This Is Your Journey, No One Else’s.

photo credit: @jazzthenoise

This post is an excerpt from Twenties Unscripted: A Journey of Womanhood, Writing, and Relativity. The full essay is available in the book, which is currently available for pre-sale here.

It’s OK to grab the wine bottle and take a giant swig. It’s OK if your nerves are shot and your heart is racing and you keep feeling like the pressure, gravity and beauty of this life is sometimes too much for you to handle. It is OK. I promise you it is OK and it will be OK and it was always OK. I promise you that the minute you give yourself a break from the one million thoughts darting through your mind, you will find peace in knowing you are now living the life you fought so tirelessly to have. Cry if you want to. Cry if you have to. Cry when you look at that canvas photo of yourself from a year ago, belting out your heart on stage and not even knowing that all of that was just the beginning of this sweet and divine unfolding of your dreams. Cry because this reality shakes you, it scares you, it humbles you, it breaks you, it builds you up, it tests you, it maddens you, it lifts you, it moves you, it makes you. Cry because this is your stupidly beautiful reality.


It’s All A Part Of The Evolution.

the evolution

I was supposed to close the Foundations of a Powerhouse series out yesterday. I was supposed to get inspired by a note I had jotted down in my tattered notebook about being called a power-hungry bitch, a joke from a conversation last week. I was supposed to go on one of my rants about how powerful women aren’t bitches and how the world needs to discover a broader vocabulary to describe women who are about their business.

I sat down to write. I got through two paragraphs and stopped. I poured a glass of wine. I deleted the paragraphs. And I wrote something else, something that more accurately represented where my head and heart were yesterday. Because it occurred to me that being called a bitch, or a power-hungry bitch for that matter, did not stir up all of the feelings inside of me that it once did.

You’ll be called a bitch. If you are intense or passionate or powerful or outspoken or opinionated, you will be called a bitch in this lifetime. It will happen. I’ll bet all the money in my fifty shades of fucked up bank account that it will happen. It comes with the territory.

First, it will make you cry. You’ll be in the middle of your morning and all of a sudden that word will appear on your Twitter timeline. And you will find your voice rattling when you go to tell someone that some stranger you’ve never met just called you a bitch because you did not laugh at his misogyny in 140 characters or less. No, you dared to challenge it and he threw the word bitch at you. Your whole day will be shot and your whole night will be shot and you’ll go write an entire poem about it because that shit hurt. From some random man. Who you don’t even know.

Then, it will make you pause. It will make you spend a few solid hours analyzing the things you’ve said and the reasons you said them and why it seems like your intensity never translates in the ways you intended. You’ll think too long and way too hard and the conclusion on their end will still be the same: you are a bitch. You’ll realize you can’t exert your energy trying to change the perceptions of people who never mattered.

Finally, it will make you laugh. Your sister will joke that because you made a decision about the future and livelihood of your brand, one that came at the cost of working with a group of people, that those people will think you’re a power-hungry bitch. And she will say it jokingly because somehow she knows you’ll take it as a joke. She knows that you know that yes, some people absolutely think you are a power-hungry bitch. You will have a broad enough vocabulary at that point to know that you aren’t seeking power; you’re creating influence. You aren’t ever starved for anything–not success, not content, not creativity, not inspiration, not readers, not hits. You will know that you are satiated from the fruit of your gift that just keeps on giving. And, finally, you’ll know you’re not a bitch. A dynamo, a pistol, a woman in command of her destiny, a businesswoman, an entrepreneur, a feisty motherfucker, a force to be reckoned with, a live wire, sometimes-a-straight-asshole and a star-how-could-you-not-shine…yes. Yes, you are all of the above.

Writing about being called a bitch doesn’t evoke the same emotions it used to for me. And it shouldn’t. Life has changed. So writing about it now, with my feet perched up and my chair leaning back, is different from writing about it a year ago. I don’t want to beat my chest. I don’t want to defend myself. I don’t want to pretend that doing those things is going to protect me from ever being called a bitch again. No, I just want to look back and see how in the end, it all makes sense. It all comes together. It all contributes to the colorful and beautiful tapestry of this journey. It’s all a part of the evolution.


Guest Writers Week: How Yoga Healed Me

By: Taji Mortazavi

I’ll admit that when I first tried yoga, I wasn’t doing it to look cool or be healthier or even the whole ‘keep calm and insert-pun-here’ thing that’s popular these days. No, I started yoga because I wanted a hot body. Between my weight training and my 60-mile weekend cycling journeys, I wanted an exercise that would lengthen out my muscles and give me that sleek, toned look gracing the cover of every women’s magazine.

While my intentions were at first superficial, a year later and my initial goal of a perfect yoga body doesn’t even phase me. Sure, I’m stronger, I have better balance, and my flexibility has improved. But my yoga instructor said in one of my first classes, “Yoga is not an exercise. Yoga is a moving meditation.”  It was through these words—this idea that yoga is something beyond an exercise—that led to the physical, mental, and emotional gains I’ve made.

1.       Physically: I don’t just look strong, I feel strong.

I envy the people who make yoga look easy. On the contrary, yoga takes incredible strength, balance, and flexibility. At first, a lot of the postures were really difficult for me. But over the weeks and months of falling over and making a fool of myself, I grew more comfortable with the movements.  My strong background in exercise and fitness actually helped me a lot, and (not to brag) but, before I knew it I was doing some of the most advanced postures that involved incredible form and diligence.

 But the physical strength was only half of it. When you master a head-stand or a bird of paradise, you don’t just look strong, you feel strong. And that strength remains with you even when you leave the yoga studio. Suddenly, problems that had daunted me for months or even years seemed like a piece of cake. I realized that as a strong, capable woman, I didn’t need to subject myself to an abusive relationship. I didn’t need to let a cancer diagnosis occlude me from moving forward with my education and career. At first, my strength manifested itself in planks and pushups. But over time, that strength developed into courage and insight.

 2.       Mentally: Patience and tolerance are true virtues.

I always thought that I was a pretty patient and tolerant person. It wasn’t until I started practicing yoga that I finally understood what those qualities are. In a society fraught with abundance and advancement, we’ve surprisingly become mean, cruel and intolerant. We don’t second guess cutting someone off in traffic to save five minutes on running an errand. Stories where children bully others literally to their death is not news, but almost common place.  

 Yoga helped me quiet the impulsive voices of impatience and intolerance that lead to these behaviors.  Difficulty with certain postures and exercise sequences helped me learn to be at ease with my body, to not judge myself so harshly when I can’t quite accomplish what I want. I realized that my goals, whether in or out of the studio, will slowly happen over time and with hard work. And that same mindset has overflowed into other aspects of my life. I no longer feel compelled to always go, go, go. I am content simply with my state of being.  Most important, I’ll get there when I get there, and I have no one to answer to but myself.

 3.       Emotionally: I am grateful to be grateful.

I almost can’t describe the feeling of elation that runs through my body as I leave the studio and walk to my car when class ends. Maybe it’s an exercise high, maybe it’s from the fresh blood rushing to my head. But through practicing, I now appreciate a clear blue sky even more or enjoy the warmth of the sun on my skin. The traffic jam that stressed me out on the way to class feels like a breeze. Instead of dwelling on sorrows or problems or all the things I want but don’t have, I find gratitude in what I do have—even the problems I have. As bad as I might have it, someone always has it worse, and I wouldn’t dare trade my predicaments with theirs. Call it optimism, call it seeing the glass half full, I am grateful to have realized this. I am grateful to be grateful.

So am I saying everyone should drop everything and start doing yoga? Not exactly. Yoga worked wonders for me, healing me in ways I never even imagined. I fell in love (with myself, that is). And through this love, I have transcended many of the obstacles I once thought were impregnable barriers in my life. Is yoga a cure all? Absolutely not. I’d be quite a hypocritical and intolerant yogi if I said everyone has to practice—ultimately you should do what works for you. But what I can say is that there lies a profound importance in stepping back and enjoying the moment.  It’s these small moments where true bliss really occurs and we gain perspective.  And yoga is one way we can get more in tune with these feelings. So, through the words of my yoga instructor, “Just breathe.”

Taji Mortazavi is a 23-year-old French speaking, green smoothie loving, cancer  survivor  thriver. Oh yeah, she’s also a Social Media Specialist. Follow her @heyitstaji