What Do You Love About Yourself?

I recently was scrolling through social media and saw a post that said “List 5 things you like about yourself.” So, I casually started listing generic things like “Nice hair.. Pretty eyes.. Funny.. etc.” Then I really started to think about it, and asked myself “What 5 things about you really make you proud to be who you are?” Essentially, what are 5 things that make me “me”? Here is the list I came up with:

#5 – I am a go-getter

Nothing has ever stopped me from getting something I want or achieving one of my goals. Once I identify something I want to accomplish, and truly dedicate myself to the vision, it is only a matter of time before it manifests. Once an idea brews in my head, that’s it – it is happening!

Sometimes I amaze even myself with my commitment to things, but it is just second nature for me. It is how my brain is wired. I have never been the type to sit back on my couch, wishing for something to happen or imagining what it would be like in another lifetime. I only get this one life to be Antonella, so I am going to do it now.

#4 – I root for other people to succeed

I am running like I am on fire toward my wildest dreams – and along the way, I am encouraging others to do the same! Not everyone’s vision of “the perfect life” is the same as mine. Someone else’s success will not take away from my own success. When I see other people living in their purpose, or being their most authentic self, I am so incredibly proud of them. DAMN RIGHT I am rooting for them to succeed! Those are exactly the type of people I want to surround myself with, and even more so if they also are in the practice of rooting for other people’s success as well.

#3 – I embrace change

Change is a part of life. Some people thrive with change. Others fear change. Luckily for me, I have always loved change and have been flexible enough to roll with the seasons of life.

I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania, and fall was always my favorite season. Between the changes in the weather and the changing of the foliage (and of course my September birthday!) that specific time of year will forever represent change, growth, and always moving forward.  I have always been the type of person with the mindset that “Something amazing is about to happen!” so I always have something exciting to look forward to even when the current change feels uncomfortable or scary.

Change is inevitable, so it is best to just get used to that fact and go with the flow!

#2 – My sense of adventure

I am always down for a spontaneous adventure! Like last week when I bought last minute tickets to a concert the day of the show that ended up being 95% all in Spanish. Or like a few months ago when I decided on a whim to book a flight to Cuba. Then there was that one time I was exploring the streets in London, spotted a carousel, and in seconds convinced 15 of my mid-life adult graduate school classmates that they ABSOLUTELY needed to take a ride on it with me!

My sense of adventure truly is the spark for my excitement for life. My mom has always called me gutsy and the dare-devil of the family since I was a kid. She reminds me constantly of my grade-school class trips to amusement parks where as an 8 year old I would be riding adult roller coasters with my hands in the air and screaming “Wooooo!!!” while the rest of my friends were all gripping on to the safety bar for dear life.

Very recently the Executive Director at my office casually mentioned in conversation how I am “a kid at heart”. I loved this and truly found it to be the best compliment. It reminded me of one of my favorite books, Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, and one of its famous quotes: “All grownups were once children… but only a few of them remember it.” I am proud of myself for not only remembering what it was like to be a child, but for also still living with a childlike wonder. I see magic everywhere, and it makes my sense of reality a very exciting place!

#1 – My generosity

I am one of the most generous people I know, and I do not say that lightly. I will help anyone as much as I can, even when I know there is nothing they could do to repay me. I feel that if I am capable of helping someone else, or if I am able to make someone else’s life better, than it is my duty to do so. Whether it is helping monetarily, giving away my material objects, lending a helping hand physically, giving my time, providing encouragement or advice, or just being there to listen to someone, I always try my best to do what I can to help.

This one makes me the most proud, and that is why it has earned the #1 slot. If my legacy in life is to be only remembered in this way, I know I would be honored.

 

I’ll tell you something – turning 29 last week was a pretty tough moment for me.  I now only have 1 year left in what I dubbed “my selfish twenties”, and to be honest I am not quite ready for the end of that era to come. Making this list really made me feel better, and put things into perspective. Age is truly nothing but a number. What is most important is how you choose to live your life every day, and how you choose to exert your energy.

So the next time you are feeling down on yourself, or need a little pick-me-up, I recommend trying this exercise and see what you come up with. What are 5 things you like about YOU?

Antonella is a gypsy soul with a passion for traveling, experiencing other cultures, and trying new things. Her “happy places” include airports, libraries, and Japanese restaurants. She enjoys reading, creative writing, music, kickboxing, risky/high-speed activities, and food! Her favorite things in life are crafting a good story and making people laugh. While she is still on a journey to figure out her exact life purpose, she is on a mission to be what she’s destined to be!

5 Tips to Beat That Stress

Ever have one of those days (or weeks) where everything seems to pile up on you all at once? Like no matter how hard you try to keep everything balanced and stay in control, it all feels like it is going to come crashing down on you in one fell swoop? I have been there many times, and I know how it feels when your world seems to be hanging by a thread. Often times, it can feel like you are the only solitary person in the world who experiences this, which could lead to the ultimate self-pity party (…guilty!)

Next time you feel so stressed you don’t know what to do, here is a list of 5 tips that may help.

#1- Breathe.
When I am physically agitated, the most important thing I must first do in order to begin the process of calming myself down is to just breathe slowly. When I am physically agitated from stress, I can feel as if I have the weight of a thousand bricks on my chest so the breathing may not be so natural in this moment. If I need to physically distance myself from other people then I will – because, YES, when I am so extremely stressed out that I am physically agitated, then sometimes even hearing another person breathe the wrong way will bother me. I will find myself a private space and just focus on the breathing (deep breath in through the nose, long breath out through the mouth) and slowing down my heart rate. Once I am not so physically stressed, I can then focus on also decreasing the mental stress.

#2- Do something relaxing.
For me, doing something relaxing is the follow-up after focusing on my breathing. This helps me mentally control my stress once I have physically calmed down. These activities will be different for everybody, but my relaxing releases include: lighting candles, taking a bath, drinking hot tea, meditating, or listening to music (choice of music is very important in this moment!).

#3- Do something to distract your thoughts.
Once I am both physically and mentally calmed down, I do something to distract myself. Sometimes I will read or watch a TV show/movie, because this helps provide me with a “feeling of escape.” Other times I will clean or organize my space, because it helps me feel less suffocated. Probably my most favorite distraction though is a nice long nap. I do not know why, but for me there is nothing like a nice long nap to help me avoid thinking about whatever is crippling me with stress at that moment.

#4- Do something to pump your endorphins.
Work out! Nothing pumps your endorphins better than a good work out. You will feel so much lighter and happier, even if only briefly, and you will be one step closer to conquering whatever stress is attempting to take over your peace of mind. Sure, this may not make whatever problem is causing your stress to begin with go away, but it can help you feel happy. And happy people smile. And smiling decreases stress. (Google it!)

#5- Talk to a friend.
Once you have gone through steps 1-4 on your own to calm down, you have given yourself both distance and the opportunity for a different perspective. During this time, you have distanced yourself from the physical/mental stressful feeling which in turn will allow you to have the opportunity to look at the original cause of your stress from a different perspective. An objective friend may be the perfect person to listen to your situation and help you see a new perspective.

I hope this little list helps you cope a little better the next time you find yourself dealing with stress.

Please remember, THIS TOO SHALL PASS!

Antonella is a gypsy soul with a passion for traveling, experiencing other cultures, and trying new things. Her “happy places” include airports, libraries, and Japanese restaurants. She enjoys reading, creative writing, music, kickboxing, risky/high-speed activities, and food! Her favorite things in life are crafting a good story and making people laugh. While she is still on a journey to figure out her exact life purpose, she is on a mission to be what she’s destined to be!

Caution: Overthinking Can Lead to Extreme Indecisiveness

Usually I am eager to sit down with my laptop and formulate all of my thoughts that I have been organizing in my brain into one cohesive story. However, this month, I noticeably was filled with more dread than excitement. Why? I love writing. I am beyond thrilled to be writing again after avoiding it for many years (that is a whole other story that I will save for a different day…)

This piece you are reading was not what I was originally going to submit for this month’s post. The truth is, I procrastinated (actually, avoided) working on anything until the night before my deadline. I came up with a very generic post citing 5 tips on how to handle stress, which I also still submitted, but the whole thing just felt off – as in, fake and lacking…

I did not want to submit anything just for the sake of submitting something. I want my pieces to be raw and vulnerable, and reach readers in a relatable way. So I decided that I needed to sit down and focus on writing the piece that I truly was meant to write this month.

As I sat in my office with the door closed and I asked myself “What are you running from right now?” – It hit me.  There have been some pretty big decisions the universe seems to keep reminding me lately I need to make.

I have been on such a roll in 2017, building on so much momentum, and so many awesome things have been happening in my favor. However, there have been some areas of my life that I have purposely been avoiding because I am sidestepping making some serious decisions.

I am a Libra. I like to feel balanced. I loathe making decisions. Which is ironic because I am also very “Type A”, so I love to be the one calling the shots. How does that even make sense?

There are times when I am just so indecisive that I frustrate myself. Then I start to beat myself up over trying to figure out what I want, and I get flashbacks to a scene in the movie The Notebook when Noah is yelling at Allie “WHAT DO YOU WANT?!”

The thing is I don’t KNOW what I want. I mean, I do know, in terms of big picture. But I want a million things, and I am still trying to figure it all out.

My main problem is that I over think things to death, which leads to my extreme indecisiveness.

The only thing I can keep reminding myself is to take one day at a time. Rome was not built in a day, and not all decisions must be made and finalized this very second. Decision making is a part of life, and although it often times gets a bad rep for being “the bad guy”, it really is the unsung hero.

Yes, decision-making can make you uncomfortable and kick you out of your beloved comfort zone.

Yes, decision-making can force you to face some seemingly scary things head on.

Just remember, decision-making really has your best interest at heart if you are being true and authentic with yourself.

Transition is usually never a smooth ride, and there are almost always bumps in the road.

Maybe I still am not ready to face those big scary decisions I have been avoiding, but writing down these thoughts is a start.

I am saying out loud to myself (and writing it here for anyone else who might need a reminder): One day, when you are living your wildest dreams in real life, you will thank yourself for being brave enough to make those tough decisions that you so badly wanted to run and hide from. 

Antonella is a gypsy soul with a passion for traveling, experiencing other cultures, and trying new things. Her “happy places” include airports, libraries, and Japanese restaurants. She enjoys reading, creative writing, music, kickboxing, risky/high-speed activities, and food! Her favorite things in life are crafting a good story and making people laugh. While she is still on a journey to figure out her exact life purpose, she is on a mission to be what she’s destined to be!

When is the last time you did something for the first time?

“When is the last time you did something for the first time?”

I was recently asked this question, which quite honestly caught me off guard. What a damn good question! In fact, it quite possibly might be my new favorite question. Luckily for me, when I was asked that question, my answer was: “Today.”

When I was asked this question, I was at the starting line of the “Tough Mudder Half” mud run. I have recently gotten back into a fitness routine, after a self-imposed hiatus that lasted much longer than I had originally intended. Somehow, a few of my friends talked me into signing up for this 5.4 mile trek through obstacles and mud- with some running in between! Even during my most athletic days, I never participated in any sort of formal race or marathon, and I honestly was not too excited about what I had gotten myself into.

The run’s own Facebook page boasts the following: “Designed to drag you out of your comfort zone… So challenge yourself… Escape the Ordinary.” Inspiring, while simultaneously daunting. However, all of 2017 has been a living testament of me being pulled out of my comfort zone (admittedly sometimes kicking and screaming), and this seemed like yet another perfect opportunity to try something new. So I did.

At the starting line, the event coordinator gave a little pep talk and his opening line was “When is the last time you did something for the first time?” Then he asked “How many of you are running this as a first-time Mudder today?” I raised my hand, along with dozens of others standing all around me. He made direct eye contact with me, took a step toward me, and fist bumped me to wish me good luck. It does not seem like much, but later on, every time I felt like stopping, I just kept thinking of that question. I kept reminding myself that I was doing something for the first time right now and that I had to be present in that moment.

Doing something for the first time does not necessarily have to imply constantly doing something extreme, like skydiving or riding a motorcycle or traveling to a jungle in Africa (well, for some people it can!)

Doing something for the first time also does not necessarily have to imply that you have to continuously keep “topping” your previous first.

The whole notion can be different for everyone. It can be something as simple as trying a new type of cuisine for the first time, or picking a new hobby and learning it for the first time.

So take a minute and really think about this question. When was the last time you did something for the first time?

Is your answer “today”? Is it “last week”? Or is it “a few months ago”?

It does not matter what your answer is now. What matters now is what your answer will be going forward!

The important thing is to just make sure you are putting yourself out there.

Are you pushing yourself and trying new things? Are you getting the most out of every single day that you are on this earth? Are you truly living?

A lot of people push things off of their “To Do” list to their “To Do Later” list. However, “later” is not always guaranteed. For some people, “later” never comes.

So what better time is there than now? GO DO SOMETHING NEW FOR THE FIRST TIME! 

Antonella is a gypsy soul with a passion for traveling, experiencing other cultures, and trying new things. Her “happy places” include airports, libraries, and Japanese restaurants. She enjoys reading, creative writing, music, kickboxing, risky/high-speed activities, and food! Her favorite things in life are crafting a good story and making people laugh. While she is still on a journey to figure out her exact life purpose, she is on a mission to be what she’s destined to be!

Never Become Too Busy to be Human

Earlier this week, I was on the train commuting to work and something happened that I cannot stop thinking about. I did something that at the time made me slightly pause with guilt before I consciously made the decision to ignore the feeling. As I was about to exit the train at my stop, I noticed a woman seated right by the exit door crying. This was not just a silent private cry, but a full blown tears-streaming-down-the-face cry. Cue the slight pause that almost made me stop to ask her if she was okay. Almost.

But my ear buds were in, and the train door was open, and I was already really late for work. So I ignored the gut instinct that caused me to pause in the first place. I ignored the urge to kneel down in front of her and ask her if she was okay. I ignored everything inside of me that was begging me to empathize. I just did not have enough time for that. After all, I had to make a mad dash across that station platform to catch my connecting train, whose doors were seconds away from closing… So that is exactly what I did.

I continued on selfishly with my day. I did not give thought to that crying woman again- until 2 days later, when she rushed back into my thoughts and stopped me right in my tracks. I was so utterly disappointed in myself. I could have done something. I should have done something. When did I become too busy to be human?

When I first moved from a small town in Pennsylvania to New York City for graduate school five years ago, it was a major life adjustment for me. Not only did I feel incredibly alone and vulnerable to begin with, but it was a bitter cold January full of miserable icy snowstorms. That combination in itself is recipe enough for even a well-balanced person to feel the blues. I remember crying on the train every single night on my way to class for the first two months, and feeling shocked that not even one person ever asked me if I was okay. Not one.

The thing is it is our jobs as human beings to be there for each other. We must help each other on this journey. After all, we are all in this together. I know it is easy to get so caught up in the daily hustle of our own lives, but we must never lose our ability to be human. We must tap into the emotions and feelings that make us human and allow room for compassion, sympathy, empathy, kindness, consideration, etc. We cannot lose those, or else we will lose ourselves.

If I could go back in time to that moment with the crying woman on the train, I would do things differently. I would make the effort. I would take the ear buds out and ask her if she was okay. I would let her know that she was not alone.

All most people want and need is to know that there are other people out there in the world that understand and will be there for them. Never underestimate what a kind word or a show of concern from another person, even if it is a stranger, can do to make someone’s day better. It truly is as simple as that!

Antonella is a gypsy soul with a passion for traveling, experiencing other cultures, and trying new things. Her “happy places” include airports, libraries, and Japanese restaurants. She enjoys reading, creative writing, music, kickboxing, risky/high-speed activities, and food! Her favorite things in life are crafting a good story and making people laugh. While she is still on a journey to figure out her exact life purpose, she is on a mission to be what she’s destined to be!