Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Extended Optimism

I've had a draft in my blogger account for a few months entitled "What I've Learned from Dating...So Far". Sometimes drafts sit for a really long time, fully written, just because I'm not ready to press "publish". I know what I want to say, I'm just not ready to say it.

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.

This is the perfect image for Bikram.
Because you're basically that close to the sun.

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 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

Bobbi Lately

I caution anyone who might click on the "lately" tag below and offer the following: Seasons. They make me moody.

But, bitches, its summer. So don't worry, this is the upswing!

That means:


and lots and lots of:

Truly, SAD jokes aside, I feel like I am riding the wave of summer, letting it take me wherever it goes, for as long as it goes--sleep and wallet be damned. 
My calendar is packed with early morning yoga in the park,  noon-time yoga in a somewhat sketchy empty suite on the 19th floor of my office building with a "brogi" that makes himself giggle, sunset yoga on the beach, and yoga in a 105 degree studio that, as my fellow yogi Rachel noted, makes you feel like you're in a pizza oven.
Add to that early-release summer Fridays with my esteemed colleagues on patios around the city, enthusiastic park strolls with my best pal Hen, concerts and ballgames and a trip home and parades and visitors and a seriously ambitious street festival calendar and... well, this is just to say that if you don't hear from me in a while, it's because I'm spending a whole lot of time doing and very, very little time over-thinking.
#aboutdamntime, I know. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Core Desired Feelings

I've been sort of smitten with Danielle LaPorte's concept of 'core desired feelings' for a few months now. The idea is that instead of setting goals and checking them off, which can feel empty or frustrating depending on the outcome, you should spend your energy thinking about how you want to feel, and live your life in pursuit of those feelings.

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.