So, I wanted to share a little bit of my personal background and how I developed such a deep passion for wellness. Let me tell you, it was a very long journey with lots of what I refer to as “less-than-graceful” moments.
I didn’t grow up in a home where health and wellness were valued or supported. Much of my childhood years were spent with a single father who was mentally ill and untreated. It was chaotic, stressful, and sometimes, really scary. I learned very young that feeling my feelings only got in the way of my ability to function properly, so I stuffed them down as far into my being as I possibly could. I developed a kind of soldier mentality, and I pushed through situations that no child should ever have to manage. Eventually, my father’s behavior became alarming enough for me to decide to leave, and at 12 years old, I made the decision for my sister and me to move out of my father’s home in Houston to live with my mother and step-father in Los Angeles.
I was certain that, from there on out, my life would be golden and I would finally have the happy, normal-ish life that I’d always wished for, but the reality turned out to be a little different. The move was sudden and none of us, not me, my sister, my mother, or my step-father, were really prepared for what living together as a family full-time would entail. The transition was difficult and the house became a hotbed of complicated feelings and conflict. And then, a year and a half after the move, my father committed suicide. Each of my family members dealt with the turmoil and grief in their own unique ways. I did what I knew how to do best; I buried myself in schoolwork and extra curricular activities and made sure not to feel any of my feelings.
By the time I moved away to go to college at age 17, I was a ticking time bomb of repressed emotions and it wasn’t long before I began to act out my immense backlog of anger, sadness, and grief. Shortly after school began, I found my way into a crowd of students that were equally troubled and began to drink and drug myself into oblivion at every opportunity. I wasn’t taking care of my body and, at one point, let my weight drop down to 100 pounds, an unhealthily low weight for someone of my height and build. I was blacked out drunk more nights than not, I was almost always stoned, I took any drug that anyone offered me, and I frequently put myself in situations that were pushing the limits of safety. In a nutshell, I was asking for it.
I tried to tell myself that I was a badass. That I was living a reckless, rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle after years of being the good girl who held it all together and that I deserved to cut loose and be a little irresponsible, but the truth was that I was in an overwhelming amount of pain and being self-destructive was the only way I knew how to express it.
Eventually, I had a series of experiences that caused me to take a step back and pause just long enough to examine my life. It’s difficult to explain exactly what happened because the things that caused my shift were a collection of tiny moments that landed on me in powerful ways, but I began to realize that I actually valued my own life, that I didn’t want to follow in my father’s footsteps, and that I had the power to change. I wasn’t completely aware of it at the time, but I can look back and clearly see that, somewhere deep inside myself, I had chosen to begin the process of healing.
I slowly started to let go of the relationships, the habits and behaviors, and most of all, the beliefs that weren’t serving my health and happiness. It didn’t happen over night and there were many moments of falling back into old patterns, but my commitment to my healing process became more steadfast as I overcame each setback. I learned tools and developed practices that empowered me to be my best self. I began to make decisions based on whether or not something served my highest good, and I watched my life transform in front of my eyes.
I started feeling better physically, mentally, and emotionally. My body became healthier, stronger, and I felt more at home in it. After years of numbing out any emotion that was difficult, I started to tune in and develop a greater awareness of my emotional states. This definitely wasn’t pleasant at first, because there was still a lot of pain waiting to be acknowledged and processed, but over time, this self-awareness became a source of insight and personal power.
I noticed that positive people and interesting opportunities started showing up in my life and that I would regularly find myself feeling full of gratitude and even joy, an experience that was new, expansive, and humbling. Sometimes I would look back and have a hard time understanding how I had ever lived in such a dark place for so long, and I promised myself that, if I ever found myself back in a hole, I would remember this newfound capacity for joy and work relentlessly until I found my way back.
I know now that there will never be a point at which my life will be golden from there on out. A good, happy, fulfilling life is not something that just happens. It is something that you create and make choices toward every single day. Some days, those choices are easy to make, and others, it requires busting out every tool in the toolbox and digging really deep.
When I meet new people now and eventually share some of my past with them, they’re often shocked and find it hard to believe that I went through such a dark period. But it’s exactly those experiences that make me so committed to a life of wellness. I know that I hold both light and darkness inside of me and that whichever one I feed will dominate my life. So I choose to feed the light. I do this by being loving towards myself, nourishing my body with wholesome food, and nurturing my soul with healthy relationships, creative expression, and time spent in nature. When the darkness surfaces as impulses to revisit old, destructive patterns, I meet it with compassion, and I process it through conversations with people I trust and physical outlets like running and hiking. On the occasions when I find that I’ve slipped up and fallen into those patterns or some shadow of them, I now know that I can always choose to pick myself up and begin again. Uncovering that truth has been one of the greatest gifts of my life, and it’s one that I want to share with anyone out there who’s in need of their own healing, great or small. And that is why I won’t ever look back and regret a single thing that I went through. All of it led me here, to the person I am now and to being absolutely lit up by the possibility of helping others uncover their own capacity to heal and create a life filled with vibrant joy and a deeply grounding sense of wellness in their mind, body, and spirit.