Go Small

I spent a lot of time in my youth sitting in cold church basements, sipping coffee out of styrofoam cups and listening to adults, young and old, share stories about the daunting task of trying to change themselves. In many way there was a common goal that linked these people together, but despite the unifying thread, no two stories were ever the same, still the the response to each struggle was:

Time after time, I would hear responses such as these:

"just keep showing up"

"keep it simple"

"easy does it"

"one day at a time"

"expect miracles"

"it works if you work it"

"it takes time"

"pass it on"

The repetition never struck me as strange. The simple response to complex heartache never seemed insignificant. It just felt like I was in the presence of strength and support. 

As I reflect on the time I spent quietly listening to these stories, I realize that this time shaped me and who I would become as an adult and the work I would do.  It's comical to think that the most time I have ever spent being silent, was in these church halls, listening, when the message wasn't truly intended for me - still it impacted me, in ways it became a part of me. That is what happens when you listen, and you're silent and still. Information lands on you, and you don't have to figure out what to do with it, because you're simply meant to receive it. And when you hear the message again and again, it just becomes a part of you. 

This time of year I wish I had a super power to protect people from the messages that are forced upon them: leaving them to feel that all they have done in December is bad, that now they must pay for it and even worse, that they simply are not a good enough version of themselves and something drastic must be done.

As an educator in the fitness industry I find myself overwhelmed by the task of debunking the idea that you should feel guilty for celebrating and treating yourself, while supporting the concept that whatever you do, you must undo because the truth to all of this lies in a shade of grey, that I have yet to find a simple way to clarify. 

At this time of year, I feel helpless as I witness so many beautiful, good intentioned people convincing themselves that they must change and becoming overwhelmed themselves with the daunting task of trying to change.

I was uninspired, until I remembered the message unknowingly embedded in me as a child. 

If you’re looking to change something about yourself, it takes work. 

Some days it’s hard work, and some days the work comes easy. 

Some days it will feel like you don’t have to do the work, that’s when you need to do it the most. 

There is no magic answer or quick fix to lasting change. It requires patience, persistence and perseverance. 

But if you want the change, it is worth taking the time to put in the work. 

No matter the problem or the desired change, the response is the same, and you must consistently receive the same message, over and over again to stay the course, and once you feel like you’ve arrived. You should keep showing up. 

There will be influences everywhere. There will be misleading signs. There will be moments of great strength and accomplishment. There will be moments of struggle and frustration. 

This is why you should seek out support. You should lean on others to remind you of why you started. You should seek out people and places that provide you with good, trustworthy information, so you know where to turn when outside influences and sneaky internal influences are overwhelming. 

You do not need to be fixed. But if you want to change,  it can be done. 

"just keep showing up"

"keep it simple"

"easy does it"

"one day at a time"

"expect miracles"

"it works if you work it"

"it takes time"

Take a small measurable action today, give yourself permission to be happy with what you've done today, and to commit to do the same tomorrow. Allow yourself to go small in the direction of big goals - because it does in fact, take time....but I can also promise that after a while it doesn't feel like work...it just feels like life. 

You are meant to enjoy your life.

Your health and wellness demand prioritizing.

No matter the season.

When outside influences creep in and make you feel small, remind yourself of this commitment to go small and keep showing up...one day at a time. 



The Answer

The answer isn't always what we thought it would be. It often won't be what we want it to be. Still, there is always an answer. Sometimes you just have to wait.

It will be two years in November since I was silenced. Most people reading this blog (if anyone is reading this blog) won't even understand what that means. I am rarely silent...and I live in a country where speech is free and women have equal rights to men. I am not oppressed, nor have I ever been. Still, almost two years ago in my small, very fortunate and free world, a piece of me was silenced. It shook me to my core, it hurt my heart and it questioned my strength. And just like with any physical wound, this blow left scars. 

If you don't know the background - here are the Cliffs Notes. In October of 2013, my business, The Energy Barre, had grown enough to take the risk of leaving a safe space and taking on my very first commercial lease. I had no business signing a commercial lease without an attorney reviewing it...but I am impulsive and I operate on faith. I signed a lease for a gorgeous, single room studio space on the fourth floor of a big brick building that sits in the very center of Stoneham. Sometime later we entered into a new lease agreement taking over the rest of the fourth floor. Again, impulse and faith. The studio pretty immediately ran into issues regarding noise complaints from tenants downstairs. For a great deal of time there was friendly communication between myself and the other business owners to try to find a compromise and a solution. Overtime, our efforts fell short. I could have done things differently, they could have as well...but ultimately the building management felt they had no choice but to bring a law suit upon me to restore peace in the building. Overlooked language in the lease that I eagerly signed enabled them to silence my business operations between 9 AM and 5 PM. 

My fatal flaw maybe just how much of myself I put into the things that I love, so much that they become me. My business is me...and so, just about two years ago, I was silenced.  It shook me to my core, it hurt my heart and it questioned my strength. And just like with any physical wound, this blow left scars. The thing about scars is that they signify healing.

For a long time the scars only provoked pain, a constant reminder of what was taken away from me and the people I care about....but it's different now. I am proud of my scars. I earned them. I made mistakes. I thought I could fight fire with fire. I gambled and I lost. Still here I am. I open the doors to my business with a smile, everyday. The people who had grown to love The Energy Barre did not turn their backs and walk away because some things had changed. They embraced the change. We grew together. I am proud of these scars. They remind me of my weaknesses and the mistakes that I never want to make again. They remind me that I am fortunate to love my work, so much it hurts. They remind me that I am loved, and supported. They remind me that I am not alone. They remind me that no matter what life throws my way, I have the choice to respond with authenticity. They remind me that when I am broken I will heal, when I am lost, I will always find a way.

When I walked out of the courtroom on that November day, I knew that there was an answer. There had to be. Still...it took a long time to find it. The answer isn't always what we thought it would be. It often won't be what we want it to be. But there is always an answer. Sometimes you just have to wait. You have to wait because you must arrive at a willingness to receive the answer that is, rather than the answer you want.

On Wednesday afternoon, with my son hanging off my hip, I opened an email with the answer enclosed. I was granted permission to play music, without time restrictions on Saturdays and Sundays. I jumped up and down like a child. I was beaming. My son joined in the celebration because he couldn't help but share in my happiness. The answer I waited for, for a LONG time, was the ability to play music at anytime without restriction, but the reality is, that is not going to happen...even more, this limited permission could be revoked at anytime. I will always be at the mercy of the tolerance of the people I share this building with. But I believe in my heart that this answer was meant for me, and that it will remain, and I will respectfully work to ensure it does. 

Today I shared this news with the community of The Energy Barre. The delivery brought me pure, light, happiness....because this was never about me, it was about what I was no longer able to share with the community that means so much to me. Today I am happy for us, and I am proud of my scars, my process and my change. I can say with pride that I responded to the most challenging experience of my life with patience, integrity, creativity, understanding, persistence and compromise. This experience has changed me, through loss came tremendous growth. 

My Jeep

In my early twenties, after years of driving a number classic teenage beaters into the ground...I purchased my first "grown up" car...You know, one that actually required a loan, and the first that I was entirely financially responsible for, aside from the assistance of my grandmother as a co-applicant. My dad had found the 2002 Nissan Maxima in a business parking lot with a for sale by owner sign on it. He felt it was a safe and reliable car and everything about it looked great to me; shiny grey paint, leather interior, a CD player - I was sold.

We contacted the buyer and the rest was almost history, until things started to get fishy. We learned that I wouldn't be getting the title on the day of the sale because the owner needed to use my money to pay off his own loan. A couple of other red flags were raised, but my determination to own a car blurred my vision and I forced my way forward. On the day of the sale my father urged me not to follow through...but my stubborn stupidity ignored the warning. I received the title some fifteen days after purchasing then vehicle. The car never passed inspection. Just out of college, making $13.00 an hour, I was in over my head. The price tag on the repairs exceeded what I would make in four months. I drove that car, with a faded red rejection sticker on it for years. I smiled at every police officer I passed and prayed that they would look at me, and not my lower right windshield. Looking back at my younger self, there were many ways that I could have resolved the situation over time...but I was scared and stubborn, I felt frustrated and stupid, taken advantage of, and so, the only reasonable answer was for me to ignore the problem and keep my fingers crossed.

When I met my husband, he wasn't yet a police officer. Still, I am pretty sure he noticed my inspection sticker almost immediately. I remember feeling so embarrassed. He seemed to have EVERYTHING together, and I could barely keep my cellphone payments current. Time went by, as it does. I don't really remember what my plan for that car was...I like to think that I had one, but I cannot be sure. So much time had gone by since I bought the car, I refused to slow the rest of my life down to take care of this daunting problem. John and I rented our first apartment together, we bought a couch and a bed and the money I made just went as quickly as it came.

In August of 2011 we got engaged. I don't know if I will ever feel that lucky again. He still had his shit together WAY more than I did, and I think I was constantly waiting for him to figure that out. But in February of 2012, John took his savings to help me out of my vehicular nightmare and into a brand new, black four door Jeep Wrangler. It was this gesture, act of love, that humbled me right down to nothing. I knew that he loved me, I am quite lovable. I knew that he wanted to be with me forever, I am not quite sure there is another woman more perfect to handle him and his ways. But in this moment, I realized that he wanted to take care of me forever, and I had never so secure in my life. 

I LOVED that Jeep. Every time I took the tops off, or forgot to put them on, or received a friendly Jeep wave, I was reminded that I am loved and protected and that I didn't have to be perfect to deserve it. 

Yesterday was the last day I'll drive that Jeep. I said goodbye to it this morning as I left for work. It's just a car. It's just a thing. But it is so much more to me. As I get further and further away from the person who I was back then, I never want to forget what it felt to be loved and cared for, and given the space to grow and change in my own time. 


Seredipity: How Layla Became a Curtis

We weren't looking for a dog, but our dog was looking for us. 

It seems to be the way that things happen for John and me. A series of divine interventions that have consistently led us to where we are meant to be. Awareness, willingness, openness; it's a way of living that we work at, and when we're getting it right, there is always a sign, a light, a clear direction of where we are meant to be. Often times we fall into ruts when our heads are down and our stubborn behaviors take over, but then we notice, we pick our heads up and let the compass lead the way. 

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Hanging On and Letting Go

This weekend was a BIG weekend! Together with my friends from The Inner Cycle, my husband and I opened our fourth Energy Barre studio! We are fondly referring to this new venture as EBIC - a beautiful fitness haven in North Reading where two like-minded businesses are bringing the community the best of barre and spin under one roof! It's pretty unbelievable to walk into this space and say that it is in-part mine. Someday (soon hopefully), I will write about how we dreamt up this idea and patiently waited for the right opportunity to fall into our laps, but today I am not really here to write about EBIC.

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When I was young, my grandparents lived in an apartment building in East Boston. It was the home that my father grew up in. There was always an indescribable feeling when we took the drive from Danvers to the Sumner Street building. Not that the drive was particularly scenic, (anyone who has ever traveled route one can attest to that), not that every drive always felt great, (this was the first place my father moved when my parents separated, and of course grandparents get old and sick, and that is hard to process...), but the ride generated its own unique feeling and that was something. My sisters and I still talk about the smell of the stairwell. It's a smell that we would bottle up if we could. Still, I couldn't describe it to you if I wanted to.

Some things, some feelings are simply indescribable.

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Mantra Monday: Every Moment Matters

Mantra Monday is back!

To kick off our 8 Week Mantra Monday Series for the Energy Barre New Year Melt Down Challenge, I want to set the tone for a life changing experience and challenge you to consider that every moment matters. 

It's a saying that in one way or another can be heard every day, maybe multiple times a day, but I wonder is it ever truly heard?

When considering that every moment matters, one must believe that in order to truly get the most out of this sacred life, they must be present, invested and committed to each passing moment- whether it be the mundane, the exciting, the work or the leisure. 

Your life is in fact comprised of all of your moments: the moments that make you proud, make you sweat, make you happy, make you sad. There are moments that give you life and there are moments that take your breath away and tear you down...but that is what makes a life. 

As a participant in the New Year Melt Down Challenge you have decided that you want something more for your life. I cannot define what that is, but I can tell you that in order to achieve it, you have to be fully present in the moments, in the work it takes to get you there. 

I shared a somewhat scrambled video post to our private challenge group page this morning, in the MOMENT that I had before running into my Monday morning yoga class. Ironically I was somewhat distracted in sharing my thoughts on "being present and making every moment matter." And although, I believe my point was heard, it lacked some clarity. Not ironically, in class I was given the exact clarity I needed to support my point. 

"The benefit is in paying attention." 


You must pay attention to the moment in order to truly live it.

You must pay attention to the moment in order to receive its benefit. 

Anyone can show up and go through the motions...but those who show up with intention, presence and attention gain the benefit, live the fullest life, and attain their greatest goals. 

YOU have the power to be that person. 

So I challenge you...to show up and live the moment. At home, at work, in the studio, wherever you may find yourself. Because you got yourself there, you might as well gain the benefit. 

Every moment matters.


In the spirit of resolutions

The start of anything is hard.

Especially when you are aiming for a big change.

You'll often second guess yourself. Doubt Yourself. Try to talk yourself out of it. 

Others might want to see you do this. They might like to see you stay just as you are.


If you have been inspired to make a change - change.

Take small steps every moment. Every day. 

You'll get where you are going...and somewhere along the way,

when it doesn't seem so overwhelming anymore, I can't wait for you to look back and say:

"Look how far I've come."


My Body is Meant to Fold

Today I was able to make it to my favorite yoga class for the first time in what feels like months. I was so happy to walk through the doors into the warm room knowing that the next 90 minutes were all mine. Phone off, body on. I laid on the mat with my eyes closed and smiled. Grateful for this time and this opportunity. 

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Mantra Monday: Week #6


I decide how my story ends.

I think it is safe to assume that we have all experienced a time when we set out on a new mission with completely clear intentions, a solid dedication, and strong proclamations that THIS is the new way, THIS is the time I will (fill in the blank), THIS is going to change my life -- and then as time rolls on and the new wears off, so does the excitement and so does the intense dedication. Even when our intentions remain clear, we've lost the drive and the ability to stay the course because LIFE happens. 

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Mantra Monday: Week #5

This week, let's feel empowered! 

If you've been following along, you know that The Energy Barre "Fall In Love With Your Body" challengers have just entered week 5 of the 8-week challenge. This is a big week. The halfway point has been passed, and there is no doubt that if a challenger has been completing the challenge guidelines each week, they are looking to see their results start to shine through. 

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Mantra Monday: Week #4

Have you ever heard the expression, You're all in, or you're all out?

It's true on so many levels. You can show up and physically, give 100% to the result you are working for (all in), but if you're mind is not in it, you're all out. 

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Mantra Monday: Week #3

Let me start this post by saying that your life is not a series of days meant to be carried out in script with a predetermined beginning, middle, and end. You are meant to evolve, learn, develop, and create the story of your life. The story of who you are today and who you are tomorrow. 

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