Truth Talks: Sarah

truthtalkssarah1.jpeg

meet sarah,

a real life angel. she’s one of the strongest people i’ve ever met and she’s recently made it her life mission to share her truth in the hopes of helping others and raising awareness against domestic violence.

sarah is someone you can’t help but gravitate towards and learn from. her positive energy is infectious she’s inspirational in every sense of the word, from her career choices to her zest for life.

i can’t wait for you to meet her, so let’s jump in.

When I was six years old, right before I turned seven, I lost my mom to domestic violence. It was never something that I ever talked about until this year, even though I am so open about it now. 

Literally, almost twenty years later, I finally felt like it was finally time to just… tell my truth and tell my story in case anyone had been through something similar. 

Growing up, my mom’s parents had custody over me. I’m an only child. Despite the circumstances, I lived a pretty normal life. From the outside looking in, I was extremely positive. I was a very social person. I was on my cheerleading team in high school and in a sorority in college. The craziest part was all my best friends in my sorority didn’t even know this about me at all. When I came out with the blog post, my friends from college were so shocked because it was never something that I talked about. Everything from the outside looking in was great. I am a very optimistic person by nature, even though I was hiding a very dark secret. It got to a point where it felt like it was eating my alive. 

The reason why I didn’t tell my truth until recently is that I feared that if I did, that the world would think less of me or judge me. I didn’t want the most was just to be looked at differently. That was another thing that I feared: being different. 

I think what helped me cope growing up was just living a normal life. Not that I would recommend this, but I didn’t really process my emotions until I got older. Living a normal life, having a normal friend group, that helped. My grandparents were awesome. They took classes on grandparents raising grandkids; it was as if they were regular parents raising me. Everything turned out great. 

Has sharing your story and releasing that secret helped you heal?

Yeah. It was kind of a build-up. I guess kind of how it happened was… the past couple years leading up to it, I finally got more comfortable talking about it. As my career, I recruited for this company full-time. This girl that I worked with was really open about her dad dying, and like, I never even told anyone that my mom died, let alone how it happened or any of the crazy details. She kind of helped me to feel comfortable. She was the first person I told my story told to… I think this was January 2017. And then slowly from that point up until last summer, before I wrote the article, I told people one by one. I have a really close tight-knit friend group from college so that whole summer, whenever the timing was right, I individually ended up telling them. Every time I would do it, I would get a little bit less scared to say it again. At first I couldn’t even utter the words. It’s crazy where I am now, the fact that I’m just talking about it like this, because this was never me before. I just slowly started telling it. I always felt like even though I was really optimistic and stuff, there was this piece of me that just wasn’t fulfilled in life and I think that that literally was like the missing link. It just kind of… like if you can’t tell your friends something like that, it prevents you from getting close. There was a big thing. It was just time.

You had mentioned that you came to the realization that it was time for you to finally share your truth. This is such a big question, but what advice would you give to someone in a similar situation as far as healing and speaking up?

Healing in your own time is important. Everyone’s preface is going to be different. I think what really helped me, too, was just having such a great group of friends. I have been best friends with one girl since we were ten; we actually went to college together, so she was the only one that knew. She’s such a great person, and being surrounded by her helped. Surround yourself with people who are good influences and positive people; I feel like that definitely helped me throughout the process, because I think if you are in a sad situation like that and you’re surrounded by people who are negative… it’s not going to help you. And then when it feels right, maybe down the road, being able to talk about your story with someone who has been through something similar helps. It just feels so freeing to not have anything to hide anymore and I think when people share their stories and they realize other people do have similar stories, it helps them to connect. Own your truth.

You seem – I don’t know you personally – but you aren’t jaded at all. You have no chip on your shoulder and you are so optimistic. You have an open heart.

This sounds so silly, but I never even realized that until people started pointing it out. After I tell my story, people are like, “How are you the way that you are?” I don’t know any different. Everyone asks me, “How are you so normal? You’re so normal.” I guess that’s my sign that I should share things with other people because I did turn out normal and it is possible for it to happen. 

My brain is just kind of programmed to be like this for some reason. I don’t know how, but it just is.  I didn’t really realize I was resilient until talking about all of this honestly. I think I get it from my grandma (my mother’s mom), who I also didn’t realize was resilient until recently. She was always extremely healthy for her age but suddenly had a stroke in October. When it first happened the entire right side of her body was paralyzed, and now 9 months later she is completely gained her speech back, taught herself how to be left handed, went from laying, sitting, and being in a wheelchair to finally walking again!  It isn’t just the fact that she physically recovered, but her positive attitude and resilience along the way is so inspiring. 

I continue to live life with an open heart because I know the world still has good things to offer. And although my mom isn’t physically here, since opening up about my story, I feel closer to her than ever. 

I don’t think I’ve ever actually fully healed, but starting Angel Energy has brought the most healing than anything else in my life so far. After initially sharing my story, I received so many messages about others enduring similar situations. I realized then that that was my purpose for the rest of my life, to raise domestic violence awareness in hopes to stop this from happening to anyone else. I thought to myself if I was able to save just one person’s life, it would be the closest thing to fully healing since I know nothing will bring my mother back. I just didn’t know exactly what that would look like.

truthtalkssarah1.jpeg

Why Angel Energy? What does angel energy mean to you?

Angel Energy summarizes the way that I try to live my life. Since my mom isn’t physically here, I use her as motivation. I just feel like she is always watching down on me so I kind of use that energy to fuel me to be the best version of myself. Knowing that she is watching always inspires me, but ultimately, I believe in myself to persevere. I want to encourage others to do the same. I felt that the name Angel Energy encompassed all of that. Also, after I came out with the initial blog post, I knew that I wanted to do something, but I wasn’t sure what. I love positive affirmations so I was thinking about doing something with different positive affirmations, but then as I was coming up with ideas for shirts, Angel Energy stuck out. I felt like that one was just perfect.

On a side note, this isn’t the reason that I named it this, but it was what confirmed that it was right: growing up, my mom always wore Angel perfume, the perfume by Thierry Mugler. Still to this day, the smell always reminds me and everyone else of her. They always say, “Oh, when I think of Angel, I think of your mom. She always wore it.” That is what kind of solidified it for me. I was like, you know what, I think that’s the perfect name.

I love it. It caught my attention on Instagram immediately. The shirt itself was cute, but then you get to know the meaning behind it and you’re just sold.  

Yeah. And that’s the thing. I was trying to think of different things and for some reason, that phrase just felt powerful to me. Those two words: Angel Energy

It really is perfect. Mine shipped today, and I was so excited.

That’s so exciting. People are texting me, “My shirt is finally coming!” I’m like, “Oh, my God.” It feels real now.

Are you sticking to t-shirts, or do you want to expand in the future? 

T-shirts were a good way for us to kind of start the movement, but we definitely do plan on expanding into more fall-wear and stuff. Stay tuned for that. We don’t have anything officially confirmed yet, but we’ve been playing around with a couple of ideas. There might be other things in the future that launch with it.

That’s so exciting! Also, each month you pick a new charity to donate 25% of the proceeds to. How do you pick which charities to donate to, and why did you decide to change the charity every month? 

At first, when we first initially created the brand, I was doing a lot of research. I’m based in Philly, so I was looking at charities in Philadelphia, and then I was thinking to myself, ”That would be so limited, because I want to help everyone.” By changing the charity every month, we have the ability to reach, help, and inspire women nationwide. We hand-select a charity that aligns most with our mission of helping women suffering from domestic violence. 

You’ve mentioned how t-shirts are a great conversation starter, and something that has circled back in my life a lot is when you see people go through hard times, whatever the circumstances may be, I personally sometimes don’t know what to say. You want to do something, but you don’t know what to do or how to help. And that sometimes paralyzes you, or prevents you from actually helping. I don’t know. When you open up and share your story, I’m sure you get so many people who say, “I don’t know what to say other than I’m so sorry and so inspired by you.” My question for you is how do you support someone who has been through something like you have?

My biggest fear whenever I would tell people is that they would just look at me different and feel bad for me. I never wanted that feeling. I don’t know how other people are, but I think that if someone were to ever open up and share that, try to not make them feel… different. Because despite the circumstances, I am happy and I am normal. I never wanted people to look at me and go, “Aww, that’s the girl that this happened to.” I didn’t want to be defined by that.

If someone tells their story, obviously it’s good to be supportive, but don’t alienate them by saying how bad you feel for them and whatever. Maybe take a different route and say how inspired you are by them.

Growing up, I was always so scared that any time I would start a new friendship, someone would be like, “Oh, what do your parents do?” Asking that, or “Are you close with your mom?” Questions like that terrified me because when someone asks that, not only is my mom not here, but little do they know about what actually happened. It just opens up a big thing. I was always scared of that. 

I think that people should try to train their minds to not automatically assume that everyone has parents. I know that sounds silly, but in today’s society especially, families aren’t always traditional. There’s not always a mom and a dad. Sometimes it’s just a one-parent household, or a no-parent household and the person is being raised by their grandparents, or an aunt, or an uncle, or whatever the case may be. Try to just not assume.

Of course. Because your situation is so serious and sensitive and something to be mindful of. It’s delicate, and I can’t imagine what that’s like. Because when I went to college, even being an only child, which is so simple and something I never thought twice about, you still get looked at different.

There were just so many things that made me different. Yet I feel so normal and I live a normal life. I’m social, but I don’t want people to now look at that and go, “Awwwww.” I just want them to judge me off of me.

Right. Even something as trivial as… once my roommates found out I was an only child, they were waiting to see if I would not share, or if I fit certain stereotypes. I felt watched and as dumb as it sounds, you feel different when you feel like people are constantly looking at you through a certain lens. People don’t see people as individuals when there’s a label on it, in a way.

Yeah! Exactly. They generalize. People might think, “Oh, that happened to her. She must be really messed up.” But I’m not. And that’s why.

What advice do you have for people who want to get involved in raising awareness against domestic violence, or who want to get involved with Angel Energy?

With Angel Energy, we highlight what charity we’re donating to on our website in hopes people will visit to see what these charities are about, and if possible donate or get involved with whatever organization they feel the most connected to.

You have your Angel Energy, and I know you are really busy with a million other things going on, too. How do you balance being involved in philanthropy with everything else that you do?

I was a recruiter for accounting and finance in corporate America for almost five years. I had my blog simultaneously; I started it last July, so it’s been about a year. I quit my job in corporate America at the end of February. Now, I do full-time blogging and Angel Energy. The two of those go hand in hand with each other. I think because I had my own personal brand in a sense, it just carried over. As far as networking and things like that, both fall into the same category for me now. When I’m going to networking events now, I’m not only talking about my blog and collaborations with that, but I’m almost having to look at things from a brand perspective and talk to influencers; I’m kind of on the other side of things now. I feel like I’m merging all of it, so it balances itself out. Because I’ve now made it my life's purpose. Does that make sense?

Yeah, totally, because everything sort of overlaps. When you are so passionate about something and you make it a priority, you don’t even think about balance or burnout, in a way. 

Exactly. It’s just a part of my life, so I don’t have to balance anymore. I did feel like that when I was still working at my past job, though. I really felt like I could not balance. That was before I started Angel Energy; I was just doing my blog and working. It was just two different worlds. The two things I’m doing are more related than accounting recruiting and fashion blogging were, you know? It’s just easier to intertwine them.

Yeah! Not gonna lie, I did do a little research and I saw you studied Public Relations at Monmouth University. There are times when I miss university and because classes are so unique and specific, I love to ask people this. What was your favorite class? 

I loved it. It was so funny because even though I studied PR at Monmouth, after college, I literally didn’t do anything with my major. I was doing something totally different. It’s just so interesting how things come full circle, because now I’m applying the things that I learned to blogging and Angel Energy. There was one class that was really good at preparing you for your career. It helped you set up a LinkedIn profile. That was helpful. My favorite class of all time is really random, but it was a communication elective. It was about movie reviews, so we basically learned specific rating styles and what to look for when critiquing a film. I’m already a serious movie buff and Netflix binger as it is, so ever since them, it makes me appreciate and notice small details that I wouldn’t have noticed before. 

What was the best lesson that you learned while you were at school? 

I learned who I was throughout college. It takes time to get comfortable with who you are and to not try to fit into certain molds anymore. It takes time to learn your true identity. Throughout the process at Monmouth, I grew into who I am today. That’s the most important thing. The friendships and stuff were great, but I think it just taught me how to be more independent and how to be myself.

So… leaving corporate. What was that like? That’s a big jump. 

Yes. It was crazy. So, I knew that I wanted to do it. It was my plan the whole time, but I didn’t know when. I kept saying that I needed a sign. I would pray to my mom, “Just give me a sign. When should I do it? I know that I need to do this.” It kind of all fell into place itself. Right before I quit my job, I got really sick, and I didn’t know why. I was trying to balance work and blogging. But with recruiting, you couldn’t really slack. You still have to hit your metrics. Recruiting is very sales driven and it’s not a job where you can relax. It’s definitely very stressful on its’ own. Then on top of it, I was blogging and I didn’t want to stop doing it or lose any momentum with that. 

It got really hard to do both, and I ended up getting really sick. I never had a migraine before, but I had one that lasted for a full week. I ended up going to urgent care, and they were like, “This is stress-induced. Are you under any serious stress?” I was like, “Yeah, I have two jobs.” They wrote me a doctor’s note and I took that weekend, and they gave me two days off after that. I thought about it, and I was like, “You know what, I think this is my sign because I just can’t risk my physical health over something that I don't even care about that much.” I didn’t feel like I was fulfilled doing recruiting.

IMG_4070_Facetune_11-08-2019-19-59-19.jpeg

Now that I blog full-time, it’s been so nice. I work from home, so that’s a big adjustment, but I feel so much happier. I feel like the biggest weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I feel so much more fulfilled now in what I’m doing because it’s something that I care about. Recruiting is a field that can be lucrative, but I don’t know. Sometimes I felt like it was unethical. You’re really just getting someone to leave their job so that you can make a commission off of them getting a new job. I just realized, “I can’t do this for the rest of my life. It’s now or never.” I was twenty-six at the time, and I’m not married. I’m not engaged yet. I don’t have kids or a house. If I’m ever going to take a risk, it has to be now. I just jumped and did it.



Would you say that the hardest part is making the decision to jump, and then things work themselves as you navigate the change?

I think things work themselves out, but you also have to make them work themselves out. It’s not like I quit my job and all of a sudden started making all this money or anything. I still am making less than I did when I was in corporate America, but I know that it’s more of an investment in myself. I had some money saved, so I was like, “You know what? I’m going to take this time and make an investment in myself because my time is more valuable than money.” As I started to do that, I started to become less stressed, and things started to work out. But it’s still something that you have to work at yourself.

So, let’s talk about blogging. What do you think are the best or worst things about being a blogger? Do you think you’ll do it forever?

I love it. It’s so funny because I feel like all my life, I never had a hobby. People would be like, “What do you like to do?” And I never knew the answer. I’d say, “Um, shopping,” because I’ve always loved fashion but there was never an actual hobby. I love that blogging really lets me use all the things I’ve always loved in one. I’ve always been into taking pictures and editing them cool. And fashion, and socializing. All that is great, and I think that my top favorite thing about blogging is the community that came with it. I feel like I have gained such an amazing network of people that are all in the Philly area just by going to events and literally meeting them through blogging. A lot of those people turn into real-life friends and I never would have even known that they existed before. 

it’s a full-circle kind of thing.

It is. And I feel like people who are in blogging understand the daily struggles, which is nice. Obviously I have a group of friends, but they don’t do what I’m doing, so they won’t be totally able to relate. 

Of course. Definitely. So, now that you blog full time, what does a day in your life look like?

It’s definitely always changing just depending on what is scheduled for that day. A lot of times, I’ll have a networking event at night or meetings during the day, or photoshoots, since I do freelance modeling. I look at each week and know that I need to work for at least five days out of the week, but as far as which days those are, it kind of varies. If things are going on during the weekends, maybe I will take the beginning of the week off. 

Overall, regardless, these are the things I try to do: I wake up, I shower. I start my day listening to a podcast or two for morning motivation and education. I try to educate myself as much as possible, and I do that every day – whether it’s reading books or listening to podcasts. And now I’m not just educating myself for blogging purposes, but I’m looking at the marketing side for Angel Energy. I spend at least an hour a day educating myself. The rest of the day is content creation, working on brand collaborations or marketing plans for Angel Energy, and that’s pretty much it. The order of it changes, but every morning I like to listen to a nice podcast. That always really inspires me for the day.

Favorite podcasts? 

My favorite of all time is The Angie Lee Show. She’s so awesome. I relate to her so much. Her vibe I like. She’s someone I would want to be friends with. I listen to that, and I also like Online Marketing Made Easy by Amy Porterfield. I listen to The Influencer Podcast and The Goal Digger podcast. I love the Mind Your Business podcast, which is very much based around people having limited beliefs about money. It’s very motivational, but the Angie Lee Show is definitely the most entertaining for me to listen to. 

What is one thing everyone should know how to do?

Everyone should know how to find their own happiness. A lot of people are always searching for the next best thing, and they don’t know how to find their happiness. It’s something that you literally have to work on. Put time aside and figure out what makes you happy. What people are around you when you feel your happiest? What things are you doing? What environment are you in? Work on that yourself and make yourself happy, because that’s not something that anyone can do for you.

Lastly, what’s your favorite thing about Philly? Would you ever live anywhere else? 

Funny you ask that, because I’m actually moving out of Philly! I am so sad. I love Philly, but I’m moving to Hoboken with my boyfriend next month. I’ll be a lot closer to New York City, which will be great. I love the overall urban-y vibe of Philly. It’s more of a laid-lack city, but then it still has a really lively sports fans. Not everyone agrees on Philly sports fans because they’re so intense, but I love that part of it. I grew up in south Jersey, about twenty minutes outside of the city, so it always feels like home to me. I am excited for New York. I think it will be a whole new world. 

It will. Do you spend a lot of time there?

A lot of my friends from college live in north Jersey, so I go to Hoboken frequently, but not as much time as I spend in Philly. I’ve done things there. I’m excited, but it’s just such a different type of city than Philly. New York is intense; Philly is so laid-back and I feel like I know it so well. I know how to get around; I know so many people. It’s so comfortable. 

This is definitely going to take me out of my comfort zone, but I think that’s needed in order to grow.

IMG_2578.jpeg

the quick fix:

I can’t go a day without… wearing my Mantrabands. They’re bracelets with positive affirmations on them. I don’t take these off; I literally wear them every single day. When I first moved to Philly and was going through a rough time, my aunt got me 3 of them as a present. Now I’m a brand ambassador for them, but I fell in love with the brand a while ago because they have such great positive affirmations. Wearing them every day on my wrist, if I’m ever stressed out, I look down and see them. They’re nice reminders… “Enjoy the journey.” “Inspire.” “Dream, believe, achieve.”

Everyone should listen to…. The Angie Lee Show Podcast. She’s so inspirational, motivational, and hilarious.Her tips apply to everyone; it’s a good dose of positivity. Or, just listen to a podcast that you feel connected to, because it’s life-changing.

Life is better with a little… Drake playing in the background. People are surprised by my taste in music; it’s a lot of hip-hop and rap. But I feel most inspired when I’m on a long car ride listening to Drake and thinking, because a lot of his lyrics are really relatable.

Everyone in their 20s should… TAKE RISKS! It’s important that if you have a goal or something you want to do to take risks. Or if something doesn’t feel right, like if you’re in a relationship and you don’t think they’re the right person, take risks. Take the risk now while you don’t have as much responsibility. At this point, in your twenties, you have so much energy, too, so this is the time in your life to take the risk.

One insider thing to do in Philly… go to Harp and Crown. It’s a bar/ restaurant. They have a speakeasy in their basement that has bowling. It’s cool. The secret, and I didn’t know this until recently, is that they have great brunch. They have every food you could ever imagine – make your own donuts, literally everything. Also, go to Federal Doughnuts. The strawberry/lavender sugar flavored one is the best!

What the world needs right now is… to realize that negative energy is wasted energy. I think people spend way too much time complaining about things or getting upset about things that they have no control over – even in politics – we waste so much energy hating things, and what is that bringing you?

One way to spread love is… by just being nice to everyone always for no reason, whether you’re getting gas or walking down the street. Whatever it is, always be nice to the people that you see. Smile, because you never know what someone is going through. A lot of times, if someone is grumpy, there’s usually a reason behind it. Kill them with kindness.

You can follow Sarah on Instagram here and you check out her blog here.

You can follow Angel Energy here and can shop the brand here.

All photos courtesy of Sarah Ripoli.