I’ve just returned from a wonderful indulgent holiday, so I’ve been thinking a lot about balance… evening things out, staying a the gym a little longer and eating a little greener. Simple.
I believe mental and physical health isn’t achieved through striving for perfection but it’s about finding balance. That brings me to my series on balance, which I introduced a few weeks back. I’m interviewing inspiring girls who are also seeking their own unique sense of balance in their bodies and minds- Girls who get that it’s a waste of time trying to be ‘perfect’, because hello, that’s just boring anyway!
At just 27, Mez Galllifouco is an entrepreneur, speaker, photographer, a successful fashion and lifestyle blogger, a New York marketing director, she has a psychology degree and this year she will add ‘published author’ to her list of achievements.
Mez was also diagnosed with MS at just 18 years old. MS can be a devastatingly debilitating, affecting walking, vision and many other things a 19 year old takes for grated. Mez is fortunate, her condition is now under control. This challenge has made Mez grateful, grounded and she’s a girl who believes anything is possible.
I met Mez at a MS Research Foundation dinner and was drawn to her energy and I knew she’d be great tv talent. She helped bring life to my story on MS research and has kindly agreed to chat about what a healthy balance looks like to her.
You have achieved so much at such a young age, but in your blog you talk about a turning point. You were tired of working for others, and wanted to work in an environment with a ‘soul’ a career in line with your values. How did you finally find the courage to go after what you really wanted?
I have always been entrepreneurial and ambitious from a young age. When I accepted the position in New York City I was determined to “kill it” in my industry, make it onto the Forbes 30 under 30 and own an empire… But when I left the job and left a 5 year relationship I hit rock bottom. The turning point didn’t come to me as a life altering epiphany, but rather as a series of clues that I slowly began to notice. When you begin to think, and I mean really think, about everything in the universe that had to be in the perfect time and place for you to exist, your perspective on your purpose will shift dramatically. A series of exact events leading back generations and generations had to happen in perfect synchronicity for YOU to be here. So in essence the very first miracle you ever got to experience was yourself.
I was sick of chasing money and status for myself and other people. It felt vacuous and empty to me long term. I was completely sad and heavy. I knew in my soul that there was something greater that I was meant to be doing. In fact, I think there’s something greater we all should be doing.
“Balance for me doesn’t necessarily mean that all things in my life should be equal because I simultaneously believe in mastery and flow.”
For anyone out there who has that nagging feeling they’re not living their life purpose, or their true potential , can you explain what that actually felt like, how did it sit with you?
We are sold an idea of success that benefits very few. The ideal meritocracy promises us is one of work hard and earn, work harder and earn more. We spend our entire lives chasing the signposts of success in order to finally settle and be happy and it seems as though we are in constant competition with each other for an external measure of self worth. Strangely, power and money are our yard sticks, not happiness. What kind of thought behaviours does this kind thinking promote? Comparison. Inadequacy. Anxiety. Future tripping as Gabrielle Bernstein calls it.
When I was studying Psychology I remember seeing the statistics on anxiety, depression and suicide and thinking “where is this coming from? What are we not getting right?” Then I began to realize that a majority of these are symptoms of modern life and society’s idea of success and happiness.
You are essentially your business, so there’s a need for you to stay strong and healthy mentally. How do you keep that elusive thing in your life… balance?
“Balance” for me doesn’t necessarily mean that all things in my life should be equal because I simultaneously believe in mastery and flow. I know that sometimes my creativity wants to write for the next two weeks and not go outside but I also know that can lead to burnout. So what I do is firstly honor the flow of whatever feels good to me at the time. For example, if feel like I want to spend time with friends and family instead of work, I will do that. But I still have certain practices that keep me aligned, focused and aware. These are my Non-Negotiable Items (NNIs) and consist of daily morning meditation, beautiful organic food, and journaling gratitude and intentions.
We’ve chatted in person about ‘mental clutter’, I think we both have very busy minds! What practices do you use to stay present?
My NNIs help me feel nourished, present and incredibly greteful. But you can drink all the green juice in the world and meditate 5 times a day, if your spiritual and psychological health aren’t strengthened through auditing your belief systems, the foundation isn’t there.
Here is what I remind myself in moments of anxiety, stress and clutter:
“The past only exists in our mind as a memory and the future only exists in our mind as imagination, the only thing that really exists is this moment. And in this moment, I am truly safe.”
So when you feel like this, stop-drop-and meditate, focus on your breathing and remember that in this moment you are alive and you will be ok.
Physical and wellness is a priority for you too, no doubt especially after you were diagnosed with MS at a young age. What are the key things this challenge has taught you about yourself?
Being diagnosed with MS was one of my greatest blessings and lessons. Health and wellness; physical, emotional and psychological, are my number one priority in my life. I honour and deeply appreciate every moment I am here in this world, it overwhelms me with gratitude and I feel like the luckiest person in the world. You will never hear me say that I am bored or “killing time”. I am way too grateful.
The diagnosis led me to study the science of the illness and my body. I wanted to know exactly what was happening and how my body functioned, something everyone should know. Knowledge is power and we have more resources on our iPhones than Einstein had his entire life. Knowing that I can learn as much as anyone else in the world opened my perception of the world and the world inside me.
MS taught me that we are all more powerful than we even imagined and that life is the biggest gift.
Do you have any wellness related new year’s resolutions?
Yes! New Years is a bit of a spiritual experience for me. This year I spent it with my best friends creating vision/glory boards for our 2015. My wellness related goal is to strengthen my body more than it currently is. I do yoga and walk a lot but have never focused on physical strength through resistance training etc, so that’s what I started two weeks ago.
I believe your external world is a reflection of your internal world and therefore strengthening my body will also strengthen my mind and will!
As if you haven’t already achieved enough, you’re releasing a book this year. What are your hopes for this project?
Words cannot describe how absolutely excited I am for these books!
The first book is co-written with health and medical writer (and my best friend) Lauren Kress, and explores the role of your psychology in illness touching on topics like the placebo effect, meditation and victim vs survivor mentality. My hope is that it empowers people more when managing chronic illness.
The second book being released at the end of this year, Spiritual Badass, is a spiritual/self empowering guide that helps you envision and map out your true authentic purpose in life. It comes with exercises, 7 videos and audio meditations. I really want people to wake up to who they truly are, break free of the illusions and participate in changing the world!
You will soon be able to order them online on my site along with some courses being released in June.
So Mez is one busy lady, like most of us, but with so many commitments, I love that she identifies her NNI’s and honors them, no matter what her day is looking like. She’s discovered that taking the time to meditate and seek healthy food where possible makes her more present, gives her more energy to do what she does BETTER.
You can visit Mez’s site here and keep an eye out for the book!