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Friday, November 15, 2013

When People Laugh In Your Face

In the past week I've had two people laugh in my face when I told them about launching my career coaching business. The first person was a friend whose career goals have never been very ambitious. When I told him about my recent successes, he laughed and said he expected me to be doing bigger things. The second was a very successful woman who I had just been introduced to at an event. She is new to Jackson, Wyoming. I explained that I help people who come here to ski and have fun while they figure out what they want to do with their lives, actually, finally figure out what they want to do with their lives. Then I help them create a smart action plan for moving forward with their goals and create accountability for them following through. She laughed and said, "People actually pay you for that?"

Ouch! I'm not going to lie and say I wasn't hurt. I felt a physical ache of pain in my chest during each encounter. I actually feel a little nauseous writing about it but here's why I'm putting my embarrassment out there for you.

I want you to know that it's ok to want more and go after it. I also want you to know that just because you haven't know exactly what you wanted to be when you grew up since kindergarten doesn't mean you aren't meant to have a fantastic job that you love. I want you to know that if you are 30, 40, 50 and still don't know, that's fine. Whatever age you are when you find something you love doing is just dandy.

If there is a burning inside you to find the right work, that is a sign that there is work you are meant to be doing. It means, somewhere deep inside of you is a very specific craving and all you need to do is unearth it. Along the way, people may laugh in your face. The first time you tell someone that you want more, they may laugh or they may encourage but it doesn't matter. What matters is that you are going after what you want and if you continue to pursue your dream, everyday you will get closer and it will feel amazing.

I want you to know that you aren't alone in being intimidated or scared or embarrassed about going after what you want. You aren't alone in choking on the phrase meaningful work, or life purpose or cool career. The only way to get good at something or make a difference or succeed is to take risks. You are becoming a badass after all. No one said it would be easy. Sometimes it will hurt. I promise you though, you will be amazed at the number of people who show up to support you. You will be blown away at the strength you find inside yourself underneath all that pain.

Someone laughing at your dream doesn't mean your dream is silly. It means you are talking to the wrong person.

Later that night, after being laughed at by the most successful woman in the room, I ran into someone I coach. I walked into the room and he looked up shocked and happy. He said, "Oh, my God! I was seriously just recommending you to my friend!"

I tell you what... damn, it feels good to be a badass.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Make Your Career Your Next Big Adventure

This time, I need your help. Please and thank you for helping me spread the word. Love you, badasses.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Truth About Marriage

Why aren't more people talking about what it's really like right before you get married? Plus, in this video, I'm in my wedding dress, on my wedding day, right before walking down the aisle. XO


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Don't care what they think...

Does anybody else get pieces of writing stuck in their head? It happens to me when a theme is forming in my thoughts. For example, lately I find myself pondering being authentic. I've been thinking, you really have to not care whether people like you if you are going to live your best, most fulfilling life. In order to make really deep connections and do work that you that you care passionately about, you have to risk alienating people. Some people just hate things that are authentic because it scares them. Other people just aren't going to dig on what you are putting out. Just how it is. It's unavoidable. Not everyone is going to like you or what you are all about. Take a moment to accept this fact little more right now....

But the people who like you when you are being open and legit are going to f-ing love you.  These will be people who you can just relax and be yourself around. It will be easy and fun to be with them. These people will believe in what you do, be it work, hobbies, whatever. Your life will be awesome. Ok, not always. Sometime, life will still suck but these people will make the suckiness better. We all desperately need these people and the only way to keep meeting them is to show a huge number of people your true self. You have to give a lot of people the opportunity to decide if they love you. Some won't. Some will. 

Now, I could be accused of being an over sharer. Example A: I have a blog. Guess what? Putting my writing out there still scares me to the point of an inner quiver. I'm fully aware that some people think my writing is terrible and my ideas are stupid. But, I keep doing it. I keep putting myself out there for the few people who will read this and decide to make a braver choice today because what I wrote sparked something in them. I know what it's like to be really, really scared. I want to help as many people as possible escape the pain they feel as a result of being so damn scared and shy. People hold themselves back from so much happiness, success and love. In doing so, they are also holding themselves back from contributing the special gifts that only they have that could be making this world a better place. I want to kick fears ass more than I want everyone to like me, so I keep writing, posting on Facebook, talking about Becoming a Badass wherever I can, and turning it into a business so that, day by day, this passion turns into my life's work.

Putting your real self out there is an act of bravery. Here's some words from Tina Fey in her book Bossypant's. Hope it gets you revved up. Big thanks to Tina Fey for being the person who wrote something that inspired me to be braver.  

Bossypant's excerpt: 
Amy Poehler was new to SNL and we were all crowded into the seventeenth-floor writers' room, waiting for the Wednesday read-through to start. There were always a lot of noisy "comedy bits" going on in that room. Amy was in the middle of some such nonsense with Seth Meyers across the table, and she did something vulgar as a joke. I can't remember what it was exactly, except it was dirty and loud and "unladylike."
Jimmy Fallon, who was arguably the star of the show at the time, turned to her and in a faux-squeamish voice said: "Stop that! It's not cute! I don't like it."
Amy dropped what she was doing, went black in the eyes for a second, and wheeled around on him. "I don't fucking care if you like it." Jimmy was visibly startled. Amy went right back to enjoying her ridiculous bit …
With that exchange, a cosmic shift took place. Amy made it clear that she wasn't there to be cute. She wasn't there to play wives and girlfriends in the boys' scenes. She was there to do what she wanted to do and she did not fucking care if you like it …
I think of this whenever someone says to me, "Jerry Lewis says women aren't funny," or Christopher Hitchens says women aren't funny," or "Rick Fenderman says women aren't funny. … Do you have anything to say to that?"
Yes. We don't fucking care if you like it.
So my unsolicited advice to women in the workplace is this. When faced with sexism or ageism or lookism or even really aggressive Buddhism, ask yourself the following question: "Is this person in between me and what I want to do?" If the answer is no, ignore it and move on. Your energy is better used doing your work, and outpacing people that way. Then, when you're in charge, don't hire the people who were jerky to you.
If the answer is yes, you have a more difficult road ahead of you. I suggest you model your strategy after the old Sesame Street film piece "Over! Under! Through!" (If you're under forty you might not remember this film. It taught the concepts of "over, "under," and "through" by filming toddlers crawling around in an abandoned construction site. They don't show it anymore because someone has since realized that's nuts.) If your boss is a jerk, try to find someone above or around your boss who is not a jerk. If you're lucky, your workplace will have a neutral proving ground—like the rifle range or the car sales total board or the SNL read-through. If so, focus on that.
Again, don't waste your energy trying to educate or change opinions. Go "Over! Under! Through!" and opinions will change organically when you're the boss. Or they won't. Who cares?
Do your thing and don't care if they like it.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Brazenly Loving is Scary

Be brave. Love what you love brazenly.

My sister was recently up for a promotion at work. It was actually more of a lateral move, from customer service to the wine department but she likes wine a lot more than customer service, so it felt like a promotion. God, she wanted the job. Talking about it filled her with energy and fire and ambition. This is an area where she could really thrive. The thing was, she wasn't totally qualified for the job. She had the interest and passion and some knowledge but was by no means overly equipped for the position.

Everyone at her work and in her personal life knew she was applying for the job. Daily questions built pressure. Every ones interest became a burden. Support started to become suffocating because, yes, she wanted the job. Badly. And she knew eventually she could be incredible at the job in time, but as she was now, exactly at the moment, she wasn't really ready for the job.

We all have been there. Looking at the next step we want to take. The next adventure, accomplishment or change is obvious. We finally know what we want after an agonizing period of confusion or limbo. The perfect job shows up. Someone you could truly love appears out of no where. Inspiration strikes. Life is good until, suddenly, we realize that we aren't qualified enough, smart enough, strong enough, whatever enough to truly take it on. This is when fear, doubt, REALITY sets in and our love starts to shrink. We start telling ourselves that we are being dumb. We are about to make a huge fool out of ourselves. The impulse to deny the love, want and desire shows up swiftly and fiercely. Don't act like you've never felt this way and I won't lie to you by saying I never have.

I'll one up you and own up to the fact that everything I've ever done that I've been proud of has been preceded by this feeling of doubt and shame.

My sister aced half of the interview and bombed the other half. She had put herself out there so fully. Everyone knew how bad she wanted the job. I knew. The people she supervises at work knew. The entire management of her work knew. She had put it out there, by God, big time. While she was doing it, I was shocked an inspired. She wanted it and she was telling the world. I believed in her. I knew she would be incredible at this job. I was sure both because of how familiar I am with her innate and developed skill set but also because I saw how much love and passion was set ablaze in her by the idea of this job. There was a God-force behind her.

She didn't get the job. She knew after the interview that she wouldn't. She had really blown it. Like really. She did great on half and just horrible on the rest.

But, she got half the job. What? How? The people who interviewed her saw her passion and drive and even though they knew that she wasn't fully ready at this time to take on the whole job, they are giving her most of the responsibilities and the next 6 months to get fully trained and prepared to take on the whole job.

That is the power of showing what you love. So often we squelch our love because we feel undeserving or unready. We are afraid of failing and the embarrassment that will inevitably follow. This is such a huge mistake. No one is ready. Ever. You have to get in over your head to get ahead. Be brave. Please, I need the inspiration. We all do. It's so hard to get over all that fear and doubt. It's painful to realize the truth of our immediate limitations but it's the only way to get past them.

Congratulations Melissa. You are an inspiration.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Viceless: Being sober, sugar-free and more for THREE DAMN MONTHS

Three months of no sugar, alcohol, dairy, gluten or caffeine are complete!(Ok, ok. I didn't make it on my challenge of not watching TV alone for 3 months. Only 2 1/2 months of no solo TV watching happened. Hey, not bad! Calling it a win and a learning experience. Who knew I was more addicted to TV than alcohol? Not me. It was such a constant temptation to watch some TV that I think it's going to need it's own separate effort.)

Yes! I can be this happy while being Viceless.
So what happens now? Do I have a Viceless future ahead of me? Gosh, darn it, I'm still not sure. I've had a tiny bite of my friends homemade goat cheese (Yes! I have friends with a goat farm. Check them out!) and I'm sure some hidden ingredients have snuck into my food because I haven't been a stickler about everything at restaurants but overall, I'm pretty damn Viceless. I feel good and am not looking to mess with that. Still, I'm not declaring a future of Vicelessness. I've already made a large commitment that conflicts with Viceless living. Before all of this Vicelessness started, I was committed to spending a month in Italy and going on a bunch of wine tours. Cry me a river, right? I'm basically set up to do a Viceful experiment. What happens if I fully give into all of my vices for a month? The land of cheese, gluten-filled pizza, gelato, wine and espresso is going to be an interesting test. The only thing I probably won't be doing is watching much TV since it will be in Italian.

Here are my main take aways from 3 months of Viceless living:

1) Alcohol is more of a habit than a need. I was doing a lot of research on changing habits over the past 3 months and came upon some interesting information about alcohol. The book Making Habits, Breaking Habits by Jeremy Dean taught me that alcohol is mainly a craving for the relaxation or socializing that we associate with our early use. A study proved that college students socialize with alcohol and years later, when they are craving fun or relaxation, people tend to turn to alcohol instead of just the socialization. They assume they need the alcohol. This is a false assumption.

I've proven the seemingly impossible. Yes, I can have fun, relax and socialize without alcohol! That is one of my biggest learnings from my experiment. I can even go to a bar, wedding or any social situation that would normally involve alcohol and have just as much fun sober as I would drinking. In fact, I recently attended a wedding sober. The groom, days later, was shocked to learn that I wasn't drinking. Apparently, my incredible dance moves and soda water with lime fooled him into assuming I was getting crunk with alcohol.

Not drinking is amazing for two primary reasons: I save a ton of money and have no hangover or drag the next day. My perspective about alcohol has totally changed. Drinking is a lot less of an influence on my good time than I would have thought before going Viceless.

Dairy-free, agave sweetened ice cream is a
loophole in Vicelessness that worked
for me. I know agave is actually super high
in fructose and no better than refined sugar,
but it isn't available at most news stands,
 so it works for me. 
2) Limitations are my new best friend. Shocking, right?
I am not to be trusted around sugar! Seriously, I've been abusing fruit and agave during my Viceless time. I still want every snickers bar I see. I love sweetness! I have an embarrassing sugar addiction and I'm going to need more time away from sugar before I can have it in moderation.  But, I did learn a helpful tool to use for cutting back on anything...

I learned that I can massively cut back on my addictions by placing restrictions that don't make me crazy but do limit me. By saying no to refined sugar and a hesitant yes to any sugar like sweeteners such as agave, maple syrup, etc, I was able to cut way back on my sugary treat consumption. I still had a few desserts a week but, overall, I curbed my sweets in a way that didn't test my self-control. Refined sugar treats are everywhere and I simply said no. Luckily, ice cream made with agave is hard to come by and, therefore, I didn't eat sweet treats as frequently or in as great a quality. What was key for me though was that I didn't feel restricted so I didn't trigger a binge (when I feel trapped, I rebel). I had enough options but was able to say no to deserts and candy that came up in social situations. Hey, whatever works, right?

3) Whatever works, for you, specifically... One of my closest friends also stopped drinking about a month before I did. Neither of us were alcoholics in need of rehab. The outside world didn't understand why either of us would find it necessary to give up drinking. We were moderate social drinkers (well, maybe a bit more than moderate). For our own personal reasons, we both felt the need to give up alcohol and have done so successfully for a period of time. Beyond the comfort of companionship as I tried out a new lifestyle change, another benefit of having a friend taking on a similar challenge at the same time is that I learned that individuals take on big, successful challenges in totally unique ways.

I really, really want to tell everyone to take on a huge challenge that is limited to a specific amount of time. I love the process and want to force it on you.  I greatly improved my skiing by setting out to ski 100 days in one season. I revolutionized my perspective on my vices by giving them up cold turkey for 3 months. I went from LA party girl to Wyoming badass by fully throwing myself into skiing, mountain biking, and international travel and documenting it all in this public blog. Going big for a documented project with time restraints works great for me when I'm trying to instigate big change.

That doesn't mean it's going to work for you. For instance, my sober friend says that her sobriety has lasted only because she is planning on not drinking forever. Giving herself a time limit on the commitment would cause her to crack. The time limit keeps me going as I try out something new. If I thought that I was never ever going to have another drink or piece of candy, I would be drinking from a bottle of wine and pairing it with peanut M&Ms as I write this post.

When I was in Nicaragua, learning to surf with a different close friend, I kept tripping over uneven road and ground. My dear friend pegged me on that trip, "You are great at huge steps. Here you are kicking ass as you learn to surf but the small steps really trip you up." Yep! That's me! I'm better with a big public challenge than a small change. I know that now.

The question is, who are you? How do you best accomplish? How and where have you had successes in the past and what can you apply from that previous process to speed up your future accomplishments?

This is what I love about career/life coaching. I don't have the answers for you but I sure can help you speed up and simplify the process of you finding your own answer. You are unique and specific. You have your own way of succeeding. No one is going to know what is exactly right for you.

4) Lean in.  I'm obsessed with the concept of leaning toward something. One of my favorite teachers, Gabrielle Bernstein, has introduced me to the concept. While I was in New York over the summer, I attended Gabrielle's workshop, Finally Full. She spoke a lot about spirituality, food, meditation and sprinkled in was her own experiences with food. Gabby says she leans toward vegan. She also seems to lean toward sugar-free. Leaning toward means that she is mainly one way, but if she wants something that goes against her typical actions, she will have it. It's about being one way mainly and  occasionally deviating.

Leaning into making changes with
Gabrielle Bernstein.
This is a phrase and philosophy that I believe fits nicely into lives. It cuts out demands and restrictions that can be both un-fun and actually counter-productive. (We all know that when we are told we can't have something, we start to really, really want that something.) Right now though, most of my vices seem too fresh to assume I could just lean into them without fully reverting to my old ways. This is what I'll be monitoring as I start testing out some vices. Can I lean in? How far can I lean into a habit without it becoming a vice?

What are some of your best ways for achieving balance in your life? What are your best ways for accomplishing change that brings you closer to your goals? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below! While I don't know exactly what is right for you, I do know that getting a new perspective can be very enlightening. Taking on this Viceless challenge has given me an opportunity to speak to so many people about their own vices and methods for happiness and productivity. I've learned a great deal from you all. It's been an honor to share my new perspectives and learn so many new ones along the way. I'm  extremely grateful for everyone who supported me as I completed 3 months of Viceless living!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Viceless Day 61-84: Casually Being Viceless

For the past two weeks I've been keeping my Viceless life style very casual. I wanted to see what happened if I wasn't blogging or talking about it all the time. What if I just made small, discreet personal choices and didn't make a big deal about it. What happens if this is just how I live, not a project I'm undertaking?

In some ways, it's easy and natural. I'm just a person who says "no cheese" or "no, thank you" a lot. Overall, that's no big deal. Where things still get tricky is eating with groups. For instance, I was at a group gathering where they were ordering pizza and I had to ask for a salad to be ordered just for me. While everyone else ate pizza, I ate my salad. Kinda felt like an a-hole for some reason, but only for a few minutes and then the conversation picked up and the salad was forgotten. Also, eating out with a bunch of friends who all want to share food is still a sticky situation. I feel like the odd man out. I've been able to sidestep making a big deal out of my choices by not being too strict while eating at restaurants. I haven't officially cheated. I haven't eaten any big no-no but when out with groups, I'm not making a fuss if there is a little cream in a dish or sugar in a sauce. I'm leaning into being Viceless but I'm not freaking out about it. This way of living feels damn good. I'm not uptight. I can eat basically anywhere. I have my few low-glycemic treats like Cashewtopia ice cream for when I something special. I waste no time feeling bad either physically or emotionally about what I ate. Admittedly, it was  still very awkward watching my friends eat donuts while I sipped on my water the other night, but overall, being Viceless is no big deal if I don't make it a big deal.

So what happens at the end of the three months?

I haven't totally decided yet. I like knowing that I can go three months without alcohol, sugar, gluten, dairy and caffeine. Each of those individually seems huge to me. Alcohol! I can socialize without it. Sugar! I can be happy without it. Gluten! I can not eat the bread. It's physically possible for me to sit at a table with a bread basket and not eat it. Dairy! Well, I found an ice cream substitute... Caffeine! I got through an incredibly intense school course without it.

Not sure yet how Viceless I will remain in the future but it feels damn good to know that I can have a great time without any of those things. I'm happy and productive. I very rarely feel guilty. My future choices are still unclear but I'm going to be making them with a whole new perspective.

Viceless Day 60-72: I Watched TV

I've been surprised myself to find that what I miss the most is watching TV alone. Last night, I made a very conscious decision to break my commitment to not watching TV alone. It felt soooooooo good.

That one didn't work for me. Ok. I want to watch TV alone sometimes. I accept this. One vice broken 2  1/2 months into the experiment. I could have held out longer but I thought about it for a while and when I finally did watch TV it was amazing and relaxing and refreshing.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Viceless Day 54-60: Living in the Loophole

Oh, there are loopholes to being Viceless. They started occurring to me about a week into this experiment.  For instance, potato chips are sugar, gluten and dairy free. I've only had them twice in the two months I've been Viceless but still... obviously they are a vice! French fries are also technically allowed but I've only had sweet potato fries a few times. Overall, I'm trying not to just replace my old vices with new vices but it's so, so hard in NYC!
A loophole to heaven. 

The other night, my beautiful, genius, mischievous roomie in New York looked at me and said, "I've got another loophole for you." Loophole has become an inside joke with us because NYC is full of treats catering to the gluten, sugar and dairy free crowd and my roomie seems to know where to find all of them, 24/7. My typical life in Jackson Hole does not have easy access to Viceless treats. If I want ice-cream made from honey and cashew milk I have to make it myself. This is a laborious process that I rarely get around to. Unfortunately, I just learned that a 24-hour bodega (aka: upscale convenience store) about a block and a half from my apartment in NYC sells vanilla cashew ice-cream. I'm in so much trouble. 

The only redeeming quality is that like most treats based on nuts instead of white sugar, I can actually stop eating it at some point. About half a cup and my body says, thank you, that was delicious. I'm full. This is a miracle for my ice-cream consumption.  

Where it gets complicated is that these treats are everywhere. Brownies sweetened with sweet potatoes instead of sugar. Bars of nuts held together with honey. Chia seed pudding! Entire menus of deserts at my disposal. I have to start using self control again! Damn. 
I had the Warm Apple Crunch. So simple,
so delicious. 

Overall, I'm grateful for these sweet treats because I've found life is better when you can indulge. A week without dessert never seemed right. Plus, it feels great to be indulging in something that doesn't trigger never-ending cravings or food hangovers. 

So, there are loopholes and I'm still figuring out how I want to navigate them. As someone who has been known to have a snickers mid-day and Ben and Jerry's at night, I'm still thinking of this as a mass improvement. I feel better. I started this project to see if I could feel better. Hey! Great! Now onto the next dilemma.

How do I manage to not live in the loophole when there are  so many temptations literally around every corner? How am I going to continue to live after my 3 month commitment? How do I convince the grocery stores in Jackson Hole to carry this Cashewtopia ice-cream? To be continued...

Monday, June 24, 2013

Viceless Day 45-53: Positive Psychology and True Happiness

I've cleared the half-way mark and am edging on 2/3 done with my Viceless commitment. I've found I can divide people into two camps when they hear about this project. One group asks, "Do you feel amazing?!" The other says, "Oh, so you are giving up everything good? When is this craziness over?"

I'm a member of both camps. My favorite thing about being Viceless is how it simplifies my choices. Am I going to buy that candy? No. Am I going to eat a bag of Doritos's? No. Am I going to spend the day watching the Kardashians? No. Great. Decision made. What I don't like is that my pleasure outlets feel limited. I believe strongly in pleasure. I'm a bit of a hedonist and believe let no pleasure pass unenjoyed. Aka: let no chocolate go uneaten. Why then does my pleasure often torture me? That momentary pleasure so often turns to guilt, obliterating my happiness.  

Learning about Positive Psychology is school has begun to clarify my feelings about pleasure. Positive emotions are created from pleasure such as chocolate and wine. That's a plus. The problem is, those pleasures are fleeting. Lasting positive emotions come from pleasure that is attached to meaning. Meaning is derived from using personal strengths toward something greater than the self.

All my life, I've been a big fan of ephemeral pleasures. I leaped at any chance to enjoy the world through my senses. Becoming a Badass and life coaching is the first time I feel like I have purposes and a huge source of pleasure outside of the pursuit of momentary thrills. Being Viceless has upped my work ethic and focus. I'm more productive and less likely to get caught up in my own fruitless and selfish guilt cycle. I'm sacrificing small pleasures (and yes, when I pass someone on the street with an ice-cream cone I feel the sacrifice) for the greater pleasure of helping others. I'm determined to help as many people as possible crush the fears that are destroying their happiness and success.  I'm helping people badass-up to their best lives. I've never felt better. My purpose is clear and I know exactly where I want to go. So, no. I haven't given up everything good. I'm finally working with passion toward the greater good. Positive Psychology is right. The greater good is what leads to lasting happiness.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Viceless Day 36-43: I'm a busy New Yorker now

Here you are my lovely blog-badasses! You've been on my mind as I wrapped up business in my mountain town, Jackson and transferred my booty to New York City for most of the summer. I'm here to take a summer intensive to get my Life Coaching Certificate through NYU. I've left my small, steady town for the wilds of New York. At least I don't have to worry about bears or mountain lions anymore.  

I wasn't sure I'd say this but, I LOVE NEW YORK. I love the friendly, helpful strangers, the cute outfits everywhere, the great friends I haven't seen in years but mostly I love the prevalence of healthy, delicious, Viceless approved food in restaurants. 

While on the flight to NYC I started thinking, what the hell am I doing? I'm going to be socializing my ass off and eating out like crazy. Not drinking is going to make me a freak. Where am I going to find Viceless food?!?!? I was imagining writing my apology letter for my failure: "I was an idiot for trying this. Sorry. I'll be eating pizza and bagels if you need to find me and berate me."

Then, I show up in NYC. My amazing friend who is letting me stay in her apartment (and who was previously known as the cupcake queen) is aware I'm Viceless and says, "You down with a macrobiotic restaurant that I love?" Ummm... YES! 

Chia Pudding obsession.
Turns out, I'm not alone in my quest for Vicelessness. There are so many people in NYC trying life without either white sugar, gluten or dairy that food options are everywhere. I've had raw-vegan, gluten-free sushi, the most amazing salads with steamed veggies and tahini dressings, and scrumptious brown rice bowls. My food choices haven't been inconvenient for an instant. In fact, I'm more tempted than ever. Everywhere I turn is a sugar-free, dairy free bit of deliciousness made with agave or honey. I'm limiting my sweet intake, because this isn't about replacing a vice with an alternative vice, but I've got to try some of this stuff! My favorite so far is Chia seed pudding. Chia seeds in cashew milk with a little agave and they sell it at so many places! Hello, super-food dessert!

Ok, I had to take a deep breath because in all my excitement I'm abusing exclamation points. I'm reminded of the Joseph Campbell quote, "Follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be." For me, the door has been friends with the same food interests. I was so afraid of ostracizing myself with my new Viceless lifestyle, but the three friends from my past that I've been able to see so far are fascinated by the same lifestyle and food that I am. They may not be totally Viceless, but they definitely lean toward these healthy choices and love hearing how my Viceless adventure is going. I have way more support in NYC than I did even in Jackson. 

Can't wait to share my food findings with you all! (final exclamation point, I promise) I'm off to meditate and read about life coaching in Prospect Heights Park. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Viceless Day 32-35: Sorry I'm crying, just keep talking

There is a reason that this is called Becoming a Badass and not, I'm a Damn Badass. I'm highly devoted to self improvement and wellness. There basically hasn't been a time in the past 10 years where I wasn't reading up on some self-improvement and conducting my own experiment. I believe deeply in our ability to improve with conscious effort. That being said, it only works if you work it. 

I've already admitted that I was born so shy that I would cry if anyone outside of my immediate family would talk to me. I'm not sure if I've also exposed that I was born so sensitive that I've probably cried for 1/8 of my life (possible understatement. Scary, I know). I'm one of those people that can feel other peoples emotions or read the truth from a slight change in energy or facial expression. I can leave a party knowing who was even considering sleeping with who. Small social interactions that are typically hidden to the human eye are for some reason obvious to my sensitive nature. Blessing and a curse. This sensitivity helps with my coaching and communications but has been crippling in other areas of my life. In school, when dealing with criticism from teachers, I actually had to start saying, "I know I'm crying but just keep talking. I can't control it but I want to hear what you have to say." That's tough on people. Obviously, my sensitivity is something that I needed to work on.

This sensitivity and crying are why it was super important for me to find healthy ways to deal with my emotions and spiritual strength to deal with the world. Aka: I meditate daily, pray constantly, have a strong forgiveness practice and use mantra's to keep my mind from dwelling on my sensitivities fears. I have to keep up this work or I'm a hot mess. 

The good news is that because of these practices I now can handle criticism, flat out haters and meanie-pants with grace and dry eyes. Stress has become manageable and I can even get through that time of the month without eating someones head while seasoning it with my flowing tears. 

The bad news is there is no one shot fix all. I have to keep up with my wellness and spiritual practices or I go right back to a wounded mess of irrational crying. I also have to workout regularly or my butt goes back to a flat pancake. I don't get to coast by in anything in this life! But that's ok, because from my constant effort, I've found my greatest passion: Helping others through self-improvement. 

I'm owning up to this because this past week was a major break down for me. I struggled as I moved apartments, kept up with my work, prepared for a summer in NYC getting more life coach training through NYU and generally tried to keep up with a life that is progressing wonderfully fast toward so many of my dreams. I let my good practices fall to the side as I prioritized the "practical". I spent all my time on work, tasks and demands, figuring I could skate by on my past wellness practices. NOPE!!! Because I dropped some of my wellness practices, I found myself a crying stress ball during my move. All of a sudden the world looked unfair and mean. Why did I have to do so much at one time? I was angry, hurt and panicked. This is the time when I should stop, breath and meditate! I didn't though and learned the hard way that my wellness practices only work if I work them. 

Luckily, I didn't stay my sensitive, wounded self for long. Two days of angry breakdown and I remembered, "Hey! I know how to deal with this shit!" I took the time to meditate and refocused my mind with some conscious gratitude. Yep, sometimes you just have to force your mind to look for the good and make a list of all that you are grateful for. Sure, at first my mind was muttering, this is bullshit, after every item on my gratitude list but eventually I hit the sweet spot. My mind snapped back to happiness and peace, a peace that isn't disturbed by others words, opinions or actions. This is the beauty of a solid wellness practice. You can't just expect yourself to be solid in every circumstance. Do yourself a favor and set-up some practices that reinforce your happiness and mental stability. This isn't about perfection in every moment, but having practices you can turn to when life is being a little a-hole.  

I'm going to be getting into these practices more here at Becoming a Badass. I know you need specifics and I'll be getting them to you! Love you badasses! Thanks for joining me as I become a badass a bit more everyday. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Viceless Day 31: From Average to Badass

I need to clarify something with you all.

The other day, I was talking to my sister about her taking on a challenge and she said, "Yeah, but you love a challenge."

This is absolutely not true. I love sitting on the couch eating Doritos. I don't naturally love working out, taking on challenges, facing my fears or any of the other healthy, life enhancing activities that I promote daily. I love sleeping and wearing sweatpants. That is easy and comfortable. Problem is that I hate being sluggish, out of shape and unsuccessful. I have learned to love what is good for me because I hate the negative consequences of avoiding it. I've learned to love a challenge, but it's not my natural resting state. This takes work.
Muffy Davis. Ass-kicking paralympian
and motivational speaker. You don't
need this big of a challenge to
Become a Badass.

That's why I'm here. I want you all to know that you are not alone. You see your friends in perfect relationships, killing it straight out of college in a high paying career. You see airbrushed celebrities. You see heads of companies saying they always new they would be successful. Good for them. Now what about the rest of us?

I recently went to the Sun Valley Wellness Festival. There were so many speakers there talking about ways to improve your life from spirituality to feng shui, from paralympians to documentary makers. People kept saying, "Stop over achieving." "I used to be an achievement junkie."

Christine Hassler, brilliant coach and speaker.
You don't have to be this flawless and put together
to be Becoming a Badass. But we will love you
even if you are.
I want you all to know that I am not coming from that place. Where is the person who didn't start their own business by 21? Where is the person who didn't date George Clooney? Where is the person who has consistently been in the middle, felt like they were at the bottom, struggled just to keep up? Here I am and I've learned how to love a challenge.

I love achievers, the super successful, the born athletes, the destined to be famous since birth but those aren't the ones I want to help. Great, you've got this. You were born knowing who you are, what you want to do and how to achieve greatness. Go!!! I will enjoy watching and cheering you on. If you find that you're over addicted to success, I've got some great people I can refer you to, such as Christine Hassler and Christine Arylo. For the rest of you though, I've got your back. If you've struggled to figure out who you are and why you were put here on earth, I want to help you. If you trip when you dance and have never won anything in your life, I'm here for you. If you are hugging the middle of the bell curve, I want to help you get to the next level. If you don't jog not just because it's physically painful but because you are embarrassed of the jiggle that goes along with the movement, I want to talk to you. We need to talk if you dread family reunions because you hate answering the question, "So, what are you doing with your life?" If you know that you are a capable person but just can't find the right place to apply yourself, I've got you.

The Sun Valley Wellness Festival needs me. What about everyone who has always lived a perfectly nice, normal, middle of the road life but craves big happiness and fulfillment? I'm here to tell you daily that just because you haven't, doesn't mean you can't. If you have a dream or desire, you are doing yourself and the world a disservice by not going after it. The world needs more people who are passionately pursuing their dreams. Let's light up this world people! Even though our natural instinct is to sit on the couch with E! television and a bag of Doritos.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Viceless Day 30: Saying No

I've always found it hard to say no. I just find yes to be so much more fun. Brownie? Yes! Nachos? Yes! Cocktail? Yes! The truth is though, I say yes too much. I overbook and over consume. This tendency to always says yes leaves my schedule and body bloated and weighed down.

This challenge is just an exercise in saying no. Everyday, another person, usually one I really adore, offers me something that I must turn down. People don't just offer me sweets or wine, they hold it up to my face and say, "Please, just have some. Please." It's really hard to say no to that!

But I'm finding that once I get past the awkward no moment that still requires adjustment, I have just as much fun as I would if I were consuming alcohol or decadent food. I still find myself tearing up with laughter. I'm still having meaningful conversations. Actually, my fiancé keeps asking me what I'm so giggly about. I don't know. I just feel good, happy and giggly. Turns out that wasn't the sugar high or alcohol buzz. I'm just like that. Amazing.

People have said that I'm experiencing the placebo effect. I feel better because I expect to feel better. That could very well be true, but I would like to propose that my vices also include a placebo effect. How often do we think, I need a drink? I need a treat? I need to chill out and watch some TV? These have become the most common method of relaxation. What about meditation and deep breathing? What about a walk outdoors? Do we really NEED our vices?

I'm a free spirit and an Aquarius. I'm not hear to tell you what is right or wrong. I don't believe in that sort of thing. If cocktails and a piece of cake make you purely, delightfully happy then get to it. But I am here to challenge you to question your limitations. Limitations are the one thing I don't believe in.

Where are you limiting your potential? Where could you be saying no that would open up more space in your life for greatness? As my friend, Leaha, says, "How is the universe supposed to fill your basket if it's already full?"

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Viceless Day 29: Help! How do I celebrate without food or alcohol?

Beautiful moment a few days ago between my fiancé and myself. I had just wrapped up my first Becoming a Badass Workshop. I've got new coaching clients appearing all the time. My body is feeling and looking good. I just talked to some of my major role models at the Sun Valley Wellness Festival and now they know I'm alive. I'm about to head to NYC to get more life coach training through NYU. I've made all of these accomplishments happen on my own as an independent adult. LIFE IS GOOD!! I was hopping around my kitchen with excitement and my fiancé had a huge grin on his face.

He said, "I'm so happy you're so happy. Let's celebrate!"

We both stood starting at each other with wide goofy smiles that gradually softened into open-mouth bewilderment. We have a bottle of champagne but I'm not drinking... There's no special chocolates or ice cream to decadently pair with a nice glass of wine... We traditionally celebrate by consuming something. Whoa! I'm so stuck in this habitual that I don't even know what else I could do.

This is a false representation of my ice cream.
My ice cream was not pretty enough to
The next day I ended up making my self some vegan, sugar-free ice-cream from bananas, nut butters and maple syrup. It was a treat but felt like a substitute for the real thing. I'm not here to substitute my vices until I can get back to the "real thing." I'm looking for new ways to exist that will expand my options of having fun and enjoying life.

This is where I need your help. I've been looking for ways to celebrate and reward myself that don't involve food, alcohol or lots of money. In the future, as a big celebration, I will get a massage, take a trip or buy a highly coveted product. I can think of nice things I would love to buy but as I set up a business, my money is being reinvested in my business. What can I do that is small, affordable, celebratory and decadent for those small accomplishments that deserve attention?

I really need your help on this one. What tips and tricks can you share with me badasses? Help me celebrate!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Viceless Day 22-28: Time Flies While Dreams Are Coming True

I've been sober, sugar free and without TV for 28 days now. I've gone through my own self imposed rehab. This is only the beginning of the process since I've committed to three months, but I understand why rehab facilities use 28 days. The past four weeks have been a struggle. I've gazed longingly at food, the blank TV screen and countless glasses of wine. So much time has been spent quietly yearning for what I've given up that I started to wonder if I shouldn't just partake in my damn vices. My time was being eaten by my desire for them anyway. I didn't feel great, glowy, pure and light. I just felt like I missed eating candy while watching TV.

My online mentor and inspiration
Gabrielle Bernstein.
Somewhere in the past week though, that all changed. Today, I feel better than I've felt in years. Recently, I've connected with three power player in the world of coaching and inspirational speaking. I've conducted my first Becoming a Badass Workshop to great success and I've taken on new coaching clients. My schedule is starting to  overflow with soul inspiring, cash producing work. People are telling me that I've inspired them to improve their lives and happiness! By getting out of my own way, I'm getting everything I ever wanted. My vices have been replaced with fulfilled dreams.

Last night, after finishing my Becoming a Badass Workshop I was giddy with excitement. I've been planning this workshop for months. Before that, before even starting this blog four-years-ago I had been following my intuition hesitantly toward this career.  I didn't know what a life coach was four years ago. I just knew that I loved inspiring, motivating, writing, performing, working with people, improving the world, and how-to's in women's magazines. How that was going to make a career, I had no idea. 

Three important actions have gotten me to this amazing point in my life where I have specific dreams, goals and a plan for accomplishing.

1) I've consistently listened to my intuition and feelings. Often there is a dichotomy between what makes sense and what you know you want. When I was deciding between colleges I was choosing between Boston University where I thought I should major in business and going to California Institute of the Arts to major in acting. I really should have gone to Boston University. I was a great student and could have probably amassed a lot of monetary wealth by now. When I thought about that future though, my throat tightened up and I got a small inkling that I should go ahead and kill myself now. I'm actually down playing that feeling. At the time, my mind said, "this is what you really need to do for your future." My heart always answered, "no, it's not. That will kill me." 

Listening to my heart, I went to California Institute of the Arts even though I knew I probably wasn't going to end up with the typical actress career. I was acutely aware that I didn't know why I was going to school for acting. I was conscious of my own inadequacies and lack of direction. I knew I was making a crazy choice. Still, it was undeniable that I would regret not following my heart. 

Ten years later, I'm not an actress. I'm a life coach and workshop leader. I use the skills I learned as an actress in my present career. At school I learned to be fully present, listen, trust my instincts, be bold, stand in front of people and effectively communicate. I even learned how to put together the workshops I now conduct. A workshop is a show. It must have a beginning, middle and end. It must be engaging. It must emotionally effect the participants. I chose the most amazing, practical undergraduate training I could have for my chosen career. Well, actually, my heart chose my training. My heart picked the training before I even knew of the career of life coach. That is the brilliance that comes from listening to your intuition. 

2) I embraced embarrassment and started before I was ready. I've taken this practice to the next level by following the advice of two of my favorite online mentors.  My spiritual coach Gabrielle Bernstein says you must embrace an attitude of "F-it. Let's go!" Marie Forleo, my business guru, is the queen of the empowering phrase, "start before you are ready." Both of these women are successful powerhouses. They encourage me to be more aggressive with an attitude that I've always relied on. You will never be ready, you just need to get into action. I wasn't ready to go to an acting program that's ranked 15th in the world. I had only done a few plays at my high school. I showed up and found myself surrounded by children of celebrities and people who had been child actors. I was in way over my head and thank God. I was pushed to my absolute limit to keep up with the brilliance around me. I wasn't the best, but I was playing with the big dogs. Think of the opportunity I would have wasted if I had said, "I'll go to acting school when I'm ready." I could have done more plays around Atlanta. I could have taken smaller steps but would I have? Big actions and big decisions give you big momentum. If I had stalled on acting school, I doubt I would have even graduated from any college. I would have stayed paralyzed by fear and my own depression. It's through action, risk and starting before you are ready that you will find your passion and momentum. 

3) I set measurable, timed goals with accountability. Unfortunately, with college my only real measurable goal was to graduate. I accomplished that goal but found myself lost after graduation. Moving to Jackson, I started to set measurable, timed goals. The most obvious is when I decided to ski 100 days in one season. Before setting this goal, I had probably skied a total of 80 days in the three years since I had learned to ski. Kinda crazy to jump into 100 days, right? Well, I wanted to be a badass and I wanted to learn what it was to truly be a skier. The 100 days kicked my ass and challenged me more than I could have imagined. I didn't know how to deal with different weather conditions. My ski boots weren't perfect and I'll always have what I must lovingly call my sixth toe (calcium deposite on the side of my foot). I frequently cried into my goggles and a struggled through exhaustion. Yet, I had told people I was going to ski 100 days. People rallied to support me because I had told people my goal, therefor setting up accountability. I learned more about skiing in that one season that I had in the past 3 seasons combined. I became a skier and have a life accomplishment that I can always think of when facing a new challenge. Hell, I skied a 100 days. I can do this. 
Notice, I didn't say to myself, I'm going to become a better skier and ski more. I announced to my nearest and dearest that I was going to ski 100 days that season. Measurable, timed goals with accountability are key for accomplishments. How will you know when you've accomplished something if it isn't measured, with a time limit and with others knowing your goal? Set yourself up to succeed. I ended up skiing 109 days that season. 

Once again, my challenges are pulling me toward my success. I haven't eaten crap, consumed alcohol or watched TV while alone. After 28 days, I've talked to some of my biggest mentors, held a workshop, grown my coaching business, inspired people to improve their lives and gotten written up in my local paper. Yeah, Viceless is working.

What are you ready to succeed at? Tell me in the comments below. Let's shape some ass-kicking goals for you!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Viceless Day 19, 20, 21: Gabrielle Bernstein and Leaning Toward Health

Day 19 and 20:
I took a road trip to the Sun Valley Wellness Festival. Normally I see road trips as a great time to break the rules about healthy eating. Food options are limited so why not just eat fast food, gummy candy and doritos?

Ummm... because my health never stops and I don't want to feel like crap. So, I utilized a skill that I've been developing hardcore: planning ahead. This skill will revolutionize your life! Yes, it seems obvious but almost any time you say, "I can't," what you probably mean is, "I could have if I planned ahead but  didn't." A cooler packed with veggies, hummus, frittata and other healthy options made for great snacking. When my stud of a man was ordering a cheese burger with tater tots from a country store, I can't say my nostrils didn't flare to take in more of the greasy goodness. I managed to buy myself a gas station treat of my own that was Viceless approved. Plain corn nuts! I think they were the only snack that didn't contain sugar in the entire store. It took a lot of label reading. The corn nuts with a coconut water that was also for purchase and I had my own version of a road trip treat.

As my man slumped from the delicious gut-bomb of grease, I felt perky as a bird and ready to meet some mentors at the Sun Valley Wellness Festival. What I'm finding from this challenge is that I don't so much feel amazing as I just never feel bad. I feel steadily good, clear and strong. That seems worth some pre-planning.

Day 21:
Gabrielle Bernstein has been a huge influence on my life. She is a spiritual coach, speaker and author who breaks everything down in a palatable and modern way. I originally went to the Sun Valley Wellness Festival last year specifically to hear her speak. While there I discovered so many other incredible speakers but Gabby is still my main motivation for driving the 5 hours again this year. 

I had the opportunity to ask this ass-kicker of a woman why what she eats is so important to her and how she manages to stay healthy while touring the country and maintain a hectic schedule. She answered that she, "leans toward" vegan and brings a lot of snacks like apples and almond butter with her. She eats grass fed meat occasionally and will sometimes have treats made with maple syrup or other natural sweetener. What a brilliant way to live! I'm leaning toward sober. I'm leaning toward gluten free. I'm leaning toward a life without TV. 

Life isn't perfect, predictable or strict. Lean toward what you want and accept some deviation on the way. I ate out last night, a romantic dinner with my love. We ate at Boca which is a bright and delicious restaurant in Ketchum. We walked into find a big table of speakers from the festival eating there as well. I took it as an auspicious sign. Now everyday, I'm heavily leaning toward dairy free but I have accepted that while eating out there will occasionally be butter in my food. I don't order dishes with obvious dairy but butter is everywhere. Eating out at a restaurant that isn't labeled as health food is mighty tricky if you aren't eating gluten, sugar or dairy. I chose to lean toward Viceless and didn't order a plain protein over olive oil sauteed veggies. Honestly, I could tell that the butter weighed me down after the meal and I'm motivated to not have that feeling again. More requests for olive oil or light butter are in my future. Still,  I'm ordering the lightest dishes on the menu. I'm eating way more veggies. I had a delicious mocktail made with fresh muddled fruit and even a salt rim. I'm maintain huge changes in my life but perfection isn't one of them. Life is good and I'm leaning in. 

What changes could you "lean toward" this week? What have you been wanting to change in your life but the thought of the absolute has been scaring you off? If you gave up perfection, what could you take on? Tell me in the comments. 

Love you badasses. Off to another great day at the Sun Valley Wellness Festival. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Viceless Day 17 and 18: Staring at Chocolate and Fearing Paparazzi at McDonald's

I live in a very small town. I rarely leave the home without seeing someone I know. This is both something I love (oh, the support of a close community) and loath (oh, why can't a girl anonymously buy some ice cream in her pajamas any more?). Making a public declaration of going Viceless has put me in an interesting situation. Many wonderful people are interested and supportive. Still, many other similarly wonderful people who have different beliefs about food and life are on my tail waiting to catch me cheating.

I'm baffled by people who look at me with squinted eyes, in hushed tones saying, "But are you cheating?" No, I'm not. If and when I do cheat, you'll know about it because this isn't an assignment given to me by my butt face of a strict teacher. I'm a grown woman who took on a challenge of giving up my vices to find out if they are actually holding me back from happiness and productivity. Cheating is evidence in my experiment and it's not something I feel like I need to hide.

That's the story of responsible and logical me. Now, for a tale about the irrational, fearful me:

The Redboxes at all of the respectable drop-off locations (grocery stores and gas stations) are full and not accepting returns. I've already been past the McDonald's once where I know there is a Redbox. McDonald's would be the easy answer as I drive further around town to unload This is 40 but I can't risk being seen. I've made a public announcement that I'm going Viceless and being spotted entering a McDonald's would be so damning. I've been the victim of small town gossip more times than I can count. Living in this town can be like playing an extended adult version of telephone. By the time the gossip reaches you, it can take days to decipher where it could have even originated. As I drive, my mind hosts a montage of clips. I'm seen entering McDonald's. A single text is sent from one friend to another, "just saw the viceless badass entering McDonald's. what a bullshit artist." I'm called out at work and my voice squeaks at I protest, "But I had to return a Redbox!" My project crumbles like war ruins in an earthquake as news of my supposed indiscretion spreads through town.

Yeah, that's how dramatic and ridiculous my mind can be when left unchecked. This is why I have a disciplined meditation and mantra practice.

That night, I dream of sugar-less chocolate. Not sugar free chocolate but just 100% cocoa bars. That must exist right? Well, as I'm searching the candy aisle at our local health food store, The Whole Grocer, my fearful guilt creeps back into my consciousness. I feel my eyes darting side to side, looking to see who is witnessing my comb through the high-grade chocolate bars. Thank God the absurdity of my worry pings me between the eyes before I start wearing dark glasses and head scarves while shopping.

I took on being Viceless in an attempt to be happier, more guilt-free and productive. There is no room in my experiment to foster new paranoia. I can't be more productive if I spend all my time trying to look right. This is a mini challenge that has come up in my big challenge. I've got to own my actions and my truth. I will tell you when I cheat. I will trust you to trust me. This is growth. This is progress. This is the benefit of consciously and publicly taking on a challenge.

Where could you give-up some guilt and start living more productively and happily? I'd love to hear from you in the comments. Own up to what you want publicly and you've taken the first step to achievement.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Viceless Day 16: Treats for Adults

Last night, I got home from work and the old craving kicked in to sit down and watch some TV in order to shut my brain off. "I deserve my reward for working hard all day," was a pout echoing through my mind. I felt like a child on the verge of a break down. I'd like to stomp my feet, let tears stream and demand candy and TV. Yes, I know this is ridiculous but I also know it's my truth at times. When I see toddlers having melt-downs, I usually don't think, "Shut that brat up." I always think, man, that is how most adults feel inside but they have learned to control their feelings and responses. Who doesn't want to ball-up their fists sometimes and wail, "I'm hungry! I'm tired! I deserve better than this life!" But, we are adults now and it's totally inappropriate. After all, "All grown-ups were once children... but only a few remember it." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

The Little Prince

My sweet man is asleep on the couch when I walk in the door and I immediately want him off the coach so I can just chill. Wake him, go through nightly ritual of teeth brushing and what not together, cuddle him in bed for a while, all the time thinking, what can I reward myself with tonight? "Just come to bed," my man says. He always says this.. My mind huffs, "No! I want my reward. My TV, my snack, my book, anything!" 

I'm literally holding on to a beautiful man with incredible biceps and spot on humor, while my mind whines about wanting a treat. HELLO! You are wrapped around your treat right now! You get to go to bed with a beautiful man who loves and supports you! Is there really anything better than this? Are Frasier re-runs really better than being completely actively engaged in a loving relationship that provides emotional and physical warmth? No. Obviously not. 

Time to embrace grown-up rewards. There's love, adventure, travel, a connection to God, giving, creating and millions of other great rewards once we stop looking for the drink and sitcom at the end of the night. I'm on a mission to open my eyes to the true greatness in front of me every day.

What rewards could be upgraded in your life and what tiny step are you going to take today to make that upgrade? I'd love to hear from you in the comments. You're participation makes this so much more fun for me and more productive for you. Growth comes through engagement and action. This is a safe space to cultivate your badass life. Join the dialogue. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Viceless Day 13, 14, 15: I Cheated

So, turns out I ate about a half a cup of butter when I went out to dinner at Trio the other night. I thought my salad was dairy-free and I was wrong. Boom. Dairy bomb. To be honest, I felt fine.

Next, I had to taste and give notes on nine different glasses of wine as I trained a woman for the restaurant job I am soon leaving. This is an unavoidable part of my job that will be ending in a week. In total I consumed less than a fourth of a glass of wine but still... boom. Alcohol bomb. I still felt fine.

Last night, after a long day of working on my life coaching business, my fiance woke me from an evening nap to tell me we needed to leave in 45 minutes to go the the Roller Derby. Bleary eyed, I came to grips with the situation and snacked on the way to the derby. I didn't snack enough though and ended up buying a rice bowl with spicy pork at the derby. I chose the healthiest option I could. I didn't ask because I was buying food at an arena but let's face it, that sauce had sugar in it. I'm sorry I'm not sorry.

Am I perfect as I execute this new challenge? No. Did I ever expect myself to be? No. Is this a cleanse? No. I'm giving up my vices so that I can be happier and more productive. I feel better than fine.

This is a new challenge for me and as with anything new, there will be success's and failures on the path of learning. Overall, my lifestyle and eating have dramatically changed over the past two weeks. I have no where to hide and I'm getting more done than ever. Also, I'm being forced to question what's in what I'm eating, something I'm not comfortable with because I don't like to be fussy. My emotions don't want to ask but logically, shouldn't we all have the right to know what exactly it is that we are eating? This is a discomfort I need to get over and that's what I love about my challenge. It's in the discomfort that I know I'm growing. This was the whole point! I'm doing this to push myself out of my comfort zone and instigate change in my life. Eating whatever, whenever is comfortable. Watching TV alone is really comfy. An alcoholic beverage make everything more cozy. Take those away, I'm uncomfortable but damn am I productive and growing.

I knew there would be failures, readjustments and a learning curve when I took on being viceless. I'm comfortable with my cheating and failures. I expect them to decrease with time and I anticipate my goals will shift around the reality of the situations I find myself in. This flexibility is required in life. Failure is a part of all learning and growth, so it's definitely a key component of Becoming a Badass.

I'd love to hear in the comments where you push yourself beyond your comfort zone and how it's improved your life. Love you badasses.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Viceless Day 12: "So you're giving up fun?"

I went to dinner last night at Trio. The eating out is getting much easier. I'm just not a person who eats the bread. Ok, I can accept that about myself. I now have special requests like no cheese. Ok. I don't get deserts. This is not the end of the world.

I'm getting my biggest shocks and giggles from the fact that people keep saying that I'm giving up all pleasure and fun by not consuming sugar, gluten, dairy, caffeine, alcohol, and TV when alone. Like these are the only joys in life. People actually say, "So, you're giving up fun?"

No! I'm not giving up laughter, dancing, humor, fulfilling work or love. I'm not giving up fun. I'm giving up some habits that make me feel bad in the morning either mentally or physically. Is something that is fun in the moment but causes guilt or a crash later really fun? Is it the only fun? I don't think so.

I had a beautiful wood oven roasted beets salad with baby kale and aged balsamic. Then, I had a grilled New york steak with roasted red potatoes, shallots and green beans. It was fun.

I'm kinda starting to wonder, does no one else feel bad about themselves in this world? Now, I'm basically a happy and confident person. I have no big problems with the way I look but I have problems with the way I abuse my body in an effort to feel better in the short term. Stressed- have four cocktails. That will reset your mind by making it unable to function for two days. Bored- eat a bag of candy. That will kill some time. Not sure about what you're doing with your life- call a friend and complain about feeling lost until the feeling blurs. Don't other people have things that they think, "Hey, I'm better than that! This is not how I'm going to spend my life." This project isn't torture. I'm treating myself to a better life though purposefully changing my actions.

At the end of your life, don't you want to look back and think, "Damn, I really did something with that life of mine. What a thrilling adventure that was." I do. I think of giving up these past vices opening a window to bigger and better fun. Fun with no negative side effects.

The strange thing about this experiment is that so far it's not that I feel incredibly good, but I just don't feel bad in so many of the times that I used to feel guilt over my actions or the bloated effects of over consuming. I don't crash from caffeine or sugar. No meal has been ruined by eating too much bread before hand. I wake with less phlegm because I haven't had dairy. Every day is productive because I'm not in front of a TV. Am I so happy and glowing that I give off glitter? No. I'm about the same with less of the bad.

People say I look better but it's hard to tell. I'm breaking out which must be a symptom of detox because it's rare for me. My only breakouts for the past few years have been from stress or detox. This could be a mix of both. I've lost six pounds in under two weeks which just makes me wonder what the hell I was eating before that was holding onto weight that could be lost that easily. I'm not starving. I even monitored my calories for the first week so that I knew I was consuming enough. Things are subtly changing but right now it's hard to say what exactly. What the hell is three months going to bring?

No, I haven't given up fun. For a good time, you can still call me.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Viceless Day 11: Finding My Tribe, Dammit They're Sober

During my depression over not having a career my good friend Eddie asked, "Is there a person you admire that you want to be friends with or a group you envy being a part of?" There just wasn't anyone. I'm surrounded by really awesome people here in Jackson Hole, but none that spoke directly to my soul when it came to career. Now, everyday I find more inspirations in my own back yard but at the time no one was fitting my specific soul call.

While visiting my sister in Atlanta, I came across a book in her office, Add More Ing To Your Life: A hip guide to happiness by Gabrielle Bernstein. This looks kinda cheesy and dumb, was my first thought. I brought the book out to my sister in the kitchen.

I asked, "What's this?"
"Oh, some bullshit Carline gave me. Actually, the author's kind-of the same type of annoying as you. You know, very rah, rah, you can do it! You can have that book," she dismissed.

That semi-insulting conversation was how I discovered my new group of role models.

Gabrielle Bernstein: Spiritual coach
Marie Forleo: Business coach
Kris Carr: Health coach
Danielle LaPorte: Passion coach

My soul was sparked. I have found my people. Beautiful, wacky women on a mission. Entreprenuers-EEKKK!!! Wasn't hoping to find that word. Entreprenuer. Hmmm.... Guess I might as well stick that word in with the other descriptors I've been unable to shake, like creative and artist.

Jessica Zelenko: Badass coach

To make matters worse, 2 out of 4 of my new role models are definetly sober and 3 out of 4 are vegans.  This is a big inspiration behind the beginning of Viceless. As Gabby Bernstien says, "If you want what someone has, do what they do." Vegan isn't on my list, but I'll try out sober.

Another big motivation is my anti-role models. I've seen where a life swathed in the comfort of vices often leads. I see people sitting on the couch all day smoking pot, talking about what should be done but not doing anything. I constantly see work that needs to be done, decisions that need to be made, chances that need to be taken that instead become a cocktail consumed and no progress. I see lives stuck in comfort and habits becoming lifestyles. That's not what I want to focus on now though. What I don't want isn't nearly as important as what I do want.

I'm following my wants and becoming a life coach who helps others lead lives that they are extremely proud of when they die. I want a career that makes my world and the whole world better. I want to stop hiding and start kicking more ass for pay so that I have more to give. I want to meet my role models, say thanks, and eventually become someone else's role model. Cheers to another day of trying.

Who do you admire? I'd love to hear about your role models and inspiration in the comments.

Viceless Day 9 and 10: Temptation and TV

Day 9:

I make my fiance coffee and the smell taunts me. Ok, hot water and lemon. You'll do.

I'm not hung over and I have no food guilt.

Day 10:

I'm in a bad mood. I've gotten wrapped up in the busy and complications of my life and a mood as set in. The type of mood that calls for a cocktail and bitching. Unfortunately for me and the easy road, I'm really not a fan of complaining these days. I believe focusing on negative is bad for your health, mood and good time. Haven't you ever experienced a complaining hangover? You talk and talk about all of the things you don't like and in the end you are drained and sad. During my own bitch sessions, I've always enjoyed a nice cocktail which usually loosens the tongue and makes it possible to really let the complaining rip. This is the type of habit that I'm trying to cut out of my life. The complaining doesn't get me where I want to go and neither does the cocktail. Obstacles have to be creative opportunities. When obstacles aren't viewed as an opportunity, depression sets in and progress halts. I've got things to do in this world, a tribe of badasses to rally and don't have long to wallow.  The habit isn't broken yet though. When the fear and feeling that life is too damn hard sets in, I really want the comfort of a cocktail or the distraction of TV.

On my way home from work, I pick up This is 40 from the Redbox. Maybe I can switch to watching TV alone just on the days I don't work? (I work basically everyday right now so this is crap.) Maybe TV isn't really holding me back? (No, it really is.) I just really want to cheat. I want to fall asleep watching TV and not think about life. I don't want to meditate this feeling away or accept it.

I manage not to cheat by thinking about my goals on a far off mental horizon. I want to make a good living from a career I love that I believe will improve the lives of others. I want to live my life in a beautiful body that is light, active and well nourished. I want to live happily, without guilt, kicking ass everyday and inspiring others to go after the life of their dreams. I save the movie for tomorrow night with my man and pick up my book, Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walters. There is still escape for my mind but their is also learning for my writing and the sleepiness that reading provides. I didn't cheat and that feels good.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Viceless Day 8: Dinner Out, the Ultimate Challenge

Saturday, you sweet beast. If I had a free day, it would be Saturday. The one day my man and I have off together. The day we both try not to work and apply ourselves to feeling young and free while we still are untethered in most ways. No baby. No house. We've been known to drink mid-day. Baily's in coffee with a big cheesy breakfast isn't an unheard of occurrence. So I feel a little lost with my new restrictions.

This day is shouting, "Relax!" I'm not quite sure of how to yet. Still, we have a fun lazy morning. I actually sneak in some work which is against the rules but seems impossible to avoid these days. Then off for a bike ride and hike. We end up down by the river and my mind races over my to-do list. A never ending flow  of wedding and work. I practice my meditation but wine bottles float down my stream of consciousness. So be it. We must sometimes sacrifice what we want in a moment for what we want long term. Must build a website. Must work on clarifying my marketing. Inhale 3, exhale 5. I catch snippets of peace and repeat my mantra, "I am happy. I am free. I am as God created me."

Wine continues to haunt me as a get ready for a dinner out with friends and my man. I'm technically having a great day but there still seems to be these empty gaps where my vices have been. What am I supposed to do to relax and feel luxurious?

Dinner out at Osteria. So far, eating at home has been fine. Healthy food is delicious and flavorful. I always forget this until I go on a health kick. These three months though are supposed to be about living my normal life with some small changes in habits and consumption. I don't want to prove I can be a healthy hermit, so out for some 2 for 1 entrees from the Italian restaurant Osteria. Hindsight, maybe an Italian restaurant wasn't the best choice for my big night out. I figured I'd just eat a salad and some meat and veggies in whatever form they were offered. I've also heard rumors of gluten free pasta that might be an option. Not gonna lie. Pasta sounds delicious.

My server at Osteria was very friendly and super willing to help me find an option to suit my new dietary needs. Unfortunately, the pasta was out because of dairy. My only option was a $30 chicken breast, served with wild rice and a small amount of a tasty beet sauce. Normally, the dish is hen and also includes caramelized carrots. Tonight, they were out of the hen and I had to forgo the carrots due to sugar. I work at a restaurant with an $18 half chicken on the menu so being left with this overpriced option is a bummer. The dish is cooked to perfection but disappointingly simple, obviously by my own restrictions.

I'm surprised with the rise of food intolerance's for dairy and gluten and the popularization of diets such as Paleo that this was my only option. Don't get me wrong. Osteria has no obligation to cater to my dietary needs. I choose where I go and do believe I should just order off the menu. It's an eye-opener though that my options with this lifestyle are going to be so limited. I also need to perfect my ordering. How to be technically fussy without being an asshole? That is a challenge I haven't mastered yet. Currently I just become meek and grateful for whatever I'm given.

This fear of socially ostracizing myself with my dietary choices has always been a battle for me. If someone makes something for me, I'll eat it. I don't like being picky and hard to please so I make myself the gracious guest and companion by eating anything. What if this habit isn't serving my greatest good. I read article after article about the negative effects of gluten, dairy and sugar.  An example being this article: Foods To Avoid If You Want To Be Happy. I feel my mood shift with my gluten and sugar intake. I know dairy gives me morning phlegm and I've been supposed to give it up since my days as an actor when my voice teacher pinned it as detriment to my voice. I've done cleanses and proved that I feel better without these vices but I go back because I don't want to be an inconvenience at a dinner party or restaurant.

To top it all off, at 29, I just got lab tests back that say I have slightly elevated cholesterol. Holy F. They recommend fiber pills and when I ask about dietary changes the nurse seems to brush it off as an impossibility. "Oh, the usual. Less sugar and junk," she says. I know I've gotta change.

Wine is the most missed element of dinner. Since 17 I've tasted wine and identified tasting notes. I want to inhale the nose and search out the earthiness of the Italian wine that the others drink. I miss toasting to the beauty of life. I've been known to raise my glass 4-7 times throughout a meal to cheers the greatness of this or that. I know it's a lot of toasting but each is like a prayer of gratitude that ups the mood of the meal.

Without a big showy dinner or wine and with salad instead of the shared lobster risotto that is the shared appetizer for the rest of my party, I still laugh and have a great time in fun company.

Desert time. I order mint tea. The tiny, bird like women who come into the restaurant I work at often order mint tea. They've always been a source of wonder to me. I envy their ballet dancer arms as they lift a mug to their mouth instead of a spoonful of cream. Everyone at my table orders a tiny ice cream cookie sandwich. My mouth waters. I douse it with mint tea.

The dessert arrives and my fiancé makes sexual, guttural noises as he eats his bit of sweetness. This isn't cruelty. He always makes these noises as he eats. The cruelty is when he mocks my tea and holds the cookie up to my mouth close enough to smell. "Try it. Take a bite. You can spit it out," he taunts. "No," I squeak back. The absolute ridiculousness of the situation hits me and I laugh. If you read this thinking that these diet changes and giving up my vices is a stupid project, feel good knowing the person I live with tells me the same thing everyday.

I do notice that by the end of dinner everyone else is droopy eyed and slightly slumped. No one drank much but they seem to be edging in on a food coma. I'm bright-eyed and light feeling. I'm also entirely guilt free.

We go home and I finally get the sweet relief of watching TV. My man has a cocktail as we watch.

I wake the next morning still feeling light. My man has a hangover. "I'm an idiot," he says. HA! I just smile to myself.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Viceless Day 7: WTF was I thinking?! Gimme the chocolate cake!

Day 7

Working at a restaurant creates an interesting relationship to food. First of all, part of my job is to create verbal food porn for customers. What's the best dish? "I loooooovve our pork chop. The warmth of the curried cauliflower with the sweet tang of the cippolini onion and golden raisin chutney are amazing. They cut right through the rich pork chop creating a perfectly balanced meal. You're going to love it." Yeah, that is basically my job. I sell delicious food as a waitress at a great restaurant in Jackson Hole, called Trio: an American bistro. The food is wonderful and the chefs are always making it even better. They create food heaven and I have it in my hands 4-5 days a week. There is also the fact that often this food is available to me to eat in mess-ups or scraps. On top of that, we have what's called family meal where we are given dinner at 4:15 and eat it as a group. Trio provides probably the best you could hope for out of a family meal. There is always a salad and they try to make it actually delicious. Still, it's often a delicious burger or bulk pasta. Eating that on a regular basis just doesn't line up with my food goals. To finish of the challenge, I eat at 4:15 and then power walk around until 10 or 11 at night. A person gets hungry and there are no breaks. Restaurant life sets you up to be on a crazy food schedule with crazy food choices.

God bless the wonderful chefs at Trio who have been shifting family meal lately to meet my new dietary needs. I'm really going to miss everyone when I leave Trio to move onto life coach training and a summer focused on building my business and website. That being said, working at a restaurant is constant temptation from the soda gun to the bread I slice. Last night, as I brought carried out martinis, opened bottles of wine, described layered chocolate hazelnut cakes with mocha butter cream frosting, I thought, "Why did I publicly decide to give up my vices?! I'm an f-ing idiot!"

I held strong only because I've told you all that I'm going to hold strong. I didn't pop the left over banana bread waffle into my mouth because I promised I wouldn't. I didn't eat the left over mash potatoes because I said I wouldn't. I really, really wanted to. Somewhere floating behind my food desires I knew I had a higher goal but to be honest, when staring at the layered chocolate cake, I couldn't have articulated them for you. There was too much saliva in my mouth.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Viceless Day 5 and 6: Tears and Triumphs

Day 5:

I cried today. Before I cried, I felt myself look around for escape. Nope, can't turn on the TV. No, you can't have a drink. Nada junk food to save me. Just have to face some pain head on.

Joan of Arc who I'll be channeling this week and
who will be reminding me of angels. 
This year I'm getting married and starting my own business. Both have been in the works for over a year and I'm incredibly grateful for each opportunity. Starting a business, especially one with the end goal of giving lectures and holding workshops on Becoming a Badass, is something people aren't always going to support. This isn't the safe route. I talked today to a woman who has her own life coaching business and she warned me again and again about how hard it is to be successful. I tried to remain calm. I finished our phone call with grace but as soon as I hit end I looked toward the cupboard and TV for escape. No, I've promised I won't hide from my fear. I've gotta face the uncomfortable feeling head on. I'm forced to feal the pain fully and accept that I could end up a big failure. Yes, that is always a possibility. After some tears, my own Becoming a Badass preachings pop into my mind and save me. God bless hard work and dedication. A year dedicated to  reminding others of inspirational quotes and teachings on how to live a full life saves me with two thoughts: 1) I would rather fail big, learn big, and move onto something bigger than do nothing and stay stuck. 2) "I am not afraid. I was born for this." - Joan of Arc. These will be my mantras over the next few days. This fear will fade and I think faster because I didn't run from it using my vices this time.

The thing about marriage that I guess I kinda forgot about is that you now have to make really huge life choices and the final decision is going to be a compromise with someone else. They are not just your choice. Where you want to live, if you are buying a home, if you will have children, even your career are major decisions that you must work through with another person. At this point in life and age, I'm pretty comfortable making my own decisions. The new challenge is making a decision with a man I love very, very much but who doesn't always want the same things I want. It's so much easier to ignore these big questions. I tear up as we talk through our future. I worry that I will decrease his happiness in life by protecting my own. That can't be right. That can't be love. The conversation ends with many questions still hanging. In the way that love seems to always redeem itself, simply, tonight, we cook, laugh and love. I"m reminded why I want to get married. I love this man so much. Being with him has made me stronger or happier than I thought possible. When I decided I wanted to get married it wasn't a fairy tale decision about how our love is perfect and now everything will be easy. The decision was based on the fact that I want to challenge myself to grow in this relationship and this love my entire life. I believe in our relationship and want to challenge myself to make the decisions and compromises to have it last my entire life because I believe we can build an incredible life together. A life that will be richer and fuller than what I could build alone. I am aware of the divorce rate and sexless marriages. Yes, I know we could fail. Everyone can stop reminding me and rest assured that I am fully aware of the challenge I am taking on. Still, I would rather have tried and given myself the chance at what I believe will be one of my greatest successes: building a family with a man I love.

Day 6:

One of the women who inspires my business model is Gabrielle Bernstein. She is a spiritual coach and speaker. Gabrielle is also sober. She tells her story often and says she was told, "Get clean and you will have everything you've wanted." The woman is a powerhouse. Today, her work as greatly influenced my life for the better and because of that I sometimes hear whispered in my mind, "Get clean and you will have everything you've wanted."

Gabrielle Bernstein and this message are a big motivator for me to experiment with giving up my vices. Gabby was addicted to cocaine and really needed to get clean. None of my vices are that serious. In fact, many of my friends think of me as someone who uses vices very moderately. Still, I hear get clean. I have to try.

My days are getting more and more productive. Writing, reading, bike riding, loving, and working on Becoming a Badass is all I've done this week and I feel great. To live without the guilt and wake up knowing I feel the way I feel as a product of good choices is amazing. Today, I've moved past the fear of the future that was causing my tears yesterday. Today, I just want to work. Blam! Goodness comes to me. I get a twitter message from an editor at Jackson Hole News and Guide asking to do a profile interview on me for next weeks paper. I can't help but think that I'm getting everything I've wanted. So happy. So purely, joyously, sparklingly happy.