Monday Mantra: Community Over Competition

Montauk Retreat at Gurney's

I had the best weekend ever! Fern Olivia’s retreat at Gurney’s Resort & Spa was everything I had hoped it would be…and more. I’ll be sharing a full recap on the blog later in the week, but today I wanted to talk about the notion of community over competition.

The inspiration for today’s post came when I was tagging the photo above on Instagram. After spending the weekend surrounded by so many impressive women—who each in their own way embody the definition of girlboss—I knew the hashtag community over competition was most appropriate. Each time I attend one of Fern’s events, I walk away with a renewed perspective and new friends.

From yoga instructors, reiki masters, history teachers, to entrepreneurs, bloggers, and wellness influencers, each of the women photographed above is leaving her own mark on her respective industry. They have each found a way to turn their passion into a paycheck, and are more than happy to share their knowledge and connections with a newcomer.

As a blogger, I am always learning something new and I know that there is always something new to learn. That is one of the things that I find so interesting about blogging—and keeps me from getting complacent. But I also love the sense of community that is fostered through blogging. I have met many incredible women over the last three and a half years. Some have inculcated new knowledge; others have inspired me on my own journey (even if only virtually, and without even knowing it), but all have encouraged me to pursue my passion—especially when the road looks bleak. The community I have cultivated has supported me, made themselves available to me, and are my cheerleaders. For all of those things, I am grateful.

In the age of social media, it’s easy to get consumed with numbers, or to feel that you are only as good as a number. Number of followers, number of readers, number of retweets—you get the point. I have never been a numbers person…that probably explains why I wasn’t good at math. But to me, blogging is not a numbers game. Okay, fine. I used to obsesses a little over my stats when I first started out, but mainly that was to see if anyone was actually reading my posts. I began this site as a creative outlet and resource for people with whom I could share my own experiences. Therefore, I want it to be organic and relatable. And I want to be someone who is approachable and willing to help other bloggers when they are standing where I was three and half years ago. To the women I met at the retreat, I was a blogger who was there to share a day of wellness with them. They weren’t concerned with my numbers, but rather the energy that I contributed to the day and how I shared the space with them. It’s not the number of photos I posted on Instagram, but rather the discussions we had throughout the day that I hope they will remember.

So when I am fortunate enough to attend one of Fern’s events, it reaffirms my belief that in doing what we love, we are all building our own communities. And in building your own community, you never know how you can help someone else build theirs.

What does community mean to you?

Monday Mantra: Enjoy the Quiet

Monday Mantra

I expected this weekend to be a busy one. On Saturday, I followed my usual morning workout routine and in the afternoon I scheduled some unexpected “me” time at Aveda in anticipation of seeing a couple of New York Fashion Week shows on Sunday. Weather reports were showing inclement weather for New York City, but I prepared myself for a fun day in the Big Apple regardless.

But when I awoke on Sunday morning and checked the weather, it was looking dismal. I could hear the freezing rain hitting the windows and the driveway looked like a sheet of ice. I waited it out for another hour and checked the trains for any delays—they were minimal.

I lay in bed for a few more minutes, debating between meeting a fellow blogger and friend for brunch in the City before we hit two fashion shows on the Lower West Side, or staying in bed and going back to sleep. I wondered if I didn’t go, would I regret the decision and have FOMO if the weather improved and I saw everyone having a great time at NYFW on Snapchat and Instagram? And then I thought of how tired and achy I would feel on Monday morning after a busy weekend and lots of walking in the City.

As I listened to the sound of the relentless rain—which was starting to change over from sleet—I decided that the only thing I should listen to is my body. It has been through a lot recently with the thyroid levels still being in limbo and adjusting to healthier eating habits.

Having made my decision not to make the almost two hour trek in to the City, I curled back under the covers and was lulled to sleep by the elements. When I awoke for the second time, it was after 11 am. The weather was the same (and remained so throughout the day) and I found myself feeling thankful to have just stayed put.

Usually, after a whole day in the house I am itching to get out. But on that dreary Sunday, it felt like the best place in the world to be. I tried to limit my time on social media, talking to friends on the phone, and watching television. It was the perfect day to give my body the rest it needed so that I can be fully recharged for the week ahead. Sometimes you need that respite.

Happy Monday!

How do you enjoy the quiet?

*Image via PicLab Studio

Monday Mantra: Take Care

Long Island Sunset

The last few weeks have felt endless. Despite being busy at work—my looming thyroid testing next month has been weighing heavily on me. Since my antithyroglobulin levels began rising in November, the last three months of “watchful waiting” have been especially difficult. It has taken all of my energy to prevent my mind from wandering to worst-case scenario situations. But I finally built up the courage to schedule the appointments for the neck ultrasound and blood work. So now I have to endure these next two weeks before learning my fate.

I’ve tried my best to keep my mind occupied with writing and my body active with kickboxing. But I’ve also felt myself craving more down time—to relax, rest, and recharge. I find myself feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day for “me”. By the time I get home from work, eat something, peruse social media, and take a shower, it’s usually about midnight. But those late nights have caught up with me in the form of a nasty caffeine dependency (caffeine withdrawal is no joke, ya’ll) and just overall exhaustion—irrespective of how much I try to catch up on sleep over the weekend.

While I may not know what the future holds for my health, I do know that I need to slow down in the present. That might mean declining offers I would normally say yes to or skipping a workout here and there. But just like we make schedules for the things we need to get done in our lives, we also need to schedule timeouts for our lives.

How do you take time out of your busy week for yourself?

Monday Mantra: Be Present

December Snow

As we approach the final week before the holidays, and as I have yet to start shopping for gifts (hello, online shopping and overnight delivery), I’m reminded of how special these days ahead are. It’s easy to get wrapped up (no pun intended) in all of the minutia of the holidays: did I get gifts for everyone on my list? Do I have the dinner menu prepped? And even, did I remember to send Christmas cards out? But the most important gift you can ever give is the gift of being present.

Long Island saw its first snow over the weekend, and before the roads got plowed and people started going about their day, I enjoyed the stillness that the weather brought. It was a simple thing, but it was a morning I will be sure to remember.

I always feel like the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas goes by quickly. We are so busy getting things ready for the holidays — and there is plenty to do. But how about we take a few minutes out this week to listen to a Christmas song that brings us joy (for me, that would be “Carol of the Bells”), breathe in the smell of the season (gingerbread cookies, anyone?), and enjoy life at a slower pace. I’m looking forward to spending a day in New York City right before the holidays to see the tree at Rockerfeller Center and to peruse the holiday windows. Experiences like those are what I always remember about this time of year.

How do you slow down and celebrate the season?

Monday Mantra: Patience and Fortitude

New York Public Library Lions

This weekend was trying. Despite my best efforts to remain calm after receiving alarming results on my most recent blood work (of course, on a Saturday), my plans of resting and relaxing after my weekly kickboxing class quickly went out the window.

After pacing around the house for a couple of hours trying to interpret the results, I was reminded of the lion statues in front of the New York Public Library. I actually didn’t know that they had names until yesterday. But when I learned they were named Patience and Fortitude, I knew those were strengths that I would need to get me through the week: patience while waiting for my upcoming appointment with my endocrinologist on Thursday and fortitude as I continue on my health journey.

If you have never been to the New York Public Library, two majestic lion statues at the entrance greet you upon your arrival. Although the lions have gone by a few names, in the 1930’s Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia named them Patience and Fortitude to embody the values that New Yorkers needed during the Great Depression. If you visit the library during the holidays, you might catch these beautiful statues adorned with a wreath.

So as I prepare for a week that will be filled with anxiety and worry, I know that Patience and Fortitude have my back — even if they are only marble lion statues!

Love Every Day of Your Life…

love every day of your life

I would normally reserve a post like this for my Monday Mantra series, but I figured with the weekend coming up this could be a good topic to ponder.

If you’re like me, perhaps being a morning person doesn’t come easily to you. Maybe, you, too, live your life for the weekend — those two days when you can do whatever you want (including not setting the alarm for the next day).

Recently, as I struggled to get out of my nice, warm bed on a cold morning, I received a text from a close friend. The text read, “Love every day of your life. You don’t know your future.” Something about those words struck me, and I immediately got my day going.

I thought about those words throughout the day — as I drank my morning coffee and before I went to bed that night. It’s easy to dwell on the unsavory aspects of your busy day — from morning commuter traffic to the meetings that drag on all day. Putting a positive spin on these things is hard — trust me, I know. But if you start your day with a grateful heart you can take things in stride. I am grateful for each morning that I wake up healthy, for the friends that provide encouragement and strength I sometimes need, and for the knowledge that I am surrounded by so much love.

While I don’t love every minute of every day, I do love every day.

Monday Mantra: Practice Gratitude

Monday Mantra:  Practice Gratitude

If there is one thing I’ve learned from my daily meditation (yup, my practice is still going strong!), it’s that there is always something to be grateful for. Perhaps it’s not so clear to see what you’re grateful for on a Monday morning. And maybe you aren’t feeling grateful at this particular moment. But take a step back. If you woke up with a roof over your head this morning and food in your fridge, think of all those who did not. If you woke up and felt well-rested and healthy, think of those who have lost their health and struggle to get through the day.

At the most basic level, we all have something to be grateful for. And gratitude will look different for each of us. Maybe we are grateful to have a job — even though it’s not our dream job. Or we are grateful that the sun is shining because it will allow us to go for a walk on our lunch break.

Instead of focusing on what we don’t have, what we should have, or what we could have, why don’t we look at what we do have? Through my meditation practice, I’ve become more aware of how much I have to be grateful for. Sure, my life isn’t perfect — and I have my health struggles. But I wake up every morning in a comfy bed, and I can start my day when and how I choose. Some days, I am grateful for those things alone. Other days, I feel grateful when I’ve been productive and crossed lots of “to-do’s” off my list. It’s easy to lose focus of what we have to be grateful for. But at the end of the day, remembering the little things in life is what it’s all about.

As we start a new week, I challenge you to find what you are grateful for. Let that gratitude inspire and guide you through the days ahead.