Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Instead, you became the girl who learned empathy by way of being teased for something you couldn't control, you learned to be thoughtful by way of tripping over words you already said, and you earned "class gossip" with not your first and not your last male best friend. You paved your own trail, and you were better for it, brunette locks and all.
In high school, you wanted to be the girl who already knew everything, who couldn't possibly mess up, who was in control of her life.
Instead, you became the girl who learned about friendship by making monumental mistakes and being forgiven. You learned how to fail and how to gift yourself grace. You learned that the trick was not in the not fucking up, it was in the damage control, the crow eating, the picking up the phone. That the flare was not in the wobble but in the dismount.
By college, you had wisened up a bit. You wanted to be the girl who said hi first, the girl who rose her hand in class, and you became her. You wanted to be a writer, and you wanted to be respected for your point of view, and you found the right people, and you did and you were.
In New York, you wanted to be the girl who looked fear in the face, who didn't take no for an answer, who discovered every possible thing that was out there. And you did. You stared it down and you found your 'yes'.
When you left your hometown, you wanted to be the girl with a firm handshake, who showed up on first dates with the perfect balance of humility and optimism. You wanted to be the girl who listened more than she talked, who learned from whoever would teach her, and you did.
You perfected the first date tightrope. You mastered the dismount and you sold your house. You were thoughtful and you found friends who made you a better writer, a better thinker, with a more evolved point of view. You sought out more yesses, and you learned the lessons waiting for you, however ugly, however hard.
Now you want to be the girl who doesn't stop even when she feels like she's asked for and received too many blessings. Who leans in, so to speak. You want to be the girl who gives and gives but doesn't take any "guff", as your dad would say. You want to be the girl who keeps not settling. You want to be the girl who knows a secret: that life is at once really, really beautiful and really, really painful, and it doesn't take the perfect job or the perfect husband or the perfect ________ to enjoy and survive it; it just takes an open heart.
You want to be the girl who does not curate her life, but lives it.
But you'll soon wisen up. You'll realize you already are her.
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
I came across a quote on Facebook this morning that perfectly summarizes why I was so wrong, care of another teller-of-lost-and-found-stories, Elizabeth Gilbert:
I wanted Cheryl to know things before she learned them. Does that sound familiar at all? If not, please pause and take a gander to your right at the "themes" section of this blog. Do you see the biggest word there? Lessons. More lessons than not. That's my life.
But I learned from Wild something I should have already known (#irony): It's your life, too.
It's my boss's life, and my boss's boss's life, and Barack Obama's life. It's Cheryl's life, and Elizabeth's life, and thank god that they are writers who can and are willing to share their story. Who put themselves out there and make us feel not so alone, not so damaged.
Something in me wanted to give Cheryl another try, even before I realized this. Or, maybe, more likely, I was drawn to the title of another book of hers that I found on Amazon: Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar. That sounded like what I needed in my life, yep. Add to cart.
And, you guys, it was so, so good. Like, read-it-in-one-afternoon, didn't-look-at-my-phone, devoured-it good.
"There are so many things to be tortured about, sweet pea. So many torturous things in this life. Don't let the man who doesn't love you be one of them."
“Don't surrender all your joy for an idea you used to have about yourself that isn't true anymore.”
“I'll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don't choose. We'll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn't carry us. There's nothing to do but salute it from the shore.”
“So release yourself from that. Don't be strategic or coy. Strategic and coy are for jackasses. Be brave. Be authentic. Practice saying the word 'love' to the people you love so when it matters the most to say it, you will.”
“You have to say I am forgiven again and again until it becomes the story you believe about yourself.”
“It’s hard to go. It’s scary and lonely…and half the time you’ll be wondering why the hell you’re in Cincinnati or Austin or North Dakota or Mongolia or wherever your melodious little finger-plucking heinie takes you. There will be boondoggles and discombobulated days, freaked-out nights and metaphorical flat tires.
But it will be soul-smashingly beautiful… It will open up your life.”Guys, I could copy and paste for days. I want to drink up all the wisdom, the things she learned when it was the right time for her to learn them. She makes me want to learn all my things at the right time, too.
I admit that part of my interest in the book was of the 9th-grade-snark variety: How did she go from drugs and dysfunction to writing an advice column? The answer was clear by the time I read her first answer: She did that by making all the mistakes and learning all the lessons. She did that by being imperfect and then forgiving herself, and then she went a step further and she bared her story to whoever needed a little bit of love. She did that by telling the truth.
What I love about the columns is that Cheryl doesn't just nurture. She doesn't say, "There, there, darling, all will be right with the world." No. She says, "The world is terrifying and hurtful, people are flawed and selfish, you're imperfect and you always will be. But. Tomorrow is another day, and life can be more beautiful than you can ever imagine. But. You'll need to pick yourself up, you'll need to dust yourself off, and you'll need to do the hard work. But. It will be worth it."
So the really wonderful news that I bring you is that Cheryl is partnering up with another former Dear Sugar columnist, Steve Almond, to create a podcast called... Dear Sugar. The first episode is up, and it is so, so good. Cheryl says the show is about "what's really on the inside." Um, subscribe.
"Forgiveness is not one act at one time. It's not one decision. It's not one day where you have an epiphany... It's years. It's decades. Of saying, "Here I am, and you might have been a dark teacher, but you were a teacher. And thank you."
P.S. My second favorite advice columnist received a letter that reference Cheryl and I love the sentiments behind her answer. She's a future brain crush, to be sure.
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Don't look "knowers" in the eye, the type that will wonder if something is wrong and ask. Give kind but shy smiles, but pass people quickly. Keep your head down. Leave right at 5.
Walk down the street and feel numb to the cold. Feel numb in general. It won't last but cling to it while you can. Puff out your chest a little and pretend nothing fazes you. Not the wind, not the cold, not the little burning in your stomach, not the wide open future, nothing. Walk faster.
When the bus comes, sit next to a man that reminds you of your grandpa. Hope that he talks, but in the next moment hope that he doesn't, because an unfamiliar voice would crush you. Check to see if you still have his voicemail from your birthday in 2012. Blink back tears. "Bobbi Baby" was such a great nickname.
Go to yoga. Cry a little in child's pose. Do the most beautiful dancer's pose you've ever done and forget for a second that you have ever doubted anything. Feel capable, brazen, strong, until you try it on the other leg and wobble. Feel surprisingly calm; your outsides match your insides.
Back at your apartment, try to treat yourself in little ways. A bubble bath, a hot apple cider with honey. Spend a lot of time sitting uncomfortably on the floor petting your dog, wondering what to do next.
Cry. Cry so hard you cough. Cry so hard you hiccup and scare your dog. Cry some more. Cry while stretching, because if your mind can't be limber, your body may as well be.
Observe your dog. Notice how she loves without expectation, without hesitation, without fear. Feel sad. Observe that humans will never be capable of such love. Watch as she accepts any kind of love she gets. Feel more human than ever.
Get into bed. Sink into the mound of pillows. Be soft, be malleable. Think about vastness. Think about possibility. Make your mind a string of inspirational posters, a montage of beautiful, if foreign, futures.
Count your blessings. Be grateful, even when your mind goes blank. Even when your mind goes where you don't want it to go. Flip over. Feel empty. Feel more you than ever.
Monday, November 17, 2014
We watched old home movies that I haven't seen in more than a decade, and I still haven't shaken the experience of seeing my memories come to life on the screen. It was exactly how I remembered my family and my childhood, and it was also, at once, so very, very different.
On screen, my mom was nurturing and selfless, my dad was doting and funny, my baby brother was curious and sweet--I expected all of that. I was joyful and moody and sassy and shy, depending on the moment--no surprise there. All of that I know, all of that I carry with me as part of my roots. That was the home and family I know and cherish.
I can't really put a finger on how it was different than I expected. Maybe the word I'm looking for is surreal. Maybe it was just the mind-warp that my mom was three years younger than I am now in some of the tapes. Maybe it was recognizing some of the ways, even then, she was shaping me to be a confident, caring, curious person--the way she was bringing out the Bobbi in me even then--and the ways my life has turned out different from and similar to hers so far. Maybe it was seeing my dad back when lifting my brother above his head was no big thing. Maybe it was seeing loved ones we've lost come back to life with a bear-hug you can almost feel or a familiar laugh that moves you to tears. Maybe it was recognizing a neediness in myself on screen that I still carry with me, even though I've worked so hard to outgrow and shake it.
Maybe what's most surprising is that what was on the screen--the truth--brings into focus my memories, which are subjective, fuzzy, molded by other realities, tainted by ego and hope and growth and...life. Seeing the then right next to the now makes it all so clear that it's almost jarring. And it's disorienting because that's not how life is, all linear and sense-making and clear.
It's funny, but on the drive home all I could think about was the Iraq briefing that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld gave the year I graduated high school:
Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns--the ones we don't know we don't know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.--
While I was home, I had two conversations, one with family, one with friends, in which the people I was talking to gently pointed out that what I was feeling wasn't necessarily the truth. Or the whole truth, really. That perhaps I had decided that something was true without considering the other true things that affected or even contradicted it. Both conversations eventually led to this: We do the best with what we know right now, and we learn, and eventually we'll know what the right choice is.
I realize this is very vague and abstract and probably hard to follow, but what I am trying to say is that known knowns--when what we feel matches up perfectly with what is actually happening--are very rare. It happens usually in retrospect and after a lot of reflection. More often we live in a state of known unknowns (the state of acceptance I've been cultivating and sharing on this blog for years--knowing that there are some things we don't yet know), and unknown unknowns--things we can't see about ourselves or our lives when they are happening, things we can only see when we watch them, on video or in our mind, twenty years later. Things we might never know.
But what I think Secretary Rumsfeld forgot, because maybe it can only be true of people and not of an entire country, is that we very often have unknown knowns, things that we feel and don't need to verify with facts, things that don't need validation or context because they make intuitive sense, things that are a reality simply because we feel them so intensely. I think those are the most difficult, because they are hard to articulate, hard to communicate, hard to convince others of.
But even if they don't last, even if they are only part of the picture, even if they are eventually debunked by other truths, unknown knowns have their place, their worth, their weight in our lives. Sometimes unknown knowns are enough.
I'm sure of it. At least for right now.
Friday, November 7, 2014
I've spent it all.
And it occurred to me this morning while binging on cinnamon rolls and cracking overtired jokes with my coworkers that maybe what follows is the sweet spot.
Knowing that tonight--after seriously kicking butt at work and contributing to something bigger than I ever thought possible, after a four-hour jam session co-writing something inspiring with three brilliant people, and the subsequent panic that ensues to get every. detail. just. right.--I get to exhale. After managing to fit in a few work outs I still feel in my tush, a few pep talks for others, a lot of cuddles for a needy puppy who just wants to be near her mama--after managing all that, I get to dissolve into the quiet space of my cozy apartment, cook myself whatever meal I dream up, and toast a well-earned cider to myself. A toast to emptiness.
Because emptiness affords you the chance to fill up again. Tonight brings 8 (or, really, let's be real, more like 11) hours of sleep. Tonight brings affection from the aforementioned love monster, who will greet me with a wagging tail and an entire day's worth of anticipation and kisses. Tonight brings clean sheets and tea and a brand new book (thanks, me, good looking out). Tonight brings solitude and centeredness and grace.
Tomorrow brings friendship and shopping for tights and a phenomenon heretofore known as Crockpot Crafternoon. Tomorrow brings laughter and spirit and probably a fair amount of snark. Tomorrow brings gratitude, and encouraging words, and community.
Next week promises more opportunity to use an intricate balance of words and psychology to engage people to give money to shut down a horrible, horrible disease. It brings more opportunity to honor my aunt and my grandpas and everyone else whose suffering amounts to a lot more than just the emotional fatigue resulting from having used all your words. Next week promises drinks with an old coworker and the opportunity to interview an 80-something man who has made substantial contributions to science.
Next weekend promises a little bit of home right in the middle of Chicago. The weekend after that promises comfort on a direct flight in from Colorado. Thanksgiving promises dates with so many of my people, chilly hikes in the Peninsula, and warm soul food cooked by my mama and my crazy aunts. Home promises jokes and hugs from my dad and arm-punches-turned-bearhugs from my brotherbear.
Being empty isn't so bad when you know what will fill you. Cheers, to pit stops and knowing that the inhale is always sweeter after a long, slow exhale.
Monday, October 27, 2014
I took a train through every stop along the roots and wings spectrum, soaked up some love in each station, and Choo Choo! Last stop: My couch.
Another love hangover? I don't know, I just know my roots and my wings are so mixed up right now that I can't tell one from the other. I don't know where I'm going, and I don't know where I've been, exactly. I just know I am right here, feeling all the feelings, contemplating all of the contemplations, surrounded by a lot of people who love me the very best way they know how.
A recent conversation with my mom can be summed up in two of her responses:
"You know, Bobbi, you're able to articulate things that are hard for others to even know they're feeling."
"You're strangely good at compartmentalizing."Um. Yeah. Yep. Leave it to Mom. There it is. I am complicated. And really uncomfortable when things aren't in their assigned boxes.
But I am also very grateful. For the roots in my life who recently gave me unexpected pep talks for growth. For the wings in my life who recently grounded me when I was flailing.
For the silver, for the gold, and for the people and situations who escape the boxes but unfailingly deliver the most important lessons.
Monday, October 13, 2014
- Why are cabbies on their phones all. the. time?
- Why do people think asking "so, how's your dating life?" is any different than asking "so, how's your marriage?"
- What does it feel like to commit to one sports team over another? Is it sort of like what having in-laws feels like or am I way off base? You know, like, you sort of picked them a while ago and now you have to feign enthusiasm or you look like an ass hole?
- Why doesn't Baby Gap have a sign outside that says "If you're at all concerned that you might not meet someone awesome in time to have babies, DO NOT ENTER. The socks and little baby jeggings are to just too fucking cute. Walk away and your ovaries will thank us."? Is that just not on brand, or what?
- Who in their right mind thinks it's okay to post "Congratulations! Welcome to mommyhood!" all over someone's Facebook wall before they've even announced the birth? Or, for that matter, left the hospital? For real. Someone please tell me why that's a thing people do?
- Why don't guys with online dating profiles realize that posting 13 solo pictures of themselves in different countries isn't a glaring sign they recently broke up with someone? I mean, obviously your ex-girlfriend took them. Unless you have a super good bro who is sort of obsessive about scrapbooking. Mix it up.
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Renew: (v) to make new, fresh, or strong again; to make a vow or promise again; to begin again with more force or enthusiasm
Renew: (v) to resume after an interruption
Synonyms: regenerate, revive, resume, replace, replenish, reestablishI've seen about 100 first day of school photos on Facebook, and along with wondering how in the hell so many of my friends suddenly have five-year-old PEOPLE for children, I've been harnessing the feeling that came with "back to school" as a child.
Back to routine, back to basics, back to learning. Realigning with your priorities. A fresh start for all.
"People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed. Never throw out anyone."
"Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall."
--F. Scott Fitzgerald
"You may have a fresh start at any moment you choose, for this thing we call failure is not the falling down, but the staying down."
"Close some doors. Not because of pride, or arrogance, or incapacity, but simply because they no longer lead anywhere."
"Let the refining and improving of your own life keep you so busy that you have little time to criticize others."
--H. Jackson Brown Jr.
"As you think, as you travel, as you love, you attract."
Summer, you were the most beautiful interruption.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
June is Friday. You're teeming with excitement. It's time for fun, you don't pay too much attention to time going by, you're just glad to crack a beer, let your hair down, and glide into relaxation mode.
July is Saturday. You're in it to win it. You're spending all your hard earned dough. Rock on, let's eat Mexican food and cheese fries at 3am and sit on all the patios. No time for yoga, there is fun to be had!
That's where you misstep, because you pay for it a little in August.
So...August is Sunday. You're tired, bloated, inexplicably sore, a little hung over, and you're slightly terrified to look at your bank statement. Yet you're also determined to make the most of the rest of your free time.
August, man, I did my best with you, but I have to say, I'm dragging.
I'm left with a very strong desire for a peaceful fall. Not only in the sense of slowing down significantly socially, but also emotionally and physically.
I've been thinking about how to manifest that feeling of ease and here's what I've come up with:
- Back on the gluten- and dairy-free wagon. Digestive struggle is the worst of all struggles.
- Lots and lots of yoga. Find the ease through a little bit of effort.
- Baths with tea and candles. Routine to create comfort.
- Cut myself and others a lot of slack. Space where it is needed, connection where it is not.
- Long walks with Henley. See the world through her gentle eyes.
- Nights in on the weekends. Money and energy in the bank.
- Cultivating positive thoughts. Recalibrating my default outlook.
Thursday, August 21, 2014
The best bits:
"You commit to yourself, fully. And then you build a relationship with yourself to the point where you realize you're whole, right now. That there is no man, woman, job, circumstance that can happen to you that's gonna make you more whole. Because you already are."
"What I've learned is, and what my experience is, is that the places where you have your biggest challenges in your life become the place where you have the most to give--if you do your inner work."
"A mistake isn't actually a failure unless you don't learn from it, and unless you don't grow."
"There's a saying: you ask for patience, and what you get is a line at the bank. What that means is that life does not give you what you ask for. It gives you the people, places, and situations that allow you to develop what you ask for."
"What I learned was how to sit by my own bedside, and how to hold my own hand, and how to nurse myself, how to comfort myself. What I learned is that I am a person that I can count on."
"People always ask me about my love life. I mean, they wanna know. And the answer is: 'I'm working on it. Aren't we all?'"
"I'm more interested in how I feel about me, than how he feels about me. Not because I'm selfish, but because the only relationship I'm ever going to have with another person is the one I'm already having with myself."
"The way I see it, it's like I took myself to the top of a mountain--and maybe the bottom of the ocean--and I got down on one knee, and I said to myself, 'I'll never leave you'."
I love funny, articulate, flawed, freaking smart women. Tracy, you're my girl. Because you're your own girl first.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
That's not a star; that's a satelliteIt repeats at the end of a nine-minute song that is otherwise about how to live a good life. Most of the other lyrics are instructive (be kind always and shine your light while you've got one), so the line feels especially out of place.
In an interview with MSN Music, Dave said this about the song:
"My father used to say to me, "Find your bliss, and that's what you should spend your life on" ... I was kind of trying to say the same thing to my kids but with more words, which I'm apt to do*. I have this image of a beaten-up soldier at a bar, sort of thinking about telling his kids this, more than actually being able to. And the war or whatever experience is the music in between... At the end, there's this image of surrender, lying on your back, whether on a battlefield or not, staring at the stars. There's a line my wife has said to me: "That's not a star; that's a satellite." I like that idea, I like that phrase, that's why I repeat it five or six times. I think it's a nice way to say goodbye."
A satellite, not a star. A decoy, not the real thing. Something forced, man-made, not something natural. A realization, a vehicle for letting go.
I'm going to say something obvious: It really hurts when something isn't what you think it is. It's the very worst kind of hurt, when you wanted something to be real and it turns out it was just a fabrication. When you hoped for the magic of a shooting star, only to realize it was just a satellite with its own trajectory.
Hope becomes dangerous when it hovers too long. You eventually find you're in the wrong orbit, and the feeling that it's better than no orbit at all only lasts so long.
I'm gonna steer clear
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Savor is sort of like my old friends resolve and sufficiency in that it has so many meanings that it becomes more beautiful the more you study it. To savor is to be as aware as possible, to honor life's complexities, to feel all the feelings and know how to express them. It's a noun and a verb: a thing you can be or appreciate and a thing you can do, actively. My very favorite type of word.
Savor: (n) a distinctive quality; the particular feature or trait that makes something or someone interesting or enjoyable; the power to excite
Savor: (v) to enjoy something for as long as possible; to experience with pleasure
Synonyms: relish, taste, enjoy, revelIt's interesting that savor has the connotation of doing something slowly because as much as I want to soak up what's left of the exceedingly fleeting Chicago summer, I also have an intense urge to slow down. Conflicting feelings, always.
"The root of joy is gratefulness. It is not joy that makes us grateful. It is gratefulness that makes us joyful."
--Brother David Steindl-Rast
"The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware. Joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware."
"Let me live, love, and say it well in good sentences."
Keep your head up / try and listen to your heart
Be kind always / no matter
We all grow up / and someday we'll say goodbye
So shine your light while you've got one
Make the most of what you've got
Don't waste time trying to be something you're not
Fill up your head and fill up your heart
and take your shot
--Dave Matthews Band, Drunken Soldier
"So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad, and I'm still trying to figure out how that can be."
--The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
For each new morning with its light,
for rest, and the shelter of the night.
for health and food, for love and friends,
for everything thy goodness sends.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson, We Thank Thee
For words that become more beautiful the more you study them, for words that arrive in your inbox or chat session at just the right moment, for words that capture the exact feeling that your heart aches to communicate, I thank thee.
Friday, July 11, 2014
Life is good. Exactly how it should be. Exactly what I asked the universe for.
Every time this happens I'm reminded of an old Jason Mraz song and my heart just bursts from all the love in my life:
And I'm, I'm over-joyedIn particular, being around my friend Alicia, who passed through Chicago this weekend, inspires me to look for the good in life. Her presence made me feel confident about my life trajectory and my capabilities as a friend, lover, writer, human. That feeling of confidence makes me thirsty for what's to come--and more ambitious about creating a life that I love.
And I'm, I'm over-loved
And I'm feeling lucky like a little boy, who's just...
Who's hiding under cover
And looking to discover
Every way to play the part inside this darkened cave
The meaning of life, well it starts at the nightlight
Close your eyes and I hope you see mine -Jason Mraz, 1000 Things
The trouble is, with me, for every yin, there must be a yang, and I've spent the rest of the week in an overtired, emotional funk. A love hangover? I'm not sure, but I've been curled up in bed a lot, relying on my comfort regimen of tea and clean sheets, perusing Pinterest for inspiration.
Here are a few gems I found, in case you're craving inspiration, too.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
This one just sat empty.
That's misleading, though. I have learned a lot from the year-plus that I've been dating in Chicago. You can find the lessons all over this blog.
But I kept that draft for a reason.
Because, until now, I haven't been able to articulate the most important lesson I've been learning, in dating...and in yoga. (You can roll your eyes. This life/yoga thing is annoying for me, too. Sometimes I'd really just like to go get my stretch on and keep my back healthy without finding a lesson waiting for me. But, alas, I keep finding them in the same spot.)
The Most Important Lesson is something I talk about continuously on Gchat with my friend Ellen. It's the grueling work of continually staying open. Cultivating endless optimism that the next guy might be different or that, despite a string of lackluster second dates or premature arguments, it's not me. I'm not too stubborn, too liberal, too emotional, too affectionate, too complicated. That is, I won't be, for the right person. Because I am the right person for someone.
But that's difficult. To not get hardened. To not get frustrated. To not throw my hands up dramatically and proclaim that I'll only ever love chocolate labs and that's okay with me! To not get in my head. To not avoid, deflate, construct theories. To stay open, stay vulnerable, stay me. To cultivate what I like to call extended optimism.
I've been doing a six-week Bikram yoga run with my friend Rachel. Bikram is some serious business, people. 60 or 90 minutes in 105 degree heat, 26 poses, 2 breathing exercises that make you feel like your head might float away. You need to eat the right amount of food, at the right time, and drink ridiculous amounts of water, and that's only just to feel normal in the room--not panicky, fainty, or just plain weak.
(When you start Bikram, they tell you that your only goal is to stay in the room. That should tell you everything you need to know right there. Just staying in the room is considered success, because many people panic and think they can't do it.)
The next 60 or 90 minutes is spent in poses that are not unlike those you'd find in a regular class. As in, I can do them in a regular class. Not perfectly, but I can do them. Not so much with the sweat and the heat. It makes ordinary things challenging and challenging things impossible. I can't tell you how many times I've looked at myself in the mirror during the last six weeks and thought, Really, Bobbi? What the fuck are you trying to prove? I've nearly had some grade-A meltdowns.
The worst is extended side angle, because in regular classes this is pie for me. But in Bikram, it falls after a grueling "warm up" that gets your heart beating like you've just run a mile and literally covers your body in sweat. It takes everything I have just to stay in the pose. Everything. I. have, and sometimes I can't even manage it. That's the worst part. Sometimes you just have to lie down.
But, despite all the alarms in my head as I enter the studio, Rachel and I have been doing so with pretty impressive regularity. Back to the mat. Back to the sweat. Mustering as much optimism as I can that this time will be better.
Yoga teaches you that it's okay to fall, over and over again. That there is strength in trying new things, honor in not shying away. Yoga teaches you to be deliberate, to show up, day after day, even when you're sore or it didn't go so hot (ha. ha. I can't even laugh at heat puns.) the last time.
And so it is with dating. So-and-So never texted back? Not a soul in sight on Match.com that piques your interest? So what. It didn't line up today. Try again tomorrow. Give that cute boy at the bar your number and love up on life in the meantime. Just stay open. Just stay in the room.
I don't know what you smoke / or what countries you've been to
if you speak any other languages other than your own
I'd like to meet you
I don't know if you can drive / if you love the ground beneath you
I don't know if you write letters or panic on the phone
I'd like to call you, all the same
I would want to / I am game
I don't know if you can swim / if the sea has any draw for you
if you're better in the morning or when the sun goes down
I'd like to call you
I don't know if you can dance / if the thought ever occurs to you
if you eat what you've been given or push it 'round your plate
I'd like to cook for you, all the same
if you want to, I am game
if you walk my way / if I could keep my head
we will feel our way / through the dark
or maybe now we could shoot it down anyway
I don't know if you read novels or the magazines
if you love the hand that feeds you
I assume that your heart's been bruised
I'd like to know you
You don't know if I can draw at all / or what records I am into
if I sleep like a spoon or really at all
oh maybe you would do
oh maybe you would do
Lisa Hannigan, I Don't Know
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
But, bitches, its summer. So don't worry, this is the upswing!
and lots and lots of:
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
When I look back on my 30-Before-30 list, this makes so much sense to me. Obviously, I wanted to slow down, grow up, find some purpose, be more independent, and have some fun. And I found that halfway through my list, achieving wasn't doing it for me. I needed to get real and change the way I felt.
But when it came to naming the feelings I desired, I hesitated. I read up on other people's CDFs and, man, they were great. Loved? Vivacious? Brave?
I wanted to feel all the feelings! How could I edit? How could I choose?
But I was sitting in the park on lunch one day and, just like that, formed my list. True. Free. Grounded. Thriving. Boom.
True. Part of knowing how you want to feel is knowing how you don't want to feel. I don't want to feel ingenuine. It makes me feel icky and itchy. I don't sleep well when I've done something out of character, and I start to go a little haywire if I don't let all of my colors show. Even if I'm in an uncomfortable situation, or in conflict, I want to try to find the thread of common ground or the truth of the matter, and work my way out from there. Plus, my mom taught me that lying gets you reallll grounded (and not the good kind), so. Tell the truth. Live your truth.
Free. This is the hardest for me to explain. Owning a house taught me that to be bound by something you've outgrown is limiting, in so many ways. I want to be careful about the things I bind myself to, and cultivate a feeling of freedom. That means finding someone who loves the me that loves her freedom. That means living clean so that I can pounce on opportunity when it presents itself. That means working on vulnerability so I have crystal clear boundaries.
Grounded. Ah, the roots. I always want to know where my place is. I used to have this very freaky thought at milestone moments: "I am the same girl I've always been." It's weird to think that all your life, you're the same person. Always evolving yes, but one body, one mind, one history. I want to always be the same girl I've always been, and I want to stay close to the people, places, and things that make me feel that way.
Thriving. And, inevitably, the wings. I want to know where I come from, yes, but I don't want to be stagnant. I love the synonyms for thriving: blooming, blossoming, flourishing. I want to do all those things, be a whole meadow, even if for today that means actively enjoying and appreciating what is happening now. I always want to be learning and getting better at being me.
What I love is that my CDFs are all interdependent. You have to be true in relationships with others in order to be free from guilt and bad juju. You have to be grounded to know what true looks like. In order to thrive, you must be free from anything that would hold you back.
No weed was smoked during the writing of this post.
Friday, May 16, 2014
I was prepared to write a rambly post about how bittersweet it was to have sold, but really, it's not.
It's just really sweet. Yes, I'm letting go of what was once a very hopeful concept of my future, on that perfect lot with the shady backyard in almost-East-Marquette, walkable to the downtown and the lake, less than 5 miles from my parents' house, and a hop-skip-jump from one of my best friends.
But in my truest form, I'd done most of the letting go already. A dozen signatures just made it final.
I feel free. It's kind of scary, but in a very thrilling and intoxicating kind of way.
I asked the universe for wings, and now I have them.
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
But spring is often harder for me--the push and the pull, the teaser day in March when its 70 degrees and you see, physically feel, what you've been missing yet have to wait so long for.
In yoga, they call this savasana and fetal pose.
Savasana (corpse pose) is taken at the end of practice. You let your body splay across your mat, taking up as much room as possible, and letting all your muscles and thoughts go. It's said to be the hardest pose, because after an hour of exertion--of twists and turns and stretches--you collapse into total relaxation. It's hard to let go completely, to dissolve. It's hard to let go at all.
But the hardest part for me sometimes, especially after a really "heavy" savasana, is what comes next: Bringing small movements to the body, and turning onto your side into fetal pose. It symbolizes a rebirth, a reawakening that marks the start of something new:
"...a new cycle of movement, awareness and being. [Fetal pose] is a momentary reminder that between the end of one cycle and the beginning of another, we must transition."Sometimes I just don't feel ready to leave my mat, my place of contemplation and evolution, and, as one instructor says, "bring the practice, quite literally, to life." I suppose it makes sense, as I don't really like mornings, either.
It's the perfect metaphor for this spring in particular, which has been an exercise in transitions, a period of pause and uncertainty: Will the house sell by the end of the tenants' lease or won't it? What will my new boss be like? I've had to really dissolve into the unknown, and let any expectations or worries fade away.
I've learned that spring is hard because it takes resolve. After a strenuous class or a shitshow winter--whatever the twists, turns and stretches are in your life--it takes tenacity to find the courage to face the new with an open heart and clear mind, even if it has potential to be much warmer and brighter.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
I had that feeling yesterday and couldn't shake it. For the record, the one person I posed the above questions to didn't make me feel like a crazy face, so you're officially the best, Cody Blue. Thanks for letting my feelings pass like a cloud so they didn't become a rainstorm. Because those are a super fun and no one makes an umbrella strong enough.
Ahem. Anyways, I was seeking comfort, and so I pulled in the troops. A super long shower, tea, honey, freshly washed bedding, Henley Boo, a notebook, and my tarot cards.
Now before you brush this off as super hippie dippie, I have to explain that in college, my friends and I would read tarot cards and use them as a jumping off point to discuss the happenings in our lives. Could that card mean we are overreacting? (Probably.) Could this spread mean that we should be open to new love? (Totally, we totally should.) We never took them verbatim or changed our behaviors because of how the cards fell, but we did use them to open our minds a little and start new conversations.
Every once and a while, a card would come along that hinted at something you'd long hoped for but maybe didn't believe was possible. That was my favorite, when one of my friends or I would embrace hope again, just because we found it in a stack of cards.
Thus, their capacity for bringing me comfort.
I know you can find meaning in all of them no matter where they lie--kind of like a horoscope always applies to your life, this minute, omg. But as someone who seeks out meaning in my everyday--because for me, meaning precedes articulation, precedes vulnerability--sometimes it feels really good to know where to look, and who to call, when you need it but haven't found it yet.
Friday, April 18, 2014
Can you imagine a world with more lilacs and love letters? To paraphrase Ariel, I want to be part of that world. (Not this blog's first Disney link, people, and it won't be the last.)
I can't do much about lilacs--that's up to Mother Nature, and well, she's on the couch right now with a heating pad and a bottle of Midol. So I'm going to do what I can do, which is to put more love letters out into the world.
I'm not sure how that will take shape--maybe a mix of handwritten snail mail and some public profession here on the blog? But for now I'd like to recognize, ala the sentiment behind my tattoo, that there already is a lot of love in the world, and sometimes all you need to do is recognize it, and, in some small way, it becomes yours.
So, here, my loves, is a link to a stunning essay. Follow the links at the end, trust me. Go all the way down that rabbit hole, Alice.
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
I know that's dramatic. But the feeling of all-around uncertainty that comes with being single and on the verge of thirty is gripping, people. It can overwhelm a girl for a hot second. So #judgywudgywasabear. That's just how I was feelin'.
So, I started to prepare. On my 27th birthday, because that is how I roll. It was going to take some serious strategy to survive this thing unscathed.
Obviously, what this list was really about was #30: learning to embrace...just about everything. It became less about being single (because who knew I still would be three years later? And, because? It turns out, its seventeen kinds of awesome) and more about getting right with my attitude about life, in general. It became about losing the idea that I had to hit certain milestones by a certain time. It became about losing the list--and getting out there and living.
Let me give away the ending: I am stronger, happier, healthier, saner, wiser, more connected and more in love with life on this day than I have ever been. No Doritos in sight. I whole-heartedly embrace being single because it means I still get to fall in love. That is still ahead of me. That is so beautiful.
I embrace my untetheredness in general because it means I still get to choose. I embrace thirty because holy shit, the possibilities in general. I'm employed, experienced, valued, and contributing to a good cause. I'm surrounded and safe and loved. I'm healthy, active and able. And I can go anywhere from here.
It took a long time... (cough) three years...to get here mentally. Things aren't perfect. Change is only a matter of time. I still have goals that I'm gunning down. Meltdowns abound. I'm still saving the right side of my bed for someone other than Henley.
But I've worked relentlessly to feel the way I do today: that everything is as it should be this moment, and that that is enough. So that's what I celebrated on Sunday, the okay-ness, the enough-ness, the sufficiency that I have found. It was hard fought, but my cup is filled to the brim.
I've chronicled enough of it here on this blog, so I'll summarize for once in my life: The biggest lesson I've learned is that, girl, you gotta get after it. Get after happiness. Get after the job. Get after the skills. Get after health. Get after fitness. Get after love. Get after life. No one is going to do it for you. And very few people will give you permission, so don't wait for that, either.
So, I'm going to spend the next thirty and beyond getting after it, whatever the it of the moment is. That will never change. But I've also learned that to be happy in the moment is a constant work in progress. I'm down with that. I think I'm finally getting the hang of this roots and wings thing.
P.S. I did actually free myself of any rush to complete my list, but for those interested in how it shook out, click here.
Monday, April 14, 2014
(This varies from my original list a bit, but I had to pinch hit with some stand-in goals for things that just weren't possible, given geography, etc.)
2. Re-learn French. // Je regret non. Maybe some day...
4. Take guitar lessons // Still itching to do this.
5. Learn to sew. // This too.
9. Pay off my debt to my parents (and therefore become debt-free, other than mortgage and student loans). // Mmm nope, but I'm pretty close to ditching that mortgage...
15. Go on a backpacking trip. // I feel many of these are in my future and will be worth the wait...
24. Visit my 6th country outside the U.S. // Anyone up for a Canadian road trip? ;)
Thursday, April 10, 2014
This notion has been blowing my mind since December.
Life has presented a difficult situation lately--complex, without an obvious solution. Murky. Something that required a finesse I felt I didn't have, and a level of patience I feel I may never obtain. I was feeling inadequate, and so in light of my new motto of sufficiency, I dove in and starting looking for the lessons. Alright, Pema, what could these situations be trying to illuminate? What could I learn if I stopped resisting and started listening?
I found two trends: Flexibility, as in I needed to have more of it, and patience, as in...I needed to have more of it. Hmph, that sounded a lot like deficiency to me. No bueno.
So, I listened harder. I wouldn't say I shut down so much; it wasn't even really a child's pose. I couldn't find reprieve; I was right in the middle of the action. I was being twisted and stretched farther than I'd like. But I just observed. (This isn't exactly true. I observed on the surface. I bitched and moaned and stewed like nobody's business behind the scenes.) I just...didn't act. Moreover, I didn't react.
And the situation started to resolve itself, as situations tend to do when left to themselves. The complexity--the pinch--started to work for me instead of against me. I noticed something else. Many of my initial concerns were correct. My gut told me what I needed to know from the beginning.
Flexibility, patience, sure, I need to grow in those areas.
But trust in oneself...I've got this one covered. I just need to remember it when I'm in the middle of a chaos, when I'm feeling the squeeze.
And, of course, where else do these themes appear but yoga. Through flexibility, gaining trust in oneself. And through patience, realizing what you needed was there all along. Sufficiency.
"[Marichi's Pose or seated twist] is often referred to as the Sage Pose, one who cultivates wisdom from both age and experience... Working with any twisting pose...helps you cultivate the patience to squeeze out toxins and release negative thoughts as you grow in awareness and sensible wisdom." - examiner.com
There are some days, in yoga and in life, that I don't feel any more flexible or patient than I was two weeks ago, six months ago, a year ago. But there are times, sweet fleeting times, where I gaze over my shoulder amidst chaos, and I'm able to tune out the pinch, and I realize just how far I've come.
Thursday, April 3, 2014
"Well then I guess you're not getting ANY smarter..."
"I'm going to have to call those teachers of yours."
"I 'spose there's no need to go back tomorrow!"I loved the social aspect of school so that last one kind of terrified me. I started to pay attention each day to what we were learning, so that I'd have something to report:
"We learned how to write a cursive Z. It's pretty cool, actually."
"We learned that kids in England call Santa 'Father Christmas'."
"Did you know that penguins are birds? They're not mammals."I think I'd be ignoring a large part of my psyche if I said that this is the sole reason I'm so aware of/obsessed with the lessons I'm learning, but I also like to think it's part of it.
Here are 30 things I've learned in my 30 years on Earth. I'm smarter, sure, but I'm definitely going back for more tomorrow.
1. You're not going to enjoy it all. Some of it will suck the living soul right out of you and some of the time it will feel like everything you want is just out of your reach. The best coping mechanism is a good healthy dose of perspective. Add vodka as necessary.
2. Don't take the wind personally. There's the sucky thing, and then there's the way you feel about the sucky thing. You have the power to not make it any worse than it is.
3. Shining your own light is not being boastful. Using your talents honors the teachers and cheerleaders who have helped you along your way.
4. There are two ways to shine. The verb 'shine' actually has two meanings: to give light and to reflect light. To be bright or to reflect someone's brightness back at them. Either way, there's more light in the world when you shine.
7. People that truly love you will let you change. In fact, it's only when you truly love yourself that you'll let yourself change.
8. Change can be excruciating, but it is so damn necessary.
9. Balance is worth seeking. Happiness, in general, is worth relentless pursuit.
10. As Joseph Campbell said, "Follow your bliss, and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be." There are so many doors out there.
11. Pick up the phone when it's hardest to pick up the phone. You won't regret it. Say what you need to say.
13. Friendships ebb and flow. And it's nothing to worry about. What's that saying? "True friends know that they can grow separately without growing apart."
14. Your flaws are where your connections to others begin.
15. Tears are a necessary part of life, the good and the bad. Tears are like ginger at a sushi restaurant...they cleanse your emotional palate.
16. You are in charge of your reputation. Conversely, if you're being genuine and authentic, who cares what your Facebook privacy settings are?
17. Hurt begets more hurt. Hurt people hurt people. Every bad behavior comes from an unmet need. (I spent juuust long enough with social workers to make up my mind that I could never do half the work they do.) When you're hurt, choose love, or quiet, or action. Don't choose more hurt. And it is absolutely a choice.
18. Esse quam videri. North Carolina's state motto means "to be, rather than to seem." Basically, be less concerned by how your decisions seem, and more concerned with who they help you be.
19. You know what is best for your body. Just because someone has 'MD' after their name does not mean they know what is best for your body. You do.
20. Fiber, man. Fiber is key.
21. Fight for optimum health. Even if you have to yell at or fire your doctor(s). Even if you have to book an appointment with a third physical therapist or track down the best specialist in the USA. Hold out hope and fight like bloody hell.
22. People think about you a heck of a lot less often than you think they do. This is so liberating.
23. Sex and love are not the same thing. Lemme repeat that: Sex and love are not the same thing.
24. "Anything other than yes is no." Best relationship advice I ever got, straight outta the mouth of our favorite brooding crooner, John Mayer. "Anything other than stay is go."
Tell me everything will be okay / if I just keep believing in something
Tell me everything is all taken care of / by those qualified to take care of it allAnd per the Desiderata:
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace...We all know my feelings about the saying 'everything happens for a reason'; it makes me want to scream and demand that the person who says it please give me a good reason for child abuse, for hunger, for the mistreatment of animals, for cancer. But reminding myself that there are people out there taking care of other people, doing good, using their experience for the better is both comforting and inspirational. Makes me want to be one of those people who is qualified to take care of something.
26. Use your telfon. I had a really hard time when I started my job as a grant writer for a social service agency. There are so many causes! So many people in need! Where to start?! It wears on you after a while. It brings you down, makes your personal boundaries start to shift. A colleague of mine gave me some great advice. As a person who worked one-on-one with clients in dire circumstances on a daily basis, she regularly envisioned herself in a bubble. Other people's problems cannot penetrate her bubble. She can be empathetic, help them get the help they need and wish them well, but it could never penetrate her bubble, her well-being. The bubble thing didn't work for me, but it instantly clicked: Teflon. I'm covered in Teflon and I can empathize with you, but your worries slide right off of me. This has helped me immensely in creating boundaries in my personal and professional lives.
28. The moment you start living your life on your terms is the moment you become an adult. No other milestone matters quite like that one.
29. The detours are where the living happens. The more detours, the richer the life. And the more stories you'll have to tell your nursing home homies.
30. You are at the center of your life. Your body, your mind. You're the only you you've got. Fill your own cup and be mindful of how you spend and gain your energy. When you keep this in your thoughts, and your actions follow suit, life becomes really beautiful.