quickly as they flew in.

Fitness

Physical fitness. I took a year away from training. It’s very easy for me to self regulate through sports. It’s super easy for me to process just about any emotion/feeling through sport. Sports have a few aspects like breathing and mind-body coordination that brings me into the present moment. I’ve actually grown quite fond of swimming. Running used to be my favourite “drug” but I often find myself trying to find a pool to crank out a few laps.

Community

Having my entire trust system compromised and not really knowing who has my best interest in mind was a challenge. I know my international tribe. I know my tribe in Asia but I needed to weed out the unhealthy and cultivate the healing in Chicago. Sometimes, unhealthy people snuck under my radar but for the most part, it’s taken me about 18 months, to find my tribe. The ironic part is that I’ve only been able to identify other healing people by trusting the process. Making myself vulnerable. Sharing the pain in my heart and asking others to simply hold space for me to be. At first, there were a lot of people that dismissed my emotions. But after a while, those people disappeared and created space for others worthy of my trust and love. Learning how to ask for help and receive love has been one of my most challenging and rewarding forms of self care.

Writing

How can I forget writing?! When I cannot figure something out. When I need to feel the feels to do the things. When I’m unable to shut down my mind or observe the body. When my ego takes over and I am convinced I NEED to share my two cents. Writing has been a dear friend. Granted, some people have used my words (and my healing journey) against me but for the most part, people tell me I’ve inspired them in some way. I guess writing has been a two-fer. Good for me and good for others. Writing has allowed me to hold myself accountable… especially my series called CONVERSATIONS (focused on what happens when I implement healthy boundaries with unhealthy people).

Puppy Love

I’ve been doing a series on social media called puppy love. It’s basically me hanging out with all my puppy dog clients. Sometimes we walk. Other times we go to the park. I get the occasional leg hump. Generally speaking, I’m greeted with kisses and tail wags so intense that their puppy dog body is wagging just as fiercely as their tail. It’s so incredibly cute (and heart warming). Dogs do not judge. They simply love that you showed up. They keep me in the present moment. I’ve grown so fond of this form of self care that I created a regular hustle out of it. Within a year, I went from cleaning up after a housemate’s blue haired doberman brothers to having regular (paying) clients. Some clients are walks and others are for staycations. Life is so much better with a puppy.

I’m not sure what 2020 has in store for me. All I know is as I continue to honour myself, I witness the relationships around me improving. When I first moved to Chicago, it was difficult for me to find people able to articulate a goal or share a dream. Currently, my inner circle speaks my language. They have 3-5 and 7 year goals. They have a clear idea of what they are working towards and more importantly, they have an incredible sense of self. Their life is filled with love because they are love. My community in Chicago is finally starting to resemble my tribe in Asia… and my international family.

The journey continues…

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