Decade in Review! // Stories & Top 10 Things I’ve Learned
You guys!!! It is the end of the freaking decade! How?!!? I am always one for a year in review post, so you can imagine how nostalgic I am feeling about a decade in review… I mean… in 2009 I was graduating high school & moving to LA. In 2013 I started my blog! I have been debilitated by illness & have had years of feeling great — I have lived in NYC, Florence, Sacramento, & Los Angeles. So many things have happened, and I have so much compassion and love and admiration for the girl I’ve been all along who never stopped pushing through.
Overall when I think back on the last decade the word that comes to mind is strength. Without immense strength and so much confidence & belief in where I knew I was going, I would have crashed and burned so hard (and oh, I still did — but my strength kept me afloat). If you read my blog you know plenty about my health crises (yes, multiple), my brand, my passion for wellness, the many directions my business has taken. But when you may not know is that on the other side of all of that, my inner world has been a bit tumultuous and I finally, finally, finally going into 2019 feel as if I am coming out on the other side.
Giving you a little backstory even though it was BEFORE this decade… because it leads into this decade & explains a lot.
To keep it brief, I fell head over heels in love with a boy who quickly became my boyfriend when I was 14. The deepest kind of love that words could ever describe. I finally felt like I had an outlet for all of the loving energy flowing through my heart and body at all times, and it flowed right back to me through him. It was everything. It was BLISS. My friends loved him, my family loved him, we were happy. Young, of course, but happy.
We stayed up all night on the phone when we weren’t together, and when we were we laid on the tennis courts gazing at stars and the bright, glowing moon. We wrote each other poems and successfully got many of our best friends to date each other, so we could all spend as much time together as possible. We all had a lot of fun, made a lot of memories, we didn’t have a care in the world. But by the time we were 16 new challenges were sprouting up… he began dealing with not only a drug addiction but a life gripping mental illness.
I did everything I could to help. We all did. I thought that by encouraging him to get into therapy I was helping, but somehow the wild concoction of pills he was put on only served to make things much worse. A series of very scary and life altering events happened… from lines of cocaine in grandmothers’ bathrooms to drug induced fights that lead to many breakups (and then get-back-togethers)… to nights that felt wonderful and positive only for me to learn later they were fueled by him being on ecstasy, cocaine, pain pills, and more. Often they were drugs I had never even heard of.
When we were 16 was the first time he tried to take his own life. For one VERY LONG hour of my life, I thought he was dead. I really believed with my entire being that he was gone. It was pouring rain outside and just a few days before Christmas when I found his goodbye letter in my MySpace inbox that he’d send the night before. I went ballistic. Unless you’ve witnessed someone go completely hysterical, blacked out to their very core with grief, it’s hard to describe. But if you have, you know.
Although he did live I never did quite get over that hour of my life. It ended my childhood, and ended my blissful notion of what life looked like. Everything I believed about the world and how wonderful and good it was was shattered. I was thrilled that he was alive, but that thrill lead to a decade long obsession with keeping him alive and feeling responsible for his every move. Even after my move to LA and eventually to New York, this deep obsession and fear persisted. Every time I drank (which was constantly) ended in hysterical sobs and freak outs about him. He tried to end his life during that period many, many more times.
Now that bleeds right into this decade… because by 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 this was all still going very strong.
As the decade wore on I dated new people, had new experiences, got my degree in English & Journalism, headed to grad school, took on new business endeavors. But at the forefront of my mind he was always there. It wasn’t healthy for either of us but it was an unbreakable bond. I often questioned where did I end and where did he begin… I felt like my life’s purpose was to be there for him until I absolutely shattered. In many ways I felt like we were one.
I bring this all up because it’s actually impossible not to — it explains everything. Everything about me. It colored my life and many, many years of it. It lead me to everything I now know. To yoga (which legitimately saved my life at 16 when I could barely breathe I was experiencing so many panic attacks per hour), to the depth I seek within all friendships and relationships I develop, to the compassion that spills from my bones for all living beings, to the emphasis I put on my health & wellness and to my love for treating my body well from the inside out. To starting this blog as the creative outlet that fuels me, and to my eventual head over heels love (and obsession and reawakening) with spirituality — for that is the driving force in my life that guides me and brought me back into alignment when I was splitting apart at the seams.
It lead me to eating plant based because as a teenager I developed so many debilitating stomach problems that finding this anti-inflammatory way of life truly saved me… even before I dove into it full throttle many years later! And it gave my life so much purpose, so much meaning… the rug was ripped out from under me at a very delicate age. I know we all have our shit we go through, and I don’t claim for mine to be any worse than anyone else’s. It’s my journey and it has shaped me into who I am. At times it was hell and at times it still is, but I wouldn’t trade it — because it gave me my life. This life.
I have so much to say about all of this and I want to keep it succinct, so below I want to share the top 10 things I have learned in the last decade. I hope that by me opening up and sharing more of my personal life with you in a way that shows you a slice of my heart, you can both see how I became the person I am today and I hope it makes you feel less alone. So let’s dive into the list below (you know I love a good list).
Best thing about the decade was marrying this sweet angel human puppy soul who makes me better every day
Top 10 Things I Have Learned This Decade //
1. Don’t wait until your health comes crashing down to put yourself first & take care of yourself from the inside out. I put myself on the back burner for MANY YEARS until my health came to a crashing halt a couple of years ago. I had to get to a point where I was so chronically fatigued I physically couldn’t get out of bed, and my skin was so on fire from rashes & Hives I could not exercise or really even move. I lost my ability to speak with any sort of ease, and lost all desire to be around anyone. Anything that required any human interaction was too exhausting for me to even think about, let alone do. It has taken me two years of exploring my health issues and the root cause of them to even begin to get back into balance… and even though it has been HARD, it has been the greatest gift I’ve ever been handed by the universe.
2. The universe knows what’s up, and it is always guiding me no matter how out of control things may feel. I have had some MAJOR things happen throughout this decade that have been very much out of my control. I won’t get into it all here, but about six years ago so much heartbreaking stuff was happening all around me with my family, my health, my relationships, and what felt like my entire life… that I truly saw zero light at the end of the tunnel. Now I realize that the entire time I was being guided. To surrender. To trust. To get through it. To develop resiliency. To come out on the other side as an entirely new, entirely stronger being.
I have always been extremely in touch with my intuition, even before I knew that that’s what I was experiencing. I am so glad I listened to the intuitive call to leave grad school, move back from NYC to LA 5 and a half years ago, and also stay in LA even when I was very unhappy and things felt impossibly hard. I am SO GLAD I listened to the intuitive call to start my blog! I had no idea back then when I started that it would lead me to blogging full time and living out the career of my dreams. It took hard work, but beyond that it took surrendering to the universe and being truly, wholeheartedly guided.
3. True love does not have to be complicated or messy or dramatic in order to have depth and be real — true love transcends all of that and enhances life in the best possible way. I shared a brief bit of my story with my first love above for many reasons, but one was to illustrate just how deeply I felt that love had to be complicated and messy in order to be real. Even after my first love that lasted on and off for literally a decade, I sought out relationships that were VERY complicated. I was drawn toward people who didn’t want to be with me or were completely unavailable for whatever reason. I thrived off of the drama and chaos within each relationship because it was all that I knew.
A good friend who knows both me & Jonathan told me several years ago, “When you’re ready to be with a good guy, you’ll be with Jonathan.” Then a few years later, I spoke to an animal communicator who through Huddy (MY CAT!!) said that very soon I would be dating one of my closest friends & to stop looking for love in all of the wrong places.
Well… I can’t tell you how true all of this is. Love doesn’t have to be complicated. Love shouldn’t be complicated. When it’s real, YOU KNOW. When you’re with someone who wants to be with you and who treats you the way you deserve, YOU KNOW. Everything changed for me when I opened myself up to being with someone who was truly kind to me. Things didn’t get boring just because they weren’t chaotic… life actually got way more interesting. I became so much more confident, so much happier.
And now, as of this November, I am MARRIED to this amazing man who I love so dearly. He has stuck by my side through so much. In fact, perhaps I am the complicated one given that I have been extremely sick for most of our relationship. He takes care of me so well. He is such a blessing in my life and I will never, ever stop being ridiculously grateful for him & all that he has shown me.
4. Pursuing creative passions is extremely important & I will never settle to do something for work that doesn’t excite me in my soul, but work is NOT EVERYTHING. People are. Ever since starting my blog in 2013 until about 2018… I really believed my work was my life. It is true that it’s a huge part of my purpose, but what I learned was that we are not here on this earth to be workaholics. We are here to create lasting connections, to experience love, to feel joy moving through us at all times with all beings. My views on life really shifted after getting sick. I have never been more appreciative of the people in my life, and I tell them so pretty much fanatically. I have never had so much compassion for all beings — animals, my Huddy man who literally saved me in so many ways and has added so much to my life, even to the magical powers of plants that have become so important in my healing journey.
In short, once I stopped being such a total workaholic, my world opened up in new ways. From adventures with people I love to inward plant medicine journeys, incredible healing treatments and serendipitous synchronicities right and left… life is so, so much sweeter now that I am more open and aware of what is beyond the work/brand aspect of my life. And on that note, my work is more fun and I am able to put SO MUCH MORE INTO IT now that my life has expanded in new and far deeper ways.
5. Sometimes you’ve got to let go of the rigid plans you have for yourself and let the universe work its flowy magic through your veins. My entire life my main dream and goal in life was to become an author. I always envisioned it would be fiction, but after starting this blog my horizon opened to memoir, cookbooks, poetry, you name it. After writing my first book Breaking Vegan in 2014, I became obsessively fixated on writing my next book. It’s like I couldn’t even enjoy becoming an author at the age of 24 because I was so diehard about what the next book would be.
For YEARS I obsessed over it, I beat myself up that it wasn’t happening, and I started so many different book ideas without finishing them. I wrote book proposals that pretty much ended up nowhere despite having an amazing agent and a great platform — simply because those ideas weren’t what the universe had in store for me. It took me all the way until this year to realize that in order to open up space for the universe to work in flow with me, I had to let go of the rigid plans and goals I had in place for myself.
And guess what? So many things have come through! Courses, marriage, healing my body in a real way, deeper relationships, spiritual awakening, a greater sense of happiness in every sense of the word. I still know that in my lifetime I will write many books. I am inspired and excited just thinking about it — but I am not tied in any steadfast way to what those books will be or when they will happen. I have learned to live in the flow of the universe, and it has been such a massive gift in my life.
6. The important things in life are very, very simple. Family, friendship, love, health, the ability to move our bodies and sleep and nourish ourselves and breathe. When I lost my health, and I lost my ability to do anything/everything I once lived, this became abundantly clear to me. This was certainly in every way, my lesson of the decade.
7. We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings have a human experience. If #6 was my lesson of the decade, this is the lesson of my lifetime. Once I learned and embraced this undeniable truth, my life opened up in countless new ways. I remind myself of this every single day. It reminds me that when things seem hard and life isn’t going the way I want it to, it’s for a greater spiritual purpose. My enteral soul came here to learn, to grow, to experience, to expand. That is exactly what I am doing and that’s exactly what you’re doing too. 🙂
8. Never take life’s little pleasures for granted. Farmer’s market Sundays, coffee dates with my love, cuddles in bed with Hudson, a hot bubble bath with candles and a good book, a phone call with my mom, a stroll with my best friend. These little moments are what life is all about. When I stopped running from all that was important in life to chase something I thought was more important (work, material success, etc.)… I was finally able to see — the truest gifts in life were right in front of me all along.
9. Nature is the greatest healer of them all. Nature heals. Nature is the universe’s gift to us. Have you ever stared into a flower and wondered how it could possibly be created to be so beautiful and perfect? And then realized that whatever divine intelligence created that flower, created you? Next time you feel lost… wander into nature. Lean into a tree. You will remember. Everything we seek, everything we need, is right here on this beautiful planet. We are one with it all & we are a part of it all.
10. All of the answers we seek are inside of us… & if we can’t find them, we just have to get more still to reach them. Meditation, yoga, plant medicine, going inward. We have all of the answers we seek. They are not outside of ourselves. This simple truth has reminded me that when I am looking outside of myself to doctors, my family, other people’s opinions — I will never really get exactly what I need. My intuition always knows. It has lead me to everything in my life now & I don’t ever want to stop recognizing how incredible that really is. And the same is true for all of us!
IS IT SURPRISING THAT I JUST WROTE 3,000+ WORDS?!! I mean, it is a whole decade we are recapping here. 🙂
And I feel like there is so much I didn’t say… LOL!
I really hope that everything I’ve shared here, from my story that begins in 2004 all the way until now, gives you some insight or some guidance or some hope or some happiness, or at the very least makes you feel less alone!
We are all apart of something so, so much bigger than ourselves.
Perhaps that’s why my decade recap culminates with so much spirituality. That is at the core of everything. I have found myself again through spirituality — from eating plant based, to kundalini yoga, to meditating, to Ayurvedic medicine, to returning to nature, to so much more.
I don’t even know how to describe the depth of nostalgia I have been feeling with this decade coming to a close. Powerful shifts are happening. I literally see and feel past relationships and traumas and challenges moving and flowing up and out of my body during these last few days of the decade.
If you are feeling it too, it’s because you are very in tune. 🙂 The truth is, we all are. Some of us just forget along the way. So much amazing stuff is coming in 2020 — I can’t wait to share my new content and projects with you guys and everything I am working on. But beyond that, I just can’t wait for life to keep unfolding. To keep healing. To keep living. To keep loving. To experience it all.
What about you? I would love to hear about your decade & the top things you’ve learned. This is a great time to set intentions & get clear on what you want to call into your life for the next year, decade, and beyond. Love you all so much. Thank you for being a part of my life. <3 Cheers to MANY MORE DECADES TOGETHER!