13 No’s and 40 days of Ice Cream

How failure became the most important thing in my life

Failure —a simple word that’s meaning has evolved for me over the years. It used to be  a word that would tear me down to no end, but now, it’s a word I am grateful for.

When you sit down to write "your story" it’s crazy how many memories flood back into your mind.  I can trace my innate goal-chasing desire back to when I was just 5 years old. This "push yourself until you are the best" idea was ingrained in me.  I believe I was just born with it - a gift and a curse all in one. If you’ve read my post on anxiety, I mentioned my “middle child” complex. It’s part of the reason I’ve always  wanted to be perfect, to be the best, and to have a constant goal in pushing myself towards. To be fair, I was always surrounded by my amazing family who were so proud of me. They never pushed me, to them, I was perfect as is. However, because of an underlying restlessness, I pushed myself.  

I have been wanting to write this story, or at least to start writing it, for so long because this is me.  It’s not a short story but each part is worth keeping and reading if you want to learn the entire lesson.

In college I had this random vision of wanting to be a professional cheerleader/dancer. I loved to dance, it was the thing that brought me freedom and I loved to bring joy to others.  I had cheered and danced since I was seven years old so it was a part of me. I said why not and just went for it. I showed up at my first audition knowing nothing about professional cheerleading, but to my surprise I made it to finals on my first try, but didn’t end up making the team.  Whenever you get a ‘no’ it can be tough. I felt like I got a big fat “not good enough” stamp on me, but I hadn’t really prepared much so I brushed it off. I got a taste of what actually becoming a professional cheerleader could be like, but it wasn’t my time. Once I caught the bug, I knew I needed to make this happen. I was a junior in college so I thought "I have next year before I graduate and have to find a ‘real job’ no worries, this will be my plan." I was ready to train everyday and make this my life. Then I surprisingly got the letter from an internship I blindly applied for stating I was chosen to work on the Late Show with David Letterman”s music department. HELL YEAH! I was about to live my dream job in my dream city. I had this obsession with New York  since I was a kid so this seemed like the right move. Plus, I had a whole 'nother year until I could go back to audition again.  So, I lived out the television industry life and it was truly a dream. Still some of my favorite days of my life, but through all of that I still had that one big dream in my head. I had a goal, I would be a professional cheerleader; I needed to accomplish this because I said I would.  I knew that once I was done with my internship in January I’d go all out in preparation for my dream.

 
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Cue Senior year of college: I pushed myself beyond my limits, I sacrificed college memories, spring breaks, vacations, family time, lots of food, and definitely my sanity, all to make sure I was in perfect shape for this dream of mine.  The perfectionism in me was screaming at me every morning to push harder. This is when I started my first “diet” and really dug into how what you eat affects your body. I watched what I ate like crazy and I ran everyday. I thought I knew what they wanted so I returned 25 lbs lighter and crushed every aspect of the process. It worked because I made it past the finals to a bootcamp round where I would train with the team for a couple weeks. I could picture this as my life; I envisioned it. It was then when I was introduced to the Law of Attraction by a girl who was training with me.  It completely resonated with me. I can rock this attraction stuff all I have to do it say "I am already IT."

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Or so I thought. The final team roster was released and I’ll never forget the moment I saw the list without my name on it. This was after a year of training and about 4-5 weeks of auditions.  I thought that was my life after college, that I’d be a professional cheerleader, that I was already a cheerleader. Why didn’t my manifesting work?!

We’ve all been there right?  Picturing something and being so sure this was it, and then, bam— it doesn’t happen. To be honest,  it sucks!. I was crushed, actually crushed is an understatement. I sacrificed so much of my senior year of college and it felt like it had all been for nothing.   

I decided to move back to NYC and I got a job with MTV's show MADE.  It was an awesome show and a really cool job, but my mind was still on my goal. I hired a very expensive trainer, nutritionist, and was at the gym twice a day. I became obsessed. I ate, slept, breathed that goal. I spent hours looking at my body or comparing it to everyone else’s all the time.   I mean this is what the judges at tryouts had done so I had to put myself in their shoes. What would they think of me when I showed up next time?

Then, my health took a nosedive and at the time I couldn’t figure out what was happening.  I know now this was because of my mental and emotional state. I let those rejections crush me and it really turned my self-worth upside down.  My digestion was a mess, my skin freaked out with extreme acne everywhere and I was spiraling downward. My mind was taking over and i was convinced I was a failure.

My health kept getting worse by the day with no real answers. My bloated stomach would literally pop buttons on my pants. It got so bad I couldn't stand up sometimes from the pain. I saw every type of doctor I could think of trying to figure out what was wrong.  I had every test done. Nothing came back and I was so frustrated! They said it was IBS, they said it was anxiety (no shit) and this could be fixed with this weird medication and xanax. I knew that wasn’t the answer.

I was hell bent on figuring out what was going on so I starting diving into the health world.  I had to answer the questions: what the hell was wrong with me? Why does my my stomach looked like I’m nine months pregnant no matter what I eat. My skin was covered in acne and I had zero energy.  Part of me knew deep deep down I could figure out what was really going on. I used all of this knowledge the wrong way. I studied more and more on how to get skinny, how to look good because I didn’t want to be a failure!

Despite the terrible pain I was in, and regardless of of the sacrifice, I kept pushing towards my goal,  I kept auditioning. I made the decision to leave NYC behind, which also meant leaving my amazing job and amazing friends.. I kept telling myself that I only had one life and if I didn’t keep pushing towards my goal I might regret it.

 
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When I  got back to my parent’s home in Connecticut from New York, I didn't know what was next for me, but my determination to reach my goal kicked into high gear. I took a hard look at myself in the mirror and decided to return to school for personal training and nutrition solely to learn how I could train myself into “cheerleading ready” shape (I didn’t know that one day this would be my career passion).  I kept abusing this knowledge….I changed my diet 400 times and restricted my calories like crazy to get the results I wanted. I worked out twice a day, I bought all the books on law of attraction because I thought this was the answer.. Looking back, this was the beginning of really learning about my inner self, but I wasn't going about it the right way—I was pushing this for an outer reason, not an inner one.

Every year, I would push myself further for my goal.  I took more classes, I learned how to put my makeup on properly, I improved my public speaking.. I tried so hard to stay on the path, but, for some reason the path did not want me on it.  

Four years into auditioning I tore my hamstring. I remember I was in a final round for some team secretly icing my black bruise from my tear. I didn’t want anyone to see my weakness. I wasn’t going to fail…again.  It wasn’t going to stop me I was pushing through. I ignored my body, and it only got worse. I couldn't kick, so naturally, I did not make that team. You think that stopped me? Nope, I kept going. I saw a physical therapist, chiropractor, reiki master, received acupuncture in desperation to be healed. I was so damaged on the outside, but I know this was just reflecting where I was on the inside. I was convinced after so many no’s  that there had to be something wrong with me. It felt like every no was stacking up on my “not good enough” thought. That inner negativity manifested on the outside as toxic relationships and my world kept getting messier and messier by the day. I would get in and out of emotionally abusive relationships one after another.

   

But still, I didn't stop. I kept going.  

Let me paint a clearer picture for what has happened up to this point in the story.  I was traveling the country by myself for five years, I auditioned for nine different NFL teams, 12 auditions total, and made it to  the last round where I waited to see my name on the final roster FOUR different times. At that point it was 12 crushing no's (to give a little insight some of these auditions lasted weeks or months depending on the team. Getting to the last round could have been after 4-7 rounds total).  One of my final auditions was for the New England Patriots— that was my team. I grew up in a Patriots family, I am a (former) Boston sports girl. I was in the best shape (on the outside) they had ever seen me and I had so much experience under my belt. When I made it to the final bootcamp for the second time I knew this was it. I pictured my life this way and said all the messiness would finally be worth it. I was channeling the Law of Attraction. THIS WAS IT.

 
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Welp, I wish I had a fairytale ending here but I got cut that year. My 13th no.  This was the fifth time I was as close as you can get. When my name wasn't on that roster again, I could not come to terms with it. I remember going outside and just looking at the sky completely convinced there was something wrong with me and I was a complete failure.  I started bingeing, hard. This was my way of coping and ice cream was my weapon of choice because it was the only thing that made me feel better. It was like my drug, and for the next 40 days it’s all I did. Looking back on it, it's crazy to me how I would do whatever it took to just have some ice cream to make me feel happy. This was a full on emotional eating binge and it got bad.  Nothing else made me happy except to eat, it wasn’t just about the dream, it was about this overall feeling of not being “enough.” I wouldnt have been able to get through this without my support system. It is so important to have people who know the real you. My parents saw this downward spiral took control of it. Ice cream was ban from our home, they knew I was better than this. They reminded me why I put myself through all of this... I have always been a go-getter. Since I was young, I have always pushed myself past the limits. They weren’t going to let me just give up and believe that this defined me.  They knew there was another direction for me; something bigger. After a few days of procrastination, not getting out of bed, and a lot of journaling, I made a call to a very special person who helped me through some hard times in college. Leaning on people who you can count on it the most important thing in life. People can really change your life. She gave me the answers I needed. “Stay open to opportunities, say yes.”

Our convo was long and deep, like always, but it ended with her giving me this retreat to check out that was just open for enrollment.  Timing has a funny way of working out, or perfect way of working out. That day I made the best decision of my life. I applied for the "Higher Purpose Project" - an entrepreneur retreat. They called me right away and wanted me to come. I was confused because I wasn't an entrepreneur at that time, but it felt right. I said “yes.” I flew out to Colorado to meet 40 strangers.  I didn’t know it yet, but this was the decision that changed my life. You bet there was no ice cream for me out there, but there was a lot of healing. It was an emotional, mental, and physical detox for me. It saved me.

I get asked all the time what brought me to Atlanta and this is it.  A few beautiful souls on this retreat instantly connected with me and saw my potential when I did not. I told them I had no idea what I was doing with my life and they said move to Atlanta. Well, why not? So, I said yes and packed my tiny Chevy.  I drove down with no job and no plan, but I knew I would figure it out if I just said yes.

 
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Things didn’t heal right away. The 13 no’s created a poor self-worth cloud that hung over me. Whenever I would talk about auditions I would say "it's stupid it's just cheerleading, it’s not a real problem," but it really affected me because it wasn’t just about the cheerleading, it was about who I thought I was and what I could accomplish. I truly believed I was not good enough if these teams didn’t want me.

I was judged for 5 years for how I looked, how I talked, how I walked, how I did my favorite thing in the whole world (dance) and to them I wasn't enough. So, to me I wasn’t enough. My transition to Atlanta was where my healing truly began. I’d meet one amazing person who would introduce me to the next amazing person. I could feel my body wanting to heal.  I stayed open to every opportunity, yes, yes, yes. I dove into yoga, energy work, and reworking my mind to choose foods and workouts as fueling my body not to just get in the shape that others wanted me in. It is a long journey, one that I think I will always be on.

There were many levels of my healing, but one of the most important aspects was the dance music scene. I don't care what others' opinions are of electronic music festivals, for me, it was one of the biggest parts of my healing. Music has been my life since I was a baby. My dad was a DJ on the radio (back when they chose what to play) and he would sing to me everyday. There wasn't a moment when music wasn't playing in my house. Music was, and is, happiness - and dancing is my first love. Dance music spoke to my soul and music festivals were the first place I could dance and truly not be judged. I still remember the first moment I experienced this.  I got lost in the music at my first big festival - TomorrowWorld and I just danced. No judges, and no self judgement, just dancing. I brought smiles to people's faces. Strangers would come up to me , cheer me on, dance with me or told me how happy my dancing made them. It brought me to tears. This is where I learned what shuffling was and figured this is where the 10 years of tap dance training would come into use. Ultimately, this is what music is for, to release pain, release fear, be yourself, and be free. I knew that this was a special place full of special people. It is still a huge part of my life - and if I had made a previous team I wouldn’t have met my best friend and fiance who is a music producer and DJ. All of the people I met through music have helped me discover my true self beyond the definition of wanting to be on a team. They pushed me to know that I can help others believe in themselves. Music is the ultimate healer, there is nothing like it.

 
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So here we are at the present moment.  Today, I can look back at my story and know I need to surrender to start to see the purpose in all this pain.  It’s obvious that had I made a team, I wouldn’t be marrying my best friend whom I met in Atlanta in the music scene. If I hadn’t done the inner work I wouldn’t have manifested such an amazing man, opportunities, and friends. Through all the messiness, my world was a direct reflection of my inner self.  Bob Proctor said “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” If I do not like something that is happening in my life, I go inward. It is so powerful to be at the place I am in now. I am not defined by what those judges thought of me, because all of those failures led me here.  They led me to helping women all over the country to make good choices, and learn their worth. It has led me to amazing friends and meeting the love of my life. It is because of the power I received from those 13 no's that I can lift others up and direct them to their highest potential. It was because of those sugar binges that I was able to recognize there was a huge inner issue going on and I needed to address that to truly heal.  I am now an expert at how to fuel my body and how to love my food choices.

It is a daily practice to stay centered and focused. I am no where near the finish line, and I will always be life’s student. This whole story isn’t to say I have arrived, because I am far from that, but this story is a reminder of where I came from, who I am, and the the person that is inside of me to take no’s and still keep going. I am diving deeply inward with each new challenge I am given. I am now facing lyme disease that has turned my current life upside down, but I am seeing it through different lenses. I think all of the mess has prepared me for what I am facing now.  Back then I would never have been able to handle lyme like I am now; the food choices I need to make to heal, the major lifestyle changes, would have been a lot more difficult before. Sometimes it is a struggle to see the lesson, but I look back and know it has to be there - this is a test of surrendering to whatever life is presenting to you. I do see this as a lesson to slow down in a different season of my life where I can now say no to certain things by standing in my power.

Look at your surrounding life at this moment.  What are you reflecting right now? Where are you holding your worth?  We have these moments where you might make some not so great choices and end up in messy situations. But these are all messages of when to pivot. Messages of what we don’t want and a direct indication of where we need to work on ourselves.  Go inward and take time to see where you can further grow to produce the most beautiful picture on the outside. Clients will always come to me with outward issues they want to fix because those are the most obvious to us, but they quickly learn when they dive inward, magic happens.

Failure. It was a word that would bring tears to my eyes. Now, I am can accept failure and be open to the new direction. It is the ultimate teacher. It really is what life is about. Experience, fail, learn. If you read up until here, thank you. Thank you for being on this ride with me and know that you are not defined by your failures. They are preparing you for things in life that you haven’t yet faced, whether that be a new job, your soul mate, or a discovering your inner-self, it is all there if you just surrender. Your failures are beautiful, YOU are beautiful - and damn, I definitely need to dance more!

If you feel like you are someone who feels lost, stuck in food control, or just needs support- reach out and let’s talk. I would love to hear from you and how I can guide you on your journey.


Lots of love,

Carly