Why Did I Merge Two Social Media Identities?
I will begin this post by saying that this is going to be a long post. It’s not a story that can be told quickly, and I am going to tell you the whole story. A lot of people that I know on both sides of my social media channels have been asking why the change, and what has been happening during the last year. So here goes……
Yesterday I engaged in the scary, but very rewarding adventure of merging two social media identities. For the last year or so, I had begun to develop my personal social media channel (www.raphaelalaurean.com). I began to develop this channel for two reasons. I was training for a Bikini Bodybuilding competition (say what??), and preparing for my EnvyTan products to move to Amazon.com. As you read this post, you will learn how these two things are tied together.
Initially, I started to develop this channel because I had taken on the challenge of training for a Bikini Bodybuilding Competition to really push my fitness to the next level. For reasons which seem kind of silly to me now, I was not really ready to share that kind of information with every person that I have ever known. It strikes me as odd, and very amusing, that people will share the most intimate, terrifying, personal moments of their lives with strangers without hesitation, but they always give pause when considering whether to share with those people who they truly know. Why is that? I can’t speak for you, but for me, I am sure that it is mostly insecurity. I am sure that it is rooted in a fear of rejection, and of being judged. People like to compartmentalize the people they know; this person is a great dad, this person is a business woman. It becomes very uncomfortable for people when someone that you know jumps out of any one box, and attempts to leap into another. My Mom has always said, “No one is a profit in their own town.” For example, I am sure that the people who knew a young Tony Robbins or Glenn Close did not take them very seriously when they were rising to stardom.
Anywho, back to the story. I joined Bombshell Fitness, went to their training camp, trained exceptionally hard for roughly 3 months (in the gym 2.5-3 hours daily), and was on track to do my first Bikini Bodybuilding show a few months later. During this time, to connect with all of the exceptional team mates and community members that I was meeting, I developed my ‘Raphaela Laurean’ page. It would have been fairly obvious to anyone on my other social media pages that I was bodybuilding if all of a sudden all of these ‘bodybuilders’ were my friends and posting ‘bodybuilding content’. I loved training with this team.
I saw amazing changes in my body and confidence levels (something every relatively new mom struggles with). Then one day, I fell down the stairs. At first I dismissed it because I thought I tripped. Then it happened again a few days later, but this time I was holding my baby boy when it happened, and I knew that something was very wrong. I started falling down stairs, not being able to speak properly (couldn’t recall the words that I was trying to say), I had terrible tremors, constant nausea, and I was in pain everywhere. After seeing every specialist in Warner Robins, and then Macon, GA, I was sent to the Mayo Clinic in Florida. I spent several months commuting back and forth to the Mayo Clinic (5 hour drive each way) with what seemed to be a mystery illness. As you can imagine, my training stopped, and I was suddenly planning for a different version of my own life. It was at this time, that I began to research moving my products to Amazon.com, and the real reason that I did that is because I was preparing for a situation in which I was either not present, or not well enough to manage the details of EnvyTan any longer.
I had CAT scans, PET scans, Biopsies, Blood work, MRI’s and things that I can not even pronounce done. My mother and I did eventually, and only by analyzing test results, figure out what was wrong (that is for another post). I have to thank my Mom for never stopping her research. She worked tirelessly around the clock analyzing the information that was being returned on these tests. She is the one who figured out what the problem was, not the doctors at the Mayo Clinic. Let’s just say that the show ‘House’ isn’t happening at the Mayo Clinic. They did not look at the overall picture, they looked at segmented pieces of information, and just couldn’t put it together. Regardless, I am extremely lucky to have such an intelligent and dedicated mom who simply would not give up on finding the truth. Thank you Mom. I love you.
I am not going to die, so don’t get too excited and start trying to lay claim to my personal treasures :-). While you are reading this, you will likely be thinking, I didn’t know anything about this. As I will explain later in this post, I never shared details of my personal life online, so this was completely a private struggle that consumed my life for more than half of a year. All the while, I was trying to run my business, raise my children, keep up appearances, and deal with my husband’s constant mini deployments (1 week here, 1 month there). Let’s just say that 2014 was not my best year.
However, I did learn some things during this year. I learned that when the rubber really meets the road, and you actually do share and ask for help, people are usually willing to be there for you. This was not a strength area for me. I learned that I can try to plan for anything that I like, and that I will almost certainly have to move left and right to get to that goal, where I used to think that it was a straight line. Becoming that ill, that suddenly, is a very humbling experience. When you have to ask someone to help you hook a necklace, because your hands are trembling too much to do it for yourself, you will quickly realize that you are not as perfect as you may once have believed. After months of living in uncertainty, and treasuring every day with my babies, because I was getting worse, I am a much more grateful, patient person now. Things are different now. I have to listen to my body now. I have had to slow down a lot. I have had to learn to let a lot of things go, to keep stress levels very low. I have been given a gift to see people in a new way, and to appreciate that if someone is being grumpy or mean, that they may just not be feeling well, and it may have nothing to do with me at all.
Most of all, through all of the research, my eyes have been opened, very wide, to what is wrong with traditional medicine, and how it is practiced. I have learned that you ARE your ONLY advocate, and that if you don’t have someone (thanks Mom), or yourself advocating for your health needs, you will be swallowed up whole by the medical system. If you think I am joking, out of sheer frustration one day at the Mayo Clinic, I asked one of my doctors how this could be happening, and how they could not have an answer, he said, “Well, Raphaela, that is why it is called practicing medicine.” They would have had me taking more than 10 pills per day, living in constant pain, and never have fixed the problem. Enough said, I had to take control of the situation, and with my mother’s help, and a LOT of research, the situation is now relatively under control and I am happy to tell you that I do not take a single pill (mainstream medicine) to manage this situation. There is so much to say on this topic, and it will be the subject of later posts. For now, let’s get back to the meat and potatoes.
The second reason, which as you now know is only really an extension of the first reason, was in preparation for my freedom from sitting as the “President/CEO” of EnvyTan. I am still in charge of things at EnvyTan, but after 10 years in business, I have decided to reward myself by letting Amazon manage the warehousing, inventory, shipping, etc for my business. This decision was arrived at out of necessity, but in all honesty, the business has grown to a point where it is the best thing for our customers around the world. It is faster, less expensive, and requires much less of my time and energy. All of the products will be available on Amazon right before Valentines Day this year, February 14, 2015.
As a result of this, I am finally free to have some kind of ‘personal’ life online. I always felt that it would be very inappropriate to share details about my personal life while I was running things from the corporate location. For example, no one wants to see you enjoying time off on vacation if it means that you are not available to answer their questions, or tend to their needs. That is a small glimpse of what I am talking about. Now imagine hearing that the person who runs the company where you buy your supplies is very ill. People tend to jump ship in these situations to protect their own business interests, and I completely understand that. Suffice to say, I felt it was easier and more inline with my company image not to share these kinds of personal things. All of that said, while reviewing my goals for 2015 yesterday, I decided that it was time to stop living this ‘Double Life’ and merge these two identities.
I have multiple sides of myself, as we all do; business owner, wife, mother, DIY’r, beauty enthusiast, and the list goes on. I guess I come from the tail end of a generation that was brought up to believe that if you can’t sell yourself, you can’t sell your products. That is still true, but the interpretation of that has morphed substantially over the last decade. People want to really ‘connect’ with the people that they do business with. They don’t want to buy from a brand, they want to be part of an overall experience. They want to be in the fold, not on the perimeter anymore. This is wonderful, but it takes a little getting used to. It takes time to embrace the idea that people are open to the fact that just because someone bakes silly cake pops with their kids on Saturday, doesn’t mean that they are not exceptionally good at manufacturing sunless tanning solution, the other 5 or 6 days of the week.
So, with multiple social media channels come many names. This was simple for me, as I have changed my name several times in the last 20 years. My brother says, “Sis, you have more aliases than a Colombian Drug Lord.” I think that’s a pretty fair assessment. 🙂
Legal: Raphaela Laureana Theresa Robertson (Maiden)
–Insert one or two marriages and you have various last names 🙂
*My friends in high school called me Terri, short for my middle name Theresa. Why is this you ask? Well, let’s see, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles came out and then became insanely popular when I was about to start high school. Let’s review their names; Leonardo (nope, not a problem), Donatello (nope again), Michelangelo (hmm, my sister’s name is Michaela) and Raphael (you have got to be freakin’ kidding me). It was choose a nick name or suffer eternal wedgies in high school (lol). My sister and I both chose nick names. Come on, you have been to high school. It’s like prison rules. 🙂
When I moved to LA, I figured that since I had finished college (you know like a decade later), that people would let that whole Ninja Turtle thing go….wrongo! Every time that I said my name, some knucklehead would say, “Oh, like the Ninja Turtles?” To which I would respond graciously, “Wow, yup, that’s first time that I have ever heard that.” In truth, I was slapping the crap out of them in my mind, but they had no clue.
Then, one of the 2 or 3 thousand guys that I dated in LA (ok, those numbers are slightly exaggerated), called me Elle. It was like a light at the end of a very dark tunnel. Why hadn’t I ever thought of this? Regardless, I didn’t keep him, but the nick name stuck. From 2002-2013, this was my name. Come on, 11 years is a good run. 🙂
Flash forward to last year when I started Bodybuilding, I really wanted to switch back to my ‘real name-Raphaela’, and so I did. I am not using my legal last name for security reasons.When you share things online, you get to know a lot of people, and some of those people want to know you better than they need to ;-), so it’s just a safety thing.
Where does Laurean come from? My grandmother’s name was Laureana, so to honor her I chose to use Laurean as my last name on this account. You get to an age, coming up to the ole’ 40, where you just become who you are, and you just stop caring so much about all of the other stuff. You take down your walls, and you celebrate what makes you unique and weird, even if you do have to share names with a Mutant Ninja Turtle (why, God, why did this movie have to be released again a few years ago to prolong this torture?) I am kidding. I just don’t care anymore. That’s my name. It was important enough for my parents to choose it out of the thousands that they could have chosen, and I will honor them by using my given name.
I was somewhat fearful that a lot of the people that I know in my ‘personal life-as Elle’ would reject this idea, but I was wrong. Almost every single person that was on my old Facebook page is on this new one. That was exceptionally flattering, not only because it meant that they want to keep in touch, but because it meant that I was now going to be free to share all of the information that I want to share with everyone in my life. I took a leap of faith, and so did the people that I value as friends.
So, what does 2015 hold? It holds the absolute possibility for a better year than last :-). I spent the last 4 months getting settled in our new home in New Orleans, getting well physically, and deciding how to spend the rest of my life. It has been the first time in more than a decade that I did not work more than 10 hours a day for EnvyTan. It was a much needed ‘Nomadic Year’ that only lasted for four months.
I am going to start training again, but not yet with Bombshell Fitness, as this program is extremely intense. I am going to start TerraFit, on the 12th of January, as I was invited by a family member to try this. Later this year, I will begin bodybuilding training again and I will keep you 100% in the loop, good and bad. I am going to focus on sharing this year. I am going to share all of the things that I have learned in life, in business, as a mom, military wife, and more. Most of this will be on my YouTube channel, because it is far less time consuming than writing blogs, so if you want to follow what I am doing, go and click the subscribe button to stay in the loop. No, this is not a shameless plug, this is me sharing how you can keep up with what kind of craziness I am getting into this year without having to read a blog :-).
Mostly, this year, I am going to spend more time dedicated to improving the lives of others, because I have been so very blessed in my own life. Even this year’s medical challenges were a gift. They have opened my eyes, my heart, my mind, and my life to opportunities which would otherwise never have been present. I wish each of you success, confidence, and authenticity in 2015.
Happy New Year Everyone. Make it Count! Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan!