eat pray design
For nearly the past 7 years, the shorthand way of explaining you need some massive change in your life (at least in my circle) was saying you wanted to have an “Eat. Pray. Love.” experience. Gotta love the mass love of the book, and movie by the same name.

I will admit, I was one of those people and I even described my life a few years ago as “my year of eat pray love.” It was my first real year making some massive change in my life.

Early on last year, I felt really depressed, uninspired, and stuck. For the first 3 months of 2016, I would find myself crying a lot, almost daily.

I now sit here writing this at the end of the year, feeling inspired, and more focused than ever.

So what happened?

I’ve now dubbed 2016 My year of Eat. Pray. Design.

Let me share my 2016 with you…

(FYI this post is a bit longer than I normally write but I hope you’ll read it all. I always find growth in witnessing other people’s stories, and I hope you find the same in my 2016 adventure)

THE REALITY

At the beginning of 2016, I felt like my business had honestly taken so much out of me. I made a commitment at the beginning of the new year that if I still felt this way at the end of the year, I would quit my business.

I was killing myself trying to just get my body to stop freaking out and whip into compliance (that never works btw!). My messaging felt like it had gone off the deep end. I would frequently wonder how I became tied into the plus size sector instead of what I had started my business for. I even wondered why I was in business.

So many things felt wrong, and my body was trying to show me.

I wasn’t listening.

I’d cry for days on end, I was bleeding floods out my hoo-ha, my fibromyalgia was at it’s worst in years. I was just plain exhausted and freaking out while trying to control everything.

Bandaid after bandaid after bandaid.

I hired people to take on tasks I couldn’t. I tried to fix my hormonal issues with an IUD since I “didn’t have the time” to fix it with food, causing me to have to work from bed and cut back most of what I could do for nearly 2 months. I spent thousands on healers + massages. The list goes on and on.

All in all, I spent a lot of money and time trying to manage the hemorrhaging of my current life, business and body situation instead of getting to the root of the cause.

How did I want to feel?

The “Not So Skinny” branding just didn’t fit me anymore. I had outgrown it.

I kept telling my coach I wanted to feel like “Syracuse” and finally after mentioning that in passing a couple times she keyed in on it.

“What does that mean?” she asked.

I went to Syracuse for graduate school and honestly, that was the happiest and most fulfilling part of my college experience. Regardless of the bad wintry weather, I felt like I was totally me during that time and my life felt awesome. Life felt really rich.

In the Hindu tradition, I was living my Dharma, which is a Sanskrit word that loosely translates to “righteous living.” If we’re describing it in western business terms, I was in my “zone of genius.”

I finally admitted this to my Mastermind group at our March 2016 retreat, and set the intention to reshape my business with a messaging and structure that embraced all of who I am and what I bring to the table…the adventure was only beginning.

I knew one thing for sure: I wanted to feel in my zone of genius again.

Eat.

After ignoring my hormonal problems and trying to bandaid them with western medicine, I realized in order to support myself as a leader and not feel burned out again, I had to start with myself. It was time to address my hormones and give my body time to heal. 

I hired my friend Nadia Munla and we got my body back on track. After being bedridden and having to cut my work down tremendously for almost 2 months, working from bed for a large portion of that time, Nadia helped bring me back to life.

I hadn’t realized how much my hormonal imbalance had been affecting my life. And, if I was being really honest with myself, this had been going on for the past 2 decades. It made me both mad and sad when I stopped to think about it at times that western medicine had truly failed me and how I imagine it’s failing many women with our hormonal health. I’m glad I stopped being “too busy” to address it. And, instead of bandaging it with the IUD (though becoming bedridden kind of forced this on me) I really started to nourish and heal my body from within.

Pray.

This year has been filled with coming back home again and again to my spiritual and soul center.

2016 I found myself at a spiritual crossroads, a family member’s comments last January about me not going to church caused me to go into deep reflection in 2016 around my connection with spirituality.

I have always trusted my gut in all that I do but I was having a hard time listening since none of it made sense and I felt like that part of me was a bit broken.

What I’ve realized?

My spiritual practice was nonexistent and although I don’t personally feel the need to go to church, I am not in tune with my voice and feeling very supported in the universe.

Prayer for me isn’t about going to a church. For me, it’s about bringing attention and focus to the feminine in my life because I’ve learned that when I start trusting my feminine intuition I am safe, I feel inspired, and I start attracting what I really want.

One thing that I kept hearing, but ignoring…starting my own clothing line.

Design school was one of those ways I found that inspiration again, and although you may think it would come into the “design” portion of my 2016, it really doesn’t.

Being in design school was one of the most challenging and soul opening experiences of my year. Over the course of last summer, I went from wanting my professor’s approval and wondering why things felt so off when I wasn’t getting the feedback I wanted, to nourishing and listening to myself.

I went from trying to take part in every experience to getting very clear on why I was there. I stumbled (by no accident, I believe) upon a Raw Vegan cafe that was my saving grace. I am Italian and never thought I’d be over pasta, but 2 weeks straight of pasta will tire you out! My body was nourished and I started really tuning into my soul’s voice.

As soon as I did this, I started really standing my ground, being ok asserting my own creative voice in my work, asking for what I needed. Instead of playing the pleasing student.

(Fortunately this also jived with their teaching methods at Polimoda since they were very much about creative expression. Woot!)

I went from not knowing what the hell I was doing in my life and business to coming out of Polimoda with a new lease on life. I felt so creatively unleashed, I don’t think there are the words that will ever truly describe it. Ultimately, I came home to myself.

Design.

I was honestly so scared to come home to Albany from Florence in August. I felt so back in my “zone of genius” that I was scared of the repercussions of going home. I had been seeking this level of inspiration since the beginning of the year and I knew a lot was about to change.

Within 24 hours of coming home, I had a panic attack while driving and I had to pull over my car. I hadn’t had a panic attack since I was a teenager. SO MUCH was coming up.

I started to really look at my life and design it the way I truly desired, not some framework from someone else or what other people expected. I realized these skills from design school would work together nicely with my newly minted life coaching skills I had acquired through Inner Glow Circle.

The day after my panic attack I started writing in my journal and visioning where I wanted to live and what I wanted my life to look like.

I left it open to faith where I live, I knew Albany wasn’t my forever home (even though it’s where I grew up + I owned a home), I was open to where it was, and ultimately I found an area in LA that encompassed all of that a couple months later, the Marina Del Rey + Playa Vista area.

I decided I was going to rent out my house and move, but after realizing I could break even on my home, less than 2 years after purchasing it, I put it on the market. While I was in Thailand honing my writing in November, I sold my house at full price after being on the market for only a week!

Coming Home to Fuller Self Expression

In this last part of 2016, I have really been testing and designing what I truly wanted at a soul level for my life and business. The big thing I realized is I was only showing up as a part of myself in my business.

Being called a “Stylist” always made me feel cool, but like the “Not So Skinny” label, only made me feel boxed in. In designing my next phase, I am really stepping into owning the massive business and branding side of me that I’ve only utilized in my own business for myself, while weaving it in with styling.

For me, styling has always been about self-expression. It was never about body type, it was about expressing your soul. Business branding is the same thing for me, it’s expressing the soul of a brand, which many times in today’s day and age is an individual leader’s soul.

Becoming My Own Icon

Although I’ve been on this soul journey for quite some time and 2016 was just another chapter, I’ve been embracing my own style for some time. However, I truly believe this year, the year of “Eat. Pray. Design.” was about me stepping into becoming my own Icon.

An “icon” is just another word for “hero,” and this year, I became my hero, my victor, my muse, my knight in shining armor. I found my inspiration again.

A lot more will be revealed in the coming weeks on how I am designing my business now, but if you’re looking to start 2017 off with an “Eat. Pray. Design.” experience and really become your own Icon, both inside and out, I encourage you to sign up for our 15 day Style Icon Challenge.

Style Icon Challenge

I’d Love to Hear From You!

What was 2016 like for you and are you ready to step into 2017 in becoming your own Icon with me?

Do you have friends who would love this challenge? Click here to share with them on Facebook or Twitter. 

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!