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.
We 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.
I 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.
I’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.
To the Guy Who says ‘Nice Ink’
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.
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.
It 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.
A 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.
For 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.
Nothing 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.
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.
Then 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.
and as always, take what you need and leave the rest for someone else
I 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.
I LOVE coconut oil, just like everyone else who gave it a try and hasn’t looked back since. And I just keep finding more things to use it for, from cooking, to skin care to medicinally. So you know when I heard about using it in your coffee I got right on that. My morning beverage of choice is Matcha Green Tea and so I made a pot with some Unsweetened Vanilla Coconut/Almond Milk and then whisked in a tablespoon of organic, unrefined virgin coconut oil. I left it extra spotty in the photo for effect, but when you give it a good whisk (or blend) it becomes frothy and creamy. The naturally mild sweetness of the oil adds a really nice flavor and leaves a rich slickness on your lips with every sip. But that’s not the end of it, as is usually the case with coconut oil, there’s also great health benefits to starting your day with a cup or two. As it turns out consuming a healthy dose of fat (like the kind in coconut oil and avocado) in the morning gets the metabolism burning, offers long term energy and helps to put our hormones in check getting us ready for a full day.
I’ve also tried this in herbal teas with just water like Lemon Ginger and Green Tea Blends and really enjoyed it and it’s great added in to hot chai and adds a little extra umph to coffee replacements like teeccino.
Bottoms up xo
Anxiety is a sorceress bitch
Soaking in thru the cracks of me
Seizing my body
Spinning and spilling me out all over
churning in my mind
Mixing me up with my hurts and fears
So I do my best not to speak
Anxiety is a sorceress bitch
and when she takes me over
I do my best not to speak
I light fancy candles
I soak in the shower
I listen to heavy metal
I sit in my underwear and drink tea
I do my best not to speak
Anxiety is a sorceress bitch
by whom I refuse to be bullied
from which I refuse to die
when I start to feel her grip loosen
I make my escape
Anything to make my body mine again
I do my best not to speak
I get the impression that you’re under the impression that I know what it is that I am doing. So let me take a moment to bring you up to speed, I haven’t a fucking clue. In fact, I catch myself asking me exactly that on a regular basis.
“So, remind me again what it is exactly that we’re doing here? or today? or just in general?”
Turns out the best answer I can give any of us is, “I’m not entirely sure.” It’s a scary thing to say and totally racks my nerves but despite my being in an almost constant state of discomfort, it is also the most relieving, liberating and exciting thing I have ever experienced. To just not know.
Most days I wake up with a full belly of anxiety about it, trying to anticipate or control the events that lay before me. So I have had to learn to just let it run in the background. I have gotten used to the strain of trying to foresee the next 24hrs while I put on my makeup and pay little attention to the tightness in my throat while get dressed for a day in which the contents are yet to be revealed. I depend on the the rhythm of the music that comes out the speakers on my computer to help me feel ready to put on my shoes, get out of the apt and onto the street. Because if I can just get there I forget all about the fear of not knowing and just watch with wonder as my day unfolds on it’s own. Once I open myself up to the idea that I really don’t know much about anything the world becomes magical and curious again.
Too many plans limit possibility. The best things are kept behind doors that can only be opened with curiosity and in order to really grow you need the kind of space only the unknown can provide.
When you’re lost, never look down -zola jesus-
I started this page with the phrase
“I have been clean and dry for 6 months”
Then I laughed thinking about how much more it sounded like a pitch for an adult diaper brand than a proclamation of sobriety, and so on that awkward note, let me start again.
Today begins my 7th full month of sobriety. I told myself I had to make it thru 6 before I really started to consider myself sober and so here I am and IT FEELS FUCKING GREAT. It has also been the most miserable and painful 6 months I’ve had since the first time I got sober 8 years ago and although I spent one of those years not drinking I only considered it a ‘break’. The difference this time is it is 100% voluntary and for always.
Right from the start I knew that I would struggle to really GET sober in Indiana so I immediately started putting together an exit strategy for getting out of this town. It wasn’t so much that I was worried about ending up at the corner bar with shaking hands and my lips on the edge of a plastic cup of whiskey as I was concerned about the emotional/behavioral challenges of sobriety. Getting depressed or down on myself, being angry and cynical towards others, feeling bored or anxious about wasted time, these are worse triggers for me than sitting next to someone with a drink. Another big challenge for me is knowing that I have a huge pillow of support here, which would make you think this is where I should stay to get healthy but the way unconditional support and praise gets translated by my ego really just makes me tempted to see how far I can fall and still get back up. How many limits I can push and boundaries I can break and none really for the better. Fucked up I know, but my mind is capable of genius levels of self delusion. I can convince myself of most anything and once I’ve talked myself into something on behalf of my ego, it’s really hard to talk myself out of it.
So I’ve called upon the survivalist within me. The me that works best under pressure and is motivated by the challenge to navigate chaos and to overcome obstacles. I called her out and I challenged her to do more than just survive. I challenged her, dared her and bet all my money on her to thrive.
Because once I had made the commitment to sobriety as a life style and not just a temporary adjustment I got a good look at how little I am challenged to grow here. I can really feel how being in a place that I don’t have to try that hard to succeed or win the favor of the people around me is actually holding me back, making me lazy and stoking the flame of my arrogance.
I can see how feeding my addictions while trying to stay above average had become an unconscious game I was playing with myself to stay interested, awake and test my fate. But average isn’t that high around here and I don’t care how good you are, when you start to let your demons lead, UP is not where you’re headed. So away is where I went.
(photo courtesy of BlackBirdJones )
So after many trips here already this year I’ve found myself drawn in by the wonder of New York City. The East Village to be exact
I feel like this is the place that will really challenge me in the ways that I WANT to ‘grow up’ in. and one of the key parts of my personal recovery program has been to ‘create a life where addiction just doesn’t fit’. To create a life so full of interesting, places, people and things that it would become less exciting by partying and to work everyday to strengthen the power of my heart and spirit and lessen the strength of that arrogant asshole that lives in my head. It’s a daily battle, so my focus has been to stay humbled and curious and that has proven it’s self hard for me to do in this small midwestern town….So new york it is and humbled and curious I am.
Cheers to growing Upward.