INSPIRE

Keeping Momentum While Losing Momentum

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"Keeping Momentum" is a high like no other. When you find what really works, you feel unstoppable. Your success becomes so much more tangible and your pride is palpable. The real secret, which I've really only learned in the past few years, is that being able to keep that intoxicating momentum isn't indefinite or static. You can hit a wall, feel suffocated by the reality of That Thing No Longer Working, and feel like you've lost it all. I used to despair when this would happen and spiral into defeatist thinking, but opening my mind and heart helped me see a new truth.

Changing and adapting are key elements to our surviving and thriving as a species, but those two actions are also just as important on much smaller scales. Looking back, I realize a lot of times where I felt stuck creatively, socially, or just personally were simply times I needed to change how I kept that blissful momentum going. When something finally works, we tend to think it is the end-all of our methods.

Yet how can we encourage each other and ourselves to be open for growth and learning, while casting out the idea that hey... maybe that thing just doesn't work the way it used to and that it's perfectly okay to take pause and switch things up? How can I say I'm growing when I only stick to what I know worked when I was 20, when I am certainly and definitely not going to be 20 ever again, in so many layers of ways?

The concept of good, memorable art only coming from pain or conflict is a heavily romanticized concept that I was all too familiar with when I was much younger. In fact, I was that very idealized and harmful image of the sad, starving artist. I was losing my battle with disordered eating, wrapped up in toxic personal relationships, and deeply and agonizingly depressed. My artwork from that time is intimate and beautiful, but it was drawn from darkness and only darkness. I created every day, mountains of it, and while I feel accomplished looking back, it's an era of my life that I feel is best left behind me.

Over the years, being a happier person made creating harder for me. It sounds ridiculous when I type it out, but it is my truth. I just didn't know how to adapt to this newer, happier, more authentic me. I didn't know how to draw out her creative strengths and work with them because for so long, my art was the furthest from happy as it could be. I felt impotent as an artist, I even felt a little betrayed by myself. It's not as though melancholy and depression had entirely left my life, and far from it, but creating with only those emotions (formerly the richest source of artistic momentum for me) was next to impossible.

I changed my tried and true methods. I forced myself to make art, a concept that for my entire life, was uncharted territory. I sat with myself for a long time and asked "what if I just MAKE myself start again?" when I knew full well "you can't force art" isn't just true for most artists, it was my motto. I had to understand that if what worked before was no longer on the table or accessible, I needed to change to reclaim art for myself and work with it in a way that could fit my new life and my new outlook. Why would I give up a source of comfort and one of the only ways I have ever felt truly myself, expressively and honestly so?

I forced it. I forced revisiting a project that I had mourned the loss of for years, a 365 self-portrait project. I had no faith in myself that first week, but I endured. I forced it, I forced it, I forced it... for no one else but me, just to prove I could and I would. I fell in love with my new creative process and on December 31st in 2017 I took my 365th self-portrait for the year. I was able to keep momentum because I was adapting and growing with myself as I went along. One week I was so ill from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (my connective tissue disorder), I took several portraits in one night to satisfy myself on numbers. I had to change and step out of my comfort zone to keep my momentum and to ultimately make myself proud.

When you feel yourself losing grip on the thing that's finally working... take a deep breath, pause, and switch gears. You can always keep momentum, but it might not always work the same because we won't always work the same.

Amy Jutras is an artist and writer living in Rhode Island with her husband, wizard father, and cute dog. As a sufferer of chronic pain and illness, she hopes to spread awareness and insight into the lives of disabled creatives with experience and focus on mental health issues as well. She is passionate about sharing life through art and listening to learn.

March Momentum

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Napoleon said in Louis de Bourrienne, Memoirs of Napoleon Bonaparte “There are two levers for moving men: interest and fear.” We are weeks into the month of March and a perfect time to look back on goals made. Ask yourself, “Which lever was used to help you create your goal?” The understanding of that would assist in finding and maintaining momentum. 

We’ve all heard of the “carrot and the stick” theory, however, there are other factors that motivate individuals. For example: incentives, growth, social factors, and/or achievements. In my opinion, once the motive is identified it’s easier to create steps to ensure the goal is achieved. If your motivation is that your friend or family member has that goal, I strongly recommend taking time for yourself to identify why you said yes. 

“Individuality… lies at the root of all progress,” so said by Mohandas K. Gandhi and I couldn’t agree more! The journey to success is different for everyone and sometimes success comes in trial and error. Creating goals that follow the guidelines of Peter Drucker’s management by objectives concept ‘SMART’, increases the chance of being successful and assist in the creation of a defined plan. The letters in the word each represents the suggested criteria to use when creating goals. 

S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Achievable
R – Relevant
T – Time – Bound

At this point, I am hoping that you’ve identified your motivation and thought or wrote your goal using the ‘SMART’ concept. Now we can delve into different ways to maintain momentum and get excited about the impact on your relationships. It’s time to march to your own beat! 

My goal, as a former pageant winner and model, was to be selected by a designer to showcase their line during Fashion Week in Rhode Island on the runway, after graduating with my master’s degree. My motivation, wanting to improve my runway walk and build my portfolio in the US. Here are some things that I’ve done or could have done to keep up with my goal set. 

1. Create a list of short and long-term goals that would aid in achieving the overall goal. 
2. Use a digital or hard copy calendar to track and note the progress and set reminders when actions are due. 
3. If you are more visual, create a ‘Vision Board’ that’s either hung in a central spot or somewhere that you have easy access too. There are lots of D.I.Y post on creating similar boards. 
4. Post it notes can be very useful as well. 

Admittedly, one tactic may work, or you might realize that you must incorporate a mixture of tactics to maintain momentum and ensure you are on track to accomplish your goal. That is okay! Remember, “Individuality… lies at the root of all progress,” - Mohandas K. Gandhi. Seeing that, what keeps you excited is also going to be individualized. 

Instead of belittling yourself for not achieving your goal or reaching as far as you should, I encourage you to think back on what motivated you in the first place. Take a few steps back and get excited again about what you want to achieve. There’s no rule that say you cannot use hindsight to redefine and reconnect with your motivation. Remember why and envision the outcome and the benefits. 

I mentioned individuality, but I refer to that of one’s motives. If you can find individuals that have the same or similar goals as you, create that support system. Connect and Inspire one another then Showcase the amazing things being done. Often we are quick to highlight our failures, what about highlighting the wins, as small as they may be. This is yet another tactic to maintain momentum and excitement. 

No doubt at this point, you are marching to your own beat. Be excited and bask in your excitement! Your goal may be work or personal related but your organizational skills, dedication, and excitement is going to impact all the relationships you have. Don’t be afraid to press the reset button and create a new beat for you to march too. 

All things considered, Napoleon may have referred to two levers that move men but there are several levers or combination of them that could work. Find what motivates you. Create goals that are SMART. Track your progress, get others involved, celebrate the small wins and know that you have control on how you react to changes in the beat.  

I got discouraged and had to hit the reset button as it related to my goal. Thanks to some of the tactics mentioned above, I did not quit and got asked to model for StyleWeek Northeast February 2018 and Fashion Week RI March 2018, for 7 days with 9 designers. 

March to your own beat! Or in my case, the Runway. 
 

Happiness Is A Choice // International Day Of Happiness

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Happiness is not out there, it’s in you.
— Anonymous


I, like many others, have been searching for happiness most of my life. Happiness has always been an abstract concept to me, something that was always just slightly out of my reach. I’ve lived a good portion of my life acting out the phrase: “if this, then happiness.” If I lose 20 lbs., then I’ll be happy; if I increase the number of friends I have, then I’ll be happy; if I train and complete a 5K, then I’ll be happy, etc. A vicious cycle of following the “ifs” in my life, going wherever they took me, but always walking away feeling hollow, frustrated, and sad. And the happiness target was always moving, and most of the time I was barely keeping up. I spent so long looking for happiness anywhere I thought I could find it: through school, from friends, having an ideal body, exercise, being busy, being available, saying yes all the time. Why was I doing what I thought was all the right things but still feeling empty? Like there was a hole inside me that just couldn’t be filled no matter what I put into it. 

Then, early last year, I started a small routine, insignificant almost. I started taking my contacts out when I got home from work. My eye doctor had advised me to give my eyes a break after being in front of a computer all day and so one night, when my eyes were particularly dry, I came home from work and took out my contacts. And from there I started slowly adding to this routine: washing and moisturizing my face, brushing and flossing my teeth, drinking a cup of tea, reading or listening to a podcast. When I think about this now, it’s almost as if I had been running away from myself. Previously, I had filled my time with anyone other than myself, desperately not wanting to be alone with just me. And I was doing anything to take up my time instead of just quietly being. 

Taking the time for self-care inadvertently forced me to spend a small amount of time with myself every day. And the more time I spent with myself, the more the answers for finding my happiness became clear. Happiness for me wasn’t about anything externally actionable but instead was a choice, a conscious decision, to see myself for who I really am when I put myself first.

Happiness is a decision.
— Michael J. Fox

My therapist told me that everyone carries around a “bucket” to be filled. Sometimes we put into others buckets, or sometimes they put into ours. But what I had forgotten to do, and what my therapist pointed out so plainly, was that I had forgotten to put into my own bucket. Happiness, for me, wasn’t about achieving goal after goal, or about saying yes to everything and everyone, but instead was taking time each day to put myself first and to get to know and love who I am.  

I’ve added a few more routines into my life, like picking out my clothes, shoes and accessories for the following day because I discovered in the alone time with myself that I really like fashion. I also prepare and pack a healthy lunch the night before a busy day at work. And I do so many more small things now: I drink a cup of tea every night, and always by candlelight; I listen to more music; I write; sometimes I color. And I’ve become ok with many things in my life that at one time or another felt like they would crush me. I don’t worry (too much!) anymore about how many friends I have, if I’m missing out on an event, or if my jeans will ever be anything other than a size 14. I’ve chosen happiness and it’s finally chosen me.

What has your journey to happiness looked like? I’d love to hear from you!

Keep Moving!

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I know it can be difficult to find yourself feeling unmotivated, discouraged, or somehow lacking energy or drive… especially when you had so much of it at the beginning of the year. Don’t worry. You can get back on the momentum train and stay there… for as long as you want or need to. 

Momentum as defined by Merriam-Webster’s dictionary: strength or force gained by motion or by a series of events. The origin and etymology of momentum is New Latin, from Latin, movement.

I love that right in the definition of momentum and the origin are the keywords….MOTION and MOVEMENT.

So to be in momentum is to be in the energy of strength or force (power) that is gained by being in Motion or Movement. I love that. Don’t we all want to be gaining strength and power as we move throughout our days? Of course!! To be in momentum is not supposed to defeat or tire us. It is meant to enhance us. 

I also want to point out how amazing it is that the root word of Momentum is Moment. Interesting… no? Why moment? Why is the moment part of momentum? Because the present moment is the only place from which we can move, give, receive, and create from.

Here are my 7 tips for being and staying in Momentum so you can ultimately Keep Moving towards what you most desire. 

#1. You don’t HAVE to be in momentum.

You read correctly. You GET to be in it. You get to be in that amazing energy of movement, gaining strength and power as you live in your moment to moment, day to day, week to week. 

#2. Be aware of the present moment.

Once again I want to point out that when you decide to be in momentum you choose to create and live in the moment to moment. Being in the present, not the past or future, you are guaranteed the space to create from, to be, and to receive what you choose. No matter where you are right now… take a couple of deep breaths and bring your awareness to the present moment. Can you feel it? Can you feel yourself in the present moment, the only moment available for you? THIS my friends… is the space you can begin to move from. This is the space you can begin to create from. It begins with one step, and then the next, and so forth and so on. 

#3. Begin to create a habit of movement.

Do this by taking purposeful and intentional action towards your goals in your moment to moment, day to day, week to week. At first, the momentum you begin to create won’t be felt and that is ok because it is the awareness of being in the present moment that you want to focus on. As you continue to dedicate and commit to taking action towards the specific area(s) in your life that you want to be moving in… the momentum kicks in. 

#4. Know that you are not stuck.

You may feel stuck and the things around you may look the same but you are not stuck. I used to believe the same thing, that I was stuck. This quickly changed once I opened my ears, eyes, and mind after hearing the following… it is impossible to be stuck. Can you feel stuck? YES! But it is IMPOSSIBLE to be stuck. I will tell you why. We are always growing and moving, whether we are thinking, speaking, breathing, or simply walking. We are in fact, beings in and of movement. Do you have any idea of all the movement that is happening inside of your body as you are reading this? Exactly! Therefore, it is impossible for you to be stuck. If you are feeling stuck, all you have to do is REMEMBER the following. I am a being in and of movement and I can claim this truth at any given moment. The energy of my being is available to me at any moment. It is from this place is where you can get back on the momentum train. Yep, hop in! It is waiting for you! 

#5. Move your body.

This can look like running, walking, yoga, dance, tai chi or whatever appeals to you and your body. Moving will get your juices flowing and it will ultimately affect your attitude. Moving your body is another way to create a habit of movement (tip #3 above) and momentum in your life. 

#6. Check your attitude.

Attitude is everything they say! But when you are feeling out of sorts, in the dumps, or unmotivated, in turn, your attitude is not the best. Your attitude is how you see the world and how the world sees you. Laugh, joke, be with others that make you laugh. This will affect your attitude positively. With a positive attitude, it is so much easier to decide to be in movement in your life. In fact…you will be attracting more positivity and momentum in your life in no time.  

#7. Do something for someone else.

I truly believe doing for others is one of the best ways to get out of a rut and into movement. When you lose yourself doing something for another… a cause, a charity, a friend or stranger in need - positive energy is created within you. Doing for others not only gets you out of a stagnant energy but it creates the energy of love and joy in your body. This energy you created has nothing better to do than to move within and outside of you. Try it! I bet you will be sporting a radiant smile inside and out. Doing something for someone else creates movement and momentum in your life. 

Keep Moving my friends! 

Guisela Pinto Caballero is a bilingual psychotherapist and empowerment coach. Her mission is to empower women to live the lives they truly desire. 

Letter From The Editor // Momentum

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It’s funny that I chose Momentum as March’s topic because 1) it’s my word of the year and 2) I don’t have any right now. As you may recall from January’s Letter From The Editor, I questioned all the goals we were setting for ourselves. It felt like we were setting ourselves up for failure. Is it actually possible to keep up with everything we want to accomplish? My word for 2016 was Action. I’m not one for staying in my head. I want to work. I like actionable steps to get things done. But I noticed that I was busy but nothing important was actually getting done. So I made Start my word for 2017. I had all these grand ideas but I needed to actually just f’ing start on them! So I did. I launched a business with my best friends. That was huge. I also learned what I didn’t want to waste my time on. For years I said I wanted to write a book. Last year I realized that the subject matter did not resonate with me anymore and to hold space for this book I wanted to write in my heart was just an exercise in wasted energy.

I wanted Momentum to be my word for 2018 because I wanted to keep the energy I had in 2017 going. I wanted to still feel excited about the projects I had going on. It’s very easy to get worried about the day to day activities of running a business. Responding to emails, taxes (oh my god, the taxes), writing proposals, and more - that became the focus. By the time all that was done, I barely felt like I had the energy to spend on that actual enjoyable part of the business - working on client projects. I believe this is supposed to be the part of the post where I tell you the grand lesson. Well, I don’t really have one. The only thing I learned is to stop focusing on stuff that doesn’t matter and work on what’s most important. But I hear your concerns through this glowing screen! “Isn’t it rude to not answer emails?” Sometimes, but not really. I once heard that emails are someone else’s to-do list. Usually, it’s someone else requesting your time and energy. How about scheduling your productive hours of the day to the task at hand and then using a different time period to answer emails. “But I have to pay my taxes!” Sadly, yes, we all do. How about hiring an accountant so you don’t have to worry about trying to manage it yourself. “Proposals are what get me work!” Well, maybe. Writing proposals is a full-time job in itself. Maybe find a better way to pitch yourself to clients that is less time consuming.

I know personally that if I want to keep momentum, I need to cut out the extra stuff vying for my attention. Every morning (or even better, the night before) write down the top three most important things you need to get done. Spoiler alert: emails should not be on that list. Then write down three other things that would be nice to get done but it will be ok if it doesn’t. Then schedule yourself time to attend to emails and social media. Make sure it’s after you have allotted time to get all your work done (unless your prime working hours are later in the day, flip this and do emails and social media first thing and get it out of the way). You’ll start to feel way better and the momentum will build and build.

This month on The Lady Project Blog, we will be sharing our tips on how we keep the momentum going. I hope you learn something new along the way.

Warmly,
Brittanny Taylor
Editor-in-chief

Lovin’ A “Roadie”

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Although Valentine’s Day was weeks ago, my fiancé and I will be celebrating this weekend! When dating a roadie, you never know when a holiday or birthday will be on hold.

Wikipedia defines a "roadie" (road crew) as the technicians or support personnel who travel with a band on tour, usually in sleeper buses, and handle every part of the concert productions except actually performing the music with the musicians.

Falling in love with a roadie has been the most amazing and adventurous experience. Although we don’t have a typical relationship, it works for us! When I tell people that my fiancé is away at work for weeks or months at a time, they usually look at me like I’m nuts. Most likely they’ll ask me “how could I date someone that travels for work?”. I’ll smile and tell them that I absolutely love being in a long-distance relationship. Normally, most people will tell me that they could never date someone on the road. A few years ago, a friend met a roadie and wasn’t sure if she could handle the relationship. While encouraging her to give the relationship a chance, it made me realize that it takes a special person to make a long-distance relationship work.  That conversation inspired me to write this post.

Adam and I met on Match.com in January 2013. For the first six months, we emailed back and forth because he was in Australia and South Africa. I wasn’t exactly sure what he did for work; all I knew was that he is an audio engineer and he travels. At the end of his profile, it said, “If you’re lucky I’ll tell you who I work for”. Assuming that most girls would ask him, I decided not to. Which was definitely a good move on my part, because I probably wouldn’t have believed him and stop chatting with him, never mind attempting to meet a potential sociopath. Adam had a short break in June, and we were finally able to meet in person before he would have to take off again. When he revealed that his mystery employer is one of the biggest bands in Rock and Roll, I looked at him with disbelief. Truly, I didn’t believe him! At first, I thought he was another crazy guy from the online dating world. Not sure whether or not to get up and leave the date, I decided to stay and see what else this delusional guy had to say. He had a great vibe about him, and since I picked a restaurant where I knew the staff, I felt comfortable staying. We ended up having a great night and amazing conversations. I knew that night I found my best friend! After some investigating, I found out that this so-called crazy guy was actually telling the truth about his employer. Unfortunately, I’m unable to mention the name of the band in this post. For all of the trivia fans out there: this band made it into the 2015 Guinness Book of World Records for being the first musical act to perform a concert on every continent. Adam was on that iconic tour when we first met!

By November we were a couple, and I was officially dating a roadie. Adam’s schedule was insane!!! He would come home for two days then leave for a few weeks, then come home for a week, and then leave again. At least we had phone calls, texts, and FaceTime! At the beginning of our relationship in our “honeymoon stage” when all we wanted to do is spend time together, he had to leave for the land of no service - Antarctica! It took Adam three days to get down there once he departed from “The End of the Earth” Ushuaia, Argentina. He traveled there by an old Russian icebreaker vessel. The journey took him through the Drake Passage. It is one of the deadliest bodies of water in the world. It is where the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean meet on the southern tip of Argentina. We had ZERO communication for three days. I was worried and terrified! Never had I been in a situation like this before, where my boyfriend’s work would push him to overcome obstacles on his commute to the job site! He was able to contact me on his second day in Antarctica. It was the only, very short, and expensive phone call that trip, but worth every cent! I knew he was alive. He told me the travel to get there was crazy. They hit a storm on the way down. Ever see the film, “The Perfect Storm”? It was very much like that. I was glad to know he was safe. Once I heard his voice, I knew everything would be OK! I was so happy for him that he was able to visit a continent that most haven’t traveled to before, but was also flooded with emotions about this newfound romance. Could I actually handle dating a roadie? Was this going to be our norm? This was the ultimate test to see if I could date a roadie.

Thankfully I passed!

The last five years of being in a long distance relationship have been an amazing learning experience for both of us. While every relationship needs a solid foundation of trust, communication, and respect; independence also plays a huge role in dating a roadie! When trying to reassure my friend that dating a roadie is worth the time and effort, I emphasized the importance of independence. If I weren't running a business, taking classes, involving myself with charities, and having my own hobbies---I would probably drive myself crazy while Adam was away. Also, I love having my alone time! Does it get lonely when he’s away at work? Absolutely! But the excitement of when Adam comes home out weights the feeling of loneliness when he’s gone.

Being in a relationship with a roadie is definitely a lifestyle change! While most couples get to talk or see their significant other on a daily basis, I’m lucky if I get to talk to Adam every day. If I was to add up all the days in the year that I get to fall asleep and wake up next to my roadie, I’m lucky if it’s three or four months out of the year!

He is normally in other countries and has a significant time difference. Most days we are only able to talk to each other for a few minutes, and that is usually after a show and he’s getting ready to get on the bus or plane to head off to the next city, country, or continent. Sometimes we get lucky and he’s in the hotel and we are able to FaceTime when I’m free. This all depends on how good the Wi-Fi is in the country he’s working in. Any avid FaceTimers know how frustrating it can be when the Wi-Fi is lousy! 

Since our daily communication is limited, trust is huge! There is absolutely no way I could be in this roadie relationship if I didn’t trust him 100%! When we first started dating, there were so many Negative Nellies’ that constantly told me that a roadie couldn’t be trusted, and I didn’t know what he was doing on the road. While some people tried to break my faith I had in the relationship, I knew in my heart that he loved me and I could trust him.

We have the utmost respect for each other, while at home and on the road. After experiencing the production of the show from load-in to load-out, I was fascinated by all of the work and detailing that goes into putting on a concert! That experience made me respect Adam’s career more than I could have ever imagined! With the organized chaos behind the scenes, I’ve learned to not add any more stress than he’s already having with work. For example, when everyday homeowner issues may arise, I’ve learned it’s best to handle what I can at home and not overwhelm him with additional stress that I am perfectly capable of handling myself. I know everyone has some sort of stress at work, no matter what it is you do. Imagine your average workday - what is it like for you to get to work, do your job, what’s for lunch, what’s for dinner, what roads should I take home, not to mention adding children into this (we don’t have any, but a lot of people who work with Adam do have kids). Here is an average journey/work day for Adam: after a 20-hour day of flying to another continent, he has one night (hopefully) in a hotel, the next morning, usually early, he is at work waiting for his truck to unload. His truck is just one of 24 trucks of gear that will be unloaded. Once the truck is unloaded he has to set up his “world”, as he calls it. It can take anywhere from 2 to 16 hours to be “show ready” (the time differential depends on the scale of the show.) Now, by that time most of us have eaten breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Once it is all set up, everything is tested, and everyone is show ready, it is time for the show. At this point, Adam finally gets to do his job! He has to mix all the instruments together and make it sound “musical” for the artist who is performing in front of tens of thousands of fans, if not hundreds of thousands so that the musician is able to do his job as a performer. The way Adam sees his job is that if he has a bad night, the artist can also have a bad night. Therefore, the fans don’t get as great of a performance as they paid for and, more importantly, deserve to see. Don’t worry; the day is not over yet. Hoping the show is successful, as they usually are, there is no time to worry about that because now it is time to go on to the next city. The “load out” begins! All the gear that was brought in on those 24 trucks now has to get put back into those trucks in a timely manner because the crew has to get to the next destination. That is a long day and only a gist of it.

Once the workday has ended for him, he now gets to share a 240 square foot bus with 11 other people! Not to mention, language barriers, poor sanitary conditions in other countries, and I hate to say it, but it’s a reality, the safety in these foreign places can be scary at times. That is just a glimpse into his day. So, if I can take some weight off of his shoulders and I am able to do so, why wouldn’t I? I am always able to go to him with issues, but if I’m capable of handling the situation on my own, I’ve found it works best to grab the bull by the horns.

Adam and I have learned many lessons of dating long distance and found that communication is key! I can’t stress this enough! We are not talking about the day-to-day chitchat, but the needs and wants of your partner when they are home or on the road. The roadie lifestyle is fast-paced and stressful! It’s important for your roadie to come home and decompress for a day or two in order to rest up from the 16-hour workdays, shake off the jet lag, and adjust to the time change. It took me a long time to understand how important this decompression period truly is. Even though he tried telling me about the time he needed to have to himself, we both wanted to see each other and let the loving emotions get the best of us. Of course when your loved one is away for an extended amount of time you want to see them as soon as they land! Over the past five years, we realized that the decompression period is a must! The quality time we spend together when he is rested and clear-minded is far greater than when he is not.

If you’ve ever considered dating someone that travels for work… DO IT! I was quite skeptical at first, but it has changed my life in so many positive ways! That’s a whole other story of traveling, learning about other cultures, and introducing me to a world I knew nothing about. The world is MASSIVE. You don’t realize how big it is until you get out there and see it for yourself. Go see it!

We realized how valuable time is in a relationship like this. At the end of the day, a relationship is all based on an emotional bond or spiritual connection you have with someone. What the other person does for work, or what continent he is on doesn’t matter. Love is what matters. We have that! We have a LOVE story like no other!

Airplanes are the hallways to my office.
— Adam Correia

Loren Mendozzi is the owner of L. Marie's Wellness, your destination in Providence for holistic treatments & workshops that feed your spirit and repair your body.

You Should Look For Love Everywhere

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Six years ago, I packed up my life in New York and moved to Providence. Some might say it was for love...

I told myself, and everyone else, it was to start my career. After applying to dozens of jobs at the tail-end of the recession, with a pen in hand and dreams of writing on my mind, I was taking a job at a small tech startup doing “SEO writing.” I had no idea, at the time, what SEO stood for.

It sure was for love alright - the love I had for chasing dreams. But of course, as all these stories go, there was a boy.

We had met in our junior year of college, and seven years later, I am happy to say we are still together. But I had to find love in other places along the way. Sometimes it was with myself. Sometimes my girlfriends, my family, my job, my dog, a bottle of wine…. Even my bathtub.

I believe that the idea that you can get everything you want in one person is a bit destructive. We’re all out there looking for “the one.” That perfect person who fulfills 100% of what we need in life. But we need to accept that the number is closer to 70 or 80-percent. And that’s OK! I believe we need to seek out and embrace love in all kinds of people, places, and things so we can be whole, happy, and fulfilled… that’s how we’re 100% fulfilled with love.

Moving my life to Providence was for me, but it left me at a crossroads. I left everything I knew in New York. And that hit me hard. As someone who suffers with often crippling anxiety, I spent more time than I choose to admit making my entire life about my significant other. I knew nothing, and no one, else. And I needed something stable to latch onto.

But that wasn’t going to work. His life was always here. I needed to find a way to build my own life, too.

So before “self-love” and “self-care” were buzzwords, I threw myself into it. What would make me happy? I started looking for love everywhere. I focused on my friends - and built traditions with some of the ladies who would become my closest girlfriends. I focused on myself - and rekindled my love affair with running. I focused on my new home - and fell in love with decorating. I focused on my alma mater - and became a mentor and leader, a love affair that never really ended. I joined organizations like The Lady Project. I found places and secret paths in my new home.

I learned that by looking for love everywhere, I was in control of my own happiness. I was more content, and I was a better partner. And I am steadfast in those beliefs. It’s not uncommon to find me seeing a movie alone, wandering the mall on a Saturday, or booking a spa day with my girlfriends.

My partner supports this completely. And he lives the same lifestyle. Whether you’re in a long-term relationship, married, or just newly dating, I truly believe that the fastest route to unhappiness is to forget that you are two individuals sharing a life together.

Accept that the perfect partner won’t give you 100% of the love you need. They’ll give you 70% and you’ll fill the other 30% with self-love, girlfriends that are soulmates, puppy snuggles, a long bubble baths. And that’s a hell of a life.

Love, Growth, and Timelines

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We’re obsessed with timelines. The ones set for us by the world around us. The ones our parents set for us. The ones we set for ourselves. Where does it start and how do we learn to love where we’re at, instead of focus where our timeline should be?

At some point in your childhood, you probably wrote one of those “Where I See Myself In 5 Years” stories. In 5th grade, for the yearbook, in my school we all wrote one called “When I’m 25.” I was home over the summer, going through all my childhood things in the basement looking for a photo, and I stumbled on that yearbook. Next thing I knew I found myself reading the story…

In the 5th grade, at 10-years-old or so, I was certain that at 25-years-old, I would not only be a Harvard Law School graduate, but I’d also be married with three kids. All daughters (yikes!) and I’d be living on Long Island in very close proximity to my parents. Now, logic aside - because I am unclear how it’s really all that possible to get a law degree by 25, let alone have three children at the same time, I’m reminded of something: marriage, children, a top-of-the-world career - I sure planned to have it all.

This month, I turned 28. Not exactly a milestone birthday on the timeline scale, but nonetheless, in the months and weeks leading up to my birthday, I began to panic. Normally, I mark a birthday with constant countdown reminders to everyone in my path, but this year was different.

I’ve realized that the closer I got to 30, the more I started to feel anxiety set in over "timelines," especially in love - in my relationships with my friends, family, self, and significant other.  

It’s been as if any question about my “timeline,” a real timeline or perceived one, became a trigger for me, setting me off into a spiral. So what did I do?

I Focused On My Current Self

Sometimes, that was a bit obsessive and unhealthy. In fact, I became so infatuated with my skincare routine that I am pretty sure I was on a first-name basis with the girls working in Ulta. But what I realized was that the me that I am now is the only me I’ve got. So why not just love myself? And hey, if that meant changing all of my moisturizers to have retinol because it made me feel better and “upgrading” my makeup, well then I deserve it.

I changed up my gym routine (your 28-year old body and your 18-year old body don’t want the same workout) and I learned to listen to my body more. Above all, I realized that I had to focus not on the timelines of everyone else but on embracing my own life and everything that came with it - and that meant listening to me, not the timeline.

I Threw Myself Into The Present

Spoiler: I did not go to law school. But I also tend to obsess over “what’s next.” My boyfriend, ever-practical will always say to me “why change something that makes you happy?” And I have a dissertation ready about why I need a new, more important job, we need a bigger bar, etc. etc. But what’s so wrong with the present, anyway? We’re all so obsessed with timelines and milestones that we may be forgetting to enjoy the present.

I Stopped Focusing On Everyone Else

At a co-workers suggestion, I read Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements, and while everything about that book was amazing I always remind myself of this one lesson: “nothing is about you”.

Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally... Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.

When applied to timelines this is so simple to recognize. We all have our own timelines and nothing anyone else does with their timeline is because of me. I had to realize that. At 28, my parents had  two kids. I don’t even know if I want kids. Why follow a timeline when I can blaze my own trail? At 21, my parents were married, but they also met at 15.

In life and in love, there's no timeline but your own and that’s really why I've learned to embrace mine.

Forget Love, You Better Like the One You’re With!

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Love is friendship caught on fire.
— Jeremy Taylor

Anyone who knows me knows that my husband and I were friends for 3 years before we started dating. I tease him relentlessly to this day about him just wanting to be friends and how unaware he was that I always wanted more. But as much as I wanted to date him (I was crushing on him pretty hard back then) I’m glad that we took the years as friends and confidantes to really get to know each other.  

We met freshman year of college at URI and we almost immediately had a connection. We would stay up really late either talking on the phone or IMing on AIM (yes, this was the prehistoric times before texts and Snapchat) about all kinds of things: news, politics, our classes, favorite hobbies, etc. My favorite conversations with him though were always the philosophical ones when we would talk about the personal belief systems we had. So many of these discussions would start with us asking each other questions like “does God really exist; is there really another galaxy out there just like ours with life on it; would we ever want to be born in a different time” and then we’d have a long debate on how we felt or what we would do. These are still some of my most cherished memories of the beginning of the most important relationship of my life. We found that our views on many important topics were similar, but he always (and still does!) challenged me on my strongly held beliefs. He still is the best person I know at playing devil’s advocate. And to be honest this is what has made our eventual falling in love, relationship, and marriage withstand some tough adversaries.  

It was during the years of friendship that I grew to genuinely like my husband as a person. I could see that behind his stoic presence that he was gentle, kind, and capable of more than he thought. My husband is also calm and level-headed, a drastic contrast to my outgoing and over-the-top personality (I blame it on my mama!) and he is both able to bring me back down to earth while also pushing back enough to help me see things from a different perspective.  

Love is an amazing thing. It has the power to bring people together, to change people’s minds and to change the world. But it’s also very complicated and sometimes it makes us do crazy things, stupid things, or even bad things. There is no doubt that I love my husband very much, but I believe our relationship has thrived because we actually like each other, because we respect each other as individuals, and we want to be partners on the journey of life together. 

Over the summer my best friend got married and during my toast, I read this poem, words that struck a chord in me, in an “ah-ha!” kind of way, that I think perfectly describes how I interpret romantic love and the comfort and happiness that can come from being “in like”:

“Love is a temporary madness,
It erupts like volcanoes and then subsides.
And when it subsides you have to make a decision.
You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part.
Because this is what love is.
Love is not breathlessness,
It is not excitement,
It is not the promulgation of eternal passion.
That is just being “in love” which any fool can do.
Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away,
And this is both an art and a fortunate accident.
Those that truly love, have roots that grow towards each other underground,
And when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from their branches,
They find that they are one tree and not two.” - Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

I hope that everyone has a chance to fall in perfect “like” with someone else and to find happiness and contentment of being with someone you admire. And Happy Valentine’s Day to my sweet husband, I like you a lot! 

Self-Love Makes The World Go 'Round

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I remember when I first started dating my husband. Being apart from him for an hour felt like a small eternity. If a weekend came up and we were unable to do something together, it felt as if my world was crumbling down. I remember in those early days always asking "can my boyfriend come" whenever I would get invited to things. Now, I relish in the ability to go at it on my own.

Not to worry, this story has a happy ending to it. This 'boyfriend' as I affectionately called him before is now my husband. Spending time together is just as necessary now as it always was as we are always looking to learn and grow within our marriage. But a funny thing happened a few years ago; I realized that a considerable amount of growth for us within our marriage comes from us doing things apart. 

One of the pillars of any stable relationship, after love, is support. Supporting your partner in whatever he or she is attempting to do whether this is better themselves, advance their education, change careers, or just trying to become a better person overall. Especially for those of us in the Military Spouse community, supporting our service members is at the crux of all we do.

But what happens when you realize that the bulk of your life has now turned into being a support system for your partner? Does this make you a horrible partner if you want more for yourself? No, it does not. It makes you self-aware, and self-awareness is the first step towards self-love.

Websters Dictionary defines 'Self-Love' as "regard for one's own well-being and happiness (chiefly considered as a desirable rather than narcissistic characteristic). Did you see what it says there; a DESIREABLE characteristic, not an awful one but a desirable one. So what does this idea of self-love really mean? While I can't pinpoint this down for everyone reading, I can tell you what it means for me.

A few years ago I was strategically placed at a crossroads in my life; continue to have my marriage be all about my husband (which he did not encourage at all) or allow myself to start to put my needs and desires first? In small doses, I began to put myself first. I began saying "no" to things that I did not genuinely want to do, I sought out social organizations that had nothing to do with the Military, and I began distancing myself from people who were filling my life with unnecessary stress. 

Every morning when I wake up, the first two hours of my day are entirely mine. No emails will be answered, social media will not be checked, and no one is receiving a phone call back unless it is an extreme emergency. By forcing myself to carve out my own time within the universe, I am giving myself the opportunity to put myself first. 

It has become common in our household on the weekends for a part of the day I am somewhere doing something that makes me happy, and my husband is somewhere doing something that makes him happy. The fun part is linking back up with each other after the fact to talk about how our afternoon went. The ability to let your partner live their version of happiness is a true testament to love. 

You see, I began to realize early on in our marriage that if my whole world revolved solely around my partner, what had happened to me? Regardless of if you are married, engaged, in a new relationship, or still trying to find your life partner, YOU still exists. YOU must still exist for you to feel like you are living your best life in your best version of yourself. 

I believe with every fiber of my being, that if you truly do not love yourself and your own identity, then it is impossible to love another. With Valentine's Day on the horizon what a better time to sit and ask yourself "what have I done, or am I doing, for me?" The if you are feeling particularly feisty go a layer deeper and ask yourself "am I happy with the way I love myself?" Here's the good news, there's always tomorrow. 

My name is Adriana, and I'm a military spouse with a passion for people, travel, and culture. I've lived overseas as well as in America, and I believe anything is possible with the right tribe, so I strive to bring as many on my adventure as possible. See what happens when you step out of your comfort zone!