In a matter of weeks, my life seemed to flip upside down like a pancake, hold the syrup. I had lost my job, my income and my patience with my health. I had gotten injured on the job and it’s been a slow road to recovery. Then, I was sick for three weeks with a cold that everyone seemed to be getting with that horrendous coughing, which only threw my back out again. It was the holidays and I was already homesick. Talk about being in a funk.
This could have been enough to send anyone careening to the edge of a mental breakdown.
Instead, I focused on my breathing and, against my better judgment, inhaled enough chocolate candy and brownies that it’s no wonder I didn’t blow up and turn blue like Violet in the movie, “Charlie and The Chocolate Factory,” after chewing the Magic Chewing Gum. But, unlike Violet, I wasn’t chewing on gum to help me with concentration. I was already blue – from the holiday blues – and I chose to eat through my emotions as quickly as Violet ate through her “three-meals–in-a-stick” of gum Willy Wonka invented. In my movie, my character’s name is “Sharon,” the old version of me. This character comes out of hiding to play a recurring role in the movie that is my life when Life presents a challenge, struggle or hardship.
After New Year's, I fired "Sharon" and started detoxing my body and my mind to focus on a new path in wellness. Using the frequent flier miles graciously offered by my in-laws, I went home to Connecticut to celebrate my grandmother’s 95th birthday and to surround myself with people who love me. After a whirlwind tour of visiting at least 50 people, I came home to reflect on all our conversations.
In times of reflection, I choose to stop, look and listen. I look for the signs and listen for the messages coming in from everything and everyone around me before taking another step. The theme from this year's visit was about working with teens and launching a business in my next chapter. With that, I decided to first pursue an opportunity suggested by a friend - homeschool teaching. The topic I'm focused on teaching the most is building courage and confidence and strengthening "self-powers" in teens.
You see, every conversation I had with a friend who was also an educator or a parent was about how kids today have no sense of self and they blamed social media. With every picture or video a kid sees on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or Tik-Tok of someone else achieving something they’re not, doing something they’re not or having something they don’t, their self-worth, self-love, self-esteem and confidence dips. With anxiety and depression on the rise, more and more young people are on anti-anxiety and anti-depression medications. What's scarier is that suicide is the second-leading cause of death in people ages 15-29. Now, I'm not saying social media is killing our kids, but lack of self-worth is.
After successfully working with the elderly for four years, motivating them to live a life with passion and purpose, I’ve decided to expand my reach to empowering teenagers to help them develop their “self-powers” in love, compassion and esteem. As a teenager who also struggled with poor self-image and low self-esteem, this topic is in my wheelhouse. I believe by increasing their self-worth using methods that worked for me, they will have the courage and confidence to pursue their goals and dreams and be happier and healthier.
Because I don't have a formal background in education, I first thought it was the right time to create my blog where they could see my body of work. (I could also use it to pursue freelance writing opportunities.) For a long time, I had wanted to create a one-stop shop for all things empowerment and aloha by pulling as many stories as I could from my Facebook posts over the past few years. These posts include my “aloha is” stories, inspirational quotes, daily affirmations, empowerment messages and my work in empowering others, as an activity director working with the elderly, a fitness coach working with women of all ages and a podcaster.
It was a daunting task. In putting this project together, I was stunned at how much I had written in the past six years. In fact, it will take much more time than I anticipated to finish compiling the hundreds of stories, quotes and pictures I’ve posted about my new life in San Diego and my journey in aloha. It is no wonder that most of my family, friends, colleagues and Instagram followers associate pineapples and “aloha” with me!
Working on this project not only lifted my spirits, but also gave me newfound hope for the future because I saw how hard I worked to create positivity in my life and the lives of others. Despite this particular hard chapter of uncertainty in my life, this project reminded me of my own aloha. I just had to take a step back and review some old chapters of my life story and dig deep to uncover the parts of me still yet to transform.
I believe that everything you need to accomplish – all that you want and want to do with your life – resides within you. When you need hope, look up. When you need help, look out. And, when you need love, look within.
Whether or not I'm selected to teach teens for this one particular opportunity, I've been reminded of this:
Now, I won’t tie my sense of self to this blog. It is simply an expression and extension of myself. Sure, it’s scary to share it with the whole world, where I’m more exposed to criticism, but maybe someone will read one story and think, "If she can, so can I." And this possibility is what makes me brave. I have the audacity, courage and confidence to do something I’ve never done before and to take another step in the direction of my dreams. I'm more determined than ever to continue making a positive impact on others and to leave behind a legacy in love and light. For this, I am proud and that is something I will never lose and something no one can take away from me.
If you have gone through or are going through an especially difficult time in your life, remember that this too shall pass. Everything is temporary and soon it will become a part of your past.
Be willing to put your past in perspective. Don’t let a few bad chapters in your life story define you. Bad things happen to good people all the time, so put those pages in context with the rest of your story. There are still plenty of good chapters left to write! Find a way to rise above. Create that plot twist, become your own hero and make the ending juicy!
So, welcome to my plot twist. Welcome to my blog. Welcome to my life. And, welcome to my journey in aloha.
Aloha blessings to new beginnings.
Live, Love and Lead with Aloha.