Hey, das ME up there! But how the heck did I get here and why am I even writing to you? Well, let me give you a little peek behind the curtain at my “before” story…
(And I promise it won’t all be in baby-speak 😉
When I think of who I am, I can’t formulate the full picture without first mentioning those who formed me.
Founded from humble roots, I grew up watching my parents work for everything they have, both building their legacy and lives for their family with their literal hands.
Having grown up in a unique, coastal community of the Bay Area, called Inverness, my Dad grew up rowing a boat to catch the school bus at the age of six, and since built his own boat restoration business.
And my mama, after being a hairstylist since 1984, now owns her own salon in San Francisco.
When I think of my family, I think of good food, good mood, good music (the kind who’s taste in tunes take you from Tom Petty to Tupac on Thanksgiving), sincerity, and strength.
I also think: L-O-U-D!!
Like My Big Fat Greek Wedding..without the wedding.
My Greek Grammy dubbed me the family “flower child” at an early age, but I’ve also been known as Kenny, Ken, CoCo, Dove, diva, and monkey to my Mom.
And, dare I say…a damn cute diva!!
But I wasn’t just ANY ol’ diva.
I was a multidimensional diva.
Meaning that, while forever fond of a fashion show, I was also the competitive daredevil who would break my own arm if it meant I could break the tie between me and my cousin Logan, who lived directly next door.
Trust me, I was TUFF!!
Middle school was un-especially uneventful…I mean…it’s awkward for everyone…right?
And then came…
THE BLACK AND WHITE
Okay, so I think we can all agree that high school is, well, dramatic, but I took that to a whole ‘nother level.
What can I say?…I like to play full out 😉
You know when you get the nervous giggles, and maybe make a bad joke or two just before you spill some serious shiz?
Totally me right now!
All jokes aside – in high school, the only things I thought were right, lived between the extremist identifications of being black or white.
And it was bad.
Like REAL bad.
Let me paint the picture for you:
From falling in love with the wrong people to proclaiming a self reliance so strong that I would never, EVER let myself fall for, trust in, or depend on anyone else again.
From filling myself up with food to fill the emptiness inside, to not eating at all.
From fad diets to full out binges.
From engaging in extreme exercise, to not moving from my bed for days on end.
Depression, disillusionment and disidentification of self and center sank in.
I developed a deep disdain for the life that surrounded me. I was depressed with the state of the world, and the state of myself.
My high school invited us to volunteer- but the volunteering I was doing at the time didn’t feel like enough, and I despised the privilege I observed both around and within me.
I saw all of the problems with the world, and I saw only my two (seemingly helpless) hands.
But don’t you worry your kind and compassionate heart – it get’s better!
Because around my junior year of high school, I fell in love with the Romantics.
Not the Romeo & Juliet Romantics.
The real Romantics 😉
I became inspired by both the simple and civic calls of Transcendentalist teachings from authors such as Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson (AKA: the OG hippy-philosophers).
Reading about their strategic seperation from society gave me hope, and I yearned to transform, as both an artist and an individual, just as they had.
So, like any extremist would – I became obsessed.
SUPERRRR original, right?
I started journaling and writing poetry daily in order to cope with my fears and frustrations, as well as the deep darkness I felt inside of me still.
And although reading and writing was giving me a creative outlet, it was continuing to align my spirit with the extremes Emerson and Thoreau both placed upon themselves and endured.
I made Vegan vows and promised myself I would never purchase another piece of clothing from a store – (consumer capitalism at its finest!)..or so I told myself at the time.
Said SAYONARA to sweet, SWEET $5 fun shirts from Forever 21, and solely shopped at thrifts whilst severely scaring the shit out of my mother.
Seriously, she was begging to buy me something.
If only it were a tactic to get free clothes…
(*Cue Beethoven’s Symphony #5*)
But it wasn’t.
Because IT had filled my insides, and I was starting to feel it.
And by “it” I mean – the egotistical extremes, suffocating sides, and bleak yet BRUTAL “box” that houses the black and white.
It’s a world almost impossible for any individual to survive (let alone thrive), because it’s also one without wiggle room.
Or happy mediums.
It’s trapping and taming yourself to a box, in a space without the context of life that both connects and colors everything.
And it’s living without a care for the careful complexities that come in compassionately considering the rest of the world.
And we give a hard BOO to that.
So, how the heck did I get through that ferocious phase?
And some other growing up stuff.
CONNECTING THE DOTS
College felt like a cure.
Key word: felt.
I had amazing friends. I was digging my classes. I met my boo. And I was FINALLY experiencing freedom.
I was now a larger-than-life Liberal Arts student, and I felt like I was finally coming into myself as a multifaceted, multi-passionate human being.
My horizons were broadening through the perspectives of professors I respected, and the pain points and problems they brought to the forefront impassioned me to start looking for strategies and solutions.
I set my eyes on Virginia Woolf and other groundbreaking Women in Literature, as well as an eclectic ensemble of works from Greek philosophers, to Queer authors, to Native American traditional storytellers.
Which, paired alongside classes in Anthropology and Globalization Theory, lent to my own individual “epiphany” into how interwebbed our world was with intersectionality.
I learned that things were clearly more interrelated than I thought, and I connected with those sides of me that, although once felt disarrayed, started to slowly make subtle sense.
From minimalist to multi-passionate, the millennial in me was beginning to thrive in the intermixed and interconnected grey areas.
You know, those areas where there’s space to freely BE, breathe, imagine, and embrace each and every side of yourself?
EVEN the parts you don’t normally show on the surface.
I felt like I was finally connecting with people like me, and I loved the culture, challenge, and change that college could provide.
Although active in high school, college is also when my fitness journey began!
But we’ll get into that another day 😉
Because, although it looked like I was doing great when you looked at my grades (helped me out with graduating Summa Cum Laude so hey!), a profoundly piercing perfectionists mindset was beginning to peek through.
There were too many things I wanted to do, and not enough time to do them all at once.
I wanted to volunteer, but I was also scared that would mean falling behind in my career, and in my couple.
IN THE ZONE
But, as some of the smartest souls I’ve met have told me, often the greatest rewards in life come from doing those things that scare you the MOST. Because want to know what else is guaranteed in that “fear zone”?
So there I was, fresh out of college, moving to a country I had never been before, accompanied by no one and nothing I knew besides my singular suitcase.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve felt called to volunteer for an extended period of time.
It was, and still is, one of those purpose-filled passions I can feel calling me from my very core.
Like the fudge filling in a drumstick, the sweetest spot at the center.
But even more than that, volunteering abroad was one of those things I couldn’t die without doing.
And knowing that nothing in life is guaranteed, meant I needed to take that leap sooner rather than later.
The scene I had originally sketched out in my head included me in the African Peace Corps for two years. But my boyfriend, as well my deep love for the Spanish language, sent me to a one year, World Teach program in Ecuador.
And BOY am I thankful for the blocks that built this previously unimagined path for me, because it was the absolute best year of my life to this day.
It was also the most challenging year of my life to this day.
And you’ll get to hear all about that too.
THE TRAPPINGS OF SUCCESS
Let’s run the tape to the part where I leave Ecuador (don’t worry, we’ll be back!), and return home to Marin County, CA, one year later.
Landed, (literally) on U.S. soil, as well as a 9-5 working for Fragomen, one of the top Immigration Law firms not just in San Francisco- but in the world.
I thought being connected to the immigration process that brought me the most beautiful gift of my life (previously on a volunteer work visa of my own) would be something meaningful for me.
What I did not realize was that the immigration cases I would be working on would be for the richest American companies, and that it would basically be working like the machines these tech lords were making.
The commute? Don’t even get me started on that.
But seriously, how many podcasts can a girl listen to while stuck in traffic on Lombard?
Now, if I’m being completely honest, I didn’t just take the job because of a holistic heart calling me to help, I also took it because I was scared of the failure of not finding something else, something better.
I took it because that’s what I was told growing up: You get the college degree and you get the best company you can with the best possible capital and commission.
I was driven by the salary – not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Especially after balling on a #VolunteerBudget for the past year – with a WHOPPING salary of negative dollars.
But what was wrong was my reason.
I took the corporate job because that’s what everyone else was doing, and because I thought it was what I was “supposed” to do.
I did it because after a year of doing something dramatically different, a huge part of me was looking to reconnect with our society, and seamlessly slide into swimming upstream like the rest of the salmon.
I was left wondering – Is this all there is?
Is this the way it’s supposed to be?
Is this what I have to look forward to forever?
After questioning, meditating, praying (and then questioning some more) I realized the answer was an astounding:
BIG cling-cling of the champagne glass *(make it a spicy marg for me)* to all of my multi passionate peeps out there!
I realized in my moments of reflection that I wanted something different and that it was OKAY to be different.
So, (dare I say it on a platform so public?), I QUIT!
And although I would love nothing more than to let you sink your teeth into some juicy story of me storming out of the office and immediately soaring to success in my own way – that was not the case.
Because, unlike the movies, my goodbye story was short and simple.
Told my boss with two weeks notice, and (to my surprise) shared a more sentimental send-off than I thought my short three months at the firm would supply me with, gratefully and graciously.
Closed out as many cases as I could, said goodbye to a select few, shared a final lunch, and started stepping out of that skyscraper, one foot in front of the other, unaware of where I would go, with the exception of knowing I needed to just. keep. moving. forward.
ONWARDS AND UPWARDS
The ‘aha’ moment didn’t come until I met sister entrepreneurs Kay & Shi one month later (December 2019), and was subsequently introduced to the Personal Growth and Development Industry, the Knowledge Industry, and other entrepreneurs and thought leaders alike.
What first began as a freelance copywriting gig, formed the foundation for newfound levels of freedom, fulfillment, and FAITH in finding my own way.
What I realized was this:
The “problems with the world” weren’t necessarily all ones I alone could change.
But the problem of my mindset?
That was something I was completely in control of.
In retrospect, I believe my living within the black and white box was sourced in a deep desire to know all the answers.
Maybe you’ve felt like this before too?
Like if there was a right and wrong for everything, that would also mean there had to be some sort of guideline, somewhere, for living life RIGHT..right?
Looking back, I recognize the *recovering* perfectionist in me, simply scared silly of effing it all up.
But I don’t want to look back anymore.
Because it’s time we look forward.
FILL IN THE BLANK
And today, I screen-stand in front of you – halfway through clinical psychologist, Meg Jay’s “Defining Decade” – telling you that I want my life to be defined differently.
I want my life to be defined by the harmony of “having it all”, and balancing it all, without harnessing a sense of helplessness for what’s “supposed” to happen.
I want my life to be defined by a feeling of flow, and not a fight to the “finish,” because tombstones don’t award trophies.
I want my life to be defined by a push away from perfectionism, on the impassioned pathway towards progressing as a person, and pushing the envelope on what’s possible.
Because who says I can’t be a kick-ass career woman AND a community-loving hippy?
And who says YOU can’t (fill in the blank) AND (fill in the blank)?
WHO says WE can’t have our cake and eat it too?
No really..I’d like to meet that person 😉
ALL ABOUT ANSWERS
Now that you’ve “met” me, you’ve probably realized that NO.
I do NOT have all the answers either.
And although the Religious Studies minor would love to pull a Plato, Socrates account, and say, “The only thing I know is that I know nothing,” – I won’t.
Because the truth is, I continue to learn the beauty between the extremes, the beauty of figuring it out as you go, and the beauty of the unknown.
And I *pinky* promise to use this space to reveal that beauty between both the balance and the breakthrough, in the hopes that you might join me too.
Because I don’t have it all figured out. But wanna know what I do know?
You CAN be ALL of the things in your own way and the way that works for YOU!
And so, I bring you a blog that will cover ALL of the breakthrough things for you balanced being, in the hopes that you’ll become a part of our community – whether you’re looking to become balanced altogether, or simply better the balancing act you currently have going.
And if you’re the type that think’s balance is a bunch of basic bullsh*?
I triple dog dare YOU to come back too.
Hey, I told you I like a challenge 😉
So – although I already know you don’t need a formal invitation (..Millennials, mannnn ) – here you have it:
I want to invite you into a community of balanced babes (and bro’s!) just like you, looking to find their breakthrough balance in all things career, wellness, social, and SO much more – from traveling to talking through tough topics with your significant other…mom…and/or your insanely intimidating boss.
Every Wednesday, a new blog will be right here, waiting just for YOU 😉 – with every blog having been designed around helping you:
1. Uncover your breakthrough balance as an individual, both emotionally and aesthetically, through powerful philosophies and physical fitness findings – discussed in Fitness Flows and Balanced Beliefs.
2. Discover your power in the paradox – through that fine line between the black and white – with Personal perspectives, Travel takeaways, courageous conversations, and Career controversies and confessionals.
So, what’ll it be?
Will you join me in learning, growing, and breaking through to becoming ALL of the things you wish to be, in balance and harmony?
I can’t wait to see.