2015 was a life changing year for me. I was living down in South Florida and everything was turning into shambles, but I was convincing myself otherwise.
I loved South Florida, I still do. I loved the beaches, I loved the restaurants, I loved the bars, I loved the music, and I loved the people. Marc Anthony’s “Vivir Mi Vida” was my theme song and I played it loud in my car everywhere I went with the windows down and the hot Florida breeze blowing back at me.
Even today I have warm thoughts of South Florida. It’s the place I feel most at home and most comfortable, but in 2015 I loved it for all the wrong reasons.
I was working at a restaurant and had made a habit of going out and getting drunk after work. It’s the restaurant scene. After a long shift you go out to unwind with whatever drink is on special and a bunch of co-workers. On my days off I drank too. Beer, wine, liquor- you name it, I drank it. Well, except tequila. I could never do tequila.
I wasn’t an alcoholic, but I just didn’t see the need to not drink. It was fun! It was what peopIe my age did! It's legal! I figured, I have my Bachelors degree (I chose to work at a restaurant due to flexibility of schedule so that I could travel and enjoy myself rather than looking for a typical 9-5), I pay all my bills on time, and I’m single and enjoying my 20’s, so why not? I went to bars on the beach, smoked cigars because I thought it looked cool, learned to drink whisky, and danced, and danced, and danced. It was such fun, but I had no purpose and eventually that becomes a very empty feeling.
(Drinking a huge glass of red wine in my backyard on my day off)
(Smoking a cigar while drinking bottomless mimosas at brunch)
In January 2015 my Mom was riding her bike when she crossed the street and got hit by a car. She ended up being hospitalized for two months after being diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury. My Mom and I have a very close relationship and even though the rest of my family was there to help care for her while she was hospitalized, I also needed to be there for my Mom as her Daughter. So I drove home to Tampa every weekend to check on her, encourage her, and help her keep appearances.
The drive from where I was living in Fort Lauderdale to where my family lives in Tampa is just under 5 hours so, needless to say, it was exhausting driving back and forth every weekend. I just did not want to let go though! Vivir Mi Vida! At the expense of my Mother I stayed in Fort Lauderdale as long as I possibly could. I was so in love with South Florida, so in love with what I thought was the ultimate situation I could be in at that moment in my life, that I consciously ignored every red flag I saw.
My roommate and I began to struggle to pay the bills on time and the electricity and water surprisingly got cut off one day. I was in the bathroom when I heard the air conditioner shut off and I knew there was a problem right away. We also had another roommate who had a dog she completely neglected. She would leave that poor dog from around 8 am until 5 pm when she would come home, change, and leave again. She would try to leave the dog locked in her room or bathroom all that time, which of course I couldn’t let happen, so all-of-a-sudden I had a dog to care for, which I did not sign up for.
My two roommates did not get along at all and eventually they got into an argument and the roommate with the dog left just one day before rent was due, leaving us short on the rent, plus all the damages her dog had done.
My hair had also fallen off. Off, not out. My hair was always on the longer side because I love long hair and I never cut my hair, but abruptly, one day I looked in the mirror and realized my long hair was now above my shoulders! It had literally just fallen off without me really realizing it until it was too late.
(The length of my hair after it broke off)
Your hair is your energy. Your hair is your spiritual antenna. For as many warnings as I was receiving, I had continued to do exactly what I was doing- I was surrounding myself with low vibrational people who didn’t have any long or short term goals that aligned with mine. Some of those people didn’t have any goals at all.
(My long hair when I first moved to South Florida)
I have a really good friend now who I’ve known since that time in my life and when we were friends 4 years ago I didn’t even know she was already vegan (I was vegetarian at the time) because I clearly wasn’t looking for that kind of person in my life at that moment. I’ll never forget, she is also the person who showed me how to cut a mango into those fancy looking cubes I see all over Instagram fruit platters!
I’ve always loved and cherished long hair, but I was so disconnected from my Self and so absorbed in the World that even my hair had to go as a signal to me that things needed to change.
By the time May 2015 came around I had finally accepted that my Life’s Path required that I move back home. My Mother, Father, and Brother all came down to help me pack and drive all of my things 5 hours North to Tampa. It was so bittersweet, but it was so necessary.
Where we live is actually about 40 minutes North of Tampa. There’s not much there besides retirement communities, golf courses, and cow pastures. Everything is a drive away- the movies, the mall, Whole Foods, the beach...everything. So moving back was not something I was overly eager to do, especially when I felt like I was living my Best Life in Fort Lauderdale. I came across a quote from an unknown source that summed it up best,
“Growth requires change and is concurrent with our own evolution”
It was time for me to go back home and trust that Greater things awaited.
I moved back in with my 2 brothers and both my parents and decided right away that I would start working out. I didn’t really have friends there and I was still waiting to begin my new job at the Bank so it seemed like a huge opportunity to begin to work on my Self.
I started by going on 1 mile runs just outside my neighborhood and I worked my way up to 4 miles on some days. I wouldn’t say I enjoyed running, but it gave me the kickstart I needed. I ran with plastic bags so that I could at least pick up litter if I had to stop and walk on my way back. I held myself accountable by using Facebook to announce that my goal was to run everyday and get in better shape. I was never overweight, but I definitely didn’t have a defined waist and I didn’t have much muscle definition. I felt I was not being the best version of my Self that I could be. What started off as simple vanity turned into a huge transformation of the Body, Mind, and Spirit.
(My "before" photo taken June 7, 2015 vs just 3 months later after exercising daily)
(2 bags of trash I picked up along my run one day)
About 1 month after running daily, I decided it was time to increase my exercise. I wanted muscle definition so I gave myself the task of doing push-ups, sit-ups, and dips. I started by doing 25 of each everyday and though it wasn’t a lot, it was exactly enough for me at the time.
(7 months later feeling stronger than ever)
When I moved home that May I also further began changing the way I ate. In South Florida I had started to research how food was made, where it came from, and the effects it had on the body. I had already been vegetarian for 16 years and while in South Florida I stopped eating cows milk, eggs, butter, and most other by products of the animal industry. I was shopping at Farmers Markets and Fresh Markets and loved organically locally grown produce. Cheese was my kryptonite, but I stopped buying it to bring home and only indulged outdoors. Since I was away from all the influences of South Florida I had a clear head to further my studies on what food is and how it can heal.
(Farmers Market haul in 2015)
What also encouraged and motivated me to get healthier is that my Father and youngest Brother were also transforming their habits at the time. My Father had been living with Type 2 diabetes and grew tired of the pills, the lack of energy, and the overall crappy way he was feeling. He decided to remove meat and dairy from his life and began to heal. My Brother was overweight and wanted to lose weight and feel better too. Since we all lived together none of us were alone in this journey. We shared our research and our excitement for health with one another.
(Enjoying watermelon with my Brother Summer 2015)
My Brother and I loved to try cooking new recipes together and we both grew a love for fresh fruit and vegetables. I remember we wanted to make falafel one night and it was a total fail! We were unskilled in the vegan kitchen and, thinking back, I’m sure it was only a minor error because I know falafel isn’t hard to make at all. On this night we mixed up the ingredients, shaped them into balls, and tried frying them, only for them to disintegrate into the oil. We tried to salvage them by removing them to finish cooking in the oven and when that didn’t work we tried to fry them again! I’ve never made falafel since, but I still love it!
About 2 months after I moved back home from Fort Lauderdale I found my now-Husband on Instagram. From his profile I could see that he lived in London and that he was a personal trainer. I had no other thoughts besides, of course, I was physically attracted to him. I never once thought it would go any further than a few “likes” on Instagram, but next thing you know, we exchanged phone numbers and now we were talking on the phone.
I actually remember that First Phone Call. I was driving down Starkey Boulevard when Coupe called and I was hesitant to answer because who calls people? Just text me!
What do you have to say to me?
What am I going to say?
I was nervous, but of course I picked up the phone. I had to pull into Starkey Park and park my car because I needed silence when listening to him speak. His accent to me at the time was so strong and I couldn’t make out what he was saying. He also speaks quite low and was using words that, at the time, I didn’t understand. He was telling me how he had just gotten back from buying a new “jumper”.
What’s a jumper?!
I just went along with the conversation while I quickly Googled “English jumper”!
A jumper is a sweater!
Ok, so you just bought a new sweater! Why didn’t you just say that?
We spoke for well over an hour about all sorts of things before hanging up the phone.
I never expected him to call me or text me the day after that first phone call, but he did. And we spoke everyday after that very first phone call in July 2015.
The Stars Align
He says he had a crush on me from the moment he saw my profile. He wasn’t looking for a fling and he could see on my page that I was working out, shopping at Farmers Markets, and that I was family oriented.
To be fair, in Fort Lauderdale my family always visited me because we're really close and I already shopped at Farmers Markets and occasionally worked out, but I wasn’t serious about it all and could never have evolved from my Self harming habits while living down there.
Just a few months before finding Coupe I was out getting drunk and acting mindless and now I had met this Man who was seemingly a great match. We were immediately committed to the idea of us. With both of us living in two totally different countries, we had a lot of time to communicate, get to know one another deeply, and just talk. We couldn’t get distracted physically because of distance so when we spoke it was always honest, raw, and true. There’s nothing to lie about when you’re over 4,000 miles away from each other.
They say pictures speak 1,000 words and I believe that’s true. His Instagram was full of photos and videos of fitness with a scattering of food. I scrolled through his page and could not see anything that other single men might have posted. No women, no clubs and bars, and nothing else that just didn’t align with who I was becoming. Just photos of Coupe always striving to be better and stronger and I admired that trait.
I thought, even though we all choose what we post on our page and he could very well be into things that I’m not, you also can’t lie about something posted 2 years ago. I could see what he’d been up to and I liked it (pun intended).
My First Trip to London
In October 2015 we decided I would come see him in London for the very first time. I was so anxious and nervous for that whole 10 hour flight!
Is my outfit ok?
What does my hair look like?
Are we going to like each other?
What is he going to look like?
I had 10 solo hours to drive myself mad!
He picked me up from Gatwick Airport, wearing some nice jeans that his girlfriend made him wear (Love you Wafaa!) and it was just as I had imagined...comfortable. We already knew each other. We already chose each other. We just had to be sure we were both real.
It was my very first trip to London and I had a wonderful time. It was Fall and I was cold, but I welcomed it since Florida was still so hot. We saw the London Eye and Big Ben, walked around the Embankment, went to Primrose Hill, and I met his Mom and a lot of his friends. He had already been vegan for about 9 months by the time I came and since I was vegan but for the occasional cheese, we ate deliciously vegan the whole time I was in London.
I realized after that trip that I didn’t even need cheese and I gave it up once and for all in October 2015 after having spent just 10 days with Coupe (You can read more about my Full Vegan Transition here). His character had already made an impression on me.
We laughed a lot while I was in London and we loved being together. It was exactly what we imagined and I took it all in. The air, the city, the accents, the tea. All of it. It was so nice to finally be together after months of talking.
(The London Eye, 2015)
(Big Ben, 2015)
Leap of Faith
In November 2015 Coupe flew to Florida to meet my family and by January 2016 I had quit my job at the bank to take a chance on Love, on my Purpose, and on my Self. Even though my family was going to miss me, I had their full support and that encouraged me to look ahead. My whole family dropped me off at the airport and my Mom was crying, which made me cry even more. I was stepping into the unknown. I was going to miss my family. But I had to have faith and look ahead.
(Coupe and I when he came to visit Florida in November 2015)
That First Year
I couldn’t have come to London at a colder time. It was dark and dreary and, after the initial excitement wore off, it was also incredibly lonely. Coupe was working 6 days a week at the time from early mornings until late in the evening. He came to visit me between clients, but it meant I spent a lot of time alone. I didn’t yet have proper clothes to dress for the cold winter, I didn’t have any friends, and it made me miss my family and my 2 cats even more.
It wasn’t easy being alone and feeling so dependent on someone and, to make things worse, the hard city water was ruining my hair and skin. I cried a lot and was probably even a bit depressed at some point, but I still knew in my heart this was where I was supposed to be.
How did I know?
Coupe and I were already on this health journey separately before we met, but after joining forces we began to learn and change at an accelerated pace. We went from snacking on homemade popcorn, eating black rice, and buying nut milk to creating beautiful fruit platters, discovering the transformative nature of buckwheat, and making our own milks all within a few months of me moving to London. For as much as I missed home, I was already being carved into a much better version of myself. Coupe brought out the best in me because he was always aiming to do better and to be better. I had to have courage to meet him and rise up with him.
(A fruit platter I made for Coupe and myself in 2016)
(One of the first loaded buckwheat porridges I made when I discovered buckwheat)
Those first 5 months I was here were hard. Really hard. I missed my independence and the familiarity of Florida. As exciting as London was, it was equally confusing.
There’s a lot you don’t think about when you move to another country. What happens when you need mascara or a new toothbrush? Where do you go?
I spent those first few months walking all over London, up and down every street, learning all about my new home. I walked around Kensington, Camden, and Shoreditch. I figured the trains and the busses out. I walked into literally every single store just to see what kind of things they sold if ever I was in need of something.
Eating for Health
I was officially completely vegan in October 2015 and it was this January 2016 that I also stopped eating wheat, yeast, soy, corn, and my beloved coffee. I used to drink up to 5 cups of coffee a day! If I was cold, if I was hungry, if I was bored, they were all great reasons for me to drink coffee. Coupe taught me about the effects of coffee and, now that I was living with him, it was time for me to level up. I remember going through a week long withdrawal where I was so pissed off at everything. I didn’t realize it was a withdrawal until after that week had passed and I felt normal again. Wow! The power coffee had over me!
Coupe is the kind of person who can just stop eating something once he learns about its effects, but for me it was more difficult. With him at my side I remained focused, motivated, driven, and encouraged to do better.
I was casually training with Coupe starting around February, after I had settled in and become adjusted to the time change. By April, I finally started working out full time with Coupe as my trainer. It was warm and the sun started shining, literally and metaphorically. I started to gain muscle definition and I was feeling stronger than ever before. I finally had a bit of a routine and I was feeling good.
(August 2016, after starting my training guided by Coupe)
I could’ve focused on all the reasons to not move to London, but I chose to have faith that all of the events leading up to this Big Move happened to clear the way so that I could see this is exactly what I should be doing and this is exactly where I should be.
My family supported and encouraged me and that’s all I needed. I trusted Coupe. I loved him. It was all going to be ok.
I wanted to apply all I was learning about food and health and I was finally in a huge city where I could choose to eat better and where I could make new friends who had the same mission as I did. It was time to shed all my old unhealthy habits and all the pieces of me that no longer served me or this world. It was a New Beginning.
In June I went back home to Florida since Americans can only stay in the U.K. for up to 6 months without a visa. Coupe came to visit me in Florida for one month towards the end of July and we decided to get married at the courthouse just before he left back for London. We went to International Mall so I could buy a Little White Dress and then we rushed to to the courthouse in Tampa where my parents and brother met us. We got there just 15 minutes before they closed and Coupe was shocked at how casual it was. We took some photos after the clerk married us and then went to eat at Cheesecake Factory where we celebrated with one drink each.
(The day we got married)
(A toast to the newly married couple with my family at Cheesecake Factory)
We had plans to go home and continue to celebrate by playing games like Scrabble and Uno that night, but Coupe fell asleep the moment he got home and didn’t wake up til late the next day! We still joke about it every chance we get. Eventually, we'll have a big beautiful ceremony to celebrate our marriage with our friends and family, but we haven't planned anything yet.
Coupe came back to London to begin the long and expensive process of applying for a family visa so that I could move to London and stay as his spouse. We had to provide proof of our relationship, including phone calls, photos, our marriage certificate, and anything else we could provide. It was a long and tedious process that took about 5 months during which time I also had no passport because your passport is also part of your application. Coupe couldn’t come see me during that time because he was working here in London to get the visa submitted and processed so we were separated for that whole time.
It was emotionally exhausting. I was now separated from my Husband, living back home again, and unsure of what my visa outcome would be. We had heard the U.K. is pretty tough when it comes to visas and sometimes just one small mistake could get you denied. If I was to be denied I wouldn’t have been able to reapply for another year. The stakes couldn’t have been more high.
I got a job as a cocktail waitress at Seminole Hard Rock and Casino working overnights from 12 am to around 9 am. This allowed my Mom and I to share the one car we had and helped me to pass my time. It was nice to go home with cash every night, but the schedule was especially hard on me. The Casino was an hour drive from home, which meant I didn’t get home until around 10 am daily. After working overnights I found it really hard to stay awake while driving and was always scared I was going to fall asleep at the wheel and crash like many other cocktail waitresses had done before. I never got used to that schedule and, though the job was laid back and fun, I was elated when I could finally quit.
(Trying on my uniform for the casino)
By the time the New Year came around Coupe was able to clear his schedule for one whole month and meet me in Florida where we then decided to take a 3 week trip to Hawaii. Since I still didn’t have my passport I had to stay in the country and though we initially weren’t too excited about Hawaii because we felt forced into it, Hawaii absolutely blew our minds and it is one of our best trips to date!
(The first time seeing each other after 5 months)
We started our trip on the lush green island of Kauai where we rented a car and carelessly drove around the islands one major road everyday. We saw the magnificent Waimea Canyon, we ate so many açai bowls, we hiked, and we looked out for whales at every stop. Coupe saw whales a few times, but I never did and I'm still upset about it. I came wait to see them in real life one day!
(One of our many acai bowls)
(Stopping for a selfie on one of our hikes in Kauai)
On one of our last days in Kauai, Coupe and I were sitting at The St Regis resort in Princeville overlooking the mountains and the ocean. We were having a talk about how happy we were together and how much we had missed each other. We talked about why we were perfect for one another and what steps in our lives had lead us to this very moment. It was honest and full of love. We were filled with happiness.
(Our view from our hotel in Kauai)
Coupe said he had to go to the bathroom and while he was away I started chatting up a couple who had wandered outside. They had 4 kids and were in the military and were taking a much needed break. Coupe seemed to be gone forever so I just kept talking to them. When Coupe returned I introduced them and we chatted a bit, but Coupe didn’t seem all too interested. Coupe and I walked back to our spot and the couple ended up going back inside.
As it turns out, the reason he left was to go get a ring he had gotten me! It was the perfect moment for him to propose and he knew it!
It may seem a bit backwards, but when we got married back in August it was rushed because it had to be, but now that we were here, in this blissful moment, Coupe had the desire to formally and wonderfully ask me to be his Wife! He got down on one knee and asked me to marry him! I cried tears of joy as he put the ring on my finger, which he had personally made just for me. It was perfectly simple and so me. We spent the rest of the day smiling ear-to-ear as we relaxed in the jacuzzi and had a glass of complimentary champagne for the newly engaged couple.
(I was so nervous I was going to lose my new wedding ring in the water)
The next morning we woke to the single most magnificent view of mountain and ocean and beach I’ve ever seen through our panoramic hotel windows and we went to eat breakfast at the hotel restaurant overlooking this same view. I treated myself to a cup of coffee and we ate $16 açai bowls. The price you pay for a view.
(The view from our hotel window)
(The most expensive acai bowl I've ever eaten)
After Kauai, we flew to Oahu where we spent the next 1 1/2 weeks exploring Waikiki, the North Shore, and the rest of the island. It was so much more busy than Kauai, but still so serene and gorgeous. It was in Oahu that I spent my 30th birthday. We had an early breakfast of fruit overlooking the ocean that morning, ate vegan donuts, went swimming at the beach, and ended up at The Cheesecake Factory yet again for dinner after our sunset cruise got cancelled due to weather.
(Sunset in the North Shore)
(The view while driving away from KoKo head)
(Swimming on my 30th birthday)
Sometime, just days before my birthday, my brothers sent me a message to say I received my visa response in the mail. I was so nervous. What would happen if it wasn’t approved? I told them not to open it because I wanted to wait until I was home just in case it’s not the answer we had been hoping for.
They FaceTimed me as they read the letter out loud saying my visa was approved and I could now move to London to be with my Husband. I cried so hard as Coupe filmed me and we told everyone the news.
Little did I know that I had a deadline to be in London. We were a 10 hour flight from Florida when we found out I had about 3 weeks to enter the U.K. I got back home to Florida, said goodbye to Coupe who had an earlier flight than me, and began to pack my things.
I was wearing what I normally wear around the house- a crop top and shorts- and my Mom was helping me pack when she casually interjected that I was pregnant! You can read more about this and the following 9 months on my blog, My Journey Towards My Freebirth here.
Who could’ve known this one decision to come see a Man in London would have the single greatest impact on the life I’m living now? Who could've known Instagram would be the reason I'm now happily married to my Soul's Mate?
Who could've known?
Being a Wife and Mother were never really a part of my “plans”. I was never the girl who dreamed of having my own Family. This wonderful, beautiful thing just began to happen for me when I surrendered and I gave control over to my Spirit Guides, the Universe, and my Higher Self.
I trusted in Coupe.
I trusted in Me.
I trusted that if I just took this huge leap and moved to another country to be with Coupe that my life and my purpose would simultaneously become clear and I would live the life I wanted for my Self- abundant in true love, true happiness, and ultimate clarity of my Life’s Purpose. I say all of this in hindsight because it's difficult to count your blessings when you feel as though you aren't making any progressions in the moment. I only went with the flow and I always knew the worst that could happen was that it just didn't work out and I would come back home to Florida. And that's ok. You can always go back home.
You can always get a new job.
Florida, or your home, will still be here.
Nothing will change.
Living in the Present
It's been nearly 2 1/2 years since I made the big move to London and I now have rich experiences and clarity. My life value increased the moment I followed my heart.
So many of us dream of the life we want, but too many of us are afraid of risk for fear of failure.
Failure of what though?
In order to progress to the next stage action is necessary.
We will never be who we aspire to be if we remain in the comforts of who we are.
We must push.
We must have the courage to show up for the life we want.
It’s out there, we just have to go get it.
Never did I ever think that at the age of 32 I’d be living in a totally different country than the one I was born in. Married to the King of my dreams. Mother to the most joyous, most beautiful Daughter. All while in a position to inspire tens of thousands of people across the world to live whole, live well, and live naturally.
I urge you to go out and do that thing you’ve been wanting to do.
Your New Life awaits you.
(My beautiful Family)