Get a “Real” Job

So here I am, 24 years old and I am a Pilates instructor. When I was younger and thought about where I would be in my life by this point, well…this is not where I thought that I would be. I thought I would be working at some corporate entity, making a lot of money, wearing heels and fashionable business attire.

Today, I wake up at five in the morning to teach my first class of the day. I wear workout clothes all over town. That is my work uniform, yoga pants, sports bra and a tank top. I plan out workouts, I do them with my clients, I know about their lives and I love it. Am I where I thought I would be at this age? Absolutely not! Was the picture I painted of my life at 24 when I was 10 realistic? Absolutely not!

Being a Pilates instructor is the right place for me at this time in my life. I have graduated from college, I worked the marketing industry and I found out that it was not for me. Now I am pursuing my second undergraduate degree, and I can do it while staying out of debt. I have people in my lives who have asked me when I am going to get a “real” job.

First, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a Pilates instructor. I know many people that this is their chosen end game career path, and they are happy everyday making a difference in people’s lives. Second, I do have a real job. I have a real job that allows me to also be a full time student. I can wake up at the crack of dawn, teach a few classes and sessions before proceeding to do the student part of my day. Then I can return to the studio to teach the night time classes and bookend my day.

I am happy when I go to work. To quote Elle Woods “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t shoot their husbands. They just don’t!” I know that people do not consider my job to be a “real” job. But I challenge you to look introspectively for just a minute. Do you feel fulfilled in your job? Do you go to work everyday with a smile on your face? Do you truly believe in and love what you do? If you answered yes to all of those questions, you are like me. If not, that is absolutely fine. We all make choices about what is important to us at certain points in our lives. At this point in my life I choose education, happiness and flexibility. What do you choose?

 

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The Alaska Quake of 2018

DISCLAIMER: Earthquakes in Alaska are common, we know that they will happen at some point. We are just used to the protocol and have earthquake drills in elementary school. When I was in Auburn, Alabama for college we would have tornadoes and thunderstorms, that is what they were used to but they completely freaked me out. I remember my first tornado warning, I was with my roommate and we hid in the shelter in our apartment while I was having a panic attack and she consoled me. I know that if she was with me in an earthquake, the roles would be reversed.

In the middle of the night, as the 22nd of January turned into the 23rd, I woke up randomly at about 12:29 a.m. I often wake  up in the middle of the night only to go right back to sleep. I looked at my phone and I checked the time. I remember trying to fall back asleep and right before I almost fell back asleep I felt like I was one a boat. That was when the quake hit. The earth was shaking and it was about 12:31 a.m. It took about a minute for me to realize that there was a very large earthquake happening. I received an emergency notification on my phone about a tsunami warning. Now in an earthquake situation there are certain things you are supposed to do. I can tell you that I did absolutely none of them.

I realized that I was not in much danger of a tsunami, as my location was pretty far inland. I probably should have jumped out of bed and ran upstairs to huddle under the dining room table so that if debris fell my head would be protected. There are a few reasons I didn’t do that. One of them was the fact that I was exhausted and just wanted to try to go back to sleep. The second reason is that I live with my brother. That alone would not be enough to keep me in my room. My brother on occasion prefers to slumber in his birthday suit, but I would never know when that is, it’s not like I ask him before he goes to bed the night before. So because of the sheer fear of seeing my brother running out of his room naked, I stayed in my bed.

This is also the second time in the last two weeks that I have been in an emergent situation. I was in Maui, Hawaii for the mistake ballistic missile warning and it was the absolute scariest 38 minutes of my life. A little over a week later and I am in another potentially emergent situation. Luckily for me, and many others, neither of these incidents turned out to be life threatening. The fact is, they could have been. These events have made me evaluate my life, and I know that I am happy where I am. I encourage you to look at your life before you are in a situation where you think it might be the end, you never know what you might regret or wish you had done. Let’s try to live our lives with no regrets!

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THIS IS NOT A DRILL

The day was January 13th, 2018 and I was on a solo trip on the island of Maui in need of rest and relaxation before the semester started.

7:00 am: After a solid and restful night’s sleep, I naturally woke up without an alarm to start my day. My favorite way to wake up while on the islands is a sunrise run alongside the beach in Kaanapali. I noticed that my phone did not charge the night before, so I started my run at 20% battery life on low power mode.

7:20 am: Finally made it out the door. Phone in hand, music playing and Fitbit tracking my every move and heartbeat. With each step I grew stronger, and lost myself in my bliss. The sun peaking up over the hills and the water glistening as I passed. The early morning is for the movers, for the people who want to start their day on the right foot. It takes will power and strength to make the move and start the day, but once I do I never regret it.

7:50 am: I stopped for a mid-run coffee refuel at the Starbucks on my route. I have been doing this since I was in high school and would frequent the island with my family. I am by no means a runner. In fact, most people run way faster than I do but I love to run when I am on vacation and it is the only way I see constant change in my body the way I like to see. I order my Starbucks and appreciate the view of the beach. When you are from Alaska, just being in the sun and experiencing the feeling of the calm ocean is a big deal.

8:06 am: I threw away my coffee cup, and was setting my devices up for the run back to my hotel. Little did I know that everything was about the change.

8:07 am: Sirens are blasting. It sounds like a tsunami is on it’s way and everyone panics. I see people looking at their phones. My phone did not get anything and I had no idea what was going on. I ask around and someone shows me their phone. missile threat

8:10 am: I am not at my hotel. I am on a trip to the islands alone and I have 10% battery life on my phone. Following the crowd at the hotel nearest to me, I seek shelter. As the emergency alert and the sirens blasting instruct. As we huddle in the cafeteria at the hotel there are children crying, parents comforting their children, people praying and a whole host of different fear reactions. What would you do if you knew it was your last few minutes on earth? Do you regret anything? Who would you contact?

I knew that if there was no missile and I managed to stay alive I would need my phone, so I made a choice. I sent my brother a text message and it read: ” Check into missile heading toward Hawaii.” that was it. Simple and to the point. I knew that he was at home and would be searching for the information. After that, I waited. I was alone with my thoughts.

When you are about to die, or at least think you are, your life truly flashes before your eyes. You have some moments of clarity amidst the terror. I reviewed my life. Was there anything that I regret? I came to the conclusion that I had lived my life the way I wanted to, with no regrets. At the same time I felt that I had more of my life to live and that I was not done with my time on this earth. There are still things that I wanted to accomplish. At 24 I was not a child anymore, but I still felt that it was not my time.

8:31 am: I receive a text message from my brother, and all it read was “mistake”. I let the people around me know about the message, with the assurance that my brother was a reliable source in another part of the country. The room was overwhelmed with relief, as they knew that if we had been hit there was simply no surviving the strike.

8:38 am: Emergency Alerts were received confirming the message that my brother had sent. Everyone started hugging the person next to them, and a different kind of tears were heard. We were released into the open and almost instantly life on Maui returned to normal. At least that is what an outsider would say. I know that every single one of use who experienced that threat, had our lives flashing before our eyes and our outlook has forever been changed.

I now know that I am on the right path, if you ask yourself right now: If I died tomorrow, would I have any regrets? Would I change anything? I hope the answer is no. I believe that we should live a life with purpose and without regrets. We are in charge of our own decisions and our own destiny.

My challenge to you is this: Live a life that you can be proud of, free of regret and self doubt. Ellie 2018.01.10 | Maui Maka-29-X3

Photo: Maui Maka Photography

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Do What Moves You

Pilates stretch

If you are like the general population you probably have heard of different fitness class crazes. There’s Pilates, Yoga, Zumba, PiYo, Cize, Spin, Barre, Cross-fit and so many more different options to stay fit. What works for you might not work for the person next to you, but it is important that you do your research about what each method is and how they can help you achieve your goals. The truth is, as long as you are staying active and doing something that you like it doesn’t matter which option you choose.

I have been a fitness junkie for as long as I can remember. My younger years were spent in an ice rink and dance studio, so fitness has been my way of life. When I graduated from high school and entered the world of college I needed to find a way to keep my active lifestyle, without the rigorous schedule of skating and dance that kept me fit previously. I tried spin, Zumba, Barre, Yoga, Pilates, you name it! If there was a fitness class that fit into my schedule I was there! I loved it all.

Today I am a certified Pilates instructor and I love it. I teach a wide range of clients with all different abilities. I pride myself on my ability to challenge the advanced clients, while also delivering a safe class for any level. I believe that fitness is for everyone, no matter your age or size. We can all work on being a healthier and more mobile version of ourselves. There is nothing like the bonds of fitness to bring a group of people together, even if they have nothing else in common.

My favorite classes contain a mix of abilities, ages, perspectives and temperaments. We can all learn from each other, myself included. Some days I have high schoolers and eighty year olds in the same class, all laughing and working hard under the same roof. These people have nothing else in common other than their Pilates class, but I can guarantee that if they saw each other at the grocery store they would say hello, and likely comment about how sore they were from their class earlier.

We can all say that there aren’t enough hours in the day to get all of the things we have to do finished. It is easy to skip a workout, using an excuse similar to the one just mentioned. I have done it, we all have done it. Does that really help us though? Research has shown time and time again that exercise (of all types) is a great stress reliever. And that those who exercise regularly are often more productive, even if it means taking time out of the day to participate. The blood flow and mental break that happens when one is working out is worth the time taken to do so. I don’t care if you love or hate Pilates, that is just one of the types of exercise that I practice on a weekly basis. I challenge you to find what moves you. Find what you enjoy doing and dedicate enough time to it to make a positive difference in your life, both physically and mentally. Invest in yourself, find what moves you and do it daily.

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