APBP's #RoadToHappy

A collection of thoughts featuring the people and places that helped me get to where I am now. 

#RoadToHappy - July 9th, 2019

Parker Ella Pannozzi’s Grand Entrance Into the World

“One thing I’ve learned is that life is highly unpredictable, and sometimes it’s better to just go with the flow rather than try to plan everything out.” – Unknown

 I’m sitting here next to my 5 week old baby girl, finally ready to share my story. It’s still hard for me to comprehend all that I went through to bring baby Parker Ella into the world on June 1st, 6 weeks and 1 day earlier than her due date. I don’t know why it had to be so painful, but what I do know is that the last 5 weeks with her have been an incredible blessing and I am a very changed, much stronger woman because of it all.

I woke up on Thursday, May 23rd after another night of restless, pregnant sleep, ready to tackle the day. I remember rolling over in the morning and turning to my husband and saying “I actually have no idea how I’m going to get through this day.” I was 8 months pregnant and had a doctor’s appointment followed by a 12-hour work day ahead of me. It was getting harder to move around, but I knew the end was in sight and promised myself I would stay strong for the last two months of pregnancy. I had two spin classes at Rev’d scheduled that night – one was a battle ride against my also pregnant friend Felicia that I had been looking forward to for weeks. I had no idea when I woke up that morning that the next time I would sleep in my bed would be two weeks later and I’d be a mom.

I drove to my scheduled doctor’s appointment in Needham. I had an ultrasound scheduled for 9am and an appointment with the doctor scheduled for 10. I was having weekly ultrasounds at that point because my blood pressure had been high throughout my pregnancy, so we wanted to make sure the baby was hanging in okay. The ultrasound was perfect. Baby P was 4 pounds and doing well in there. I went back to the waiting room, sent my latest ultrasound pics around to my family and friends, and waited for my second appointment.

We always started my appointments by taking my blood pressure. It had been high since week 13 of pregnancy so I went on medicine and the incredible doctors and nurses at Beth Israel kept an awesome eye on us. It had always been high since then, but it was manageable. This day, it was REALLY high. The nurse took my blood pressure twice, didn’t say much, and then said the doctor would be in soon. I didn’t really think anything of it because my appointments always started that way. I had no idea that the next 10 minutes of the day would change my life forever.

Dr. Goldberg came into the room and got right to the point. I’ll never forget her saying “so… your blood pressure is really high. I’m going to send you to the hospital. I’ve called them to let you know that you are coming.” I was kind of stunned and shocked and just said… ok! Not realizing what this could mean or what it even meant at the time. She explained that because my blood pressure was so high we wanted to be cautious and rule out preeclampsia, a very serious disease that occurs in pregnancy. She mentioned that they might admit me overnight to do some 24-hour testing, so not to be surprised if that was the case. The appointment was less than 5 minutes.

I got in my car and my first thought was that I had to call Meaghan and let her know that I’d need subs for my classes that night. I called her first and she reassured me that all was good and she’d get everything covered. I called Felicia to let her know I couldn’t battle with her that night, and then realized I should probably call Mike and let him know what was going on (haha). I told him that he didn’t need to come to the hospital because it probably would be a quick visit and I’d let him know once I got there what was going on. I seriously had no clue! I took a quick detour to Café Fresh (obviously very important) and then headed into Boston to Beth Israel.

I got the hospital and went up to Labor and Delivery, where they were waiting for me. I still really had no idea what was going on. I went into a room in triage and got some preliminary tests done. They put an IV in my left arm (which didn’t come out until 2 weeks later) and took blood maybe 3 times. I was just hanging out and still didn’t really think anything of it until a nurse came into my room and said they were indeed going to admit me for the night so they could do some 24-hour testing. I called Mike and my parents and told him I’d be staying the night, and moved down a couple floors to antepartum, the floor for people who are pregnant and haven’t had their babies yet.

Reality didn’t really set in until a couple hours later when a doctor came to see me. She explained that the purpose of the 24-hour test was to check for protein in my urine to see if I had an infection. She said that they would keep monitoring my blood pressure carefully over the next day to see if it stayed the same. IF it were to stay the same, and the protein test came back high, I most likely had preeclampsia. I still really didn’t understand fully what that meant until she explained that if I did have preeclampsia, it meant that I would have to stay in the hospital until I delivered the baby, since that is the only cure for the disease. UMMMM, WHAT?! I was 32 weeks and 4 days at this point. I was NOT going to stay in the hospital for the next 8 weeks… NO THANKS. I decided from that moment that I would stay positive, remain calm, and believe that I’d be walking out of the hospital the next day to go enjoy my Memorial Day weekend. Mike came with a bag packed and stayed the night, and my parents came to visit. We had no idea that this was the beginning of a two week long, INSANE and incredible ride at BI. Mike and I both thought I’d be leaving on Friday after the testing coming back negative.

Yeah… nope. Around 2pm on Friday, a team of “high risk” doctors came into the room and explained to me that they were diagnosing me with severe preeclampsia, a very serious disease for both mom and baby if left undiscovered. They told me that I would not be leaving the hospital until I delivered the baby and that they would TRY to keep me pregnant as long as possible, but that they had found that 34 weeks was the “safe spot” for both mom and baby to deliver. They wanted to do anything in their power to control my blood pressure to get me to 34 weeks, which at this point was just 9 days away. Mentally, I figured I could handle 9 days in the hospital and it sounded a lot more manageable than having to wait another 8 weeks in there. I changed rooms to a bigger, more comfortable room. Mike brought me all the essentials from home, and I made myself “at home” in my new room.

It’s honestly hard for me to think about what happened the days that followed, because I kept getting sicker and sicker. I look back at photos from the days in the hospital leading up to Parker’s birth, and they make me really sad just to see how sick I really was. The amount of support was unbelievable. My family was there for me every single day. My room was a revolving door of friends, and I’ll never, ever forget just how loved I felt during my stay. I got constant messages and flowers and one of my best friends even came to give me highlights in my hair so I’d feel good about myself. Another sent a manicurist to my room because I didn’t have a chance to get my nails done pre-baby. The nurses were incredible, and it honestly wasn’t a horrible time except that I just felt so awful. Mike stayed over most nights, and when he didn’t, he drove back and forth multiple times from all his jobs to be by my side non-stop. I played fun games with my family and kept busy. I think the people that saw me would say that I remained pretty positive during this time. Nobody would know I was as sick as I felt. I tried to pretend I wasn’t, but it really wasn’t easy as the days went on.

Those 8 days in the hospital were physically challenging. I got blood work done a couple times a day, so my arms were all black and blue from all the needles. We kept upping my blood pressure medicine because my blood pressure was getting higher and higher. The medicine gave me a headache, so most nights I wouldn’t be able to sleep because my head hurt so bad. I had to get a set of steroid shots to help the baby’s lungs develop quickly so she would be okay when she was born prematurely. We had multiple meetings with the NICU team. I had to get another shot every morning that stopped me from getting blood clots since I wasn’t as active as I’d been before. Multiple times a day, I got hooked up a machine that measured the baby’s health. More than once I had to get ultrasounds to make further sure she was okay. The doctors came in at 5:30am every morning to update me on how I was doing. Every day, it was basically the same. They were doing their best to medicate me to keep me pregnant until Sunday, which was 34 weeks. I almost made it there, but eventually I got too sick and we had to make moves.

On Thursday, May 30th, one week after I was admitted to the hospital, I was on a walk with my family in the afternoon. It was nice that they let me go outside from time to time. I remember feeling AWFUL on the walk. I could barely see straight, I felt like I was going to topple over, but I didn’t want my family to know how badly I was hurting. We got upstairs and the nurse was waiting for me at the elevator. I don’t think I’ll ever, ever, ever forget this moment. She said “so… don’t tell the doctors I told you, but you’re going upstairs TODAY.” I was like “oh, for another ultrasound?” And she said “no, upstairs upstairs. To Labor and Delivery. It’s time.” We couldn’t believe it. I remained calm, said “ok!” and we all started to pack up my things. I asked the nurse what I needed to bring and she said just things to keep me occupied. I kept a book, my phone, my computer, and sent the rest home with my family. I guess that was my version of a “ hospital bag” since I had no warning that I’d be going into labor 6 weeks early!

I got upstairs to Labor and Delivery and this is where everything started to become a huge blur. I called Mike on my way upstairs and said “you need to come now, it’s happening.” Pretty soon after I got to L&D, I started on the most miserable drug, magnesium. If you’ve ever had “mag” you know what I mean. If you haven’t… I wouldn’t ever wish this upon my worst enemy. It’s a drug that opens up your blood vessels so you don’t have a seizure because of the high blood pressure. It makes you really hot, uncomfortable and overall, it was the worst thing I had ever experienced. It was painful. It was mentally really hard to know that I had to be on this stuff until 24 hours after delivery. I used ice packs to ease the pain, and waited to see what was next.

The doctor came in, did an exam, and determined I was already 1 centimeter dilated, which meant my body was already starting the labor process. At this point, I was 33 weeks and 4 days pregnant, so I wasn’t TOO far away from the 34-week mark. She broke my membrane, gave me a drug that I’d continue to get every 4 hours, and we waited. It was really hard for me to concentrate because I was on the drugs, so I settled into the bed with Mike by my side and hung out.

Thursday night was awful. I was really messed up from the IV. The doctor came back in around 1 in the morning and did a procedure that would help speed along labor. This was extremely painful, but instead of getting the epidural just yet, I decided to take a strong pain medicine. Well, it turns out I’m allergic to it. I was throwing up all night from this medicine and really wasn’t sure how I was going to make it through the next however long until this baby came. The contractions started getting worse and worse on Thursday night, so I decided to get an epidural. That took most of the pain away, which was a nice relief. I couldn’t feel the bottom half of my body, but was still throwing up on and off all night.

Friday was mostly the same as Thursday. The night nurse left in the morning and said “this baby is coming by 11:30am, I just know it.” She didn’t come by 11:30am or pm. The doctor was excited because my water broke on it’s own. I continued to dilate and got all the way up to 7 centimeters. We continued to wait, thinking I’d get to 10 centimeters in the next 24 hours and I’d get ready to push. They did warn me that labor could be up to 3 days, so I knew this wasn’t going to be a quick process.

The doctor came in on Friday evening and said “you are having this baby tomorrow no matter what if labor doesn’t progress tonight, so make sure you get a lot of rest tonight.” Mike and I “went to sleep” and knew that June 1st was going to be the day.

The same doctor came in around 5:30am on Saturday, June 1st and explained that unfortunately, I wasn’t progressing with the dilation and it was getting unsafe, so they would be scheduling a C-section for that day. I’ll be completely honest. I always kind of knew in my heart that I’d get a C-section. Why? I don’t know. Maybe I just wanted to prepare myself. Because I had a feeling, I wasn’t upset by it. It is what it is, right? I had heard the recovery would be worse, but honestly, at this point, I would do ANYTHING to just get this baby out of me and meet this little girl.

The C-section was scheduled for around 8:30am, and it was the CRAZIEST THING I HAVE EVER EXPERIENCED. I was half blacked out for it. I’ve never gotten surgery before, so lying on that table with a big sheet in front of me was not really something I’d consider fun. I had gotten the epidural thinking I would be having a natural birth, so they had to lift me up onto the table. Mike came into the room once I was situated on the table, and he couldn’t stop crying. I thought something bad had happened to the baby, but he was just emotional because it’s a pretty crazy experience. I couldn’t stop throwing up, so the nurse would help me turn my head to the side and throw up into a little bag. I just remember the lights being so bright and hoping the whole thing would be over soon because I couldn’t handle lying there any longer.

At 9:37am on Saturday, June 1st, Parker Ella Pannozzi came into the world. She was silent for a couple seconds and then let out a cry and was quickly brought over to the other side of the room to get hooked up to all of her IVs and breathing machine. Mike went with the doctors and was able to cut her cord. They asked me if I wanted to meet my baby and I remember being like “sure” because I still had no idea what was going on. They brought her over to me and I’ll never forget the feeling of seeing her for the first time. She was screaming crying. I was just thinking “oh my goodness, that’s her. She’s here.” They told me to kiss her on the head, so I did. Then they took her away upstairs to the NICU and Mike went with her. It took another 15 minutes to stitch me back up, and then they brought me back upstairs to Labor and Delivery.

Mike came back to see me a couple hours later. We let our family and friends know that our baby was safely in the NICU and that I was doing okay. I was still on the magnesium, so I was still pretty messed up. The surgery pain didn’t start to set in until the epidural wore off, and then it was AWFUL. I couldn’t drink or eat anything because I was still on the medicine, so that was pretty awful too. The nurses took me downstairs to my new postpartum room, and I started the 3rd part of my journey at Beth Israel.

The next 6 days were also a blur. FINALLY on Sunday, I was taken off the magnesium. It took another 24 hours for it to completely come out of my system, but then I felt like a new person. I could see clearly, but then started a whole new set of challenges. I wasn’t allowed to stand up from Thursday-Sunday, so when I finally was told I needed to stand, I could barely get up. It was extremely humbling having Mike and a nurse have to lift me up. I went from teaching spin in my 3rd trimester to not being able to stand or walk on my own? It was wild and sad.

As the days went on, I started to feel a little bit better. It was a hard balance of trying to get well and care for myself, and go upstairs to visit Parker in the NICU. It was really hard seeing her hooked up to all of the machines. For the first couple days, she was in an incubator. They were constantly reassuring me that she was doing great, but it was still hard. Many people get to spend time with their babies right away and take them home a couple days later, and I did not. I had to go upstairs to see my baby, and she was hooked up to machines when I held her. Mike had to wheel me upstairs because I couldn’t walk for a couple days. Again, very humbling.

On Wednesday, 5 days after delivery, the nurse gave me the good news that I finally got to go home. Mike was teaching a spin class, so I asked my parents to come drive me home. The doctor who was going to discharge me got caught up in a surgery, and as the day went on, my blood pressure went back up. The doctor came in later that night and told me that I actually had to stay another night. I was heartbroken. After almost 2 weeks, I was so ready to get home. My parents had already brought my things to the car. That night was the first time I cried in the 2 weeks I was in the hospital. I got it all out, moved on, and went back to staying positive.

24 hours later, I finally got discharged. Leaving the hospital after 2 weeks but without my baby was the hardest moment of my entire life. I’ll never forget those emotions. Nobody can prepare you for them. I was so happy to leave the hospital, but something was missing. Thinking of her little body hooked up to the machines all alone without her mom and dad… killed me. I cried almost the whole ride home. Coming home also was the weirdest feeling. I was home, but everything had changed. My house looked the same, but nothing was the same. I had a baby, but where was she? I wasn’t working anymore. I had no idea when my baby would come home. It was truly wild. I was so happy and excited to get home, but didn’t feel like I could be completely happy without Parker with me.

The next day, we woke up and went to the hospital in the morning to visit Parker. Luckily, she was continuing to do really well and Beth Israel said they didn’t need her there anymore so we could transfer her closer to home. We visited Winchester Hospital, and a week after she was born, she was transported there to continue her NICU stay.

The 11 days that Parker was at Winchester Hospital were also a blur. I’m pretty sure I had a birthday during that time, but don’t remember my birthday at all. Each day we would wake up, and spend most of the day in the hospital. Leaving her was awful. I felt guilty for not sitting by her side 24 hours a day, but also knew I had to take care of myself and get better physically. Watching her grow in the hospital was an incredible thing. Each day, she would get a littler stronger. We would sit there for hours just cuddling her, staring at her, and feeding her when we could. The nurses again were incredible, and really reassured us that she was doing well. Eventually she went off her feeding tube, and pretty quickly after, they told us to get ready to bring her home.

Tuesday, June 18th, our life as a family of 3 really began. Parker was discharged from the hospital and it was by far the second happiest day of my life. Knowing that our little girl was strong enough to come home was incredible. She fought hard for 18 days to be home with her family. We helped her grow. We stood by her side and encouraged her (as much as you can encourage a baby haha) that we were there for her whenever she was ready. I smiled the entire car ride home, knowing that now it was our time.

People told me that eventually the NICU would be a blip on the radar. They were right. I’ll never forget those days, but now Parker is home and parenthood is the most incredible and challenging thing. Having a baby was the best decision I’ve ever made. Like I mentioned in the beginning, I really can’t comprehend why this happened to me. I had a fairly healthy pregnancy, and worked my ass off during my pregnancy to stay in shape, eat decently, and be healthy for my future baby. Nothing I did caused preeclampsia. It just happens. Why to me, I don’t know… but I know that everything happens for a reason, and this was just supposed to be my path.

I’m a new person after having Parker. I’m a stronger person. There were a couple different times in the hospital that I didn’t think I’d make it through. But I did. Parker wasn’t even supposed to be born yet, and I’ve had 5 incredible weeks with her. She will be developmentally behind for a bit. Premature babies have a lot of catching up to do. But she’s a fighter. And watching her grow is amazing. Each day she gets a little stronger. Each day she catches up just a little bit. I’ll never be able to compare her to babies her age because she was born at 4 pounds and 7 ounces, 6 weeks and 1 day early. She may not look her age for a while. She may not walk until a little bit later than her friends. But Parker is perfect and being a mom is the greatest title I could ever have.

I’m excited to take over the world. This was always my plan, but what is cool is that I’m now doing it for US. Parker deserves to have a strong mom. So I’m going to prove to her what I’m capable of. If I can make it through June, I can make it through anything. I’m looking forward to this next chapter and truly can’t wait to raise our incredible little girl. It’s really all just the beginning. I know being a mom is going to have ups and downs and challenges along the way. But the blessings are worth it all.

I’ll continue to be open about my journey. Be kind to yourself. Stay healthy. If you think something is wrong, ask about it. I’ll never take my health for granted again. Welcome to the new Alyssa. The one who is stronger than ever before. The one who knows what is important and what isn’t. And who simply is just… READY.

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#RoadToHappy - March 7th, 2019

30 Things I Learned Before 30

1.     Family always comes first. What I have learned though, is that family extends way beyond blood. Nobody is more important to me than my mom, dad, sisters, and husband, but I have had friends for over 25 years I consider family, co-workers I consider family, and to me, family is THE most important part of your life that you will ever have.

2.     Dogs really are a girl’s best friend. If you don’t have one, I strongly suggest getting one. <3

3.     You WILL have bad days. In order to grow, you have to have them to learn. My 20s were insane. I had SO many ups and SO many downs. I learned, I grew. I had more bad days than good some years. But they all brought me exactly to where I am now, and I wouldn’t trade the experiences for anything.

4.     Love your job. I’m fortunate to have never had a job I didn’t like. I always say to friends who are in between career choices or unhappy in their jobs that work truly does take over a huge majority of your life. Many people have to wake up 3,4, 5-7 days a week and go to “work.” If you don’t love your job, find one you love. Easier said than done I know, but it’s a good goal to work towards.

5.     Value your parents and everything they taught you. It makes me laugh now, but I had a diary back in high school and I remember writing an entire entry on how NOT to parent a child. I was just a teenager upset at something they did, but now that I’m going to be a mother myself, there is nothing more I want than to be JUST like my parents.

6.     Sleep is important. I spent a lot of my 20s staying up at night. Waiting for texts. Thinking. Partying. Getting home at 3am and waking up at 8 to go to work. It really didn’t help my anxiety and unhappiness during some parts of my 20s. Waking up refreshed can go a long way.

7.     You come first. I can imagine that this changes when you have a child, but I am sure there are still parts of it that stay true. If you are the best version of yourself, you can be the best version for your child. If you want to do something, DO IT. Do what makes you happy and the rest will fall in place.  

8.     Girlfriends are what make the world go round. There is no way I could have survived my 20s without my best friends. Find your tribe. Love them hard. It can be as big or as small as you want, as long as they are truly people who care about you.

9.     Your gut is generally right. If you have a hunch… unless it’s completely out of the blue, you are probably right. There are so many times I wish I had listened to myself sooner than I did. If you think something fishy is up, it probably is. If you have a feeling you shouldn’t do something, you probably shouldn’t. You will save yourself a lot of problems if you truly just listen to your gut.

10.  Being comfortable is cool, but it’s more fun to be uncomfortable. Take risks. I lived in 4 different places before I decided to “come home” and settle in Boston. I learned so much and met so many different people from being uncomfortable and trying out new places and new opportunities. They only help you grow.

11.  What you put in, you get out. The harder you work, the greater the results. It sounds insanely clique, but I have found that literally everything I pour my heart and soul into, comes RIGHT back to me in the greatest way possible. If you want something, you have to work for it. It won’t just come.  

12.  Be real. It’s hard to tell when exactly I learned this, and if it was in my 30s or before. I really have learned that being myself is the only way to be. If you don’t like me, that’s okay! What’s not cool is trying to be someone you think everyone wants you to be. I’ve been there, and done that. Being me (which is the only person I know how to be now) is actually the coolest thing in the world.

13.  Health is wealth. I’ve been unhealthy. I’ve been overweight. I’ve been anxious and sad and depressed and a lot of things under the sun. When I finally started to take care of myself, I became a happier human. Health means a million different things to different people, and that’s the beauty of everyone being their own person.

14.  You WILL find true love. How annoying is it when people say “you’ll find him/her at the right time, you just have to be patient?” It’s annoying, but it’s true. Mike came out of absolute nowhere. When I was ready to give up, and was happy to end up alone. If I had met him before, the timing wouldn’t have been right. Let the universe find you your person when it’s time. Because there WILL be a time. I promise.

15.  Worry less about what others think about you. My favorite quote from Dr. Seuss goes a little something like this “Be who you are and say what you feel. Because those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter.” Try not to worry about other opinions. If you like someone, date them. If you want that job, do it. If you want to post something, post it. Worry less about others and care more about YOU.

16.  Sometimes it’s okay to be a follower. That’s how I learned. I would consider myself a little bit of both right now. I’m definitely a leader. I have a lot to teach other people and I really love to share my knowledge with people who might be willing to learn. But I also love to follow along and see how I can learn from others too. I don’t know everything yet. I’m far away from that. So follow the people who can lead YOU.

17.  Don’t believe everything you see on the internet. Google is a death trap. If you feel sick, don’t google it. You’ll think you are done for. If someone posts something that seems too good to be true, maybe it is, and maybe it isn’t. You know what’s real and what’s not. If things on the interest are not making you feel happy, or making you feel like you aren’t where you are supposed to be… don’t pay attention.

18.  There are SO may different types of people in the world. Get to know different people. Venture outside of (again) what is comfortable, and try making a friend you wouldn’t have years ago. In my 20s, because I moved around, I met a whole bunch of different people. Each of them taught me a little something different, or something new. I don’t know where I would be without a lot of them.  

19.  Reading is important. This doesn’t mean you have to read a certain amount of books in a year, or stress yourself out over making sure that you read what’s “in” at the moment. But take some time, when you can, to read a book, the newspaper, an article online. Do what you can to just keep reading.

20.  You make time for the things that are important. Being “so busy” is not an excuse. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. If you want to call someone because you miss them, call them. Try not to use “omg I’ve been so busy” as an excuse for anything. You absolutely CAN be busy, but just don’t let it get in the way of the things that are truly the most important to you.

21.  Seek help when you need it. I went through a really low time in 2014 right before I moved back to the east coast. I wasn’t afraid to lean on my friends and family to get me through. They were there for me, and I’ve been there for people who really needed help. Do not ever feel afraid or think that you are weak because you need help. Ask for it. It’s okay!  

22.  You are exactly where you are supposed to be. I’m definitely a “everything happens the way it’s supposed to” type of person, and I know that some people aren’t. However, what I do know, is that you are EXACTLY where you are supposed to be. As you get into your mid/late twenties, it seems to me like everyone starts to go in different directions. And it can be a little scary. Like… why is she/he married and I’m not? I don’t even have a boyfriend/girlfriend! Just because your friends may have advanced in their careers, or bought their dream house, or are already onto their second kid and you are not, doesn’t mean that you are behind. There is no such thing as behind. You are where you are supposed to be in your own timeline!

23.  Comparison… just don’t do it. Nothing good ever comes from comparison. See #22. You are where you ARE!

24.  Exercise is really important. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to take 20 spin classes a week, or get into a workout routine that scares you. Walking around your block a couple times a week could be what exercise means to you, and that’s perfect. Do what is best for YOU, but take some time to figure out what that best thing is, and see how you can exercise! When I finally found my routine years ago, it really changed my life.

25.  Age is just a number. I don’t even pay attention to age anymore. One of my closest friends just turned 40. My husband is 5 and a half years younger than me. I’m having a baby at the age of 33. My sister is 4 years younger than me, and she’s the same age as some of my coworkers who I don’t look at as younger than me at all. It’s just… a… number. Don’t let it stress you or get to you in any way!  

26.  There are so many ways to give gifts without spending money. To me, the greatest gift is words. If someone writes me a card, or sends me a nice note, I would much prefer that over a pair of new shoes (don’t get me wrong, shoes are life, but you know what I’m saying). Don’t stress over holidays if you don’t feel you have the funds to get everyone what you’d like. Money can only get you so far. Being thoughtful (in my opinion) will get you a lot further.

27.  Take risks. I’m now in my second entrepreneurial career (and where I will stay) and I’ve had so much fun creating things. It was a huge risk to leave my steady job to start company #1. But if I didn’t do it, I wouldn’t be where I am now. Being able to be a part of an unstoppable team and force is one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. 

28.  You don’t have to own a house to feel like a real person. For a long time, I always felt “behind” because I didn’t own a house and I saw everyone around me buying. It wasn’t until 32 that I finally decided to make the plunge, but I don’t see much of a difference between where I was before we bought and where I am now! It’s okay to rent. It’s okay to live with your parents for as long as you want to milk that free rent. Do what works best for you and your own personal timeline I talked about before!

29.  If you have an issue with someone, let him or her know. Don’t play games. Don’t be passive aggressive. Don’t talk behind backs. Being malicious never gets you anywhere. So squash issues as they come. It’ll help!

30.  Be a good human. This is my #1 thing in life that I’ve learned. I learned it from my parents. They are good people, and I think I’m a good person too. Be helpful. Be caring. Be kind #1. When someone needs you, be there. Life is good. Really good. And it’s because I made it that way. <3

 

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#RoadToHappy

January 3rd, 2019

New Year, New Title… MOM!

The Ups, Downs, Positives & Hard Truths of My Newest Journey

November 5th, 2018 is the day that changed my life forever. I don’t think I will ever forget what it felt like to read “PREGNANT” in very clear letters on the test that I decided to take on a whim on a random Monday afternoon. I mean… I had a feeling. There are reasons I took the test. :) But you never want to psych yourself up too much so that you aren’t disappointed if you don’t get the response you are hoping for.

But the test said what I wanted it to say! A million things ran through my head. OMG. WOW. WOW! Where’s Mike? How do I tell him? What time is it? Where am I right now? I remember running… literally running, around my bathroom just going “omg, omg, omg omg” out loud to myself over and over again. My poor dog was like WHAT is going on with my mom. This was the most exciting, transformative, and shocking 1-minute of my life and I truly did not know what exactly to do! I FaceTimed my friend and blurted out “omg I just took a pregnancy test and it said PREGNANT.” Saying it out loud for the first time made it very real and even more exciting. I knew I was ready to start this incredible journey.

In the craziness of finding out I was pregnant, I thought I covered up my tracks but apparently left the cover to the pregnancy test on the bathroom counter. Mike came home (I was at work, teaching a class 2 hours after finding out this information) and found the test cover. He went through the trash, found the box, and knew I had taken a test. I came out of class with a text from him that said “COME HOME!” and I honestly had no idea he had any clue what I was about to tell him. I got home and the first thing Mike said was “is there something you need to tell me?” with a huge smile on his face. I basically started crying (happy tears), ran over to him, and said YES. He said “WELL WHAT DID IT SAY?” and I said “what do you think it said???” We hugged for what felt like an hour and sat down and were like… wow, we are going to be parents. So, so, so exciting.

I want to be very transparent throughout my pregnancy, as I have been all along with this movement. You know I am an open book, and I’m looking forward to seeing where this movement goes now that I have a whole new topic to really speak about. I am going to be very open about my thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the hopes that someone can relate and again, I won’t feel alone!

If you have stumbled upon my page, you know that I am a very anxious person and this movement is a way to help bring together people to embrace the positives in life instead of the negatives. It has been a HUGE, huge, huge and challenging journey for me over the last 2 months. I’ve never gone through anything like this in my life, and I’ve learned a lot about myself. I can only imagine this will continue and grow deeper as the months go on.

In the beginning, I was very depressed. Before I even felt sick, I just felt sad. Mental health in pregnancy is something that I am keeping a VERY close tab on. We know I’m anxious. We know I suffer from anxiety (although right now, it’s very much in check which brings me great joy). I knew that I probably wouldn’t get through the whole 9 months without having some type of relapse. Weeks 5-7ish, I was just really sad all of the time. Having to get out of bed was a huge struggle, let alone continue along with life with barely anybody knowing my big secret. Whenever I wasn’t teaching classes, working the desk, or physically had to be anywhere, I was on the couch. Luckily, most of my work can be done from home, so I don’t think I skipped a beat in terms of getting everything done that needed to be done work wise. Mike would come home and see me on the couch, and he felt helpless. I was very open with him with my feelings and he did everything he could to help. I just couldn’t get out of my own head and have never felt so low. Never once did I say “I don’t want this” but I did feel very down and was wondering if I would ever be happy again.

Around week 8, I was happier again. And in fact, VERY happy! But this is when I started to get REALLYYYYY sick. Nausea is so real, and I’m actually at the point now where I don’t even remember what it feels like to not be nauseous. I know that day is coming soon. I would wake up every morning, sit up, and take a couple seconds to see how I was feeling. Was I okay enough to get up that moment, or did I need a couple extra minutes? Mike was kind enough to leave crackers by my bedside every night, so the first thing I would do would be to eat some crackers. I threw up a LOT. I cried a LOT. I napped where I could, but I was too sick to really sleep during the day. Bagels and cereal were the only things I could stomach. I couldn’t look at anything green. We had to throw out the hummus in our fridge because the thought of even looking at it made me nauseous. I spent so much time over the last 6 months working on nutrition with my amazing nutritionist, but I felt I was throwing this all out the window because I could not eat anything but carbs.

The amazing community at Rev’d is the only thing that got me through classes. I would cry on my way to class, sometimes on the phone to Mike, not really understanding how I could get through class without getting sick. But whenever I walked through the doors at Rev’d, I found the strength to do it because the people there are absolutely amazing. I did not want to let anybody down, and I also did not want to let myself down, since teaching gives me such great happiness that I really needed in those earlier weeks. Sometimes, I would throw up before class, and almost after every single one on my way home in the car. I’ve mastered getting sick by now, so it wasn’t something that even bothered me that much. I just wanted to feel BETTER!

By week 10, I started to feel a LITTLE better. A lot of me not feeling well had a lot to do with wondering if everything was okay with my baby! This is where the anxiety really kicked in. I was so anxious and worried so much that I was doing something wrong that would hurt my baby. Every time my body would feel weird, I would be like “ok this is it. It’s not meant to be.” I really had to give up those negative thoughts, knowing that it not only was hurting me, but I needed to keep a clear mind for the baby too. Each day was a struggle between wanting this family SO bad, but being realistic that anything could happen at this point. I just had to stay positive and keep the faith.

I had my first real doctor’s appointment on Thursday, December 20th. I was SO NERVOUS basically the entire week. I had only gone to the doctor’s once before a month earlier, and they took blood to confirm I was indeed pregnant. I knew that this appointment I would get to see the baby for the first time and confirm that he/she was doing okay in there.

This appointment was absolutely incredible, and everything really has seemed to go uphill from there. Mike came with me and we met with our doctor. She’s amazing. The Beth Israel family is one that I am very thankful for. We went through a lot of information with her and then she said “ok, let’s go look at your baby!” Seeing the baby for the first time was incredible. She was very little of course, but the little flicker of the heartbeat was something I will never forget. My favorite part was Mike’s face. He just looked so happy. We both walked out SO happy and SO relieved. She had a very strong heartbeat, everything looked good, and the doctor said the risks at this point were very low. Of course, I am always cautiously optimistic, but I felt really happy and really good after that appointment. We took blood that day to find out the sex, and they said it would come back in about 10 days!

About a week ago, I got the call from the doctor that the results were in! I drove as QUICKLY as I could to Needham to go pick up that envelope. Don’t tell anybody, but I really, really wanted a girl. :) I would have been just as happy with a boy of course, but I grew up in a house of girls and really wanted to start my own. Mike rushed from Providence, and we opened the envelope together inside my card. I SCREAMED when I saw it said girl. Mike’s face was amazing. I think there are a lot of guys who want a son (like how I wanted a daughter), so I know it was a bit of a shock to him. We went inside and told our parents, and it was another incredible moment in my life. Putting a sex to this baby has been pregnancy changing. Now I think of her as a HER! We can start to picture our life with her a little more, and start to think of names and make some plans. I feel much more connected to her now that I know who she is, and I’m really looking forward to continuing along this journey!

I’m a couple days away from trimester 2. I’m only sick at nighttime now, which I’ll take. I’ve turned a HUGE corner sick wise, and I’m looking forward to the day I wake up and feel AWESOME. I am feeling more and more like myself every single day, and #1… I am REALLY happy. I am so happy that we were able to finally share our secret with the world. It’s hard working in fitness and hiding a secret like this. It’s hard working in any profession I am sure and hiding a secret. During classes I would be like… do they know? Can they tell? Am I showing yet? But you know what, I just am so, so ready for this ride. ALL of it.

Like I opened with, I’m going to be very open throughout this pregnancy. I want people to know that they aren’t alone with their anxious thoughts – pregnant or not. Every day I wake up so thankful to be pregnant. I will never take this pregnancy for granted. This is something we wanted so badly, and we are so lucky that we have begun the journey. I’m taking everything day by day, and just doing the best that I can. If I can’t eat something “healthy” today… that’s okay. If I can’t bring myself to do a personal workout… that’s okay. If I need to cry… that’s okay. I’m not setting any boundaries for myself and just going along with the ins and outs of every day. I know that the end result will be so worth it, and I really can’t wait to meet this little girl in July.

If you have questions for me… ask! If you have advice for me… PLEASE send my way. I have an incredible support system around me of family, moms, moms-to-be going along the journey with me, and friends who aren’t mom’s yet but are absolutely amazing friends who help me through each day. 27 weeks to go and counting. Baby P, we love you already and this couldn’t be a more special or exciting time in our lives. <3

#RoadToHappy - April 26th, 2018

JAZZY MEAG

I’ve been wanting to write this post forever, and I’m finally getting around to figuring out how exactly to put into words what this person means to me. She’s such a HUGE, huge, HUGE, tremendous part of my #RoadToHappy and I’m really pumped to share my thoughts on Jazzy Meag, aka Meaghan St. Marc (or her maiden name, Meaghan Severson, depending on the day hehe).

I met Meaghan back in December of 2014. I had just moved back to Boston and was in search of my new spin home. My friend from high school (HI JESS!) told me about Rev’d and I thought I’d give it a shot. I walked into the studio and Meaghan was standing right there, and we instantly hit it off. I could tell that she was someone who I would want to be friends with, and we very quickly were at that level. I was fascinated by her story on how she got to where she was, and I was very motivated by her drive. I took her class that night and knew that I had found the place that I would be spinning at forever.

Meaghan and I became close quickly. I was in total awe of her, and always wanted to impress her when I was around. I started riding at Rev’d every single day, even multiple times a day just to be able to take her class more than once, and within a couple of months they asked me if I wanted to be an instructor. I said “no thanks, I’ll just keep riding,” but when they asked me again a month later, I thought “hey, why not just take a chance.” Meaghan was my number one fan and cheerleader, and I really just wanted to make her proud throughout the whole process.

I started teaching at Rev’d and at the same time, I started taking on more and more responsibilities. I was always so honored whenever Meaghan would pass off a task to me because she thought I could handle it, and it was even more important to me that she trusted me enough with her business in my hands. She taught me so much by letting me complete projects and take opportunities and run with them. Her classes inspired me to get better, and I started to really fall in love with the company and knew that her and Clyde deserved to have it all come together for them.

Fast forward a couple of years, I’m now full-time at Rev’d and couldn’t be happier. I will never forget the moment Meaghan said that she thought they would be able to hire me full-time soon. I was honestly just very honored that they thought I would be a good addition to the team. We were sitting at a baseball game (Mike’s summer league game), Meaghan so kindly brought some beverages for us, and she said “so I think that we might have a job for you come September.” And just a few weeks later, I was hired.

Working with Meaghan is so much fun. We have such a unique relationship in that she’s not only my boss, but one of my very best friends. She makes me laugh, she makes me cry, she challenges me, she pushes me, she motivates me, she takes CARE of me as her employee AND friend, and I’m really beyond thankful to have someone like Meaghan in my life. I seem to learn something new about her every single day, and I know that there is still so much to learn. She’s kind, and one of the most loving people that I know. She would do anything for others, and she always puts other people before herself. She’s the first person to say “how are you doing?” to make sure that everyone who works for her is happy and fulfilled.

Meaghan found out in January that she was pregnant, and had a really tough beginning of pregnancy. Yet, throughout it all, she would always say “I’m okay!” She fought through the tough times, and now seems to be doing so much better. She’s due in September and I really can’t wait to see her as a mom. At almost 6 months pregnant she’s teaching classes, crushing workouts, managing her team, and getting ready for her big life change. I’m constantly in awe of all that she takes on, and I’m truly very lucky to have her as such a huge part of my life.

Meag, if you’re reading this (which you BETTA BE heh heh), thank you for all of the opportunities that you’ve provided me with. This is only the beginning and I can’t wait to see where this takes us all. I often wonder where I would be right now if I hadn’t moved home to Boston, or if I started spinning at another studio. It’s hard to imagine because I landed exactly where I am supposed to be. Thank you for always believing in me, and pushing me to be the best version of myself. A huge part of where I am today is because of you… and for that, I am forever thankful.

 

#RoadToHappy - March 26th, 2018

MY HEART WILL GO ON

On Saturday morning, I found out some amazing news. I AM OKAY! And really, really, REALLY thankful and happy that I got those results.

About 3 weeks ago, I had my annual physical. I’m generally a very healthy person, so only have to go to the doctor once a year for a checkup. I have one of the best doctors in Boston (VERY thankful for that) and he’s been very proactive with my family in some of the major issues we’ve had in the past. I figured that this physical would turn out just like all of the rest, with me walking out feeling healthy and thankful I had nothing to worry about. But, this one didn’t turn out that way.

My blood pressure was a little high, which isn’t surprising because high blood pressure runs in my family and it’s something I need to stay on top of while I’m healthy and young. But because of the high level of blood pressure, my doctor decided to do an EKG. If you haven’t had one before, it’s painless and quick – all they do is put little stickers on your chest and measure the frequency of your heart beat (at least that’s how I understand it). Kinda cool to watch the machine, but I obviously had no idea how to read it.

My EKG came back abnormal. The doctor called me back into his office and explained that it appeared from the test that because my blood pressure is on the higher end, my heart muscles are starting to grow. He said “so, you know how you’re a strong person and you want to grow your muscles in your legs? You don’t want your heart muscles to do the same thing, because the blood can’t pump the way it’s supposed to.” He told me I needed further testing and that we would schedule as soon as we could. He then said “you don’t need to scale down on exercise YET or change anything right now – we will wait and see how the test goes.” From there, I scheduled my appointment for a few days after my vacation and left the office feeling really scared and confused.

I called Mike right away and told him what was going on. The part that made me the most nervous was my doctor saying that if I had anybody who I wanted to know what was going on, with my permission, they could call him and he would explain (since I don’t really understand much about medical ANYTHING). I thought… why is this such a big deal that I’d need to tell anybody until the test results come back and I figure out what’s going on? Of course I went home and googled everything about the heart condition he thought I might have, and that didn’t ease my nerves at all. All I saw was “less exercise” and “big life changes.” I figured I would just push it out of my mind until the test and let life take it’s course.

It’s all I could think about Wednesday after my appointment, and for the next couple days. Eventually I talked myself out of worrying any more, especially since I was going on vacation and didn’t want it to ruin that. What’s going to be, will be, and I figured since I felt so healthy and since I’m so active, what would REALLY be wrong! I enjoyed my vacation so much, but this test was always in the back of my mind. Of course on our way to California I was watching an SVU episode where the kid had the condition my doctor told me he thought I had, and he needed a heart transplant and then died later in the episode. My mind can’t help sometimes but assume the worst, so I was thinking some scary thoughts. Mainly just feeling badly for my family that they would have to go through this with me!

On Friday afternoon, I went to Beth Israel in Needham for my echocardiogram, which is basically an ultrasound of the heart. The staff was REALLY nice and being on the cardiac floor wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. My technician was a doll and made me feel comfortable. She told me not to worry about the test and that it would be over before I knew it, and it really was. I had to lay on my side, get gooped up, and let her do the different positions so she could take clear photos of my heart. It was REALLY cool to watch. Again, I don’t understand medical knowledge so I have no idea what any of it meant, but it was cool to see my heart beating. It didn’t take more than 45 minutes, and then I was out of there to go on and enjoy my night.

I couldn’t stop thinking about the results and when they would come. We all know I’m an anxious person and that’s why I started this movement. All I could think about was my career and how this would change it. What if I had a serious problem and I couldn’t exercise the way I do anymore? What if I couldn’t teach classes? What if my heart was unhealthy enough that I needed a new one? I was honestly TERRIFIED, but did my best to keep a happy face on for everyone around and just keep telling myself over and over again what I preach to others – STAY POSITIVE and it’s all going to be okay.

Well, I stayed positive and it’s ALL GOING TO BE OKAY! I got an email from my doctor on Saturday morning saying that the test results showed that everything is great, and I have absolutely nothing to worry about right now. He said I need to keep my blood pressure under control and keep making healthy choices, and that we will keep monitoring that to make sure everything is okay. I was SO relieved, SO happy, and just really, really thankful to hear this news. It gave me such motivation to make some major changes, and I truly believe that timing is everything/everything happens for a reason when it’s supposed to.

I have a new sense of excitement about life right now, knowing that everything is FINE and I have the power to make some healthier choices to live a better life. It’s perfect timing with having just 4 months until my wedding, where I know I’ll want to look and feel my best. I’m a healthy personal overall, but I definitely have some work to do. I want to really focus on myself and being an even better version of myself now. I want to make better choices in the kitchen. I want to get stronger and have more energy, which will all come hand in hand with making the good choices. I’m excited to see where this all takes me, and how I can step up my game even further to be truly, truly, TRULY happy with who I am.

Sometimes it takes a wake up call to realize that life is WAY too precious to waste. I want to prove to my doctor that I’m committed to being healthier and losing weight to get my blood pressure down. I want to feel even happier and have more energy, so I can perform better for my classes. Although it was a scary 3 weeks, I’m glad it all happened. Everything happens for a reason, and positivity rules all. And I ain’t goin anywhere anytime soon!  

 

#RoadToHappy - March 13th, 2018

SHE GOT IT FROM HER MOMMA – MOM <3

Brave. Strong. Fierce. Sentimental. Driven. Determined. Caring. Considerate.

Oh, I could go on and on. But those are just a few of the first words that pop into my head when I think about my incredible mother. This post is dedicated to the woman who made me who I am today. I’ve been thinking a lot about women’s rights and just how far women have come with International Women’s Day being last week, and I thought now would be the perfect time to write about my mom and how she is a HUGE part of my #roadtohappy.

My mom, known as Linda to most, is the most inspiring woman that I know. I know it’s true that I inherited certain traits from my mom and dad. I think that I got a LOT of my mom’s really useful characteristics. I’d like to think I get my strength from her, my organizational skills, and my drive to never quit, even when it seems it could be the easier option. From a very young age, my mom taught my younger sister and I that we had to work to get to where we wanted to be. Growing up with a powerful workforce mom was a great way for me to stay motivated, and I think watching her thrive, grow, and rise up is what made me the dedicated, hard worker that I am.

People keep asking my mom when she thinks she is going to retire, and she doesn’t quite seem to have an answer. I think this is because right now she’s at a huge peak in her career… and she keeps rising up and up. When I first could understand what a “working mom” was, my mom worked for Channel 5 News, WCVB. My parents tell us a funny story about my dad seeing my mom on a commercial and knowing that she was going to be the woman he was going to marry. Looks like it all worked out! She was a producer at Channel 5 for many, many, MANY years, and then took the leap to work for WGBH. I’m very proud when I tell people what my mom does for work, because she’s making huge moves in the Boston (and beyond) media world, and she’s someone who is known (and even gotten huge awards for) for her successful television career!

Something I am really proud of is that my mom had a HUGE part in creating the WGBH studio in the Boston Public Library. She went from working 5 days a week in their Brighton office, to now (if I understand correctly) only going to Brighton once a week if that, and spending most of her time downtown developing the new studio. They bring in different types of artists, speakers, performances, and beyond to the studio weekly, and have moved some of their old productions to the new space. She’s very proud of what this studio has become, and she absolutely should be. I am really proud of her hard work on this product, and I’m looking forward to watching her flourish in this new branch of her AMAZING career!

I’m also VERY proud of my mom and her fitness journey. I dragged her to my spin class for the first time on Mother’s Day a few years ago, and now she’s going 3-4 times a week. She crushes it in her same spot in Dedham every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and has come such a long way since her knee replacement back in July of 2014. She can hit the double time 128s (if this means anything to you), and she’s gotten really perfect at keeping all of the beats. She’s stubborn like I am and should probably scale back a LITTLE because of all of her injuries, but… that’s my mom. Strong, willing, determined. Every… single… day.

I could sit here and say that growing up with two working parents was easy, or wasn’t easy. But to be honest, I don’t remember what it was like having babysitters and au pairs around a lot of the time. What I can say is that my younger sister and I turned out pretty cool if I do say so myself, and we both really look up to both of our parents. Seeing my mom work her way to the top has me VERY determined to do the same. I’ve taken a very different career path than them by diving into the fitness world and not necessarily the news/entertainment industry, but that in itself is motivating to me to succeed and show them just how much they have taught me about being a strong woman.

Mom, thank you for being a perfect role model. I promise, promise, promise with all of my heart that I’m going to make you proud. Day by day!

 

#RoadToHappy – February 16th, 2018

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF APBP

So many people ask me on a daily basis… so what exactly DO you DO? So, I figured I would dedicate this next post to sharing a day in the life of APBP!

None of my days are the same. In general, my weeks tend to mirror one another, but no two days during the week do I have the exact same schedule. Each day of the week has such a different personality for me too. In my head, they go a little something like this…

Monday – Ok, time to start fresh! Even though I just spent more than half my weekend at work, it’s still time to make moves and start something new. I normally wake up AMPED to tackle the week, but by the end of the day, I’m really ready to move onto Tuesday. Heh.

Tuesday – Day of FIRE classes and “me time” in the studio to focus on administration.

Wednesday – The one day (for now) I don’t teach, so I try to knock some personal things off the list and I always look forward to my weekly lunch date with my dad!

Thursday – Grind mode. I get in a CRAZY personal workout, spend most of the day on my computer answering emails and planning out the following week! I only teach once so I have the day to prepare and really knock things off my work to-do list/have both phone meetings and physical meetings about growing Rev’d! Generally end the night training some future instructors up in Burlington. 

Friday – IT’S THE WEEKEND! What exactly does a weekend mean when you work on the weekend? I still have yet to navigate that, but the vibes in the studio on Friday are THE BEST and after my morning classes, I have some time in the afternoon to recover and rest up for the craziness of the weekend.

Saturday – Weekend vibes all the way. Nothing compares to the energy in the studios on a Saturday morning and I look forward to this day all week. Also means I get some serious time at night to spend with my fiancé since it's the only night we are off together, and I always look forward to that!

Sunday – What I consider my “day off” because I only teach once, and only work a few hours of the day! Planning, recovering, plotting, prepping… all that good stuff.

If I had to try to sum up “day in the life,” I would say that most of my days include the following - they just are all in different orders each day:

CLASSES – With my current schedule, I don’t teach more than twice in one day. The earliest I teach right now is 7:00am, and some days I don’t teach until 5:30pm. My days revolve around when I have class, because those are the times that I absolutely have to physically be somewhere. No matter WHAT I’m working on or what I’m doing, I have to completely switch gears mentally and physically when I have a class coming up! I normally teach a 9:30am class and then 5:30pm class during the week, so I wake up and get ready for class, make sure my playlists for the day are on point, and then have some serious fun in those classes!

ADMINI wear many hats at Rev’d (my full-time job). Mainly, I’m the Events Manager and I work with the rising stars in our development program. Being that Rev’d is a small business (meaning there are only 5 of us that work there full-time), I do a lot of different things throughout the day to make sure the studios all run properly. I work with different brands to come into the studio to showcase their products, I coordinate high school team visits and plan out our charity rides, and plan basically any other event that happens inside our 3 studios. What’s nice about working for a privately owned company is that if I have an idea, I usually can get approval to make it happen! So, if you have any ideas on something we could work together on, LET ME KNOW!

PERSONAL WORKOUT – I do my best to make at least a little time each day for my personal workouts. My classes are about my riders, and not about me. Yes I absolutely sweat and I kick my own ass all the time, but 100% of my energy in those classes go to the people who show up to do the work. I also need to cross train to stay in shape for teaching so many classes a week so that my stamina is high and I’m able to perform! Also, it’s a mental release that’s very important to me.

SOCIAL MEDIA/APBP – I try to spend at least 30 minutes a day on social media and growing The APBP Movement. Sometimes it’s just sitting on Instagram looking at different people and brands that would be interesting to connect with, and sometimes it’s just closing my eyes for 10 minutes and thinking about what cool things could come next with everything I’m doing. It’s REALLY NOT EASY starting your own movement/brand/blog/whatever you want to call this thing, but it’s also really fun seeing it all come together and planning what’s next!

PERSONAL TIME - In all honesty, I don't have a lot of this. But that's okay, because the REASON this is the case is that any time I'm just sitting at home or I do have down time, I'm constantly plotting and planning and thinking about what I could do to grow! However, despite the fact I work 8-12 (maybe even sometimes 15) hours a day on average, I love every single second of it. And I ALWAYS, always make sure I take some time during the day for ME. Sometimes, it's in the middle of the day. I'll zone out from 3-4pm and watch Dr. Phil. Or I'll take a 20 minute power nap to get ready for the night classes. At night, Mike and I do our best to have dinner together, and we sit at our dining room table to catch up, since once we get to the couch, it's hard for us to keep our eyes open. It's important for someone who works as much as I do, to make SURE to take the time when I can, so I've learned to turn OFF, even just for a little portion of each day

Classes and admin take up the majority of my days. I’m usually home at night between 7:00pm-9:00pm, and Mike and I make a point to always tell each other about our days and spend some time together decompressing. Sleep is VERY important to me since I’m so active and always on the go, so we are in bed at a reasonable hour! I’m also working on really fueling my body with what’s right and healthy, so planning out meals and eating when I need to, is important for me as well!

I love that no two of my days during the week are the same. It makes life fun and interesting. Although work “rules most of my life,” it’s because I want it to! I am absolutely in love with what I do, and I really just can’t wait to see where it all takes me.

 

#RoadToHappy - February 7th, 2018

ALEX - A JOY IN THE KITCHEN AND A JOY IN MY LIFE

I hate talking on the phone. Like… really, really hate talking on the phone. Actually, let me rephrase. I really do not enjoy talking on the phone, but I learned that it’s an important skill to use, so I’m working on picking up the phone when it’s something important rather than going to send a text.

Despite my negative feelings towards talking on the phone, I love talking to Alex on the phone. If I totaled up the amount of hours we talk on the phone a week, it would probably be at LEAST 4 or 5. This post is about my amazing friend Alex Joy, and all that she’s done to not only bring JOY to my life (HEH HEH), but how much of a huge impact she’s had on my #roadtohappy.

I woke up this morning in a panic. Very, very, VERY anxious about some personal things I have going on. Like I mentioned in my last post, I have my days. Alex was the first person I texted, and within minutes, she helped me out in a very huge way, and my whole attitude towards the day changed. Without getting TOO personal, Alex did something to help me that (although she claims did NOT) could have potentially put herself in a rough spot, but she did it anyways because she cares. Because she is an amazing friend. Because she is one of the only people who really understands me inside and out and would legit do anything in the world to help me out in any way.

I met Alex back in 2016. She worked at Whole Foods and we wanted to work on connecting our two brands together. We instantly connected. There is something that event planners just understand about each other. You have to be organized to plan events, and you have to really believe that no matter what little blips happen along the way, everything is going to work out.

We started our friendship by planning a Rev’d ride inside Whole Foods, and quickly it became so much more. I remember sitting down spending over an hour writing a long email to Alex about my weight loss journey, because she was on the tail end of CRUSHING hers, and it was nice to find someone who understood what I was going through. We got close very quick, and within a couple of months, she had decided she thought she might want to make the jump from Whole Foods to Rev’d, so our relationship grew even more.

I think Alex would agree (at least this is what I hear her tell other people) that I helped her with her very terrifying decision to leave everything she’d known at Whole Foods, and take the jump to working at Rev’d. We spent hours talking on the phone; I gave her advice on what it was like working for our company, why I thought she should take the leap of faith, and how I thought she could be a great addition to our team. Within time, Alex was hired full-time at Rev’d, and she’s so quickly become someone who I feel I have known forever, I know that I WILL be close with forever, and someone I just feel so damn lucky to know.

Alex is the first person to let me vent. In fact, she will ASK me if I need to vent before I even say anything because she can tell instantly when something is wrong. She is caring, she is considerate. She is HONEST. I think as you get older, you start to really understand who in your life actually cares about you and seeing you succeed. I know that Alex is, and will forever be, one of those people. We laugh a LOT together (I can’t breathe through my nooooooose), I can 100% be myself around her, and I only know that together, we are going to do some really, really, REALLY awesome things in the future. Heck, we are already doing them now!

What we do isn’t easy, and I’m really thankful to have Alex on my side. She pushes me, she motivates me, and all of the motivation behind my pushing myself as far as I can go is for my team. Alex is so deserving, and I really can’t wait to see where all of this takes us. Together!

It’s so important to find people who lift you up. Find people who WANT to see you succeed. I feel I’ve found the most amazing community of people at my job, and I feel so lucky to have people by my side every day like Alex. Now that I’m in my 30s, I’m starting to have a really good grasp on who I am. And there are some people who haven’t come alone this ride with me for whatever reason. I am happy, and SO confident to say that most of the people in my life right now, deserve to be here. If someone doesn’t serve you, don’t worry about them. If someone wants to see you fail, leave them behind.

Growing up sure isn’t easy and I’ve gone through a lot of pain realizing the ones that truly are there for me… but having people like Alex by my side, sure makes it a lot easier. 

 

#RoadToHappy - January 30th, 2018

HOLDING HAPPY – THE ANXIETY POST

I’m officially in week 3 of The APBP Movement, and I could not be happier that I started this movement. I appreciate every single person that comes up to me, messages me, or texts me to let me know that they have read my post. This one is going to be very real. Out of all the messages I’ve gotten over the last couple of weeks, the most have been about people letting me know that they relate to me suffering from anxiety and they didn’t even know that I had it. So, I thought I’d share a little bit more about my issues and what I’ve found helpful in coping.

I’m a very anxious person, and I suffer from anxiety on and off. Right now happens to be an “off” period, meaning that I don’t wake up every single day with anxiety. I’m so busy, but I’m so happy and really everything seems to be going my way. That’s not to say that I don’t have anxious days, or days where the littlest thing in the morning sets me off for the entire day that I have the anxious chest pain for the day. In general, I’m doing the best I’ve done in a long time, and for that, I am THANKFUL.  

Anxiety is such a real thing. Some people don’t understand it if they don’t have it. They don’t understand how it’s a physical thing, and one SMALL thing can trigger it. If I have one anxious thought in the morning, my whole day is completely done for. I’ll smile through it, I’ll teach classes, I’ll get all my work done, but my chest hurts all day and it’s really hard to function. I work in a very stressful environment, and I really do my best to keep my anxiety and stresses under control. That’s WORK, but so, do doable.

My anxiety and worry go hand in hand. It’s something I believe I inherited from my mom, but I am really, really, REALLY working on letting it not control my life anymore. Couple examples. Last week, one of my close friends had an important ultrasound. I knew her appointment was at 11, and when I didn’t hear from her by 12:30, I just automatically assumed something was wrong and couldn’t focus on anything but waiting to hear from her. Of course, everything was fine and she needed time to talk to her parents and some other important people before talking to me, and it was just my anxiety taking over. On Saturdays, I always call Mike on my way back from work. If he doesn’t answer right away, I keep calling over and over again until he answers. One time, I called him 15 times before he finally answered. Because obviously if he didn’t answer, he was lifting and a weight fell on him and he’s hurt down in the basement without help. He generally answers with a groggy “hello???” because he’s just been asleep. I can’t help that my mind goes there. I wish it didn’t… but it’s something I can’t help and I’m working on each day!

It’s a painful way to live, I can’t lie. If my sister doesn’t answer me in California within 12 hours, I assume the worst. If I see an accident on 95 on the news, I just figure it’s someone I know. I figure life is too good, that something bad has to happen. But, THIS is what I’m working on and what I’m working to fix. Life is good, everything is going to happen the way it’s supposed to happen, and I have to keep pushing forward and stop worrying about all the little things that could (but WON’T) happen!

Like I mentioned, I’ve gotten SO much better. I used to wake up every day and just do what I could to get through the day. Now, I think it’s pretty clear that I enjoy life and I really do my best to live each day to it’s fullest. I started The APBP Movement as a way to release my anxiety, by letting people know that it’s okay, beatable, and they are not alone. Here are some things that have helped me change my thought process, in the hopes that maybe it’ll help you!

1.     My mom’s best friend is a therapist and helped me back when I was really hurting. She told me about the phrase HOLDING HAPPY, which means that you really can hold onto your happy! Just because things are going well, doesn’t mean that they all the sudden are going to take a turn. I shifted my mindset from thinking “things are TOO good, something bad HAS to happen” to “hey, things are going SO well, I must deserve this and I’m going to enjoy every second!” I literally posted signs all around my apartment that said I CAN HOLD HAPPY, and I found it really helped!

2.     Exercise/taking 45 minutes to an hour to myself each day to do something I love to do that involves sweating. Spin is what completely changed my life, and I hope that I am able to do that for some people. For an hour of my day, I choose an exercise class, work out on my own, let go in my own class, and really promise myself that once I walk through the doors into the exercise room, the outside world is left outside. I try to pick one thing I’m focusing on that day and put my full energy into it. Letting go and taking time for ME, is what’s most important!

3.     I decided to put myself first on my TO DO list. I’m someone who cares SO much about everyone else, and always before myself. Once I started focusing on ME a little more, I started to become a lot less anxious because I focused on self care. If someone invites me to plans but I don’t think I can make it work, or it’s going to take away from what I have planned to keep me happy/anxiety free, I’ll say no. It’s okay to do things for YOU! And it’s accepting that that’s important!

4.     I cut out a lot of people who didn’t make me happy. We all have those friends or people in our lives who we know don’t serve us. It’s never easy to cut ties, but the people you surround yourself with are the ones who are going to have a huge part in how you live. If someone makes you anxious, makes you unhappy, or doesn’t lift you up… you don’t really need them!

5.     Write down happy thoughts. I try to reflect each day on all the good of the day, the bad of the day, and what I hope is to come! Having goals and setting them helps me get through the tough days, knowing that the better ones are coming.

6.     Stay POSITIVE. Each day is a new opportunity, and having positivity/optimism has completely changed my life. Allow Positivity to Be Your Passion… right?!

The list really could go on and on. I hope that maybe even just one of them could be helpful to you! If you’re an anxious person or suffer from anxiety, I feel you. If you’ve never had anxious thought in your life, you are lucky and I hope that you hold onto that! I’m sure I relate you in many different ways. We all have our things.

Because I’m smiling every day doesn’t mean I’m not hurting sometimes. I just do my best to stay POSITIVE, focus on ME, and do what I can to continue to work towards ultimate happiness! 

 

#RoadToHappy - January 23rd, 2018

MIKE

Where do I even begin with this one? Meeting Mike was the single most life changing moment of my entire life. It is sad to even admit out loud, but I never thought that I would get married. I didn’t think I deserved to be loved in that way, and I certainly never thought I was deserving of a husband. I valued myself THAT little, that I figured I would go through life never understanding my true worth, so I’d either end up with someone who was not a great guy, or just be alone.

Mike came into my life at a time where I was finally happy in general, but really happy with myself and all the progress I had made. I was getting frustrated with people who kept telling me “just trust the timing, you’ll meet someone when you least expect it” but now, I am the first person to tell anybody that, because it is absolutely the truth! I had been living at home in Boston for 8 months, was finishing up the development program at Rev’d, and was in the midst of planning a huge event for a Patriots player when Mike popped into my life.

Mike and I met on Tinder in mid-August 2015. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Tinder, but I certainly am its biggest advocate now. I’m pretty sure his first message was something like “hey cutie!” with a smiley face, and I could never tell you at the time what attracted me to his profile. His profile said something like “Taller Than Your Ex” (I didn’t quite understand how he’d know that) and something else about teaching me how to dougie (insert eye roll). His age was also on there, which instantly made me think “no thanks” because he was 5 years younger than me, putting him at 23 at the time. We chatted back and forth a few times, and then I decided “yeah there’s no way, he’s just too young” so I stopped communication. But something… something just told me I should reach back out.

So we continued talking and he was really quick to ask me out. I thought WHY NOT, what do I have to lose, and on August 23rd, we met face to face for the first time in the Whole Foods in Dedham. I figured I’d have him meet me near Rev’d for our first date, so just in case anything bad happened Meaghan could save me. Mike had bought us Red Sox tickets, so our first date was at Fenway Park and I had a very, very strong feeling after that night that I was going to marry this guy. We spent the whole night talking, laughing, learning very quickly about each others’ pasts, and by the end of the night, we were holding hands as we walked back to our far away parking spot.

Right away, I knew there was something really special about this guy. He listened to me. He asked me questions. He was genuinely really curious about my life and how I got to where I was then. I could tell he was from a really good family, and he spent a lot of time talking about his upbringing, the different things he did for the community, and how he was a teacher. I knew I’d found a gem and someone I should hold onto.

Timing is everything, and it’s CRAZY to think that my life really did all start to come together when I met Mike. Two weeks after our first date, I had my audition to be a spin instructor. I made it, and I taught my first class on September 10th. Mike has basically been on my real Rev’d journey since day 1, and he’s been nothing but incredibly supportive to see it all come together.

Mike is by far one of the most caring people I know. He tricked me when we first met, and actually was living in Connecticut. For an ENTIRE year, Mike drove from Connecticut to Needham every single weekend except for 2. My spin career quickly took off, and I was teaching weekend classes shortly after beginning. He knew how important that was to me, and sacrificed SO much to watch me live out my dreams. I think he’d agree with me now that it was well worth it, but all the hours spent in the car, the snowstorms he traveled through to make sure he didn’t miss a weekend with me, the late night phone calls we had catching up on our days, the surprise packages I got in the mail… really, really proved to me that HE was my person.

Living apart was not easy. We both struggled with my work schedule, and we had such a hard time being away from each other. However, we lived our lives, and made a plan on how we could be together. Mike decided to get a job in Rhode Island for the next school year, and we moved into our first home together in Sharon in July of 2016.

Before I met Mike, I was still on that sleeping medication I mentioned in “my story.” Once we met, I stopped taking the pills, and I started sleeping again. He calmed me down in a way I never thought possible. He challenged me to work hard and put my all into everything I was doing at the time. As event planning fell to the side, and Rev’d took top priority, Mike was there throughout it all to lend an ear and a helping hand. I think that I achieved true happiness when we met. NOT because I had finally found my match, but because I had found happiness with myself, and then was able to share that happiness with someone else, who understood that I needed to do “me” in order to be with someone.

Mike and I moved to Burlington in June of 2017, and July 2nd, he got down on one knee in our new home and asked me to marry him. I’ll never, ever, ever forget that feeling of “wow… someone loves me THAT much that they are willing to spend the rest of their life with me.” I cannot wait to get married this year, and I thank Mike so, so much for being such a HUGE part of my #roadtohappy.

Mike is kind. Mike is wise. Mike puts up with a LOT. When I whine and I’m so annoying and I ask him to do me a favor, he does it without even flinching. He’s the most incredible dog dad, and some day will make the best father. He’s my best friend, and my partner in crime. He listens to me when I complain, and he listens to me when I have stupid things to say that he could care less about. He lets me be myself, as silly as that person is. He goes out in the backyard in the pitch-black night to find my glasses when our dog takes them outside, and he shovels the driveway when there are storm storms because he knows I hate doing it. He cooks for me, he knows me inside and out, and he would do ANYTHING, and I mean ANYTHING for me. I’m the luckiest girl in the world to get to marry this guy, and I cannot wait to see where life takes us.

Mike is my #1 fan behind this movement, and I thank him for all that he’s doing to bring my dreams to reality. To anyone who may feel lost in the whole love life realm, PLEASE believe me that you’ll find your match, when the timing is right. It’s hard to be patient. TRUST ME, I know. I never thought my past would lead to this future, and by finding true happiness with myself, I finally found someone to share that with me. 

 

#RoadToHappy - January 16th, 2018

REV’D INDOOR CYCLING

As many of you now know, it was not an easy journey to get to where I am today. And please believe me when I say I still have a LOT of work to do when it comes to self-care and really truly being my best self. A good friend of mine had the idea of featuring different parts of my journey, and people/places that helped me along the way. Today I’m going to start with probably the biggest one… Rev’d.

I found Rev’d when I moved home to Boston. A friend of mine from high school (THANK YOU JESSICA) told me I should check it out. It did not take very long for me to feel at home at Rev’d. I met Meaghan (the owner and now one of my very best friends) the first day, and she was someone I instantly knew would become a huge part of my life.

Spin is my release. It makes me happy. It makes me hurt, it makes me sweat, it makes me push past anywhere I ever thought I could go. Number one for me… it’s FUN. But, the best part about Rev’d is the community. And the community of people I have found is such a huge, huge, huge part of my #roadtohappy.

Everyone at Rev’d is different, and that is my favorite part about it. You walk in and you do not see two people that look the same. The other night, I took a look around at the people in my class I was teaching; I had my mom CRUSHING it in the back corner (stay tuned, she’s definitely going to be featured soon), a couple of my favorite current Needham High kiddos in the front row, a few older folks with their game faces on in the back, a few of my regulars on the side bar hitting every single beat, a mother/daughter pair, one of my best friends who is my age… it’s just such a mosh pit of people of different shapes and sizes from different backgrounds who all come together for 45 minutes to just be themselves.   

I get my energy in class from people working their asses off. Yes, it’s amazing if everyone is on the same beat. That’s what we work towards because we rhythm ride for a reason. But it’s seeing the determination in people’s faces that makes me keep working harder as an instructor to get better for all of my riders. I would rather a room full of people challenging their bodies and minds, than a room full of people all riding on the same foot. The energy I feel when I am on that podium is INCREDIBLE. Looking out and seeing people work… there’s just nothing like it. And to think that I have the opportunity to help people change in the way I did... I really cannot put into words exactly what that means to me.

Spin was my 45 minutes to let go. To let loose. To have some fun. To dig. To stay determined. To set some goals. Spin was the serious start to my weight loss and happiness journey… and Rev’d is what brought it all together. Finding that place was by far the best thing that’s ever happened to me (besides Mike of course).

I found a family at Rev’d. And there’s just nothing like it.

If you somehow stumbled on my page without ever stepping foot in our studio, please let me know so you can come check out a class. I promise you… it’ll change your life.