Self-care is NOT selfish!

We’ve all heard the phrase, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.”

You can’t keep giving, giving, giving… and never taking anything for yourself.

We have this idea that putting our selves, our needs, our wants, before other things in our lives is selfish. There seems to be a misconception in our world: there’s no way that we can take care of others, while simultaneously taking care of ourselves. Most of us think we have to choose between the two.

You shouldn’t have that voice in your head that stops you every time you get the idea to do something for yourself. You’re not being a hero by being self-less all the time. What you’re actually doing, is burning yourself out.

When I say “self-care”… I don’t necessarily mean taking yourself on a shopping spree, or getting your nails done, or going on a vacation, or rewarding yourself with your favorite food. I’m talking about mental self-care: things that make your soul happy, give you purpose, get you in touch with your feelings.

Have you ever found yourself getting angry or upset and lashing out on someone, and realizing later that it wasn’t them that upset you, that you were actually angry about something else? Have you ever felt so stressed out and started crying about something insignificant, then to realize it’s because you were absolutely exhausted?

When you aren’t in touch with our feelings, you tend to project them on others. This can obviously cause problems in relationships and cause you to lash out at those around you. Self-care, real self-care, begins with opening up to yourself about your feelings, your wants, and your needs. What do you want? What do you need? What calms you down? What keeps you sane?

I want to train 6x a week. I need to cook all my meals. Stretching and drinking wine calms me down. Relaxing on the couch, with my dog, catching up on some TV keeps me sane. These are the things I do to take care of myself.

Answer these questions, honestly. Now… are you making time for the answers to those questions? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. But that’s what you should be doing.

Yes I get it, it’s easy for me to say. I’m a single 25-year old with no kids or anything like that. But listen to me… “I don’t have time” is not an excuse. There is someone out there, with a busier schedule than you, who is “making time.” If it is important to you, you will make time. And I hope I’m convincing to you right now, that it should be important to you.

I work 2 jobs, 50+ hours a week… nights, some early mornings, and weekends. I’m not complaining about my schedule, but every free second I get, I use. I use any free few hours to get the things done that keep me sane. I prep all my meals on Monday morning, it’s therapeutic and relaxing and makes me happy because I know it’s helping me towards my goals. When I can, I sit down and write because I enjoy getting my thoughts and ramblings on paper. If I have any downtime or a night off, I’m usually curling up on the couch and catching up on a TV show, only if it’s for an hour before I go to bed. After a long, hectic double at work, I love to come home, whip out a yoga mat, stretch and drink wine while watching a TV show.

Self-care also means learning how to say no. You don’t have to pick up that shift for that person. You don’t have to take on that extra project. You don’t have to keep making other people’s wishes and requests priorities over other things in your life.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to your priorities. If you are not properly taking care of yourself, it means that you are not considering yourself a priority. How f*cked up is that?

So I challenge you, to prioritize. Make self-care one of your goals going into the new year. Put yourself first… FOR ONCE! Get rid of that nasty voice in your head telling you to stop being selfish. Because you’re not being selfish, you’re being smart. Your mind, your body, your soul… it’s the only one ya got. So take care of it. And you will reap benefits in all other aspects of your life. ❤

A Beginner’s Guide to Goal-setting.

Hey all! Happy Monday 🙂 the best day of the week is here again!

Call me an optimist, but I truly believe that all people want to do well and be successful for themselves. Whether it be excelling in their job field, raising a family, losing weight, etc– people usually have the best intentions and a good drive. Where the problem lies, is in the execution. Most typically have a tough time with putting their thoughts, ideas, and plans into action. While I am no expert, and I am always looking for ways to improve, I believe I can help someone reading this take a stronger approach to their goals, the way they set them, and actually making them happen.

I remember in college learning about this idea of “S.M.A.R.T.” goals. Obviously the acronym is supposed to help you remember, but the idea has always stuck with me because it just made so much sense. Goals are broken down so specifically they’re almost impossible not to follow through with (unless you get lazy- which could be the case). So here’s the foolproof way to get started on your goal-setting:

S- SPECIFIC

The first step in goal-setting is making your goals quite specific. Saying, “I want to lose weight” or ‘I want to get in shape” is too general, and not sufficient for success. For this, you should list all the “W” questions and how they apply to your goal.

WHO- Who’s involved to reach this goal?

WHAT- What specifically are you looking for? (details, details!!)

WHERE- If there’s a specific location or event, list it here (may not be applicable)

WHEN- There should be some sort of time-frame. We’ll delve a little more into this in the “timely” section.

WHY- What’s your WHY? What’s the reasoning? There has to be a good reason why behind any goal.

M- MEASURABLE

For your goal, there needs to be some way to measure your progress. If you can measure your progress along the way, it’s motivating and can push you harder to keep going. Maybe you need to set some milestones on the way to your ultimate end-goal.

For example: my goal is to achieve 10 unbroken strict pull-ups by the spring. As of right now, I can only do 2 or 3 unbroken strict pull-ups. I write out some SMART goals, come up with a strength plan, and begin the program. Fast forward two months, while I can’t do 10 pull-ups yet, I am able to do 7. I know I am closer to my goal than I was before, because I have found a way for me to measure my progress on the way.

A- ACHIEVABLE/ATTAINABLE

First, you need to assess your limitations and level of commitment. Your goal can’t be so far-fetched, or you’ll be set up for failure.

Be honest with yourself. How much time do you have to devote towards this goal? How hard are you willing to work? Are you willing to make serious, daily changes? If the goal and the commitment level don’t match up, it may be a good idea to revise the goal a little bit.

Say you want to lose 75 pounds. It’s going to be a long road, and going to take a hell of a lot of time, discipline, sweat, and tears. It’s not going to be easy. Maybe first, set a goal and tackle that first 25 pounds. Then after that, another 25 pounds, then after that, the last 25 pounds. This way, it doesn’t become overwhelming.

R- REALISTIC/RELEVANT

Here, you should take some deeper thought into the “Why” section from the Specific section. Why are you actually doing this? Is this goal worthwhile? Will it have positive effects in other aspects of my life? Will I care about this in 5 years? Will this goal be fulfilling your desires, or is there something else that’s more important?

Ultimately, the goals you set are totally personal, and can be whatever you want. Nobody else can come up with a goal for yourself, but yourself. But make sure they are important, will make you happy in the long run, will set you up for success, and are being done for you–nobody else.

T- TIMELY

All great goals have a time constraint. It is SOOO necessary. If there’s no time-cap, it’s not a goal, it’s just you saying that you want to do something.

Here’s some examples:

I want to lose 25 pounds by the summer.

I want to have 3 new clients in the next 3 months.

I want to get my website set up by January 1st.

I want a sub-6 minute mile by March.

When there is an ultimate end-date, you realize every day that you actually have to move your ass and get the work done, if you want to be successful (which I believe we all do).

I hope this article is the kick in the ass you didn’t know you needed. There’s really no way to get what you want in life without putting in this kind of effort. Grab a notebook and sit down. Take five minutes to think about what’s important to you. I know you’re ready to make a change!! Go through the steps, in detail, don’t leave anything out. Keep your writing somewhere where you can read it every day if you have to. Be your own motivation. Realize that nobody’s going to do the work for you. Talent and luck will only get you so far in life– hard work and relentlessness is so much more fulfilling. Think of how good it will feel when you finally reach that goal you’ve been dreaming about, and how proud of yourself you’ll feel.

Get after it!

Comparison is The Thief of Joy.

Starting this one off with an ol’ Teddy Roosevelt quote because it is soooo fitting. I’ve been thinking about this topic, comparison, for awhile now, because it is an innate human trait… something that we can all relate to. Everyone, at some point in their lives, has compared themselves to someone around them. Probably every single day. Probably multiple times a day.

Comparison can be the thief of your joy because it can begin to eat away at your happiness and your own self-worth.

Comparison can manifest itself it many ways:

“Wow, that dress looks so good on her. I wish my waist was that small.”

“They’re getting married already? They haven’t been dating as long as us.”

“I didn’t know he was making so much money.”

“They’re just really lucky.”

With comparison, often comes jealousy. And we all know, jealousy is the ugliest trait. In today’s age, it’s super easy to compare and be jealous of others with our constant access to their achievements and whereabouts via social media accounts. Facebook is mainly used to post about graduating college, job promotions, buying a home, engagement announcements, travel pictures, etc. Have you ever found yourself withholding a “like’ from someone because you thought they were bragging or boasting? Come on, be honest. If you have, the problem lies within yourself. Why was it so hard for you to just be happy for them? Because you were comparing yourself to them… because you were jealous.

The problem is, suddenly everything becomes a competition. We begin to put each other down, rather than support each other. Someone is labeled as the winner, while the other is the loser.  Someone is no longer viewed as a living, breathing human, but just for their looks, their height, their success, their bank account, their relationship, their abilities.

Who’s to say that person “bragging” about their job promotion on Facebook didn’t just come out of a really rough time? Maybe they put their friends, family, and relationship on the back burner for months, put in countless hours of blood, sweat, and tears, and was finally rewarded for it?

It’s impossible to take one piece of information and run with it. You can’t be envious of one part of a person’s life without knowing the whole story. Everyone, and I mean, everyone, has a life of up’s and down’s, good and bad, gains and losses, achievements and shortcomings. Nobody’s life is without any disappointment. We can’t pick and choose the life we want– we can’t have the perfect body, the perfect job, the perfect house, the perfect life. We all find our own way and when we work hard the right things fall into place for us. Anyone who is giving the notion that they have the perfect life by showing you only their highlight reel– is lying.

What’s really the issue here is this illusion of what our life is supposed to look like. College right after high school, getting a job right after college, finding someone, getting married and having kids by the time you’re 30, buying a house, working until you have enough money to retire, and putting your kids through college so the process can just be repeated over, and over, and over again.

You compare your life to someone else’s and become envious when something has happened to that person that hasn’t happened to you yet, or it has, but theirs is perceived as “better” in your mind. It’s this perceived notion of “better” or “worse” that affects your happiness. The path you’re on isn’t better OR worse, it’s just differentEveryone is on a different path.

Everyone’s timing is different. Some take a few years off before they go to college. Some don’t go to college at all. Some don’t find a wife or husband by the age of 25, some do. Some never get married at all. Some have kids before they get married. Some never have kids at all.

I’m 25 years old, living at home, single AF, with a college degree but not using it. A lot of my friends are in their own apartments or houses, getting married, having kids, and have already started their career. If I was caught up in the way my life was “supposed” to look like, and constantly comparing myself to those around me, I’d be pretty damn upset with my circumstances. But I’m not! Because I know my path is different, and I’ve accepted it.

It’s impossible to break the habit completely. You’ll never be able to not make comparisons to those around you. What you can do, is not let it affect your own happiness and your own self-worth. I read a quote one time that has kinda stuck with me… “Just because she’s pretty doesn’t make you any less pretty.” That’s a reminder that what’s going on with someone else, has little to no effect on you. One person’s good fortune does not mean you can’t have good fortune as well. Love, happiness, success, health, good relationships… they are infinite. There’s plenty to go around. Remember that!

 

Challenge Yourself: Breaking Up With Your Cellphone

Happy Monday my peopleeee!! Yes you read that title correctly! As per usual, I’m here to share my random ramblings, in hopes of making you think about some things in your life a little more and to make some positive changes about them.

Last week I read this article about “social sabotage” and how it’s ruining your training (in regards to Crossfit). Social media was a big issue in this article. The writer talked about how your training time should be a complete break from your cellphone, you should put it on airplane mode or even turn it off and stow it away to avoid distraction. I thought about how often I check my phone during my training (A LOT!). Checking a group message, checking notifications, scrolling through Instagram in between sets… it all sounded so ridiculous as I was thinking about it.

So, since then, I’ve been noticing how much I use my phone, inside and outside of the gym. I’ve been reading a lot about cellphone addiction and how to kick it. And I’m really willing to try, even though I knooooow how hard it’s going to be. While writing this, I had to get up and go to the bathroom, and it legit took everything in me not to grab my phone and take it with me. WTF!? Why was that so hard??

We have become so conditioned to checking our phone every 5 seconds. There’s so much psychology behind it, there’s legitimately a dopamine release in your brain when you hear your phone go off with a notification. We let our worth be determined by how many “likes” we get. We scroll through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter…. check our email, then by that time, it’s time to go back to Instagram again. It’s a vicious cycle until we realize we’ve spent 40 minutes just sitting there, in a daze. But at the same time, the most-used excuse in the book for not doing things is “I don’t have time.” Really? There’s plenty of damn time, we’re just not being very attentive at what we’re allotting our time for.

So… There’s all kinds of tips and tricks out there to help you curb your data usage, for personal and monetary purposes. These ones are the best (in my opinion) that I’ve found, some harder than others!!! But if you’re willing to make a change, as always, know that it will be worth it!

Keep your phone out of the bathroom and bedroom.

Yikes. This one is going to suck. Everyone I know takes their phone into the bathroom with them. God forbid, you be alone with your thoughts for 5 minutes. I say the best way to kick this habit is keep a book or a magazine in the bathroom. Bedroom… now that’s going to be the really hard part. First step is going to be to stop using your phone as an alarm clock. Most of us spend 20 minutes on our phones first thing in the morning, before our feet even touch the ground. Your phone alarm goes off, and you immediately begin scrolling. Don’t deny it. Sometimes I have to pee so bad but I still sit there on my phone for a good amount of time.

You could have already gotten up, washed your face, brushed your teeth, used the bathroom, gotten dressed, been downstairs making your coffee and breakfast. Most of us feel super rushed in the morning… wouldn’t it be nice to use our time wisely and not have to run around like a crazy person?!

So, my solution for this is to keep your phone entirely out of the bedroom- at night, and in the morning. Both my parents charge their phones downstairs, while the bedrooms are upstairs. It’s definitely doable. I plan to buy an alarm clock, put my phone on the charger downstairs ONE HOUR before I go upstairs/go to bed, and not look at it again until I come downstairs in the morning.

Turn off your notifications, or better yet, delete apps.

Most of us grab our phones immediately once it goes off, whether it’s an email, text, Facebook notification, or Instagram like. The easiest way to avoid this is to turn off the notifications altogether. You’re less likely to open an app when you don’t have a notification for it. Put your group messages on “Do Not Disturb.” You will still receive the texts but they won’t pop up on your lock screen.

If you’re feeling really brave, delete apps altogether. If you are refreshing Instagram every 5 minutes, you should delete the app, because at this point, you’re checking it incessantly regardless of whether you have a notification or not. You can delete the Facebook or Twitter or Instagram apps and still keep your account.

Monitor your usage & set realistic limits.

It sounds counterproductive, but there are apps out they you can acquire to track your phone use. They can tell you how many times you checked your phone, and how many minutes in total you’ve been on your phone. You can set them up for time limits while you’re on the phone, and send you reminders when you’re getting close or going over your time limit.

For people who need numbers and time constraints for structure, this is perfect. You can allot yourself x amount of time on your phone each day, and hold yourself accountable to that. You can say “ok, I’ll give myself 90 minutes of phone time a day, and no more than 15 minutes in one sitting.” Perfect. Vow to yourself not to go over the limit.

Keep it in your car/bag/purse/jacket.

This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s much harder said than done. Using your phone as a distraction can become a problem in your life in regards to the relationships around you. You can see it anywhere. A couple out to dinner together, both pairs of eyes glued to the phones in their hands. We’re literally missing out on life in front of us. Leave your phone in your bag, or better yet, your car. It’s much less accessible this way rather than having it on the table right in front of you. If you make this a habit, you begin to not even think about it! And you will crave your phone less and less each time.

When driving, keep the phone in the center console, or in your bag. We text and drive far too often, even when we know how dangerous it is! Keeping it out of arm’s reach can be helpful, and safe. If you’re on a long drive, have someone in the car check the phone or respond to texts for you, or check it only at a red light (when you are at a complete stop!!!)

Focus on REAL THINGS you have to get done.

Every day, make a to-do list of things you have to get done. Whether it’s at work, on a day off running errands, or during your training session– write everything down. Promise to yourself you won’t check your phone until it’s finished. Then, you can reward yourself with some phone time. I tried to do this while writing this blog, I said “I’m not gonna check my phone until I’m finished writing.” I failed. Haha, just being honest. This is a true test of your mental willpower. Willpower, like a muscle, gets stronger when you train it. So do it! Challenge yourself!!!

 

 

 

It truly is an amazing thing that we have access to such a wide array of technology today. We basically have the world at our fingertips. I’m not going to try to act like our smart phones are a bad piece of technology. If it wasn’t for smart phones and social media I couldn’t get my writing and this blog out there to the public how I would like. If it wasn’t for smart phones and social media I couldn’t be inspired and motivated on a daily basis by the people I follow on Instagram. But, the way we’ve been conditioned to become so attached to our phones, specifically in this generation, is in no way good for us. So take this challenge with me. Test your willpower. Make positive changes. Prioritize your time. Put what’s truly important first and foremost.

Have a good week everyone!!

The Holidays & Developing a Healthy Relationship With Food

First and foremost– HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!! Today is one of the best days of the year (in my opinion). You get to see your family, old friends that are back in the area, drink some wine, eat some good food, and have a few days off of work. With that being said, this is the time when people tend to lose their shit a little bit… I’m talking health/eating wise. This is the day when all your eating habits go to shit, and slowly go downhill until Christmas time and New Years. Typically most say to themselves “I’ll start a diet once the holidays are over.”

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Newsflash: what if I told you the holidays doesn’t mean you have to throw it all away?!?

If this is hitting home right now while you’re reading this, I’m just gonna break it to you, you don’t have a healthy relationship with food. If you have no self-control, if you starve yourself all day in preps for a holiday meal, if you binge and then immediately after feel guilty… you do not have a healthy relationship with food.

But good news! You can begin to develop a better relationship with food. But you have to start right now… today. And I’m here to tell you how!

Fill up on the good stuff.

Try to make the majority of your plate the stuff you know is good for you (or not totally terrible for you). Today, for example… load up on turkey and veggies and sweet potatoes. I’m not saying don’t go for the other stuff, but try to pick and choose your carbs here. Take a small portion of mashed potatoes or rolls or something like that. Or, if you’re like me, save the majority of the carbs for dessert!! You DO NOT need a serving of every single carb at the table. If you want to have all of it, take a small portion of each one. This is where people usually go overboard.

Practice mindful eating.

S L O W  I T  D O W N !!! Savor the food as you eat it. Don’t eat it just to eat it. Food for today and most holidays are are prepared all day long and they taste damn good, so appreciate it! Don’t rush it and don’t get distracted. We usually overeat when we’re just mindlessly chomping away, not even tasting it or enjoying it. If you grab a slice of pie, really notice how f*cking good it is and how your body feels when you eat it. The more mindful you are, the less likely you are to overeat.

Kickstart your metabolism starting that morning.

If you know you have a big meal coming up– Thanksgiving, Christmas, a New Years Party, a work holiday party… most people have the tendency to starve themselves or eat super light that day in preps for it. Do not do that. It’s the same concept when you hear people say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.– eating a good breakfast is better for you than not eating anything at all. The day of, you should eat a good breakfast, and get a good workout in, so your metabolism will be ready for that big meal come nighttime. If you eat multiple meals a day (like me), stay on track for the entire day. Obviously, you will be getting some extra calories in during that last big meal, but think about it… it’s one meal. It won’t kill you, or deter all your progress.

Don’t stress about it!

There’s enough in life to stress about. Don’t add food to the list. If you want some dessert, go for it. If you want some more wine, go for it. I will never be the one to tell you not to. Remember always, food is fuel. We need it. But there’s a different between wanting and needing. And there’s a huge difference between wanting something, letting yourself have some, and going completely overboard. Use your brain and learn how to set boundaries and practice self-control, it will take you a long way in life. Enjoy the food, let go of the guilt, and remember tomorrow is a new day!

Loving an Addicted Person

Hey friends! So I haven’t posted midweek this week like I usually do, and for good reason. The last five days I’ve been in Tampa with my family. My mom, my dad, and I flew down earlier this week to spend a few days with my brother, who lives 2 hours from Tampa.

The reason we went down there was to celebrate my brother’s date of being one year clean of drugs and alcohol. We all had an awesome time together, visiting Busch Gardens and exercising and eating all the good food and laughing. If you had seen this family a few years ago, and saw us these past few days, you wouldn’t believe the difference.

It’s been a long time coming, but the positive family dynamic and all-around happiness has been well-deserved. My parents are saints for things that they’ve put up with, from both of their kids. And my brother finally seems to be in a great place, mentally and physically.

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I’m going to delve into some things tonight that are super personal. And super emotional. But they need to be written about. There’s still such a stigma about addiction, it’s such a tough subject to talk about. People usually ask me why my brother moved to Florida and I’m typically pretty hesitant to tell someone I’m not close to, because I’m scared of how they’ll judge- judge him, judge me, judge my family.

All of this content has been gone over with my brother, Jordan, prior to posting. He wants to share his story. He wants to help others. If people can see how such a great outcome can come from such dark times, I hope it can give them the hope they need to get through their own personal tough times.

Jordan was a bad kid, from the beginning. Being shipped off to military school at a young age, stealing my car before he has a license, stealing money, hanging out with a bad crew. At my high school, a lot of kids had started taking prescription pills at parties… it was the thing to do. So, I wasn’t surprised when I learned he had fell into this. At age 17, he crashed one of my cars in the neighborhood and when it was found he was using pills, he was court ordered to rehab. He got “better” for the most part, graduated high school, and started college at Kutztown. Obviously not seeing him as much, it was hard to keep an eye on him and see what he was up to. But myself and my parents had our suspicions.

Jordan and I had never got along. It was hard for me to trust him and even be nice to him after I had to get a new car TWICE because of him. So one day we were headed out to dinner to my aunt’s house, my parents were in the car and calling for Jordan and I to get in the car. I ran upstairs because I had forgotten something in my room, and I caught him trying to take money out of my purse. Of course, I freaked out, ran down and told my parents. I was so f*cking angry, especially because he was lying saying it wasn’t true. He lied about everything back then. My parents ended up dropping him back off at school on the way to my aunt’s before dinner because none of us could stand to be around him. At this point, I realized I had to start hiding my money, and I think our relationship ultimately took a turn for the worse.

Jordan ended up transferring home from Kutztown, to go to University of Delaware. I was not happy about this, because he was now living at home. I tried to avoid him most of the time. We had opposite schedules so we barely talked or saw each other.

Jordan was first arrested probably at the age of 19 or 20, for a DUI and drug possession coming home from Philly. This was the first time myself, my mom, and my dad found out he was using heroin. I still remember the way I felt when I heard my mom say it. That word. Heroin. It still gives me chills and makes my eyes fill up even today. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. My baby brother, who at first was just partying and drinking and getting high because that’s what everyone else was doing… but this? Nodding out while driving, and getting pulled over with a ridiculous amount of heroin on him?

He got sent off to rehab, somewhere near Atlantic City. Good riddance, I had thought. I wished they had sent him farther. I wanted nothing to do with him, wanted him to get out of all our lives forever, to stop costing my parents so much money, so much sadness, so much pain. It wasn’t fair, they never deserved any of it. My mom would cry to me about what she could have done to prevented this, how she could help him just get better. It is such an awful thing to see your mother hurt in that way. I made it worse, I would yell at her to stop being so nice to him, to put her foot down, to stop caring so much about him because he clearly didn’t care about us. She could never understand how I could be so heartless and angry and refuse to show any compassion for my only brother. We had no idea how much worse it would get before it got better.

When he came home from that rehab he had to go to court for the previous DUI. He was put on probation and 30 days house arrest. I always thought they were too lenient on him. I couldn’t wait for the day they would just lock him up already. Him and my mom had a fight one night, and the next thing you know, he disappeared. Waited until nobody was home.. took his TV, Xbox, my dad’s tablet and bunch of other things to pawn for money. Through the location on his phone, we figured out he was in Philly, buying heroin we assumed. We were unable to find him but he ended up turning himself in.

The next two years consisted of different rehab stints, getting kicked out, coming home, going to rehab again, getting “better”– things being fine for a few weeks at a time. Then things would start to change. My mom said she could always tell when he would come home high, she could see it in his eyes, she could hear it in his voice. But, he always lied. And she knew that. So then they would fight. And he would disappear again for a few days, doing God knows what.

There was about a year, maybe more, where Jordan was “clean”…but I wouldn’t say in full recovery because he had started taking up drinking again. At this point our relationship had started to mend a little bit. I felt bad for him, all his friends were going out to the bars, of course he wanted to go and partake in the drinking as well. He wasn’t doing drugs, he wasn’t stealing money, he had kept a job and was working his ass off. We were able to have a decent conversation from time to time.

Things eventually got out of hand, as I’m sure you might have assumed that they would. We suspected he was doing drugs again. One night I came home from work, it was like 11pm or close to midnight. I went upstairs, brushed my teeth, washed my face, and walked past Jordan’s room to get to mine, like I did every night. I heard this weird sound coming from his room, it sounded like snoring. I didn’t think anything of it. So I laid down to go to bed, I was so exhausted… as I was about to fall asleep I thought to myself: “I’ve slept in the bedroom next to Jordan’s for the last 23 years… and I have never heard him snore.” So I went to his room and knocked on the door. No answer. I opened the door, and I swear it was like something out of a movie. He was laying on his back on the bed, wheezing… unlike any sound I had ever heard. His face was black and blue. He legitimately looked like a vampire from a movie. I couldn’t even touch him or try to sit him up I was so horrified. I immediately screamed for my mom and dad and ran out of the room, hysterical. I called 911 and told them my brother was overdosed in his bed.

My mom was totally calm. She had seen him like this before, at this point it didn’t phase her. But it phased me. I still remember exactly what it looked like and I don’t think I’ll ever forget. When the police arrived, 10 minutes later, they gave him whatever shot it is that reverses an overdose. He slowly came back to somewhat normal, at least breathing normally again. But he looked like he couldn’t form words and definitely didn’t remember what had happened.They took him out of the house on a stretcher. I told the police what had happened, how I was seconds away from going to sleep. The officer told me if I hadn’t found him at the time that I did, he would have been dead by the morning.

I know what you’re thinking– this was Jordan’s rock bottom. But it wasn’t. There were many more benders. One day, in October 2016, Jordan went missing, and called my mom from a hospital in Philly six days later. This time, my mom finally put her foot down. She was buying him a one-way to ticket to Florida, or he was going to not have a home anymore.

Fast forward to today, Jordan is one year clean and sober. He’s living in Florida, has a serving job, is doing Crossfit, yoga, and regularly running. He’s living in a sober home with other boys, and he’s the manager of the house. He’s just recently enrolled in online school.

There were so many years I spent thinking, as awful as it sounds, “my brother is already dead.” So many nights I was scared that phone call was coming. I always wondered where I would be. At work? Out with my friends? Would my parents wait until I came home to tell me? How was it going to happen? On accident? Or him finally having enough, and doing it on purpose?

I realize now how deeply depressed and sick my brother was. He doesn’t have a drug problem. He has an addiction problem. I was always that person who said “addiction isn’t a disease. That person knew the consequences the first time they took that drug.” How wrong I was. 

I spent so much time being angry and resentful towards him, and letting that cause problems with my mom and dad as well. I never tried to understand it. I never read any of the books, like my mom did. I never went to any therapy sessions with him. I only sent him kind words when he was away because my mom had bugged me to and guilt-ed me into it. But I never meant it. There truly was a time when I thought this family would be better off without him.

Just typing that sentence now really pains me. My brother is now one of my best friends. How could I ever have thought that way? Jordan is such an intelligent, caring, funny, positive human being. I’m so proud to be his sister. I think why I was always so angry with him is because he has so much potential, and I hated to watch him throw his life away.

To any one out there struggling with addiction, there is always, always hope. There is always someone who cares about you and wants you to do well. There is always another life waiting for you at what seems to be the end of yours.

And to anyone who loves someone who is addicted, there is always a way to be a little more understanding, to change your outlook, to help them. I know it’s hard, believe me. Being angry is the easiest way to go. Love them. That’s all they need.

 

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5 lessons that traveling has taught me

Although my experiences with travel have only just begun, I feel like I have learned so much more about myself than most others ever get to. I love looking back on my pictures and posts from when I was abroad, and reminiscing on my thoughts and feelings during those moments. Everything I’ve come across, every person I’ve met, every place I’ve been has held meaning to me and has helped me grow and improve as a human.

We all know that a fancy college education does not give you street smart. We all know that life’s ups and downs are the true teachers. But something about being alone, in a foreign country, with lots of time to think and reflect, has etched some ideas in my mind that will always be a part of me.

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Experiences are worth much, much more than material things.

We live in a world surrounded by fancy, shiny things.  We feel the need to always keep up with the latest fashion trends, latest technology, etc. But for me, rather than material items, I’ve always felt that my money should be spent otherwise- mainly for trips and traveling. I’ve never been much of a materialistic person, so this concept is probably harder to grasp for some people. I’m also young, and didn’t grow up with a super rich family that spoiled the crap out of me.

When I traveled to Southeast Asia this past summer, I took nothing but a 50L backpack with me. (Speaking of material things- I splurged big $$ on the backpack, lol!).. I was so excited to get it in the mail, and then I was astounded as to the little amount of clothes I could fit in it. Even rolled up all perfectly and stuffed in there, there was no way I could fit all my nice, name brand workout clothes in there. I literally had to pick a week’s worth of workout clothes and a week’s worth of tank tops and shorts, some socks, sandals, bathroom stuff, and that’s it!

After about a few weeks of wearing the same clothes, doing laundry every week, and switching up the shirt and shorts combo the best I could, I realized that nobody around me cared what I was wearing. I didn’t even care what I was wearing. I was meeting so many people, doing so many fun things (and also sweating my f*cking ass off every second of everyday- my clothes were almost always dirty instantly). I became aware that those material things meant nothing there. I was literally the happiest I’ve ever been with nothing on me except a backpack full of my belongings. When you realize something like that, your priorities begin to change.

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Appreciation is everything.

Appreciation is a tricky little thing. Even if you consider yourself an appreciative and grateful person, you almost always don’t appreciate a moment until it’s gone. There’s still times when I can remember something from my travels so vividly and I almost start to cry, because I wish I could go back to that very moment so I could appreciate it just a little bit more. You have to sit back and revel at every sunset, every insane view, every piece of scenery that looks like nothing like you’ve ever seen before.

I’m also extremely appreciative of the very opportunities I have to travel. I live in a country that allows me to freely travel, my family and my friends are incredibly supportive, I’m financially stable enough to travel, and I can take off of work to travel. I feel very blessed because of this.

When traveling to certain areas, you also become very appreciative of the comforts of your own life. After spending so much time in Asia, I will never take toilet paper, a working toilet, and our plumbing system for granted again. Over there, you can’t just drink water out of the tap. Every time you drink water, you have to buy a bottle. It’s little things like this that we often take for granted. Don’t.

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You’re never ready.

Was I ready to book a one way ticket to Thailand? Hell no. I was so scared. I had mixed feelings about traveling alone but I didn’t want to wait around for anyone else or wait until I felt “ready.” Because I knew that would be never. This far in my life, it’s the best decision I ever made.

Most people spend their lives pushing things off until they’re “ready.” Well let me be the one to break it you, you’re never going to be ready. For anything in life that you want to do… for every reason you want to do it, there will be five reasons not to. There will always be people in your ear telling you you’re crazy, you’re wrong, or you need to wait.

The timing is almost never perfect. But if you get in the cycle of thinking you want to do something then backing out, you’ll stay stuck in the cycle forever. You have to be proactive about your own life. Forgetting the naysayers, being brave, growing some balls, going out on a limb… the time to do it is now. Because in reality, life is short. You can’t spend it waiting.

 

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You are never really alone.

Anyone who knows me, knows that my biggest fear before my big trip was that I wasn’t going to make any friends. All my friends laughed at me when I would say this, and now looking back on it, I laugh at it too. During my travels I have met so many wonderful people, from all over the world,  it’s mind-boggling. Some will be friends for life, some just acquaintances. If you guys are reading this- thank you for the memories, I love you!!!

I never, ever felt lonely. Even when I was alone. Sometimes it was super nice to be alone, unwind, and reflect. But my point really is, you are never alone. There is so much out there. So many people feeling just like you are, waiting to find you. The universe always puts you on the path to meet those who are meant to be in your life.

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Everything changes, always.

Speaking of making friends… so every time I would meet some amazing people while traveling, I would get super sad when my time with them was over. When I was off to the next location, I had to say bye, and start all over again… it sucked! But then I would arrive in a new place and meet a whole new batch of awesome people. I had been so scared of that change, of starting over again, but I had learned to adapt to it and overcome it.

This is so, so important in all aspects of traveling. Situations can become less than ideal. Shit can go wrong. The idea you had pictured in your head may be way off. But over time you can teach yourself how to deal with these types of things.

The sooner you can come to terms with this change, the better. People change, circumstances change, things change. If you can learn to let go of things you can’t control, roll with the punches, and stop trying to control the behavior of others… the sooner you can live a more carefree, happy and fulfilled life.