birth control pill

28 Lessons from 28 years of life

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It’s pretty incredible to look back to see how far you’ve come.

This is my 2nd time doing this since I started the blog (check out last years roundup here) and every year I’m blown away by all the things I’ve taken away.

I spent so many years of my life on automatic pilot, going through the motions and not taking stock in my life. What I was learning, how I was growing. And doing this every year has been such an amazing way to look back and do just that — plus you guys know I LOVE sharing my shiz with you.

So here they are — the mess, the growth, the shifts. I hope they serve as a gorgeous reminder for your own life.


28 lessons from 28 years of life:

  1. Success isn’t about the shiny pennies. It’s about getting clear on what’s truly important to you and going after that feeling every day.

  2. Boundaries are beautiful. When you set them, you are finally able to say no to things you don’t want so you can say yes to the things you do.

  3. The thing that feels like the hardest thing on the planet to do/decide/shift? It’s not. It might suck, and be painful but you’ll get through it.

  4. Anxiety is your intuition giving you clues. This was a huge lesson this year (and therapy) has taught me and it’s allowed me to truly learn how to use it as my superpower instead of feeling overwhelmed by it. 

  5. Run towards the people and experiences that fill your cup.

  6. Trust the gut tugs. This was one of the lessons I didn’t expect to learn and one that has changed so much about the way I navigate life. 

  7. A woman’s body is SO complex and something to be celebrated — periods and all. (Read more about my switch from birth control pills to the copper IUD this year

  8. Vulnerability is strength. Embrace the mess and choose to grow from it.

  9. 20 minute workouts can be just as empowering and challenging as an hour boot camp class. Choosing my time wisely in this way has been such a huge part of my journey this year and my old limiting beliefs that left me in the gym for hours always feeling not enough has been BLASTED on a whole new level with the workout program I’m currently rocking. 

  10. Put yourself first and foremost. Over EVERYTHING. Because you cannot give to anyone or anything if your tank isn’t full first.

  11. That I am a manifesting generator in human design and a 7 on the enneagram (which gave me SOOO much understanding about myself and why I operate the way I do — check out episode 5 of the podcast for more info!)

  12. My boobs do not define me as a woman or a sexual being. Period.

  13. Belief is the root of every possibility we allow into our lives. 

  14. Money doesn’t have to be stressful. We don’t HAVE to live paycheck to paycheck and constantly perpetuate the “I’m broke” cycle and it STARTS with the words we say and the energy we put into the universe. 

  15. Allll about my innate privilege and how I can show up in the self development space AND be an advocate for social change.

  16. Expectations can’t get met if you don’t express them. Ask for what you want. Express what you need. 

  17. Surround yourself with people who have different perspectives and lives than yours. It is the most beautiful way to grow and learn. Don’t know where to start? Follow people online and diversify your feed.

  18. Sharing your story, even when you’re going through the damn thing, can be the most rewarding thing you ever do.

  19. If you don’t like it, change it. You have the power to shift your thoughts/decisions/the way you show up in the world. So do the damn thing and make the shift. Even if it’s hard. 

  20. Change isn’t such a bad thing. I used to be terrified of change but this year has taught me so much about the beauty of leaning into the shifts. Change may be uncomfortable but that discomfort? It’s where all the growth and magic takes place, if you let it.

  21. My heart craves adventure. I need it. I thrive off of it. And the more adventure I can have in my life, the more my soul feels filled the fuck up. So move towards what lights you up. 

  22. Just because something works for one person doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you. You already have the answers inside of you. Surround yourself with people who help you get clear on what you really want instead of those who prescribe what they do to you. 

  23. Starting your day off with gratitude will change the game. I’ve been doing this for the past 6 months and it truly puts my mindset in the best spot. 

  24. Peoples beliefs don’t pay the bills. Do what sets your soul on fire and do so apologetically. Not everyone will get it. But don’t let other peoples thoughts stop you from showing up for what YOU want on YOUR terms.

  25. Community is EVERYTHING. Women are hardwired for community and it MF SUCKS when we don’t feel like we have people in our lives who truly get us. Whether you foster and create your own soul sisterhood like I did or join one (you can sit with us!), seek out a group of women that will set your soul on fire and empower you to be better every single day.

  26. Be an advocate for your health. One of my biggest takeaways from my BRCA journey this year has been standing up for what I want with my doctors. Ask for what you want. Trust your intuition. And don’t just follow doctors orders because they tell you it’s what’s you have to do. Get second, third and fourth opinions. Do your research. Talk to people who’ve been in your shoes. And stand up for your health, it’s all you’ve got.

  27. “What do you need today love?” — a beautiful tool my dear friend Jen Wille shared on episode 21 of the podcast and one that has truly helped me get super acquainted with my innate desires.

  28. The key to living your fuck yes life? Getting rid of the “shoulds” and getting clear on what lights you up and moving ALLLLL THE WAY in that direction. Okay? Ok. 


Which ones are you committed to working on this year?

Xo Amanda

2018: My Year In Review

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Hi Live Your F*ck Yes Lifers!

I can’t believe it’s that time again to sit down and take stock of the year — it feels like just yesterday I was writing my 2017: My Year in Review blog post.

Doing this every year has become such a beautiful tradition. It gives me space to reflect and set intentions for the upcoming year — and my hope is that it inspires you to do the same.

So often we go about our life not taking stock for what we’ve accomplished, especially when we feel like we haven’t made any progress in a year. But I bet that if you rock out this exercise alongside of me and take some time to truly look back on your year, you’ll be surprised of just how much you HAVE accomplished and just how far you’ve come.


2018 was arguably the best year of my life. 

While learning about having the BRCA 1 mutation was a huge thread through it all, the biggest thing was living up to my chosen word of the year — UNAPOLOGETIC.

It allowed me to feel the fear and do it anyways. 

Say YES to opportunities that my gut was pulling me towards even if my head was saying no. 

Share my story and truth with abandon. 

Finally DO the things I’d been holding myself back from doing for years.

Here’s a snapshot of some of those things…

MY YEAR IN REVIEW

TRAVEL

  • My first trip was a 2 week long stint to LA, San Francisco and Hawaii. I was put up in LA for a leadership conference for my business (which in and of itself was a DREAM and an HONOR) and it landed right around my Birthday/mine and Kev’s anniversary so we extended the trip and drove up the coast to San Francisco before I flew to Honolulu for a week with my best friend from high school, Irina. It was the first time in my career that I was able to just take off and go somewhere because of my business.

  • In April, I got to experience my first all expenses paid trip to Punta Cana that I earned through my coaching biz. I got to take Kev as my guest and it was the most luxurious and relaxing and fun 5 days.

  • Next up was my first retreat I held for the gals on my coaching team in Florida — aka the most hilarious, fun and amazing weekend filled with face masks, rained out photoshoots, laugh attacks and margaritas.

  • And then I got to see them again (plus way more of my gals!) in Indy at our annual coach Summit where I had the biggest full circle moment of my life. Can’t say Indy was the most exciting place to visit, but I would go anywhere to spend a long weekend growing as a business owner and person alongside my team.

  • In August, I got to check a major place off of my bucket list: Iceland. We went in celebration of my mom’s 60th and the amount of adventure we experienced was just unparalleled. We went into the inner chamber of a MF volcano. So cool.

  • The rest of the year was filled with mini trips to Canada (a week spent at my cabin was heaven on earth), a stint in NYC and my first time in Texas for an amazing conference.

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BUSINESS

  • After 2.5 years of rocking my side hustle, I was able to make enough to quit all of my additional part time jobs. And that’s working no more than 5-10 hours a week. It’s amazing what happens when you decide to show up and trust in the compound effect.

  • I launched my Live Your F*ck Yes Life podcast!!! If ya haven’t already, subscribe here.

  • I launched my wellness events & retreats company Empowered and Free. We hosted 3 amazing events and one retreat in the Chicago area this year and have some BIG plans for the next year and I can’t WAIT. This was honestly the biggest surprise of 2018. I had NO intention of creating a company like this. All I wanted to do was hold space for wellness, self care & community in a way that I hadn’t seen in Chicago via a social media movement experiment…and SO many women resonated. Just another beautiful example of following those gut tugs.

  • I had my writing published in a book, The Authentic Woman Series: Identity Rising.

  • I got certified as an emotional eating and mindset coach.

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LIFE

  • I was tested positive for the BRCA 1 gene and had a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy.

  • Spent 6 months of the year working on the most artistically fulfilling and empowering show I’ve ever been a part of. Haymarket the musical was such a gift in my life — and it was super badass getting to be a part of an original cast recording!

  • I went off the hormonal birth control after 12 years of being on the pill — read more about my decision to do so here!

  • I started working with a therapist after years of resisting it. Best. Decision. Ever.

  • I completed my first 90 day workout program, focused on strength training in new and exciting ways and truly learned what loving and appreciating your body is all about.

  • Celebrated my 10 year high school reunion — WHAT? So crazy.

  • Created and fostered the most incredible support system in Chicago. It’s been a year of nurturing and deepening new & existing relationships like never before.

  • Had a bon voyage to the boobs weekend and photoshoot with my 3 best girlfriends at my cottage and a surprise ta-ta to the tits party the week before my surgery in Chicago!

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This year was filled with unexpected magic.

Some things I planned but most? The things that brought the most to my life were FAR from anticipated.

And I truly believe it’s because I allowed space to explore them.

I listened to my intuition, my gut, and I went where I was called to go.


Did I “hit all of my 2018 goals”? Hell no.

That’s not the point. Some of them I showed up for with gusto. Some I’m still working towards and it’s only a matter of time. Some no longer serve my greater vision and purpose. And others I didn’t even know I needed/wanted.

All I know is that I followed my gut to the YES’s.

Because I know it’s my compass more than anything in the world.


Sometimes, it’s the most simple YES’s that transform your life in the most INCREDIBLE ways.

So this year, I hope you say YES. Invest your time, money, heart in things that will allow you to LIVE YOUR FUCK YES LIFE.

And notice how I said YOURS. Not someone ELSE’s version of that. YOURS. YOUR happiness. YOUR dreams. YOUR health.


Follow the gut tugs, my badasses.

It’ll lead you to LIVE YOUR F*CK YES LIFE TOO, ok?


What’s your intention heading into 2019?

Xo Amanda

Why I decided to go off the birth control pill after 12 years

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I know this is gonna ruffle a million and one feathers but you know your girl is gonna give it to you straight and this has been a huge part of my wellness journey 

This time last year, I remember sitting in a coffee shop with my friend Jen talking all about the birth control pill. She had decided to go off of it 6 months prior and was sharing her experience with me and it got me thinking ... "why have I been on the pill for so goddamn long?"

I mean OBVIOUSLY to not have a baby.

But the reason I went on the pill in the first place? I was 15 years old and my doctor misdiagnosed me with PCOS and said "here, just take the pill. It'll help your symptoms."

And she was right, it did. And I didn't question it (and hadn't questioned it until recently).


But that conversation got me thinking about how I've been putting synthetic hormones into my body for 12 years of my life without question ('cause ya know, everyone is on the pill, right?) and that I hadn't even thought to question it. 

And the past year, I've been going back and forth about it and out of fear of what would come of change, I never decided to make any shifts...until now. After all of the medical stuff going on with me and the incredible conversation I had with Claire Baker on episode 7 of the podcast and speaking with my doctor, I decided to officially go off of the pill. 

Now I want to preface this by saying this is in NO WAY a "you need to go off the pill" post. YOU are the only person that can make choices for YOUR body (and girlfriend, you 100% know what's best for YOU and where you're at in life), but I've been getting a billion questions about why I made this decision and what I'm doing now for preventative measures. 

So here is MY story based off of my personal findings, speaking with my trusted hormone experts, my doctor and MY BODY.


WHY I DECIDED TO GO OFF THE PILL

1. I'm hella health conscious (obviously). And after getting hella into nutrition, the body and how everything works, I realized how VITAL the health of a woman's' endocrine system (aka the collection of glands and organs that produce hormones) is for overall health. And I have been working so hard on implementing habits in my nutrition and day to day life to support this, but not my birth control method? My girl Jess over at Wholly Healed shares ALL about the negative side effects of going on the pill, so if you wanna learn more definitely check her out. 

2. When I found out I was BRCA 1 positive earlier this year, I was hell bent on doing everything in my power to arm myself with everything I could to prevent myself from getting breast or ovarian cancer. And I knew that certain pills have been associated with raising risks of getting breast cancer and I was NOT fucking around with that.

*what I didn't know? Being on certain BC pills like the one I was on (ortho trinessa or ortho tricyclen low) for upwards of 5 years can actually REDUCE your likelihood of developing ovarian cancer so that was a major WIN for me and my doctor. 

3. My gynaecologist recommended I make the switch. While I was pretty convinced through my own personal readings and speaking with hormone health experts, I also wanted to hear the input from my doctor and she gave me the green light immediately. 

 

OK SO I WANNA GO OFF THE PILL, BUT I DON'T WANT BABIES!! HALP!!!

I hear ya. Kev and I are NOT ready for babies anytime soon, so when we were looking for another option, we knew we still needed to have a form of birth control going .

Here are other some options other than the pill to consider:

Paraguard IUD  - this is the option I opted with for a few reasons.  

  • It's over 99% effective in preventing pregnancy, making it one of the most effective forms of birth control available. This is hugely important to us because if and when we do decide to have kids, we have committed to going through the IVF process so we can screen the embryos for the BRCA gene. 
  • It is hormone FREE. So your body goes through the ovulation process as it naturally would but the Copper IUD disrupts sperm motility and damages sperm so they can't join with an egg. Fun fact that I didn't know? Copper actually acts as a spermicide within the uterus, increasing levels of copper ions, prostaglandins, and white blood cells within the uterine and tubal fluids. Fun science facts for ya! 
  • It is good for up to 10 years and can be removed at any time.

Condoms - also a great option! 

Withdrawl...not so fun but if you're in a relationship or sex isn't on the table, there ya go! 

Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) -- if you want to learn more about this, I highly recommend the book Taking Control of Your Fertility 

 

HOW DO YOU FEEL NOW ABOUT YOUR DECISION?

So far, I am OVER THE MOON about it.

I stopped taking the pill and transitioned to the Paraguard 2 weeks ago, so I've yet to experience a full cycle (and have yet to see if my period is going to return right away -- I know quite a few women who waited a year for their period to return) so I will definitely do a follow up post in a few months but so far, it's been great.

The process of inserting the IUD? It sucked. Majorly. And I experienced pretty awful cramping the rest of the day. The heating pad, aleve, netflix and my pup Toby were my best friends that day -- so DEFINITELY do not go into work after you get it inserted. SERIOUSLY. 

But less than 24 hours later later and after a nights sleep, I felt good as new.

I've been following the My Flo app to track my cycle and so far it's been pretty on track! No spotting, weird cramping or anything like that.

And just knowing that I've taken action about this has taken a huge weight off of my chest.

 

So there ya have it!

As always, you know I'm an open book so if you have any questions, pop 'em in the comments below! 

And I'm curious -- what form of birth control do you use? 

Xo Cheers to living our f*ck yes lives,

Amanda