Mother’s Day

mothersdayMy mom has never left me to guess if she believed in me or loved me completely. As a young kid I felt her attention as she would stop what she was doing to listen or help me. As an (asshole) teenager I felt her commitment as she followed me to hell and back, refusing to let me get away with the idea that I was ever alone. As a young woman I felt her support as she shared with me advice, wisdom and encouragement but always let me make my own decisions. And now, as I am even older than she was when she brought be into this world I feel a different kind of love between us. It’s more than ‘mother loves daughter, daughter loves her back’. It’s about friendship and admiration and respect and it’s flowing in both directions. It feels equal and endless and kindred. Because let’s face it, it’s one thing to love your mom and another thing entirely to also like your mom.

So mom, as your daughter, as your friend, as a woman and as a human I think you’re tops.

xo

Trust Thyself

It’s pouring rain, I’m sipping a hot cup of tea and think I will stay in my pajamas today and listen to this DJSabo mix on repeat.

Those first few minutes from Psapp just put me in such a good head space, but the whole mix makes me feel pretty damn good. In fact I’ve been moved to stop what I’m doing a few times already for a slow groove dance break with myself and to call me relaxed would be an understatement, thus putting me in the best heart space I have been in a long time and fuck it feels good.

I was lucky enough to have seen Sabo do a live set in Brooklyn a couple of months ago and I’ll be damned if I didn’t leave the dance floor until something like 3 am. That night is definitely on the top of my favorites so far here in NYC and I have revisited it many times in my mind since. I think it meant so much because I really felt like I belonged in that moment. Moving and sweating together, the bass line pressing us closer to each other. I stayed high on that for awhile.

Then came more winter, more days alone and less clarity about what I was doing here. I wrote to you in February about it, and the love that I got from you definitely helped me to feel like I didn’t need to throw in the towel quite yet, so thank you. (I’ve actually put together a 6 Tips written from all the support I got from you. It will publish soon)

I also Feng Shui’d my apartment, got a little money from the sale of my car and did some quality control on what I was eating. But what has really helped me to get back in tune with myself was remembering that I wanted this. I made lots of decisions and sacrifices in honor of why I felt I needed to do this and stepped into it willingly. I was able to take a deep breath and find a lot of relief when I stopped panicking and just started trusting. Trusting the self that had the vision and made the decision to pursue it. I have to believe that, although I often teeter between bravery and recklessness, I would not have put myself in a position I didn’t believe in myself enough to navigate.

It was meant to be a big experiment with myself as the subject and the hope that it would also be a kind of romantic adventure. But romance is just a phase and when too much of what we think about ourselves gets wrapped up in tangible achievements, validation from those who’s options we depend on and assurance that there is some reward at the other end of the effort we loose our buoyancy and start to sink. It’s easy to loose touch with the accomplishments that no one can see. The victories that happen within us.

tintype(traditional wet plate portrait by the wonderful Josh Wool)

When we find ourselves in a place that’s too far in to go back, but not far enough through to see the light we have to remember to trust ourselves and know that we belong right where we are.

“In yourself right now is all the place you’ve got.”
Flannery O’Connor

I Tried to Drown my Sorrows

This week marked one year sober and although it is certainly something to be proud of it has felt rather underwhelming. Underwhelming mostly because it is the third time I have accomplished this, but also because I’ve been really thinking about if sober is something I want to be. The first time was because I was in rehab and for more than just a little teenage boozin’. The second because I wanted to be a better girlfriend and this last time was because I scared myself pretty good drinking and driving, my work was suffering, my hangovers were getting worse and I was genuinely fed up with myself for always ending up at the bottom of the bottle. I was over it.

sorrows2So here I am on the other side of a year. No hang overs, no close calls, no embarrassing morning afters and am truly relieved about that. But as it turns out I’m still just as excessive, compulsive and selfish with poor boundaries and unhealthy coping skills. Except now I can’t escape anywhere, check out for a minute or blame it on the booze and whats worse is I am not enjoying myself. In fact I am legitimately depressed. I am lonely and broke and not where I hoped I would be by now. Far from it actually. I feel like I’ve spent the better part of the last year exhausting myself to stay strong and clear, that I’ve used up all the magic I needed to keep up with the everyday. But all I’ve really done is repeat a chapter of my own history. I just took a different route to end up at the same spot in this maze.

“I tried to drown my sorrows but the bastards learned how to swim” Frida Kahlo

So goddammit that I just feel like a beat up pile of shit with dirt in her eyes, because I know that it’s what I do next that counts. Now that I feel all used up and discouraged. Now that I have less than enough to get by on. Now that I’ve spent all this time with my least favorite parts of myself. Now is when I’ve got to figure out how to grow. sorrowsSo on that note, I may be really unfuckingcomfortable, but can’t help but know that if I jump off the wagon now I will just be singing this same damn song again soon enough. Or worse. I’ve chosen to take the timing of Philip Seymour Hoffman OD’ing to heart and all of this coverage about it has really struck me more deeply than other celebrity deaths. Not just because it’s chilling to know I’d walked past his apartment just days prior. But because his work touched and was so enjoyed by so many people. He’s inspired the discussions to be really poignant and thought provoking about him as an artist and person and about human nature in general. He was also truly committed to telling the stories of the human struggle, which is something I identify with and understand that to stay so close to the darkness is a heavy burden on your soul. So it’s certainly a sad way to be reminded not to tempt that shit.

“I’m afraid I’ll be the kind of actor who thought he would make a difference and didn’t.” -PSH

But it was this line from an interview that really got to me, because it is one of my own deepest fears as a person and if there is a specific thing that I feel like I have gained from this last year of sobriety, it is understanding that my purpose is to help and encourage and teach others. To share something of myself so that someone else may be benefited. But it has always been the gauge for the health of my mind when I wonder if the way I will be most helpful is to succeed or fail. To show the way thru light, or to frighten out of the dark. I know that’s a heavy thought, but it has been a very real discussion within me many times over the years and every time it’s been what’s pulled me out of the shadows. But the fact remains, that without living with the purpose and intention to help I am really just like every other blind and troubled soul wandering around.

So, at this moment I am keepin’ on and staying sober and am really digging for some shifts for the rest of the things on my mind. I’d really like to hear from you though. How you are or what you do when you want to give up or give in? Do you just surrender or do you take it on? I really would like to know.

xo

 

Chronic Optimism: The Delusion Beyond the Bright Side

2013-10-30 01.09.15For the past few months I’ve been white knuckling this idea that everything was okay and so I’ve held off from writing about it until I felt like I could loosen my grip and relax enough to talk openly about what it’s felt like to make so many changes. I’ve always thought it best not to purge in the eye of an emotional storm and I really value being someone others can look to for strength and encouragement, bringing solutions and not woes to the party. But I haven’t written to you since September for that reason and I am not any closer to feeling okay. In fact trying to convince myself I am, under the guise of optimism has just about driven me mad and worn my spirit to the bone. My usual process for remaining positive just isn’t working any more and I can feel my eyes glaze over a little more every time I regurgitate my spiel about being grateful for challenges and feeling sure that something great is just around the corner. If I’ve told you this, don’t feel too bad, I believed it too. I really thought that if I said it enough it eventually had to happen, right? Nope, not right and now I’m just tired and discouraged. My fiery love affair with the gritty parts of this human experience just feels sordid now and I’m coming undone a little more everyday. Detached, like I bailed out on myself.

So lucky girl am I to have good love from good people and have been given some fuel to try the fuck again.

I am also reassessing my approach, because without action an ‘optimistic attitude’ is just an illusion that when left untended can easily become delusion. Saying you are alright and that things are fine when they are not is not heroic and helps no one. Putting on that you’ve got things under control, when what you’re really doing is spiraling out of it is just bullshit and a lie. And once you start believing your own lie…..you’re fucked.

areyouokay(original artwork from NATTSKIFTET)

 

Memorize this Night

We met in the park just before dusk and sat on a bench next to sleeping guy with one boot. We ate figs and talked with ease about all the things that aren’t so easy. We stayed until after the sun went down and the fire juggler was done.

washingtonsquareonebootfigs2figfirejugglerWe walked to dinner and ate our falafel sandwiches sitting on a stoop.Taking bites, wrapped in foil with their mess running down our fingers.
We took the subway to China Town, and met a friend for drinks. The music played loud and we all yelled over it to each other, and laughed until our faces hurt or until our words became serious again.

drinksI left sober and took the long way home. Walking slow so I could memorize what each step put me in front of and thinking of how glad I am to have met you. The man at the fruit stand gave me blueberries and told me I was beautiful, I bowed in gratitude and ate them all before I made it to my apartment. As I lay in bed, with the fan on and the windows open I play back all the details I can remember hoping that by the morning I will have memorized this night.

 

 

Jars

jarsI’ve pulled all of my hurts out me and suspended them in jars. I’ve carefully cut them away from what is still good and what is salvageable. And although I am tender and sore I am so relieved to be rid of them. But before I let them go, I want to really see them, one at a time. I look at the distorted figures of my pains and heartaches floating in liquid, behind glass and under lids. I look at them all lined up neatly in a row. They never felt so neat seething inside of me. They look so still now. still and calm and totally motionless accept for a gentle sway as I spin the jar around to see from all sides. It still makes me nervous to get close, even knowing they’ve been disconnected. Knowing they can’t hurt me now, severed from my heart. It still makes me nervous to get close remembering how hard they would thrash about inside of me. Remembering how sharp or heavy or violent they’ve been. Yet now to see them from the outside, to peer in thru the glass and see every detail with the light shining thru, I find them nothing less than lovely.

Letters to Strangers: Nice Ink

To the Guy Who says ‘Nice Ink’

niceink

I can see in my peripheral that your pace is slowing down as you get closer. I can feel your eyes thru the top of my lowered head straining to see as much of me as you can get a hold of. And I can hear you silently begging me to look up long enough to use that line you’ve been rehearsing in your head……”Nice Ink”. This is the part, in that same internal  rehearsal, where I offer a big smile and invite you to come and sit down so that I can hear all about the meanings behind the scriptures and the various symbols that mark your own skin. You will  pull up the sleeve of your striped polo to show me the portrait of your dead dog and I will say ‘awwww’ and ask you trivial questions about your life together. And then, somewhere in this short time frame, you will have impressed me so much with the ‘tats’ you designed yourself we will become best friends and maybe even lovers.

But  alas, that was just the rehearsal, because in reality I know this is what’s happening before you even make it all the way over and without even having to raise my eyes. So I do what I always do, and bury my face deeper into  my book and bring my hand up to push my head phones just a little further into my ears. My apologies if something about my sitting alone, completely engulfed in what I am doing gave you the impression I was interested in being friends, but it’s better this way. for both of us.

xo

emery ruth

6 Tips for Reinventing Your Monday

So every week as the  comments, memes and conversations start to circulate about the drag that is Monday, the problem solver within me gets all riled up. It drives me kind of crazy actually. Now, let me start by saying that I have spent hardly anytime doing the ’9-5′ thing since I was in High School, but let me also say that it has been VERY intentional. I chose to live in alternative ways to the norm of going to college and working a desk job with benefits on purpose. Sure, there have been plenty of times over the years that I’ve felt like it would just be easier to show up somewhere, clock in, do my work and go home. But I knew I would hate it. So harder was still better to me if it kept me from the death that so many claim to relive 52 times a year. This was some really clear foresight on my part. I also don’t have a family to support or a spouse to contribute to. I don’t have student loan payments or much in the way of bills …..also intentional.  But if these are things that you do have to navigate and find yourself dreading the groundhog day that has become your life, here are somethings that may help to free you up from being on repeat.

6 Tips for Reinventing Your Monday

Stop Saying it Sucks

whiningIt was funny in Office Space, but in truth making a big deal about how bad Monday sucks only makes it suck more. For everyone. Even snarky sarcasm, as fun as it is, makes is worse. Not only does it drive the nail into the coffin of how less than fun it can be to have to report to work or school, but it’s not so great to hear about either. Everyone is trying their best to make it all work and no one needs extra reminders that it sucks. Venting is different if you’re really trying to get over some frustrating thing by getting it out, but remember the 3 complaint rule…..if you’ve complained about the same thing 3 times maybe it’s time to do something about it.

Start and End Your Day with Something Great

2013-07-29 10.46.52A little bit of great goes along way and there is definitely something to be said for having something to look forward to, so making a conscious effort to start and end the start of your week with your favorite things can really help to cushion the blow.  Even some small ritual like sitting with a cup of tea in the morning, or listening to your favorite album on the ride/walk into work can set a nice rhythm for the day. Make it something you enjoy and is just for you. Having a  really great moment in the morning can help to carry you thru most of the day, and where it starts to fade, let what your evening has in store carry you home. Make Monday nights ‘dinner and a movie’ night so you don’t have to do a thing. Or make it your evening of solitude and just relax. I have a client, who for years has scheduled their massage on Monday nights for this exact reason.

Do Something You've Never Done Before

curiosityFor so many, Mondays stand at the beginning of a week of monotony. Schedule and routine. Over and over.  So try adding in something you’ve never done before, or have have wanted to learn about. Make Monday the day you eat somewhere new on your lunch break. Take a different way home….what ever it is Be Curious. Curiosity creates a sense of adventure and adventure kills the mundane. I know we all have hopes for big adventures, but should never overlook the little ones.

Make Your Time Off Count

makeitcountNothing feels worse than being on the other end of time that was truly free and all ours and having not done a god damn thing with it. Or worse, done something we would have rather not, setting poor old Monday up for getting the brunt of our poor time management or misplaced priority. We’ve all done it, but please do try to cut it out. Make it a point to get a few things done that will make the week easier. Make some plans that will fill you up with the wealth that only friends and fun can pay and always be sure to take the time to rest and refuel from your weekend adventures so you’re fully stocked for what lies ahead.

Change Your Perspective

perspective‘If you Change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change”

Small changes in perspective go an incredibly long way. It’s easy to get attached to our struggle, which often keeps us from seeing how good we’ve actually got it, or from remembering all the ways our hard work will pay off. So consider for a moment what your life would be like if you stopped getting a paycheck? or if you were you who had to run the whole company? Try to find the ways, even if there are only a few that you’re actually benefited from your current situation, even if it is just for the sake of experience. You might have your appreciation renewed…..and if not? then proceed to the next tip.

Change Your Job

notsobadThen there are times that no amount of perspective shifting, or gratitude practice can change the fact that your job just fucking sucks and it it’s making you miserable. OR maybe it doesn’t totally suck but you’re still miserable because it’s not really what you want to be doing. So you can continue to work your ass off just to make your situation tolerable or start to consider how you’d rather spend your time and how you can to turn your life into your living. Start creating an exit plan and work on it every day. But remember that no amount of preparation can get you totally ready for your dreams to fully come true, so pick just a couple of goals to meet and then jump……before you jump out of your office window.

xoxo

and as always, take what you need and leave the rest for someone else

 

 

 

 

 

Let Me Be an Example

2013-08-10 14.48.38I wake up slowly in my small New York apt and can hear the city waking up the same way. The various sounds of daily life in Alphabet City looping and layering over themselves to create the track for the day. Birds, traffic, dogs barking, a trash truck. I can hear peoples voices drifting up from the sidewalk below, honking horns, kids playing and apparently the drum circle is meeting early today (those mother fuckers are relentless). It’s been breezy all week and I haven’t had to turn the window unit AC on yet. I am so glad for this because I much rather being able to hear the outside than the mechanical whir of forced air and have always found the swelling and swaying of gauzy curtains blowing in the wind romantic.

I wasn’t romanced at all when I first arrived. Still weak and exhausted from having spent the previous weeks sick, I climbed the stairs of an old building up to the 5th floor to find a stuffy, dirty and cluttered version of the one bedroom apartment I’d only otherwise seen photos of. It’s a furnished sublet, which I sought out intentionally so I wouldn’t have to commit to a lease, figure out utilities or haul furniture. And while I’m not dumb to the state of old buildings in East Village Manhattan, nor am I ignorant to the fact that a furnished sublet will include someone else’s things, I could not have fully anticipated the dirty and chipped tile floor, the layer of dusty grime on everything or the drawers, shelves and cabinets all full to the brim with stuff haphazardly filling every space (minus two shelves in the bathroom and a section of the Ikea wardrobe in the bedroom). I immediately felt my heart stiffen and my mind start to race with disappointment, doubt and anger. I felt so embarrassed that I had been so naive to think that I wasn’t being naive. I really thought I had done my research and found the best option for getting started.

So since that first day I have scrubbed and sorted and arranged the best I can to fit myself in here and I do feel much better about it. I’ve expressed my disappointment to the lease holder, done my best to adjust my perspective without loosing sight of my goals and I’ve found plenty of reasons to be out of the apartment, it is New York City after all. I’ve also had some money I was counting on fall thru, some opportunities dissolve and had to disconnect from some of my initial connections which leaves me somewhere between this being nothing like I thought it would be and everything that I hope it will be. Which is just a cryptic way to say…..it is what it is.

I was hasty to choose here. Not the city, but this space, and have spent a good part of each day overwhelmed with the nauseating feeling that I just invested my make it or break it money in the wrong thing. I was responding to an urgent message from within to get the fuck out of Indiana and I had plenty of ideas in my head about what I needed in order to do that, but rarely are the ideas that have only existed in my mind fully developed. They need real air in order to live and time to grow.

I haven’t wanted to talk too much about the amount of time I’ve spent having some of the least fun I’ve ever had because I knew it would pass and didn’t want to risk getting stuck in it by building words around it and I do have a peripheral sense that there is something bigger in the works. But I also feel like it’s unfair to not share anything about it in the case that the idea of me just stomping around the big apple without a care in the world has anyone’s skin crawling. Which would be a shame because it’s just not true.

I do love my location in the neighborhood and actually enjoy the five flights up to my little home. I have have gathered so much creative inspiration, tasted so many interesting foods and have had my eyes opened wide by many things I have never seen before and can feel myself moving more rhythmically inside and out. (except for numerous and painfully awkward high heeled stumbles). I am still extremely optimistic about what ever it is that’s compelled me to come here and already the holes of the things I’ve lost are being filled with new things. And I know you know this, but this is how life works. It sucks hard and we endure in order to unlock that reward. Over and over.

Most of the time the reward is not a party and sometimes it is just getting clear about what we ARE and ARE NOT willing to do and for WHAT. And always there is more to gain, than there is to loose when we can see that the good and bad are always in motion, dancing around us with each other.

So here I am, ‘living the dream’ of getting out of a small town and going full steam ahead towards the life I see for myself and it’s lead me straight into the arms of some of my biggest fears, but that’s just fine.

Because if my risk can help you gain a little courage to get out there in search of something greater or if my struggle can help you to be more prepared for your own journey than I am more than willing for forge forward. There have been plenty who have caught spider webs in the face for me. And if my success will give you hope that what you dream up, is in fact possible

Than let me be an example. For the better and for the worse.