2016 was the year I learned it's OK to put myself first. We often feel obligations to others, friends, family, work. And yes, there is a certain amount of selflessness necessary to maintain relationships and contribute to your community, but you can't help others if you aren't fully yourself.
You can't pour from an empty cup.
2016 was the year I put myself first. I put my self doubt aside. I put my obligations on the (side) burner. And I chose me. I woke up each morning and made my mental to-do list based on what I wanted and needed. I chose to spend my time with those who meant the most to me, with those that supported and lifted me up and those I could do the same for. I chose to dedicate my (limited) free time to the thing that fueled my soul, teaching.
And you know what that did for me? It turned 2016 into my pivotal year. 2016 kind of rocked for me.
In 2016, I began to seek my true north and never have I felt closer (with still a long ways to go). I began teaching fitness classes with some of the top Boston fitness companies. Building a new fitness family here I'm truly proud of and inspired by everyday.
In 2016, I ran the Ragnar Cape Code race, 200 miles in 24 hrs with 12 complete strangers. Living in a van and continuing to be surprised by how far my legs could carry me (with no training). I created bonds with an amazing group of people supporting each other and pushing ourselves for the good of the team. We became fast family ending our adventure with Frosé and the sand between our toes.
In 2016, the company I work for got purchased, and we're fighting through this transition, becoming even closer as teammates and coworkers to love and support each other in our careers and tough decisions. I'm still fighting.
In 2016, I made a difficult decision to walk away from a loving and wonderful man to pursue my dreams. I'm lucky that he respected my selfish decision and we remain good friends (with cats!).
In 2016, I traveled to Europe by myself. I drank beer on the streets of Dublin with charming Irish men. I fell back in love with my favorite city, London reuniting with the people that made it feel like home to begin with. I danced through the streets of Barcelona on those warm summer nights. But ultimately, I had many meals in beautiful restaurants requesting a table for yes, just one. I sat alone with my thoughts, and felt at peace with myself. I felt proud. I felt overwhelmed. I felt alone. But I'd never felt more whole.
In 2016, I wrote a blog post that went viral overnight. I let go of my innate reaction to not push the boundaries, to not say anything too controversial. And it caught fire, my story was heard and hundreds of men and women reached out to share their stories with me as well. In the midst of this isolating digital world, we connected over a common passion, to speak out against street harassment. To change a societal norm.
In 2016, I was approached by Reebok to join them in a fitness photoshoot for their Spring/Summer functional training line. While it wasn't ideal timing for me to take off work for the shoot, I had to jump at the opportunity. And because of it, I'm proud to say I've now signed with an agency, SLU as a fitness model.
In 2016, I made new friends who changed the way I think about the world. Friends who challenged my thoughts, my ambition. Friends who support me endlessly. Friends who sat with me and held my hand when my blog comments section became personal attacks. Friends who donated to my Boston Marathon fund challenging me to endless burpees. Friends for life.
In 2016, I found some incredible mentors. People who have opened up a world I didn't know I could dream of being a part of. People who see greatness and lift it up. People who are so smart and caring, I'm honored to be in their life.
In 2016, I set out to run the 2017 Boston Marathon and am honored to be running it for Horizons For Homeless Children. Fighting through 26.2 miles for them.
And as always, forever grateful for my family who stuck with me through all of it. Who supported each crazy decision I made. Who brought me back down to earth in the midst of the hurricanes. Who immediately booked tickets to Boston to be there at the finish line. Who love me unconditionally. How lucky am I to have these wonderful people be my family. <3
I made a lot of selfish decisions. And each of those decisions opened up opportunities for me to meet new people, to help others in a way I couldn't have before. In a shocking way, being selfish made me more connected to others. It made me more aware of how I can help the world. It made me more compassionate, more honest, more engaged. I've never felt more myself, more excited for each day, and more eager to continue moving forward.
Putting yourself first isn't a bad thing. It's a necessary thing. You can't be everything to all people. Be selfish. Be true to you.
In 2017, I have some pretty lofty goals set. Goals I'm going to be selfish with and not share with you just yet. But good things are coming, big things are coming.
My mantra of 2016:
Shut it down.
And my mantra for 2017:
"Discovering more joy does not, I'm sorry to say, save us from the inevitability of hardship and heartbreak. In fact we may cry more easily, but we will laugh more easily too. Perhaps we are just more alive. Yet, as we discover more joy, we can face suffering in a way that ennobles rather than embitters. We have hardship without being hard. We have heartbreak without being broken." - Archbishop Desmond Tutu, The Book of Joy.