ANNOUNCEMENT: We got a dog!

Announcements

*Currently writing this blog post with one hand because a puppy is nibbling on the other!*

Yes, it finally happened! Matt and I are officially dog parents and I’m so happy to introduce our furbaby, Nova, to you!

It’s so crazy being here now. Back when Matt and I were dating in college, we used to always dream about our future together. We’d talk about how amazing it would be to have our own home, how we would decorate, how we would spend our weekends, and the trips we would take. But above all, we talked about how much we wanted a dog.

There was nothing in the world we wanted more than a four-legged fur baby that we could snuggle up with together. For as long as we’ve known each other we’ve been saving photos of different dog breeds and brainstorming names. Were we a bit obsessed? Maybe. But who cares. We’re DOG PEOPLE.

Anyways, we talked about this FOREVER and tried our best to ignore all the haters who tried to ruin our dream by sharing all of the reasons why we “shouldn’t get a dog.” (Side note: no one ever tells you that you shouldn’t have a baby. Why do we do this to each other when someone says they want a puppy?)

BUT, we knew that whenever the day came when we had our own yard, a puppy would be in our very near future. And here she is, our ferocious little puppy, Nova Rutski who is currently having what I call “the zoomies” and running back and forth across the living room as fast as she possibly can. Welcome to the family, Nova.

Puppy Motherhood

We got Nova when she was just 6 weeks old and weighed just 4.9 pounds! Annnddd, now I have to go pull her away from the molding she’s chewing on. 

Today, Nova is 12 weeks old and having her for just 6 weeks has already been such an experience. The first 2 weeks were the toughest. Matt and I were both pretty nervous. For the first time in our lives, we had another life to be responsible for! I mean I used to be a pet sitter and a nanny for a few years, but I would say goodbye at the end of the night or the end of the week when the parents and owners would come home. Instead, we are now responsible for another life for over a decade! And now I have to take Nova outside because I can tell she’s about to have an accident, brb.

So to be honest, as excited as we were, we were also very on edge. On top of that, Matt had to leave on a week-long work trip the day after we got her! Let me tell you, I got zero sleep that week.

But I didn’t care. Instantly, I loved her so much. I loved her puppy breath, her spots, how her eyes are different from each other. And most of all, I loved the… and I left her alone for one minute and she destroyed the zipper on her crate.

Whelp, I was going in a certain direction with this blog post today, but I guess it’s time to scratch that. I am writing this blog post in real-time while Nova is bouncing back and forth between being the sweetest and most cuddly puppy in the world, to being a literal monster. Nova is what Matt described as a real-life Sour Patch Kid – first she’s sour and then she’s sweet.

So I guess that’s the point that I’m trying to make with this blog post today. I love this little puppy more than anything, but she drives me insane. She makes me feel so loved and yet sometimes I think she’s intentionally destroying the things that I care about on purpose. I just want to sleep in, yet I’m thankful for getting to wake up early and take care of her.

Thank goodness, now she’s napping. 

There are holes from her teeth in my favorite $110 Lululemon yoga pants, but so much love in my heart. My favorite rugs are chewed up in the corners and we have to move them into the garage, but I have a smile on my face whenever I look at her. I can’t leave the house and go anywhere, yet I also don’t want to. 

THIS is puppy motherhood.

Despite the constant biting, and gnawing, and chewing, and holes in every piece of clothing or sock she can find, I’ve never been so relaxed, happy, and anxiety-free. Matt and I noticed that after just 3 weeks of having her, our stress and anxiety level dropped so much. We weren’t constantly in our own heads and worrying about something. It was like having this new little life to take care of brought us more clarity, focus, and peace of mind. The routine and responsibility that comes with taking care of someone else along with that feeling of unconditional love when your puppy is so excited that you just came home are amazing.

Oh crap, she wasn’t actually sleeping. Oh well, it’s her lunchtime anyways.

Back to writing… nope, I have to take her out again.

Ok, now back to writing. Awwww, she’s being so cute playing with her ball right now. The ball just went under the couch and she went after it. All you can see are her little paws sticking out. It kind of looks like when the witch from the Wizard of Oz got a house dropped on her.

Now she’s out from under the couch and chewing on the Christmas tree. I give up. Welcome to the family Nova, I love you. 

Thanks for coming to Lost Online

I hope you enjoyed this chaotic blog post about the newest member of our little family! You’ll be seeing SO much more of our little sour patch puppy in the future. Please send us a prayer that we survive Nova’s puppyhood and leave some of your puppy training knowledge in the comments below! We could use it!

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that “+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

Fear is a Compass: Everything You Want is on the Other Side of Fear

Self-Help

Fear. I know it all too well. And I’m willing to bet that you do too because every single one of us is terrified of something.

And it SUCKS, right? Don’t you just hate feeling scared? In my opinion, there’s nothing more unpleasant than the feeling of fear. Because when you’re afraid of something, your mind decides to play this little game where it comes up with a million possible outcomes of all of the different ways you’re going to fail, or suck, or disappoint, or even die! You get caught up in the perpetual loop of all the worst possible outcomes, and before you know it, there’s no possible outcome in your mind otherthan the worst-case scenario. 

The thought, “I want to quit my job to start a business,” turns into, “Oh my gosh, I’ll end up running out of money, I’ll be broke, I’ll end up homeless, my friends and family will disown me, I’ll have no one, I’ll be filled with regret for the rest of my life, I’ll get sick and die alone, no one will even remember that I was here, etc.”

Before you know it, a simple thought of quitting your job has turned into this loop that you’ve been stuck in with all of the possible, horrible outcomes that could end up happening to you.

In this blog post, I’m going to change your mind about fear for good. I’m going to convince you why fear is actually your best friend and why you should follow it as if it were a compass! Most importantly, I’m going to teach you how you can let go of fear’s hold on you so you can move forward and do the things that make you happy – without getting trapped in that fearful loop in your head.

Disclaimer: I just want to let you know that I’m not talking about rational fears. I’m not telling you to walk down an alley alone at night because the thought of doing so scares you. I’m not telling you to drive fast and furiously down the highway weaving through cars because it sounds scary. I don’t want anyone being reckless because of my blog posts.

Today, I’m talking about those icky, unpleasant fears that cause you anxiety as you’re going about your everyday life and hold you back from pursuing the things that make you happy. Things like starting a business or traveling the world. 

You know what I’m talking about, right? These fears:

  • “What will people think of me if I ___(insert your dream here)___?” 
  • “What if I fail?”
  • “What if I disappoint my parents?”
  • “What if I can’t get a job because I took a sabbatical and no one will ever want to hire me again?”
  • “What if I lose all my money?”
  • “What if this is a huge mistake?”
  • “What if I die alone?”
  • “What if I regret this decision?”
  • “What if they think I’m a fraud?”
  • “What if I don’t amount to anything?”

I’m talking about the fears that center around failure, rejection, and loneliness because those fears often require us to follow our hearts and go against what society or family tells us we’re “supposed to” do. I’m talking about the fears that we allow to control our day and the direction of our lives.

But first, Fear is Fabulous.

Now, because we ALLOW fear to control us and prevent us from moving forward, fear gets a bad rap. I hate it, you hate it, and it makes us feel terrible. BUT, fear is actually a fabulous thing for two reasons.

Reason Number One: It’s how our brain and biology keeps us safe from real danger.

When we are scared, everything that happens in our body occurs to keep us from getting hurt and keep us alive. The adrenal glands flood the body with adrenaline; the pupils dilate so we can take in more light and see more of our surroundings; our heart rate increases so that more blood gets to our muscles; we breathe faster to take in more oxygen; the blood flow decreases in our frontal lobe as adrenaline in the amygdala allows us to react purely on INSTINCT rather than through planning and logic.

It’s amazing when you break it down and think about how many things happen in the body in such a short moment to keep us from getting hurt when there’s a very real danger present. So really, fear is an incredible thing! We’re so lucky to have it! Fear serves a purpose and isn’t evil or bad in any way. If we didn’t have it, humans wouldn’t have made it this far in history. I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this post to you and you wouldn’t be reading it. So stop and take a moment to feel thankful that we even have this ability to feel fear.

Now, the reason why we tend to hate fear so much is that fewer PHYSICAL threats are happening to humans today. As we’ve evolved so many of the “threats” we encounter became more personal. That fear is still there, working in the exact same way, but now it comes up in times when we’re really not in danger. Like when we’re about to have a difficult conversation, when we’re able to speak in public, when our boss starts sending us passive-aggressive emails, or when we’re thinking of an approaching deadline.

That alone could be an entirely different blog post topic, but the reason why we’re here today is that fear also shows up to put the brakes on when it comes to pursuing our dreams… which brings me to my second reason.

Reason Number Two: Fear is like a compass pointing us in the direction of what we most want to (and have to) do in this lifetime.

The second reason why fear is fabulous is that it works like a compass, only instead of pointing north, it points you in the direction of what you want the most. Think about it for a moment – What terrifies you the most? I’m not asking what your worst nightmare is, here. I’m asking, what would scare you the most TO DO right now?

Many people think of things like starting their own business, writing a book, moving abroad, taking time off to travel, starting a project or hobby. It’s funny how the thing that we’re absolutely terrified of doing is actually the one thing that we want to do the most.

When I ask myself what I’m most terrified of, it’s pursuing my life-long dreams and everything that I’ve been wanting to do for as long as I could remember. Things like writing a book, starting a podcast, and starting my business. The things that I most want to do that would bring me the most joy, are simultaneously the things that scare the crap out of me and make me want to numb myself with a Netflix binge.

But this is again a GOOD thing. By noticing what scares you the most and causes you to get stuck in the fearful loop in your head, you’re able to clearly see what you want to do most and what you should be doing with your life. Once we learn to embrace that fear and use it as fuel, it allows us to move forward through uncertainty where we can truly grow. 

Everything You Want is on the Other Side of Fear

Moral of the story – fear isn’t a bad thing; allowing ourselves to be controlled by it is. But luckily for us, we have complete control over that. We can acknowledge the fear and move forward regardless of if it makes us uncomfortable. As difficult as that may be, it helps to remember all of the times when you stepped forward into fear throughout your life and did what you wanted to do anyway.

Haven’t you had some of those times? The times when you’ve taken a risk when you lost everything, where you pursued what you wanted to do over what felt comfortable? Think of some of them right now. Maybe it was the time back in high school where you pushed yourself to join the drama club even though it scared you. Maybe it was a time at your work where you asked to lead a project even though you were scared and doubted your capability. And aren’t you so freaking thankful that you did those things? They were pivotal moments in your life when you came into your own and took what you wanted in life. Your life changed for the better because of it.

You can do it again.

I believe that one of the reasons why people have so much stress and anxiety is because we’re not doing the things we want to do the most. We get trapped by our fear and bottle up our dreams year after year because we’re afraid they’ll lead us to rejection and failure if we pursued them. 

From my experience, stepping forward into fear to do what you love and pursue a dream is the best antidepressant in the world. Yes, there’s going to be uncertainty and there’s going to be confusion. But isn’t dealing with a little uncertainty worth it if you can be happy and have mental health?

If you allow fear to be a cage for you, rather than a compass, I promise you that your life is not going to be nearly as beautiful, enriching, and satisfying. And eventually, you’re going to look back filled with regret. 

So let me ask you a question from Mastin Kipp, the man who’s “Fear Fallacy” lecture inspired this blog post today…

“What if the quality of your life is directly related to the amount of uncertainty you can comfortably live with?”

-Mastin Kipp

I think this question sums everything up perfectly because the quality of our lives is directly related to how much uncertainty we have in it. It’s not about that ONE time that we choose to step out of our comfort zone, the real breakthrough happens when we learn to do this every day. When we learn to embrace uncertainty and risk and do the things that we want to anyways. It has to become a habit.

Think about this way: none of us really have CONTROL over anything. We can follow society’s and parents’ rules flawlessly, but what does that really do for us? Even if I did everything that I was “supposed to” do, I could still find out tomorrow that I have cancer and only have three months to live. The idea that we can control everything is make-believe. It doesn’t matter if you count your calories every day, wake up at 7 a.m. on the dot every morning, work out for exactly 40 minutes, spend your life slowly working up the corporate ladder, and always remember to send thank you notes after your birthday. Those things might make us FEEL in control, but in reality, we’re not.

So let’s embrace uncertainty anyways, and let go of this idea that if we stay inside our comfort zone life will be PERFECT. We’ll all be so much happier if we chose to embrace the uncertainty and step forward into fear because everything that we want is on the other side of it – a better relationship, a more fulfilling career, the vacation of our dreams, friends that are in alignment with us, and above all true HAPPINESS.

As I said on my “20 Facts About Me,” I’m a firm believer that the more you throw yourself outside of your comfort zone, the happier you will be.

Let go of fear’s hold on you

Now, you and I both know that me saying, “follow fear like a compass” or “throw yourself outside of your comfort zone,” is easier said than done. So, I’m going to share six tips with you that will help you to break the hold fear has over you.

Before we begin, you just have to get clear on what you’re most afraid of. Think about that thing that you really want to do, but you feel like if you do it people will be disappointed, or you’ll be unlovable, or you’ll be lost and confused. I know you have that one thing. Most of us have about five things. I’m sure you’ll have no difficulty in recalling what it is, but just in case this is something that you often fantasize about at work and stay up at night thinking about. 

Now, get out a notebook and write them down. Write down a bullet-pointed list of those 1-5 different things you’re scared to do. Then use the next six exercises to help you step forward into fear.

1. Ask yourself, what’s the worst possible thing that could happen?

One exercise that often helps is to imagine the absolute worst-case scenario and let it play out. But this time, instead of letting it play out in your head, say it OUT LOUD. I love this trick because when you let a terrible fantasy play out to completion and you actually SPEAK it out loud you realize just how far- fetched it is and just how unrealistic that worst-case scenario actually is.

It’s an exercise that my therapist had me do, and once I did it, I realized how ridiculous it was that me starting a blog and health coaching business would play out in my head until I would end up having to take a horrible job that I hated OR end up homeless. I literally felt as if me pursuing this dream was going to cause me to become homeless, and I believed it. UNTIL I shared all of this out loud. It suddenly occurred to me, the mind is SO DRAMATIC.

Because our mind tends to build things up. Every day, every week, and every year, we think about this thing until our minds turn it into a catastrophe. Eventually, we can’t even see just how distorted our perspective really is. We don’t even notice just how large we let this scenario become in our minds. Speaking the words brings it back into perspective. 

2. Ask yourself, is that really going to happen? 

Now ask yourself, “Ok, is that really going to happen?” No. Most of the things we spend our time worrying about NEVER happens.

I can confidently say that EVERY and ALL of the worst-case scenarios I’ve played out in my mind has never happened to me. Not once. 

Which reminds me, I was in a book club meeting one day at the yoga studio when one of the women told me that she calls worrying “borrowing trouble.” How true is that? Every day we let our minds go absolutely crazy with horrible things that could happen and all we’re doing is just borrowing trouble or borrowing anxiety from a future that’s not even going to play out.

Again, make sure to speak these words aloud to ground yourself in reality and get yourself out of that fearful loop in your mind. Tell yourself “No, ___(fill in the blank with worst-case scenario)___ is not actually going to happen.

“No, I’m not actually going to end up homeless.”

“No, the plane is not actually going to go down.”

“No, all of my friends and family won’t disown me.”

“No, I’m not going to lose all my money.”

3. Ask yourself, what will most likely happen if it doesn’t work out?

Now that you’ve made it clear that the worst-case scenario isn’t actually going to happen to you, ask yourself this question: “If things don’t go according to plan or don’t work out, what will most likely happen?”

When I asked myself this question, I realized that the answer was really simple. I was terrified that in starting a business, I would end up homeless, but what would most likely happen is that I would need extra money so I would get a part-time job. That’s not that bad! It’s simple. Life wouldn’t go according to plan, so I would simply come up with an easy fix to help me get through that early stage of having to find clients!

When you ask yourself this question, you’ll find that the real answer isn’t this dramatic, catastrophic event that’s going to turn your life upside down. It’s manageable. It’s not ideal, but it’s going to be ok.

4. When you find yourself reverting to the worst-case scenario, ask yourself this…

I know it’s really hard to break the habit of thinking about the worst-case scenario, so when you find yourself slipping, go through the first three exercises again OR ask yourself this hypothetical question:

Let’s just pretend that the terrible catastrophe actually DOES happen. What would be worse, the bad thing happening or dying with regret?

What would be worse for you? What would you rather happen? Personally, I would rather have something bad happen to me than not even try to live my life how I want to live it. When I first did this exercise with my therapist, I said that the worst-case scenario for me would be getting stuck in a job I’m miserable with because I failed as a business owner. But I would still take that outcome over having not even tried. 

5. Reflect on all of the times when you stepped forward into fear

For this exercise, I want you to do some more self-reflection. Get out that journal again or open up a document on your computer. Now, jot down all of the moments in your life when you were scared to do something, but you did it anyway because you knew it would help you grow and make you happy. 

Examples could be moving away to college, going on a retreat, traveling abroad, taking on a project you felt under-qualified for, asking the person you’re currently dating to go on a date, reaching out to your role model, starting a new hobby like skydiving, beekeeping, dancing, or pottery, getting out of a bad relationship, etc. 

When you’re done with the list, write a few sentences or bullet points about WHY you’re happy that you did each one of those things. Share about all of the personal growth that you made because you took the leap. Reflecting on similar instances will help you to put this new fear of yours into perspective.

Some of my own examples include taking a month-long trip through Europe with a group of strangers, asking for the account executive position on the Flagler College Smoke and Tobacco-Free campaign, and quitting my job to become a blogger and health coach. These things all scared the hell out of me at the time but have been some of the moments of my life that brought me the most personal growth and happiness.

Don’t rush this exercise. Reflect on it for as long as you need to take in just how beneficial those moments were for you. Remember, the quality of your life is directly related to the amount of uncertainty you can comfortably live with.

6. Try Mel Robbins Five Second Rule

So now you’ve reflected on what you’re most afraid to do and learned how and why to not let fear put you in a cage, but rather act as a COMPASS. But still, it’s hard to remember these things in your daily life, right? You can read every popular self-help book and journal every night but still find yourself holding back when you wake up in the morning and go about your day. What do you do then?

The answer is Mel Robbins, and her five-second rule. First of all, if you haven’t heard of Mel Robbins, you have to look her up. She’s an international best-selling author, motivational speaker with one of the top Ted Talks of all time, co-founder and CEO of 143 Studios, and now has her own talk show. She sets an incredible example for everyone on how you can step into fear, turn your life around, and become a success. And she did it all with a simple life hack, which she calls “The Five-Second Rule.”

The Five Second Rule works like this – “if you have an instinct to act on a goal, you must physically move within five seconds or your brain will kill it.” The moment you feel an instinct or a desire to act on a goal you have to commit and react immediately.

Whenever you feel yourself hesitating before doing something, whether it be applying for a job, booking your trip, going to the gym, waking up in the morning, count backward from five and them react immediately. Say to yourself, “5-4-3-2-1” and then GO.

Move toward action.

Why? Because as Mel Robbins describes it on her website, there is a window of time that exists between the moment you have an instinct to change and your mind killing it. That window is only about five seconds. 

If you don’t take action on your instinct to change within those five seconds you will stay stagnant, you won’t change, and your life will not transform in the way that you want it to. Because of that little fearful loop we talked about in the beginning. If you allow yourself time to hesitate, your brain will start to play that game where it comes up with all the terrible things that are going to happen to you and all of the worst-case scenarios. Because the brain wants to PROTECT you, and if you want something new that is foreign to your brain, it perceives it as a risk and immediately tries to stop you.

Like I said before, this instinct is amazing, it has kept us alive for thousands of years and we’re lucky to have it. However, we don’t need that fear holding us back when we’re applying for jobs, going on a trip, or starting a business – it’s not life or death here. 

But if you do that one simple trick by reacting immediately and not allowing that nightmare to begin playing out in your mind, you can prevent your mind from working against you and your personal goals. You can start the momentum before the mind starts to craft excuses.

This also helps because you’re NEVER going to feel like it. You’re never going to suddenly feel like doing all these things that are good for you or the things that terrify you. You have to make yourself do it, and make yourself do it QUICKLY. Otherwise, you won’t move forward. You’ll remain stuck in the cage of fear instead of allowing it to point you towards the next chapter of your life.

Takeaways

Before I head out and wrap up this post today, I wanted to leave you with a few takeaways to keep in mind.

1. Fear is normal, it’s OK to be afraid. It’s MORE than ok to be afraid. Don’t shame yourself for being scared of something. Being scared is the brain’s way of keeping you safe, and it’s a survival instinct that exists inside of ALL of us. It’s not unique to you and you’re not weak for having it.

2. However… don’t let fear CONTROL your life. Don’t let fear be the reason why you never __(fill in the blank)__. Because everything you want is one the other side of fear: better health, better relationships, a fulfilling career, happiness, life experience, memories you will cherish, personal growth, and more. 

3. Fear is a compass showing you where to go. The thing you are most terrified of is the thing that you want more than anything in the world. UNLESS you’re in mortal danger. You still need common sense! I’m not saying that if you’re walking around alone at night and the thought of walking down a dark, secluded alley scares you that you should do it. But the thing you’re most scared to do is the exact path that you need to take in your life.

4. The quality of your life is directly related to the amount of uncertainty you can comfortably live with. The more you remain in your comfort zone, the less happy you will be. The more you throw yourself outside of your comfort zone, the more you are slowly becoming the version of yourself you always dreamed you could be.

5. Do the written and verbal exercises I’ve outlined above to get rid of the hold that fear has over you. By realizing that your worst-case scenario is NOT going to happen you’ll be able to relinquish the hold it has over you. You’ll realize it was all in your mind. Do it every day if you have to. You must regularly remind yourself of how dramatic your mind can be while you’re trying to pursue your dreams.

6. Use the five-second rule. Use it to get up in the morning, to go to the gym, to start your website, to write a blog, to make a call, to put together a media kit, to write a book, to cook dinner. Use it all the time, but especially when it comes to the things you’re scared of. It’s a simple trick that will help you to bypass that fearful loop in your head altogether.

7. When all is said and done, when you learn to step forward into fear, you’ll wonder why you waited so long. You’ll find yourself thinking, “Huh, that wasn’t that bad,” or “that wasn’t that scary.” It will give you the confidence to pursue more of what you want in the future and become the highest version of yourself. 

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

As always, thanks for coming to Lost Online. I hope that this post helped you to break the hold that fear has on you and FINALLY decide to live your life on your own terms. Without being held back by a barrage of negative thoughts, fears, and worst-case scenarios.

Remember to let me know your thoughts on the way out! What takeaways did you get from this post? Did you agree that fear is a compass? Is fear a compass for you, or is it currently a cage? Did you try these exercises I suggested? Which ones helped you get rid of the hold fear has on you and step FORWARD into fear? Are there any other suggestions that you would give to others to stop fear from controlling their lives? Let me know in the comments!

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that “+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online! 

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

Announcement: I’m Getting A Nose Job! + Why I’m Getting it Done & What’s To Come

Announcements, Beauty

I have to say, never have I ever had such a difficult time figuring out how to intro one of my blog posts before! So I guess I’ll just say this: Yep. I’m doing it! You read that title correctly. I am getting a rhinoplasty, better known as “a nose job.” Trust me, I’m well aware of how shocking and difficult this news is going to be to some of you! Deep breaths, we will get through this!

As you probably know at this point, I usually share big life announcements on the blog from time to time, and today I’m here to announce the biggest (and probably most controversial) news of all, that I’m getting my nose done.

For starters, you’re probably reading this right now wondering… Why? Why are you getting a nose job? And why the heck are you publishing this on your blog, Heather?! For attention??

So before I lose a few of you in a white-hot rage due to preconceived ideas about plastic surgery and how “wrong” it is, here’s why:

  1. I’m sharing this news with you today because as a self-help and wellness blogger who preaches self-love on the daily, I’m aware that some of you will view this decision as being highly hypocritical and I want to address that.
  2. I understand that many people have a hard stance against plastic surgery and view people who get it done as terrible, superficial people. I would like to address that too. 
  3. This topic shouldn’t be taboo or kept a secret out of fear and judgment.
  4. I want to use my experience to inform other women that I know who are also interested in rhinoplasty.
  5. If it wasn’t for a friend of mine getting her nose done and sharing her experience, I NEVER would have done it. It seemed too foreign and scary to ever ACTUALLY do it. So I’m here to be that friend for you.
  6. I want to explain to you WHY I feel the need to go through with the procedure.
  7. And lastly, I have a confession to make. 

I will explain all of those things in detail in this post. I would really love for you to hear it from me rather than to find out some other way and try to fill in the blanks in yourself. 

This blog post is one of three (possibly four with a Q & A) that will be published sharing my experience. This one is to announce that I’m getting it done and why and to thoroughly explain why I’m sharing this decision so publically.

The next post in this series will be all about my recovery. And I’m warning you right now, that one will be a doozy. So if you’re super against plastic surgery, then maybe you’ll want to skip that one. But if you’re someone who is very curious about this procedure and are thinking about getting it done yourself, then keep your eyes peeled. In that blog post, I will share every single aspect of my recovery, one day at a time. I will share the photos of what I look like as I’m recovering, how the post-op appointments are going, how uncomfortable the recovery is, what items helped me heal and ease the pain, and a hell of a lot more.

That post will be similar to what I did for my microblading and permanent makeup experience, except MUCH more in detail. It’s written to be substantial, honest, and unvarnished. Nothing about that post will be sugar-coated.

The third and final post in this little series will be about the results. I’ll show photos of what my nose looks like now, how I feel about getting it done, and whether or not it turned out like I hoped it would! I’ll also include a review of my plastic surgeon, Dr. Dean Davis of Davis Facial Plastic Surgery, and any messages once I’m finally healed up and on the other side!

So, now let’s get into it! Here are the SEVEN reasons why I’ve chosen to share this experience with you and why I’m going through with this surgery:

1. The Elephant in the Room (Not My Nose)

The very first issue that I wanted to address with this post is what I view as the elephant in the room – and I’m not talking about my nose.

I wanted to share this news with my readers because I’m someone who preaches self-love and self-help on the daily, so I know that this decision of mine could be taken as being hypocritical – especially if I had kept it a secret.

First of all, you can still love yourself and want to look your best. You can still care for yourself and love yourself but have that one thing that really bothers you and that you would like to fix. Just because someone has one part of their body that makes them self-conscious does not mean that they don’t love themselves and aren’t self-respecting bad*ss women. In fact, two of the most confident and self-loving women I’ve ever met have told me that they would like a boob job. (One of them already got it done and they look fabulous).

If anything I think that getting plastic surgery on that one part of your body that you’ve stared at, criticized, and hated fiercely for a decade so that you can finally have peace with yourself and your body is an act of self-love! I mean, really! Wouldn’t that be such a relief? Wouldn’t that save you so much mental energy and spare you from another 10 years of those self-deprecating thoughts? Wouldn’t it feel like a weight was lifted?

Now, I’m not saying YOU need plastic surgery or that all plastic surgery is an act of self-love. I don’t want you clicking away from this post telling people, “Heather Ione Clark claims plastic surgery is an act of self-love.” But what I am saying is that if you’ve had A cup boobs your entire life and every single time you look at yourself you wish you could change it, then do it. It doesn’t make you any less of a beautiful, caring, self-respecting, wonderful woman. And it certainly doesn’t mean that you have no self-esteem or self-worth. We tend to stamp people who get plastic surgery done as superficial and depthless, which is not only untrue but also enormously disrespectful.

Which is why I’m going to be over here with my new nose, that makes me feel more confident than I have been in years, and still be writing to you each week that you should love and care for yourself the same way you would for a newborn baby.

Side Note: Unfortunately, this is the internet and I know how critical people are behind a screen, and how willing they are to point out any “flaws” in my logic. Which is why I know that I have to briefly mention the people who go to extremes with plastic surgery. Like the guy who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on plastic surgery to look like Justin Bieber or the girl who turned herself into a real-life Barbie doll. I’m not talking about those people. That’s an entirely separate issue that has nothing to do with my one cosmetic procedure. Of course, anything can be taken to unhealthy extremes. Enough said on that issue, right?

2. It’s Not Your Nose

I completely understand that people have very opposing opinions about plastic surgery which is why I wanted to explain why I decided to get this done to hopefully ease the minds of people who will be furious with me for making this decision.

Plastic surgery is a very personal decision that ultimately only affects the person who is getting it.

If you’re someone who is judgemental about others getting plastic surgery, I urge you to do some self-reflection and figure out the real reason why it bothers you. And why would it matter when there are SO many problems in this world? There are child predators, there’s human trafficking, there’s gun violence at schools, there’s climate change! Get angry about those things. A young woman getting plastic surgery so she can finally see herself in a mirror and feel confident is NOT going to affect you, and is the least of your worries.

People get WAY too wrapped up and offended by other people’s life decisions. For whatever reason people get as heated about the topic of plastic surgery as I do watching Mr. “Grab Em By The Pussy” as president. I’ve seen people get extremely angry over their family members choosing to get plastic surgery. I’ve even seen people get extremely, blood-boiling, furiously, turn-into-the-Hulk, angry over random celebrities getting plastic surgery! For what?

When it comes to someone’s decision to get plastic surgery, it needs to be respected. What someone else chooses to do with their body – whether it be getting tattoos, or coloring their hair, or getting cosmetic procedures, it’s entirely up to them. No one is strapping you to a hospital bed and making YOU go under the knife. 

3. It’s a Surgery, Not a Scandal

I remember when I went on my tour of Europe, I felt like I had really connected with the girls on the trip and for whatever reason, I felt comfortable telling them this decision that I had kept a secret until then.

About six or seven of us were standing in a circle in whatever random city we were in at the time when I shared with them that I wanted to get a nose job. To my complete shock, every single one of the girls standing with me all said the same thing: “ME TOO!” “I want a nose job too!” “I’ve been wanting to get my nose done for years!”

We stood there together and each one of us shared how self-conscious we were about our noses and why, what we didn’t like about them, and how we knew that this one procedure could finally allow us to look in the mirror without focusing on it. What was even more shocking was that several of them had actually been saving photos of noses they liked for when they decided to finally get the surgery done!

For years I talked about how I hated my nose, but I never opened up about how I wanted to get a nose job. It seemed taboo and wrong. I grew up around people who would scoff and look down on women for getting cosmetic surgery, so it felt like something that you had to do in private and kept a secret until the day you died. Kind of like how women hundreds of years ago used to go “visit a cousin” for nine months if they were unfortunate enough to get pregnant out of wedlock.

I really thought that this was something that I should have kept secret or been embarrassed about, until that day when I finally realized just how many other women my age struggled with this same insecurity! Since then I’ve openly talked about how I wanted to get a nose job with friends and I’ve met dozens of other women who shared with me that they have either had a rhinoplasty or would like to get one.

I can’t tell you what a relief it was to realize that this is not something that only I struggle with, and not something that I should be ashamed to talk about. So by announcing my own nose job is a very public and vulnerable way, I hope that it will help other people to not feel ashamed of getting something like this done. Maybe for you, it’s not a rhinoplasty. But whatever it is, it’s just a procedure. It’s not a scandal, or a crime, or wrongdoing in any way.

4. I Got You, Honey

Since realizing just how many women I know who want to get their noses done and are curious about the procedure, I’ve decided to share my entire experience with you. I’m using my experience to inform other women who also want to get a rhinoplasty. Because I know exactly what you’re thinking!

Getting to the point of finally getting cosmetic surgery takes years and is a decision that continuously weighs heavy on your mind. There’s usually at least a few years (or maybe a decade) of heavy criticism of a body part, followed by another several years of entertaining the idea of cosmetic surgery, followed by several years of saying that you’re going to do it, followed by another year of “planning” on doing it but not taking action because you’re scared as f*ck about what might happen.

I know how tough it is to finally get to that place where you finally feel ready to go under the knife. I know exactly what you’re curious about and I know what you’re worried about! Because it’s me RIGHT NOW. You’re worried about the cost, how to choose the right doctor, if the result is going to turn out how you want it to, and the potential of getting botched! What if after everything the nose turns out WORSE than it was before??

So I guess you can view me as your guinea pig. I’m getting my rhinoplasty and I’ll be sharing every single detail. I’ll share the big things, the little things, the good things, the bad things, uncomfortable things, and the gross things. So that by the end of this series of posts, you’ll feel as if you lived the nose job WITH ME. And if you’re someone who wants to get one done as well, you’ll know what to expect.

5. “My friend Heather got a nose job.”

I have a friend of mine (who I’m not going to mention the name of because I don’t know if she would like that) who got a nose job a little over a year ago. Much like me, she was ALWAYS self-conscious about her nose. Every time she saw it in the mirror or took a photo she felt upset with what she saw looking back at her. To make it worse, she had been teased ruthlessly in school for having a bigger nose. For several years the boys in her school would call her a “surfboard” because she had a bigger nose and smaller boobs. So apparently, to those *ssholes, she resembled a surfboard. What followed was over a decade of feeling ugly in her skin and an absolute certainty that she would someday get a nose job.

She opened up to me about this on the phone one day and shared all of her insecurities about her nose and how she was starting to go to consultations for surgery. I talked with her throughout every stage of going through with the rhinoplasty and then, after months of speaking with her on the phone, I finally saw her in person. And her nose looked BEAUTIFUL. Most of the time I was with her I kept thinking how jealous I was that she had already gotten it done and how I couldn’t wait until the day I FINALLY could get my nose done too. 

You see, when you’re in your early 20’s, you don’t know tons of other people your age who have had plastic surgery – unless maybe you live in Beverly Hills. Or maybe you do know people who have had it, but they don’t ever talk about it. So it seems incredibly scary because you have nothing to compare it to. And maybe you’re like me and watched so many episodes of “Botched” that you thought plastic surgery could virtually only turn out a disaster.

Seeing a friend of mine actually go through the same surgery I wanted, share her experience with me, and tell me the icky details of recovery is what finally made me start looking for my surgeon. From what I saw, she was very brave throughout the entire process and never doubted that it was going to turn out great. Until I saw someone else go through it, I was way too scared to take the first step. 

Knowing that a friend of mine had rhinoplasty that turned out gorgeous and didn’t cause a horrendous recovery is what finally made me feel comfortable about getting it done FOR REAL. 

I want to be that friend for you! So that all of you other women who are reading this can relax and tell yourself,

“If Heather can do it, I can do it.”

6. The WHY of it All

At this point, if you’re still reading, you’re probably still wondering, WHY?! Why am I getting my nose done in the first place? I’m sure none of you have noticed anything offensive about my nose, so you want to know what the point is of even going through this in the first place.

Well, it all started back in high school (as it usually does). When you’re a teenager, you’re already super aware and self-conscious of how you look. On top of that, when I was in high school and college, that’s when the whole “contouring” trend started. So I naturally decided to do it. But funnily enough, it just didn’t work on my nose. All those cute little contouring tricks were useless. My nose still looked big no matter what I did. 

Fast forward to four years ago, when I moved to Florida, I started modeling – something that I’ve always wanted to. I was so excited about this new hobby of mine and loved doing collabs. I was finally capturing those gorgeous Instagram pictures that I always dreamed of. That part of the whole thing made me feel confident, but it was only two photoshoots into my modeling when I noticed something about myself that I hadn’t seen before.

For the first time in my life, I was seeing photos captured of my nose from every single angle, and I DID NOT like what I saw. Four years later and about 100 photoshoots later, I’ve become extremely familiar with my nose and its angles. I can now tell you EVERYTHING that I hate about it. Let’s dig in…

My biggest issue with my nose is that looks big from the profile view. Whenever I turn to my side, it’s obvious that my nose sticks out more than it should. What’s even less attractive to me than that, is the way that it looks whenever I turn my face slightly to the side. Whenever my face is turned 45 degrees there are three obvious bumps which the light always catches and casts shadows on, further accentuating the flaws. Next is the top of my nose closer to my eyebrows, where the cartilage is a bit wider than it should be. My nostrils are also too big and not symmetrical.

Up next on the list of things I dislike about my nose, is the tip of my nose. The tip of my nose is bigger than I would have liked and far too round to me. Of course, it looks even bigger whenever I smile, which then makes me self-conscious about how I look when I smile! But the final thing that really irritates me about my nose, is that my cartilage came out too far at the tip. This means that whenever I smile, my skin on my nose would sort of pull down and the cartilage would stick out. Every single time this happens it casts a shadow on the tip of my nose, which also means that every time I’m photographed, so is this little shadow. I could still go on and on about things that I hate about my nose, but I won’t bore you with all of it.

With each passing year, I have become more and more self-conscious about my nose. It’s just one of those things where every single time I have looked in the mirror since I was 18, I would always think about how I hated it. Not one single time that I’ve looked in the mirror in the last 6 years have I felt beautiful and NOT thought about my nose. It’s been on my mind every single day.

Eventually, once the day came when I finally started to share with people that I wanted a nose job, I was surprised by the responses I received. I thought more people would say something along the lines of:  “NO!” “You don’t need it!” “You’re beautiful!” “Don’t get plastic surgery!” 

But actually the responses I heard were:

“Well… your nose isn’t THAT bad.”

“You don’t NEED plastic surgery. That’s dumb.”

“It’s not bad ENOUGH for you to need to get plastic surgery.”

“I mean, yeah. It’s big, but like I wouldn’t actually get plastic surgery though…”

“It’s big, but it’s not like HUGE. You really only notice it from the profile.”

UMMMMM OK. Let’s take a minute to reflect on those lovely, comforting quotes I heard from friends over the last year. I’m a young woman. I don’t want to hear people say to me that I’m “not that bad.” News flash: being “not that bad” is NOT a compliment. It’s actually an insult. I don’t want to be “not that bad.” I would like to be “beautiful.” I don’t want my nose to be “big,” but not “huge.” I want it to be normal. I don’t want to hear that it’s “not bad ENOUGH.”

Once I realized that it wasn’t just me who noticed that I had a big nose, I had officially made up my mind that I was going to get a nose job in 2019 or 2020.

7. Coming Clean

I remember when I told a few of my friends over the phone that I had decided to get my nose done, I noticed that they would immediately go to my Instagram account and look at photos of me to try to understand what I was talking about. Whenever that happened, they didn’t understand why on earth I would want a nose job. My nose looks great in all of my photos! And if you’re reading this post, maybe you’ve gone back to examine my face in my photos too. 

Or, maybe you haven’t met me in person and you’re a reader or follower of mine online, looking at photos of me. You’re probably thinking that my nose looks fine! There’s nothing wrong with it. Maybe you don’t think it’s big at all. The truth is, my nose is a perfect example of “Instagram vs. Reality.”

Just to warn you, I’m about to get deep with you for a minute…

I created this website, Lost Online because I was sick of trying to pretend to be something that I wasn’t. I was sick of pretending to be perfect. And sick of living for my online persona. I was sick of the bullshit, the filters, the smiling happy faces and picture-perfect moments when I know that behind what people post on Instagram there were heartbreaks, very real traumas, insecurities, sadness, loneliness – all of that. Even though I know that we do all have wonderful moments in our lives that are beautiful and cherished, most of what my generation has shared online since we first started posting, publishing, and tweeting, has been in an effort to look cool and to impress other people.

So that’s why I made this little online space of my own – to get away from all of that. And I made a promise to myself that I would always be disgustingly transparent with you. That even though I might do photoshoots, and wear makeup, and create beautiful Instagram photos for the sheer fun of it – I will always be transparent about the nitty-gritty details that happen between those moments we deem worthy enough to post.

And that is why I’m sharing with you one detail that I thought I would take to my grave. One detail that I was horrendously embarrassed to admit for years. But I know I would never forgive myself and never be 100% honest with you if I didn’t share this:

For the last several years, every single photo that I’ve shared of me … I’ve photoshopped my nose. I made it smaller, I smoothed out the bumps on the top of it, and I edited out the cartilage that would cast an unattractive shadow on the tip of my nose whenever I smiled. I was so self-conscious, so embarrassed, so uncomfortable with how it looked that I would always make an effort to make my nose look different before I shared anything online.

Even now as I’m scrolling through all my old photos looking for examples of unattractive and unflattering angles of my nose to show you, I can’t find any to show you. I instantly deleted all of them the moment I noticed how “ugly” they were.

So this is me, coming clean about my biggest secret. I feel embarrassed for finally owning up to it, but I was one of the many young women who was deeply affected by what I saw online and took to heart what I “should” look like as a woman in order to be worthy of love and affection. I know that there are many people out there who struggle with MUCH worse things in life than feeling insecure about their nose, but my goodness, I can’t wait to finally be able to see myself in the mirror or a photo and not have my mind flooded with such negative thoughts about a part of my body.

I’m sharing this with you not only because I feel like it’s the right thing to do, but also to serve as a reminder that we all have our sh*t. We all have our insecurities. We all go through things that other people don’t know about. So if your story is like mine, don’t be afraid to get plastic surgery. It’s incredibly unhealthy to hate a part of yourself this much. Do what you have to do to feel comfortable and confident in your skin. And also, if you’re someone who’s adimitaly against plastic surgery, please have some compassion. If a simple one-and-a-half hour procedure is enough to give someone the confidence to look at themselves in the mirror and finally feel beautiful, then let them have that!

There you have it

That is why I’m getting rhinoplasty and why I’ve decided to share this with virtually everyone I know! Yikes. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so vulnerable and nervous about a post as I am about this one today! But I know that it will all be worth it. Just like my microblading posts, I know that there are a few people who will find the upcoming posts very helpful and informative. 

It should be an interesting few weeks! Keep your eyes peeled for the next posts, they’re about to get real.

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! POSITIVE VIBES ONLY PLEASE. Have you gotten plastic surgery before? Did you get rhinoplasty? Do you want one? What are your thoughts about taking the leap and doing it? Did you relate to anything that I shared above? What are you looking forward to learning or seeing in the next posts?

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that “+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online! 

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

Announcement: We’re Homeowners!

Announcements, Lifestyle

I’ll Drink to That

Pop the freaking champagne because after 9 months of house hunting, it finally freaking happened!

On September 12, 2019 Matt and I officially closed on the most perfect house that we could have asked for. With this new change, a heavy weight has finally been lifted off our shoulders, because it’s been a LONG time getting to this point. 

Matt was adamant about us becoming homeowners since the moment we moved to St. Petersburg, Fla., and since then it’s been a huge area of stress that I was not anticipating immediately following graduation, leaving my parents house, looking for a job, and moving in with a significant other for the first time. Because of that, the whole house hunting endeavor was a constant hot button issue.

Now we’re finally settled into our new home and best of all, we can finally breathe. No more house hunting, no more discussions about it, no more stress in our home environment! I’m sure you know what I mean! If you’ve ever gone house hunting before it can feel like the ground is shaking underneath you. You don’t feel stable and at peace in your current home and you’re always going through this exhausting inner battle about whether you should or shouldn’t put an offer in, whether you should even buy a house, how much money you want to spend, and how much work you want to put in. It starts to consume you!

Sitting here now, in our home, I can finally celebrate the fact that we now have our FIRST HOME. (Which I guess makes us grown-ups or something??) On top of that, I can look back at the entire house buying experience and appreciate that it got us to where we are today: in our perfect little home, that checked every box on our list and more. 

From Headaches to Happiness

Now I hate to say this because I feel like I should have known this, but looking at houses and putting offers in is far more stressful than I would have expected! If you’re not familiar with St. Pete, all of the houses here were built between 1900 and 1950 which means “historic charm” surrounds us everywhere we look. BUT that historic charm comes with a huge price: termites, asbestos, odd floor plans, and costly renovations.

On top of that, St. Pete is a city that has completely turned around in the last 10-15 years. The line that I’ve heard more than anything else since moving here is: “Ten years ago, you wouldn’t ever stop in St. Pete.” What went from a city that was run down and plagued with crime has turned into one of the most popular and expensive areas to live around the greater Tampa Bay area. Today it’s filled with street art, kava bars, crystal shops, breweries, restaurants, bars, boutiques, cafes, and boho plant shops.

As you can imagine, it’s wonderful. BUT to be close to an area this popular, a two-bedroom/one-bath in DIRE need of renovations with ZERO closet or storage space, a dated floor plan, termites, and asbestos goes for around $300,000! Even then, most of the homes here go for ABOVE asking price!

On this rather unpleasant journey, Matt and I fell in love with “the one” FOUR SEPARATE TIMES! Four times we found the perfect, charming house that had everything we wanted only to discover heartbreaking news in the inspection. OR, we would end up having our offer (that MATCHED the asking price) denied! This area is so popular, that even with all of those problems in a house, sellers know they will be able to get above asking.

I’m not kidding when I say that I had completely given up hope of finding a home. But just like what always happens whenever you relax, let go of expectations and trust in the universe – it magically worked out.

After 9 months, 4 offers, and about 100 arguments, IT HAPPENED. We’re now the very happy homeowners of a gorgeous home in the city that we love so much. And the best part is, it’s termite- and asbestos-free!

Honey, We’re Home

Now all of the stress and all of the headaches have finally been replaced with excitement! Excitement over renovations, painting, decorating, landscaping, and best of all: getting a pup.

We can finally appreciate the fact that we have our first home and that all of the home rejection was really just REDIRECTION to bring us here.

To bring us the perfect starter house that meets all of our needs and fills us up. A home where I can write this post to you right now and concentrate because I don’t have to hear “Seinfield” playing in the background! A home where we can step outside, be in the sun, and hear the birds throughout the day. A home that’s surrounded by other young couples walking their dogs in the evening. A home that has a huge walk-in closet so Matt no longer has to fight for space. And a home we feel happy in.

Our Must-Haves

You know what’s interesting about house hunting? It’s so difficult and it takes so much time that you actually start to believe that your ideal home doesn’t even exist. That you will NEVER find what you’re looking for and that it’s impossible for you to find a home that’s perfect for you. Even though you’re surrounded by thousands and thousands of homes in your area, the entire house hunting process is enough to make even the most faithful and positive people become closed-minded. That’s exactly what happened to me.

Here were my absolutely must-haves for a home that I convinced myself was impossible to find…

  • A fenced-in yard for our future pup
  • A floor plan that makes sense and doesn’t have long, rectangular rooms
  • A completely renovated kitchen (I was so NOT about to do that myself)
  • A home office for me so that my kitchen counter doesn’t have to be my desk anymore
  • A front porch
  • A block house so we don’t have to worry about asbestos siding or termites
  • Laundry space (some houses we saw did not have a washer and dryer or any room to put them in)
  • Storage space (since most of the houses here were built in the 1910s, most of them don’t have the room and storage space for our lifestyle now)
  • A big enough closet for the both of us
  • And a safe neighborhood – I didn’t care to live in a neighborhood that is referred to as “up-and-coming.” I wanted to be in a neighborhood that I felt very safe comfortable in while walking a dog around by myself. Since many of the areas in St. Pete are still turning around, you’ll find beautiful, safe, charming streets, followed by a specific street that you have to be conscious to avoid.

You’ll notice that my list of “must-haves” was very reasonable. Sure there were still things that I wanted to have, but these were my absolutes and I wasn’t asking for a lot. I think most people would say they want to be in a safe neighborhood and have a floor plan that makes sense, but I was honestly starting to believe that it was impossible to find. That all those houses were snatched up leaving us with only one option: buy a run-down house and remodel the entire thing ourselves.

Added Bonuses:

Of course, the home DID exist and I’m writing to you from inside it right now. I realize how crazy it was thinking that there’s no way a home like this could be possible for us to find in St. Pete. Not only did we get every one of our must-haves, but we also got so much more!

  • A large walk-in closet with plenty of room for both of us. No more fighting over space!
  • A garage where we can store holiday decorations, our suitcases, and tools so that they’re not eating up our living space and indoor storage.
  • A wine fridge, which will be FULLY stocked with J. Lohr Chardonnay for whenever my mom comes to visit.
  • Lots of natural light that floods into the house in the morning.
  • A bar cart that the previous owner let us have which is now stocked and makes us feel super fancy. AND a narrow table in the kitchen she also gave to us that we use a coffee bar! Which means we have a designated space for coffee and drinks! Could there be anything more perfect than that?
  • A sliding barn door on the closet which looks super cool and sounds like a dungeon door every time we close and open it.
  • Dozens of blue jays that fly around our house and make me smile every time I look out the window. 
  • And a corner lot with lots of yard space!

What’s to Come?!

So, what’s to come now that we’re finally in our first home? Well, for starters, several house projects which we’re really looking forward to working on AND a lot of decorating! Since this is my first home, I’m so excited to make it my own and create space that makes me feel energized and happy. Here’s what’s to come!

  • A yard filled to capacity with greenery, wildflowers, and star jasmine
  • Full-on bohemian decorations and plants! I’ve been waiting for this day my whole life to turn a home into my own little boho paradise – carefully re-modeled after my Pinterest Boards.
  • A back patio with strobe lights hanging above the seating area and a fire pit to roast marshmallows.
  • Outdoor games since Matt and his best friend Pat have been very vocal that they need to be able to play backyard games.
  • An updated, completely remodeled bathroom that lucky for us, was miraculously completed by our contractor the day before we moved in! 
  • A dressing room style master closet with a large shoe rack, full-length mirror, and bench to sit down on.
  • A beautiful home office where I can have a designated spot to work on my blog and YouTube and have my future health coaching clients over!! I’m also planning on creating a small altar and meditation space so that I can have a spiritual practice without hearing “Seinfeld” or “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” playing in the background. (Sorry Matt, I love you.)
  • A custom garage door and new driveway (because for some reason one of the previous owners had sealed the garage door shut so you can’t get it open and an oak tree at the front of the property has done a tremendous job ripping up half the driveway!)
  • French doors that open out onto the patio so you don’t have to walk through the garage.

But of course, there’s so much more to come, now that we finally have a home and more than 600 square feet of space. The number one thing that we’re looking forward to is a puppy! I’m hoping that our puppy is just around the corner because I’m so beyond excited to be a dog mom. I’ve been waiting to be a dog mom my entire life! The breeds I’m the most in love with are Keeshonds, Pomskys, and Samoyeds. I’m obsessed with the fluff (:

And BEES! For those of you who don’t know, Matt has been wanting to become a beekeeper for years! I’m sure you can fully expect to hear more about our process of buying bees and learning how to make honey in the next year. I have a feeling it’s going to be a struggle but will be EXTREMELY entertaining. I’m picturing us walking around with smoke in our beekeeper outfits right now. Matt and I have even thought up the name for our future honey business that Matt blurted out to our friend Ray as a joke once, but we LOVE it. I’m not telling you what it is just yet!

Last but not least, getting married (: To all of our friends and family, I just want to say that YES we will get married someday and we will do that when we are ready! We’re already picking up on the not-so-subtle hints that people think we should get married since we have a house now. When we are ready to take that next step, it will happen!

I remember six months into dating Matt, I looked at him as we were leaving a Christmas concert one night and said, “I’m going to marry the sh*t out of you someday.” That has become one of the most memorable quotes and milestones in our relationship. We pretty much knew when we started dating that we were very committed to each other. 

For now, we would just really love to enjoy THIS milestone before jumping to the next one simply because people think that’s what we’re “supposed” to do. Moving and buying a house is already a big project and undertaking, you can bet that I’m not going to throw wedding planning into the mix just yet!

I’m Incredibly Grateful

I’m so incredibly grateful that we’re in this home right now. This is just another example of the Law of Attraction in my life. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent dreaming and doing visitation mediations years ago about having a home in Florida. I can’t tell you how many times I scanned Pinterest staring at houses and decorations. And I can’t tell you how much time I spent thinking about the freedom and happiness it would bring me to have a HOME that I could share with someone. This is just another example of how powerful and real manifestation is.

It also goes to show that when you stop forcing something to happen that you want and finally RELAX and trust in the universe, it will happen! The only thing that you have to do is focus on what you want and it will come to you. But the HOW is the domain of the universe. Trying to force something is not going to work.

The second reason why I feel grateful is that we don’t have to pour ungodly amounts of money into renting anymore. Now we have a home that we can invest in instead of throwing money away. That only is worth celebrating!

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

As always thank you for coming to Lost Online! I hope you enjoyed this peak into our first home! Once our home has come together a bit more, I’ll be sharing how we’re decorating our beautiful bohemian home, where the ideas came from, and where we found our favorite pieces! For now, we’ll be busy getting it all together!

A special shout out to that adorable fur baby, Luka June for deciding she wanted in on our celebration and photoshoot too! Luka is Ray’s dog and another member of a little “Beer Brigade,” as we call it. Ray, Matt, Luka and I spend weekends shooting for the blog, coming up with photo concepts and drinking craft beer! (Well, Luka doesn’t drink the beer). Together, the four of us make up the Beer Brigade!

Lastly, I just want to share that if you’re a Lost Online reader than you’re aware that I often make announcements on the blog like, “The Start of a New Chapter: Why I’m Studying to Become a Certified Health Coach” or “I’m Seeing a Therapist + How I Discovered I Had Depression & Why I’m Thankful For It.” I created this blog post because making announcements is something that I do regularly and because this is a HUGE milestone in my life. I want to enjoy this, I want to share it with my tribe, and I want to sit here and reflect on this milestone in my favorite way – through writing. 

It would make me so sad if there was someone reading who took this post thinking that I created it with the intention of bragging. I’m just over here doing what us bloggers do – writing about our experiences. I’m also sharing this with you because part of my purpose with my blog and coaching practice is to show people that the Law of Attraction is real and to inspire them to incorporate it into their own lives! It’s mind-blowing what manifestation can bring to you. I would LOVE it if my story could inspire you and help you transform your own life.

Before you head out, let me know what you think in the comments! Can you relate to my experience with house hunting? Did this blog post leave you with any thoughts or takeaways? Do you already have a house or are you still daydreaming about your future home someday? What do you want in your future home? Can you think of your own advice for first time home buyers? OR do you have a similar manifestation experience you’d like to share!

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that “+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

I Want To Start a Blog But… 14 Limiting Beliefs of New Bloggers + How to Overcome Them

Digital Dilemma, Self-Help

If you’re reading this blog post today, I take it that you would also like to be a blogger yourself. But you can’t bring yourself to do it for whatever reason. Trust me, I’m not a stranger to the number of excuses you create for yourself when you’re afraid to take the leap and follow your dream, especially when part of your dream involves blogging. I wanted to be a blogger every single day for over FIVE YEARS before I finally launched this website. And in those five years, I think I came up with every excuse in the world as to why I couldn’t do it.

While blogging may look like tons of fun as a reader, it can be SUPER intimidating at first to start your own blog. Part of the reason is that there’s so much that you have to learn if you want to be a “successful” blogger. But the main reason why I think it’s so intimidating to take it up is that you have to be vulnerable in a very public way. You’re not just sharing a photo of yourself online with a quick caption. You have to write from the heart and share details of yourself that maybe no one even knows about you (at least if you want to be a personal blogger). 

Maybe you’re in that same place right now, that place I was in for five years coming up with every excuse I could think of to prevent me from embarrassing myself in front of everyone I knew by creating a site and sharing the real me. So this blog is for you: the person out there who desperately wants to be a blogger or even a YouTuber and is scared out of their mind to take the leap and just do it. These are the top 14 limiting beliefs of first-time bloggers, followed by my advice at the end on how to overcome them. Let’s get into it!

1. I’m too late

If you’re like me, one of the top excuses for holding yourself back could be, “But I’m too late!” I get it, it’s almost 2020 and it seems like everyone and their mother has a blog at this point. So how could we possibly be successful when we’re just starting, right? Here’s the thing, I do believe that content creators who started blogs and YouTube Channels YEARS ago, did have such an advantage. Not many people were doing it back then. There wasn’t this crazy amount of content like there is now. It was far easier to stand out, get noticed, get engagement, and attract followers and subscribers. The people who started blogging back when no one understood it were smart.

However, just because you didn’t start back then, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be successful if you’re just starting now. That’s like saying you can’t possibly open up a successful business NOW because you’re too late. Why start a restaurant or a coffee shop now when McDonalds and Starbucks already exists, right? No. You would never say that.

Here’s the thing: yes there are super successful bloggers out there who have gone on to create podcasts, books, and businesses left and right, but being a new blogger has one major advantage that those big-time bloggers don’t have. Have you noticed that in the last couple of years there’s this disgust and animosity towards influencers? People everywhere went from LOVING influencers to HATING them almost instantly and blaming them for body image issues, pressure for likes, and low self-esteem. I think part of this is because of jealousy: people wish they were one of the lucky few who get to live a cushy life just for posting about themselves online. But the main reason I think this happened is because people lost touch with influencers and bloggers. They grew too big, developed a perfect brand, and posted ads online weekly. Not to mention their life always looks SO freaking perfect. The average person doesn’t connect with that anymore.

People are sick of “influencers” and big-time bloggers. They want something real, authentic, and fresh. That’s where you come in. Starting a blog NOW isn’t a bad thing. It’s actually good because you’ve been on social media for several years at this point. Your friends and followers know you, they like you, and they see you as a REAL person. Just because you’re not a popular blogger right now, doesn’t mean that people won’t be attracted to what you have to say. You’ll be starting in a new wave of influencers that people trust and connect with more.

2. I don’t know ___(fill in the blank)___

“But Heather! I don’t know jack sh*t about SEO, or designing graphics, or getting readers, or utilizing Pinterest, or building an email list!”

I always say that building a website is very much like starting a business. You have to learn all of these odd things that you never even thought you would have to do. You have to learn how to write, design graphics, create new web pages, get more readers, build a social media following, learn to code, learn SEO (search engine optimization), create automated emails, and so much more. It’s a whole thing. But guess what? No one knew any of that crap before starting a blog. It’s impossible to know how to do any of those things without ever having done them before! You can’t possibly know how to do SEO or code when you’ve never done it or been taught it before. 

Let me fill you in on a secret, I don’t know most of that crap either. It’s embarrassing how little I know about that side of blogging. I’m two years into this and I still have SO much to learn and master. I just write because I want to! I finally stopped telling myself that I had to know everything there was to know about blogging before I created my website because that mindset is bullsh*t. It’s beyond ridiculous that we tell ourselves we have to be a genius at something before we’ve even begun. You learn those things as you go. You learn them on the job. 

I actually just connected with two different women last week who are going to teach me SEO, automated emails, and how to create ebooks. I’m still learning! But the fact that I’m HERE, showing up, and writing every week proves to people that I want to learn and makes them want to help me! These things take time, but you will find help and learn these things eventually. 

3. I don’t have a photographer 

One of the big reasons why I wouldn’t let myself start a blog for so long is because I didn’t have a photographer. All of the “successful” bloggers have FLAWLESS photos that seem never-ending. The concepts are incredible, they have tons of props and outfits, and they regularly stage photos for things like holidays. For that reason, the photography aspect of blogging could be the most intimidating. People like photos and they expect high-quality now.

But this is another limiting belief of new bloggers because we expect that of ourselves right off the bat. We expect the website to look incredible, even when it’s brand spanking new and we have no experience. But I can say with absolute certainty that you will find a photographer eventually. 

How am I so sure? Well, there’s this magical thing called synchronicity! It’s when the universe lines people, places, and things up that appear as simple coincidences but are all happening for a reason. I just so happened to meet my friend and photographer, Ray Reyes, through a photographer that I used to work with in St. Augustine who simply wanted to see Ray and I work together. Ray was looking to get out of a creative funk, and I was looking for help with my website. When we met up for coffee, neither one of us knew how close we would become or how much we would end up helping each other out over the last year. And as you might know by now, I’m a believer in the Law of Attraction. I believe that if you’re working on your passion, thinking about it, and dreaming about it, the universe will draw exactly what you need to you like a magnet. That’s exactly what I believe happened with Ray and me. Neither one of us went searching for the other, we ending up connecting accidentally and it’s been a creative match made in heaven. (I’m picturing him reading this right now and laughing at me).

If you’re not into a spiritual explanation, think about it like this. When you’re a creative person who is working on projects like blogs and talking about them with other people, you will start to meet people who share the same interests as you or want to help you. Creatives LOVE collaborating and helping each other. After all, no one follows their artistic passions to make money. Hell no. Any creator will tell you that they do it just because they love it. I’m just now starting to build up a network of other creatives and entrepreneurs so that we can support each other, collaborate, and help each other grow. It didn’t happen overnight, but it will happen for you in time. So don’t panic if you don’t have someone like a photographer to help you before you’ve even built a website. Build the site, start writing, keep an open mind, and network with people. You’ll have help soon. 

In the meantime, use things like Canva to create graphics or use websites that allow you to use photos for free. Whatever you do don’t EVER pick some random image off Google to slap on your blog. There are actually people that post photos of Google and wait for bloggers to steal them and use on their own websites, JUST so they could sue them. I recently read a story about a woman who was sued $9,000 because she used a random photo of a pepper on her blog post.

4. It’s scary! What will people think of me?

If you’re reading this blog post today, there’s a good chance that one of the reasons you’re holding yourself back from creating your blog (or even YouTube Channel) is because you’re scared about what other people will think of you. I understand this fear more than you could know. This is a very real and reasonable fear. When you’re first starting a blog, it’s awkward as all hell. You create this website for the first time and all of your friends, family, and followers go look at it and wonder, “What the hell is this? Why do they have a blog all of the sudden?” Or “Oh God, not ANOTHER blogger.”

Not only is blogging something that is blasting you out of your comfort zone but if it’s a personal blog, then it also forces you to open up and be vulnerable on a very public platform. A platform that any co-worker, friend, neighbor, or acquaintance can find. After the first several personal, introspective blog posts, you might even be left with a vulnerability hangover – that rush of shame and regret after opening up and sharing your weaknesses with others. But just like anything else in the world, it gets easier the more you do it.

Hell, I shared pictures of my face after a chemical peel where I was shedding my skin like a snake! Check out my blog post, The Jessner Chemical Peel, if you’re interested in learning about my chemical peel experience, results, and recommendations. Or hey! Remember that time when I opened up about how I’d been experiencing depression for all of 2019 even WHILE being a self-help blogger. Make sure to check out that blog, “I’m Seeing a Therapist + How I Discovered I Had Depression & Why I’m Thankful For It,” If you’d like to learn about that.

When I first started Lost Online, I used to only share posts about social media and was scared to open up and show the real, unfiltered ME. I was so afraid of people knowing the real me – The real Heather who struggles with self-sabotage, lost my hair at 19 from birth control, and believes in things like universal signs and the Law of Attraction. Now, look how far I’ve come! I would have never in a million years imagined that I could talk about those things so publicly. I was so scared that people would learn all of this information about me and end up thinking, “This girl is f*cking weird.” But you know, if they do think that, they don’t tell me. The only messages I receive are positive ones.

The point is, anything is new and scary, foreign, and uncomfortable in the beginning, but with each post, you gain more and more confidence. You find your voice, you discover what you’re passionate about, and you even start to get messages from people sharing how inspiring you are to them! As I’m writing this, I just got an email from someone who wanted to reach out and tell me that my blog is “amazeballs.” So don’t be scared of what other people think! There are millions of people out there who share the same beliefs, interests, and hobbies as you do. THOSE people will become your readers. And if your blog is not someone’s cup of tea, they won’t read it! 

5. I can’t make money blogging

Another major limiting belief that holds people back from starting a blog is that they have NO idea how to make money doing it. I’m sure you’re familiar with that recurring thought that pops up into your head saying, “Why should I start a blog now? I have no idea how I’m going to earn an income from this.” I have a few points I want you to takeaway to stop this thought from eating away at you.

First things first, you don’t have to. You don’t have to make money doing this. You can simply start a blog just because you want to and just because it’s fun. It doesn’t have to be anything more than that. It’s important to understand that this can just be a hobby. You shouldn’t feel pressure to be the next Jenna Kutcher because you’re starting a blog. The important thing is that you like it and it brings you joy. Just as the book “Big Magic” taught me, our creative projects don’t have to pay our bills.

The second point you should take away is that there are several ways to make money as a blogger, you’ll just have to discover which ones you want to do. You can email companies asking for sponsored posts, you could partner with brands and create campaigns, you could create a product line, you could sell ebooks, you could earn money through advertisements on your website, or you could use your website to attract clients (depending on what you write about or what business you have). And if you’re struggling with the financial side of it like I am, hire a business coach to help you take the next steps and earn some money! Because if you do want to earn a living doing this work, it’s more than possible. 

6. I don’t know what I would write about 

One common limiting belief that I hear from other women who want to start blogging is one that I also struggled with for those five years before I started Lost Online: “I have no idea what to write about.” That belief is what made me start several blogs that went nowhere because I was trying to be someone else. 

I was trying to write posts that I thought people expected of young women, which were the beauty-related posts. I remember the first blog I ever wrote back in my sophomore year of college was a teeth whitening recipe! At the time I only knew of beauty bloggers and YouTubers, there wasn’t this big self-help and spirituality wave of bloggers that I see now… or maybe I just didn’t know there was. This belief of mine that I had to be a beauty blogger in order to blog kept me from discovering what I really cared to write about. 

Until one day walking around my college campus, I finally had enough. I was sick of wasting time telling myself that I couldn’t do something I had dreamed about for five years, that I asked myself one simple question: “What could I write about for a year straight and never get bored?” Instantly I answered, “Digital media and the effects it has on the developing mind.” I had gotten “Lost Online” and wanted to help other people navigate the challenges that come from spending most of our time scrolling online.

I started writing about that, and before I knew it, I was starting to write more personal posts and get into the self-help realm. Now my blog has become about self-help and wellness to help people navigate all of the challenges that come with our modern-day lifestyle. But that wouldn’t have happened unless I had started writing about SOMETHING that I cared about, even if that wasn’t going to be the concept I stuck with forever. And guess what? You won’t stick with that concept forever! Your blog is a reflection of you and it’s going to change as you grow. So don’t get too focused on what you think you should be writing about, and just write. Write about what you care about right now, and it will all come together.

7. I don’t know where to learn about blogging

The most stressful thing about blogging is that there’s no blogging and content creation school to go to where people teach your SEO, coding, graphic design, how to make online ads, how to build an email list, how to create a sales funnel, a trailer for yourself, products, a podcast, ebooks, how to network with other other creatives, etc. It can feel like you’re all alone. You’re surrounded by this sea of questions and meanwhile, every blogger that you know of is getting brand sponsorships, clients, and creating massive amounts of content. Let me know in the comments if you agree!

I went to school for advertising, public relations, and communications and I was never taught ANY of those things. Sure I was taught about the IMPORTANCE of SEO, email lists, social media ads, and newsletters, but did any of my classes teach me how to do those things? Nope. It can be a lot to learn on your own. But don’t freak out. (We can’t have both of us freaking out at the same time.)

There are a couple of ways I’ve learned to help me through all of the confusion and stress that comes up when trying to start a blog and a business. One thing that I started doing was listening to podcasts. Yes, videos and articles can help you learn about blogging, but podcasts are BETTER. The reason being is that there are podcasts where the hosts do nothing but interview bloggers on how they found success and made money doing what they love. In one podcast you can learn all about how someone found success, hear about the technical side of blogging, and get step by step breakdown of how that person became a full-time blogger. 

The next thing that’s been incredibly helpful with this limiting belief is networking. I recently went to a Mastermind in Tampa where I met about a dozen women who are all entrepreneurs, authors, bloggers, health coaches, etc. I was surrounded by these women who all wanted to create a career for themselves doing what they love and be their own boss. They were incredible women and of course, they all had their own limiting beliefs, struggles, weaknesses, etc. And what we all realized that weekend was how much we could all help each other. We all have skills that someone else needs help in. I ended up connecting with all of them on Instagram and now I have coffee dates with a few of the girls to learn more about how we can support each other in our dreams and help each other with the tasks that we struggle with. I HIGHLY encourage you to go to events like this and meet people. You’ll find so much support and connection and be able to learn about things in person and ask in-depth questions. 

The last thing that’s helped me with this limiting belief is hiring a business coach. By hiring a coach, I now have someone to teach me how to do things like create ebooks or automated emails AND to break these things into baby steps so that it all gets done and doesn’t seem so scary and intimidating. My business coach also has a network of women who she can turn to ask questions and get resources that I need if we’re ever stumped.

8. I don’t know what to call it

Isn’t it funny how when you want to do something like start a blog, you can spend weeks obsessing about a name when in reality there are FAR more important things you should focus on? It’s kind of like whenever I had a test while I was growing up, I would suddenly get the urge to work out or clean my room whenever it was time to study. Obsessing over the name is just another fun way that our brains discover as a way to procrastinate. It’s something that we can blame for having not started when the real thing that’s holding us back is fear. 

Yes, the blog name is important, but it’s not THAT important. I drove myself crazy trying to come up with names for years. I was so caught up on it without realizing that the name could be changed at any time. The blog name is NOT set in stone, especially if you’re brand new! So don’t let that small detail prevent you from moving forward. If you know what you want to write about, spend a day (ONE day) brainstorming ideas. And if it’s a personal blog, don’t be afraid to have your name be the name of your website! It’s your personal brand and personal blog, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. 

9. I’m not a good writer

I’ve heard several different women share with me at this point that they fear they’re not good enough of a writer to have their own blog. They find their writing embarrassing and usually think back to their high school English paper grades which instilled this belief that they don’t know how to write. But to those people I always say, “I don’t think I’m a good writer either!”

Sure, I got A’s and B’s on papers when I was growing up, but I wouldn’t consider myself particularly GOOD at writing, especially when it comes to creative writing. I’d say my writing is “decent” or “ok.” Yet anyone who reads my blog tells me that I’m a great writer. I always find it funny when I get that feedback from people because I’m pretty sure my old English teachers would cry if they read my blog. I don’t always use correct grammar, I have no idea how to do AP style, I curse frequently, I write “lol” in posts, and I often start sentences with words like “and,” “but,” or “because.” 

So there you have it, I don’t think I’m a good writer and I don’t think you have to be a “good” writer either. To write a blog, you just have to be able to write conversationally. That’s why people like my writing. It’s not because I’m JK Rowling. It’s because my writing is real, it’s easy to read, and it’s the same words that would come out of my mouth if you and I were talking about this over coffee instead of you reading this. You don’t have to be a fabulous writer to pursue this, you only have to be able to write conversationally and ENJOY writing.

10. I’m not interesting enough

One thing that really held me back from pursuing any form of content creation is that I thought that I wasn’t interesting enough. And if you haven’t started a blog yet, there’s a good chance that you might feel this way too. That you’re somehow boring or ordinary and that people won’t want to hear what you have to say. So let’s shut this limiting belief done immediately. YOU ARE INTERESTING. I promise.

It doesn’t matter if rude people called you basic, or boring, or lame while you were growing up. It doesn’t matter what that one person who’s just too cool for you has to say. You are interesting. To readers out there, you’re one of the most interesting people on the planet. You may not have a solid group around you who cares about the same topics you do or is as excited about them as you are, but your future readers will be. And they’ll think you’re amazing for having started a blog and written about a topic that they care about too. 

I used to think that I had to look a certain way for people to be interested in me or care about what I had to say. I thought I’d have to have bright colored hair, tons of tattoos and piercings, and a hipster wardrobe for people to think I was interesting and want to read something I had written. These are all limiting beliefs. None of it is true. No one is going to be thinking, “This girl (or guy) isn’t interesting enough to write a blog.” People will connect with you because of your personality and passions. What matters is that you write about what you care about, create helpful content, and come up with interesting concepts. 

11. There’s already people who blog about the same thing

I think there’s a good chance that this could be the number one limiting belief of new bloggers. Because if you want to start a blog, I bet you can think of several other bloggers who write about the exact same things that you want to write about.

Yes, everything has already been done before, BUT it hasn’t been done by you. Everything has already been said before, BUT it hasn’t been said by you. While other people may be writing the same thing as you and have found success and subscribers, the way that you relay your message and share your story will resonate with people differently. You’re going to attract people that resonate with you as a person, who may not connect with the other bloggers who are out there now.

If you’re still not convinced, think about it this way: There are thousands, if not millions of self-help and wellness bloggers out there, and yet here you are on MY website. You could have gone anywhere, but at this point, you probably subscribe to my blog, relate to me and my story, and enjoy the way that I write. Something about my blog resonates with YOU. But I’m sure you could find similar blogs out there about this same topic. There are plenty of readers to go around.

12. I have to take a course first 

I’ve noticed that with people who want to be in wellness or content creation there’s this limiting belief that we never know enough information to start. We undervalue ourselves so much and think that we just need one more class, one more certificate, or one more program to finally start. Before I started Lost Online, I got into my head that I had to take an SEO course, a coding course, a writing course, and a photography course to start blogging – Which is all 110% FALSE. 

You are smart. You have everything you need right now to create a WordPress website and start writing about what you care about. You don’t need another certificate or program to try to prove your worth to you. It’s just a fancy and expensive way that we self-sabotage, undervalue ourselves, and procrastinate. If you’re waiting to start a blog until you finish an extra course or program, know that it’s not going to suddenly give you the courage to spread your wings and do what you want to do.

If there’s a program that you’re dying to be in and you genuinely want to do like the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) was for me, then do it. But if you’re telling yourself that you can’t start blogging because you need a certificate first, you’re mistaken. That certificate is just a way to put off starting today. 

13. What if it never amounts to anything?

Of course, no list of limiting beliefs is complete without the fear of crashing and burning, right? Another top limiting belief that new bloggers have is the overwhelming feeling that they’re going to be unsuccessful and that the entire blog would be nothing but a humiliating waste of time if you can’t generate enough traffic or make money eventually.

Let me tell you, I would rather pursue my dream and “fail” by not making money at it than to not pursue it at all. Sure it seems trendy and cool to be “a blogger” and make money off of your own website and social media platforms, but it doesn’t HAVE to amount to anything. Your blog doesn’t have to reach 20 million readers and generate enough income to pay your bills. What’s important is that you like it and you have a good time doing it!

No one will judge you if you don’t become an incredibly popular, full-time blogger. Why? Because you’re the only one who’s setting those expectations for yourself. And if I’m being completely honest, people will have no idea whether it’s considered to be “successful” or not. They’ll assume that as long as the blog is going, you’re kicking *ss at it! So who cares if nothing big ever comes out of it as long as it makes you happy and you like doing it?

14. I need a huge readership to earn money as a blogger

And last but not least, the ever so popular myth that you have to have a giant readership to make money as a blogger. Not true. Remember what I said before about how people don’t connect with mega-influencers anymore? People are attracted to PEOPLE! They’re going to buy products and read posts from someone they like, resonate with, and admire now more-so than the established influencers. And in 2019 and 2020, BRANDS KNOW THIS. More companies are shifting their focus and working with “micro-influencers.” Micro-influencers are people with a following of several hundred or several thousand followers. The reason being that these followers know and trust the influencer more. It’s a carefully curated group of followers with similar interests as you. 

You no longer need a huge following to earn money as a blogger. You need a small, loyal fanbase. These people are far more likely to listen to what you have to say, care about you, trust you, and want to support you. They’re more likely to buy your products, become your clients, read your posts, etc. So let go of this belief that you have to be a super famous blogger to make a living!

My Top Advice for Beginner Bloggers: 

I hope you enjoyed my top 14 limiting beliefs of new bloggers, and learned how to work through each belief to finally move forward and built the website you’ve been wanting to for so long. I created this post today because I’ve heard so many girls say to me, “I wish I could start a blog, but…” followed by their limiting belief. It makes me sad whenever I hear girls share their beliefs with me that it’s too late, or they don’t know something, or they don’t know how to make money. Because I don’t have all the answers either, but here I am writing a blog. And I want so badly to help them gain the confidence that they need to finally take the leap and start their own blog. I’m hoping that the advice I shared above helped get rid of those beliefs that keep us paralyzed from even starting on our dreams.

Now that you have some more confidence back and don’t feel so intimidated about blogging, I wanted to leave you with my TOP pieces of advice for starting your blog. This advice is designed for the person who is ready to take the leap and create their website so you can go into it with the right mindset. 

1. Just start and get used to it

If you really want to start a blog but keep holding yourself back, I encourage you to go to WordPress, or Squarespace, or Wix right now, and just START a website. Because oftentimes just starting the website and picking a domain and template is the hardest part. Kind of like how getting dressed for the gym is harder than actually going to the gym. It seems like a bigger deal than it is, but once you get started it’s fun and you don’t mind it!

Just start the website now, for yourself (not for anyone else). Start it without any expectations and without any plan to share it with people. Just build the website and start writing in it FOR YOU so you can at least get used to it. That’s the best piece of advice I could give you. Why? Because you don’t know if you even like blogging yet! You haven’t even played around with it, found your tone, or uncovered your core concept. Just build the site without any expectations, write something, and see what you think. Get used to having a blog and get used to writing. Don’t try to go full steam ahead and try to be the best blogger in the world immediately. Because the truth is that you might hate doing it. The first blog I started smacked me with the realization that blogging was a lot of work and required a lot of time to write, and I wasn’t ready for it. I didn’t want to do extra writing at that point in my life and I didn’t even know who I was enough to write to an audience. By the time I started Lost Online I felt ready and was super excited to sit down and write regular blog posts. So just start the blog and see what happens. Because you may enjoy it, or honestly you may hate it. But you won’t know until you try.

2. Don’t share it right away!

I see this same mistake again and again and again in my Instagram feed. So often people start a blog, write the “About Me” page, share it ALL OVER social media, write ONE blog post, and never touch it again. It makes me cringe when people do that. 

There was a time when I counted eight different girls from my school who all started a blog in the same semester, none of whom published more than two blogs. And that’s fine! They didn’t like it! But why blast it out to everyone you know on social media when you don’t even know if you really want to have a blog and put in the work? 

Just because you created a website, doesn’t mean you have to share it with everyone immediately. I built several websites before this one and they went nowhere because I wasn’t committed to them and hadn’t found my voice or my core concept. I’m so glad that I didn’t subject everyone to all of my trial run blogs before I made this one. Because if I did, I don’t think people would have taken this website seriously. Even when I had Lost Online, I didn’t share it publicly until I had the blog for nine months and published over a dozen blog posts on it. 

I highly recommend doing this same thing and waiting until you have about 10 posts up before you share it with everyone you know online. It makes it FAR less awkward. When you share a blog with a good amount of content on it for the first time, it actually impresses people. It shows that you cared and you put a lot of thought and work into it and your followers will be excited and interested in it.

Taking that time to put some thought into it, find your voice, practice writing, and put some touches on the website is what will set you apart from the girls who get eye rolls for starting a blog and makes you a girl who gets subscribers.

3. View your blog as a hobby and/or portfolio

As I mentioned before, I wanted to start a blog for years before I started this one. My big issue with starting it was I had no idea how to become “successful” and I was putting WAY too much pressure on my blogs from the beginning. I was expecting my websites to be flawless and look like Jenna Kutcher’s. I was expecting myself to have massive engagement right away and brand sponsors left and right.

Then I ended up taking a digital media class in college where my professor felt so strongly about the importance of having a blog as a communication major. She told us that employers love to see that communications students have a blog for many different reasons. It helps them get to know YOU, what you care about, and what kind of person you are beyond a LinkedIn Profile, it also acts as a portfolio, and best of all it shows that you’re a hard worker. She told us over and over again that semester that having a blog is the best thing you can to do help you get a job after graduation. For employers, it shows that you’re somebody who come backs every single week to write an article without anyone telling you to. That one habit proves that you’re committed, that you’re a hard worker, and that you have a project to do in your free time (you’re not just another college student who spends all their free time drinking).

When my professor shared that piece of knowledge with me, that was the exact advice I needed. It was the perfect logic so that I could trick my brain and get out of this mindset that I had to be successful at blogging. Instead, I started to approach blogging as a portfolio and a hobby. I was working on a project that would make me hirable after graduation and I discovered that I loved writing for pleasure and hitting that gorgeous blue “Publish” button whenever I could. 

So if you’re brand new to blogging, my advice to you is the same that my professor gave me back in college. Create a blog as a portfolio and a hobby, not as a way to become the next superstar blogger. It’ll take the pressure off you and allow you to have fun in the beginning and get into the habit of writing.

Side Note: I also don’t want to forget that my digital media professor was right! My blog did help me land jobs after college. I put my blog on my resume, LinkedIn, and Indeed and every interview that I went to the interviewer told me that they read my blog and that they were impressed with it. They also would always say, “Oh I loved that blog that you wrote about…” It was a great conversation starter and they were obviously impressed. It also helped me connect with employers on personal topics like spirituality, self-help, and social media use so I’ve had deeper conversations during job interviews because of it.

4. Give yourself some grace

My next piece of advice to you, and probably the most important piece of advice, is to give yourself some grace. Know that no one has ever known how to do this work right off the bat. Blogging is a completely unique and brand new career path, and sadly there’s no blogger school that you can attend to learn everything that you need to know. 

So before you get yourself in a frenzy and try to do it all at once (before you pull a Heather) understand that starting a blog is one massive learning process. You have to learn how to design graphics, get readers, utilize SEO, get engagement on social media, create automated emails, create a downloadable freebie, etc. It’s no small task. So give yourself some grace and know that it’s going to take a LONG time before you figure it all out. The best thing you can do is relax about it, take your time, and know that it will all get done eventually.

5. Wherever you are in the process, that’s completely fine

Whether you haven’t started your blog yet, started a blog and didn’t do anything with it, or have had a blog going for years – that’s completely fine. Don’t get wrapped up in where someone else is at with their website or where you think you should be with it. Be proud of whatever stage you’re at! 

Maybe you just figured out your name for the site, or just created a WordPress or Squarespace account, or started building your site, or if you just posted your first blog or your 100th blog – be proud of where you are in your blogging journey. Because I promise you, someone is looking at you right now wishing that they were as far ahead as you. So celebrate every single one of those tiny milestones because each one of them is amazing and is progress towards your long-term goals.

6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

My last final piece of advice before I wrap up this post today is to not be afraid to ask for help with your website. The longer you have a blog the more work you’ll realize that it is. It’s like starting up a business. No one can do it on their own. That’s why all of the “successful,” full-time bloggers have an entire team of people behind them. So when the time comes, don’t be afraid to ask someone for help. 

You can do this by hiring an intern or a business coach, hiring a creative from Upwork, hiring a social media strategist, networking with other content creators and learning how you can help each other, and attending masterminds and conferences. You won’t be able to do this all on your own forever, so don’t be afraid to ask for help ESPECIALLY if you find yourself getting burnt out or really loathing one part of blogging. For example, I can’t stand creating Pinterest graphics, so my coach and I are working on finding someone to create Pinterest graphics and captions for me. You want to make sure that this type of work is fun, exciting, and energizing for you because if you’re hating parts of it and getting burnt out, you’re going to either give up or lose readers because they’ll be able to tell when you’re not enjoying the process.

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

As always, thank you so much for coming to Lost Online. I know exactly what it’s to be on the other side of starting a blog and having your mind filled with limiting beliefs as to why you can’t do it. My only wish is that someone out there read this and finally broke through that fear-based mindset and started their very own blog. Let me know if you do! I would LOVE to hear from you. 

Before you head out, remember to let me know your thoughts in the comments! Do you want to start a blog? How long have you been wanting to start a blog? What do you want your blog to be about? Did any of these limiting beliefs sound familiar to you? Are there any limiting beliefs that you have that I didn’t mention above? Which piece of advice helped you the most? If you could come up with your own advice for new bloggers, what would it be?

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that “+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto

Put it in the Suggestion Box: I Need an Advice Detox

Self-Help, Spirituality

Hold onto your seats guys! This one’s a doozy. Pull up a chair, grab your blue light glasses, and pour yourself a cup of coffee.

This is a blog post I’ve been wanting to write for some time now, but have always stopped myself from writing out of fear that it may come across too pessimistic. But after careful consideration, I decided to do it anyway. Partially because I was lucky enough to meet someone who has had a strikingly similar experience as me. And since then I started to think, maybe I’m not the only one who struggles with this issue… Maybe this is something that’s brewing inside of many of us, but we don’t talk about it out of fear that other people will think we’re too negative, overly angry, or overly sensitive. So here it is. 

This is a post that I’ve created to share my life-long struggle with other people’s opinions about how I “should” live my life. I’ll be sharing my experience with overly opinionated people pushing me to live my life according to their values and opinions leading up to WHY this matters. NOT just for me, but for everyone. I dive into this social issue and explore why I believe this is so prevalent in our interactions, how age and gender play into it, and end with a spiritual reason for this tense energy we’re finding in the 21st century. I also share the important takeaways that I believe we need to hear NOW more than ever so that we can all finally live in a world where we’re allowed to break away from the mold and be different! Where we’re allowed to choose a different path, pursue our interests without judgment, and live according to our personal values. Let’s get into it!

My Story 

I’ve been a bit unfortunate to have figures in my life who are extremely opinionated about virtually every aspect of my life – from the food I eat, the house I buy and to the fact that I want a dog! I’ve had unwarranted opinions thrown at me to the point where it’s become the most talked-about issue during my therapy sessions. And according to my therapist, I’m not the only woman who has had an experience like this (but we’ll get to that later).

Because after 24 years of every important figure in my life having an opinion about how I should live and what I “should” and “shouldn’t” do, I’ve reached max capacity for other people’s “advice.” I’ve been forced again and again to live according to other people’s standards that I can’t take any more input.

Here’s what I mean…

The earliest piece of “advice” or rather opinions that I remember getting as a child about how I “should” live was when an estranged family member told me that I shouldn’t study cosmetology and open up a salon someday, even though that was my life-long dream. Instead, he told me that I should marry a rich man from the country club to take care of me. True story. “You’re not going to CUT HAIR!” he said to me. “How are you going to take care of yourself!? How are you going to buy groceries!?”

Fast forward to my most recent example which happened today (the day I started writing this post). I went to Home Goods to make several big purchases like an office chair and a chair for our living room. I must have told the woman at the register 10 times that I DIDN’T want to open up a credit card, but she wouldn’t listen to me. She felt that I needed to have a Home Goods credit card SO BADLY because SHE loves HER Home Goods credit card. Therefore, I should have one too!

She kept calling me “crazy” over and over again for not wanting to open up the credit card and actually wouldn’t let me buy my furniture any other way! Can you believe that?! Never has someone turned away my money at a cash register before! I was trapped at the register and then ganged up on by two female cashiers who refused to run my card to pay for my purchases. For whatever reason, they felt that I needed to have this credit card and wouldn’t listen to me no matter how much I said that I didn’t want one. Finally, I choked back tears at the cash register as I was forced to open up a card I never wanted (without even hearing the “rewards” or “benefits” of a Home Goods card).

For as long as I can remember I’ve been pressured into making certain decisions and hearing people’s so-called “advice” without being respected at all. From the color that I choose to paint my walls, to the dog I get, to the credit cards I open, to the college degree I chose to pursue, I’ve been bulldozed by others. Sometimes it’s the people who are closest to me, and sometimes it’s strangers. 

This is an issue that has plagued me for as long as I can remember. From the time when I was a child, to even today as I go about purchasing my furniture or home.

I’m not talking about friendly advice that one person passes onto another. I’m talking about someone inserting themselves into my life decisions and refusing to respect my opinion. I’m talking about having to full-on defend myself for months over a choice that I made that doesn’t impact the other person. I’m referring to “advice” like this:

  • “You shouldn’t get a dog. You’ll regret it. Sometimes I wish I didn’t have my dog.”
  • “You shouldn’t get a Samoyed.” (Even though that’s the breed I’ve wanted for a decade)
  • “You shouldn’t move to St. Pete. You should live in Hyde Park instead. That’s where I would live.”
  • “You should buy a house.”
  • “You shouldn’t buy a house.”
  • “You shouldn’t buy THAT mattress, you should get the ______ mattress instead.”
  • “You shouldn’t get your Apple Watch at the Apple store, you should get it at Best Buy.”
  • “You shouldn’t paint your walls white, that’s boring. It’ll just look washed out.” (Even though that’s MY style)
  • “You shouldn’t quit your job. You should wait a year until you get a promotion.”
  • “You shouldn’t go to Europe, you might land a six-figure job at Louis Vuitton.” (This one still confuses me)
  • “You shouldn’t study cosmetology.” (Even though that was my life-long dream since I was 4-years-old)
  • “You should go to business school.”
  • “You shouldn’t move to Florida, you should stay in Wisconsin and finish your degree.” (Even though I have severe seasonal affective disorder)
  • “You should break up with your boyfriend, he seems TOO into you.” (Ummmm it’s called love, and isn’t that a good thing?)
  • “You should eat dairy.” (Even though I’m lactose intolerant) 
  • “You should at least eat butter.” (Yep, still lactose intolerant over here)
  • “You should be on birth control.” (Even though it made me lactose intolerant, severely depressed, and made me lose my hair!) “It doesn’t matter, you should still be on a low dose of birth control.”

These are just a few examples of the opinions I’m talking about. Maybe you can relate?

“Why do you care, Heather?”

From talking with other people about this issue, I’m starting to notice a pattern in how men and women respond to this problem. When I voice this struggle with women, they tend to agree with my frustration. They may or may not have the same experience as me, but they understand how someone blatantly disrespecting my life’s choices is infuriating. When I talk about this with men, their response is, “Why do you care?”

For example, one night when I was venting to a friend about opinions someone said to me about what my family “should” and “shouldn’t” be doing during the most difficult year of their lives (apparently we’re making all of our life decisions wrong) he looked at me, turned his head to the side, furrowed his eyebrows and said, “My question to you is, why do you care? What does it matter to you what someone else thinks?”

And I’m willing to bet there’s someone else reading this post now, thinking the same insensitive thought. “Why do you even care, Heather?” 

Here’s why I care: I’m tired of living my life having to defend every single decision that I make. Who I choose to date, what dog I’m getting, where I get the dog, what house I want to live in, what TV I put in my own damn living room, or what podcast I listen to. I’m only 24 years old and I. am. exhausted. I’m so, completely, 100% exhausted. I’m tired of having arguments with people where I defend the choices I make that don’t even affect them. It’s too frustrating. 

There comes a point where you can only be disrespected by so many people. There comes a point where you can’t take having to argue your life decisions anymore. I hit my limit about two years ago.

Secondly, you and I are human beings. And you know what that means? We all have our own tastes; our own opinions; and our own values. And one person’s tastes, opinions, and values are not BETTER than another’s. This is why we choose to live differently. Some of us choose to not get married or have kids. Some of us decide that we need a big house and a high paying job, while other people decide they want a more simple life. Some of us like the color white for a living room and some like it beige. And guess what? That’s ok. We are all very different people. If we were all clones of each other and made all of the exact same decisions, life would be SO BORING! It wouldn’t even be worth living in the first place. We would all be clones who ate the same food, went to the same school, vacationed in the same spots, decorated our homes the same, etc. There would be no such thing as color, art, or diversity.

Life would be like that movie “Pleasantville” with Reese Witherspoon and Tobey Maguire. In the movie, Pleasantville is a television program and is a “place where life is simple, people are perfect, and everything is black and white.” A place where all the citizens are simple-minded and the world has absolutely no problems, worries, or violence. And NOTHING exists outside of Pleasantville. 

One night, while Pleasantville plays in the background, the brother and sister start fighting over the remote (apparently a magic remote) which ends up transporting them into the world of “Pleasantville” forcing them to live in this black and white, 50s lifestyle where everyone’s desires are repressed and everyone is exactly the same as each other! Do we really want real life to be like that? I’m thinking no.

Why does this matter?

So at this point, you might be wondering, “Ok, why does this matter, Heather?” Well, it turns out that my theory was correct: I’m not the only person who struggles with this issue! In fact, this is something that countless people struggle with, but we just don’t talk about it.

During one of my therapy sessions, my therapist shared with me that my experience seemed more extreme than most of her patients, BUT not abnormal. This is actually a very common complaint among women in particular. Most of her patients that she sees struggle with being bulldozed by other people’s opinions about what they should and shouldn’t be doing. According to my therapist, the difference between me and the other patients she sees is that at least I still fight back.

The patients that she sees who struggle with this challenge have completely given up on asserting themselves altogether. After years of this happening, they reached the point where they have lost their voice. Instead, they’ve become so convinced that their opinion is invaluable and wrong that they don’t make choices for themselves or speak up when they feel uncomfortable.

I don’t know about you, but when I hear that I feel so sad. It’s heartbreaking to me to know that there are girls who have completely given up altogether. Who have accepted that society doesn’t respect them enough that they find it easier to let other people sit in the driver’s seat of their own life. If you ask me, I think this needs to stop.

The reason why this matters is that it’s about time that we all learn an important lesson. A lesson that history should have taught us over and over and over again by now. We have to learn to RESPECT each other. To COEXIST. To live in harmony with the other people in our lives without feeling the need to fix them or shape them into how we want them to be.

Because A) It’s not nice. We’re adults and we should know this is freaking rude. Right? AND B) I bet 99% of people would say that living in a Pleasantville would be extremely boring and not fun at all.

So, why do we try so hard to control another person when we know these things to be true?

Why do we do this? 

After putting much thought into this over the last year, I have a few theories as to why we do this to each other.

1. We tend to think we know more than everyone else

I noticed this in people, regardless of age and gender. The vast majority of us think that we know more than everybody else. That we have the correct tastes, opinions, values, and perspective and everyone else is batsh*t crazy. It’s why whenever election time comes around the entire country’s population ends up dividing into two groups and HATING each other. Come election time in every cocktail party, class discussion, and neighborhood conversation you could cut the tension with a knife.

2. We can look at each other’s lives with clarity

Isn’t it interesting how when you look at another person’s life you can tell exactly what they have to do to better themselves? For example, you can look at your friend’s toxic relationship and think, “If she would just break up with him she would be SO much happier.” But when it comes to our own lives it’s a mystery! We’re so emotionally involved in our own lives that we can’t look at it clearly. Yet, we can look at someone else’s life and see what WE feel they need to do to improve because we’re not as invested in it. 

However, it comes across as treating the other person like they are our project. As if we have some sort of authority over another person’s life when in reality NONE of us have it figured out. And also none of us REALLY know for sure what another person “should” or “shouldn’t” do because we’re taking an outside perspective of their life and placing our life experiences on it.

3. We like having a sense of control over others

Playing off of what I said in #2, our own lives are a mystery to us. We all have problems, we all have issues, and health concerns and life crises, that we honestly don’t know how to fix. It’s stressful and overwhelming, isn’t it? Which is why New Year’s Resolutions fail over and over again. It’s hard! Life is hard! Which is why having a sense of control over someone else makes us feel good. It makes us feel better that even though our lives are FAR from perfect if we could just insert ourselves into a conversation and share with someone all of the opinions we have about improving their lives, it makes us feel better. In some cases, it gives us a little power trip because we are asserting ourselves over another person and putting them down. 

But it also makes us feel in control in a good way. It makes us feel valuable, powerful, helpful, smart, and capable. Our own life might be a mess, but at least we were able to fix someone else’s problem. For many people, even if their opinion was not invited or appreciated by the other person, we still feel as if we helped out. A classic example of this would be the relationship between mothers and their children. Moms LOVE that feeling of swooping in and telling their children what to do because it makes them feel happy and helpful regardless of if it actually helped.

This does not mean that we like controlling other people like puppets (although let’s be honest some people do) it just means that we like having control in general because many people lack that control in their own lives.

4. Gender plays a huge role in this issue 

I’m a young woman. Therefore society tends to view me as someone who is weak and needs assistance. As someone who can’t possibly know what she wants out of life and have her own valid opinion. People feel the need to swoop in and “assist” young women by telling them what to do. But it’s not just MEN who do this. In my own experience, most of the time it’s actually women doing this to other women. Society views young women in particular as if they were children who need to be guided and assisted through every decision.

This is also why when I talk to men about this issue they have NO idea what I’m referring to. Men aren’t typically bulldozed in conversations. When they say “NO” to someone, people hear the word “no.” When women say “NO” to someone, people hear the phrase, “I don’t know, convince me.”

And lastly, I think it’s safe to say that gender plays a huge role in this issue because of how men respond to this topic. I’m referring to the question, “Why do you care?” It seems to me that men don’t have to care about someone inserting themselves into their business, but women do. Because when women say no to something or voice their opinions it’s often followed by a long lecture from the other person trying to convince them to choose differently. Men’s opinions and decisions are often respected in society whereas women have to struggle with this issue for decades. If someone doesn’t respect a man’s opinion, they can just go on with their day, but for women, this is an issue that comes up every day for years. We have to constantly defend our opinions so we HAVE to care about this topic, simply because it’s something that affects us more.

I believe that if I was a man, I wouldn’t have people arguing with me about my paint color for TWO YEARS. And I certainly don’t think that I would have been forced to open up a credit card after saying that I didn’t want one.

Disclaimer: I’m NOT at all shaming men in this post and not saying that this experience is the same for all men and women everywhere. I’m simply saying that throughout history and even now, men have been allowed to assert themselves and make their own decisions without needing to defend them. Again, I want to acknowledge that I know this is not 100% the case for everyone.

How do we fix this if we’re on the receiving end?

Of course, you know that I’m not going to leave you hanging with this problem fresh on your mind without addressing HOW to fix it and my takeaways. If you are struggling with this same problem, here are 5 tips that I put together to help you hold your own in a world that just won’t listen.

1. Trust your intuition 

Trusting your intuition is something that I’ve talked about many times in my blog by now. If you want to learn more about intuition, make sure to check out my blog post “How to Recognize Universal Signs.” But I’m bringing it up again now because I know first-hand that it’s extremely difficult to trust your intuition about your own life’s decisions when you have people SCREAMING at you to make another choice. Even if you’ve had a knowingness your entire life about what you should be doing, when it’s you against everyone in your family or every professor at your school, that internal compass is so difficult to trust. It’s much more subtle than a room full of people drinking red wine and criticizing your decisions. 

You look at these people in your life being so vocal about what you “should” be doing, that eventually, you trust them over your own instinct. Even though your internal compass, gut feelings, interests, and skills are all pushing you towards one thing, all of that can be immediately replaced with someone else’s voice, closed-mindedness, and fear-based mentality. Because your intuition doesn’t have a physical voice. You have to really want to listen to it.

But deep down, only YOU know what’s right for you. Only you can tell what’s the right decision for you to make for your own well-being and happiness. As loud as people may scream, as rude as they may get, as nosey as they may be – you have to trust in yourself. Your intuition can give you all the answers that you need and only by having that faith in yourself can you be happy and reach your highest potential and evolvement.

2. Keep it a secret

In a previous blog post that I wrote, “How I Freed Myself From the Opinions of Others,” I wrote about how I learned that if I kept secrets about my life’s decisions from the people who are unsupportive of me I saved myself countless arguments and passive-aggressive comments. 

The people who are supportive of my lifestyle, my dreams, and my interests I share everything with. But the people who aren’t supportive of me, I’m very selective about what I tell them. At first, when I made this decision to keep secrets from people, I remember feeling very sad about it. I was sad that I wouldn’t be able to open up and talk about myself with family, friends, and other important people in my life. But then I realized that with unsupportive people, I’ve never been able to open up to anyways! Keeping secrets about myself has been a lifesaver! 

But I don’t mean keeping secrets in a sketchy or negative way. I just mean that if someone I know is extremely against a choice I make, I’m not going to bring it up and invite an argument. If someone you know has very strong opinions about plastic surgery, then why tell them you’re getting it done if you know it’ll lead to a fight? If someone you know is against a gluten-free or vegan lifestyle, then why mention that you’re going vegan or gluten-free? It’s unfortunate that we have to omit details about ourselves from conversation to avoid being talked down to, but it works.

3. Surround yourself with supportive people

The next thing that I recommend doing if you’re on the receiving end of criticism is to make it a point to surround yourself with positive people. This took me a while to do, and I’m still trying to work on it. But I made it a point in the last year to connect with people who have the same interests as me and are supportive of my lifestyle and my decisions rather than surrounding myself with the same types of people I used to and hoping to earn their approval and acceptance. 

What I’ve learned from that experience is that your mindset is very influenced by the people around you. I went from having an extremely fear-based mentality thinking that I was never going to amount to anything to having faith in myself and seeing my own potential. Whether you realize it or not, you are very influenced by the people around you, and if you want to become the best version of yourself you have to connect to people who lift you up.

I will admit this is something that takes a while to do. You can’t just change your entire network automatically, but you do it one day at a time. My favorite way to do this is by getting someone’s number and scheduling a call or meeting them for coffee. It takes a while, but by slowly building that one relationship at a time, you’ll look back at your experience over the last few months and realize what a profound change your new circle has had on your mindset.

4. Practice what to say

I’ve been talking about this in therapy for weeks and I’ve analyzed this issue for the last year trying to figure out why people do this to me and how to stop it. But still, all that analyzing didn’t help me when someone made me open up a credit card that I didn’t want. It didn’t make all of the opinions from others come to a halt. If you’re on the receiving end of this, the best thing that you can do is spend some time alone and PLAN OUT what to say when something like this happens.

Because I know that when I’m actually in a place where someone is disrespecting me, I’m so shocked that I don’t even know how to respond. For that reason, the situation gets out of hand and before you know it you’re stuck talking with someone who’s being extremely forceful about their opinions or you have multiple people ganging up on you at the same time. To prevent this from happening, I recommend writing and practicing ready-made phrases to say when you’re in the situation. These phrases should be short and sweet, not some long drawn out explanation as to why your opinion matters (like I did in this post lol). They should be short phrases that you have ready so you can use them when you notice this happening.

For example, Matt came up with one once where he said: “Thank you for the suggestion, we will take it into consideration.” It was great, and certainly got the point across, but it was a tad formal! But don’t just choose the phrase and hope that you’ll remember it or be able to use it in real life, it’s important to visualize it and practice. Practice saying this to yourself (maybe in the mirror) so you can practice how assertive you want to come across as well as your tone or facial expressions. This will allow you to practice the phrase so you can use it easily in real-time.

The other reason why it’s important to practice is that by playing around with the way you say it you’ll practice a way of saying the phrase that doesn’t come across as being rude. If it does it will only cause the person to get defensive. 

5. Remember that change starts with you

There are people like me who are more-so on the receiving end of this behavior, but because of this, it’s often behavior that they eventually learn and do to others even if we don’t realize it. For example, have you ever been going about your day having a conversation with someone and say something and immediately think, “Oh my gosh. My mother just came out of my mouth!” That happens to me all the time. We don’t just pick up on someone’s physical habits, we also learn how to interact with others.

Because I’ve become so hyper-aware of people disrespecting my decisions I’ve caught myself passing my opinions and “advice” onto others. The most important thing to take away if you notice that this has happened to you is self-awareness. Don’t just play victim, but notice what has happened to you and recognize that urge to react the same way to others. It’s surprising how much passing our opinions onto other people has become a knee-jerk reaction. Become self-aware so that you can resist the urge to do it to someone else because change starts with you.

Important lessons for all of us. My takeaways:

As much as I felt that it was important to share advice for people like me on the receiving end of opinions, this is a topic that’s not just up to people like me to change. This is a challenging social issue that’s going to take everyone to change. So I wanted to include important lessons and takeaways for all of us to embody. Because it’s not fair for certain people to be steamrolled in life just because of their gender or demeanor.

I think that it’s vital that we all learn these basic lessons and carry them into our interactions with others so that we can all live in harmony regardless of having different opinions, styles, or values. It’s completely ok to have a close relationship with someone (whether it be a family member, friend, co-workers, or neighbor) and have different opinions or disagree. If we all embodied these lessons today, I know for a fact that we would live in a much better world. 

1. Understand there’s a difference between advice and opinions

Over the last several years where I became extremely frustrated with people trying to control me, I gained a reputation for hating ADVICE. But the truth is, I LOVE advice. I appreciate advice and I regularly ask people for advice about health concerns, business, blogging, etc. It’s why I network with other female entrepreneurs, have a business coach, see a therapist, see a wellness ambassador, etc. I love talking with other people about life and hearing their advice.

What I don’t love is someone offering me their opinion and being extremely disrespectful towards me about my choices, style, and life decisions and arguing with me in an attempt to try to pressure me to do something else. Such as live in a city that I don’t want to live in. That is not advice, that’s someone shoving their opinion at me and then trying to pass it off as “helpful advice.” Advice and opinions are two entirely different things. Advice is usually given when someone needs help with something. You give advice when there is a problem that someone is having or if they need help making a decision.

If I said that I was unsure of which town to move to after graduation, and you suggested that I drive through the different towns around Tampa, Jacksonville, and Miami to help me decide which area I saw myself living in, THAT’S giving someone helpful advice. Now, if I were to say that I’ve made up my mind that I want to live in St. Pete and have wanted to live there for a year and you were to respond by spending months trying to get me to live anywhere else and disrespecting a choice that I have made, that’s NOT helpful advice. That’s just projecting your opinions and feelings onto me while disrespecting a life-choice that I have already made. See what I mean? Advice and opinions are two entirely different things.

2. Know that everyone’s path in life is different 

If there’s one thing that I really want to become common sense is that everyone’s path in life is different. What tends to happen is that older generations tend to persuade younger generations to live the way that they did and make the exact same choices. But the problem is that every person’s path in life is different, as it should be. Every soul comes to this planet with their own mission, with a purpose, with unique skills and traits that nobody else has. And once we are in these walking, talking, breathing, monkey suits we have our own unique life experience, and as a result, we will choose a different path in life. Choosing to follow your own path, trust your intuition, and make your own choices is what we are all meant to do. Which is why it’s important that we all respect we’re each on our own journey.

3. Remember that times have changed

We’ve all heard that phrase “times have changed” but let’s take a minute to reflect on just HOW MUCH has changed in the last few decades. The world that I grew up in was extremely different than the one my parents and grandparents grew up in. Of course, it was because of the internet. As one adult in my life put it, “your world was much larger than the world we grew up in.” And I think that’s the perfect way to describe it. 

We connected with people online, we grew up as our technology evolved drastically, we watched people’s lives online, and we learned of more opportunities. In fact, it was other bloggers, YouTubers, and podcasters I found on the internet that inspired me to pursue a career in this. For our older family members, their world was a big as the community and the neighborhood they lived in. There weren’t travel bloggers and YouTubers that they followed that exposed them to new things. Now, the world that we live in is extremely different than the one that our parents and grandparents did. This is not to discount anyone’s life experience, it’s just to say that some of the opinions and “advice” that I’ve received doesn’t exactly apply anymore. For that reason, an ideology, opinion, or piece of advice that worked wonderfully several decades ago, is not going to work in 2019 and 2020. 

Which is why when I’m on the receiving end of getting so-called “advice” or opinions from people, it’s not always correct. Their minds are not open to the lifestyle and the career that I want for myself. They’re projecting their ideas on to me, without considering how different my values and ideas are having grown up in the 2000s. It’s important to remember this now and for many years to come, the world is changing quickly, and the advice we give doesn’t always apply for future generations. 

4. Know that people will ASK for your advice if they need it 

As I’m writing this takeaway, it sounds ridiculous to me. Saying that people will ask for advice when they need it, sounds like it should be common sense. But in reality, it’s not. I’m shocked by how willing people are to offer opinions about what I’m doing with my life when I haven’t even asked for them. So I feel the need to pass on this one simple lesson: people will ask you for advice when they need it. 

If someone presents you with a problem or says something along the lines of “what do I do?” THAT’S when you chime in. You don’t chime in when someone has already decided that their lifelong dream was to study cosmetology and argue with them until they change their mind and finally study business. Advice should serve a purpose, and it should be invited at least to some extent. 

5. Know that advice only needs to be shared one time or two times TOPS

Real advice should be given one or two times TOPS. It’s no longer advice when it’s repeated for months, when it comes up at every family dinner, when it’s morphed into one of the top things you discuss with that person. A good way to give someone REAL advice respectfully is to share it once. Once. 

If the person liked that advice and appreciated it, they will listen to you or they will reach out and ask to hear your thoughts again. But repeating it over and over and over does neither party any good. It only creates a source of tension. For example, repeating the same piece of advice “you shouldn’t paint your walls white” for two years to somebody only comes across as you being confrontational, picky, or scolding that other person. Sharing that opinion ONCE is plenty.

When a piece of “advice” is discussed in length for years or months to persuade someone to make a different decision or take a different path in life, it’s not true advice. That’s just trying to control another person and openly disrespecting the other person’s choices. 

6. Understand that old age doesn’t automatically make someone wise

Over the last two years, I’ve started to understand that old age doesn’t necessarily mean that a person is wise (even if they think they are). I used to believe that the adults in my life knew everything. I might have not liked them or agreed with them, but I thought that they were WISE. I thought that they were these authority figures that just knew everything. That they knew what was the exact right and wrong thing to do.

I mean they obviously looked older than me, they have more life experience, they certainly acted like they knew WAY more than I could fathom. But then something interesting happened. I graduated from college, I moved out of the house, and I became an “adult.” And I realized… HOLY SH*T I KNOW NOTHING. I wasn’t suddenly enlightened the moment that I became an adult. I realized that there was really no difference between me and adult figures in my life who were so vocal about how I should be living it. We’re all just basically kids with cars! And some extra money. So why did I have people in my life who were trying to be in the driver’s seat of my life? And why do WE also try to control other people? None of us have it figured out.

Old age doesn’t mean that you automatically know better than a younger person. But we tend to think it does, which makes us closed-minded. It also doesn’t mean that the older people in our lives know all the answers and that we should blindly trust them. None of us were gifted a book when we grew up called “How To Do Life.” Or “Everything You Should Know About Life.” We’re all trying to figure this sh*t out! Which is why we can’t just look toward someone else and think they have the answers for us. It also doesn’t mean that just because WE may be older than another person that we know what they “should” or “shouldn’t” be doing.

With this realization, I was able to understand that it’s not AGE that makes someone wise. There are women I have met in their 40’s and 50’s that act like they’re 13 and have no emotional intelligence (turn on “The Real Housewives” if you want to see what I mean). And there are 20-year-olds who amaze me with their wisdom. It’s traits like being open-minded, non-judgmental, and self-aware that make someone wise, so let’s carry those traits into our conversations with people!

7. Understand that another person’s life is not your project

I think that it’s worth mentioning that many people insert themselves into someone else’s lives out of a place of love. When you care deeply about someone you want the best for them. However, in doing that sometimes it comes across as trying to fix another person and make them a project. A classic example that comedians love to joke about would be the women who are attracted to certain types of men because they like the idea of helping them. But we all know how that plays out. 

For healthy, happy, supportive relationships, it’s important to understand that one person’s life is not ours to makeover (with the acceptation of the Fab Five from Queer Eye). You can’t project- manage someone’s life no matter what your relationship is. 

8. Know that there’s a paradigm shift 

I want to end this on a spiritual note because I know that this post focuses on a topic that’s not as pleasant to discuss. If you read Lost Online you’re probably aware of my New Age spirituality and philosophies that I like to sprinkle into my posts. I like to take an approach that encompasses self-help, wellness and lifestyle practices, and spirituality because I think they are all equally important.

That being said, in the time that we’re in right now, there is a massive change in consciousness occurring. More people are starting to have spiritual awakenings, question the old ways of doing things, and ask questions like, “What is my purpose in life?” The old paradigm is being replaced with the new one to take us all into our next stage of human evolvement. 

One of my all-time favorite books that talk about this topic is “The Celestine Prophecy,” by James Redfield. In the second chapter of the book, it discusses how “history is not just the evolution of technology; it is the evolution of thought.” Throughout each stage in history, we can see the physical advancements we have made as well as changes in how we view the world. “The Celestine Prophecy” discusses how there is this massive awakening happening and why. That in itself could require it’s own blog post, but the reason why I’m mentioning it here is that this paradigm shift is a major cause of the tension that we see in our interpersonal relationships. There’s friction between younger generations and enlightened individuals with those who are still ingrained in the old paradigm. It’s not just a disconnect that happens because of age, but a disconnect caused by different individuals embracing old and new ways of viewing the world and our purpose on earth.

When I look at this topic from that spiritual perspective, I can find so much peace and contentment. I don’t feel as if I’ve been bullied, I don’t feel like a victim. Instead, I feel kind of honored. I feel happy that I’m one of the individuals who can raise the vibration of the world and be a part of this incredible transformation. If you’re going through a similar struggle as I am, I encourage you to adopt that same change in mindset. Know that it’s not you against your family or friends or co-workers. We’re just at a point in time where people who are embracing the new paradigm are living in the same space as the old one, which is ingrained more in logic, fear, and routine. We can see this change happening everywhere we look today. It can be tense or stressful at times, but we’re living in the most incredible and beautiful period of time. We’re living during a time when everything is shifting. We’ve concurred the physical world, the scientific world, infrastructure, and industry and now it’s time to take the lessons that we learned throughout all of history and evolve. So if you find yourself being bullied by people into making different choices in life, stay true to yourself and understand that the tension your experience is just because you’re on a higher frequency than most.

Thank you for coming to Lost Online!

Wow! So this was a very loaded blog post this week. I went through my experience, I explored WHY I think we have this problem, how to deal with it through self-help practices, and lessons that I feel like everyone must embody if we want to change moving forward.

This was one of those blog posts that I created very much for myself, but also for other people out there who encounter this problem too. It took me several weeks to complete because I knew that by writing about this struggle I will be able to reframe it in my mind. Also because I wanted to fully comprehend every aspect of this social dynamic including how gender, age, and spiritually play into it. For that reason, I kept getting new insights that I originally haven’t discovered. I hope that I did the topic justice and relayed the message as positively as I could. Lastly, if you also struggle with external pressure from others stay true to yourself and what you know is right and know that there is NOTHING wrong with you. Your opinions, preferences, values, and style are valid.

Now, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts! Let me know in the comments what insights you have about this topic! Have you had a similar experience as me? How has this affected you? How do you cope with it? How do you recommend that we fix this on a global scale?

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

15 Reasons To Travel While You’re Young + Thoughts on Traveling & Social Media

Travel

I got the travel bug from my grandmother, who has been to so many countries that she probably wouldn’t be able to count them if she tried. My grandma goes on at least one trip abroad a year and usually comes back with a very odd and very humorous souvenir for us. Every time I talked to my grandma when I was growing up, I was so amazed at how she would casually bring up some incredible trip she took.

I always wanted to be like her. She’s so well-traveled, cultured, and so interesting – and I’m not the only one who thinks that. She’s someone that everyone loves and is intrigued by the second they meet her. I remember after my friend Pat met her for the first time, he turned to me and said one of my favorite quotes of all time, “Heather, your grandma is dope!” She is a dope grandma indeed. 

She’s a lady who does whatever the hell she wants regardless of what other people think. One of my favorite things she’s ever said to me was, “I don’t think I want a boyfriend, that might cramp my style.” If there’s one person I want to be like when I grow up and one person I want to make proud of, it’s her. And one way I plan on doing that is by exploring as much of this miraculous planet as I can, just like her.

With no surprise, my grandma was incredibly supportive of my love for travel. Not only does she pass on her travel stories and experiences to me, but she’s funded several of my trips. She generously took me to Paris for two weeks for my Sweet Sixteen, paid for my month-long graduation trip through Europe, and took a spontaneous and impulsive trip with me to Niagara Falls this summer. 

Today, my grandma’s writing is tattooed on the side of my body. It reads, “A life full of travel and wonders of our planet.” It will remind me for the rest of my life to get out of my bubble and explore the world as much as I can.

Just like my grandma, I want to encourage others to explore too. To put their money towards a plane ticket instead of products. So here are the top reasons why I believe it’s important to travel while you’re young in hopes that I will inspire at least one person to buy a ticket!

1. Travel expands your mind

I know this is the very first thing that people usually say about travel, but you don’t realize how true it is until you’re sitting in some random spot on the other side of the planet having your mind blown. I remember watching an opera in Rome and seeing flamenco dancing in Spain. Those are two experiences that I will never forget because I was utterly amazed seeing this in person. All I could think of was, “WHAT?! This is a thing?! People actually do this?!” It’s incredible seeing someone who’s spent a lifetime perfecting some dance that you would have never even heard of before.

When you travel, especially for an extended period of time or with a group of strangers, you regularly have those moments where you’re shocked by what you’re seeing or how other people interact in different cultures. You experience and learn things that you wouldn’t have otherwise known until you went there yourself.

Sometimes it expands your mind to things that are unpleasant. On my graduation trip, I learned so much about the Holocaust and World War II after visiting Germany and seeing a concentration camp that I would have never have learned unless I had visited Germany and gone on local tours. It’s best to travel while you’re young for this reason because your brain is still developing so you’re still very impressionable. Expanding your worldview during this time is crucial because you’ll be more open-minded than you would be if you started traveling after retirement. It allows you to expand your world-view and shape new opinions before settling into your ways.

2. It gets you out of your comfort zone

When you go on a trip abroad, you encounter language barriers, you get lost, and you have awkward moments when you encounter customs that you aren’t familiar with. It makes you feel out of place and puts you far out of your comfort zone, which is a great thing!

Interestingly enough, something about traveling to a foreign country also makes you more willing to take risks and try things that you wouldn’t if you were at home. I remember what it was like going zip lining in Costa Rica with Matt or going on an ATV tour underneath a volcano. The Heather that lives in Florida and spends most of her time going to the same coffee shop to write every day would NEVER do those things. But whenever I go on a trip, I take advantage of experiences that I otherwise wouldn’t try or wouldn’t want to spend the money on. Travel makes you do things that you normally would hold yourself back from, but THOSE moments are the ones that you remember for the rest of your life and tell at parties (or on your Tinder dates, lol). 

3. You meet life-long friends 

Something about dropping everything and traveling to a foreign country with strangers makes you connect with them on a much deeper level. When you travel to a new country with someone, rely on each other to get around, experience new things together, and spend entire days making memories and opening up about your lives back home, you form a very powerful bond. 

It’s a connection that you wouldn’t have had with that person if you had just met at a coffee shop or a bar back home. You create life-long memories with that person, making you much closer together and creating a relationship that you’ll look back on for the rest of your life. For that reason, I know that whenever I reach out to the girls I went on my trip with that they will always be happy to hear from me and we’ll catch up as if no time had passed.

Case in point, I just got back from visiting Cincinnati last night and while I was there I got to see my Europe travel buddy, Emily. We were attached at the hip the entire time we were abroad and now I consider her to be one of the best friends I’ve ever had. She had just landed from New York City yesterday morning and raced to come visit me for the remaining hours I was still in Cincinnati. When we reunited we ran up to each other on the sidewalk, threw our arms around each other and hugged in the most dramatic, rom-com fashion.

4. Travel helps you discover what you really want

When I left for my month-long trip abroad, I was very unsure of what I wanted, but the week I came back, I could look at my life with such clarity. I’m not exactly sure why this happens. Maybe it’s because travel allows you to step away from your life’s problems and have some space so that you can look at things with fresh eyes when you come back. Or maybe it’s because travel changes you, so you come back a slightly different person than the one who left.

Whichever it is, all I know is that my questions and dilemmas I’d been struggling with for months had been resolved when I got back: Where should I live? What career should I pursue? What do I really want in life? What projects do I want to pursue?

I was also very surprised by the number of other people on my tour who were having some kind of life crisis or question that they were seeking the answer to while we were away. I wasn’t the only one who had been hoping to solve some problem or answer an important question. For example, I remember that a handful of people were very unsure about whether or not they wanted to stay with their significant other. They were trying to figure out if they saw themselves staying with this person long term after they returned home or if it was best to go their separate ways. The trip helped them answer their questions. I remember one of my friends even bought a journal so she could do stream of consciousness journaling about her relationship and that helped her gain so much clarity. If you’d like to learn more about stream of consciousness journaling, checkout my blog post, “Stream of Consciousness Journaling: The Benefits & How to Practice It.”

5. Traveling while you’re young allows you freedom before you get tied down 

Yeah you could travel when you’re older, but you also have to consider that you’ll have a full-time job, extra bills, a mortgage payment, a dog that needs to be cared for, a significant other that doesn’t feel like traveling to the same country as you, kids, etc. I could go on and on with other reasons, but the point is that it won’t be as easy to drop everything and backpack your way through South America when you’re 35 or 40. It’s much easier to travel while you’re young because you’re not tied down to anything, and because it will be so much easier to hop back into your normal life without much of a disruption. For example, coming back from an extended holiday when you’re in your teens or early 20’s will have little to no impact on your career because it’s not already established. It’s expected that you’re still traveling, learning about what you want, and changing during this time.

You also have to consider that if you travel while you’re young, you only have to pay for yourself, not an entire family. It’ll cost far less money and you’ll be FAR more likely to actually do it. Simply put, you’ll never feel as free as you do RIGHT NOW.

6. You won’t regret it

You know that moment when you decide it’s freaking time to clean out your closet? Your clothes are overflowing, you can’t find anything, and you realize it’s that time of year to make some donations? You know how whenever this happens you inevitably find clothes in your closet that still have the tags on them and think, “Uggghhhh, why did I buy this!? That was such a waste of money!” Yeah, that doesn’t happen with travel.

I’ve never heard of anyone having buyer’s remorse over taking a trip. You won’t look back at your photos and memories of your summer abroad and think, “Ugggghhh, why did I do that?” “Why did I move to Paris for three months and work at that bakery? How stupid of me.” That just doesn’t happen. Traveling is one of the very few things in life that people spend their money on that they don’t regret. Sure, you might end up going over budget on your trip and be a little bit annoyed at yourself for spending so much. However, the feeling of regret will never enter your mind.

7. Travel makes you humble

The other reason why you should travel, especially while you’re young, is because it makes you humble. You’ll see people all around the world who are living with less than you and realize what little you need to take care of yourself and to be happy. I learned this lesson on my trip to Costa Rica. After coming back I wrote a blog post about this called “A Lesson in Pura Vida.”

I wrote about how I had noticed that the people in Costa Rica lived in what I can only describe as shacks. Their houses were made of tin and they had very few possessions and modern-day luxuries and conveniences. But they were the happiest and nicest people I have ever met in my life. Seriously! It was like they were all enlightened. They walked around with a huge smile on their face and saying hello to everyone. I could tell that they were happy and relaxed – not chronically stressed out. At the time, I went to a private college, drove an expensive car, lived in a gated community, and nannied for families who made over six figures. Yet none of the people that I was surrounded with were happy to be alive. They were stressed out, bitter, and materialistic. They were driven more by possessions and promotions than by anything else (I’m not claiming to be above this). However, these people in Costa Rica had next to nothing, and they were HAPPY. Very, very happy. That trip was humbling and made me reflect more on what’s important in life. 

The second reason why travel makes you humble is that you realize that you’re not the center of the universe. You’re dropped off at the airport in what sometimes feels like an alternate universe. You don’t understand the language or the way people are interacting with each other. Even though you know intellectually that there’s a wide world out there, you typically don’t think much about the world other than your own small existence. Then in the middle of all of this, you’re attending local tours and learning from someone about their political problems or issues that they face in the community. In these moments, it will hit you just how large the world is and how closed off you had been because these issues weren’t on your radar. For example, I didn’t know anything about the poverty rate in Costa Rica as I was going about my daily life in St. Augustine, Fla. It never occurred to me.

Lastly, if you’re traveling while you’re young you’ll most likely be staying in cheap accommodations, eating less expensive food, and finding experiences within your budget. You’re not rolling into your trip to the south of France in first-class seats, sipping champagne, eating caviar, and staying at 5-star hotels. You haven’t hit that age in life where you think, “Alright, I’m going on a trip. It must be luxurious.” No. You stay in hostels, you share bathrooms, you eat at places that are cheaper to accommodate everyone in your group, and you share cramped spaces on trains, planes, and automobiles. Having to be so accommodating with other people and share space is a humbling experience. 

I think that this is an important lesson to learn and it should be learned as SOON as possible. It’s better to become humble when you’re 20 rather than when you’re 45. It makes you a better person.

8. You’re in great shape

Some people decide that having a career and a family are the first priority to them and that travel is something that can wait until retirement, but I think that’s the wrong way to look at it. Because while you do want to make retirement fun and enjoyable, you also have to consider that you won’t be in as good of shape as you’re in when you’re a teenager or in your 20’s.

Your body can handle walking for miles to sightsee all day, hiking up mountains, getting less sleep, carrying a backpack all day, lugging your suitcase around, etc. The physicality of traveling alone just makes more sense to do while you’re young. And you never know what sort of health problems or limitations you might have in old age. 

9. Traveling empowers you

Before I left for my month-long trip to Europe, I was nervous as all hell. It also didn’t help that every person I talked to said something along the lines of, “Oh my God! Four weeks is SO long! I would never be able to do that. You’re crazy. You’re gonna want to come home by week two!”

I remember the night before I left I sat across from my boyfriend fighting off a panic attack for serval hours and drinking wine trying to calm myself down. The next day I was bawling while I was saying goodbye to Matt outside the airport! I. was. a. mess.

But when I landed in Florida after that month, I came back and thought “Oh my gosh! I freaking did it! That was awesome!” It’s a very powerful thing to see yourself doing something that you once considered to be scary. It helps you realize how much you’re capable of and gives you the confidence to take on new challenges or aspirations. Before I left for my trip, I thought a month would feel like forever and I might want to come home, but when I came home I realized that a month was nothing. I could easily take a trip for two, three, four, or even six months at a time. I realized that the fear that I had was all in my head. I set this limitation for myself that I now realize was completely ridiculous. 

10. You can handle cheap accommodations

I’ve noticed that as you get older, the accommodations that you feel you deserve continue to increase in cost. I know that I was going on a trip to a foreign country right now, I would be perfectly ok in cheaper hotels that my older family members wouldn’t even consider staying in. I don’t feel as if I’m somehow deserving of first-class tickets, 5-star hotels, and a luxurious mattress to sleep on. Those things would be fabulous and I would be appreciative of it, but I feel perfectly ok with slumming it a bit to check countries off of my bucket list.

However, it’s not just that as you get older you feel entitled to better accommodations, your body also needs them. I’m 24 now, and I know that my body can handle sleeping on crappy mattresses and taking a 10-hour plane ride in super small airplane seats. But if I was 70 years old right now, that wouldn’t work. I wouldn’t be able to bounce back as well as I can right now. That’s something you also have to keep in mind.

11. You’ll come back with TONS of stories 

The best part of spending your money on traveling is that you come back with tons of stories and memories that stay with you forever. Half the time they’re stories of something wonderful and exciting that you experienced – like when I learned how to make homemade pasta while I tasted wines in Rome (it was Amazing with a capital A). Or sometimes they’re stories of something bad or scary that happened on your trip – like when two of my friends Martha and Emily had a near-death experience during the riots in Paris after the World Cup Final. But even the “bad” memories end up turning into hilarious stories that you get to share and laugh about when you get back home.

It’s been over a year since I went on my tour and I still find myself saying, “That reminds me! When I was on my trip…” I didn’t even realize how many interesting things happened until I came back and would have conversations with people and it would remind me of some experience that I had in Amsterdam, France, or London. I still love telling the story of what it was like experiencing the World Cup Final while I was in Paris or celebrating my sixteenth birthday in Paris which coincidentally is the same day as the French Independence Day. 

12. You’ll have help

One of the added benefits of traveling while you’re young is that you’ll most likely be able to convince mom and dad or grandma and grandma to help you fund your trip. That’s one of the best parts of traveling while your young because you’re family members are eager to help you out financially so that you can make some memories and have a good time. I’m now past the point where my family is jumping up and down to help me pay for a trip, so take advantage of the help while you can!

On top of that there are tons of tours that are cheaper and cater to teens and young adults with a smaller budget but still want to see as many sights as they possibly can. I personally am in love with the tour company EF Tours. I’ve been on two of their trips so far and have loved every minute of it. They get you to all of the attractions, book your flights and hotels for you, hire a tour guide to take you from place to place, and plan fun excursions. They’re also relatively cheap because they use the same hotels, hostels, tour companies, and local business so frequently that they are able to get everything cheaper than it would be if you went on your own. 

You also have the benefits of student discounts, so remember to bring your ID with you and ask if you can use it wherever you go! These perks make traveling while you’re young much easier because the total cost of the trip will be significantly less than you would pay in the future if you decide to take the same trip. 

13. It makes you more independent 

When you’re younger, if you’re anything like me, you may a bit timid and shy. This means that having to get around for the day in a foreign country by yourself can be a bit nerve-wracking, but those moments of travel are good for you, even if they’re a bit unsettling.

I remember there was one day when I was in Paris and everyone that I was friends with on my tour decided that they wanted to spend the day at Chipotle and relaxing in the hostel. I thought this was absolutely crazy. “We’re in PARIS guys! You can have a burrito bowl when you get home!” So I had no choice but to go off by myself if I wanted to do anything interesting. At first I was completely terrified and scared of being alone. What if I got lost and couldn’t find my way back?! But I ended up walking all around Paris and seeing the entire city. I saw the major attractions and went to places like the oldest bookstore in the city to buy a book and tried the best hot chocolate in Paris. I got pictures EVERYWHERE, ate as many macaroons as I could get my hands on, and ended the night watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle. It ended up working out perfectly because I was able to do so much more that day than I would have done if I was with a group of 5 or 6 girls. And I realized that I’m much more independent and capable than I thought. I was so proud of myself by the end of the day and so fulfilled by getting around a foreign city all by myself that it became one of the most memorable days of the tour. 

14. Travel makes you more accepting of others

Another reason why I believe that it’s vitally important to travel while you’re young is because it makes you much more accepting of other people.

I feel that today, we need this lesson more than ever. There’s been so much hatred in America fueled by the media in recent years. Mostly because media channels learned that they can make money by pinning people against each other and because this last presidential election was “harrible.” Hugely, “biggly,” and catastrophicly “harrible.”

Because of this we’ve become accustomed to getting offended if someone has a different opinion or experience than us and rejecting them. Our country has been in a place where all people do is fight and hate people who are different. It’s especially toxic for all of the younger generations who are impressionable and mimic the behavior they see while growing up. And I’m not just talking about children. I’m talking about the teens and college students (like myself) that watched all the adult figures in their lives turn against each other for a solid year because of this last poisonous election.

My concern is that if THIS is how people feel about other American citizens than what is our perspective of the rest of the world’s population? If we can’t even learn to live in harmony with our neighbors, how do plan on having successful international relations? Today more than ever, I feel it’s important for people to get outside of their own inner circle and learn about the rest of the world. To learn about different cultures and different views, but most importantly learn that we can all be accepting and COEXIST.

I can hear my grandma in my head right now saying her famous line, “Haven’t people ever heard of the word HUMAN?! We’re all HUMAN!”

15. “Life is short and the world is wide.” – Simon Raven

Last but not least on my list of why it’s important to travel while you’re young is that there’s a HUGE world out there and life is short. Not to end on a morbid note, but a long life is not guaranteed to any of us. You have no idea what could happen in the future. I would love it if the universe would grant each and every one of us a long, healthy, and happy life, but it doesn’t work that way. People get sick and accidents happen. It’s best to fill your life with the experiences that you dream of while you can instead of putting things off for a perpetual “someday.” “Someday I’ll rent an RV and travel around the country.” “Someday I’ll see the seven wonders of the world.” “Someday I’ll go to Thailand.”

Someday is not set in stone. Someday is not promised. 

Traveling & Social Media 

Before I wrap up this post, I didn’t feel as if I could close up this week’s blog post without mentioning social media (particularly Instagram) and traveling. It felt irresponsible to share this post without addressing the problem of people traveling solely for getting attention and become famous online.

One of my favorite travel bloggers and Instagram influencers is Aggie, better known as “Travel In Her Shoes.” She’s someone who became very famous for her love of travel. She would travel for months and months at a time before she even was on Instagram and would take photos just for herself. She lived a very traditional life as most of us do for a while. She went to college, graduated, got a corporate job and was MISERABLE. So Aggie and her boyfriend at the time decided that they wanted to live a life of adventure and passion. They bought an old sailboat online, sold all of their possessions, fixed up the boat, and set sail from Mexico to Australia. Their story got picked up and since that day she’s made a career of her traveling and living the life that many of us can only dream of.

But Aggie recently opened up in a social media post this week about a topic that I believe needs to be talked about. Her Instagram post was inspired by a recent Ted Talk given by Joseph Gordon-Levitt on “paying attention” vs. “getting attention.” The talk is called “How Craving Attention Makes You Less Creative.” The Ted Talk is amazing and I HIGHLY recommend watching it as soon as you can. He talks about how (as a result of social media) most people today now view their creativity as a means to GET attention rather than paying attention, enjoying yourself, and collaborating with other creatives.

Aggie shared that traveling used to be very much about paying attention. It was a way to get out of your small little bubble, disconnect with family and friends, find yourself, and fall in love with another country. She admits that now, due to social media and influencers like herself, traveling has become a way to GET attention. “[People] sign up for a sort of their own Truman Show,” as she puts it. They get addicted to waking up each day and getting attention from their followers as they post gorgeous travel photos and share their stories. Because of that, they’re afraid to go back to their normal lives. They’re afraid that if they do, they will be forgotten and won’t receive praise from their online following. And that’s exactly what happened to her. The addiction to keep showing up, traveling, and getting attention is what caused her a falling out with the man she was in love with, getting extremely sick this year, losing her hair, and falling into a depression. Since then, she’s taken a step back and slowed down on traveling and focused on herself more.

I want to talk about this issue because the sad truth is that many people today travel just as a way to get likes and followers. People sign up for trips, buy expensive clothes for their photos, and spend their entire vacation staring at their phone. I can’t say that I’m above this myself. I will admit, my motto was “do it for the gram” for several years there, and my travels were a part of that too. But that’s NOT what travel is about. Travel should be about the reasons I listed above, not to become the next big travel blogger or YouTuber! It defeats the entire purpose of travel. So if you are going to book your next flight, remember that exploring the world is about the reasons I listed above, not about the social media posts that will come as a result. Travel is about PAYING attention, not GETTING attention.

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

As always, thank you for coming to Lost Online! I hope that this post was entertaining and I hope that it inspired someone out there to go on an adventure. If it does, PLEASE reach out to me!

A special shout out to one of my Gram (who is somewhere in Morocco right now living her best life) for being my role model, for passing on her travel bug to me, and helping me to come up with ONE more reason for traveling while you’re young (just because I liked the sound of “15 Reasons” more than “14 Reasons).” Not only is she the source of inspiration for this week’s blog post, but she’s also my #1 supporter and reader. Hi Gram (: I love you very much.

Lastly, please send your thoughts and prayers to my incredible friend and photographer Ray Reyes and his family who lost his father, Edd Reyes, very suddenly last week. You can read Ray’s most amazing, tear jerking words about his father’s life in his Facebook post here. And thank you for your patience as there’s been a delay in getting blog posts published at this time. But as we all know, family is more important.

“Time is the most precious commodity we can share with our loved ones. With time, you can do all you need to do and say all you need to say. But you can’t wait forever, because time has already passed, the time is absolutely now and we have no idea how much time we have in our futures.” – Ray Reyes

Remember to comment your thoughts below. I love hearing from you! Can you think of any other reasons why Lost Online readers should prioritize traveling while they’re young? What are they? Did you have a favorite reason on this list? What was it? Do you have a travel bug too? Where’s your next adventure going to take you? Did this post inspire you to take a trip anytime soon? Do you have a family member that has been influential in your travels too?

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto and Allen Fajardo @alewafeni.

The Broken Window Theory & How to Create Massive Change in Your Life

Self-Help

Can you believe that it’s already the end of summer? How freaking quickly is the year flying by? It seems like just yesterday I was writing down my New Year’s resolutions and determined to create a better me in 2019. Well, if you’re anything like me, then you’re probably nowhere near checking off those resolutions and wondering “Who the hell did I think I would be in 2019? Superwoman?”

I’m not the only one who’s made this mistake over and over, and it doesn’t just happen during the new year. We’re all interested in improving ourselves in some way, whether it’s getting in shape, learning a language, learning how to cook, deepening our yoga practice, reading more, etc. But in our good intentions and excitement from a sudden wave of inspiration, we try to do too much and we set ourselves up for failure. We want to change, but often try to create a drastic change in such a short period of time which inevitably only leaves us feeling guilty and disappointed.

This happens with both the bad habits we’re trying to break and the good ones that we want to adopt. A very popular example would be trying to quit smoking cold-turkey. We all know someone (or maybe we are that someone) who’s always “trying to quit.” Don’t worry, there’s no judgment from me!

One of my latest examples was that I wanted to start keeping my apartment cleaner so Matt would be happier to come home to a clean space and our home would look lovely all the time. I decided that each and every day I would have the dishes done, the laundry done, the counters spotless, fresh flowers in the kitchen, the floors vacuumed, the bed made, and the bathroom cleaned – 24/7. I decided this randomly one evening after a surge of inspiration to tidy up the house. Well, it’s now weeks later, and how beautiful do you think the apartment is looking right now? It’s NOT.

My clothes and piles of laundry are scattered all over the apartment, and there’s no sign of my resolution to keep the house clean. The clothes have taken over yet again. If I ever go missing, you just might find me trapped under a pile of clothes in our bedroom. 

As a self-help and self-improvement junkie, I understand more than anyone that desire to improve oneself and feel that sense of personal accomplishment when your goals are met, the house is cleaned, you’ve eaten healthy, and you’ve worked out that day. There’s nothing better than that feeling of being proud of yourself. But too often, we get so excited about that potential to create drastic change and become a better person, that we try to create massive change in our lives overnight. We try to lose 20 pounds immediately, we try to read five books in a month, or we try to go vegan in a weekend. But ultimately those changes don’t last. Changing one’s lifestyle and behaviors takes time and learning.

The Broken Window Theory

This blog post was inspired by a podcast by The Minimalists who I’ve referenced many times before. If you haven’t heard of The Minimalists, they’re best friends Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus who became popular after releasing their documentary “Minimalism” on Netflix. They’re authors, podcasters, filmmakers, and public speakers who spend their lives sharing how living with less helped them find happiness, freedom, and fulfillment that money and possessions can’t give us.

In one of their “Quickie” podcast episodes, called “How Small Changes Make Big Progress,”Joshua and Ryan discussed how small everyday changes in our lives helps us move toward sustainability because those radical changes just don’t stick. Radical changes are like crash diets – it’s not feasible to keep that going all the time. However, making small healthy changes, one meal or snack at a time is what gives people the results that they want. Over time, those small changes eventually start to multiply. 

In this podcast episode, Ryan talked about an example of this that he witnessed when he was visiting Tokyo. He noticed that the city was so immaculate and clean that whenever he would see a piece of trash on the ground, it motivated him to pick it up! The city looked so clean and perfect that he felt the need to keep it that way. I think that’s really saying something, because how often do we go out of our way to pick up trash when we’re walking around? 

Joshua gave his example that resonated with me so much that it was the part that inspired this post today. He shared that this phenomenon is often called “The Wildfire Theory,” but he thinks of it as “The Broken Window Theory.”

He explains how in the 1990s in New York City, people were trying to make the city nicer and over time the urban planners realized something interesting in their efforts to turn the city around. They noticed that if there was ever a broken window in one building and they FIXED it, other buildings nearby start fixing their broken windows too. However, the areas that they didn’t fix ended up getting more broken windows and eventually would attract graffiti and other vandalism. Of course, they also noticed that whenever there was a little bit of graffiti, this lead to MORE graffiti. This realization prompted urban planners to not only fix windows all over the city but to create a 24-hour graffiti removal service. All you had to do was call the hotline, and someone would be there to remove the graffiti within 24 hours!

I love this example that Joshua gives because it’s safe to say that the majority of us have noticed this with our own eyes, and I think that it’s much easier to grasp the broken window theory than to picturing a wildfire. The other reason why I love this example is that the same is true for our everyday lives. As Joshua says, “We all have our own broken windows.” They take the form of past traumas, household clutter, toxic relationships, financial stress, smoking cigarettes, unhealthy eating, and weight gain. They’re the things in life that we want so badly to fix, but we can’t. Why? Because that’s A LOT of freaking changes.

And the broken windows are often so subtle that we don’t notice them as the start of a much bigger issue. They show up as the pajamas we throw on the ground in the morning; the laundry that piles that we don’t put away; the “to-do” list that keeps growing; the appointments that have to be made; the dishes that stack up in the sink; the Oreos that we ate last night; the toxic emotions we’ve bottled up since childhood. We don’t make the effort to fix the problem soon enough, or maybe even notice it happening, so it creates more and more chaos.

Then when we decide to make a change, we try to take on too much at once. We try to turn over the entire city of New York in one week; we try to clean our entire apartment in one night; and we try to knock out a to-do list that’s been growing since we rang in the New Year. The reality is that these broken windows have to be fixed the same way they were created: gradually. 

The added challenge that we have to take into consideration is that those “broken windows” are years of habits that have become so ingrained in us that we don’t even realize that we’re doing it. It all becomes automatic. We get up in the morning and we throw our pajamas on the ground; we eat dinner and we leave the dish in the sink; we do laundry but we never put it away. So how on earth could we change all of those things at once? I don’t know this for sure, but I’m pretty sure it’s impossible.

How to Create Massive Change in Your Life?

Don’t worry, I’m not gonna leave you on THAT note – by saying it’s impossible, that nothing can be done. So I put together a list of seven ways that you can fix your broken windows in a way that’s gradual AND reasonable, and that have the potential to actually stick long-term. I recommend trying all of them and then picking the one that you find the easiest to incorporate in your life. 

1. Fix one broken window at a time

My first piece of advice is to fix one broken window at a time. If you want to get in shape and focus on your health, maybe don’t declare to the world that you’re going to do P90X every day for the next 90 days, give up all the foods that you love, and stop drinking. Side note: I saw someone do this before and he looked MISERABLE… and also went back to his bad habits once he was done. Just as quickly as he got a six-pack, he lost it. 

Instead make the decision to exercise for an hour 3-4 days a week, or to run a 5k, or get 10,000 steps in. Then, after you’ve made one change and adapted to it, make one dietary change every couple of weeks. Maybe give up that one thing you eat WAY too much of. I met a woman once who lost 25 pounds because she gave up Pepsi! PEPSI! That’s all she did!She didn’t throw in an entire exercise regime and dietary changes all at once. She worked on ONE broken window: her soda addiction. I met her after she had lost all that weight and she talked to me about what her next healthy change would be. She was in the process of trying to decide how she would incorporate exercise next.

So pick one “broken window” and do something that is actually going to work for you in your everyday life. Fixing that window will help you gradually fix the other windows, and in the end, it will last.

2. Set the bar low 

If you find yourself not being able to accomplish those big things you set out to do, set goals that are so ridiculously small, that it would be impossible to NOT do them. Set the bar extremely low! Don’t put pressure on yourself to quit smoking immediately, instead, say I’m not going to smoke after ___ pm. Or I’m not going to smoke more than ___ amount of cigarettes a day. Or I’m only going to get ___ packs a week. Set the bar low and give yourself a chance to adjust.

Here’s another example: You know how much it sucks to unpack after a trip? You know how you have to unpack that suitcase, but it sits there on the freaking floor for days, sometimes weeks, overflowing with clothes that you never want to put away? Ok, maybe it’s just me. I REALLY hate laundry in case you couldn’t tell. Whenever I catch myself doing this… which is anytime I go anywhere, I make the decision to put away ONE item in the suitcase every time I walk by it. Once I decide that I’m able to tackle the suitcase in no time, but if I tried to do it all at once, it wouldn’t happen. 

Set the bar so stupidly low, that you have no reason and no excuse to not follow through. If you want to accomplish something BIGGER, like a bigger goal or lifelong dream, not just unpacking a suitcase, plan out each of the steps that you’re going to be taking. Decide each low bar that you would have to set for yourself in order to finally actualize that dream. Decide to enroll in a course tomorrow, or research your target market, or write one page of your business plan, or finally register as a business, or write ONE page of your book. Write down each low bar you have to set for yourself and accomplishing the bigger things in life. It will make it far less scary, far more reasonable, and it will finally get you moving in the right direction.

3. Gretchen Rubin’s One Minute Rule

If it’s a matter of the little things accumulating and getting out of hand, try using a trick that I learned from happiness expert, author, blogger, and podcaster Gretchen Rubin. She came up with this “One Minute Rule” that’s become incredibly popular with her audience. The idea is that if you can do something in one minute or less, you should do it right away.

This trick helps to tackle countless broken windows throughout the day and prevent them from spiraling into a bigger issue. For example, a plate can be rinsed off and put in the dishwasher in about 5-10 seconds, so you should do it right away. It gets little tasks out of the way and keeps them from boiling up. For that reason, it takes you a few seconds to do something, rather than letting dozens of simple tasks get out of hand. At that point, it would take you an hour, or even several hours of running around trying to do so many things at once. We’ve all been there when we’re trying to clean up a room that we let get messier and messier for the last month, which means that we have to spend the next half a day cleaning to get everything done. It takes so much more time and energy to tackle all of it than it would to chip away one task at a time.

It’s a great trick to adopt as far cleaning and putting clothes away if you’re like me, but it could also be used in everyday life. Because I’m writing this post right now and was reminded of this rule, it finally prompted me to call someone back that I’ve been putting off for two days, even though I knew it would only take me 60 seconds. If you have to do anything that takes a minute or less, like write a quick email, then write the damn email! Otherwise, all it does is add to the collection of broken windows you have going and weigh on your mind. 

4. Set a power hour

This next tip is also one that I learned from Gretchen Rubin. (I really love her in case you couldn’t tell). The idea is that if you have a lot of tasks stacking up – maybe they take a minute or maybe they require a little bit more time and energy – you should set an hour aside each week to tackle them.

You know those tasks that aren’t necessarily hard or difficult, but it requires you to do a few steps, or make a couple of calls, or research something first, or dig through your filing cabinet, so you just keep not doing it? The thought of spending those next 10-15 minutes working on this random annoying task that you don’t want to have to do, keeps you procrastinating and not doing this thing for weeks. I do this to myself whenever I have to go looking for a new doctor. For example, when I decided that I wanted to see a therapist, it took me several weeks to finally start making calls and searching for someone because I knew I’d have to spend at least 20 minutes, researching places in the area, calling people, repeating my insurance information, setting up appointments, and then going to consultations with different therapists.

This task wasn’t hard, but it felt annoying and inconvenient. It took more time and mental energy than putting away some dirty dishes, so I continued to put it off. I’m sure you have some task like that you really don’t want to do! For things like these, it’s a good idea to select a day of the week and set aside one hour to power through these random tasks that you’ve been setting aside. It forces you to finally get it done and make some progress, and it finally eliminates that task that’s been weighing on you and making you unhappy and anxious.

5. Decide 1-3 things you want to focus on the next day

One way to tackle your broken windows, eliminate bad habits, or even accomplish larger goals, is to decide the night before what you will focus your energy on tomorrow. I like to incorporate this whenever I feel myself losing focus on my work and getting stressed out. Each night before bed, get out a notebook or a post-it note and reflect on what you would like to focus your energy on the next day. Remember to only pick one to three items.

I find that this works because otherwise, it’s easy to look at the mountain of tasks that you need to get done in order to be successful or reach a goal, and think to yourself, “Where the f*ck do I even start?” For example, sometimes my list looks something like: 1) Create welcome email 2) Edit new video 3) Start ____ post. Or 1) Publish post 2) Choose quotes for Pinterest graphics 3) Brainstorm ebook ideas. It’s a short list of goals that you know you can reasonably get done the next day and provide some direction and support so you stay on track.

You can use this trick with work, with getting in shape, or with breaking bad habits. It’s even been helpful for me in the areas of spirituality and self-improvement. If you’re trying to lose weight, your list might look something like: 1) Go to the gym for 20 minutes 2) Make dinner at home 3) No snacking after 9 pm. Or maybe 1) Look up ab workout ideas 2) Get some healthy snacks at the grocery store 3) No chips. The beauty of this list is that it varies every day, so you don’t make the same mistake of making a drastic decision or lifestyle changes at once. 

6. Say no

I felt the need to mention saying no on this list as well because too many people try to take on more than they can handle. Not only is it a way that we self-sabotage, but it’s also a reflection of our culture now. It’s a culture where we treat each other like computers that are meant to be productive, to perform, and to function all day long, rather than connect, love, and LIVE.

It’s a culture where high school students feel as if their self-worth is defined by how many AP classes they’re in and if we’re not making six figures, we’re not good enough. I believe that we won’t be able to create massive change in our lives and fix our broken windows unless we learn to first slow down and cut back. Otherwise, our physical and mental energy is drained, while more windows break in an effort to keep all the balls in the air. But here’s the thing, while we desperately need to learn to say no to other people, we especially need to learn to say no to OURSELVES.

We’re our own worst critic and nobody expects more from ourselves than we do. Which is when I get 10 new ideas for blog posts, I expect myself to be able to do all of them. When I have an idea for a video, an email, a graphic, a book, I think that every idea I have to say yes to in order to be the superhero version of myself I want to be. I do this with collabs, with my website, with challenges I make up for myself, and with classes and programs that I learn about. It’s the reason why Matt is always having to have an intervention with me at our kitchen counter and say, “You’re trying to do too much. You’re gonna stress yourself out. You can’t do it all.” While we may have thousands of epic and wonderful ideas, it’s impossible to say yes to all of them. By saying yes to every idea, you’re not even able to see one through completely. So learn to slow down, and say no. Say no to family members who demand too much from you, say no to friends who treat you more like an assistant than a friend, say no to coworkers that try to pass off their responsibilities onto you, and above all, say no to yourself. You can’t do it all. 

7. Remind yourself that it’s going to take time

Last but not least, when it comes to creating massive change in our lives, it’s important to remind yourself that it’s going to take time. I’m so guilty of this because I want everything done, perfect, and completed right away. I’ve very impatient when it comes to my progress and I have to remind myself of this almost daily. And I know I’m not the one human being in the world who does this to themselves. I see it in my friends and family too.

We put a lot of pressure on ourselves and create expectations that we would never expect from anyone else. And we expect that we should be able to get things done immediately. We go to one CrossFit class and immediately think we’re weak and bad at it because we can’t deadlift 200 lbs. Or we take one yoga class a year and get frustrated with ourselves because we can’t do a headstand right away. When it comes to ourselves, we think we should make progress far faster than is reasonable, which is why it’s so important to remind yourself that things take time. All you can do is to try your best, and eventually, you’ll get there. 

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

I hope this post was helpful for you by highlighting the biggest pitfall that millions of us make every January – we expect to make a massive change in our lives overnight. When it comes to accomplishing lifelong goals, breaking bad habits, or creating healthy change in our lives, for some reason, we feel as if we should do it instantaneously. The problem is that many of us have our own little “broken windows” that have to be fixed before we can do that. Like sleeping in too late, eating unhealthy, holding ourselves back, or staying in toxic relationships. But if you take small steps, and make one change at the time, that effort begins to spread like wildfire.

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! Have you noticed that you’ve made this mistake before? Or maybe are making it right now? What are some examples where you’ve done this to yourself? Have you thought of any of your own broken windows? How do you think you could create massive changes by using some of these tips I mentioned? Do you have any other suggestions that you think might help people create massive change in their lives? Let me know in the comments!

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

My Holistic Approach to Treating Depression with Herbology & Self Love

Health & Wellness, Self-Help

I made an appointment. I filled out the forms. I was asked personal questions. The health professionals checked my pulse and tongue. By the end of my appointment, the herbalists all reached the same diagnosis: my heart was broken.

Seeing a Western Herbalist?

Years ago if you would have told me that whenever I got sick I would be seeking out the help of an herbalist over a doctor, I don’t think I would have believed you. But sometimes we surprise ourselves like that.

It all started several months back when I ended up getting really sick. I was suffering from tonsillitis that wouldn’t go away, chronic stomach aches every night that lasted hours, and what I thought was my fourth or fifth breast infection. So of course, I went to the doctor. And then another doctor, and then another doctor, and then another and another and another. I had so many appointments, but they always ended up going the same way. The doctor would shoo me out as fast as possible, give me a prescription, and say that they didn’t know what was wrong with me.

After experiencing that for many months in a row, I finally decided to change my methods. I decided to instead go to Traditions Herbal Clinic in St. Petersburg, Fla. I enjoyed my experience and their holistic approach at Traditions so much that when I started to experience depression, getting in for an appointment was my top priority. No way was I going to take random depression pills. Nope. I had already tried that once before when I was a teenager.

I am not at all saying that taking pills is wrong and I know that for some people it is extremely helpful, especially for those who suffer from clinical depression. But pills don’t work for me and I’ve found that they tend to only create weird side effects for me. Plus, being so involved in self-help, health, and wellness, seeing a traditional doctor and going on pills was not at all what I wanted to do. Instead, I was going to go to the Herbal Clinic and go about healthily treating depression by trying to heal from the inside out, not cover up the depression with a band-aid.

My Holistic Approach to Treating Depression

If you’ve never been to an herbal clinic before, it’s the exact opposite experience of seeing a traditional doctor. The approach at herbal clinics is to get to the root of the problem, rather than treat a symptom. The herbalist will sit with you for an hour or more discussing EVERYTHING from your mental health to digestion. They also use very traditional methods that have been used for centuries before we had people in lab coats with medical degrees throwing pills around like candy on Halloween. At the Traditions Herbal Clinic in St. Pete, they specifically use a mixture of Western and Chinese Herbalism. In each visit, they will examine your pulse in nine different places on each wrist to get an idea of how the organs are functioning, and they do a tongue examination. 

The way the appointment works when you go to the student clinic is you sit with them for about an hour and go over everything with them. They write down their thoughts and theories on what’s going on with your body, then one of the owners comes in to make sure it’s correct and to see if they have any other recommendations or additions. The owners include Dr. Bob Linde, AP, DOM, RH(AHG) and Renee Crozier, RH(AHG). (You could choose to see the owners themselves, however, it does cost more money.) I saw Allison for my appointment and then Renee who specializes in cancer care and traditional healing.

After you see both the student and the owner and discuss your health history, systems, diet, lifestyle, digestion, etc., they put together a very specific herbal formula for you and create a wellness plan. The formula and wellness plan that they put together have very specific recommendations that are supposed to help you to heal physically, spiritually, AND mentally. This is exactly the approach that I wanted to take to treating depression. I wanted to sit with someone who talked to me rather than shooed me out of the office and I wanted to be put on a holistic formula rather than with pharmaceutical drugs that only address a symptom. I also decided to begin regular therapy. Which, if you’re interested in hearing about that, make sure to read my last post, “I’m Seeing a Therapist + How I Discovered I Had Depression & Why I’m Thankful For It.”

My Appointment

Disclaimer: I just want to say that the people at Tradition’s Herbal Clinic are extremely knowledgeable in traditional healing and herbalism, so I know I’m not doing their hypothesis justice by trying to explain it myself. But I will try the best I can!

The day I went in for my appointment I filled out all the paperwork and health history information. After that, Allison took my paperwork with her to review for a few minutes and then we started. She asked me all sorts of questions related to what I wrote down, discussed my symptoms with me, checked my pulse and tongue, and even asked me very personal questions about my lifestyle and relationships. Renee then joined us about mid-way through the appointment. 

About an hour and fifteen minutes, both Renee and Allison had come to a conclusion that I’ve never heard before from any kind of doctor or health appointment I’ve had: they concluded that I was suffering from a broken heart.

They shared with me that just as we have PHYSICAL organs like the heart and the brain, we also have SPIRITUAL ones. We have a physical heart just as we have a spiritual heart and they’re both connected. Meaning that when we’re having problems in the body they can manifest as mental issues and vice versa.

In my case, they believed that I have a broken heart, and because of outside influences and comments that I had stored in my memory and internalized, I had also developed awful self-talk. All of this sadness and negativity was building up in my heart and my mind creating depression and symptoms in my physical body. They believed that if I didn’t get a hold on it and heal myself that those mental issues could later manifest in the body and create serious diseases as I age, such as coronary artery disease.

Herbalist Recommendations & Wellness Plan

To heal my body and my heart, Renee and Allison recommended I drink loose leaf tea twice a day that they made for me later that night. The tea is made from a mixture of eight different herbs including schizandra berry, tulsi, eose, hawthorn berry, hibiscus, and passion flower. They also wanted me to take a flower essence tincture three times a day by placing four drops of the essence under my tongue. Aside from their formula they would create for me, Renee and Allison wanted me to be taking Probiotics REGULARLY (not just when the mood strikes) as well as magnesium and vitamin D supplements.

Above all, they wanted me to work on my mindset, my self-talk, and learn to love myself. (Easier said than done, right?) Their suggestions for this were to get three different books that they felt could help me the most, but they wanted me to listen to audiobooks because I remember better when I hear something rather than read it. Two of the three audiobooks they recommended included, “The Four Agreements,” and “The Fifth Agreement,” both by Miguel Ruiz. They believed that I would benefit if I learned to adopt the agreements: be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions, and do your best.

They also believed that I could gain some insight from these books by learning about HOW we make agreements with ourselves and internalize beliefs. They also thought that it would help me learn about how humans spew emotional poison onto others creating more unhappiness on an individual scale which has a ripple effect out into the rest of the world.

The last audiobook they wanted me to listen to is “You Can Heal Your Life,” by Louise Hay. This one is about how our limiting beliefs and ideas are often the cause of illness and how we can change our thinking to improve the quality of our lives. 

Lastly, Renee and Allison wanted me to talk to myself. Also not something I was expecting to hear! They wanted me to talk to myself out loud and in my mind giving myself compliments or saying affirmations. The hope this that though me doing this regularly, my mindset will start to shift and become more loving and compassionate towards myself rather than being an invisible bully that follows me all day.

Those are my herbalist’s recommendations for helping with the depression that I’ve been experiencing from all the stress and big life changes over the last year. From here on I’m supposed to follow their recommendations for the next month until my second appointment. Then I’ll have a follow-up appointment where I’ll go back to meet with Allison and Renee and they’ll examine me again to provide new recommendations to incorporate and to discuss my next round of healing with a second herbal formula. 

My Self-Love Challenge

Because I have an entire month left of taking their advice before the next appointment, I thought it would be nice to make this month a time of serious self-love. Because not only do I want to go into that next appointment having made progress and taking their suggestions seriously, but I also want to see if shifting your mindset is even possible in the first place. I know it must be possible because all the books and blogs talk about it, but I’ve always been so skeptical about whether I could do it myself. Could I REALLY shift my mindset and get rid of my negative self-talk? I hope so. 

So I decided to layout a month-long self-love routine for myself that will help me heal in more ways that one. Here’s my month-long self-love practice!

Morning and Nighttime Skincare Routine – This one may seem very random, but when I got stuck in my rut I was extremely lazy and unmotivated. Throughout all my life I have always had a pretty involved skincare routine complete with oil, a cleansing, a toner, a serum, moisturizer, eye cream, and SPF. But when I felt so low, I could hardly bring myself to wash my face. Now, I’m making it a point to focus on my skin again first thing in the morning and at the end of the day as well. 

Moisturize – I recently came back with all of these gorgeous lotions and body products from my super spontaneous trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake. So as part of my self-love practice, I will also make it a point to moisturize after a shower. As much as I hate the idea that people think self-love and self-care is PAMPERING because it’s NOT, I’ve been completely neglecting those things after I started to feel low. Adopting this simple act of pampering is just one way that I’m showing love and appreciation for myself by taking those few moments just to make myself feel good on the outside, which I believe can also make you feel good on the inside. 

Self Love Reflection – Next I’m incorporating a self-love reflection into the day whether it’s through stream of consciousness journaling or quietly reflecting on something that I love about myself or that I’m proud of. The point is to help me get rid of the negative self-talk by slowly replacing it with happier and more pleasant thoughts that lift me up. 

Affirmations – I’ll admit I’m super new to affirmations. I hadn’t come across any affirmations that spoke to me and I NEVER remembered to do them. But to me, it seemed too weird walking around my apartment throughout the day telling myself compliments as Allison recommended. I decided that as my way of “talking to myself” as she suggested, I would find a list of affirmations and I would say them aloud to myself and meditate on them. This way has been working well for me because I don’t have to think up what I want to say. I instead pick an affirmation for the day and repeat that affirmation until I feel like it’s sinking in. If I’m feeling extra motivated I will read through a list of affirmations or pick several. But either way I pick one affirmation for the day, repeat it for several minutes in the morning, and then make it a point to remind myself the affirmation throughout the day by writing it down in the morning and keeping it close by.

My absolute favorite list of affirmations that I discovered came from Peaceful Banyan Tree in an article titled, “20 Powerful Affirmations of All Time.” I LOVE this list because it covers positive thinking, health, confidence, self-worth, happiness, letting go, money, success, stress, and today. It hits on all of the areas that bring us full-body health and wellness. For that reason, this list has resonated with me and helped me choose my morning affirmation with ease.

  • I am able to find positivity in every situation.
  • I create only positive thoughts and radiate positivity.
  • I am getting stronger and healthier every day.
  • I am taking good care of my mental and physical health.
  • I am becoming a better version of myself every day.
  • I am confident to overcome any hurdles.
  • I know my self-worth and I am worthy of the best.
  • I believe in myself.
  • I am overflowing with happiness, joy, and satisfaction.
  • I choose happiness over doubt and fear.
  • I forgive myself and everyone else for all the mistakes.
  • I choose to release hurt and resentment.
  • I am a money magnet and attract money easily.
  • The universe is creating opportunities for me to earn more and more money.
  • I see success and abundance everywhere.
  • I am becoming more and more successful every day.
  • Every breath I take fills my soul with calmness and ease.
  • I am at peace now.
  • Today is the most beautiful day.
  • Today I lay the foundation for a wonderful future.

If you’d like some more ideas, make sure to check out my “Mantras” board on Pinterest @LostOnlineBlog.

Pray – After doing my morning affirmation, I decided that I would end with a prayer. I ask the universe to help me take the affirmation into the day, and for help in healing and becoming my highest self. I don’t have a script and what I say tends to vary each day. I always speak from the heart and say whatever feels good at the moment. This is my favorite part of my daily ritual because it makes me feel so at peace.

Supplements and Herbs – For the longest time I completely stopped taking my supplements or I would take them very randomly. But the thing is with supplements you have to take them for an extended period to actually receive and notice the benefit of it. For example, when I started taking biotin for my hair and nails, I didn’t notice how much it helped until at least three months later. Now, as part of my self-love practice, I’m making my supplements and my herbs one of my top priorities along with my formula from Tradition’s Herbal Clinic.

Audio Books – In the afternoon or evening that’s when I’ll be incorporating the audiobooks that were recommended to me. Whether it’s at the gym, in the afternoon when I’m done working, or as I’m getting ready for bed, this is where I’ll take the time to absorb all of that knowledge that my herbalists believe will help. So far I’ve listened to “The Four Agreements” and part of “The Fifth Agreement.” I like them so far because the advice is so simple, but I can see how if you adopt The Four Agreements you could be free from all of the dramas that cause us so much pain, and also have greater self-love. 

Gratitude – At this point, you all are very familiar with how much I believe in my gratitude practice, so I won’t rehash all the benefits again. You can check out my blog post, “My Daily Gratitude Practice,” or “Stream of Consciousness Journaling: The Benefits & How to Practice It.” But it should come as no surprise that when I started to feel so low that I could hardly get myself moving for the day, so of course I didn’t end up sticking to this ritual either. So I’m making it a point to reinstate gratitude in my day. 

Read – Whenever I fall into a funk, I always tend to start numbing with Netflix, which always makes me feel so much worse in the end. I feel as if I’m unproductive and lazy and like I didn’t accomplish anything important. I decided that as part of my self-love ritual I would stop watching shows and instead read in bed every night, not just when the mood strikes. I’m so happy that I’ve adopted this one because I already had so many great conversations with people over our shared love for the book that I’m reading right now: “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.”

Meditate – Last but not least is meditation. I’ve been following along with the happiness series on the Headspace app lately and it’s helped me to find some peace and serenity right before I go to bed and fall asleep. I’m such a night owl that usually the moment my head hits the pillow I’m 100% awake, but whenever I meditate before bed that’s not the case. I’ve adopted this last habit because not only will it help me feel a sense of calmness in my mind, but it will also help me to take care of myself by falling asleep at a reasonable hour and be able to wake up earlier than usual. 

How is it going?

It’s now been two weeks since I went to the herbal clinic and got my formula. I’ve been taking it every day aside from the days when I was in Pennsylvania and Ontario because I didn’t want to lose it or be questioned about my brown paper bag of herbs at the airport. I don’t know if the formula is what’s helping or if it’s a combination of self-love practices, supplements, herbs, and books.

I do feel much better than I did before though. I have finally pulled myself out of my latest funk and I’m hoping I’ll keep feeling this way for at least a few weeks. I think what is actually helping me the most is that I LOVE trying out wellness practices and products, so I don’t know if it’s their suggestions exactly, or if I’m just so excited to now be going to therapy and to get to test out all of these recommendations and share my experience. 

I have been feeling incredibly proud of myself though because I didn’t think I would be able to take so many recommendations from someone and incorporate it into my life with such ease. I mean really, I have a hard enough following my dentists one simple piece of advice – floss. But I really want to get better, so I’ve been doing everything! 

Lastly, I just wanted to share that this is how I’m treating my depression right now. I’m seeing a therapist, seeing an herbalist, and adopting self-love. I hope that you find some nuggets of wisdom in here that might help you, however, I’m not suggesting that EVERYONE treat depression by repeating affirmations or taking probiotics. Some people do need medication and some people have serious clinical depression and suicidal thoughts that an herbalist is not equipped to fix. If you’re suffering from depression I HIGHLY suggest that you see a doctor and a therapist. Just keep in mind that these things like rituals, books, and supplements can serve a purpose too, and I believe that trying a mixture of traditional and holistic recommendations will help you heal the fastest. 

Thank you for coming to Lost Online!

As always, thank you for reading and make sure to let me know you’re thoughts in the comments! I’m particularly interested to hear what people think about this post and how I’m going about healing myself. 

What are your thoughts about this post? Did you get any ideas from it? Have you had depression before? How did you go about treating it? What worked for you? Do you believe in going using a mixture of traditional and herbal treatments or do you believe one is better than the other?

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

Announcement: I’m Seeing a Therapist + How I Discovered I Had Depression & Why I’m THANKFUL For It

Announcements, Self-Help

This week’s blog post is a bit different for me. If you’ve read Lost Online for a while, then you’re probably familiar with the fact that’ll I’ll occasionally write about announcements in my life like starting at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition – but never have I shared an announcement THIS personal. 

I’ve debated about sharing this so many times with mental illness being such a sensitive and personal topic but finally decided that keeping this a secret wouldn’t feel authentic. Because I am so passionate about self-help and wellness I really feel called to share my decision with you about seeing a therapist. Keeping such a big decision private (as someone who preaches self-help and wellness each and every week) just isn’t me. I like being honest on my website, even if it’s not always the cool thing to do. 

Very recently, after realizing that I had depression which wasn’t planning on leaving my side anytime soon, I decided to start seeing a therapist. For the first time in my life, I didn’t just entertain the idea or talk about it. I finally picked up my phone, actually made a call, and booked my first ever therapy appointment – a huge step that I wasn’t sure I would ever take. Since that day I keep giving myself mental praise, “Hell yeah, I actually f*cking did it. I took the first freaking step!” It’s not very often I feel proud of myself, but today I am. Up until this point, the idea of seeing a therapist seemed as terrifying to me as much as swimming with a Great White shark. 

So I wanted to come here today, as I normally do, to talk about what prompted me to finally start seeing a therapist NOW in hopes that it will inspire someone else who may be going through something similar and just needs to hear that they’re not alone.

The Build-Up

It’s been nine months since I first moved to St. Petersburg, Fla. with my boyfriend Matt. I could still remember how excited and thrilled I was that I finally graduated from college and was about to start a life with my partner. It was such an exciting time, picking out the decor, signing a lease, grocery shopping together! I was finally growing up and I could not wait. My entire life I looked forward to the day when all this would happen – when my life would start, when I’d have someone to come home to, when I’d finally be FREE to live as I please. I know it sounds crazy, but I honestly thought that once I moved out and had my own place life would be WONDERFUL. It would be perfect. It would be filled with travel, love, beauty, money, friends, adventure, rainbows, and unicorns. LOL. That’s not what happened. 

Here’s what actually happened: Since I first moved to this coast to sunny St. Pete, nothing happened as I expected. There’s been so many big life changes, decisions, and challenges that I didn’t see coming for the life of me. For the first time ever I was in a new town trying to make a life for myself without family or school providing some structure and support. I was alone having to make friends as an adult (which is surprisingly difficult). I’ve tried so many times to make friends with people only to be canceled on and stood up again and again.

I had to get used to a whole other family that’s now in my life with their own opinions and oh so many expectations. I’ve had to deal with WAY more family drama than you would expect both in my family and Matt’s. I’ve been pressured into buying a house before I was ready, with NO ONE around me respecting my feelings. I then fell in love with a house and had that dream taken away after we discovered a disturbing termite infestation and had to resend our offer. 

I felt real financial stress for the first time. I’ve felt the pressure to find a job while being asked every single day, “So did you find a job yet? How’s the job hunt going?” (Apparently, when you are job hunting, it’s the only thing you’re allowed to discuss with people.) I’ve been spewed so much unwarranted advice about job hunting from people who haven’t looked for a job in 20 years. 

I then had months of sleepless nights struggling with the decision to leave my full-time job to pursue what I wanted. Then, I got let go from another job, followed by months of working at home from my kitchen counter leading to a very isolated lifestyle because there’s no “blogger office” you can go into to hang out with people.

That’s not even including the health problems, friend drama, and family issues that are way too private to share online. But the biggest challenge of all – I can’t make one decision in life without someone feeling the need to intervene and share their two cents with me. Wherever I want to live, whichever house I live in, whichever dog I get, SOMEONE has an issue with it. I really believed that once I was on my own that I would be magically liberated from the opinions and judgment of others.

If this is what everyone meant by, “Wait until you get into the real world,” I finally understand what they mean.

That transition period from college to adulthood is extremely overwhelming, and then you throw in health problems, a new city, a new family, and financial stress and it’s no wonder I’ve been so anxious and depressed over the last nine months. There’s been A LOT going on, and those are just the bullet points. 

It reminds me of a quote I just saw on Instagram today that said, “Being an adult is just saying, ‘But things will slow down a bit again’ to yourself until you die.” I think that sentence wraps up the last nine months of my life perfectly. 

How I Discovered That I Had Depression 

All of that brings me to these past few months when I’ve felt so low, so defeated, so disrespected, so helpless that I just felt like, “What’s the point?” “Why even get up early, get a bunch of work done when life keeps handing me one shit sandwich after another?”

My depression stayed while the excitement, motivation, and inspiration fell away. I ended up spending way too many days over the last few months in sweat pants, greasy hair, exhausted for no apparent reason, not feeling like myself at all. So many days I felt lazy, unmotivated with overwhelming sadness or sometimes not feeling anything at all. Sometimes even just getting out of bed in the morning felt like going to war. It seemed impossible. What’s worse is that staying in bed turned into a vicious cycle where I felt guilty and disgusted with myself for not working and getting more done.

Once I was up, I couldn’t even bring myself to take care of myself, do work, eat well, or go to the gym. Some days I would binge on junk food for comfort, other days I wouldn’t eat a thing. Because of how low I felt, I isolated myself more and would hardly leave the apartment. 

It was about nine months of lead up and slowly feeling worse and worse until one day I realized: I don’t think this is normal. This doesn’t seem to be one of my typical “ruts” that might last a few days. It seems more serious than that. 

But I still wasn’t 100% convinced that I was experiencing depression. I thought that in order to be depressed you had to have suicidal thoughts or actions, which I don’t. I still want to live and continue to grow, I still have hopes, dreams, and aspirations, but I still felt terrible and sad most days. So, I became more and more curious about whether or not that’s what I’ve been experiencing. 

This eventually led me to into a google-searching black hole one night. I started looking up articles about how to tell if you have depression and found a long collection of articles that all had similar titles. Most of them said, “30 symptoms of depression,” “20 ways to tell if you have depression,” “12 secret symptoms of depression,” “15 little known side effects of depression.” You get the idea. Well, it turns out, I had ALL of the symptoms and “secret” side effects of depression, aside from one – bed sores.

It turns out that I had depression all along, and just didn’t realize it. It wasn’t until I had every symptom and checked with Google before I finally realized that’s what was going on. It was difficult to finally admit to myself that that’s what I’m going through, especially being someone who’s so immersed in self-help and wellness. I would love nothing more than to “fix” myself and be a perfect, shiny, glimmering example of health, happiness, self-love, and positivity for you. It also was somewhat of a relief though, because there have been too many times when Matt asks me for the third time in one night, “What’s wrong?” Followed by me saying, “I’m tired,” because I honestly don’t know what to say. 

Finally Seeking Help

There have been many times I should have seen a therapist throughout my life, but I never went through with it. I was way too scared to finally take the leap and I had so many irrational fears about what might happen if I actually DID see a therapist. I was afraid of being labeled or being viewed as a freak who couldn’t get their life together. I was scared that I might hear people say to me, “What the f*ck would you have to be depressed about?” Especially if it was my family saying those things. It would make me feel so guilty when they’ve worked so hard to give me the life that I have now. Seeing a therapist seemed almost unfair or even wrong. However, what terrified me the most was the thought of sitting across from a stranger and crying for an hour about my deepest and most personal issues. The thought of that still makes me cringe.

Even though I know SO many people who see therapists and talk about how much it’s helped them through depression, anxiety, family problems, and trauma, I couldn’t bring myself to do it for the longest time. Which only meant that the longer I put it off, the more I built it up in my mind and the scarier it seemed. 

But now here I am, a self-help and wellness blogger that spends days experiencing overwhelming sadness and not being able to get out of bed. I’ve read all the books, listened to all the podcasts, tried all the supplements, adopted all of the self-care rituals, and here I am – experiencing depression. It was that thought that FINALLY made me pick up my phone one day and seek out a therapist. There comes a point when if you experience depression, you can’t leave it up to random authors to play the role of your therapist for you, you need to actually talk with someone. 

So here I am at the start of my own therapy journey and I just had my consultation appointment today (as I’m writing this). After making that initial phone call and setting up my appointment, my fears surprisingly went away and were replaced with an emotion that I was NOT at all expecting: excitement. It appears that all of the overthinking that I did about whether I should or shouldn’t see a therapist for years made that initial phone call scarier than actually sitting down with someone. 

“The problem is not the problem. The problem is the incredible amount of overthinking you’re doing with the problem. Let it go and be free.” – unknown

Viewing Depression in a Positive Light 

Now that I’m finally taking a leap of faith and moving forward with a therapist I’m feeling very hopeful about what’s to come. It’s allowed me to reflect on the last 9 months without being so triggered by it and think about the advice that I wish I could give myself when I first moved to St. Petersburg. I put together three main takeaways that I want to share with you today so that it may reach someone else who needs need to hear this too.

1. Life goes in phases

There will be moments when you feel on top of the world and there will be moments when you’re feeling down. You’ll have the best days of your life, but there will still be the worst days. But as much as it sucks when you’re hurting and life keeps kicking you when you’re down, those times are necessary. It would be impossible to feel on top of the world all the time or else you wouldn’t appreciate it. If everything went your way you wouldn’t realize how special it was and would take it for granted. 

That’s why it’s important to honor the highs and the lows equally. To feel happy and grateful when things are going well and to trust that everything is working in your greatest favor when they are not. 

2. It’s always darkest before dawn

Just as I shared in my latest blog post, “How to Recognize Universal Signs, things falling apart of “bad” things happening is a good thing. A lot of the time, it’s actually the universe working in your favor. I believe that many of the good things that happen to us would be brought into fruition without something falling apart. Just like how you wouldn’t have met your soulmate unless you broke up with that douchebag you used to date in college!

I’m going to go ahead and quote myself for a minute, in case you haven’t read the last blog post yet.

“We can’t expand, fulfill our purpose, or become our highest selves if everything is going well and if everything was EASY. We can’t continue to improve and learn important lessons if everything is rainbows and unicorns all the time. We’d be way too comfortable. And if there’s one thing that I know in this world, it’s that you can’t grow inside your comfort zone…Challenges happen because it’s the universe pushing you to level up.” – Heather Ione Clark

It reminds me of one of my absolute favorite quotes in the world, from author J.K. Rowling: “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” If it wasn’t for her challenges, the world would have never been blessed with the magical, wizarding world of Harry Potter!

But just as much as I believe that challenging times happen to us so that we can reach our soul’s purpose, I also believe that the rough periods are happening to us for another reason. We all have lessons that we’re meant to learn in this lifetime so that we can evolve and become our highest selves. Even though it’s much easier to take the victim mentality, instead look at it from the perspective of, “What can I learn from this?”

When I take this healthier and more positive perspective, I’m able to understand that this depression I’ve been experiencing is happening for a greater purpose – it will help me to grow, finally address traumas that I haven’t let go of, and it will help me to inspire others to seek help too. 

3. It’s ok to not be ok

It’s ok if you’re not always feeling “#blessed” like how you are in your Instagram captions. Let’s be honest, we all have crap days and years that don’t quite go how we imagined they would. And that’s ok. I don’t think I’ve met one person who didn’t struggle with some trauma, whether it be a broken relationship with a parent, a sexual assault, or an eating disorder. We all have our things.

When I first decided to see a therapist, I debated not sharing this with you. I didn’t want to admit that even I feel the need to see a therapist. Because I’m a self-help and wellness writer, I should be 100% ok, right? False. Even your super hot personal trainer eats cake sometimes. We’re all human here. 

But I’m sharing this because although this blog is all about self-help, health, and wellness, I’m not claiming to be PERFECT. I’m not claiming to have it all figured out. This is about my journey, my advice that I learn along the way, and above all – transparency. Sharing the not so gram-able moments about my life in hopes to help someone else. Because I know other young women just like me share the same challenges, and I want them to know that it’s ok to NOT be ok. 

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

I really hope you enjoyed this week’s post and it helped you to reflect on your own experience. Lastly, I just want to say that if you’re having a similar experience as me, don’t be afraid to make the call. Those few minutes it takes to call someone are scarier than actually sitting down and talking things out. Trust me, you will be so happy and so proud of yourself that you took the first step. 

“At any given moment we have two choices: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.” – Abraham Maslow

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! Have you recently taken the first step to see a therapist? Do you currently see a therapist? Looking back at the time of your life when you decided to seek help, what are some of your own takeaways? What advice would you give to others who are going through a hard time? Do you believe that “bad” things happen for a reason? Do you believe that we’re meant to learn something from moments like this? Even if you don’t AND even if you haven’t seen a therapist, let me know your thoughts in the comments! 

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.