We’re Supposed to Change

As I’ve navigated the first few months of being 30, I’ve noticed a constant dialogue surrounding the idea of change. Our friends, our family members, our co-workers, our old hometown/high school acquaintances – I’ve encountered the same old phrase consistently: “wow, you/he/she has really changed.”

This is usually commented in an off-hand, slightly negative way, with the underlying meaning seeming to be, “wow, you’ve let life change you. wow, money/success has really changed you. wow, you’ve lost your way to yourself because of a/b/c.”

My reaction to this type of comment is usually, “what do you mean by that?” to which I almost never get a response, since people don’t tell you that you (or someone else) have/has changed as a compliment. What they’re doing is trying to say something they don’t feel comfortable saying without actually saying it, and assuming you’ll understand the meaning so they can wipe their hands clean of their intent.

I’ve never understood our cultural resistance to change in the first place. When someone states, “wow, you’ve changed!” my internal response is “you haven’t?” We should change in significant ways over decades of time. We should learn and grow from our mistakes and heartbreaks and mishaps – that’s the whole point of living a life in the first place. If we’re not changing over time, than what on earth are we doing?

In theory, change should be a fluid and celebrated part of life. We should ebb and flow on our way to who we really are, learning lesson after lesson as we encounter mistake after mistake. I realize that people usually mean “wow, you’ve changed!” to indicate that we’ve somehow betrayed ourselves; by changing our political views, our values, integrity, personality, or what’s most important. But I’ll argue that those things too, should be subject to change as we change as people over time.

First of all, the only person that knows our internal values, morals, items of importance, etc. is us. Ourselves, only. Not our friends, or peers, or co-workers or even family members or parents. No matter how we are raised or what values are instilled in us, we are still individual human beings that have a duty to uncover those gems for ourselves.

Secondly, if we are not supposed to change the big-ticket items, who is determining them? Where do our unchangeable morals and values come from? We start off as children and are taught those things by our parents, teachers, friends and society. We should not be beholden to the values of other people that we were instilled in childhood, and never be able to think critically enough to decide them on our own.

Lastly, we are changing, whether we want to recognize it or not. Over time, your cells are changing. Your brain is changing. Your hormones are changing. Your body is changing.

Just like they do for every. other. species. on. planet. earth.

Even at just 30 years old, I’m changing rapidly. Being a business owner – especially during a pandemic – has been like an internal-change pressure cooker. We’re learning so much and learning to deal and endure so much that it is logistically impossible for us not to change. Change is still scary, but so is everything else. We have to learn to deal with fear and change in order to move towards a better world.

The next time someone says, “wow, you/she/he has changed!” I’m inviting myself to openly answer, “of course I/they have. That’s life. We’re supposed to change.”

If it Don’t Make Dollars, it Don’t Make Sense.

Let’s keep it real: businesses are designed to make money. Sure, there’s childhood dreams, life-long aspirations, passion, talent and love involved – but the purpose is positive cash flow. The whole idea is to make money in a different way.

Dreams & passion aside, we all need income to survive. To pay bills, keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. We don’t always like to talk about it, but it’s true.

When you start a business, the scariest leap is the financial one. Will this business make enough money for my life? Will I go into debt? Will I lose everything?

We were lucky that our business was pretty cheap to start. We had cleaning supplies, our real estate licenses, some software and a shared laptop in a one-bedroom apartment. That was it. As the business started to take shape, though, we constantly came up to the same obstacle:

This would be great for our business, but does it make financial sense to do so?

The answer to this question popped up as a lyric from one of our favorite groups: if it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.

We wanted so many things: a luxe office space, all organic, locally made cleaning products, sustainable/fair trade cotton linens, and a third person to help us out.

We settled for a new laptop, a cheap desk from Walmart, and generic cleaning products/linens from amazon. It was what made financial sense at the time, and it was absolutely the right choice.

Two years later, we’re moving into a beautiful three-bedroom home so we can have a proper office. We’re still working towards our third person, but for now, we’ve started contracting out the cleanings and laundry work, so we can focus on accounting and growth.

It’s what makes dollars and sense, where we are right now. And that’s what has empowered our business to grow and improve without putting us into debt.

So keep in mind – if it doesn’t make dollars, it doesn’t make sense. You have to put YOU and YOUR business first. Before all the partnerships, collaborations, and shiny, attractive services you can’t quite afford yet. It doesn’t mean you have to give up on what you really want – it just means that you have to take your time to get there.

PSA: Instagram is Not Real

How often do you see photos like this on Instagram? Big booty, tight waist, strong arms – but is it real? As someone that’s been hardcore into fitness for 5+ years, I couldn’t understand these images that  kept appearing on my feed – until I played around in front of the mirror and realized its just posing. Booty popped, an awkward twist in the waist, good lighting and a little bit of dehydration and BAM – insta-model approved.

I didn’t grow up in the age of Instagram, so I worry so much about the women and girls that see these images and believe they’re real life. I would never stand, sit, pose, squat or appear this way in person,  so while the photo is me, it is not TRUE TO LIFE. In simple terms, it’s not real.

Instagram can be a great place to showcase and normalize all kinds of bodies, which is why I personally choose to show photos of mine. But when you’re scrolling through your feed and come across an image that seems unachievable, keep these key points in mind:

1.      No two bodies are the same. Even if you eat, sleep, and train exactly like the girl in the picture, it is physically impossible for you to achieve the exact same results because of your (and her) unique size, shape, genes, body composition and metabolism.

2.      These images are often the result of perfect lighting, careful posing, angles, retouching, and even photoshop – not perfect people.

3.      Most of these people are professional models/bodybuilders/personal trainers, whose job is to be fit and look the part. You wouldn’t compare your ability to cook to that of a professional chef, right? So you can’t compare your body to someone who’s full time job is fitness.

4.      Most of these images are selling something. They are carefully curated to represent an ideal that’s unlikely (or impossible) to achieve in order to promote the protein powder/leggings/detox tea/personal training services being offered.

5.      Instagram is a highlight real. It does not, and cannot, depict real life.

6.      Everyone can physically, mentally, and emotionally benefit from exercise, regardless of their weight, size, shape, age, gender, ability, etc. Do not let the images on Instagram deter you from doing something great for you and your body, if that’s what you chose.

7.      Let me repeat it one more time: fitness is for and benefits EVERY BODY.

Okay, rant over.

 

The Body Positive Athlete

A friend asked me how you can be body positive and an athlete at the same time. It’s a great question, because I don’t think the two have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, they can go hand in hand, if that’s what you’re about! All you need are these key points:

✨all bodies are worthy or respect & love

✨athletic ability & health can’t be judged by appearance

✨athleticism and health doesn’t make anyone superior to another

✨movement should come from a place of joy, not punishment or sacrament

✨bodies are beautiful and capable of so much!

That’s literally it! Shifting to a body positive mindset allowed me to actually enjoy the activities I love – soccer, running, hiking, swimming. It disconnected me from the ingrained need to “work off” my food/weight and brought me back to a place of fun.

You Don’t Need a Makeover: Food Freedom Friday


You don’t need a makeover.
Yep, you read that right – no matter your weight, size, shape, gender or age, you DON’T need a makeover. The fitness/diet industry does. 


Imagine if you had a store that sold a single size of clothing – or offered a single, specified entree – or if Jamba Juice offered ONE smoothie?

It’s illogical to sell one specific item because we all know people are different. Some people like berries, some people like citrus fruits. Some people are short, others are tall. 

Yet, the diet and fitness industry gets away with selling us a single ideal per gender – a tall, muscular, chiseled and well portioned man, coupled with a slender, yet muscular, yet still distinctly feminine woman. And they make billions of dollars a year on the mere fact that the majority of the population is physically incapable of achieving the image they’re selling.


If you sell an unreachable image, customers will never stop buying. If we all looked perfect, why would we buy powders and pills and capsules and workout programs? There’s no money in the achievement; there’s money in the chase. 

So no, you don’t need a makeover. Healthy eating and exercise do yield a wonderful breadth of benefits, like increased energy, deeper sleep, higher dopamine and serotonin levels, better focus and cognitive function, improved digestive health, and the list continues. But being healthy looks different on every. single. person. Be you, and be healthy if you choose – but don’t let clever marketing and photoshop make the choice for you.

Finding Food Freedom


The interwebs is already a scary place, but the health/fitness/nutrition interwebs are both confusing and terrifying. On a daily basis, we’re bombarded with conflicting scientific studies championing one lifestyle while demonizing another. We’re affronted with a flurry of self-proclaimed ‘wellness experts’ with zero educational or scientific background, shouting from the social media rooftops that eating 30 bananas a day or all raw food or bone broth or organ meat is the answer to all of your health problems.

Sugar doesn’t cause diabetes; fat does! Sugar causes diabetes and cancer! Cut out carbs to cure that ‘mental fog’! All sugar is evil! Stevia is the sweetener we’ve all been looking for! Stevia is the same as all other sweeteners! 

The reason this industry succeeds in confusing every possible ingredient and/or food group is because Americans are easy prey. Most of us are sick, all of us have a family history of health problems, and nobody wants to bring on cancer because they couldn’t afford the organic spinach.

It’s something that has personally terrified me for as long as I can remember. As a slightly chubby kid and a curvy, muscular woman, the learned desire to not gain weight runs very deep. I want to be healthy, avoid chronic diseases and cancer, and not be crazy-stressed obsessive about food.

But, I am very obsessed with food. I’m terrified that my non-organic apples will fill my fat cells with scary toxins that will shorten my life. I’m concerned about getting enough protein; I’m alarmed by meat and dairy products. And, above all, I am very freakin confused.

A few days a go, I had a major food meltdown – which I didn’t even know was a thing, but it is. I’ve cried on the bathroom floor for many reasons, but so far, confusion over food has not been one of them; this time, though, it was.

I feel frustrated and betrayed by the general chaos and conflicting information thrown in my face every time I turn on the radio or tv, peruse podcasts, or scroll through Instagram or Facebook. More than that, I’m tired of these platforms toying with my deep-seated fears and emotions.

The truth is that I am an adult, and able to make my own choices. I innately know what’s best not only for my physical health, but my mental health as well. (Cuase that’s very important, too!) I don’t need anyone to tell me what’s right and wrong, because I’ve been living in this body my entire life. I know what it likes; what bothers it; what drives it crazy into a food meltdown.

Sorry, health and fitness industry – but I’ve got this.

Bye, Felicia.

 

Finding My Path & Purpose

 

Life has been a blur these days. If you haven’t noticed, my posts have been few and far between, yet so much life has happened between the cracks. I’ve quit my dream job as a Development Coordinator at a non-profit, and started my own business with my boyfriend. I went to Germany with my family, embarked on my first faith-based mission trip to Nepal, and have gone vegan. I’ve changed up my life, and every step has been for the better.

Going to Nepal absolutely deserves its own post – if not several – but I will say this: it was incredibly humbling and healing. My faith and relationship with God have deepened and strengthened, and I felt my head clear and my heart open to the path and purpose God intends for me. Part of that includes having confidence in my business endeavors and the abilities I’ve been gifted, and cultivated in the professional sphere.


Another part of my deepened faith is a recommitment to veganism. In working to make a positive impact in Nepal, I had a difficult time coming back to normal life in Hawaii and working for myself. I wanted to keep working for good and for God, and reducing the harm I contribute to is one way to do so.


My goal in this life is to do as much good and as little harm as a I can, to people, the planet, and other creatures alike. That includes treating others with kindness and patience, and understating where their hurt comes from. This love for other people – even strangers, far away, and very different from myself – is what’s continued to drive me to recommit to a plant-based diet. For the animals, yes, but also for the people living in communities polluted by animal agriculture, those working under harsh conditions in factory farms, etc. We all spend our time and thoughts searching for our purpose. While mine isn’t completely crystal clear, I know I’m meant to do good in any way I can. Right now, and through the rest of my days.

To more posts and positivity,

Nicole ❤

Wednesday Wisdom: Life Happens for You


In the darker times of our lives, we all ask ourselves the same question: Why me? When everything falls apart, when tragedy strikes, we ask the Universe: “Why is this happening to ME?”

Somehow, in the best times of our lives, when we’re faced with love and abundance and the opportunity to achieve our dreams, we ask the same thing: “Why would this happen to ME?”

Light or dark, abundance or despair, why things happen TO us. But things don’t happen to us at all: they happen FOR us. Tragedy gives way to growth, challenge inspires breakthroughs, and even the deepest cracks allow the light to shine in and through.

When awful things happen, we grow through them and become stronger, smarter, and ironically, more open and honest versions of ourselves. When we’re just  so.over.it., we become more authentic and loving and are able to live true.

The reason bad things happen to good people is to make them even better. To prepare them for what’s next, and create a soul capable of giving more of themselves to the world and encouraging those around them to do the same. There’s a reason the most beautiful, open, loving, and courageous leaders were bred from hardship, hatred and turmoil; it made them better.

Whatever is going on in your life, embrace it; you are growing. Your are being prepared for what’s next, and becoming who you’re meant to be.

Travel Tuesday: Mt. Olympus Hike


I expected to be writing a super cool post about my awesome travels around Europe with my family, which I would be getting back from just about now. Instead, I didn’t go anywhere – the Europe trip I’d been looking forward to all year became the Europe trip that wasn’t. My mom tore her Achilles tendon, my sister had knee surgery, and my dad injured his kneecap – all within a week. Apparently, this trip just was NOT meant to be.


Seriously, that really did happen. Don’t believe me? My sister sent me this of all of their boots chilling at home together in collective injured non-travelness.


Since I can’t travel, I decided to cram some extra adventure into my life on the island – in the form of beach time, hikes, and  a spontaneous trip up to North Shore. My favorite adventure, though, was a wet, cold, slippery hike up Waahila Ridge Trail to Oahu’s Mt. Olympus peak.


It was one of those hikes were everything went wrong; we left too late, picked the worst possible weather, and struggled to slip and slide up muddy slopes. Mt. Olympus usually offers stunning, panoramic views of Oahu’s south and east shorelines, but it was so cloudy we couldn’t see a damn thing. In fact, it felt as if we were walking on mist itself, the ridge breaking out just above the crown of the clouds.


It was freezing cold and we drudged through mud and sideways, slightly torrential rain. We got to almost the top and the rain picked up so much that we were climbing up a river and were forced to turn back. It was nearly impossible to grab onto the ropes, since they were slick with rain and wet and mud.


We left so late in the day that we walked back the last third of the ridge in the dark. I slipped and fell on my ass half a dozen times on slick tree roots that I couldn’t see because the sun had set and were out of light and luck.


Yet, somehow, it was insanely fun and memorable. How is it that the worst times are often remembered as the best?