My thoughts on Being an Influencer

You’ll never hear, see, or read about me promoting anything that I don’t use myself, that I don’t find value in myself, that I don’t believe in.

It's strange to me to be called an Influencer. That is, someone who is seen to have influence, leverage, or effect over a community due to his or her rapport within that community.  

I never, ever started my Instagram with that intention or even the inkling that I would ever have a large following and inspire others. I began IG because my sister told me about challenges you can join where you may win free leggings. I thought, "cool! I like free stuff!" 

 One of my first ever IG yoga poses, back in 2015, for a challenge where I would go on to win a pair of leggings. Highlight of my YEAR! 

One of my first ever IG yoga poses, back in 2015, for a challenge where I would go on to win a pair of leggings. Highlight of my YEAR! 

But it turned out I also liked connecting with other people all over the world, I liked being motivated and inspired by those people, and I liked the creative outlet that my IG became -- getting photos, creating content, writing captions, playing with new angles -- and I loved meeting others to co-create with me on photoshoots and hosting challenges.

And so my IG grew as my yoga practice developed, and my yoga journey lead me to become a teacher, and then a travelling yoga teacher. More and more people followed me to watch my journey, and consequently more and more companies contacted me to wear their clothes, try their products, promote their business, or stay at their accommodation.

I'll admit, at first I took anything. As I said: I like free stuff! And it's also really flattering to be contacted by a brand who wants to give you something. Sometimes I would receive leggings that were AWFUL and I wear them just for a photo and then never touch them again. Readers: there are a lot of really bad leggings out there! I know, I've tried so many! 

But I soon got too many offers to possibly keep up and I realised, "Hey, I can be picky! And maybe actually just work with brands I really like!"  

Now, I get multiple requests a day. Two or three DMs per DAY come into my IG inbox with something along the lines of "How much for a shoutout?" or "what are your rates to promote my brand?"

 ummm....who are you?

ummm....who are you?

 

To be perfectly honest, I delete those straight away. Simply because if I know nothing about a company and they haven't taken the time to tell me about themselves in their initial message, then I don't see why I should care to promote them.

More rarely, someone will take the time to reach out to me through my website or email and explain their product and how they want to collaborate. I appreciate a personalised message -- I'm a human being! So I like to feel like a company sees that I'm a person, and not just a big account. 

But no matter what, I always explain to the brand that I have to try their product first, and ONLY if I love it, then I will tell my followers about it. 

There have been many, many products I've tried -- from skin care lines, to jewellery, to protein powders and yoga props -- that my followers never hear about. Because I don't love them.  No matter how much a company is willing to pay me, or how well known a brand is, if I don't love a product and use it myself, then I would never tell a single person to use it. 

Even though it's hard to fathom the idea of being an "influencer" sometimes, I do take it seriously.

So, if you follow me on IG, you may know that I don't often promote brands. Maybe, apart from me wearing AloYoga clothes all the time (because, yes, I love ALO) you've never seen anything. I haven't done a promotional post in months and months! 

I write all this to say that I want you to know that you'll never hear, see, or read about me promoting anything that I don't use myself, that I don't find value in myself, that I don't believe in. I speak to brands about the origins of their products, the intention of their business, and the methods of their production before I agree to work with them.

And so, of the dozens of requests I get every month, there are just a handful that I am happy to share with you. My favourite yoga mat brand, the line of skincare I use, the only natural deodorant that I feel really works, a couple of great yoga props, and the nutrition school that changed my life.

You can read about them right here, and most of them even come with discount codes you can use if you choose click the "confirm purchase" button. But I won't ask you to buy any of them! This is simply me sharing what I've enjoyed using! 

365 days of sobriety (and counting)

I stopped drinking alcohol for one year.  Today is day 366 of not touching alcohol (or any other substance other than caffeine). Here's what I learned.

 Me on a night out, after discovering yoga but before my party days ended. I think I was trying to do a headstand! Please laugh at this. It's funny!

Me on a night out, after discovering yoga but before my party days ended. I think I was trying to do a headstand! Please laugh at this. It's funny!

1. Alcohol is forgettable

Firstly, I learned that even though today is day 366 and it means I'm not going to be 100% tee-total anymore, it doesn't mean I will have a drink. I don't know the next time I will drink alcohol, because I genuinely don't want it anymore. 

When I first began this dry year, I had already begun cutting down on my alcohol consumption, but I still felt certain that when this day came I'd celebrate with a bottle of wine. 

But in fact, just a few short months into it, I had already discovered that once alcohol wasn't a part of my life, I forgot about it.  I didn't just not desire it, not miss it, not crave it.  I didn't even THINK about it.

This is because I learned that alcohol is much more than a substance found in drinks. It's a culture. 

2. Alcohol comes with company

I decided to stop drinking because I finally had one too many nights that left me thinking "if only I hadn't gotten so drunk!". Full of regret for stupid decisions made while under the influence. This particular night, March 24th 2017, I got so drunk that I didn't notice I'd left my brand new iphone 7 on the table, and by the time I remembered, somebody had stolen it.  I need my phone for my work. Replacing an iphone 7 in Nicaragua was next to impossible. It took getting a flight to Florida and making a trip to the Apple store there to replace it, and flying back to Nicaragua for work. It cost me thousands of dollars, just because I said, "I'll have some rum with my coconut!" at a beach party, and it went downhill from there.

I had gone to the beach party and I had started drinking because I was trying to fit in.  I wanted to make friends in this new place I was in, and they were hard partyers. So I decided to drink too.

After quitting the drink, I tried to keep hanging out with the same people. But it was hard. I have so much respect for people who go out to bars and clubs and stay sober and actually deal with drunk people.  What I found is that drunk people are fun if you're also drunk. When you're the only sober one, it's exhausting and sometimes flat out soul destroying. (NB: I still very much enjoyed the company of these people during the day when alcohol wasn't involved.)

So I stopped going out. Instead I would call my mom, read a book, listen to a podcast, or just have a super early night. I would wake up the next morning feeling refreshed and energetic and ready to get on my mat or tackle some emails. 

Slowly I left the culture of alcohol behind and found myself in a new culture where alcohol doesn't exist. I hung out with other people who didn't drink, or friends would choose not to drink when with me. I actually largely forgot about alcohol and the fact that it had for so long been a supplement to my life. An aide for having fun. 

 Providing a stand for my friend's beer! 

Providing a stand for my friend's beer! 

3. Alcohol is fattening. Like...really

Suddenly belly fat came off and I didn't even have to try. It was like my organs were functioning the way they're meant to again. I mean, we all KNOW alcohol is full of empty calories, (or, if you didn't know that, you know it now) but we don't tend to consider the things we know. It's when we FEEL something for ourselves that we say, "ooooooh!" 

4. Alcohol is not the devil

There's nothing wrong with having a bit of alcohol. (Just to remind you at this point: this is my story and my opinion I'm sharing here.) 

There were three occasions in the last 12 months that I would have had a drink if I hadn't made myself this promise to go a full year without it. A friend's wedding, when we were toasting the new couple, at a Michelin star restaurant in Prague when the wine sommelier offered to let me try their finest red, and on New Years Eve at midnight. Sometimes a bit of alcohol just brings you fully into an occasion.

But, on those three occasions, I was fine. Which leads me to my 5th lesson:

 Eight angle pose + cake stand! 

Eight angle pose + cake stand! 

5. Alcohol isn't necessary for having fun

There were definitely times in my life when my mentality was "I want to have fun, therefore I must get drunk." Alcohol was my crutch for getting through uncomfortable or nerve-wracking social situations, for enjoying company I didn't find easy, and for passing the time. Once I gave up alcohol, I realised I could still do these things, sometimes more efficiently than with alcohol! 

 Just good old hydration these days 

Just good old hydration these days