The Beginning

The origin of how I started my personal wellness journey

- James

4/12/20246 min read

A soft breeze through the hanging palms. The sound of ocean waves crashing on the shore in the distance. The scent of sea salt in the air. And the night sky - full of stars shining bright above. I take a deep breath and just soak it all in. I can feel my shoulders just relax and the weight I’ve been carrying get a bit lighter. This is what I’ve needed for so long.

The loss you face when you lose loved ones that helped raise you, are some of the hardest hitting loses you’ll ever have to deal with in your life. It can make you feel emotions that don’t make sense. It can make you question your own mortality. Then there is the loss you face when your marriage comes to an end. What did I do wrong? What about the future we were going to have? What can I do to fix it?

My father passed in 2018 to ALS and then both of my grandmother’s passed in the years that followed. When my father was diagnosed with ALS and I learned this was a fatal diagnosis - there were certainly initial feelings of sadness. But what surprised me was the feeling of anger I had towards him. I knew it wasn’t right to be mad at him. He doesn’t want this disease. He’s terrified of it and doesn’t want his family to see him go through this. So why would I be angry at the person that has this terrible disease? What I had discovered is that I was mad at him for leaving because my father was always there for his family. We did so many things together and I wasn’t ready for him to go.

In 2020, my husband said he didn’t love me anymore. In the days, weeks, months & years that followed - I had kept trying to make things work. I had thought about where things went wrong and how could we fix it. I wanted to go back in time to when both of us were truly happy and have a re-do. But as time went on - our relationship kept drifting further and further a part. We both had agreed to separate as that was going to be for the best.

What these loss’s have made me realize is that I need to take control of my life and how I want to live it. Do I want to be stuck in the past and wallow in it or do I want to learn from it and use those lessons for the next chapters of my life? What does life mean to me and how can I live it well-balanced? How do I take care of ME - what does that truly look like because for a people pleaser with high functioning anxiety - I may act fine and take care of those around me, but I suffer in silence.

A few months before I had the conversation about my marriage - I needed to get away by myself. I had never done a solo trip before. It was always with friends, family, my spouse or work. But to travel by myself was something I didn’t know I needed. I went to Oregon and did a road trip through the Columbia River Gorge, went up to 7,500 feet on Mt. Hood, drove up to Washington State and then down the entire Oregon Coast to California. It was the most amazing trip I’ve ever done. When you travel solo - it’s such an empowering & liberating experience. You set the itinerary. You determine when to stop, what to see, what places to eat at, where to take that selfie or how many selfies you want to take.

One of the stops was in Canon Beach and I popped into a store in their little adorable shopping village. As I walked around - they had a sweatshirt with sayings about the Pacific Northwest, but there were two words on there that just resonated with me… Always Onward. At this point - I had been seriously reconsidering my marriage because I wasn’t happy any longer. And neither was he. We were just co-existing together. I was tired of coasting through life. I wanted to live MY life. And being in Oregon, doing what I wanted, when I wanted it. I got a glimpse of what that life could be like. I just knew that I needed to move Onward and to keep moving forward.

But I knew it’s going to be challenging. And I knew that this was not just about my marriage. I had actually been on this Onward journey since my father’s diagnosis in 2017. I just didn’t know it at the time.

I was looking for more purpose in my occupation. I was getting burnt out. I went to a different office and that helped a little bit. But then Covid hit and that changed everything. The travel industry that I worked in was destroyed and those that were still fortunate enough to still be employed through it - were there to pick up the pieces. What Covid helped me realize is that I needed a different job. A job where I enjoyed going to work each day, looking forward to what lay ahead. To new opportunities because I felt stuck where I was and I wanted to grow. Fortunately, I was able to find a great job, with an awesome team and an incredibly motivating boss that not only is a pleasure to work for each day, but who also inspires me to become a better person and to pursue my hopes and dreams. To not just go after my dreams, but dares me to dream bigger and go further.

After my grandmother had passed - that is when I got serious about my financial situation. She had been telling me about how important personal finances are since I was a kid. But when you’re a kid - the last thing you want to do is hear about how credit card interest works, so I learned the hard way. And through hard life lessons, trial & error, and some help from my grandmother - I got on the right path.

When my father was diagnosed - I started therapy. Little did I know then how life changing it was going to be. My therapist has helped me to understand thoughts, actions & feelings. How things from childhood can impact you in adulthood. It’s because of therapy that I was able come to terms with how I honestly felt about myself and that I wasn’t truly happy and that I deserved happiness.

I need time to recharge my batteries. These Solo Discovery trips are the best way for me to do that. Oregon was just the beginning as it helped me reconnect to my passions of travel and photography. Something I had missed for so long. There’s just something about going somewhere new and exploring different sights, trying new food, hearing the sounds of the waves on the beach or the faint whisper of wind through a mountainous valley that just fills my soul. Actually - as I write this… I’m sitting in a hammock under a beautiful night sky enjoying the peace and quiet.

Always Onward is about finding balanced happiness in ones life using the lessons we learn from the past or lessons we learn from others. There are eight areas of overall well-being. They are - Physical, Emotional/Mental, Occupational, Financial, Social, Spiritual, Intellectual, and Environmental. Each one of these areas interacts with the other as they help make up your entire self. Sometimes - you may need to give some extra tender love & care to one or two areas that may be in need of attention. That’s ok - because life is not always balanced. However - it’s about consciously knowing when you need to allocate more resources to one area and that you don’t fully neglect other areas of your overall well-being.

I’m currently on this journey to achieving a balanced overall well-being. I’m moving onward with my life. And when times get tough & challenging - I go back to my mantra - Always Onward. It keeps me grounded and reminds me that decisions I make in my life - it’s about moving forward because the sun is always going to set today and rise tomorrow. It’s about making the best of what’s to come.

Another passion of mine is helping others (hence the people pleaser in me). Come along with me as I share life experiences, thoughts and ideas that you may be able to relate to or have thought about. I’ll also share tools that I use to help me achieve wellness in my overall journey. There’s also a section where you can see pictures from my Solo Discovery getaways to help inspire & empower you on your own journey to achieving balanced happiness.