humans we admire ll sophie faulkenberry

humans we admire ll sophie faulkenberry

In the third installment of our series, humans we admire, the be.come project spoke to Sophie Faulkenberry, an actress, trainer, and all around badass who has been battling an aggressive form of Lymphoma over the past months. Here is what she had to say. 

jaime: When you were first diagnosed with cancer, what were your initial feelings towards your body? Did you struggle to overcome any anger or resentment towards it?

sophie: When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I was shocked, confused, and angry; yet at the same time, I felt this sense of relief in knowing that I was right to listen to my body. My body had been telling me for over three months that something was wrong. I had gone to the ER three times before a doctor took my pain seriously and didn’t write it off as muscular pain from overexertion. I was proud of my body for doing everything it could to signal to me that something was wrong, and I was lucky enough to know my body well enough to understand that what was going on was not the result of overwork in the gym. I have always been extremely active, whether it is dancing, running, taking classes, or training in the gym: working out has always been my escape.

I was in the best shape of my life when I was diagnosed and had been training intensely 6 days a week until the pain from the cancer spreading became too much. There was no anger or resentment towards my body when I was diagnosed because I knew that it had done everything it possibly could to stay healthy. There was also this sense of knowing that my body needed every bit of positive energy that it could get because it was about to go to battle with the toughest competitor it had met to date. When you are faced with a disease that is so close to killing you, you don’t have time to resent the vessel that is going to fight with all it has to keep you alive.

jaime: I first found you following the be.come project at the beginning of December when I came across your “A love letter to my body” post. You found the strength it takes to respect your body even in the harshest of situations, even when it would seem impossible to many. Can you tell us a bit about your journey to that point?

sophie: Growing up, I was very active in the dance community and spent my summers enrolled in ABT and Atlanta Ballet’s summer programs. I then went on to study musical theatre at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. After graduating and moving to New York, I became a personal trainer to try and stay in shape and make money as I was pursuing my acting career. Dancing, acting, and training, are all avenues that put your body and your physique under a microscope. I spent years working out with the focus of reaching an aesthetic that others expected of me, rather than focusing on the mental and physical benefits that working out afforded me. I would become stressed if I missed a workout and would push through sickness in order to get to the gym. Although I actively recognized working out as a huge stress relief, I also attached stress to my workouts because of the fear that my body would change for the worse if I missed a day.  

When I began treatment, I hadn’t worked out for two months because I was in too much pain to even walk. I was diagnosed with a very rare type of lymphoma, which is also the most aggressive type of lymphoma that exists. The nature of the cancer meant that all of my chemotherapy treatments were that much more aggressive and required in-patient stays in the hospital. My body took a beating every day as it was pumped with drugs whose job it was to kill everything in sight. The week that I was diagnosed, my fiancé and I came up with a daily affirmation: “I am strong. I am powerful. I am a warrior.” I would sit in my hospital bed and rub each part of my body and tell it how amazing it was doing, how proud of it I was, and how thankful I was for it surviving and fighting with everything it had.

Screen Shot 2020-01-29 at 4.10.25 PM

On the tail end of each cycle, I would feel ok enough to try and move my body. I would either do the be.come routine, or teach myself a barre class, or even use weights that I had in my apartment. Knowing that my body was in a constant state of war and yet still managing to carry me to and from doctors’ appointments and even allowing me to do light workouts, made me beyond proud. My body is strong. It is powerful. It is a warrior. My body was literally saving my life and yet still expending energy that it shouldn’t have had, allowing me to stay grounded and engaged in activities that for twenty minutes let me feel like I didn’t have cancer. Although a lot of anger was attached to my diagnosis, none of it was attached to my body. If anything, I learned that my body was so much stronger than I had ever thought and its resilience in the face of such a terrifying and life threatening diagnosis surpassed my every expectation.

jaime: What would you say was something unexpected you learned about yourself in the past 3-4 months? What did you learn about the people around you?

sophie: The last 3-4 months have been filled with many unexpected realizations. When I was diagnosed and decided to share my journey and treatment on social media, I began to receive a lot of messages that expressed how brave I was or how inspiring I was. In a way, when I received those messages, there was almost a smidge of frustration because I interpreted those messages as people thinking that I had a choice in this. Was I brave because I was choosing not to die? Was I inspiring because I decided not to crawl into a hole for four months while I underwent the hardest challenge that I had faced in my 26 years of life? There was no choice in this. The choice was either dying or going through chemo and giving my body every opportunity to survive. Did that choice to live make me brave? A sentiment that I’ve shared with other people going through treatment is that a lot of people’s reactions to your diagnosis are ones of self-preservation. They want to know what you did to possibly have gotten this disease; for example, “did you use Johnson and Johnson baby powder when you were child?” or “do the doctors know what you did to get this?” or “have you watched the Netflix documentary on plant-based diets? Your body needs all the help it can get.”

"I would sit in my hospital bed and rub each part of my body and tell it how amazing it was doing, how proud of it I was, and how thankful I was for it surviving and fighting with everything it had."

Although I was exposed to these very understandable sides of human preservation, I was also shown the absolute best sides of humanity. My family, my close circle of friends, and even people who I’ve never met but who have followed me on social media, showed up for me every single day. They went out of their way to do anything to make this journey easier for me. I’ve never felt closer to some of these people in my life and I am eternally grateful for everything they’ve done for me. Whether it be answering my sister’s Instagram message and coming to the hospital to cut off all of my hair and dye it purple even though you’ve never met me, or flying to New York from London just to sit in bed with me and watch ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ and eat potato chips and drink ginger ale, or taking time out of your day to do a photo-shoot with me to try and show me that I am still feminine and beautiful and powerful with or without hair, or even putting on tuxedos and ball gowns just to go to the infusion center to celebrate finishing treatment. These people put me first every single day for the last 3-4 months and their truly selfless nature is the most inspiring thing in this whole journey. 

As for things that I’ve learned about myself… Besides my newfound appreciation for my body, I’ve also learned that it is ok not to be ok. As clichéd as that sounds, it has been a sentiment that I have carried with me throughout treatment. When I was diagnosed, a wise friend told me that courage does not exist without fear. Allowing myself to feel everything, and not try and push down emotions, has revealed sides of myself that I did not know existed. I have never considered myself a brave person because I’ve never been put in a position where I’ve really felt that bravery was needed. At the tail end of this journey, I am beginning to realize that the bravery that people told me I had, was not the bravery to share my journey, it was the bravery to show up every day for myself even though I was terrified, and to not let that fear of losing completely overwhelm me. 

jaime: What can the be.come community do to either help you on your journey or help others in a similar situation as you?

sophie: Be kind. Everyone, whether they are dealing with a cancer diagnosis, or simply dealing with a bad day at work, is just trying to survive. With social media especially, you only see a sliver of that person’s life. Although I shared a lot of my diagnosis and chemotherapy journey with Instagram, there were a lot of moments, especially the ones laden with fear, that I did not shareAlso, understand that there is no reason to push blame onto people for things that you don’t intimately understand, and even if you do, blaming people for the things in their lives doesn’t help or encourage anyone. Showing up for people, however, does help. The amount of messages that I received that didn’t involve questions of “what did you do to get this?” but instead were messages expressing the simple sentiment that they were following my journey and sending me positive energy, really made those hard days a smidge easier. The smallest gestures of positivity can really turn someone’s day around, because you may not know how much they needed that encouragement. 

Be kind and be gentle and be proud! Don’t only show up for other people who may be dealing with hardships, but show up for yourself as well. Show up and be proud of everything you accomplish everyday. Even if they may seem like small accomplishments to you, they may be huge achievements to others. 

thank you sophie for sharing! you can follow along with her journey @justmycupotea

INTERESTED IN BE.COMING?

try your first 10 days free

ALREADY A MEMBER?

start be.coming now

WANNA SAY HI?

we’d love to hear from you

one year of be.coming ll a check-in

one year of be.coming ll a check-in

We couldn’t be happier to have such wonderful clients who find this project and use it to uncover the strength and peace that has always lived in their minds and bodies. Last week, Marissa sent us this message on Instagram sharing her excitement about reaching 1 full year with the be.come project. Happy 1 year, Marissa!

January 15, 2020 marks one year since starting the be.come project. Right now, I have tears of deep gratitude streaming down my face for all the beautiful ways be.coming has helped me shift perspective. It has helped alter my perception of movement and its purpose. It has adjusted my thinking from, “I have to power through this workout because I want to lose weight and lower my BMI (total BS),” to “I want to move my body because it feels good.” I find myself really tuning into my body and noticing that I need movement to release tension and stress. The be.come project has shifted how I speak to myself and how I value my precious, powerful body. The change from “I hate how my stomach looks,” to “look at what my body can do. It is so strong!” Of course, as with anything, it is all a work in progress, but all of these shifts have been life changing. Truly. This is the first movement routine I’ve stuck with for a full year in a decade. It has made me fall in love with movement again.

Today was a hard day at work, and when I got home I was feeling physically and mentally exhausted. Nevertheless, one of the first things I did was get out my mat and be.come. I knew it would help me feel more grounded, centered, and capable. I knew it would help me release the anxiety and frustration of the day. I knew it would help me come home to myself and give myself the love I needed. 

That’s exactly what it did. 

By the time I got to the left leg series, I was crying and the tears didn’t stop flowing until the shoulder kisses. The tears came from a place of pride and inner strength. I was so proud of myself for moving my body and challenging myself. Even after a long, draining day. So yeah. All that is to say thank you. What you have created is truly magical.

thanks marissa for sharing! you can follow @marissa_frances_manza and read her first Pour Your Heart Out HERE

INTERESTED IN BE.COMING?

try your first 10 days free

ALREADY A MEMBER?

start be.coming now

WANNA SAY HI?

we’d love to hear from you

words we wish for

words we wish for

In our series, words we wish for, we pose questions to the community in order to gain perspectives from individuals from all walks of life. In our third installment, we posed the question, “I wish someone told me _______ when I suffered a loss” and here are some of the responses.

I wish someone told me…

  • That my body had the power to heal, that my heart had the power to heal, and that my mind had the power to heal. But that none of it would matter if I didn’t take the time to acknowledge the pain I was feeling.

  • To cry and cry and cry some more. I wish they had told me I’d still be sobbing like it just happened years later. That the brief moments of relief that things are less complicated would almost immediately be followed by wanting all the inconveniences back. It just doesn’t get better or easier. It just gets more distant.

  • Your feelings are valid.

  • Even if it is months from now, you can still get to ask for support around this grief. There is no timeline you need to obey.

  • There is no correct way to grieve. Nor should you feel obligated to behave how others say or suggest you should. You don’t have to perform for anyone.
Screen Shot 2020-01-16 at 11.19.06 AM
  • Seeking professional help or taking time off of work is okay!

  • Grieve it fully. Cry and rage and be angry. Only when grief is experienced all the way can healing begin.

  • You won’t feel it on the obvious days; you feel it when you would never expect it.

  • Said nothing and just listened.

  • It changes. Sometimes it feels better. Sometimes it feels worse. But the way you feel right now is not the way you will feel forever.

  • I don’t know what that’s like, I don’t even know what to say, but I want to be here for you in whatever way you find helpful. Even if that’s just sitting with you without talking. You are not alone.

"Energy cannot be created or destroyed. They are here, in another form."
[email protected]

    • Grieving is not linear.

    • It’s okay to break down. Just remember to breathe.

    • It’s okay if you’re still grieving about it months and years from now. Society teaches to move past it but then we think it’s not okay to still be sad six months later.

    • As more time goes on, the duller your memories are. No matter how significant the loss is, you will still end up forgetting things because life goes on. This can be good or bad or both.
  • Grief is deeply personal. Don’t dishonor your own unique experience by expecting it to look the same as everyone else’s.

  • That losing a dream of what could have/should have been is just as real as losing the reality of what was.

  • Your friends and family will eventually have sympathy fatigue. Don’t let this discourage you.

  • Don’t carry everything yourself. Lean on the ones that you love. 

INTERESTED IN BE.COMING?

try your first 10 days free

ALREADY A MEMBER?

start be.coming now

WANNA SAY HI?

we’d love to hear from you

be.coming ll sarah & kristin share

be.coming ll sarah & kristin share

sarah shares

the be.come project has had quite an impact on my life, and I have been sharing the project with anyone whom I think will benefit! Initially, I took a video of me be.coming when I first started, but I decided against submitting it due to fear. Recently, I reignited my spiritual practices and felt called to dredge up the video and send it in. A little bit about me: I am a 35 year old NYC working mama, wife, and I just received my certification as a pre-natal and vinyasa flow yoga teacher. I am in recovery from a 20 year battle with Anorexia and Bulimia, and the be.come project is the first form of movement that I have found to truly connect me to my body, spirit, and inner power. I don’t feel the need to perfect the routine or body-check muscle progression like I have been a slave to in the past. I am a former dancer, and I absolutely love how I can lose myself in the routine and even add my own touch to some of the sequences! 

My recovery has been FULL of ups and downs, but the past year I have made the commitment to myself to actually brave the wilderness and reach full recovery. the be.come project has been a huge part of that. I love that I can hop on the app in the privacy of my own home, perhaps wearing my pajama pants from the night before, and just move. There is no talk of toning, sculpting, or pushing which is SO refreshing. My two year old daughter, Clara, even likes to participate! I will instill in my daughter that she has worth simply because she exists, and that she doesn’t need to manipulate anything about her to please other people. the be.come project reconnects me to that intention so that I am able to be that model for my daughter. We have a responsibility to empower future generations to reduce the stigma, the shame, and the feeling of being not enough that so many us carry. I am SO grateful for the be.come project and the impact that it has had on my life and the lives of so many others. xoxo, Sarah.

sarah sievering

kristin shares

Before the be.come project, I was fighting against myself everyday to get to the gym. I was feeling inadequate despite the fact that I was showing up for myself everyday and giving it my all. I battle anxiety. It’s a familiar demon always here to say hello when I wake up. Sometimes being surrounded by mirrors as I worked out in a gym felt daunting. I find myself gaining mental and emotional strength through this project. Yesterday I couldn’t get out of bed because existing was so difficult. Today, as I moved through the routine, I felt beautiful. I found myself feeling strong and impressed with my body’s capabilities. Each move spoke to me deeper than my muscles could ever go. As I finished and the final song came on, I felt a peace and satisfaction wash over me from the inside out. I am good enough, I am strong enough, I will grow stronger, I understand my body, I feel its movements, and I celebrate its growth. Now I am evolving my body in a way that is not just changing me, but is healing me. THANK YOU for this community, thank you for sharing yourself with all of us, and thank you for believing in us. All my love, xoxo, Kristin.

thanks sarah and kristin for sharing! you can follow kristin @krisowen93

INTERESTED IN BE.COMING?

try your first 10 days free

ALREADY A MEMBER?

start be.coming now

WANNA SAY HI?

we’d love to hear from you

the anti-resolution resolution

the anti-resolution resolution

Contributed by Whitney Hull-Benson

It’s that time of year again, where we make lists of major lifestyle changes—a New You in the New Year. We feel giddy with excitement at what these changes promise us in return, we can taste the satisfaction of conquering our new goals and the accomplishments, a sense of purpose and the ability to “do it all.”

The idea of crafting a new version of ourselves for the new year is our attempt to pressure cook progress and growth. Fun fact – eighty percent of resolutions fail by February. We are teeing ourselves up to fail perfectly, to feel guilty, to throw in the towel and say, “what’s the point?”

But what if we didn’t believe in the concept of failing? Failing depends on the direct relationship to performance and doing something perfectly. Instead of focusing our energy on not failing, what if we focused our energy on not performing?

Resolutions are a performative practice. Have you ever made resolutions and then decided not to tell anyone? Exactly.

whitney photo

It is completely understandable that we would want to share our goals, to feel the support of those closest to us, to feel encouraged, to have positive interactions with family and loved ones.

Praises are sung when we chat with coworkers about our lists of great change and healthy resolutions for the new year. We encourage and congratulate goal setting; we adopt one another’s resolutions or up the ante by setting them with friends to tackle together. We are able to connect in our collective want to be the best versions of ourselves. None of this is inherently wrong, or purposefully harmful. It does, however, keep us tethered to the belief that we are not, and never will be enough, just as we are.

Journaling Examples:

- In 2019 I learned the definition of boundaries, specifically in my relationships with family. In 2020, I would like to continue creating healthy boundaries, especially in my work environment.

- In 2019 I have learned and grown financially; I would like to encourage this growth in 2020 by working with an accountant.

- In 2019, I began reading for joy again. In 2020 I would like to continue to read for pleasure. Here are a few titles I'm looking forward to curling up with... etc.

The anti-resolution list can be a liberating experience; how do you make a resolution list from a place of believing that you are already enough?

There are many versions of an anti-resolution list, the approach I find most encouraging is the What I’ve Accomplished List. Instead of writing down all of the things we wish to change about ourselves in the upcoming year, we write down all of the things we have accomplished this past year.

To move this into the upcoming year you then expand on what you have accomplished and note the ways you plan to continue that growth.

In this approach we are creating MORE room for success, by focusing on joy, self-compassion, self-awareness and love. This inverts the typical resolution list that focuses on ways in which we have been “failing” and ways to be “better,” or ways to “fix ourselves.”

When we decide to say no to the typical resolution list (aka a laundry list of the ways to be better) we are also saying no to popular culture. We’re saying “no” to mass marketing, we are removing the never-ending lists of ‘should’s’ and ‘shouldn’t’s’ that just create more ways for us to “fail.” We, instead, create a list from a place of enough-ness.

This allows us to build on gratitude, to build on positive practices we’re already practicing and to affirm work we’ve been doing that doesn’t often get acknowledged.

Cheers to 2020 friends, may you appreciate all you have accomplished so far!

____

Whitney Hull – Benson is a Certified Wholistic Nutritionist and an advocate for radical food and body empowerment, and is constantly honing her knowledge in Body Trust, Intuitive Eating and Health at Every Size. By using a wholistic, weight-inclusive and anti-diet approach she is able to help her client’s build a more positive emotional relationship with food and their bodies.

Check Whitney out @innatenutritionist and head to innatenutritionist.com for 15% off a session just by mentioning the be.come project! 

INTERESTED IN BE.COMING?

try your first 10 days free

ALREADY A MEMBER?

start be.coming now

WANNA SAY HI?

we’d love to hear from you