30-Day Detox

I am crazy passionate about sharing this 30-day program with others because of the tremendous positive impact it had on my life. The first time I did it I lost 15 pounds in 30 days, increased my energy significantly, got rid of a “brain fog” I didn’t realize I was suffering from, eliminated my digestive issues, and discovered that my reoccurring colds and allergies were diet related. Although I still battle my weight swings because of my love/hate relationship with sugar and carbs, I have yet to have any of the other symptoms return because I am empowered with the knowledge of what ingredients trigger inflammation in my body.

If you have any health goals you’re looking to accomplish, I highly recommend you consider trying Arbonne’s 30-days to healthy living, sometimes referred to as the Arbonne 30-day detox. (There’s also a 10-day version if 30 days seems intimidating to you)

Detox is a buzz word that gets used in many different contexts so I just want to hit on a couple common FAQ’s:

  • What is a toxin?
    • When I say toxin I am referring to anything you put into your body that your body cannot use as fuel and therefore must remove through its natural detoxification pathways
  • Do I have to give up food, go hungry, and drink some weird beverage?
    • No. You should never go hungry on this program, your body needs fuel. It’s centered around a whole foods meal plan
  • Do I need access to get to a bathroom quickly/frequently?
    • No. If the recommendations are followed you will not experience any abnormal bathroom experiences

So what is the detox? Well, let’s get real here. There is NO QUICK FIX to a healthy lifestyle. There is no magic drink or pill you can take that cures your body. Your body needs REAL FOOD. The detox is essentially a commitment to take 30-days and cut out all the commonly inflammatory foods and give your body a break. To let it heal itself.

Many people are very successful using all whole foods to maintain a great state of health. In an ideal world, we would all grow our vegetables on our small farms and raise our own meat if we choose to eat it, and follow a perfectly balanced meal plan each day that has the right amount of all the vitamins and minerals. We would eat every color of the rainbow in our veggies and fruits and live off the earth the way nature intended.

But let’s get realistic…when you tell the average American that they cannot eat gluten, caffeine, dairy, alcohol, sugar or soy for 30 days they feel like the rug has just been pulled out from underneath them. They question their ability to stick to the plan and lack the belief they can do it alongside a busy lifestyle. There’s a reason the entire center of the grocery exists. People want something convenient. This is why I love recommending the Arbonne 30 Day’s to Healthy Living. It’s the ABC plan to give someone the step by step directions of a grocery shopping list, meal plan guide and products to help support their body to be successful, but without all the awful ingredients found in most products.

Why purchase products? I find many people trip themselves up here. They become hesitant when I recommend they spend money. Once I show people how to buy these products at a great discount (I help most people buy it at 40% and 50% off), it comes out to less than the cost of eating lunch at Panera Bread every day but you’re getting SO. MUCH. MORE.

With products that deliver key nutrients like protein and fiber, this healthy combination supplies probiotics and enzymes while supporting energy metabolism and elimination.

Here are the products that come with the most popular package:

  • The plan has a protein powder. A delicious, convenient option, these great-tasting ready-to-drink shakes contain 20 grams of plant protein from pea, rice and cranberry. They also deliver vitamins, minerals and flax seed for targeted benefits. I use the shakes as my “fast-food” when I need something healthy and nutritious but have limited time to prepare a meal or am traveling.
  • The fiber powder is essential when detoxing because fiber acts like a sponge for toxins keeps things moving along through your body.
  • The plan includes flavored energy fizz sticks. These have B-vitamins and green tea extract to power you through the day. These are a great alternative to using coffee, soda or energy drinks.
  • The plan also comes with detox tea which supports the liver and kidney’s so the body can detox gently
  • Digestion Plus is a prebiotic, probiotic and digestive enzyme. This is one of my favorite products because of all the health benefits. It helps with digestion, absorption, immune support and elimination.
  • The plan also includes the 7-day cleanse. This is an INCREDIBLE product Arbonne has created. It includes many marine botanicals that help to detoxify the system while supporting the gastrointestinal tract. The Proprietary Superfood Antioxidant Blend featuring carrot juice, elderberry fruit, chokeberry, hibiscus, blackcurrant juice, blueberry juice, pumpkin, cherry fruit, lemon juice, and apple juice powders.
  • The Greens are an optional piece I always recommend because they are adding all those fruits, veggies, antioxidants and phytonutrients that your body as been craving and you haven’t maybe taken the time to eat the amount that your body needs based on your busy schedule.

 

I am so passionate about sharing this with others because I have seen so many people completely transform their lives by taking control of their health. Imagine how much more you could accomplish in life if you weren’t distracted by discomforts of achey joints, low energy, migraines, colds, digestion issues or other physical ailments. If you could restore your body to its full health, what could you unlock in your life? If you had more energy, which dreams would you start pursuing? Watching people become the greatest version of themselves lights my fire and gets me so excited about sharing this gift.

If you would like more information about getting started on the 30-Days to Healthy Living (or the 10-day “green-tox”), contact me here.

30 Days to Healthy Living and Beyond_instagram_image

Sticking it where it belongs

My daughter has a toy similar to this. My husband and I called it the “toy from hell” from about ages 12mo-24mo because Eleanora would SCREAM and throw tantrums when she couldn’t get the shapes to fit into the hole she wanted them to fit into. She would get so frustrated. She was such a good baby but this toy brought out the evil deep inside. When she would finally get one right she would smile so big and clap her hands and then go right back into anger with the next shape.

One morning, I was sitting at home by myself in my happy place. Doing things I love doing while someone else played with my daughter. Someone whose greatest joy comes from raising small children. They have so much fun together. In that moment I realized, we found the right shapes for the right holes.

For two years I lived in guilt, guilt that I was supposed to have a desire in me to be a stay at home mom. I was supposed to feel guilty about working.

Here I am filing taxes, editing images, replying to emails, writing a blog post, and holding 4 meetings today. And I couldn’t be happier. This morning I made breakfast with Eleanora, watched her push her baby doll around in a stroller while I got everything ready for the day, and cuddled with her in bed. Tonight I’ll laugh and play with her, make bubbles in the bathtub and snuggle with her to fall asleep. And there is nothing to feel guilty about. Everyone is experiencing joy all day long today and that’s a great thing.

I want to send a message to my former self, the mom of that six month old. You absolutely, positively, DO NOT have to do it all. Go. Get. Help. You are suffering unnecessarily. There is a reason moms who work outside of the home drop their kids off at daycare….their bosses want them to focus on work. You thrive when you’re doing what you love, which is (cover your ears) NOT playing toddler games and changing diapers. Go reclaim your identity as SOPHIA, not as Eleanora’s mom. Staying at home full time does not make you mom of the year. It makes you crazy.

Now Eleanora is three years old and in full time child care. She is thriving, and I am too. Now, I actually enjoy playing games with her. I enjoy putting my phone away for the evening and being present with my family, not throwing her on my husband and wanting to spend the evening getting my work done while she begs for my attention and my husband struggles to un-cling her from me.

I resisted living with a regimented schedule for so long, but now I am, and we’re doing so much better. I block off my work time, my family time, my ME time, and I’m not stressed. When I leave the work unfinished I say “no problem. I’ll take care of it Monday morning when I’m home by myself and can focus again.” And I throw my 100% attention into my family and their needs.

If we have future children, I won’t be staying at home again. And I don’t feel any guilt about it. I thrive when I can live my entrepreneur and philanthropic dreams, and I NEED to pour myself into them.

If you look at this toy you will see there are different shapes. We need to honor and respect each. We need stay at home moms and dads. We need women owning it and transforming the business community. We need women who are somewhere in between. What we need more than anything else is for everyone to get really honest with themselves about who is inside. Are you being your truest self or is there someone screaming to get out? Do you feel you have aligned your life with your gifts or are you a square beg forcing yourself into a round hole?

If you are where I was, move. Go find the square hole. It will make room for the circle to use her or his gifts.

How Being Bullied Changed Me

I have cried many tears over the years from this experience. It’s time I talk about it publicly.

At the time I was 14 and in the moment, I didn’t realize I was being bullied. In fact, I’m just now realizing it at age 30. For the past 16 years it’s simply been a memory. A season of my life I powered through, and an event I allowed to rewrite the wiring in my brain of how the world works.

Built into my DNA is a drive, a hunger for achievement. I desire to always be the best, perform the best and win. In elementary school this manifested itself by always earning straight A’s. In the fifth grade when I got my first B on my report card in reading, my mom had no idea what to do with me. I cried on the couch for at least an hour. It was devastating to the 10-year-old version of myself.

In middle school this desire for achievement began to manifest itself with titles and influence. I set goals, and I achieved them. By November of 8th grade I was at the top of my game: President of the student body, Editor-in-Chief of the yearbook staff and first chair clarinet. I remember being disappointed over a 94 on a science quiz because it wasn’t 100. I also remember being an ass about all this. I remember flashing my straight A report card to people. I wanted them to be impressed. I remember getting a 100 on some test and leaning over to the person next to me (after peaking and seeing they got a B) and saying “I got 100, what did you get?” Oh my gosh. It’s so embarrassing to think about. I really did need a good humbling, so in many regards I had it coming to me.

Before you start imaging me as Lindsey Lohan from Mean Girls, let me explain how this could not be further from the truth. I was the fattest kid in all my classes from 4th grade through 7th grade. My mom used to shop for me in the Liz Claiborn (think old lady) section of the department store because she wanted me to have nice clothes, but I didn’t fit into anything in the juniors section. I so desperately wanted to wear clothes from The Limited Too like all the cool girls in my class, but I was too big. In sixth grade my grandmother found an XL sweatshirt from there I could fit into, and it felt like winning the lottery. Finally, I could be cool. It was black and white and the logo was a shiny sliver reflector that washed out in photos from the flash.

I remember walking down the sidewalk and a kid who didn’t even know me saying “Hey fat b****” because my P.E. uniform was a larger size and fit much tighter than everyone else’s. I remember being a safety patrol kid in 5th grade and the orange belt being too small for me even with the buckle at full length. I had to suck in and squeeze the fat in my stomach in to force the latch closed. But dude, the power of that orange belt that gave me permission to tell 1st graders they had to walk not run was so worth it.

Fast forward to 8th grade. Puberty hit and my weight started falling off like a magic trick. I squeezed into my sister’s baggy pants (remember JNCO’s?) from The Limited Too, and I thought I was the s***. Granted, they were too small. I could barely button them, so I totally had a muffin top and did not care at all. I was fitting into pants from The Limited Too.

In most schools, and definitely in the movies, you win class president by being the most popular and getting the most votes. I think I had this belief system that if I could just win class president THEN I would finally be a pretty popular girl. It just so happened that no one from our class wanted to run. The teacher said I wasn’t allowed to run unopposed, so I talked a nice girl from my English class into running just so there could be an election. Her words were literally “sure, I’ll run so you can have it.” The election was on! I made flyers and stickers and posters and put them all over school. Election time came and it was a landslide! I peeked into the teacher’s folder and found the count…something like 851 to 110! AMAZING! Now I would finally be liked and popular.

Oh, and the other two titles that went to my head, editor and 1st chair, were legitimately because no one else aspired to have them. They were signs of how nerdy I was. I spent all my free time working on yearbook designs, taking pictures (still a thing in my life!) and practicing my clarinet. I’ve always been obsessed with hard work.

I wasn’t in the friend group of the kids who were pretty and wore clothes from The Limited Too but honestly, that didn’t bother me at all. I loved my friends. Fiercely. Those kids weren’t that nice to others anyway. (In true mean girls fashion). Like always, for as long as I can remember, my friend group was the nice kids who were the inbetweeners. The group that often gets left out of the stereotypes. The ones who are nice to everybody, usually smart but not to the level of nerdy and dressed somewhat trendy but not to the point we would obsess over our looks. Did anyone else have this friend group?

Like most experiences, at the heart of all of this was just a desire to be loved. I was trying to overcompensate for my lack of self-confidence. When I looked in the mirror all I saw was a fat girl. The story in my mind was that fat girls couldn’t be cool. I just wanted to be liked and feel loved. Now, now I was worthy of love. The pounds had melted off, I was class president (that’s always the coolest kid in school right?), and I was perfect at everything. Finally, people would start liking me. Except, this plan totally backfired more than I could have ever seen coming.

December of that year my little rock-star-status belief about myself came crashing down. A girl in our class started a rumor about me. I don’t even remember the story; I don’t think I ever found out. I just remember the whispering and the staring. I remember walking through the halls and people looking at me differently. I remember my “best friends” no longer wanting to sit at the same lunch table as me. All I can remember is the feeling of having absolutely no friends. And worse than that, seeing the glares of disgust on people’s faces when they looked at me differently. The judgment was piercing at the soul level.

At our school, first thing in the morning when you were dropped off by bus or car, everyone gathered on the patio. You weren’t allowed in any of the classrooms until the first bell rang. For a social butterfly like me, this was fantastic. Everyone is just standing around, and you can run up and talk to whomever you want. I would b-line for my friend group and talk about absolutely pointless things that seemed really important then.

But now, this same morning routine was miserable. The “cool” thing in school became to be mean to Sophia. No one would talk to me. I remember walking up to two girls who had been my “best friends” and saying “Hey Guys. I really want to talk about this. What did I do that has everyone so mad at me?” To say they ignored me is an understatement. They didn’t acknowledge my presence and continued looking at each other continuing a conversation as if I wasn’t standing there. They were making it very clear that I wasn’t welcome there.
When you’re 14, having no friends is the bottom of the pits. And for someone like me, so eager for attention and praise, this was absolute worse case scenario. I didn’t know how to handle it other than to pretend it wasn’t actually happening. I kept it a secret. For a month solid I would arrive to school and head straight for the band room where Mr. Murray would let me in early to practice my clarinet. Social awkwardness avoided. Check. Next time I had to interact with my peers was lunch, which was really easy to get out of because there was so much work to be done for yearbook I could just say I wanted to skip lunch and get caught up on designs. Sweet. No social anxiety there.

I distinctly remember the day that I attempted to eat lunch with the students because my yearbook teacher was absent. I tried walking up to a couple different tables and kids shuffled around to take up all the space so I couldn’t sit there. At my school, 8th graders sat outside and underclassman sat inside. I didn’t know what else to do so I wandered into the cafeteria with my food and found my 7th grade friend who I rode the bus with and pulled up a chair to sit with him and his friends (which felt so belittling in my brain but I had no where else to go). And then the Assistant Principal walked by and reminded me of the seat rule (only so many chairs allowed at a table), and I had to move. This was miserable.

The last social time of the day was P.E. where there was rarely any structure at all. It was pretty much put on gym clothes and walk around the track with your friends. I don’t even remember how I pulled this off, but I managed to get some pass from my band teacher that allowed me to be exempt from going to P.E. class. I could go to the band room and practice more.

This routine worked. The teachers didn’t know I was struggling because I was just my normal workaholic self. My parents had absolutely no idea because I didn’t tell them anything about it. I had developed a survival routine. As long as I didn’t have to be reminded that I had no friends, I could handle this.

I remember walking home from school one day and having suicidal thoughts. Until writing this post I don’t recall ever telling anyone about this. It was an awful, awful plan, but I remember saying to myself “I wonder if I drank a bottle of nail polish if it would kill me so I wouldn’t have to go back to school.” Isn’t that awful? Ugh. I’m tearing up just recalling the memory. Within two minutes I decided it was a bad plan because I was in charge of watching my little brother and sister after school so this would present a problem. Plus, it would taste really bad and had a chance of not working but hurting my stomach badly. However, because I know how I felt in that moment, and I know the thought crossed my mind, even if it was brief, when I read stories of these middle schoolers committing suicide from bullying, and I read about how much worse their environments were, I get it. When you’re that young and immature you can’t see a life for yourself into adulthood with the freedom outside of a school environment.

One morning on the patio I went up to this bubbly girl in our class. She was super sweet, lots of fun and loved by everyone. “Why doesn’t anyone like me?” I asked. She responded by saying,

“Everyone wants to feel good about themselves. When you show off how well you’re doing it just makes other people feel bad about themselves. That’s why I’m so goofy and silly. I’m actually really smart and get good grades but I act dumb because it makes other people feel good about themselves.”

Years later I would realize that this one comment rewired my brain. I would spend the rest of my life (up to this point at least) trying to correct the messaging.

I took it to heart. All of a sudden flashing that point card of President’s Honor roll that I thought would make people like me because they were impressed suddenly become an embarrassment. From that point forward, no one could know about my success.

I think it was around a month that what I now realize was bullying went on. Something happened…some boy who had a crush on my used to be best friend asked me to ask her out for him (because guys are completely oblivious to girls’ social drama) and she started talking to me again. From there everything was back to normal and the girl who started the rumor backed off and left me alone.

Four years went by before I even thought about that experience. I forgave everyone, moved on, and was just happy to have my friends back. I remember getting out my sticker calendar that hung on the wall in my room and placing the “Best Day Ever!” sticker on the day I got my friends back. Life moved on.

I went on to enter high school and we all ended up at different schools. I made a new friend group and no one knew that about my past. The school I went to was one for the academic achievers in the county. You had to apply and be accepted, mostly based on grades and test scores, and you had to be willing to work your tail off for four years. So naturally, it attracted the other high achievers in the county and we were all bused to a central location.

Being surrounded by other high achievers definitely lowered my ego because it wasn’t easy to be the best anymore. I forfeited the fight before it ever began because to climb your way to the top would mean no one would like you. I became quite satisfied being average.

At the very end of our senior year we got our class rankings. On a GPA scale of 0-4, we were all above 6. It was mere decimal points that separated us. Out of my friend group of 7 girls, I ended up with the 3rd highest GPA. I remember one of the girls said “I at least thought I would do better than SOPHIA.”

That hit me. It hit me hard. What did that mean? Did they not realize I was actually really smart? I rewound over those four years and realized I had completely changed my behavior based on the patio conversation in the 8th grade. So in high school, the sharing of grades was reversed. When I got an A, I would slip it into my backpack and not tell anyone. When I got a C or a D I would whine and grope about it so that everyone knew I struggled too. It worked. No one thought I was better than them. I had amazing, wonderful friends who loved me, and I wasn’t an overachiever. There was still something sad inside though. I could feel a part of me had died.

The girl was still inside who loved the fight, the climb to the top, the exhilarating feeling of winning. She was in my core. I just buried her. “You can’t come out. People don’t like people like that. It makes them feel bad about themselves.” So I settled for living a B life. I came to LOVE second place. It showed I was “better than average” but I didn’t have to deal with glares people give first place. I could happily float along in just above mediocrity.

But here’s the problem. My inner wisdom knew that “good enough” wasn’t “good enough” for me. So verbally and mentally I would strive for first place, desire first place, want first place, but would subconsciously self-sabotage. Right on the brink of crossing over into success, I would back down. I would do something to throw myself off and have to start all over. I had no idea I was doing this to myself until I was introduced to a book that opened my eyes.

In The Big Leap, by Gay Hendricks, he explains the 4 hidden barriers that hold us back. At the point in my life the book was introduced to me I was 29 years old and frustrated as hell. I was an entrepreneur with multiple businesses that were stuck a mildly successful. Well enough to keep my family of three self-employed but not doing well enough to create the life we wanted for ourselves. The story of my adulthood. I KNEW there was this woman inside capable of achieving whatever she set her mind to but no matter how hard I tried I continuously would reach “almost there.” And almost might as well be last place.

Gary explains that we all have a success barrier. It can apply to money, or weight, or any area of our lives. We believe we are only worthy of achieving X and we can’t seem to cross over that line. If we do have a breakthrough and cross over it, we seem to fall right back to where we are used to. It’s the classic case of losing weight and a year later being back where you started. It’s our comfort zone. Something at the subconscious level is telling us we are only worthy of X, and anything beyond that is more success than we deserve. In his book, he explains that there are four barriers holding most of us back:

Hidden Barrier One: Feeling Fundamentally Flawed: You feel that something is wrong with you.

Hidden Barrier Two: Disloyalty and Abandonment: This is a belief that achieving success essentially means you have to leave your tribe.

Hidden Barrier Three: Believing that More Success Brings a Bigger Burden. This fear will immobilize you because you believe that the life you create will burden others and triggers the emotion of guilt.

Hidden Barrier Four: The Crime of Outshining: You believe that if you become too successful you will make others look bad.

Bam. I was listening to this audiobook driving down the road, and I started crying. The author said, “This fear is prevalent among gifted and talented children, and often plays out into their adulthood. Children are blamed for taking the spotlight away from others.”

Memories started racing through my mind. The patio conversation. My youth pastor at church asking me not to wear all my honors cords with my cap and gown because it would make the other kids who didn’t have any feel bad. Being told I needed a smaller role in the play because I’m too strong at public speaking and it will make other students too intimidated to perform.

I remember driving down the road and tears streaming down my face the entire half hour to my destination. I arrived and had to sit in the car and sob. This was my life. Not only did this come up on so many occasions but it translated into every moment of my ever day. The tiny, seemingly insignificant thoughts started racing through my mind:

“I’ll eat this cookie in front of them so they don’t feel bad about how unhealthy their plates are,” after losing weight and feeling amazing because I was strictly eating clean foods. When friends or family around me were staying the same or even gaining weight, I would be more likely to make bad choices IN FRONT OF THEM rather than in private. I would hit my goal weight and then return back to my comfortable zone around 170. At this weight I wasn’t fat and could fit into clothes at any store I went to (wearing medium to large) but I still had some chunk on me. That way other people would know I was relatable.

“I shouldn’t wear makeup today,” because the last three times I saw that person I had on a cute outfit with my hair and makeup done so it will make them feel better about themselves to see me in yoga pants with no makeup. When truth be told, I love wearing makeup and looking in the mirror and feeling pretty. I’m totally content without it, so it’s not a superficial matter. I genuinely don’t care who sees me without make-up; I just honestly enjoy wearing it and feeling girlie and pretty.

And then one of the largest hurdles in my life, money. I can’t tell you how many times I would hit an income level for a month and feel AMAZING and then the next month have the worst month of the year, completely robbing the success of the month before because I now had to use that success money just to survive. Up and down. Up and down. Up and down. I had so many financial goals and yet I could not seem to break through this limit that the months had to average out to me making X (which was just enough to get by). I made it to the top 8% in my company, but I LONGED for the top 1%. I was banging my head up against the wall.

It’s been about a year since I listened to the audiobook version of The Big Leap. It’s one of the biggest breakthroughs I’ve ever had. I listened a second time and then bought it for my kindle and hardcopy. There are so many nuggets. I highly recommend this book for everyone because he goes into so many other areas of life as well. Most of us have a story in our minds that was rewired when we were children. We adopted a belief about how the world works, and it’s holding us back.

This is not the point in the story where I say “And now I am a fitness champion, making a million dollars and look amazing every morning before I leave the house.” HAHA! Sooooo not the case. I’m a work in progress. What I can tell you is that one year later, I’m less quick to be concerned with what other people think about what I am eating, wearing, or not wearing. I am getting more comfortable in my own skin. I am giving myself permission to let that achiever out. One step at a time. It’s been 16 years since I buried her. One day at a time, I let her out a little bit more. I feel very confident in saying just give me a little bit more time. Soon I will finally hit, and keep my goal weight. I have gone from wearing makeup once or twice a week to probably three or four times a week. Eventually it will be part of my morning routine, only because I want it to be. I can already see the progress financially. I’m not crushing my goals, but I have raised the bar. That number I used to feel comfortable with is now bigger. It’s been six months straight of a new number. I would like to double it so my husband and I can get out of debt, build a large savings, remodel our house and be able to adopt children. Those things will happen.

Now when I look in the mirror I don’t look at the outer layer. For the last few weeks when I look in the mirror I talk to the girl inside. I sing “this little light of mine” to myself, and I am determined to let her shine. I’ve been wearing a lampshade for 16 years. I so desperately want to take it off and let her shine in all her glory. It’s just a comfort zone thing, and I’m expanding. I used to feel the flab on my stomach, arms or thighs. Now I ignore it. I acknowledge the muscles I can feel underneath, and I tell them “I’m working to remove the layers. I’ll allow you to be seen soon. Just keep growing in there. You’ll come out soon.”

I know this was a long post. If you made it this far, I appreciate you. Writing these words brings me so much healing. Hopefully there’s a nugget or two in here that inspires you to let your inner light shine too. We all have greatness within. We all have a comfort zone. What’s holding you back? Do you know what your fears are?

The Night I Envied the Lesbian

I believe the greatest benefit of our emotions is they are a window into our subconscious. They can be a powerful mirror if you are quiet enough to listen. I was 19 when I first heard “you only judge others for what you judge yourself for” and suddenly the people whom I couldn’t stand to be around, the personalities whom were nails on a chalkboard to me, suddenly became a reflection of my fears.
Jealousy is not an emotion I encounter often. She rarely shows up in my life. I have a “bloom where you’re planted” mentality and little aspiration for material wealth, so there isn’t much to envy. I am grateful for an amazing husband, a sweet little girl and a great family support system. Seriously…what more could I ask for?

Until I saw the woman on the dance floor.

I am a wedding photographer. In December I was shooting a reception and couldn’t help but notice this confident woman. She and her partner were having the time of their lives. She was cute as a button in her suspenders, top hot and crazy tie. She brought so much life and vitality to the room. The other guests seated at her table were constantly erupting in laughter when she was talking. I noticed that everywhere she went people just perked up. Her energy was contagious.

But why couldn’t I smile around her? Why did looking at her bring up these strange, unfamiliar emotions for me? What did she have that I wanted?

When the dance floor opened, she owned it. Whether her skills were good or not was completely irrelevant. She was out there for every song, never dropped her smile, and drug everyone along with her.

With one hand on my lens and the other hand on the trigger I just kept photographing her. Mesmerized. Trying to figure out the source of these emotions. It wasn’t attraction. “I’m not jealous of her being gay…what is this weird feeling?!?!?”

It hit me. Freedom.

She was free. Her posture and confidence screamed “I am who I am. It’s out of the closet. There are no secrets anymore. Hello world. This is me. Take it or leave it. I couldn’t care less what you think. I own who I am and am going to enjoy every second on earth that I can.”

Authenticity. Freedom. No skeletons. That’s what I want.

The hour drive home from that wedding and the days and weeks that followed I couldn’t get the image of her carelessly moving about the dance floor out of my head. Why did I feel like a bird in a cage? What is it I feel I need to come out of the closet about? What part of me is hiding in there?

Fast forward a couple months and I can’t answer this question clearly for you, but this is what I can tell you.

My motto for this year is to “fearlessly be my authentic self.”

What I have learned about myself is that I have been desperately searching for a label to put on my forehead to say “This! This is what I am. This is how I can be defined.” And it’s not there.

Our human minds desire labels. It allows us to put things into boxes. We hear one part of a person and fill in all the gaps so that we can make our assumptions and decide where that person fits in our organizational system.

I am stuck in the middle everywhere, which can feel quite lonely. There aren’t many places I can go where someone can get to know me and walk away saying “oh yeah, she’s totally one of us.” It’s usually like “Man, I absolutely LOVE this about her, but yeah….that part of her life I just cannot relate to/agree with/understand,” whatever the word may be. I’m craving a community where I can feel at home. A place where once a particular belief ,opinion or practice comes out of my mouth I’m not suddenly feeling awkward because people’s energy or tone has shifted. The feeling of “she’s cool, but she’s not really one of “us.” I want “my tribe,” fellow in-betweeners.

Want examples of what I’m talking about? Where do I even start….

I’m a Jesus follower…who doesn’t “go to” church. I respect people of all spiritual faiths and believe we have much more in common than separates us. I want to fight to protect their freedoms as much as my own.

I’m a crunchy, granola mom who co-sleeps and breastfed to age two, who also loves being a self-proclaimed work-a-holic. The season of my life I tried doing the at home thing were my least favorite of my 30 on earth. When I look back on those days and how NOT MYSELF I was, I just want to run back and rescue her. I love my time away from my daughter as much as my time with her.

Absolutely no political party fits me. I want to just put all of their “issues” stances in a line and cherry pick the ones that seem like common sense to me and flush the rest. So no matter who is “representing me” it’s going to be someone who I hope does some good and doesn’t absolutely screw up an area that is going to affect my life and our world.

I absolutely LOVE to travel, except that I don’t. I love being at home, inside my four walls. The best part of traveling is leaving and the best part is coming back home.

I am an introvert interior with an extrovert exterior. I absolutely love my time alone, deep conversations and introspection. But not at the cost of my FOMO. I love meeting new people, making friends with strangers, meetings and talking until I finally crash on the pillow.

I crave having my hands in multiple pots. I tried that whole “cutting it back” thing and it doesn’t work for me. I own a photography business, a network marketing business, am getting yoga teacher certified, and feel a deep desire to start this blog too. I’m on a board and involved in two organizations I love. Oh, but I also value quality time with myself, my husband, my daughter, my family and my friends. Everyone in my life and every book says it’s too much. But I don’t care. This is where I thrive. There are occasional days I think I’m insane but most days I’m really damn happy.

So when I meet someone new and they ask, “what do you do?” I cringe inside and have no clue how to answer this question. I spend more time with my family than any other area of my life so do I answer by saying I’m a wife and mom? I pay my bills primarily through my photography business and my Arbonne business, so do I tell them about those income streams? I’ve felt a calling to start this blog for years and now I am, so am I now a blogger? I teach two classes at the yoga studio a week, so I just let me students assume I’m a yoga teacher.

When I’m asked that dreaded, confusing question, I usually just grab one of my roles and present myself as that person, knowing I am leaving behind so much, and I have no idea which perspective of “who I am” they’re wanting to see. I know they’re just wanting to make conversation and figure out which box to file me inside their brain’s organizational system and if they knew it all they would just be confused and walk away.

So yeah….this blog is finally starting. I’ve been creating it in my mind for 6 years. I have so many things I know I am called to share, but I have been holding back. Why have I held back? Fear of judgment. There are people I love so much who may read my posts and love most of them and then come across “that one” that rubs them the wrong way and suddenly they don’t see me the same. At least this is the story in my head. That someone, somewhere will get upset, not like me, be offended, etc.

Here’s the problem though…I’ve known for six years that I’m supposed to write these stories down. The experiences I’ve had were given to me that I may share them. Allowing fear to stop me is ultimately, selfish.

So here’s my “coming out of the closet” moment. I’m an internal hot mess, doing the best I can with what I have and dead set on creating a better life for everyone: myself, my daughter, my community, my family, my friends, America and humanity. If I don’t take the veil off and show you who I really am then I cannot fulfill my purpose on earth.

I am here to tell you stories that will hopefully inspire you to look inward too. To continue your own personal growth curve. And to empower you to step into your purpose.

Subscribe on the homepage if you want updates when I post. Like I said earlier…there’s a lot going on. So I cannot commit to regularly scheduled posts. When something is on my heart, when I feel inspired, when I know I cannot stay silent, I will share. And if you want to listen, subscribe.

Question……do you have a skeleton in the closet? Are you living a life true to who you are? What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail (and that everyone would still love you after you did it)?

Love,

Sophia

When I paused life, found my purpose, and buried it for five years

A self-portrait I took on February 24, 2011 when I stopped by Ikea during my sabbatical
A self-portrait I took on February 24, 2011 when I stopped by Ikea during my sabbatical

I paused life for a week.

In 2011 I was a wreck internally. Outside it looked great, but internally I was ready to bust at the seams. I was working a full time job while also putting in full time hours with the company I launched the year before with my husband. I was still living in the 470 square foot studio we bought together in college that was worth 20% of what we paid. Our dream was to be living in L.A. immediately after college for my husband to pursue his film ambitions, and I had yet to move out of the same zip code as my parents. I forgot to eat most days and felt guilty for the amount of time I took to get ready in the morning because I couldn’t figure out how to make that half-hour window of my life productive. I was stressed, gaining weight, letting people down all around me because I was over-committed and putting on a facade that I had it all together.

One day, I had one of those moments you cannot explain other than to call it a divine intervention. I received a message so strongly that my heart was pounding, ready to explode. It was a calling I had to respond to immediately:

There is a woman inside of you screaming to get out. Find her.

Take a week sabbatical and get quiet enough to hear what I need to tell you.

All of a sudden I grabbed a pencil and looked for every scrap sheet of paper I could find around me. I started seeing characteristics of this woman. The woman I longed to become but who looked nothing like the Sophia currently walking the earth. I filled three random envelope-backs with her characteristics. A few I remember are :

Lovely human being.

Cares deeply about people.

Meditates in the morning

Is healthy

Inspires people

Speaks in kindness

Patient

Makes an impact in her community

Knows her purpose

 

It’s very relevant for you to know that nothing about this list reflected the version of me at that moment. I was opposite in every way, which was obviously the cause of my internal struggle.

The list went on and on. All I knew was I felt like a fraud. I wanted to be someone completely different than who I was at age 24. I opened up my calendar and realized that if I spent the next week unloading all of my responsibilities then the week following I could have replacements for all of my commitments.

I approached my husband:

“I need to get away. Well actually…I need you to get away. I am always on the go, and I need a week of a silent sabbatical. At home. Can you go find some friends to stay with, maybe bring the cats with you? I want to lock myself in the house for a week alone.”

And this is one of the many stories I have that make my husband amazing. I remember him thinking I was crazy. I remember him rolling his eyes. But I don’t remember him telling me no or fighting me on it. He could tell I wanted this badly so he went and crashed at a friend’s house.

My plan was to spend the weekend cleaning and organizing my house to spotless perfection and then sit in it for the week. What ended up happening was my body shut down on Thursday. I had been running so hard that it just went kaput. I spent the first two days in bed mostly just sleeping.

By Sunday I was able to head to the produce stand. I decided to eat only raw fruits and vegetables during my week off and cleanse my body. I told my family if they needed me to drive to my house for emergencies only and that I was shutting off my phone and computer the entire week.

I cleaned, organized and sat. Months before, I bought the book “Meditation for dummies.” I read through it, not helpful. So confused. I tried sitting on a comfy pillow, getting into that crossed-leg position and meditating. My mind went everywhere and it felt completely silly. I dusted off some books I had been wanting to read and magazines I was subscribed to but never made time to open. Finally, I decided I needed help. I remembered that I had a professor in college who talked about how he meditated every morning for 30 minutes and could not begin a day without it. I also remembered he retired. We were Facebook friends so I turned on the computer to send him a message.

I asked for meditation advice and said “P.S. Do retired professors have time for coffee with old students?

He replied (four days later) with a plethora of advice that sounded like a second language to me and invited me to come to his house for tea the next day. I broke my rule of silence and drove 45 minutes away for a morning meeting. That day changed my life. I had so many questions about life, direction, purpose, God, truth etc.

Nine a.m. turned to noon, and we ate lunch. He had errands to run before his wife got home so he invited me to continue the conversation in the car while we went grocery shopping. He welcomed my brain picking for hours and hours and by 3pm I was finally on my way home. I remember there was so much for me to digest, I just drove to Ikea and sat around on couches. I was people watching, questioning everything there is to question about life.

When I got home I decided to start an activity he recommended. He told me the story of how he found his purpose through an exercise at a retreat he had attended a few decades ago. I decided to duplicate it for myself (will share with you in a future blog post) and see if I could discover mine.

And I did.

My purpose in life is to help others grow.

I didn’t know what it looked like, how to execute it or where it would take me. What I did know was I HAD to pursue a life that allowed me to regularly help people grow into a better version of themselves. It may sound vague but for me, it was filled with clarity.

With the remainder of my time alone, I decided to make a vision board. I heard of others who did this for goal setting and it sounded like a great idea. I made my list (I’ll make another post on how I did it), found images to match my goals, stuck them to a board and started chasing after them.

When my husband returned, and I had to step back into reality, I was refreshed and living with intention.

Six months later I had replaced my income and quit my full time job.

One year from that date I was a completely different person.

Five years later, very little about my life resembles that girl. Most of my vision board is complete, almost finished, or not possible yet (like….grow old with my husband. 30 isn’t old 😉

One piece has been missing though. There was a piece on there printed very largely “A full time job enriching the lives of others. Blogger. Speaker. Motivator.”

This girl has stayed inside for many reasons. Am I worthy to teach others? What have I accomplished? Don’t you have to be super successful to do that? What if I fail? If I’m not good at this and it’s my biggest life dream…then what will I do? I have no back up plan. Who even wants to hear what I have to say? There are so many other authors, teachers and speakers out there saying pretty much the same things I want to say. People can just read their books and blogs and listen to those people. I’m not important enough.

Do you hear these lies? They are such powerful lies.

They are the lies that keep most of us from doing what we were created to do.

As I started preparing my 2017 dream board, I realized I was ONCE AGAIN going to be carrying over the goal “Launch my brand.” I said enough is enough. It may not be perfect, but it’s something. I might be messy at first, but I will learn and improve. I may not have it all figured out, but I definitely know plenty enough from all these mistakes I’ve made that I can share them with others so they don’t repeat them.

So here it is. The first official blog post of the Sophia Hyde brand. There is so much more to come. I literally LIVE to help YOU fulfill your purpose. I want to see you shine. I want to see you in your element. I want to see you step into your greatness. I want to see you overcome your fears. There is nothing more satisfying in the world to me than to watch your journey.

Please comment below. Fill this with questions. I may or may not have answers but I would LOVE to search for them with you.

You matter. You have a purpose. I believe in you.

Do you know your purpose? What is it?

How to Create Hope

To my fellow Trump haters who are waking up this morning confused, I would like to share with you the hope that is keeping my spirits high regardless who is the POTUS.

-Above all, my joy does not come from circumstance. My joy comes from a higher power beyond myself that is the source of all love, all positive energy and all good things. No one can take that away from me.

-Of all the things on the ballot yesterday, this particular bubble affects our lives the least. It gets the most attention because of the media. It’s the one and only race  they can talk about that applies to all their viewers. However, state and local politics affect our lives in much more substantial ways. Get involved at the local level if you want change. Plus, thank God for balance of powers. He can’t be the dictator he has been in his other roles because our system prevents it.

-Look at the last 100 years of elections. America just keeps flip flopping between parties because many believe the slogans that this ONE person can make things better. Not true. Actually….biggest lie we could possibly EVER be fed. The only ONE person that can have a significant impact on your life is YOU! That’s it. Don’t like something about your life? Fix it. Upset about a particular issue? Take action. Every single issue they debate is actually best reformed through the actions of the American people. We vote more strongly with our attitudes, time, and dollars than our voting booths. If there is something you don’t like about your life or your community then take ownership over it and bring some like-minded friends along to make a difference. That’s always how things improve. We don’t need to make America great again. It already IS! You have all the resources you need at your disposal to start making a difference. You are not a victim of circumstance!!!!!

-Remember to focus on your circle of influence. I have friends texting me and posting on social media about being in states of fear, sobbing, and stressing. This does not serve you or your country. You must evaluate your circle of influence. Here’s an exercise. Draw a large circle to represent all the issues you are worried or concerned about. Next, inside that circle, draw another circle to represent the things you are worried about that you can actually do something about. Now, let the rest go. AH! I know….it feels so hard sometimes, right? But it’s a total waste of your energy to spend any time there. It’s robbing the impact you can make in the smaller circle. Pour all your energy you are using to stress into improving yourself, your family, and your community. We each only have a finite amount of energy within are bodies and minds. We must be wise with how we spend it. Respond by investing in making the things better that you actually can influence.

-Of all the words filling my newsfeed I keep seeing this one over and over again referring to the Trump supporters as racist, homophobic, deplorable, and all sorts of insulting words. I am proud to say I did not vote for him because I never for a second liked the man. However, a lot of people I know and love did. These are people I personally know don’t fit that description. I watched them welcome people into their home of many races, who lived on the “other side” of the tracks but had no place to call home that was safe so they gave them a free room. I’ve seen them surrounded by close friends who are homosexual. I’ve watched them dedicate their lives to the service of their communities. Welcome foster care children into their homes or fight for them in court. If you truly believe that about 50% of the population are idiots, start right there. If you want to end racism…go get to know these folks who are “deplorable.” You’ll likely find yourself super confused like me. There are other issues Trump stood for that mattered to them, or things about Hillary they couldn’t get behind. If you find yourself harshly judging 50% of the country….I recommend starting right there. Find a space to love them, be genuinely curious to understand their perspective. If you keep screaming hatred at them, you will not convince them that your way was the one that was hate free.

-Maybe you are on the other end and you are rejoicing because to you Trump represents making something better. What is that issue you are excited about he says he will fix? What power or influence do you have in that area? If you really do believe that issue needs help, it will not happen by eating chips and ice cream every night in front of the TV waiting to see updates on the nightly news about what he has done about that problem. Redirect your energy to getting involved in the issues that matter most to you. If you really were a Trump fan, then get involved and take action on improving something in America so that all of us who think he is a bully can be proved wrong. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to be proved wrong on this one.

We are the ones who possess the power. Decide that YOU are the one person who has the ability to make a difference. Grace and peace be with you friends.

Breaking My Silence: We’re being told the wrong story

For the past few weeks my Facebook newsfeed has been going viral every day with something else. I’ve even considered getting off for a while because it’s filled with so much anger. Every controversial issue that arises I have friends spewing hatred at the thoughts other friends believe. I chose silence. I chose to participate in the discussions in person only when my opinion was directly requested. I have chosen the silence to focus on the things in my life that require my energy and attention.

However, after waking up to yet another tragedy filling my feed, today I have decided that I have something worth sharing. I’ve had it on my heart for over 5 years to start a blog, I had this template built in January but I’ve never posted in fear of offending or upsetting some people and a fear of the site not being “perfect.” This message is worth me breaking my silence. Getting over my fears. This message is worth being my first official post on my website.

I want to encourage all my friends to seek out a journey to find your calm. Find your peace amidst the chaos. Feel the sadness and grief and then respond with love and action.

The current social and political issues matter today, but will be forgotten tomorrow. The lives lost are heart breaking, but our anger does not bring them back. When you feel like the world is crazy and out of control remind yourself that every single generation in the history of the world has felt the same way. Part of the human experience has always been navigating through good and evil. Trying to cope with suffering. Asking questions of why things happen. Fighting for injustices.

As a former student and professional of the media, I have turned it off in my life because I understand its foundation is built on sensationalism. The world feels so much worse because Americans are more glued to their TVs and computers when they are in fear and feel dependent on media to keep them updated…and therefore we watch more ads. Or click on more websites that have banner ads. It’s the truth.

Though you may not realize this, we live in the most peaceful time in the history of the world. For as long as we have had recorded history there have been wars in the Middle East, senseless murders…dating all the way back to Cane and Abel in a field. Violent crimes fell by 51% from 1991 to 2013. Think texting and driving is our biggest problem? In the 40 years between 1973 and 2013 the US population rose by 50% but the number of car fatalities per year dropped by 40%!!! I could keep going. There have been so many ways our world has improved over time. But there are presently and have always been those who process their anger, hurt and pain by choosing to create anger, hurt and pain in others’ lives.

We cannot fix all the pain today. And honestly, nothing about the laws of nature give us any reason to believe they will ever go away, but we can choose where to take action. We don’t have control over the actions of other people, but we do possess control over our own.

So how do we respond to more acts of violence in our world? By doing the very, most simplest teaching Jesus recommended. To love your neighbor. Do you know someone hurting? Do you know someone in pain? Love them. Help them. Beyond giving money to a GoFund me website, we often feel completely helpless in regards of how to help a grieving family whose loved one has just been shot, a mother whose son was carried off by an alligator or a gorilla, or whatever tragedy will next fill our timelines and news headlines.

We cannot control these matters. They have been going on for eternity and will continue to occur. We don’t know when we will be the family affected by the next headline. We don’t know when our own tragedy will go viral. But we all know someone who is hurting today who can use a meal cooked for their family, a gas card to fill up the tank, a couple hours of free babysitting to take care of life without distraction, a lawn mowed because it’s the least of concerns they can process.

Friends, please understand that today, right now, you are living in the best time in the history of the world. Despite that when we woke up this morning we learned of more lives lost in France to another senseless act of violence, this is not new to history. This isn’t the first war ever. It’s no where close to the largest. It actually HAS been worse before, many times.

I literally cannot wrap by brain around what America I’m supposed to want to go back to? The one with segregation? The one where I as a career-driven woman would feel stifled at every turn? A world where information was challenging to find? Today we live in a world where ANYONE of ANY gender, race, handicap, background or personality type can achieve anything they set their mind to if they have a strong work ethic and are stubborn enough to not quit until they do. I agree that certain situations make the climb a little more challenging, but not impossible. The truth of the matter is, today, right now, there have never been fewer limitations to become your greatest self.

I personally, have so far to go. I am not the first to cook the meal or run to aid. I am typically too caught up in my own world to recognize how to volunteer without being directly asked. I am too busy reading my social media newsfeed to have a relationship with my next door neighbors. It’s true. I can’t remember their first names.

Friends, can we start a dialogue talking more about how great these times are we are in and how to make them EVEN BETTER? I want to continue paving forward on eliminating more glass ceilings, bringing more love to the unloved, more education to the uneducated, more violence ended, more food and shelter to the homeless children. The list goes on.

I want to live in a world that is continuing to progress forward. I want to get off my ass and DO something. It starts with keeping MY attitude in check, MY eyes open for who to help in my life, and fulfilling MY purpose on this earth.

Yesterday my sister woke up at the butt crack of dawn to be at my house by 7am so I could leave for an early meeting and someone could take my daughter to swim class. She washed the dishes while she was here. That was HUGE for me. My parents picked my daughter up from childcare and fed her dinner for me. I was gone for over 12 hours focusing on the things I believe are my callings and missions in life. I suck in the kitchen, mostly because I find it a stressful place to be. I don’t know how to operate a lawn mower, judge me, that’s fine. But I did a few things to help others.

When writing this post I was thinking that I may have had a particular selfish day until I realized I used my service, my skill set, to help two people. I’m a networker. I love talking, asking questions and meeting new people. I thrive in conversation. When I stopped to think about the tasks I did yesterday I realized I helped two friends get lined up for job interviews with two other friends hiring people of their skill set. I had absolutely nothing to gain in either scenario. It’s not big. It’s not glorious. But it’s something small I can do that helps another person. And I hope for both my friends’ sake they get hired, and I’ve helped them find the full time employment they were praying for….while my sister washed dishes and my dad cooked. Because that’s their service.

The world keeps moving and flowing when each of us gives, loves and does what we can.

What is something small you did yesterday to help someone? What is something small you can do today?

Who wants to join me in starting a different dialogue?

If you agree that the dialogue should shift, share this post with others. Let’s participate in the conversation with a different perspective.