Be confident in your vulnerability.

“Be confident in your vulnerability.”

I heard this quote on a podcast recently called Maximize Your Strengths. The host, Alissa Daire Nelson, is a brilliant woman who I had the pleasure of meeting in Vegas at a convention and who I adored from the second I met her. It could be because her and I share four of our top five strengths… but, she’s also awesome. The quote above was heard during an interview she was having with Murray Guest during his talk on Individualization and I actually stopped the podcast for a second to ponder. Be confident in your vulnerability…

Let me preface this by saying that I DESPISE appearing vulnerable. Growing up, I was known as the girl who wore her emotions on her sleeve, who was dramatic and moody. While I’ll admit that not a whole lot has changed in the dramatic sense of things, I have made it a point to appear tough, put together and confident. I would tell myself that I was always in control of the situation, that I had the upper hand and that I would never let what happened to another person happen to me. In a way, I refused to accept that I was simply human.

I have always been a student of life. I LOVE talking to people from all over the world, learning about them and seeking advice and wisdom so as to maybe approach situations in my life with a little more awareness. I have become incredibly confident in myself and the person that I am, though almost to a fault in that I confuse confidence and control on an almost daily basis. But nevertheless, I always seek to learn from situations, to walk away with some piece of wisdom that I can pass on to the next person I see who is about to act how I did.

Let’s just say, it had been a while since I had truly “learned my lesson.”

To make a long story short, I let my guard down with a guy which resulted in me falling for him, getting incredibly hurt and reacting at a stage-five clinger/crazy girl level. While I should have accepted that he was a complete douchebag who thrived on playing on girls emotions, I was more upset about how I reacted. I was furious that I let him get to me, to get under my skin and close enough that he could manipulate me. I was livid that instead of being the strong girl and just walking away without a word, I tried so hard to “win him back” and to convince him that I was different from all the other girls. I had lost control of the situation that I had such a firm grasp over at the beginning. The ball was not in my court, I didn’t have the upper hand, and I was vulnerable. I didn’t eat for three days and I cried for five.

This loss of control wasn’t necessarily over this guy alone. He was more of a straw that broke the camel’s back that combined with me not having a strong support system, hating my job, in a less-than-ideal living situation, being single during the holidays, and whatever other self-pity nonsense you want to toss in there that caused me to spiral. But I won’t lie in saying that I was SO hurt.

Why is it that matters of the heart can damage us so much more than any broken bone or harsh word in this world?

But as I said before, I like to walk away from any situation with a learned lesson and I was able to add plenty to my list of lessons learned in life after this whole situation. I was able to start the New Year with a brand new outlook and list of goals and passions that I can only fully focus on if I’m single.

But with all of these new goals comes certain vulnerability… but I think I’m ready. Being a human makes us mortal which automatically makes us vulnerable. We are vulnerable walking across the street, eating by ourselves in a café, talking to a new person and taking on a new task. But if we are confident in that vulnerability, if we accept that we are human and not perfect, then we can approach so many things with such a higher level of confidence. And ultimately, that confidence will lead us to do many great things.

So be confident in your vulnerability and embrace it.

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Yoga, Tequila & 25 Push-Ups

There is a very high chance that I woke up this morning still drunk from last night. While my extreme case of the spins had dissipated, my headache, slightly blurred vision and dangerous lack of clarity was still very present. Tequila had reintroduced itself to me in multiple forms. However, I am proud to say that it did not take on the form of a single shot glass straight to my tonsils. Nope, no shots for me. Just a little orange juice, grilled grapefruit, ice, grenadine and some flavor of bitters… and tequila.

I should mention that tequila and I have never gotten along. We are not friends nor exactly enemies, we just have agreed to disagree on many things. Like margaritas. It is always a good time for a margarita. However, tequila and I have agreed never to meet in a shot glass by ourselves. If we steer clear of that kind of meeting, we usually do fine. But what I fail to remember every time that I do have tequila is that 1) I will definitely throw up and 2) It’s pretty much the worst type of hangover there is. So, last night was a little reminder that tequila, me, new friends and orange juice should never play in the same sandbox. Ever.

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So, after a three-and-a-half-hour drive to Rochester, NY, including a very expensive stop at Starbucks and a long line at the US border, I have arrived in one piece. Feeling particularly motivated, I took my hangover by the balls and told it to go fuck itself.

So, I did yoga.

I have always, always, always adored practicing yoga. I’ll admit that there is a part of me that wants to be a “yoga girl.” It’s hot and it means I can bend my body in cool ways. Hello flexibility J But I also have always loved how yoga makes me feel. Yoga is such a personal thing for me and remains to be a vehicle of self-love and grace. I’m not breathless at the end of a yoga session yet I still feel like I worked hard. I always feel a little bit closer to a goal, a little bit more connected and a tiny bit stronger. Maybe it’s because yoga is more measurable to me than many other exercises. Sure, you can get faster or you can lift more weight. But with yoga I can really connect with my body’s performance and what it is doing. I can visualize the present, focus on my heart beating and think about nothing else for an hour. Yoga is something I can do on the road in the privacy of my own hotel room or go to the gym if I’m feeling particularly confident. But afterwards I just feel clearer.

After my 30-minute practice today, I opened the Productive app on my phone. I had put in various goals I wished to accomplish each day and realized that I hadn’t followed through with really any of them since writing them down. A daily goal I had set a while back was to do 25 push-ups every day.

I DESPISE push-ups. This exercise is the devil and usually the most painful exercise out there. Which, duh, of course, is the reason why it’s also one of the absolute best exercises out there but still. I hate them.

Now, I’m not a point currently where I can do 25 pushups in a row. Since I refuse to do “girl pushups,” I must break them up into two sets of 10 and one set of five. This way, it’s not complete hell and it’s a little victory (slash rest break) in between. My goal is of course to be able to do 25, or 50, pushups in a row but baby steps here.

So, I did 25 pushups, I’m writing a blog post and I feel good. These are the moments that I remember how much I love being single. I can chase “passions” or hobbies, do whatever I want with the time I have and I don’t have to work around anyone else’s schedule. Now, of course, I have things that need to get done throughout the day but whatever time I have left is mine and I intend to start taking advantage of that time.

One of the regrets I have is that I binge watched the entire Sex and The City series while I was in Ireland. Granted, I was short on cash and the weather was disgusting, but I still didn’t really take advantage of traveling and seeing more of Ireland when I had the chance. I was throwing a pity party for myself, getting over a breakup and mourning the fact that I “came to Europe unprepared.” Which sucks. While I’m sure, in hindsight, that I needed some time completely to myself, I could have used that time to find new hobbies, gone for walks or even considered freelance. But I didn’t. So, lesson learned.

Overall, I would say that this was a great day. I have a mingling session at 9pm tonight and I’m going to head out to dinner and hopefully begin conversations at the hotel bar. While I have zero intentions of drinking alcohol tonight, I do look forward to meeting new prospects and learning more about this crazy industry that I’m part of.

Try and check something off your list today. Trust me, it’s going to feel amazing.

Photo credit: Sunday Calling

Dear Iliza…

One of my dearest friends, Jennifer, recently met with me for a roomie reunion lunch over sushi and – now this might sound dramatic – it kind of changed my life. Jenn is one of those people who is beautiful both inside and out. She’s caring, sweet, inspirational, driven, beautiful, smart and funny. She’s awesome. Now, not only did this wonderful former roommate of mine surprise me with an incredibly sweet card and Victoria Secret travel set but she introduced me to Miss Iliza Shlesinger.

Boom: #partygoblin happened.

I often catch myself going on many a rant about topics such as modern-day feminism, what it really means to be a women, how much guys are… well, guys and how not to take life too seriously. But never, and I mean never, have I stumbled upon a person who knew not only how to to laugh at it all but who could actually put all of these thoughts, ideas and rants into complete AND HILARIOUS sentences. After watching Confirmed Kills on Netflix, I was completely sold.

I want to be Iliza when I grow up.

The beauitful and buff comedian is 33-years-old and I swear that woman has got life figured the fuck out. Not only is she a symbol of women empowerment but the girl isn’t afraid to make jokes about her own sex while still maintaining the truth that women run this fucking planet.

It’s easy as a single girl in her late twenties to be discouraged. Not only do we have the pressures of marriage, kids and mortgages tossed at us from all sides but we also have beauty products, fitness routines, diet plans, swimsuit season, Tinder, Bumble, coffee dates, not enough drinking, too much drinking, whore, slut, feminist… just to name a few that we also have to deal with. DAILY. And while Iliza does point all of this out, she simplifies it. She calms us down and looks at it from a stronger perspective. Because in the end, life shouldn’t be taken so damn seriously. Like seriously, all you mermaids, party goblins and cowprint-wearing adults out there really just need to calm the fuck down.

So dear Iliza, thank you for showing up in this world. We women have needed you for so long. Lead the way sister!

 

Here’s to Health

Here it is, Day One. I slipped up this morning when I had a Quaker Oats oatmeal thing that had whey protein in it – oops! But other than that I’ve had almonds, a banana with almond butter and a nectarine. On the menu is an energy mix made with almonds (can you tell I love almonds?), pumpkin seeds, cashews, dates and I think something else – can’t remember off the top of my head – as well as grape tomatoes, carrots and cucumbers with hummus and veggie pasta for dinner. I’ve started taking flaxseed oil, turmeric and B12 to help with nutrients and I need to throw in some coconut or almond milk for calcium. Drinking just water and so far, I feel awesome!

Here’s a little note of temptation: I’m currently in Orland, CA at the Glenn County Fair. For the next four days I will be surrounded by smells of fried everything as well as ice cream, beer, ICEEs and BBQ foods. So far, I haven’t felt tempted but it’s only been a few hours so who knows how I’ll feel six hours from now when I’ve been sitting in the sun listening to children screaming and telling people to “push the red button” on Sudsy’s a thousand times. 13151406_10154633851811729_3017438794107059033_n

Overall, I’m so excited to try this. I have never really been excited about a “diet” before and maybe it’s because I don’t see this as a temporary thing. I have always loved smoothies and often preferred them over food itself. I know that the hardest thing to give up is going to be pizza (although there are vegan options available) as well as ice cream. I have discovered vegan recipes for brownies (a guilty pleasure of mine) as well as cookies. But I’m actually more excited about trying all these new kinds of juices and smoothies and being able to look in the mirror everyday feeling a little bit better about myself.

For the past probably ten years (maybe more), I have struggled so much with my appearance. While I have never really let it stop me from doing anything or pursuing anyone, I have always felt self-conscious and overly aware of my body. As a performer, I am on stage and in front of people all the time. I walk around fairs in tight clothing resembling that of a ringmaster, cowgirl, pirate and even a flight attendant at times. And when I’m in costume, sure, I’m a hell of a confident girl because I’m a character, I’m not Paige anymore. But there are always the first looks in the mirror in the morning or at night, the moments where you stand 5 feet away because you look better not up close. There are the swimsuit fittings, costume fittings, shopping for makeup and hair products in order to cover up the fact that I’m a chubby girl with a pretty face. And this past week, I finally said that I’m done.

I’m done faking my smile and pretending that I’m not as big as I am. I am done spending a fortune on makeup and skin care and hair care in order to achieve the same results simply by eating right and exercising. I am done shying away from the idea of approaching someone simply because I am not cute or beautiful enough to catch their attention. I am done going into stores and not being able to find clothes that don’t fit me or boots that won’t accommodate my ginormous calves. I’m done being negative, treating my body like absolute shit and choosing food over my health, happiness and general well-being. I have given so much power to food. I have given it the power to cure my boredom, dictate my social events, serve my temporary cravings and distract my feelings of loneliness, self-pity, a bad day even. I don’t honestly really care how long I live – that’s not completely my decision to make. But what I do care about is my quality of life, the happiness that I feel and the depth of my relationships with other people. I care about not letting my body stop me from taking on any adventure whether that be hiking, kayaking, rock-climbing, swimming, cliff diving, ziplining, waterfall repelling or simply being an amazing performer.

So here is to trying something new, something that may or may not work (though the whole not working thing seems completely ridiculous) and something that at it’s very core is going to improve my health. I eat vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, legumes, whole grains and that’s it. I don’t eat dairy products, meat products or anything that has added sugar (I don’t always win in that department but I’m trying). I’m not here to proclaim my veganism or guilt you for your love of steak, eggs or yogurt. One of the best phrases I have learned as a traveler has been this: You do you, and I’ll do me. I am writing this in search of support and ideas from other vegans as well as a way of documenting this new path that I’m jumping on. This blog also serves as self-accountability. I want to, 30 days, 60 days, a year from now, be able to look back on this post and say “I actually did it, I stuck with it – here’s how I’m doing.” I have had a lot of Day One’s in my life and I’m sure I’ll have a lot more. I have started diets, jobs, relationships and more only to quit within a year or two – sometimes less.

So here’s to trying new things for health!

My First Grocery Shopping Trip As a Vegan

It only took a few conversations and two documentaries (Unsupersize Me & Super Juice Me!) to convince me that veganism and juicing was not only incredibly healthy but also simple and delivered promising and fast results. I’d like to note that I am not on a mission to lose weight as fast as possible no matter what the method. Instead, I have been looking for a lifestyle change that will get my often unhappy stomach in order, boost my energy level and help me feel confident when I’m on stage performing and on the road. iStock_000016943709_small-824x549

After a chat with a fellow performer at a fair, I was intrigued. I had heard of veganism before and I often dismissed it because of the animal cruelty enthusiasts and over-dramatic evangelism that usually comes with the label. I simply want to be healthier and have incredible skin, a trait I’ve noticed in anyone who calls themselves a vegan or avid juicer. My desire is simple: Be healthy.

So on the road I was due for a grocery trip and I wanted to jump on this vegan bandwagon and at least try it. I’m not saying this will be for a week, month, year or forever; nope, just giving it a try. So between a trip to Walmart and Grocery Outlet (which by the way, where has GC been all my life?), this was what I walked out with:

Grape tomatoes
Cucumber
Celery stalks
Bananas
Apples
Blueberries
Nectarines
Oatmeal
Whole Wheat Tortilla Wraps
Almond butter
Oatmeal
Mustard
1 vegetarian salad mix (though I’m not positive the dressing is vegan…)
Bolthouse Farms Daily Roots smoothies (the label seemed to follow the rules but again, still learning)
Roasted Pepper Hummus
Raw almonds
Seed mix (checked label, strictly nuts!)
Vitamins: B12, Flaxseed Oil & Turmeric

The total came out to just under $60 which I was pretty happy about and was within my grocery budget. Because I don’t have my NutriBullet with me I won’t be able to do any juicing or smoothie making but that will be a definite addition at my next fair.

So fellow vegans and health enthusiasts: How did I do?

Photos courtesy of News USC and The Balanced Blonde.

The Cutest Show & Sudsy’s Barn Girl

As a traveling performer I have encountered my fair (no pun intended) amount of characters in this world. I’m lucky to be part of a team that travels around the country performing shows for kids as well as running what we fondly call “A Disney-esque hand-washing station.” I have acquired labels such as “Cutest Show Girl,” “Sudsy’s Girl” and “That badass girl driving a truck and trailer.” These labels have wormed their way into my self-identity and I gotta say, I’m a fan.

For those of you reading this and already lost – let me slow things down and tell you a little bit about this crazy life I’m actually living.12801318_10154452117601729_186926494475646777_n

My name is Paige McDaniel and I currently work for Fusion Talent Group. This umbrella of a production company owns, among many other amazing acts, Sudsy’s Barn and The Cutest Show on Earth. These two “acts” were acquired by Fusion Talent Group in late 2014 after a tragic accident limited the previous owner, Elisa Hays, and required her to hand over the gloves to someone else. I was with Elisa off and on since 2012 and when she passed the torch to our courageous new leader, I followed. This year I am a lead tour actor with The Cutest Show on Earth and I lend a helping hand for Sudsy’s Barn when needed.

So what do I do exactly?

The Cutest Show on Earth is, at its rawest form, a kid’s dress-up show. We have four shows – Circus, Wild West, Pirate & Farm Time – and we begin recruiting kids before our shows, get them in costume and perform a live show for audiences at fairs and festivals around the country. As the leader of the show, whether that be as a ringmaster, cowgirl, pirate captain, or flight attendant, I have the pleasure of watching kids come out of their shell and show off to their friends and family on stage. We do anywhere between one and three shows a day and it’s an absolute blast and amazing way to travel. Check out more about The Cutest Show on Earth here.

Sudsy’s Barn is, like I mentioned before, an interactive “Disney-esque” hand-washing station. Fairs around the country have struggled repeatedly with E. coli breakouts due to livestock and people not properly washing their hands after interacting with animals and other things at the fair. Elisa Hays came up with this brilliant idea to make handwashing a fun experience that kids and adults would actually look forward to. This 2-ton trailer transforms into an actual experience where you can get water from a goat, cow, alpaca or donkey who will also talk to you! All I can say is – you have to see it to believe it!

Thanks to these two acts, I am able to travel around the country 6-8 months out of the year meeting amazing people, seeing new things and having quirky and amazing experiences. I have discovered a true family made up of hypnotists, jugglers, tractor-pullers, animal trainers, trapeze artists, comics, clowns and more because of choosing to be a touring actor.

When I’m not on the road with Fusion Talent Group, I try and explore different places around the world. I recently spent a three-week gap in Costa Rica volunteering at a Spanish immersion school called Tico Lingo. Before my last tour I was in Europe backpacking for three months. The opportunities are out there and jobs exist that you may have never thought of that allow you to travel. I encourage you to take advantage of these opportunities wherever and whenever you can!

A Weekend In Jaco

I originally wrote this post for Tico Lingo, a Spanish immersion school located in Heredia, Costa Rica, as part of a WorkAway program. I wanted to share this adventure as well as some tips about a weekend adventure you could have while visiting Tico Land! 13102866_10154612081706729_5779748262555390554_n.jpg

Wanting to step outside of the valley for the weekend, I ventured to the quirky town of Jaco in search of sandy beaches, pina coladas and a little spontaneity. What I found was so much more than I had originally expected. I’ll preface this by stating that the original plan was to spend a short time in Jaco simply as a stopover to Manuel Antonio. I’ll cut to the chase, however, and confess that one night in Jaco quickly turned into three with absolutely zero regrets on my part.

HOW TO GET THERE

I was able to catch a local bus to San Jose for a mere 550 colones (roughly $1) directly to the Coca Cola station. From there, I asked a few locals where to catch the bus directly to Jaco. (Side note: Always try and get on a “directo” bus. This will be the quickest route to your location.) Many locals recommended I get a taxi directly to the new 7-10 station since the area was a little sketchy and I had a backpack worth of goodies on me. So for 2000 colones I jumped in a red taxi with a yellow triangle (super important!) and got dropped off in front of the station. It looks just like a mall with the tickets being sold upstairs and the boarding downstairs. Cough up 2335 colones for a one-way ticket and jump on the 2- hour ride to Jaco!

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At the base of a waterfall 20 minutes from Jaco Beach! 

The bus will drop you off at the main Jaco station directly across from the Best Western hotel. Take a left and begin your journey down the main drag of Jaco town!

WHERE TO STAY

As I mentioned before, the original plan was just to crash in Jaco for the night and then head out to Manuel Antonio. However, it wasn’t that long before I realized I wanted to spend more than 24 hours in this hippie beach town.

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ROOM2BOARD HOSTEL – Starts at $18 a night

I was ridiculously impressed with this hostel. Not only was the price definitely affordable but this place was literally right on the beach! This boutique hotel offered a luscious pool with a waterslide and plenty of poolside seating as well as a bar that offers $5 cocktails, woodfired pizza and a talented and helpful staff. They also have a giant wall where they project movies or hockey games until 11 p.m. The final icing on the cake? Rooftop hammocks overlooking beautiful Jaco beach and the Pacific Ocean.

BUDDHA HOUSE

A friend and I splurged and booked a private room in this boutique hostel kitty-corner to Le Loft and The Green Room. The weather in Jaco can be brutal in terms of heat so having a room with a private shower and air conditioning was well worth the $25 each. Also, having a private hammock and bean bag chair wasn’t too shabby either.

WHERE TO EAT

THE GREEN ROOM – $6-$10

There are tons of small sodas, coffee houses and bars that offer some delicious quick bites but for slightly above your normal Costa Rican fare. Friends and I stumbled upon The Green Room and we were immediately hooked, eating there three times during our stay! This place offers many delicious and fresh choices such as banana pancakes, vegetarian breakfast burritos and fizzy berry mojitos. Even their water is great as it is infused with mint, basil and cucumber before being served cold. This place has amazing live music every night, plenty of art for sale and fair prices for the high quality.

WHAT TO DO

Jaco is a fairly tourist town so the main strip is covered in choices for ATV, zipline, waterfall, crocodile and biking tours. A friend and I chose Costa Rica Waterfall Tours for our Explorer Tour climbing 10 waterfalls and jumping off a few of them! This adventure took us 4x4ing through the jungle to a serene waterfall where all you could hear was the sound of water and birds. With the help of a local Tico guide, our group hiked down to the bottom of this 10-waterfall canyon and hiked our way up, stopping to jump off cliffs as high as 20 feet! I’ll admit my knees were a little shaky but it was well worth it!