Filling the Void

Guest Blog by Health & Fitness “Mama”, Anyssa Lucena

What makes you happy? A simple enough question, but a really difficult one to answer sometimes. Things that make me happy are climbing outside with friends, going for a walk alone on an unknown trail, spending time with my kids. Easy stuff. Yet, I often find myself … somehow unhappy. And it’s what we do in those moments that teach us how to grow into better people.

I’ve been spending a lot of time, almost a decade really, working with that space of the uncomfortable void, and learning how to sit with it, accept it and ultimately stop looking for something or someone to fill it. Especially where there are so many wonderful fillers to choose from to numb yourself from the pain. (Sex, shopping, alcohol, food, intense exercise … I’ve used them all.)

My awakening happened a few years ago. I was a stay at home mom with 3 small kids ages 6 months, 2 and 4 years old. You know how people come up to you and say something like, “Wow! You’ve got your hands full!” Well, I did. You know what I mean. I know you can relate. My days were based on routine with my babies, but I lacked something deeper inside. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but part of me was hollow. My soul felt vacated.


I decided to perk myself up a bit, got my mom to babysit the kids, and headed to the mall for some much needed quiet time and to “treat” myself with some shopping. There was nothing specific I had in mind to get, but I thought I’d find something. I wandered around the jewelry counters and looked for something … something “blingy”… something uplifting … something fun. I found this owl necklace that had a clock on it. It was cute. I bought it. Why not.

Later that day at home, after another long day with the kids … I sat and looked at my self gift. I hung it around my neck, and checked myself out in the mirror. It was cute. It was whimsical. It felt playful and free. However, It wasn’t very practical … I mean, who looks at a necklace to see what time it is?

Then it hit me. Kinda all at once. Like a punch to the stomach. It wasn’t playful. I didn’t feel free. I still felt empty. Vacant. Longing. I could have bought anything at the store that day and it wouldn’t have made a bit of a difference. There was a real, true unhappiness inside me that no material purchase could relieve. I returned the necklace the next day and actually felt more powerful, more in control, and filled with purpose and meaning returning it, than I did purchasing it.

I was trying to fill my emptiness with a thing. This was my personal turning point for knowing that there was something deeper inside that needed a close looking at. A few months later, I asked my husband for a divorce.

This initial first time ever realization of knowing I was turning to something else to feed an emotional need started me on the path of understanding what filling the void was all about.

Alcohol was a similar numbing tool that I noticed was playing an increasing role in my life. Although I don’t consider myself a textbook alcoholic, I noticed I was turning to that glass of something red when I was feeling upset, lonely, stressed … you name it. So many times, a quick glass of wine helped temporarily soothe the “rough spots”, and helped me not think of something uncomfortable, take some pain away, or otherwise distract me from the growth and work that I needed to take on. At times it helped me fit in, feel less vulnerable or pretend I was having fun, or enjoying others’ company (when I really wasn’t). I tried quitting on and off for years, and finally something clicked and I gave it up last August.

Now I actually enjoy those moments where I can sit and be angry or sad, disappointed or anxious. Heartbroken or lonely or scared. And I’m not afraid of that anymore. I welcome experiencing new potentially uncomfortable situations because I’m less worried about the outcome. Because I know I can take it on. Makes me feel kinda like a superhero. It’s been a long time since I felt this kind of pride in myself. Like the kind of proud you feel when your kid does something fucking awesome. It’s not just about saying “no” to a drink, it’s about finally trusting yourself to know that you’re capable of greatness. Here’s a little secret about being sober: I find that I’m living every minute of my life more authentically. I am braver. I am unapologetic.


This is not to say I’m completely addiction free. I still find myself looking to soothe my pain away with chocolate, baked goods or other sugary goodness. Although now, I am completely aware of what is causing me to turn to bad stuff to soothe me. I’m so much better at recognizing it, and can usually find a way to turn myself around and make better decisions. I sit in discomfort. I exercise the “this sucks” emotional muscle just like I train any other muscle at the gym.


Learning to sit in the void is an ongoing process. It sucks, but it’s the essence of the human experience. It’s real and it’s universal. So, I guess my advice is: find out what makes you happy. Try to do that stuff as much as you can. Life is short. And when you’re feeling down, crappy, unloved, disappointed, etc… Try sitting in that painful spot and see what comes out of it. Sit and repeat. Constant growth. Continuous learning. Unwavering self-love, acceptance and compassion is the only way to get through it.


Anyssa Lucena is a climbing guide, health coach, personal trainer and fitness enthusiast who is passionate about inspiring women to reach their full potential through health awareness, self love, and outdoor life. She teaches rowing classes in her home studio in Montvale, NJ and climbing classes at The Gravity Vault in Upper Saddle River, NJ. She also runs various group programs for weight loss and healthy living. You can find out more and contact her at, or on Facebook: Anyssa Lucena and Instagram: @genuineselfwellness.

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A Simple Way to Brighten Your Dull Winter Skin …

… That’s Maybe Aging a Little, Too ; )

Special offer from Araya Rebirth for “Stylish Mamas” (and men) below. 

I swear I blinked and now forty is just a couple of months away. Ask anyone I know, and they’ll tell you I am not entirely thrilled about this whole thing. I truly believe in growing older gracefully, HOWEVER, I am not opposed to simple ways to make the whole process slow down a little bit. I like the “natural approach”; I am quite a hippie at heart, which is one of the many reasons why I am drawn to Daniela Musano and her studio of 18 years, Araya Rebirth in Ridgewood. She radiates good vibes, and her incredible energy flows within the walls of Araya.

Araya Rebirth is located at 10 Garber Square in Ridgewood, NJ.

It’s been awhile since I’ve ventured into her massage therapy, skin care and make-up studio to treat myself. When I spoke to Daniela, I told her my concerns, mainly the fine lines around my eyes and my fairly new skin sensitivities (add that to the fun aging list), and she scheduled me in for a Lactic Acid Peel. Sounds a little scary, doesn’t it? I’m not going to lie … I was hesitant going in, especially after the horribly itchy rash I suffered from after the last facial I had at another local spa. However, I totally trust Daniela, and I’m happy to be your guinea pig and take this treatment for a spin. Best-case scenario, it works … worst case, I wear big sunglasses and a hat and pop some Benadryl for a few days.

If you’ve been to Araya Rebirth before, you can feel me here: when I walk in there, I instantly want to take a nap. It’s beyond peaceful and relaxing. The music is calming, the employees’ voices are calming, and the colors and messages that hang on the walls are so soothing. The sun even beats through the window and warms your back while you’re waiting.

But I’m not here for a snooze this time … let’s look younger and awake.

Before we got started with the peel, Daniela asked me if there’s an area of my face that is a specific concern for me. I didn’t have to think twice about it: I’ve noticed quite a difference around my eyes lately. Perhaps it’s because I’m a perpetually tired Mom, drink too much coffee, or now have to squint to read ingredient labels and menus because my eyesight is quickly going down the tubes, but that’s beside the point. We added on a NuFace Wow Brow treatment ($40). Why not?!

NuFace and NuBody devices and accessories

This FDA cleared device is pretty awesome. It uses microcurrent technology to gently stimulate your skin, instantly lifting and reducing lines. The results (which are instantaneous – see the proof below) last 47-72 hours. You can purchase the device at Araya Rebirth (which includes a LIFETIME warranty) so you can continue the treatment at home for more cumulative results. We even took the NuBody for a spin on my abdomen and there was an immediate noticeable difference. (There’s not a chance in hell I’m posting those photos though. Sorry.) * It’s important to note that the NuBody is effective on individuals who live a healthy lifestyle and have good muscle tone. * As Daniela put it, you can’t be sitting on your couch, eating Doritos, while using the device.

NuFace Wow Brow at Araya. Results after 1 treatment.

Daniela then set me up for my Lactic Acid Peel, which is a 30-minute service, and costs $85 (mention “Stylish Mama” and pay $75). According to Daniela, this peel is great for most skin types; it is an instant brightener, rejuvenator and exfoliator. While the peel was on my skin, it felt a little tingly and itchy, but not uncomfortable in any way. She hovered over me to watch how my skin reacted, and knew when it was time to wipe it off of my face.

** Please note that if you schedule an appointment for a Lactic acid peel, you can’t exfoliate, wax or use any topical prescriptions for a week before or after your treatment. Also, you MUST use sun protection post-treatment. **

The peel instantly brightened my face; my skin went right from a dull, matte appearance to dewy and refreshed. Right afterwards, my complexion was a little pink and shiny, but with the help of a little bit of Araya’s tinted moisturizer with SPF (yes, she sells her own private line of mostly vegan make-up, too!), it vanished immediately. By the time I washed the make-up off, there was no sign of any pink at all.

Before & after both treatments. No make-up / alterations in either photo.

One day later, I would describe my skin as having a nice glow to it. The fine lines around my eyes are certainly less noticeable – my eyes are more “awake” – and perhaps it’s weird to say that they appear almost a little bigger than normal. I’ve gone from “matte” to “glow-y” and it only took 30 minutes, no needles. On my list of future purchases are the NuFace and NuBody devices.

Three days later, my skin still looks and feels great and I am happy to report Benadryl and sunglasses were never required. Daniela recommends getting a Lactic Acid Peel roughly once per month, and I will certainly be back.

Daniela & me, post-treatments. 🙂

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Araya Rebirth is offering “Stylish Mamas” (AND MEN!) $10 off of a Lactic Acid Peel, $15 off any hour-long service, AND a FREE make-up color consultation. Take advantage of this offer and treat someone you love, which certainly should include yourself!

For more information about Araya Rebirth, including a full list of services offered, or to order products and gift certificates online, visit:

Beautiful pieces by MightyBeads, carried at Araya. @mightybeadsshop