It has been a busy few months. Couple of more events before being able to take a brief break before resuming a new week.
Saturday evening was gala night for a non-profit Rebellious sponsored. Enjoyed a fabulous time. A beautiful balance of community, connection and fun.
Got home and checked out the event pictures. Lovely. One picture caught my eye. There was something about it. I couldn’t put my finger on it. It triggered something inside me. Unlocked my phone and checked it out several times. What was it about this picture?
Woke up. First thing. Checked the photo. Hm. Why is this photo such a big deal?!?
Hosted a movement workshop. Wrapped up and left to run a few errands.
The picture is still in my head. Hm. Weird. No clarity what the feeling is or why it is there. There is something to it. It feels good. And it's bigger than 'oh, cute' type of thing.
Sitting at a light, and BOOM, the light bulb comes on! O.M.G. The realization! Bright and clear!
This picture captures authentic me. The red dress, the playful look, the lights around, I literally feel on top of the world. I feel fulfilled and living a life I am CHOOSING to live! I am freaking loving life!
I get home, dinner, dog walk, shower. Not sure why - I feel this almost desperate urge to get to my photo albums (which I haven't done in years). Heart is about to jump out of my chest. Intense, strange feeling.
And, through the pages, I see it .... clearly. Throughout my life, it is like I have lived two lives. ONE that’s the life I was told I should live. THE OTHER - the one that’s ME! And then through the rebellious journey - my return to myself.
One life was in the 'working hours'. The other one was in the sleeping hours. Holy cow. I have never thought about it this way.
I start looking through the albums…
There is the one side of me. The studious, nerdy kid who reads, studies, takes notes, makes A’s, delivers projects on time, exhibits military-like discipline, respects authority. The frequent teacher’s or manager’s pet. The one that shows up, works her arse off and delivers results.
Then there is the other me. The rebellious spirit who loves movement, sunshine, air, life and has a wild streak, a passionate and intense side.
As I have shared before, I didn’t “fit in” well till my late high school years. There were some exceptions but generally. In high school, I connected with many international college students and kind of blossomed.
I ditched the conservative clothes which were covering my curves because I was picked on for these. I traded those for crop tops. I discovered the clubs. I started going out and dancing the nights away. I felt liberated on the dance floor. Because you see, in daily life, I was frequently told I am too intense. I needed an outlet for the intensity.
I would go to school during the day, work, take care of my responsibilities and chores. Evening time, I would study till about 10-10:30 pm, get ready and go out till the early morning hours. Repeat.
Alcohol and drugs weren’t my thing. Now DANCING - that’s a different story. Girls would worry about makeup and hair. I couldn’t care less about those. I would be a sweaty mess and over the top happy. I would dance for hours. I would come home happy. Power naps were how I survived.
Then there was my teaching at the gym - loved teaching. It was time to share my energy with the others, to inspire them, motivate them, to be loud and occasionally sing on the mic. I was in charge of the energy of class. And I could get away with the tight-fitting, bright clothes without hearing opinions.
I was very clear on expectations.
Make A’s - ✅
Don’t miss class - ✅
Keep up academic scholarships - ✅
Chores - ✅
Be responsible - ✅
Perform at work - ✅
Daytime I was studious and responsible sitting over the books. Nighttime I was a bit wild, daring, flirty, different ... well - me!
Move into real life - got a job. The theme continues.
Daytime - respectful, responsible, determined, results-oriented. Night time, club time till the wee morning hours.
I was a bit of a rebellious spirit at work too. Yes, I was hard-working, reliable, detail-oriented, dedicated, a leader. I was also very outspoken and direct, which sometimes wasn’t viewed so favorable (till they needed someone to speak up; then it was: get Angelova). My dressing choice was sometimes too much, I was told. A couple of my nicknames were: the bomb, ball buster. In my early 20s, one of my bosses told me I was a pain-in-the-ass employee but a worth it one.
Professionally and personally, I tended to surprise people.
When I first entered the workplace, I was often perceived as the cute, young girl. Throughout my career, I proved myself through my work and ethic and gained people’s respect and got them to see me for my brains too.
I had a tendency to annoy people with my constant ‘why’. People perceived it as me questioning their expertise. I earned their trust and respect by showing them I was simply wanting to learn - the nerd in me.
Over the years, with the constant feedback, I was tamed in the workplace so that I can fit better.
New perspective - companies can rip so much more from their employees when they allow them to be authentic - that's when creativity, energy and innovation flourish.
Evenings were workout times. Nighttimes were party times filled with dancing.
I ‘corrupted’ several colleagues into the nightlife. When do we sleep? Who has time to sleep, we have life to live! This is easy to do in the 20s. Now so much in the 40s - different topic.
Dancing & working out were my ways of self-expression, a way to release the high amount of energy trapped inside me from sitting all day long.
Then travel. Adventures around the world. I could be rebellious.
I studied abroad in NYC and London during undergrad, Italy while in grad school. Traveled to Columbia and Brazil by myself to visit friends after graduating undergrad. I visited Brazil again for carnival in Salvador - one of the best times in my life! Can you say literally dancing ALL night long?!?
And wherever I’d travel and there was a performance that needed volunteers, I’d be selected. One time I asked one of the crew members: why did you pick me? I don’t understand why I always get picked. His answer: we are looking for people who embrace the experience.
A favorite memory is when I took mom to Hawaii for her 51st birthday. They pulled me on stage as a volunteer. After all the volunteers took their turn, it was mine. The entertainment crew member demonstrated a dance move and asked me to repeat it. I, of course, got into it. Next thing you know, the band is playing, the entire dance crew is dancing along on stage. The next day mom and I took a drive to the other end of the island. As we were walking around, people all over the place were like: Hello, Miss Bulgaria!
I didn’t get it then. I get it now.
AUTHENTICITY IS RARE.
I have always loved connecting to people. I am that person who will strike a conversation with you and be your bestie an hour later, if you are open to the idea that's it. I believe in authentic connections. Fakeness repels me. I want to learn about you, to know your story - with its glory and darkness. I have no interest in your perfect life. I want to know what makes you who you are today, who you REALLY are. Behind your title, behind your stage life. I want to know what excites you and gets your heart pumping, what drives you crazy, your secrets, your core. I want to feel your intensity and zest for life.
I am one of the least judgemental people you will meet. I listen. Friends who want to do crazy things count on me. I am the person who you can trust your secret; my lips are sealed. Count on me for hearing an honest opinion (so don't ask me if you don't want to hear it). I am for sure an acquired taste. I am not for everyone.
Throughout my life, I have been told I don’t study hard enough, I study too much, I get excited too fast, I fall in love too fast, I am too dramatic, I am too sensitive, I am too overwhelming, I am too much, I am too quiet, I am too loud, I am too curious, I am dressing too revealing, I am fat, I am too muscular, I am too opinionated, I am too direct, too flirty, too ballsy, too friendly, too intimidating, too curious ... and the list keeps going.
During one of the Acapulco trips, I posted playful swimsuit pictures on social media. True story - my hubby got consolation calls from friends asking if he needs a support system and if our relationship is ok. Seriously people? What is wrong with a 40+-year old feeling good in a 2-piece and striking a pose? Flip side - I got DM's from people who told me they can help me look even better. You see - you will never make everyone happy.
The secret weapon - MAKE YOURSELF HAPPY!
And let's talk men and being authentic when your authentic is bright colors, rebellious attitude and flirty personality - that can be easily misinterpreted. I have always had great relationships with men. I can be flirty and playful; I am also very good at setting boundaries. Men and I have always had respectful relationships.
A couple of months ago, hubby and I took my daughter to her first concert. We saw Pitbull who is a favorite of mine. As the evening was starting, my daughter scolded me to sit down: "Mom, do you see any other moms out there dancing like you? Please sit down." I told her I am planning to have fun. She has a choice to sit down and pout or get up and have fun. We had fun together!
Yes, you get married, you become a mom and there are ALL these extra ‘rules’ and expectations that pour on.
Every stage of life has chipped a bit more from who you really are …. Suddenly, you have completely lost yourself. What spark for life? The hamster wheel is spinning so fast, you are grasping to not fall off. The fall appears horrifying. Because what will people say?
We get so utterly tamed from all directions, it is not even funny. And sadly, that’s how it ends for many people - fitting the square in a circle….
Unless, you make the BRAVE DECISION to rebel, dust off the expectations flying from every direction and tune in to the rhythm of your own heart beat.
Come back to the current picture.
This is unapologetically me. Genuine. Happy. Playful. Authentic. Fulfilled. You can like me. You don't have to. I don't have to fit in anymore. I am not meant to fit in. I am meant to stand out. And so are you, by the way!
I have never been more in love with my company name - Rebellious! Yes, baby! I am creating a culture that reflects my rebellious spirit, I am creating life! The people in my circle are those vibing the same way.
Liberated, empowered, happy - my definition of success - when I can be me, and, in the process inspire you to do the same.
It has been a journey. It has been thorny and bumpy and anything in between. The point it - IT IS WORTHWHILE. To feel you, to be you, to experience life as how YOU like to experience it.
The truth is, LIFE is how you CHOOSE to make it. You sometimes forget you have a choice.
Do you know who you are? Strip your professional and personal titles. What’s behind those? What excites you? What makes you happy? What makes you feel free? What makes you daring & naughty? What makes your heart skip? For a second, imagine you don't have to oblige anyone - who will you be? What will you wear? What will you do? Where would you be? Who will be in your circle? What would life feel like?
I frequently hear from friends who say they are confused what I do. THIS is what I do.
I help you quiet down to re-discover who you are down to your core. I help you connect to your physical and inner core - to your purpose, to you!
I am sitting on City Springs rooftop in Sandy Springs. Yet, this picture has a profound meaning for me - I am sitting on top of the world....
Cheers to living rebelliously, today & always!