I am strong, I am beautiful, I am enough

Last October, I laid crumpled in my bed, debilitated by years of internal conflict & emotion, the only thing I could feel was immense sadness. I challenged any part of my body to move but no part would. I chuckled in my head from irony at how years of sporadic practice in yoga proved that, no matter how hard I tried, I could never completely eradicate tension & relax as is instructed at the end of every class. But now, this unwelcome sadness plagued every cell in my body to near-paralysis. Hot tears streamed down my swollen face without effort. My body had begun showing warning signs just months prior. I was being held hostage by physical & emotional stress & I could no longer function like I was used to functioning, as unhealthy as it was. Blurry vision, severe inflammation, sleep deprivation, chronic pain, infection, fatigue, & emotions I could no longer control were becoming more & more visible; I could no longer hide my symptoms. In one moment, I would be eating breakfast, carrying on a conversation with my husband, & the next, I would be slouched over, crying for no reason. Friends & acquaintances would ask, "are you ok?" & all I could respond was, "no, I'm not."

"I'm not ok."

I continued with daily life for no other reason than the fact there was nothing else to do. I finished a major project I had been working on. I continued to take photos, edit them, & be with my kids. I continued to go through the motions while feeling more distant from the world I had spent years building than ever before. Somehow, this world felt unwelcoming, unsatisfying, unauthentic. & then I crashed. Hard. Barely mustering the energy to form a coherent thought, I analyzed how I had gotten to that point. The further from that moment I get, the better I can answer that question. But from what I can tell is, eventually stress will catch up with every single one of us, both physical & emotional - if it is left to its own devices.

It's hard to reflect on this exact moment in my life without tears forming. The cut is very deep & not yet healed. I was completely out of commission for a few days. But I was only completely out of commission for a few days. I am not a weak person. I never have been. What I experienced is what I will forever refer to as my resurrection. I allowed a part of me to die & what arose was somebody I'm still getting to know. But I like her. She is somebody I've always wanted to be. But what I quickly realized was I needed a lot of help to get to where I need to be. So I began reaching out, unashamedly & unafraid. Proud, I proclaimed I would never again apologize for who I am. However, I kept getting the question, "Who are you?."

I still don't know how to answer that question because I still don't know. But I'm figuring it out more & more every day.

& that's where I am. I'm ok now. I'm going to be ok. I'm learning to deal with literally everything & I'm making the appropriate connections. Everything affects everything. There is exactly no one part of your life that can be healthy if every part of your life is not being worked on. I promise. This is why diets fail & bad habits form. & this is why stress builds up. So what I will share with you is what I've learned. I'm not going to tell you what I've learned is the only way but it is the right way - for me.

I hope sharing this will inspire & encourage every one of you to look deep down inside your own being & find the person hiding, uncertain or afraid to come out. How I got to that point doesn't exactly matter - it's just details. The only thing that matters is I got to that point. It's the metamorphosis that matters, the journey. That's what relates me to you. The journey.

“To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive...”
-Robert Louis Stevenson


One of the people I reached out to after my breakdown was Sarah Fragoso, a complete celebrity in the Paleo world - you just don't practice Paleo without knowing who she is. Moreover, she is a coach & cheerleader, helping people get back on track with their nutrition, fitness, & lifestyle. My husband suggested it & at the time, I still didn't know what I was doing or what was happening inside my mind & body so I didn't exactly know what to tell her. But you know me; I have more courage than common sense so I did it. & she accepted me as a client. Turns out, it was one of the best decisions I've ever made, reaching out to her. I am constantly redefining relationships & forming new ones & as brief as this one may end up in the grand scheme of things, it is one of the more impactful & is extremely necessary. I can confidently say I could not have gotten this far without her & what I have yet to learn from her will be just as impactful.

The things I'm learning from Sarah I'm not quick to share. I want to be selfish with my new knowledge, I want to allow myself to bask in my new insight. (Plus, it may not be applicable to some of you as what she shares with me is totally personalized - meaning it's not generic at all.) In fact, some of the things she has said has not completely resonated just yet & I know it's only a matter of time. But I will tell you, one of the things Sarah picked up on immediately was how hard I am on myself. & she met my harsh criticism with gentle grace. I am in the middle of the fourth week of six & every week she has given me a new mantra. I say them when I remember them. I say them half-way & make Emmerson finish the rest. I sing them. I write them down, think them, & now, I will share them with you.

Letterboard that says, "good things are coming my way" next to a planner

Positive mantras can be used to empower the mind. Saying them out loud & actually hearing ourselves say them, has the power to totally change our mindset. I liked this idea when Sarah first explained the purpose of my mantras because I'm huge on "faking it 'til ya make it!" Of course I don't know what is actually coming my way but if I truly believe good things are coming my way, they will. No matter what has happened or where I am, good things are coming.

"We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world. Speak or act with an impure mind and trouble will follow you, like the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart.

We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world. Speak or act with a pure mind and happiness will follow you, as your shadow unshaken.

In this world, hate never yet dispelled hate. Only love dispels hate. This is the Law, ancient and inexhaustible. We are what we think."
-Buddha

My husband got me this 10x Planner by Grant Cordone last year. I have yet to use it but I keep it in the forefront of my mind. I have been very patient with myself & set some very important boundaries. One of them is to not force upon myself too many expectations. I want to be intentional & quite purposeful with this planner. It is a powerful tool if you're extremely focused on fulfilling your goals. I have "shut off" certain things & will complete this dormant stage I am in before using this planner but I absolutely cannot wait to whip it out & incorporate it as an important part of my daily practice - something that will complement my mantra!

Get yours here!

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This one was pretty hard for me to hear. Just this morning, I looked myself in the mirror & said this & it hasn't gotten easy just yet. It's not easy to say nice things to myself but I believe this mantra with all my heart & I will continue to say it until I feel it, until it becomes easier for me to say & hear.

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This photo was a perfect "mistake." My youngest reached his fat hand across this set-up to play with the plastic letters. But it was a beautiful, subtle reminder that how I treat myself will reflect how my kids will treat themselves. Therefore, I want my kids to hear me say this & see that I believe it. I want them to grow up believing they are strong, they are beautiful, & they are enough!

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This last mantra is a simple reminder that my body is capable of more than I think at times. About a year ago, I was finishing a book called, Ancient Healing for Modern Women, a book written by the amazing Xiaolan Zhao, a woman who possesses insight, wisdom, & tradition I had been craving for years. I happened upon this book at the local public library in an attempt to learn about & control something I didn't know at the time I could never, ever control. Instead, I found a beautiful message: change is constantly occurring & we are totally capable of making peace with each change. In fact, if we truly desire peace & happiness, making friends with & welcoming change with an open, grateful heart is utterly necessary. I am still learning to "make friends" with this thing I can never control but the message will echo throughout my lifetime. If I treat my body the way it is meant to be treated, it will serve me well & for many years.

Get your very own zero waste utensils & wrap here!


There you have it! A very intimate, detailed summary of me as of recent. Again, I hope this has been inspiring in some way. We are all in this journey together. I am constantly humbled by the number of you who let me be a part of your journey but words will never explain how, thanks to all of you, my personal journey is becoming more & more exceptional & meaningful. Stress management is vital to our survival &, hey, I'm in this for the long-haul.

Truly, thank you.

Leslie HandComment