Thursday, July 30, 2015

Pacific Coast Road Trip Part II - Portland In Photos

Friday, June 26, 2015

If You Feel Too Much

I'm going to talk about something uncomfortable. Something that I was taught I wasn't supposed to talk about. That something is sadness.

I was 12 when I first realized that what was happening inside my mind had a name and it was called depression. I was 19 before I told anyone about it. And I was in my early 20's when I got to a point that I couldn't handle it on my own. I was so depressed that it was a struggle to get out of bed every day. I felt as though I was sinking farther into myself and father away from anyone else. I was so very heavy with being. I felt isolated inside of a grainy bubble even when I was surrounded by people, everyone's voices muffled just out of reach.

I had a friend going through depression who only felt ok when she was with other people; who felt terrified to be alone at any time. She would sometimes come over just to sit and listen to music while I worked on a painting or did homework. I was there for her, physically, but I didn't understand, not entirely, because I felt the opposite. I felt a little tiny bit better when I was alone because at least I was free to feel what it was I was going through without the added layer of being isolated in a crowd.

My brain chemistry has fluctuated throughout the years. I have done things that have helped and been through things that have made it much worse. I know there is a difference between sadness and depression. I have felt both. I have been anxious. I have felt like breath was being stolen from me as I had a panic attack on the 4th of July under the fireworks in New York City. I thought I was dying. I waited for death to take me away into the silence and painlessness. But I just went on breathing. I left my friend without a word and walked from the upper west side to the lower east side as fast as I could, through the crowded and stifling wet heat. I needed to go crazy inside my mind alone. I didn't want to do it in front of an audience.

I just finished reading Jamie Tworkowski's book, If You Feel Too Much. It is a collection of stories he's lived as the creator of To Write Love On Her Arms, which provides help and hope to people dealing with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. It was beautifully written, and my main take away was this: If we have each other we will be alright. Darkness occurs, everywhere, in all of us. But if we lean on each other and love one another...we will be alright. I fully believe this. I know this to be true because I have sat, many times, at the edge of darkness and wished for someone to help me climb my way back into the light.

I went through the most recent depressive state a few months ago and I was utterly alone. I think that from the outside it probably looks like I've got a lot of people, and support, and things going on. Let me tell you, I have a lot of things going on. I work very hard. I care very much about what I do and it's always on my mind. How can Brunch Club help more people? Spread more awareness? What else can I do? I think about these questions every day. I'm "busy." I get invited to events and I go. I used to go a lot more frequently. But in this time a few months ago something very sad happened. When I needed someone, when I needed to be less alone, when I needed someone to walk me through the darkness, no one was there. My "good friends" didn't answer their phones. They texted that they were super busy, but soon we'd talk. It's always soon. One person, who I had never had any sort of romantic relationship with, even said to me "Why the booty call?" "What? Is that I joke?" I texted back. I reached out through phone calls and texts and I said "I'm not doing so great. Do you think we could get together? At some point? Do you think you could come over? Call me back?" and no one did.

I sank further. I needed help. I didn't need anyone to do anything except talk to me and be there for me in proximity or over a phone call. That's it. And I couldn't find it in any of my friends. Everyone is so busy. When someone takes their own life we go on about what a tragedy it is. We all post on social media regretfully, saying how we wished we could have helped. My message is this: Open your eyes. Because people need each other. We are not designed to spend all of our hours and days and lives alone and we cannot survive that way. We have jobs and commitments and hobbies and so on. But what does any of that mean if we don't have each other? If you care for someone don't let them go through their darkness alone. They might not make it out the other side.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Pacific Road Trip Part 1 - Berkeley, Napa, Chico

It took 8 hours to get from San Diego to Berkeley. Siri completely bypassed LA, which was perfect, so as soon as I left Orange County, and the distant familiarity of where my college life had taken place whizzed by in my rear view mirror, I felt like I was gone. I didn't recognize where I was.  The feeling that I was somewhere that no one knew me eclipsed the feeling that I was in a world where I could run into someone I kind of knew and was friends with on facebook for some reason but wasn't sure of their name. It was a good feeling. During the 8 hours I listened to the poetic mix of fact and fiction that is Shantaram, resisting the anxiety I felt when I wanted to underline a particularly beautiful passage but I couldn't because I was listening to it, not holding the off white pages in my hands the way I love to do while reading. As I drove north through the cold grey of California I listened to Gregory David Roberts describe India with warm and vibrant words. It was a beautiful juxtaposition.

In San Francisco I ate rich and flavorful food at the largest food truck gathering in the bay on the windy corner of land that touches the sea in Fort Mason. I froze my ass off, I hiked in the cold and milky bay air and I tried and failed to find a hat that fit my child sized head. I saw Sara for the first time in 3 years, and stayed on an air mattress at her place covered by a comforter I had given her when I left New York.

"You've changed", she said with a smile, after I told her a honeyed realization I'd had while on the road. It was about driving through patches of rain on the way up, and how I'd see it from the sunny side, the dense and thick rain cloud, and I'd know I'd soon be in it. While I was under it I could at times hardly was dark and the splash from the semi trucks meant the water was coming from every direction, but I knew that soon it would be clear again. I told Sara this had made me realize the importance of keeping perspective when things were awful, knowing that soon you'd be out of it; that it was only a matter of time. It was cheesy but she was right, it was an indicator that I had changed, and she was happy that I wasn't as hard and hopeless as I had been when I left New York.

2 days later I drove 2 and a half hours north east to Napa. I walked into a friend's house I hadn't seen in 10 years and it was warm and inviting, just as I'd remembered her. Julia had old pictures of us from our year abroad in Italy that I hadn't seen since. I had long orange hair that had been much blonder in my memory. She looked the same. We stayed up drinking wine and I played with the kitties she was fostering though my allergies made it near impossible for me to breath. Her and her husband told me the story of how they met and fell in love as I sat under the warm light of their home and I felt happy and completely content. The next day Julia had to work but her husband, though he'd never met me before, took me to their local grocer to get a gigantic bagel and a bottle of kombucha and on a hike overlooking the valley. We spent the remainder of the day at the vineyard where Julia worked, sampling wines, exploring the grounds, laughing and sharing the stories of our very different lives. We ate buttery local cheeses and breads. Julia got off work and joined us for a dinner of more cheese, more wine, avocado, more laughs and stories. It was a perfect 2 days. I love that friendship endures, that even after such a long stint without seeing someone, that Julia and I could fall into our adoration of one another. I adore her anyway and love the life she's made for herself in Napa.

My second morning in Napa I woke up in the familiar pain of an enflamed neck and shoulder. I drove to Chico and for 48 hours attempted to stave off the pain with hot compresses, over the counter medication, topical ointment, an airplane neck pillow, whiskey and reluctantly, a trip to the chiropractor. I spent most of my time in Chico in pain on my cousin's couch. It was my first time there but I could barely move my neck and head so I couldn't do much of anything. Stephanie has always been more like a sister to me than a cousin. We were born less than a year apart and have been close our whole lives, so I didn't feel guilty being down and out at her place. She made me whiskey tea the night I arrived and drove me to the chiropractor the next day. I went to Sierra Nevada and had a beer, as you do, but other than watching a lot of Anthony Bordain and snuggling with my cousin's dog Ziggy, I didn't do much. Life has a way of canceling my plans sometimes. A way of forcing me to rest when it's what I really need.

To be continued with Part 2 - Bend and Portland...

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Higher Love

I am lucky. I have been in love. Real, beautiful, deep, feels-so-good-it-hurts kind of love. I fell in love for the first time when I was 15. What does it feel like? Almost every song, poem, book and movie is an attempt to explain this, in one way or another, so I don't know what I can add except for the way it feels to me. For me it's a combination of physical and mental stimulation unlike any other. There's a reason lovesick is a word. It's the feeling people try to replicate by taking drugs. An article in Women's Health says "Falling in love activates about 12 regions in your brain, according to a study published in the Journal of Sexual can know you're in love within a fifth of a second." It also affects your hormone levels (releasing oxytocin), blood pressure, heart rate, bone health, sleep and can even make food taste differently (according to a study by the American Psychology Association).

For me it feels like everything is right. In alignment. In flow. Someone fully understands you in all your weirdness, and what's more, they adore you. And you adore them. Everything they do is either cute, sexy, amazing or inspiring. The way their mouth moves when they speak. Have you ever noticed anyone else's mouth? No, because who cares about everyone else, this person's mouth, your beloved, has the best mouth in the universe. The way you feel when they look at you from across the room and a magnetic pull brings you together. You miss them even when they're sitting right next to you. You ache for their warm touch on your arm. You want to tell them everything that happens. It's like you've been mute your whole life and then they came over to you and with a kiss you were awakened to the beauty of life. It's like the first day of spring after a long winter. You were managing fine without them, but now everything is in color. Everything is beautiful and someone is in love with you and you, finally, have someone to share yourself with, every part of yourself. That's how it was for me.

I fell in love again when I was 19. And a third time when I was 22 and again when I was 26. All 4 of the relationships were beautiful. They were at times terrifying, wondrous, comfortable and awful. I learned. And they're over. I've been largely single for about 4 years. Sometimes I go on dating apps when I feel lonely or need to get out of the house. Sometimes I meet someone and we make a little connection. But over the past few years I had completely forgotten what it feels like to be in love. All of it. The blessed experience of loving and being loved. Until the other night. And I wasn't reminded in the way you think.

A friend said to me, not in regard to love but in regard to life in general, "What do you want? Focus on what you want. Feel what it feels like to have what you want and call it in." So as I went to bed that night I began to think of the best I've ever felt. The most joyful, awake, happy. And I was brought back to a state of love. As I drifted off to sleep this state went into my dream and I felt the warm glow of love inside my subconscious mind. In my dream I was told "This is love. Remember? Don't give up on it and don't settle for anything else." and in that dream I realized that I had been spending time with people that didn't offer me that. I had tried to make things work that didn't. I can't believe I forgot how magical love is! I affirm anew to treat myself how I want to be treated by a partner and accept nothing less. I believe partnership is sacred. I believe that there is another love for me. I believe that I am worthy and deserving of great love and that's what I'm holding out for.

I get asked a decent amount why I'm single. Because I am holing out for magic. Because I have tasted the sweet nectar of soul rattling love and I am okay to be alone until I find it again. And I'm finally ready for the kind of partner I'm seeking to come into my life. As the song says, bring me a higher love.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

1 Year Later - Surgaversary

One year ago today I woke up in a hospital bed with a couple big chunks of my insides cut out. I had 2 large, and once they got in there a few small, fibroids removed. I couldn't feel the pain yet, which is almost impossible to imagine now. Today I can recall and play it like a song I've heard thousands of times. But it was kept at bay until the first wave of morphine started to fade out and the pain came into focus, like someone was photographing it with a lens from across the room.

I couldn't feel the pain yet and I greatly underestimated my scar. I figured what with it being 2014 and me being in America and all they would have been able to do a great job at keeping it minimal and clean and over time, once the blood was washed away and the stitches absorbed, it would be barely noticeable. The first time I looked at it when the bandage was removed it was horrific. It was every disgusting shade of black and deep blue and crimson with dried crusted blood and an organic pattern resembling what I can only imagine the clouds of hell would look like.

When it started to heal and I began to go to my post op visits it became clear that the scar would always be huge, and lopsided, and make my whole lower core/upper vaginal area look unpretty. My scar is 4 huge inches long, fatter on one side than the other. It prevents me from ever being able to have a natural childbirth. At my second post op appointment when I brought up to my doctor my concern about my skin not laying flat in that area and the scar being...well, looking like crap, she said "They'll be able to fix it once it's opened and they resew it."

"What? Why would they do that?" I asked.

"When you have a baby" she said, as if it were the most natural thing to assume that any moment now I'd be back in the hospital giving birth.

"But I'm not planning on having a baby any time soon, if at all", I told her.

"Oh. I don't know, then. You're thirty already."

So it just looks like this. Shortly after my surgery, and while I was very much still recovering and unable to move, my boyfriend and I broke up. I cried when he didn't show up at the hospital. I cried when I was staying at my mom's house recovering and she asked me "Where is he? How come he hasn't been over?" and I didn't have an answer. I cried when I realized I would have to see the look on the next man's face when he undressed me for the first time and saw my scar. Someone I didn't even know yet. A stranger looking at the most vulnerable part of me.

I cried in pain when my niece jumped on my lap but I hid it because I didn't ever want her to know she hurt me by accident.

It's times like these, when everything is upside down, when you can't barely walk your dog and you hold your pee in for hours because it hurts to get up and walk 10 feet to the bathroom, that you realize who loves you and who is on the periphery of your life, just sort of there, in the background. I was sent care packages and words of love from my great aunt and my best friends in New York. My roommate walked Derby for me when she could. But my own boyfriend was absent. And so in addition to trying to heal my body, trying to stay still as a stone so I could get better, stronger, faster, I was awakened to the truth that I was alone in my relationship.

I tend to be pretty hard on the outside when I meet someone I like. My flirting style is mean. I act very cool, aloof, tough. I'm working on it. But when that all fades away and becomes an actual relationship I am completely selfless. I realized during this time that this match was perfect for him because he was totally selfish. I'm not like that anymore and I don't really care what he's like today. But I was devastated. I was broken in both body and spirit for months.

Out of that mud came the beautiful flower of Brunch Club. I was inspired to do for others when I felt shitty about my own life. I know it was a path I had to travel, however awful it felt at the time, to bring me where I am today. But on this day I still look back at one year ago me with tears of sadness for what that girl went through. It was dark and lonely and painful in every way. But it's over. And today I can practice yoga and walk 10,000 steps a day and do whatever else I want. I am free in body and in spirit, and I know that I'm the only one who can make it so.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

10k Steps a Day: Day 8 - Bloody Knuckles

After months of feeling slothlike my fitn membership is renewed by my mom, who knows how to give me a birthday present I need. Immediately I open the app and scroll through the classes. There's no yoga tonight that doesn't require me to get on the freeway and I like to walk everywhere unless it's absolutely necessary for me to get in the car, so I start to look at other options. Maybe a dance class? I see boxing for the first time on the app; it must be new. A fearful scenario plays immediately in the front of my brain, like it was all cued up waiting for just this moment. Everyone wondering what I was doing there and looking at me like a girly loser. I shake it off like T Swift and hit the button to reserve the class. Immediately I got up and took Derby out, what I do before I go do anything else. I knew I had to go now and force myself not to think of the millions of possible scenarios otherwise I wouldn't make it.

I walked the 1.2 miles to City Boxing. I started to freak out a little when I got closer. I don't like violence or fighting of any kind. I've seen most of the men in my family either wield knives or clean their guns and it makes me want to reach for the xanax just to be around them. Once I saw it I walked swiftly towards the building and sort of pushed myself in. I knew if I stood outside for even a minute to think about it I wouldn't make it. It smelled like a sweaty locker room and big dudes were hitting each other in the ring in the middle of the room. The guy behind the desk pulled out a release form for me before I was even through the door.

"Your first time?" he said.

"Yeah", I smiled sweetly then regretted it. Dammit, I should have acted more tough.

I signed away and he asked me, maybe just to be polite, if I had gloves. Where I would have been keeping them I don't know, but as if it wasn't obvious, I didn't. He lent me a giant pair and walked me over to a big black guy. Loud rap music boomed and bounced off the walls and there was a buzzer that went off every time I forgot about it.

"This is bjdhfb" the guy told me.

"Hi. Brian?" I asked.

"No, bvdsakjfhew" he said slower. I still had no idea.

"Vernon" Vernon boomed, and grabbed my hand and shook it.

"Oh. Nice to meet you." I said.

"Go grab a jump rope" he said to me. I could feel him watching me walk away like a terrified doe in the middle of a dark road.

I grabbed one off a hook and realized I hadn't jumped rope since I was a kid.

"No, not like that" some buff blonde dude barked at me after about a half of a jump.

"It's way too long for you. Tie it in knots until it's shorter."

So I did. Then I jumped.

"No. You're moving your arms way too big, little tiny movements from your wrist" he commanded.

I adjusted everything I knew about moving my arms. "Like this?" I asked.

"No. Still way too big. Small little wrist movements."

I must have gotten it right or annoyed him to the point of moving on because as soon as I thought, for a second, I was doing something right...

"No. Way faster than that. Way faster."

God dammit, I thought. I am terrible at this! I tried to jump faster. I was getting sweaty already after 5 minutes of jumping. I barely ever sweat in yoga. I looked in the mirror and realized I was the only one not wearing a City Boxing shirt, first of all, and second of all my flowy tank had a feather on it. Shit. My boobs started hurting immediately and I wished I was wearing 2 sports bras.

As soon as the jump roping stopped the jumping jacks began. A normal human pace was way too slow so I sped up to keep up with the rest of the class, a bunch of dudes with ripped bods and the same high and tight hair cut I was so sick of seeing everywhere and 2 girls, also ripped, with arms I wanted but wasn't quite willing to work for. Next was sit ups, all things I knew how to do but didn't by any means want anyone to see me doing, including myself in the mirror. Push ups. Jumping jacks. More crunches.

Then came the boxing moves. We were to practice in the mirror. I thought I was bad at jumping rope. This was actually the first time I had even attempted to make these moves in my life and I had to do it watching myself in my shirt with a feather on it in the mirror. I watched others and faked it. It had been about 20 minutes now since non stop moving and I wanted to collapse on the padded floor.

"Ok, circle up!" Vernon boomed. I was so relieved I was going to able to stand still for a sec and catch my breath until I realized that circle up meant run laps, in a circle, around the ring. I was hoping we were going to stand in a circle and introduce ourselves so I could shyly tell everyone it was my first time. Nope. I started to run. A hot dark haired guy in grey looked at me at just the moment of realization and smiled. He ran right behind me the whole way and I could feel his eyes on my back, my sweaty pony tale and yoga capris. Every time I felt him gaining on me I ran a little faster, until a kid who had joined class late fell down in front of me and I got distracted. Then he lapped me. "You're hot", I told him with my eyes, "but this is not the time. I am focused."

After running we paired up to start jabbing each other and I was left alone like the fat kid no one wanted on their kickball team. Looking irritated Vernon came over and told me what to do. Everything I did was wrong but I listened hard when he told me the right way to do it. The buzzer went off and we switched partners. The kid came over to me, reluctantly. He was so adorable but I kept my sweet smile to myself because I knew he probably hated women telling him he was cute and wanted to be seen as tough. I learned his name was Adrian, and at 8 years old he'd been fighting for 3 years. He had a match tomorrow so I gave him my all so he could get some good practice in. He was a kid and I was new but I wanted him to be prepared for his fight so I hit him hard and blocked him good. I was getting the hang of this. I could maybe defend myself out in the world against an 8 year old. Maybe.

The whole thing went on for ages. I was so incredibly tired. I looked at the clock and it was almost 6. I was a little ashamed at how joyful I was that I hadn't passed out even though I had gone almost 60 whole minutes without standing still for even a second. If ever I even thought about standing still Vernon was there yelling "Circle! Circle! Do not stop moving." My fitbit buzzed that I hit 10,000 steps.

I looked back at the clock at 6:05 and realized I had grossly underestimated the length of class. Next we went to the bags. This was my chance to really hit the shit out of something. I'm not angry or violent, but it did feel good. Until Vernon came over and laughed at me and said that every single thing I was doing was wrong.

"Ok," I said "can you tell me what to do? This is my first time."

And he did. He said "No" until I finally got the stance right and then moved on to how I was moving incorrectly. I never felt so uncoordinated. It was an "I carried a watermelon" moment from Dirty Dancing. Finally, I got the moves and then it was time to throw the punching in there. His method of teaching, yelling "No!" until I got it right, was somehow working. When I finally sunk into the correct stance, bouncing and arm movements something clicked.

"YES!" Vernon shouted and a huge smile took over his face.

"Yes!" so I kept hitting. He was laughing with pleasure now and I wasn't stopping. I felt my knuckles swell under the gloves and hoped they weren't bleeding on these borrowed gloves. I hit through the pain and didn't stop, even though both straps of my feather tank top fell off my shoulders, until the buzzer went off.

I was ready to go home after that, but the longest hour and a half of my life was far from over. I hit more stuff and blocked more hits and forced my arms to keep going even though they wanted to stop until a long buzzer finally went off. I used the comically large glove in an attempt to wipe the sweat off my brow but it just squeaked awkwardly across my forehead.

Vernon came over to me as everyone was catching their breath and told me to get in the ring. When I got up there he placed me on the edge and told me to do crunches hanging off the ring. I laughed, looked at his serious face, and then did them. More push ups, sit ups, sideways off the edge while uppercutting crunches. More. 30 more push ups. I didn't do girl ones because I can do real ones.

I was done. It was over. In 1.5 hours I had built a huge respect for Vernon and was maybe a little more happy than appropriate when he was laughing with pleasure when I finally got it right and was repeatedly hitting the bag though I was pretty sure I was damaging my hands. I told him thanks. I wished Adrain luck in his fight the next day. And I walked 1.2 miles home, sweaty, feeling good but knowing I would be in pain for the next few days.

As soon as my knuckles heal I'm going back.

Friday, February 6, 2015

10k Steps a Day: Day 6 (+kids)

For the most part I feel like I'm pretty terrible at being an adult. As a kid all I wanted to be was older but I never really figured out how to do it. I still sometimes ignore my medical bills (mostly because I can't pay them). I don't even open them. Two days ago at 9:30pm I realized I hadn't eaten anything but coffee and my fridge was empty yet I had made the time to buy food for a homeless woman I saw on the street. This year I decided to focus more on taking better care of myself as opposed to always putting others first. I went drive by grocery shopping, running into Whole Foods 20 minutes before they closed and grabbing spinach, brussels sprouts, tempeh bacon, broccolini and no cookies. Done.

I've stuck to my 10,000 steps a day and yesterday overachieved taking my fitbit off at midnight to fall into bed after gathering 12,000 steps. I took a long walk fueled by a book on audible and leftover anxiety from my day.

I had a brief but intense connection with the astrologer I hired at the Brunch Club Hearts of Gold party. The night was really busy for me so I asked her if she could remember the message she had for me in more detail. This is what she told me:

· The ‘universe’ focused on your partnerships both business and romantic. For romantic there was an indicator of lots of nurturing and the possibility of a partner with a child or one who took one look at you and said to himself “here is the mother of my future child.”

· There was simultaneously an indicator that (even though you are young) many sense and feel your mothering and nurturance, so food and caring for others makes a lot of sense for your initial and current philanthropic focus.

I've always been maternal. I'm the oldest, I think that helps. I have a pretty great rapport with kids. I think it's because I have a good combo of treating them like full grown humans, which they appreciate, and intuitively knowing what they need. My niece and nephew, at 2 and 4, are my favorite people. Kids challenge me in ways others rarely do. They make me get off my ass, play, feel like a kid. Smile and laugh when sometimes I forget to. See the world with big eyes. They help teach me patience, which is a huge struggle for me. And they're cute as hell. They love like they've never had their heart broken because they haven't yet. If only we could all love that way. But I've never pined for children of my own. My mom told me that once I met the man I was meant to be with I would love him so much I would want to have his children. I think that's possible, but if that's the case I definitely haven't dated him yet. In college I used to have nightmares about my current boyfriend impregnating me. He was in med school already and on the family track. I'd dream I was pregnant on a submarine and give birth to a disgusting school of fish.

I know the thought of dating someone with a kid is a big turn off for most of my friends. They want to "start fresh." But if I fell in love with someone with a child I think I would take on that role. I think I could fall in love with that kid too. That's what happened with my brother and I and our dad. He wasn't looking for a woman with kids but he fell in love with my mom, and she had us. So I went from hating him to calling him Jim to calling him Daddy Jim to calling him Daddy and once I outgrew that, Dad. He's treated me like a father from the get go and I absolutely see him and only him as my dad. He saved all three of our lives.

So bring it on, universe. Bring it all on. I'm ready to step into my greatness, come what may.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

1,948 Words til 31

I just ordered 2 crepes to be delivered to my place in 60-75 minutes. That's definitely a San Diego thing, in New York it would be 20-35 minutes and I'd still be complaining that it's taking too long for the food to get into my mouth. I only wanted 1 crepe but I had to reach the delivery min so I got a savory and a sweet one. It's alright.

Tonight's the last night I'm 30 so I can eat 2 crepes if I want. Tomorrow starts a year long journey of 10,000 steps a day that I've challenged myself to. I hope I lose 10 pounds. Also being healthier, you know. Thinking back to the night before I turned 30 I can't even remember what I did. Things are blurry in my memory as usual but I know myself pretty well and I know 1 year ago Jen super well, so I'm pretty sure she was feeling like this but a little bit worse. Birthdays have always been so hard for me. Let's start at the beginning.

I lived largely in my own head for my first 14 or so years of life. In middle school I would read at breaks. It's not that I felt like the characters were my friends, like I often hear people say, but for me I didn't need friends because I could get completely lost in the stories. My best friend was my English teacher, Mr. Pfeiler. He totally got me. He was the first person to tell me, at age 12, that I was an old soul. That wasn't the last time I'd hear it. Looking back I was the epitome of angst. So moody and emotional and everything was the end of the world. I was taught pretty early on that this was a character defect. That emotional = weak. "Suck it up" comes to mind. "Get over it." So I hid my emotions inside. Except that doesn't work. I felt so utterly alone, and this was before it was okay, at least in my world, to talk about things that were going on inside me like loneliness and a great fear of everything. I was expected to get over it. Whatever it was. I wasn't a happy adolescent. I was lonely and I was very depressed. And I had been that way for as long as I remembered. "To feel alone is to be alone. That's what it is." (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, one of my favorite books by Jonathan Safron Foer).

When I had my first real break up with Erik von Detten a age 15 and a half I actually wanted to die. I didn't think I would ever get over it. How could he leave me, he said we were going to be together forever!? I actually wrote a "book" about our future reconciliation as adults. It was awful.

I wanted to be a grown up so badly. I fantasized about having my own place and having grown up friends who understood me. All I've ever wanted was for someone to understand me. I wonder, pointlessly, what it would be like for someone like me to have grown up in a time like the present. Would I be encouraged to meditate and breathe when I was anxious and depressed? Because that would have been really helpful. Would my sensitivity and emotional depth not have been looked at as a weakness? It's taken me most of my life to accept and appreciate myself for who I am and to realize that I'm not weak. I am who I am. I am strong as fuck. I can endure. I have endured. My empathy, sympathy, ability to love greatly and without limits are not a weakness but are in fact my super powers. It was a dense and difficult journey for me to realize that but once I did my world expanded and became limitless. I have to remind myself of that limitlessness daily otherwise I get stuck in my own head and things become so small and impossible to deal with.

I've lived a lot of life. I realized that's an ambiguous way to really say nothing, but there's a lot I'm saving for my book. Which will not be ghostwritten, but written painstakingly by my own hand, likely over several years and preferably in a cabin in Maine as well as in buses and on trains and planes all over the world. I digress. I've lived a lot of life. And in a way I feel as though I've just started. Why am I writing like an 89 year old woman who's about to lay in bed for the eternal sleep? I have no idea.

This year I had surgery and my body was broken open and sewn back together again. I had to stay still to heal and that was a challenge. The lesson of patience is given to me over and over again. It doesn't leave you until you learn it. I can still taste the pain in my mouth like the memory of a rotten egg. During those dark hours I learned that the person I was with wasn't right for me. It's times like those that these things become clear. But my eyes were closed and it took me many more months to realize he wasn't for me. Patience. As I healed I started a little project made from love and it turned into a business. But it's not happening fast enough, I'm not good enough at knowing everything right away. Patience.

Some days I sit in meditation and I feel so happy that my lips can't help but turn up in elation. I feel the sea air on my face and my puppy dog snuggles at my feet and I get to lead people in helping others and my community is loving and supportive of my mission and I am happy. But triggers come up. It's my birthday. I've always hated my birthday. Friends voices come into my head, my own voice comes into my head..."let's reframe it. 'I love my birthday.'" Sometimes I just simply cannot, and I sink back down into college Jen where Cat Power and Elliot Smith are the soundtrack and I dreamed of running away from everything. I did run away, and when I got to where I ran I eventually got the itch to leave there too.

A couple days ago, for the first time in about 7 years, I had the urge to get in my car and keep driving. When my depression became too much to bear in 11th grade and I stopped caring about wearing make up and came to school in the sweatshirt I had slept in I used to cut school and drive. I eventually graduated early because high school was easy and I have a genius IQ. I'd usually drive the long winding back roads from Escondido to Del Mar and end at Fletcher Cove, my favorite place. I felt empty. I felt like a void. The ocean seemed like a good place to be to sit with that. I'm grateful I'm not in that place anymore and I've worked really hard to get where I am today. There's fear that I'm going to sink back into that place. It pops up every once in a while like those gophers in the arcade game that you have to hit with that big thing and shove back down quick enough and if you don't you lose. The difference is that now I don't let fear run my life. It creeps in and there's always a choice, in every moment, to choose love over fear. To recognize and say no to the tiny mad idea. To say no to the ego.

Today I choose to live my life completely authentically. I think, before I do something, "Is that really authentic?", and if it's not I have to choose the other thing. It definitely doesn't always work out the way I want it to. Sometimes I completely speak my truth and declare what's in my heart and it absolutely doesn't go how I want it to. But the point is not to have everything go the way I want it to. I'd like to think I'm wise enough to know that I don't always know what's best. Trust. Patience. But if I show up to my life as my authentic self I'll never have regrets. I may get hurt but I'll never wonder what would have happened if only I'd done or said what I felt. It's scary. But I choose not to let fear dictate what I do. So ok, I'm emotional. I'm sensitive. These are not bad things. I feel it all, man, and that's ok with me because like it or not that's who I am. So I'm gonna like it.

I'm a big dork. I like to read and drink tea and stay in my yoga pants all day even if I'm not going to do yoga. I like to be on my couch and I like to be barefoot and I don't like to shower every day and I don't like to go out to clubs because I feel socially awkward and I just wanna hang out one on one with people I love and also in groups of people I love and do simple things like hike and eat food and exciting things like travel and sing karaoke really badly. I value real connection among everything else. I like to cuddle. I want to be with someone, but not just anyone, someone absolutely fucking incredible. Someone who supports me and my vision for my best life and for the world and someone who makes me want to be a better person. So I commit to dating only men who fit that description. I know what a phenomenal partner I am and I will accept nothing less in a man. This is the year that I find him. I think he might already be in my life, but hey, I don't know what I don't know and I admit that.

I want to learn more, I miss school. I miss my involvement in politics and my love of it but I got to a point where it felt so ineffectual to care. All the lines have blurred together and no one is really making a difference the way they should. So I decided to take matters into my own hands, at least in my own corner of the world. And everywhere I go I hope to spread love like golden pixie dust behind me. Or maybe like wildfire of high vibration. I want to travel more, I miss what it feels like to see things and meet people for the first time. I want to spend more time connecting with people and having real conversations. I want to spend more time on my balcony at sunset with a bottle of wine and this incredible person I'm manifesting. I want to grow my business and expand country wide and help millions and millions of the people who need it most. And I want to make enough money so that if I break my phone and have to pay to get it fixed I can still afford groceries. Okay? I want all of this. And I'm going to get it. And if you want to be a part of my journey and want me to be a part of yours that's awesome. What do you want? We can create our dreams together. We can do it by embracing exactly who we are. Who are you?

Monday, January 19, 2015

I Woke Up Like This

I woke up at 7 to Derby belting out a shrill whine that let me know she wasn't going to stop until I got myself out of bed and fed her. I'm tired of waking up that way. It can't be good for me. She's been driving me crazy lately. It's been almost 8 years we've spent together and she's lived with me all over the US. But lately all she does is whine, and when I take her to the park to get her energy out she just barks. Am I a bad person because I sort of hate my dog right now?

I woke up so damp by hair was curly. Up until a month ago I had never sweat the bed in my life, now it's a thing. I wake up, I'm damp, my hair is wild and half curly (and not in the good way), Derby is whining at me and the construction noise is 20 floors below but somehow sounds like it's inside my ear drum. Morning meditation can usually erase the shitty way I wake up, but what if I could wake up peacefully, to a sleeping little dog curled into a ball at the foot of the bed, and I wasn't soaking wet... that would definitely be better.

I woke up proud of myself for not eating that pizza in bed when I got home like I wanted to, but as soon as I looked in the mirror I knew that wasn't enough. The chubby skin rounding my face out looked back at me and I was caught face to face with someone I didn't want to deal with. I feel so gross lately I want to be covered head to toe with clothes so no one can see. And more than anything I miss my practice. I miss the feeling of my body stretching deeper into a pose, releasing any tension. I miss taking time out to focus only on my breath and balance. Maybe I should go to Vipassana, except oh wait I think that might kill me. If I'm going to be silent for 10 days I need to be allowed to read and write. I know that's missing the point, but the point for me to is to get things in my overactive mind out of there and to fill it at times with the beautiful words of someone else.

It's still early and I don't want to start my day this irritated, so I'll do one of my favorite little tricks that working from home allows and go back to sleep for a half hour. When I wake up Derby will be sleeping in a little ball and hopefully I won't be sweaty and maybe I'll even get a respite and the construction guys will be breaking for tea. Alright here we go, take 2.