I am an ambitious adventurer, happy homemaker and general lover of the little things. Life is a journey and it has become my mission to squeeze every ounce of pleasure from each day. From a very early age, I have worked to find a balance between my high capacity for achievement and my need to feel at ease and in joy with everything and everyone around me. As my commitments and ambitions have grown, my passions for cooking, gardening, travel, exercise and being present for the ones that I love (two and four legged alike) have remained steadfast. I believe not only that you can have it all, but that you need to have it all in order to show up every day, at full capacity ready to take on the world.
My story begins on Long Island, where my energy level and ambitions matched the ambitions of the heavily striving culture that I was surrounded by, that is to say that I expected only the best for myself in terms of career, income, physical appearance, relationships and nearly every other detail of my life. Sometime around age 11 these ambitions took their toll and I became totally overwhelmed by the stress of expectations put on me both by myself and the culture of my community. The problem was that despite being hard working and ambitious, I was also deeply sensitive and tuned more into my surroundings than I was capable of managing. My best performance always came when I was relaxed and having fun, and much of this was lost in feeling like I had to be committed fully in order to be accepted. I felt wholly exhausted, which resulted in some long term depression. It was a challenge to get through each day, torn between wanting to be sad and exhausted and wanting to be 'perfect' (which is what I believed I was supposed to be).
It was at this point that I had a few epiphanies: first, that depression is very real and unless I wanted to spend my life medicated I needed to figure out ways to manage it. Second, that if I wanted to get through the day genuinely well then I needed to take care of myself: listen to what I needed and be willing to deliver it. At some level I was able to remember who I was before the stress and I desperately wanted to get back there. I developed some very simple habits that helped me to remember to smile, to remember that life was good and to remember that I was good too regardless of how 'perfect' I was being.
Though I did take better care of myself, I was still on the hard path of success- ya know, the one where you go to school, graduate, move to the city, get a job and earn lots of money. All the while I was doing this, there was a little voice in my head that questioned whether or not I could keep up, not with the uphill treadmill of success but with the expectations I put on myself and the overall stress around me. How long could I follow this path after I exhausted my bank of joy, love and inspiration? I was constantly torn between giving it all up, moving to the mountains and living a happy, peaceful life (while ignoring my need for achievement) or living for that achievement and being constantly depleted by the stress of it all. I didn't know there was a third option.
At University I became increasingly interested in socially responsible and sustainable business practices, this shaped my chosen degree and the experiences that I pursued- what I ate, where I shopped, activities I participated in, how I traveled and where I wanted to work. I graduated in 2008 with enthusiasm and ambition that quickly got run-over with the reality of the recession- I spent over a year applying for the socially responsible finance jobs that I wanted, which turned into the general finance jobs that I was willing to settle on, then finally the just about any business related job I could suck it up to take. I had hit a low- I worked hard and was doing everything that I was 'supposed' to be doing, yet it wasn’t working. I had spent so much of my life trying so hard to be the very best, doing my best- all the while fighting off a lingering sense of emptiness- and it was getting me nowhere.
This it when I was hit with my second big lesson - if the only options that are obviously presented to me aren't working, then I needed to create something that does. If I can’t do what I thought I should do, then what do I want to do? The answer for me was travel. So that’s what I did. I spent about two years traveling Central America, South America, Europe and India, rebuilding my perspective of a life worth living. All of the beliefs that I grew up with of what it means to live a good life weren’t bad, but they weren’t enough for me. I finally gave myself permission to believe that what I wanted for my life was entirely valid and worth having, not just because it is a nice idea but because all of the pieces that I wanted were necessary elements of a successful life for myself. I wanted it all. I wanted to have a beautiful home, make amazing food, entertain and be in a loving relationship, but I didn’t want to be a housewife. I wanted to be insanely successful at whichever career path I chose, but I didn’t want to miss out on the richness that comes outside of the office. I wanted freedom but I also wanted income and to create structures that lasted a lifetime.
So this is where I tell you that I settled in, rolled up my sleeve and made a magical life for myself, right? Well, that's not the case because in reality regardless of how wonderful your life appears, stress still happens. Despite the fact that I was living a life that was much more supportive of me, managing my stress levels still felt like a full time job, depression always seemed just a bad day away. It was around this time that a friend, seeing my need for some support and direction, convinced me to get a Soul Profile reading.
Via my reading the next major epiphany hit: I am not stress and depression, it is something that I take on as a way to cope with what I am experiencing. It became so clear to me that stress and depression were elements of me that I chose and could thus un-choose, I was not held captive. Stress took me away from me, the person I truly am with so many capabilities and gifts. It wore me down and regardless of how hard I tried, I had become disconnected from the light within me. My Soul Profile reading reminded me that this light existed and was far stronger than any stress could ever be and instead of focusing on removing my stress, I needed to focus on expanding my inner light and sharing my gifts.
This epiphany made all previous epiphanies come together. It was here that I realized that regardless of whether I lived in a city or in the mountains, fully ambitious or more chill, that if I was not in touch with myself and my light it would all crumble. I had to learn how to do all that I wanted to do, while always remaining close to who I am, to my be-ing. It was in learning this balance that I could support great achievement in the best of circumstances with the least stress.
The key to the success of this planet will come from us doing what we love, being ourselves, serving from this place of honesty and authenticity and I believe that in order for this to happen we must understand who we are beyond the stress around us. It’s about building practices, both personal and professional, that are sustainable in nature and inherent to our unique style. Life must flow and a successful life doesn’t come from force or excessive doing, but from being and allowing that authentic self awareness to drive everything that we do. This is a profound lesson that has taken me, an overambitious entrepreneur, lots of time and practice to grasp. Those of us who know success in any area of our lives know that our success came in moments of experiencing power, flow and inspiration within ourselves and being totally in control over how we expressed it.
The answer to having it all starts with knowing yourself at Soul level, building a life that authentically reflects it, balancing your successes across all areas and (always) managing stress level with daily practices. It is a balance between working your ass off to create it and taking time to be present with it. I work with entrepreneurs, educators and all those who live life passionately and purposefully, but sometimes, like I do, get worn down by the stress of life, forgetting the truth of who they are and what their mission is. It's about turning that light back on, every single day, by tuning in to the light within and building daily practices that support this light in shining. I am your greatest champion and loudest cheerleader to do you, love you and live for you because the world doesn't need more ‘perfect people’, the world needs more people who are living profoundly and serving purposefully.