what is time, really?
perhaps, nothing at all
a way to categorize
a way to keep the stories that we tell ourselves in order
sometimes, years can be forgotten in a moment
sometimes, a moment wonn't be forgotten for years
time, as a measure, is but a passive, grasping envelope
that cannot hold anything, but itself
time is but an illusion that disintegrates
in the fiery heat of passion's gaze
and all of our walls, they seem to fade
but today, i'm lazing
the sky is hazing
the robins, singing
a storm approaching
far from here
but i feel it
in this luscious pocket
this carved-out moment
this precious secret
between the fireflies
the sangria and i
there is yet an unsung bliss
i can fade into me
despite the rest
i can find my way to free
I want to talk about dreams. And all the crazy little unintentional things that get in the way of those dreams. Being a parent is an amazing gift: it provides a constant flow of perspective and reflection. We get to see the world, and ourselves, through these little people who are seemingly so innocent... and are yet packed with some sort of simple and infinite wisdom.
But first, shadows.
My mind had been reeling last week. Reeling. Kate Spade. Anthony Bourdain. And of course, it wasn't just them, it was ever other kindred, every other inspirational and unique often disillusioned soul, that bubbled up at the mention of suicide... and there have been too many. I know I'm supposed to gloss right over these events, like they didn't happen, and keep on vibing high. But I'm one of those weird ducks that likes to feel things and understand them. Also, allowing empathy in, allowing myself to relate, connect, understand... helps me to hone and fortify my own tool son mental health. Hardship is inevitable and obstacles riddle our lives. It's certain. But with the right tools: perspective, mindset, finding gratitude, self-care, and authentic conversation with friends and family... we can navigate through. And these are essential, ESSENTIAL tools for any human being. I do worry sometimes, for those that push these lessons away, in favor of constant and disconnected joy. The lessons, the growth, that hardship can bring, are what help us to evolve and mature. Without facing our challenges, we stay stagnant. Nothing changes. So, I never shy away from life and what it can teach me, because I most certainly don't know what the hell I'm doing, much of the time. But I'm here. And I want to be here, which is a far cry from my rocky mindset in adolescence.
What happens, often, for those that live in the funhouse that is anxiety and/or depression... is that emotional events can become contagious. And I personally have spent years learning to manage that. To be able to separate from that. To know that others can go through hard things or even be overrun by their pain, their demons, and that I can still be okay. That I can stand my ground, stay centered, and let the storm blow around me, but not through me. What's mine always finds me; it must. But i don't have to take on the pain of others. It's called boundary-setting and it's vital for those in the personal or spiritual growth game. But it took me years of inner work.
I used to think that I absorbed people's feelings, that it was some sort of a gift or curse. But it was just something else to blame, really. Truthfully, it's all mental. And it's easy, it's so damned easy for an anxious mind to fall into the traps set by social media pages and gimmicks and conspiracies, and so on. But the truth is this: you control your mind. For better or worse. It all begins and ends with your thoughts and perceptions. It all depends upon our interpretation of life's events. Sometimes, though, we need distance from the stormy weather.
I was away this weekend, and I had forgotten how great travel is for my well-being. The art of moving, of exiting one world and finding myself in another. Of re-creating my mental landscape, my inner world, as my outer world changes. The aesthetics, the different tastes and food choices, the music in the air, the scent of a given place. The sensory plunge into... something new. It was just down the coast in Georgia, a suburb outside of Atlanta, but it was enough to shake me around and bring me back to a better version of me. A lighter, more joyful and free version, who'd left the worrying and concerns of others back home... to let the sun warm her face and to let her family warm her heart... for a few days.
I took a trip that had been under wraps for months, as my Step-Father scrutinized and planned my mother's 70th surprise birthday party. The fun part was in traveling with my son. I'd traveled alone, quite a bit, but this was the first flight that I was sharing with my little boy. I was a bit nervous, at first, about the airport and security and crowds, and so on... but he was incredible. It was a breeze, for the most part.
While boarding our plane in New York, he high-fived one of the flight attendants and said something like, "let's do this." it was really adorable, I just can't deal with his cuteness sometimes. He's pretty darn cute. The flight was great, although we had a few bumps coming into Atlanta. My son said, "we flew right through a cloud, a big cloud, so that's why it bounced up and down, right Mom?" Of course, I agreed. It was the cloud.
After we landed and made our way out of the plane, the same flight attendant, who was standing next to the pilot/Captain of the flight, pointed down and and said something that ended with... "this little nugget, right here." My son got another high-five and an invitation to visit the cockpit. He was jumping up and down, "okay, let's go!" He sat in the Captain's seat, and was mesmerized. This was a hero, to him. A real-life pilot, flying a gi-nourmous airplane through the sky. Just like in all the cartoons, in the movies, like the toys he played with... but this was real! This was a dream coming true.
"Here you go, son," the Captian said, giving him a pin, his first "wings." He also got a card that detailed a 737 and its features and he couldn't wait to talk about airplanes with his Grandpa.
Dreams coming true. Flying through the sky. Above and through the clouds. It was a marvel, really. I am still impressed with flight. Every time. I light up, at every take-off, the same way he did... his first time. We held hands and walked off the plane.
"How do pilots become pilots, Mom?" Mm, dreams.
"Well, lots of training, hard work, the right schools, and paying attention. Pilots work hard, they have to know a lot of things to make important decisions. But they love it. And first, they dream of being pilots."
"I want to fly a spaceship, someday. I want to fly in outer-space, how do pilots get to outer-space, Mom?"
"Well, those are very special pilots, that work even harder and harder... and they're called astronauts."
"Oh, I know about astronauts, I learned about astronauts! Maybe when I grow up I can be a Captain, too, but of a spaceship!" He zoomed around the airport, on our way to baggage claim, lit up after that. He checked his shirt for his new wings, about twenty different times. He didn't want to lose them. Finally, I stowed them in my purse for safe-keeping.
Life. Such terrible nightmares and fears. Such beautiful and transcendent dreams. And really, it's both. We need both to live a fulfilling and whole life. Our pain is proof that we showed up, that we get to play, that we get knocked down. And our achievements, our successes, our wins, our dreams that come true... show that we persevere, that we rise above circumstance, that we try, that we trust, that we improve, that we hold passion inside. A well-lived life runs a spectrum of emotion. It's a trip, it's a ride, it's journey, it's an art-form... and it's worth it. It's so worth it.
Learn to manage your mind, your thoughts, and how to ride your emotions... and dream big. Always, always, keep dreaming big. That's where it starts.
I think life has been telling me to slow down... for quite sometime. And the longer I ignore those gut feelings, the louder they get. Every time.
The great thing about writing Wild Horses and Mistakes, was that I was intentionally following bliss. i was indulgent and purposefully focused on self-love, exploration, facing fears, and personal growth. And instead of continuing this way of being, and making it my new normal, a new way of life... I seem to have fallen back into older, heavier patterns. Chronic competing, doing, running and hustling, without resting. Challenge after challenge after challenge. Without landing into one, wholly. Or without allowing myself to take a break. To get some bodywork done. Without nourishing myself, the way I'd done consistently, the year before. Without honoring tiredness, and insisting on more rest. I'd been self-judging and condemning again, instead of accepting and learning. Cramming in more, instead of lovingly focusing on less. I was closing back up again, rather than opening further outward. And perhaps, after such an expansive year, a bit of retreating and homebound solitude was in order. Perhaps.
Here's what I know, and maybe all I can say that I know:
Our world is a living one, an energetic one, a moving one, a connected one. As are we: living, energetic, moving, connected creatures that live upon Her. And when we don't listen to what we feel, when we skip past the subtle and get lured by the loud and demanding, for too long... our bodies tell us. Life tells us, shows us, what we need... to be at our best.
And here we are.
For me, it's a return to slow, to nurturing, to bliss, to patience. To those deep and needed YES moments, for only me. To more face-time and less screen time. To more fresh fruit and cool water, and less protein bars and hot coffee. Everything, everywhere, says slow. The traffic, when I'm in the car. The music in my iPod: slow rhythms, buttery harmonies, soft vocals. The way I'm walking, favoring my sturdy foot. And a day off today, at home, with an under-the-weather little boy, who just wanted to snuggle and rest and watch Dr. Seuss with me. (Swoons.) Slow. Rest. Slow.
The truth is, that no matter how I try to mind-over-matter it... I am still nursing a sprained ankle. I just can't get the workouts in that I used to. And I was pushing it, hoping to modify and not "lose steam." And... then I pushed it too much and it became inflamed again. Why? Well, I'm pretty sure that we learn to be that way, for a myriad of different reasons. It's the unlearning that is hard. Going nowhere fast helps no one. Slow, deliberate, and focused... makes more sense. And I just forget sometimes. If I throw all the balls up into the air...one of them will get a great bounce. Right? Or... focus the energy into one. Just one. And see how far it goes, when it feels that attention.
Because old habits, because it all comes back around, because self-love lessons.
Chaos, mess, middle. It was all swirling around in a cloud of nonsense. All the things, I said all the things to myself that I swore I'd never say again, because I felt... vulnerable. Ineffective. Exhausted. Full of doubt. And back into the matrix we go. "Just give me the fucking steak." But I stop myself now, I don't quit, no matter how close to that space I get... I zoom out. I pause. I give myself what I want for a minute... then I dive into my own guts and figure out what the hell my problem is. And it's usually, impeccably, one of two things: fear of inadequacy (who do I think I am? I can't do this.) Or fear of success (what if it works, do I really want this?) I talk to a lot of creatives, artists, entrepreneurs, who grapple with the same. And it's all just fear.
Anyway. Chaos helps kick us back into basics, back into introspection. Back toward our own intuition and soul-stuff, and away from outside influence and chatter.
So. I'm already a single mom with a full-time job (co-parenting, but still.) What if one extra thing... one project at a time...was enough? And...what if... I was enough without that thing, too? What if it was a privilege, just a big, fat blessing, wrapped up in purpose, and not a to-do, at all? What if... I embraced the down-time and luxuriated, and did all the things I always wished I had time to do, while I rested?
What if... I retuned to the wild that I'd found, and chose to live it? Always. Back to nature's simple pace.
Wow. I mean, to think about that. To promise myself... that I won't push too hard, that I will listen, that I will take better care of myself, and stop looking to help others... while I am the one hurting. That I will trust my intuition and trust in the timing of Life. That a healthy and rested me... is far more able and willing to accept both opportunities and obstacles than a scattered and overwhelmed me.
Self. Love. Lessons.
And I think sensitive folks do this a lot, and this is all just assumption, of course... Sometimes, most times, it lifts us up when we help others (or at least when we think that we do.) Because we light up when we see others light up. Because we float, just a little, when we see goodness and hope spread. Because we crawl a bit out of our own heads, when we can show someone the way out of theirs.
And believe it or not, the truth is that... busy is easy. it's noisy, it's chaotic, and it can be filled with distractions. While slow, is more intimate. It's quiet. It's you...and you. Or, me and me. It's truth. It's real. And that can be very uncomfortable... to face... doubts, fears, embracing moments, stresses of life, confusion, sadness, loneliness, all of it. Working toward big goals, toward transformation, can be very lonely and isolating work. But it's supposed to uncomfortable. Perspective and the a-ha moments come after trudging around the deep, dark bottom, waiting for clarity. It always comes, if you can stay in the funk, if you can allow yourself to feel it... without medicating, numbing, escaping, and running away. To just be still... and be in it. Get to the other side of it, let it cycle through. Oh, those shadows... And sometimes... it's a doozy, it's just a big ol' Mac truck coming for all you think you know, and it wants to hit you, hard. It hurts. It can be disillusionment, humiliation, hurt, pain, disappointments, you name it. But to throw woo-woo at it all the time, to "vibe higher," to try to bounce into a better state of mind, quickly, to keep feeling good... well, you just skirt the whole process. And it always, always, comes back. And next time... TWO FUCKING TRUCKS.
So... I am in the pause. So be it. Nursing, healing, learning, and writing. Still writing. Whatever comes and goes... this stays. Because... I can't not. And I trust that after a good purge, and some good rest, I will be right back on track soon... more focused, with less to carry forward. So it is. I'm just gonna hang here, with the jazz, for now. And love on myself. <3
Oh, and... Lovie Austin. Wow. If you don't know... you better ask somebody. Dang.
Oh, I know how this story goes, by now.
Step out...plunge into something new... the jitters, the doubt, the nerves... overcome! And then another, and another. And then... splat. Pie in your face.
Hello resistance, old friend.
So, I've been a busy bee. I am editing Wild Horses and Mistakes, going back to the beginning with a fine-toothed-comb... and in-between sections, to keep myself bubbly and moving along, I started a podcast. Cuz I just don't have enough to do. I mean, they made it look so easy, and it was! Not the most professional and polished thing ever, but real, coherent, even a little entertaining? I think so...
I'd also turned a corner with my workout routine. I've been lifting heavy and getting so dang strong. Last year was such a drag, literally, healing through injury after injury, and I was bouncing around like a nymph without pain. I was just so happy to not be in pain all over. And I still am. However...
The universe has a way of balancing things out. Or testing us...maybe.
I was, no-joke, doing the Travolta strut this morning. (Cue Saturday Night Fever theme...) It was one of those times where I just felt on top of the world. Just... alive, inspired, turned-on, motivated, calm, and balanced. And then lunch...oh, the lunch break. And this is where I caught pie in the face, or rather... asphalt in the palms, knees, elbows, ankles. I tripped while descending down my front stoop and tripped face-forward onto the blacktop. I managed to plant my pushup-strong hands into the pavement and break my fall pretty well, which was...pretty rad. But my left ankle took a mean twist. Yowsah.
So...there it is again. The start, the momentum, the challenge, the success! The fall on your face. Or...ankle, in this case. So, I've been here before. And I'd think... I need to slow down, take care of myself. Watch Netflix and eat Halo Top. And I would... and I'd get so far off course and far from my goals and from that sweet momentum, that I'd lose endless amounts of time and focus.
So, I'm approaching it differently this time. It's an ankle. It only aches when I walk on it, directly. I'll get X-rays and so on tomorrow, but I am by no means an invalid that needs bed rest. I mean, go crying to this guy, right:
I'm resting my ankle, I'm going easy on it. Yes. But I'm also doing what I can do... while enjoying the resting part. And I think that's the difference this time...setback as challenge, rather than as an excuse to loaf and lay around like a dirty sock. What if choosing to live more into every moment, regardless of fumble, WAS self-love? What if self-love was also not giving up on yourself and your goals... and wasn't just about candles and pampering and indulgence and soft synth music?
Here's what working out hard taught me... that I can do hard things. That I can persevere. That I can finish, even when I feel the urge to quit. That I can get stronger and grow more capable. That I'm tougher than I thought I was. That I'm still a stubborn tomboy chick from NY that can deal with life when it sucks. And it does sometimes. But it just feels so good...not to stop. To write. To read. To edit. To pack lunch for a four-year-old who just called me Wonder Woman, just now, watching me hop around the kitchen on one foot, laughing, while making his lunch. (Hey, it's like plyo...)
And for that... it feels worth the scrapes and bruises and sprains. To be a superhero to my growing boy who thinks... we can do things even if we fall down and get hurt. We can stand up, compensate, be smart, and do what we needs to be done.
Hello discipline. I'm listening. Onward...
PS...here is the podcast, below, if you're curious. Had a lot of fun with this, and will be posting new stuff every Monday. All things creativity, anxiety, and all the bits in between...stay tuned.
And um... yeah. Here ya go. ;-)
I've turned a corner...
I used to think saying NO to things meant depriving myself, punishing myself. I think I've finally flipped it... meaning... that I can say NO to simple pleasures now, for greater rewards later. I think I've been working on learning this for decades. I've made many small steps and some large steps in this regard. And I just keep packing the lessons and resilience in that good ol' pack on my back, and sharing as I go, because... I share. I'm a sharer. If I could benefit from what I learn, so can someone else, somewhere, and we're all in this together, right? Right.
So. Delayed gratification.
I can't help but think about Sawyer from Lost and his "long con:" Get in there, down n dirty, do the work, stick to it, don't make a fuss about it, play the part... and at the end, it will all pay off. The big reveal. Of course, conning people is dishonest and gross, but you see where I'm going with this.
It's about the long game. The long game takes faith, persistence, and a willingness to get uncomfortable and really, really, honest with yourself. it takes seeing your weaknesses, your limiting beliefs, your nonsense. All the bullshit. The long game requires the gift of perspective, the wisdom of knowing how the journey works, and the foresight to keep going, knowing... it's just plateau, a pause, a minor setback, or a distraction. The long game... takes commitment. Investment. Patience. Focus and intention. And purpose. Why do it at all, right? For me? Well, it's to be an example, it's to prove... that people can transform. That dreams come true, that visions can come to pass. For my son, most of all, but for anyone, really.
And getting this into my stubborn head means... I become limitless. In a way. Seeing the circle, the journey-path, the circular nature of growth and working toward any significant goal... understanding how I work, how to manage anxieties when they bounce up, how to navigate around resistance, how to find my own center, my own peace, despite the rest, well... I can put any goal into that circle, now. See? Maybe only one at a time, because, busy-working-Mom, but still...
- time management
- creative goals
- fitness goals
- side gigs
Anything, really. Pick one... get started... and get ready for the circus. It all becomes much more doable and possible... once you get how it works. But you don't get to that level of knowing how it works, without continuously trying things. Again. And again. And again. And again...until you see the patterns.
Easy? Nah. Possible? Yeah. Been off sugar for a few days now and I feel fantastic. I thought I felt great before, but... now I remember why I loved Paleo so much and got such great results. It's just better for my health, and the temporary indulgences... are illusions. I think I had slowly become addicted to sugar again, without realizing it. In any event... no cookies unless I make them myself. With like... almonds and cocoa butter and coconuts or whatever. You know.
SO there it is. My son is calling me away for a transformers parade in the other room, so... SOUL COOKIES. xoxo
I can't concentrate.
I have plenty of time. Little man is with his Dad. Laundry is done. My little foot heater thingy is on. A warm blanket on my lap. Hummus and veggies, ice water, a big comfy pillow. My Beans on my feet (my favorite LL Bean moccasins). All the things. I have all the things. And I am re-reading the same blasted paragraph over and over and over again, thinking about monkeys and spaceships and whether I'd like those steamed bun things GHT keeps talking about in their social, and whether to make those "poop" cupcakes for my kid, and that I really, really, do want chocolate. But I have "poop" in my head now, and who the hell came up with that? Stupid. Chocolate and poop should not go together. Just stop. I don't care if 4 year old boys think it's funny, they don't know things, they're 4. It poisons my chocolate experience.
I was hungry though. So, I thought... eat. Get food. I ate the food. Back to the script... still stuck. Dipped into the social again... NO, DON'T... I know. I did though. :shrugs:
Emma Gonzalez, you have my heart in the pocket of your rad, torn and shredded jeans. I wore those in the 80s, girl. Donnie Wahlberg style, but we won't talk about that. You're a force of nature and you've got the breath of the divine in you, no doubt. I can't imagine what you're all going through, I'm not in those rooms with you. I have so much Love for you and all these kids, ALL the kids. SO much. And I wish I was there in the park with you. And here's something silly... I have #March guilt. Or, more to the point, non-march guilt. I remember back in 2001, shortly after the 9/11 attacks, going in to protest the war in Afghanistan, with a friend from school. We were ducking helicopters so we wouldn't be caught smoking our Parliaments on TV, because... we were idiots. #priorities Whatevs. But the raw energy, the movement of that day... being a part of something, part of a collective voice, that was so much bigger and stronger than we were... it was powerful. And I wanted to support these students, I wanted to be there.
I clicked a FB event, saying that YES, I was "interested." I'd go to a march. I'd support these kids, their trembling voices, their righteous and real tears. I would go. I wanted to go. Sisters, friends, compassionate hearts gathered in Central Park... I am WITH YOU, I will bleed with you, feel with you, heal with you! LET LOVE RULE!
And the day came... and I was at the beach, ocean-side, planting grass on the south shore, with hundreds of girl and boy scouts. Huh? So, what happened?
My best friend ever, decided a few years back to go back to school. It was a crazy-proud moment for a bestie to have. I gushed like any good bestie would, support her all I can, and I buy her lunches and food and stuff sometimes cuz... students be poor. I get it, I was there. Sandwich years. It's hard to change your life. And it's been a long road for her, going back, as an adult, when she could've surrendered to her station (<---- bullshit, no such thing) and gotten a mediocre job. She's rocked it, hard. And she deserves every accolade. So, when she wanted to volunteer for the Town and plant some dune grass, cuz that's who she is... hell yeah. Let's go. Cuz that's what besties do. She needed me, and Emma Gonzalez wouldn't know if I was missing...so... it was actually very cool. I had no idea that locals did this: replanting sea-grass along the sand dunes on coastal beaches to help with land erosion. Go Gaia. <3
And the whole thing... this whole week... student protests, gun reform, college years, finishing this book, it's all got my wheels spinning all over the place. Remembering my own path... to get to right now...
To have the time (which is a resource) to create...anything... is indulgent, indeed, in a world where many can't eat or get clean drinking water and still struggle for survival. I'm always looking to improve and grow and create, create, create...because I can't not. But... I sure as hell appreciate how far I've come, and where I'm at, and what my blessings are. And we can be grateful while reaching forward for more. We can be both.
Oh, the odd jobs I picked up. Cleaning my pops' house for allowance. The babysitting. Blockbuster Video days were good times with great friends and shitty hours, and I loved it. Late nights and cheesy diners with solid people. And I remember working at a local bakery, for the female equivalent of the soup-nazi. This broad was ferocious. "DECRUMB THAT PLATE, SAVAGE! SMILE BIGGER, BIGGER, NOT THAT MUCH. No cookie for you!" I'm exaggerating. But wow, I still have nightmares, sometimes. I got my hand stuck in a gigantic, evil, fresh-orange-juice machine. It was intense. I started writing my first-ever novel there, which will never see the light of day. Ever. But the things college students put up with... Anyway. I did what I had to do... to get through school. Because I was hungry. Like Scarlett ripping down her mother's drapes and scrapping for every financial opportunity, I was just hungry.
"As God is my witness, they're not going to lick me..." - Gone With the Wind
So, I appreciate anyone who goes through it as an adult: it's degrading and humiliating and isolating and wonderful and inspiring and magical, all at once. And it was worth it, in so many ways.
Higher ed is about so, so, so much more than that piece of paper. That's honestly the last thing it's about. Schools, in general, are a microcosm. A training ground. We learn who we are, what we're good at, we learn to form relationships, we get exposed to new writers, artists, thinkers, new ideas. We learn debate, we learn to form concise arguments based on critical thinking, not just blind repetitious rhetoric and nonsense. We learn originality over regurgitation. We learn to write, really write. To craft structure, narrative, flow, semantics, grammar, usage, and proper spelling. We learn the mechanics of language, and get real-time critique, and the motivation to improve our craft. We get exposed to philosophy, we learn that people have been pondering what we ponder since the first fool looked up at the night sky! We get exposed to new and different people and peer groups. We learn... our story. That of humanity, as much as we can, through observation, study, science, and art. We learn to discuss. We learn to form a skillset. We learn to evolve. We appreciate our minds, we honor science, we celebrate creativity and the freedom to express. It's about so much more than books and paper.
Any good college ought to teach its students how to think, debate, reconcile, come together, move forward, and solve problems. Mine did, at least. And it was a simple state school, right here, in New York. Because we get out what we put in. And when I finally went back to school, mid-late twenties? I was all in. For me, for my future, whatever it looked like.
Because I'd been so broke that I couldn't get my last 7 bucks out of an ATM. Because I ran out of that last package of Ramen and I was always run down and sick, because I was malnourished. Because I couldn't afford a doctor, and my medical issues were real and needed real care. Because I lost an uncle to cancer, then a grandmother to a broken heart, and she spoke often about the great privilege that I had as a woman... being able to get an education, how easy I could have it, and how I should soak up every scrap that I could because women before me fought hard for it. Just...for the opportunity, that I pissed away right after high school. There were so many reasons... but I'm glad that I went back.
I started at a community college. The n'er do well, the screw up, the black sheep, the class-cutter, dark and brooding, borderline/suicidal songwriter, that weird sullen kid who thought the world was against her... went back to college and got straight As and charmed her teachers, with a smile. Because I wanted to be there. It's funny, looking back... and knowing where I am now.
I wanted to be an advertising executive back then. Skirt suits and power pumps and print ads... A city girl. A loft on Madison, a weekend house in the mountains. I wanted to design a commercial, with my own slogan, for a top brand, to air during Superbowl. That was my big dream when I started college, after years in retail management. I didn't want to sell, on the floor... that was peanuts, I wanted to sell brands, I wanted to entice entire social groups and drive their customer behavior with my words and images. I wanted to find out what their problems were and find all the things that would solve them... and point out solutions, with ad messaging. Jingles and one-liners and storyboards and product placement, I was all about it. It sounds so shocking, almost, coming out of me, now. How free-spirited and artsy I've become, right? I wasn't always this way. I was cut-throat, once.
I took Marketing, PR, Sales 1 and 2, Advertising, Direct Marketing, as well as Psych classes, so I could get into people's heads. Sociology, to understand human compulsions and behaviors. Desktop Publishing, to learn about design, graphics, computers... and those lessons still stick. The programs, however, have been long-since outgrown. (Does anyone remember Quark Express? And Photoshop 1?) I remember practicing cold-calling in class, and mock sales calls, with my professor. I was selling "Doggie-Mints." I cut and pasted my magazine ads. No... I cut (with scissors) and pasted (with a glue stick.) Then made color copies of the new image. Homework was a lot of work. And I would dress up, on my presentation day, and sell my mints. I loved it. I was good at it. I was funny, snarky, and charming, my work was often an example for the class of how to do it right. I nailed the advertising spiral and could follow my simple ideas into production and distribution, theoretically. I got the concepts, they made sense. And I kept getting high As. I was blown away. Up until then, I assumed that I was stupid and lazy, a troublemaker... based on my high school experience.
Just before applying to 4 year schools, to transfer, we all (business-program classmates and I) went to see some self-made millionaire entrepreneur guy, at the Westbury Music Fair. I can't remember his name, I think he was a big deal in hospitality at the time.
And I remember the moment... I got shook. He had a hard Long Island accent. Fuggedaboutit.
"This kind of life isn't for everyone. You go after your dream, you get lonely. Not everyone wants you to get there. They'll throw you off, convince you to take a desk job, play it safe, get that 401K. You gotta want it. You gotta be okay alone, hungry, and restless... and you gotta keep going, til it hits. Til it works. It's hard work. You gotta have what it takes, and guess what... most people don't. That's the truth..." Something like that. My idealistic shimmer began to fade, at that moment. I remember the doubt oozing in, fast. Did I have it? What it takes? I didn't know... how do you... know? It's the same thing that threw me off music. Am I enough to try this? Can I do it? Can I handle how hard this might be? What if I'm not that one-in-a-million?
When I was young, every dream was accompanied with a proviso: Don't bother.
I switched to Liberal Arts, soon after. I fell into the humanities, where it was cozy and safe and artistic...and I would stay there, until library school. Until... now, actually. Art, literature, philosophy. And perhaps... all is as it should be. Perhaps. But.
There were times, while taking Women's Studies classes, and finding my roar, my voice, that I began to consider entrepreneurship again. Everything comes back around... I made my own soaps, lotions, sugar scrubs. Mimi's Garden, it was called. I had an 800 number, business cards, an email address, a Yahoo Business page... (they were big in the 90s-00s). I made one sale to the local 5 and dime, where I also... worked. (Yeah, she totally felt sorry for me.) And I realized how much I had to do... better labels that didn't soak through, a website, selling, phone calls, networking, craft fairs... I could do all of that, I was sociable, smart, driven, creative, but... there it was again. Was I enough? Could I follow through, could I handle how hard it would get? Could I keep investing into it? Was it worth it?
That speech, that one speech, from that one man... that was meant to inspire... was tinged with negativity and bitterness and condescension and had forever seeped into my head as a warning... that I probably wouldn't make it. Because I might not "have what it takes." Wow... funny how ideas are formed. Maybe he was right, and maybe not, but, I'll tell you this. Whoever this "big shot" was... I can't even remember his name, and I'm pretty sure he faded into obscurity as the years went on. So... there's that.
When I got my Masters, I really learned how to research, how to ask the right questions, and how to organize and access information for optimal flow and knowledge access. You'd be surprised how much learning "the reference interview" can improve your daily quality of life and cut down on bullshit and nonsense. Just getting to the core issue, to the heart of it, when folks are accustomed to dancing around topics out of habit... "what are you really looking for? What do you really want?" And solving the problem from there. It's a game-changer. Some of the relationships that I made in that program were life-changing, in small ways. The degree got me a professional certificate, to be sure, and that got me a great career, eventually. But again, the lessons I learned in those classrooms, beyond the assignments, were priceless.
And later, I went back for a professional certificate in management. And I met amazing people, some I still talk to, and my teacher... taught more about life, gut feelings, relationships, common sense, compassion, respect, and ethical behavior... than what any curriculum could tell us. His class made me a better human. And I was introduced to Leaders Eat Last, which changed my workflow dynamics, forever. Thank you, Sinek. A cared for staff, who eats first, will always go that extra mile and put in the time and effort. Morale is everything. We learned about gut instincts and intuition from Blink, thank you Gladwell. And we learned all about crisis management management styles from My Iceberg is Melting. I love this little book... we were exposed to so much great reading and so many perspectives in that class. And the greatest lessons were about life and leadership... not merely nonprofit or business management. Which is how it should be. Great ideas have legs and wings. Mediocre and narrow ones sit and get left behind.
I find myself at a crossroads, sometimes. Having spent most of my adult life working in service of... people... learning their behaviors, patterns, energy, attitudes, motivations, inclinations, moods, and all the rest. There is a very real part of me that remembers the allure and feistiness of that wannabe advertising executive: fire and sass and creative hustle; hard work and fun rewards. All-night projects, new idea butterflies, presentation jitters. There was a magic to it, an energy, a synergy, in working with a good team. Still, there's a part of me that wants to merchandise any good idea at the drop of a hat, from promo ad to shelf display. If I had the means. Because it's fun, because it's a challenge, because I'd get to employ everything I know. There is a fascinating science and thrill behind it, that used to keep me going for hours.
I get a taste of that in book displays, and PR and so forth, but it's quite different. Libraries are about people and service and information and advocacy, literacy and community, learning and growth... not bottom lines and cash flow. They should be anyway.
So. I have a stifled business woman inside of me that's been saying things, lately. And I'm listening, and I'm curious, and I'm open to where she wants to go and how that might optimize my creativity in some way.
But I also have this wild streak, the artist inside, that resists conventions and rules and anything exacting and spreadsheety. Ew, math. (Although, when I focus, I'm actually quite crafty with numbers. It's just not as fun.)
I am a paradox. A hurricane in a teacup. I just don't really make sense, do I? I spent an evening, recently, looking up MBA programs, because I wanted a challenge and I miss that side of myself, sometimes. I miss that roar. The honesty, the ambition, the hustle. The integrity in doing it right and getting results, despite the fleeting emotional hub-bub. The joy of taking an idea to notes to flow charts to storyboards to hard copy and backing it all up with a presentation. Going to battle for your idea, standing firm on how it will do good and help others in some way. And there's something to that, to... the presenting. Perhaps it's the same part of me that craves performance. An audience. And not just any old attention, but the energy of a rising and falling crowd. The vulnerability. The challenge in it. It's exciting, it's... alive. Pure potential, raw essence to be sculpted with new and emergent ideas.
Anyway. Here's what I have to say about that, if I could reach through the ether to my younger, doubting self: you just don't know what you'll excel at, what you'll love, what you'll find joy in, where your success will come from and what that success will look like. You just don't and can't know, not yet. So, go forth, and try it all! Follow your heart: try, try, try. All of it. Wear it out, with trying. You might be as good as anyone else who might try. And just as worthy. And it's not about whether you can "handle what it takes," it's about finding the right fit. If it's the right thing for you, it'll work, it'll click into place, and you'll handle it. But you won't know what works and what doesn't until you try it out. Gain experience. Try things. Hot shots and big-talkers like to make themselves sound pretty darn special. It's mostly smoke and mirrors, though. The great ones make less of a fuss, they just... get it done, and keep improving. Their work stands for itself, they don't need to pimp themselves off as a good this and a good that. They just are. i think the trick is in finding that thing... that you can do... that stands on its own. It just is. They don't tell you "I'm a great painter..." because their paintings are already great. Their art speaks for them. Right? I think it's the same with anything. Find the thing you do that cuts through everything else and communicates what you're about. And don't talk about the thing too much, just do the thing.
Maybe. What do I know? I know I'm procrastinating and I should be doing something else... so I'm off to dig in, renewed and refocused.
But try. Just go try. And try more. Keep trying. The magic, is in the trying, anyway. That's what makes a life-story worth telling, really... all of the glorious things that we... actually tried.
I read something today that shook me. Deep. Way down deep, in a big WTF sort of way... it had to do with the local school wanting to arm security guards. And then I hopscotched to an article about the psychological effect of gun violence, drills, and paranoia on young children.
I don't think I have to describe the feeling inside. I think we all feel that horror; it's a mess. The uncertainty. The rage, the confusion, the sadness.
But, here's what I noticed, as I read through the inter-webs: my father's generation grew up this way, during the Cold War. They grew up (our Baby Booming parents) hiding under their desks, wondering whether bombs would fall from the sky. It was "war time." There was the big button. And then we were into the Cold War.
I had a chat with my Dad about his childhood. And it was so different... this was a war machine, not unpredictable civilians shooting each other and kids in schools and movie theaters. So much is different, but still, there were parallels. Duck and Cover, they called it. They hid under their desks when the sirens went off. They never knew when an air raid might materialize. This generation had its share of anxiety growing up, for sure.
I read here about the fear and anxiety over current politics and threats to our safety, and how they echo the fears of the Cold War era. We are re-living those fearful childhoods, through our baby boomers. It's palpable. The tension, the air thick with the memory of it, of hiding. Are we safe, are we safe?
And on the other hand, we have the current kids. The group my son will be joining in the fall. These kids are in the beginning stages of learning "active shooter drills." The Boomers had fall-out shelters, and now we are talking about "safe rooms." The threat is very different. But the fear is real, for both. I shudder to imagine my son growing up in such fear-based, dark world. And anxiety begins to tug at me, too. But then, I stop. I breathe. I ground myself. And I remember...
My generation is a special one. And I'm definitely talking about my own privileged youth: my friends, my school experience. Of course, not everyone had a positive experience, for personal reasons. But I'm talking about the vibe of the nation. The Reagan Years. We grew up in the age of bliss, in many ways
I watched the first choreographed music video, ever, on MTV (back when they just played music videos) along with many of my Gen X counterparts who were lucky enough to have cable. (You just heard Video Killed the Radio Star in your head just now, didn't you?) Oh - ah- oh...
I grew up with Dolly Pops and He-Man cartoons and Voltron and Smurfs. US in the 80s... in the middle class neighborhoods... there were TVs everywhere. Abundance. Too much, I think. We had it good. New Wave vibes and Boy George and John Hughes films. Lisa Lisa. Janet. Blondie. Bon Jovi. The Rubick's Cube. Watchu talkin' 'bout Willis? Different Strokes. Beepers and pagers. Madonna. Atari... Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Frogger. The arcade. Neon shirts. Webster. Asymmetrical skirts. Princess Di. Skorts. Tina Turner. Scrunchies. Keds. Miami Vice. Knight Rider. Human League. Wham! Bowie. <3 The Go-Gos. Mr. T. FAME! Flashdance. Shoulder pads. PRINCE. Garbage Pail Kids. Whitney Houston. Mr. Wizard's World. Mall bangs. Mr. Rogers. Peak Michael Jackson. We Are the World. Hands Across America. Farm Aid. U2, The Police, Sting. Debbie Gibson. Selena. BRUUUUCE. Weird Al. COMING TO AMERICA. Roller rinks. New Kids and Tiffany... we crossed into the nineties and the Seattle grunge exploded! Kurt Cobain and the Nevermind album, oh my God! Chris Cornell. <3 We met John Mayer. Dial-up internet entered the home.
I could reminisce for hours. There was pretention, to be sure, but I remember the freedom, the bliss, the culture, the abstract art, the vibe... like it were yesterday. I think a lot of us do. TURBO AND OZONE! Sorry, that just slipped out. So, we sort of packed it up inside, and carried it along with us. Many of my counterparts still quote their favorite childhood shows and nostalgia. it was so much a part of us, and it was the beginning of an addiction to technology and instant satisfaction, as well.
For a lot of us, our parents worked outside the home. Latch-key kids. Oh, yes... who else had keys around their necks and walked home from school to empty houses? And usually, that was perfectly safe. Not a care. Our biggest threat was the potential weirdo in a van with candy. We had more TV time and we were a spoiled bunch... What we didn't grow up with...was a looming fear of danger and imminent death. We thought we'd live forever, we were invincible. Our battlefield was Love. <3
And for so many of us, it still is. We are Hippie 2.0, streamlined for greater efficiency. Hyper-Connected. Love x Love X Infinity. Nothing is impossible. Stubborn as all get-out. We will survive. Win. Achieve our dreams. Because better days are possible. We've seen them. Great things happen and dreams come true. And good guys win.
i mean, we wanted to solve our problems with dance-offs...
My point here... is that our kids have an amazing gift, to help them navigate through their childhoods.
They have us. The 80s kids. The Gen Xers. The hope-and-dreamers. The big Lovers. The idealists. We were in a magical sort of bubble, as far as violence went. Sure, skirmishes existed, but not in our backyards. Not at home, not in America. We didn't know about any of that, we were safe. We were eating Fun Dip and Razzles and learning about Aids and safe sex. We were saying no to drugs (well, some of us said yes. No, not me. I was a drama queen, but straight as an arrow.) We learned about global warming for the first time. We were learning joy and empathy, indulgence and moderation, not fear and paranoia.
Granted we still had socio-economic division and racial conflict and all the rest. We had the good ol' haves and have-nots. But we weren't living in a constant fear of destruction. As our parents did, and as our kids are. We're in that blessed middle. It's a sacred space, because we've known innocence. We know hope. We know Light and goodness and abundance and harmony. Believers.
We saw the end of the Cold War. We saw the Berlin Wall opened and then destroyed, joining the east and west. We saw resolution. Handshakes. We saw eruptions of joy, celebration, and community. Acceptance. Understanding between diverse groups. We've seen moments of peace and wonder. We've also seen riots and disruptions and worked to resolve them. And with so many social injustices, there is always more work to do. But we're doing it. Tables are turning, grounds are shaking, and ways are changing. Step by step. We've been taking down walls since the eighties.
Why are we unique? Because we are in the middle. And not in a holier-than-thou-super-special-snowflake way.... but, meaning that we are the balance. We can raise children with tools to dream and believe and hope, and to do the work. To imagine. To create. To manage anxiety and emotional eruptions. We can tell them that human beings can love each other, work together, trust each other, and succeed, together. We can instill them with beliefs that are empowering, because we've been there. We've seen bright times, and we know, they'll come again. We can infuse them with Love, in a time of fear. With our feet on steady ground, filled up with hope and that glimmer of Light and peace-time goodness... we can hold space for our parents and keep them grounded. We can comfort our children and guide them through. And we can continue to dream, hope, and imagine a better and safer world. We've seen glimpses of it. We're the ones. We're those people. We're that generation that guides the ship. That lifts and inspires and motivates and makes.
Change happens. Reform happens. Tragedies happen, but we rise from the ashes and demand change. We rip down walls that separate us, we celebrate each other, we Love.
We Love. And we'll keep on...
The very word makes so many people squirm. (Not you, you just made a rather naughty face, didn't you?)
Laughs aside, I'm not just talking about sex, here. It's much more broad and inclusive than that. As many of you know, I've been on a quest to recover my youthful, more slender, and athletic body. For years.
I've tried vegan (fail). Vegetarian (okay, but cholesterol went up, too many simple carbs, I didn't do it right.) Paleo (success for a year or two, until I quit smoking, and then it stopped working.) Recently, within the past six months, I tried keto. Then to Bulletproof and intermittent fasting. I've officially tried everything.
Looking back, I've been "dieting" since puberty. From the moment my well-intentioned mother noted that my thighs were "getting chunky." I had love handles. I still remember the feeling inside, the introduction of body shame. How rotten I felt, how I wanted to disappear. I don't blame her, that was the culture we lived in. It was the 80s. Thin was in. And she wanted me to be the best I could be. I get it. However...
Here's what I've learned, over the years...
I'd lose about five pounds, quickly, the first week... each time I tried something new. I'd exercise regularly. Each diet called for an uptake in whole foods. Lots of veggies, less processed crap. The rest? It's all just playing with macros. More fats, more carbs, more proteins, whatever. But the underlying principles are all the same: eat more healthy food, move your body, and chill out. That's it. The rest is marketing. And I have nothing against marketing if the product or idea is a healthy and helpful, conscious one. How else do we learn about things that might help us out, save time, point us toward something better? I have no problem with sales or marketing, in general. My point is that there are a myriad number of ways to regain your health. And I'm in it for the long haul. If some diet tells me I'll only eat dolmades every other week on a cheat day, well you can quite respectfully go fuck yourself. Not happening. If some book tells me to cut out coffee, I'll stop reading it. No way.
Diets are repressive. They can be punitive. It means taking away things, to optimize results in a short period of time. They are full of sacrifice and seriousness. Sometimes illness and deficiencies force people into strict diets. I have full respect and admiration for those who make this their lifestyle because it's their purpose in life. They are fitness and health warriors; it's great. But it's just not me. I'm done with extremes. Once I found my inner sanctuary, my healthy middle... I want everything to find balance. Homeostasis is my goal, in me and in my world.
So, here and now... I find myself asking... why diet? Am I healthy? Yes. Healthier than I've ever been. I've learned how to take care of myself. I have hypothyroidism, and I've learned how to navigate that. I can't really claim victim-hood there, anymore. I know what to do.
Beyond that, a few years back, I started to experience anxiety, joint pains, sleeplessness, hot flashes, migraines, acne (!?) and so many other things... that I was convinced had to do with gluten. Or a combination of gluten and hypo, at a minimum. Until I learned about peri-menopause.
Women are very special creatures. We begin as young girls, carefree and learning and absorbing the world. We grow into our bodies and start to become fertile for reproducing. Life! We create life! In our bodies! Goddesses, indeed, and we need very special hormones to do this; so we enjoy PMS and cramps and bloating and all the good things all through our childbearing years. And somewhere around... yes... our forties... our bodies start to change. We lean closer and closer into our non-childbearing years. Now, menopause isn't official until a woman has missed her period for at least one year. (Sexy-face reader is starting to squirm now, I think...periods, what? I've been fooled...)
So, peri-menopause, the time before the change, can last for 10-15 years. And with these slow, subtle changes, deep inside, within our cells and fluctuating hormones... that big change begins. A deep, subconscious anxiety manifests that may take years to name. And it spreads. And it can wreak havoc on our own inner and outer balance. It's so important to see it for what it is, and begin to manage your life, around it. it's real. And it's worth exploring, to get your life back. It's so worth it.
Once I understood what a hot flash was, and correlated it to kundalini and energy and eons of women's storytelling and sisterhood circles... I began to see the patterns. We grow into a different sort of sacred wisdom, as we age. And with that letting go, comes a new wave of creativity. Wanderlust. Art. Raw inspiration. Passion. An innate ferocity rises up. A rebirth, into the life of a cultured and curious woman, leaving the young maiden behind. And the process, as it starts, can be rattling. Life-shaking. it's literally a waking up, into a new chapter of Life. As a new woman. And it can be thrilling and inspired, or moody and repressed. Like anything, it depends upon perspective.
So, that said... I considered that a lot of the issues that I had, might not have to do with gluten. I had never been tested for gluten allergies: I just read the books, and made assumptions. I had a conversation with someone who had true celiac disease. And she salivated at the idea of being able to eat what she wanted, when she wanted. How convenient and wonderful it would be. How she'd never choose to live in such a way, and how challenging it can be. And I thought... here are all these people, on this bandwagon, intentionally choosing to live this way. And why?
I began to research. Ask questions. And experiment with food.
I tried a dish of italian pasta (imported). Bread (whole grain, proper bakery). Sweets. Pizza (drools)... Fine, fine, fine...fine! American boxed processed pastries...not so fine. So, I think American processed wheat has its problems, for sure. I don't know enough to explain it all to you adequately, or why it made me feel gross. You can look that up. But... whole and ancient grains? Especially from the Mediterranean area? I do just fine with them. My body loves them. And they're delicious. Quinoa. Farro. Buckwheat. Couscous. Even some beans, I tolerated just fine. Garbanzo and lentils, do very well. Black beans and cannelini in moderation. Small amounts. I'd read so much about lectins and anti-nutrients and I kept waiting for the discomfort I was supposed to feel. And it just. Didn't. Happen. At first, I felt duped. Then, I felt like celebrating! I CAN EAT CARBS! But I didn't overdo it.
So, I don't have a gluten problem. I have hormone problems, that beg different solutions. I learned that when the woman's body skips a period, for example, estrogen is very low. Estrogen, and balanced hormones, in general, help produce other feel-good hormones. So without that happening, we reach for the fix elsewhere. If we're cutting carbs, we'll keep reaching. This causes stress, cortisol goes up. Weight is retained, for survival. Because I MUST BE DYING to be eating in such a way. I must be starving, so let's hold tight to our water, our salt, our fat, everything... to stay alive. (Listen, this might not be true for everyone. Granted. Maybe you excel on a high-fat, low-carb diet. That's awesome. This isn't about you, so get over it.)
I'M DONE. I'm just done with it. With suffering, with sacrificing, with apologizing for my belly and my love-handles. With hurting myself, denying myself, to fit some stereotypical ideal. I'm done. I'm done suffering.
So, these days, a healthy lifestyle, for me, looks like this:
- daily meditation, sculpting a beautiful and peaceful inner world, first thing
- yoga (sometimes 5 minutes, sometimes 30), dancing (sometimes Shaun T, sometimes my playlist while I freestyle with my boy or without, for fun)
- a balanced, Mediterranean way of eating, with proper portions and occasional indulgences without guilt; lots of fresh, vibrant, living foods, much less meat
- I limit my sugar intake to less than 90 grams per day, usually way less, but never more
- lots of socializing, music, art, creativity, activity, fresh air, and beauty
Once I found a way to allow simple pleasures back into my life... even if that means one cookie after lunch, a glass of wine at night, time out enjoying myself... everything changed. Because I'd learned to handle moderation. The hot flashes slowed and seem to have stopped :knocks on wood:. The plateau broke and I began to lose weight again, steadily. I stopped retaining water. I slept through the night. I can focus and get things done. And I'm not a cranky bitch.
My body was crying out for carbohydrates, for so long... while I starved it, seeking a body that I haven't been in for about 20 years. But, listen, I love this new skin. This body. It made life. It finally doesn't hurt, or ache, and I want to care for that. I will never again take a pain-free body for granted. It's a gift. Am I giving up my healthy lifestyle? Hell no. I'm giving up abuse. I'm giving up workouts that feel like mindless torture. I'm giving up outside programming that doesn't meet my needs.
I choose to feel good. To nourish myself with a wide variety of healthy foods, and to enjoy indulgences, gratefully, with pleasure, when I choose to. To enjoy my body, to move it, to practice what it can do, to honor it. To maintain strength, flexibility, and peace of mind. With a current and healthy purpose, that honors NOW and not my past: to keep up with my son, to sculpt a new and exciting life, to make the most of my moments, to live wildly and joyfully, to explore my creativity, while I can.
We've just all got to find what works, for us. As individuals. That's all. Everything will work... for a while. What works for you... into your nineties? For the long haul? Fasting and binging for me? No. It worked for a little while. Hardcore weightlifting and high protein? No. For a little while. But I want to build lifestyle that will nourish, support, and care for me into the next 50 years. At least. I'm building a healthy and long-lasting relationship, with myself. Tasting, traveling, adventuring, dancing, playing, smiling, laughing. Gratefully. Out loud.
Life is for the living. <3
I recently had a revelation about my fitness goals. And I went hard at it, full steam, for a week. I dropped a pound and a half, I felt all the soreness in the right spots, my posture was better, I had electric energy...I was focused, feeling great. Hopeful. Meal plans and workout routines all over the place, tacked up in order. I had... ORDER. Plans!
At the end of week one, I was supposed to fly out to ATL to see my mother.
It was a TERRIBLE day to fly, the skies were crazy with fog and rain and diverted flights. I had a fantastic sandwich and a coffee, then I felt weary and achey and run down, the longer I waited. Bumped for an hour. No... two hours.
And here is where I shocked myself: I had a niggling feeling, a gut response...that I ought to just go home. I have never done this, ever. Normally, I would continue on, suck it up, grin and bear it. Suffer. And probably be sick when I got to where I was going, and complain all weekend.
But... I listened. And I bailed. it was inconvenient, messy, it was fishing my luggage out of the plane, it was waiting for my ride to come all the way back. But...I trusted my gut.
I got home and collapsed. I was running a fever and from then on I slept and ached for the next three days. But I was so glad that I listened to myself. I couldn't imagine...having to deal with how sick I felt, in another state, in someone's else home. And having to fly back.
It was a tough "no." But a smart one. I lost some money, but I gained incredible peace of mind. And today, I am so grateful to be up and around and back in routine. And yeah...still working out. And more motivated and inspired than ever, to take care of myself. On all levels.
Wow, how often do we say yes, blindly, because we're afraid to rock the boat and make things hard?
Always, always, always trust your gut. It knows... xoxo
Oh...when truth hits you in the face. Do you know what I mean? You've got your reasons, right? The reasons, all sound and practical and proven, why it won't work, can't work, won't ever happen. And then one day, things get jumbled around: up is down, black is white, hope is all around you...and for a second... you try it, and it DOES work. Which turns all those tried and true reasons...into excuses.
What are you talking about, Stacie? Stop dancing around...spit it out...
Okay. I've had these reasons. Why sticking to a good fitness routine just couldn't work:
- I quit smoking, see, and my metabolism sucks, so...
- Who has time? I work. I'm not a stay-at-home Mom!
- Only when my boy is with his Dad, then I can do it.
- Joint pain. Hurts. Ouch.
- Can't afford to keep paying gym memberships and not going.
- Can't do it at home, my son won't sit still while I work out, it would never work.
- I need to write, there's only so much time!
- I'm healthy, my bloodwork is perfect!
I know, it's getting deep in here, right? Deep with BS.
I do believe that we have to want things...in order to commit to them. I believe we have to have the right mindset, we have to want what comes to us on the other side of our goals, we have to be ready for all of it. I believe in timing. All true. So, I don't know if the timing is just magically right...or if I finally just... stopped bullshitting myself. I like to think it's little bit of both. I mean, we don't intentionally get in our own way... it just happens sometimes. We don't see it when we're in it. And if you're me, you don't listen when people tell you that you're in it. You just say whatevs and keep wading through the lovely river De Nial because it's pretty there and the air smells like jasmine and honeysuckle and you don't have to get uncomfortable and exert effort.
Anyway. I'm outgrowing those bits. Shedding 'em like old skin.
I reached a milestone at the end of last year. It was a tough year in many respects, but also one that was filled with so much growth and expansion. Travel. Wonder. Connections. New experiences. New faces. Change. Pain. Hurt. Healing. Anxiety. Meditation. Massage. Reiki. More healing. So much healing. But... by the end of the year, I was at a good place... physically, mentally, emotionally. The trifecta! I felt as if...it was all coming together. Finally. My trip out west to see the horses really pulled it all together, in a beautiful way. They carry great medicine, these animals, and that's not just flowery talk.
Also, had I passed another birthday. Another year? They go faster and faster, don't they. And I knew that I wouldn't waste more time. I reflected back on 2015, a big year of changes and dramatic weight loss and pushing out boundaries and facing fears, and so many other things. And I always attributed my weight loss (95 pounds) to stress and smoking a few cigarettes every day. But... in retrospect, I remembered that I was doing hours of cardio every night. On top of spending hours packing, moving, repairing things, and walking. And working. And walking. And parenting. And writing. And walking. And writing. I was constantly moving. It wasn't the damned cigarettes. It was me.
I thought about that. And I figured... well... if that was me then, I could do it again. I had a much simpler and more concise goal, then. It was almost... survival... to keep moving. There is something to be said for that primal surge of energy, that momentum, that movement... in search of something or when running from something. That drive, the compulsion, the obsession, in it. And there was the issue... I'd grown too comfortable. I was tucked up in my hammock, relishing on the fruits of my labor, no longer running toward or away from anything. I was still. Being. Watching. Listening. Lazing.
I think everything happens for a reason and that I needed that time. I do. I think...I needed to go through the ups and downs, the trials, the surprises, the spiritual study, the internal healing, the quests, the mistakes and misjudgments, the letdowns and embarrassments. I think they all built my inner strength. I think that time focused and rejuvenated my mind, protected my healing heart, and reconnected me with my soul.
Because here's something I've learned, or rather, remembered: our bodies learn quickly and our muscles remember what we ask them to do. The challenge is in the mind. So it is with everything. Will I do what I said I would do? Or will I give in to quicker, easier fixes? It's not about the actual physical movement; it's not about the sweat. It's about the choice, the follow-through, and the resolve to finish. The mindset.
Every time I press play or lace up my sneakers, now, I hear myself...inside my own head: "how I do this, is how I do anything." I don't run or ride a bike, but I do hike, and it's what I said over and over as I hiked through Mashomack, alone, in cold, harsh November air. Whenever I hike the greenbelt. When I foolishly schlepped my luggage up seven steep blocks of San Francisco streets, when I was supposed to be resting from whiplash injuries. When I walked the northern tip from Embarcadero to the Presidio. When I explored the Pacific shore for hours, along Fort Ord's dunes... up and over jagged rock and sand. When I crept out of Austin's city streets and down to the river, into the woods, to the edge of the park, in unexpectedly stifling heat...without a bottle of water, and then all the way back again. Schmuck. And when I hike...anywhere, really. Yeah, the scenery is different, and nature compels me and invigorates me, for sure, but really...it's all the same. Start, continue, finish, stretch, hydrate. HYDRATE. And replace the negative talk inside my head with positive words. Just keep going. You're almost there. You can do hard things. It's funny...I had to travel all over the country to teach myself such simple discipline. Huh.
Also, here's the kicker: for a hoot, I loaded up a home workout and let my little boy in on it. Just to see...
"Mommy is going to do her exercise now, okay babe? Can you read those books, and do your legos for a bit?"
"Okay, Mommy." He was curious. "What exercise? Like this?" And he did his fancy yoga moves, from daycare. Can it be this simple?
The thing is... he watched the workout. And he watched me. He wasn't playing, reading, building, or doing anything... but watching me workout. He was learning. Imagine? I always say that everything is our teacher... so yeah, that applies to him, too! I even heard some "go Mommy!" And "this is how to be a hero! Yeah!" <---- PJ Mask thing. Honored to be among the ranks of Gekko, Owlette, and Catboy.
I think back to sneaking a smoke behind the garage. Washing my hands afterward, so he couldn't smell it, feeling like a dirty criminal. Vapes and oil and mood swings and more excuses. And how... if I didn't make the conscious choice to change... in so many ways... that is what he'd be learning from me. Smoking. Playing small. Hiding. Apologizing. Giving up. Eating crappy food. Laziness. Excuses. The opposite of what I'd come to recognize as... simple self-love. Nurturing. Replenishing. Nourishing. Strengthening. Persevering.
And here I was, coming through for me... and teaching him, simultaneously. Wow.
He can't wait to get his own little dumbbells and he's already practicing pushups. And PS, loves to box?! He was getting out his Lego-won't-work-angst by throwing jabs and hooks and uppercuts at my hands. He's got some fire in him.
And I said...what? What did I say? It would never work? Famous last words...
What the hell was I waiting for?
Ready or not...just like that, a new chapter begins...