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)

 

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.

 

When You’re Lost Never Look Down

2013-08-04 18.14.18I 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-

Make it a Virgin: The Decision to be Sober

* I used to take ’em stiff n’ straight up, but now I like ’em bubbly and virgin*

After one, two three too many drinks, last calls, close calls, I can’t recall’s. After more than enough mornings/afternoons with head in hands, face in the toilet and dignity down the drain, the time has come to throw in the towel. Actually I think I threw it up, but if it can be looked at in a positive light, I sure did make a solid effort at being a ‘good drinker’ but the results are in and all I got was a shitty hangover and just about lost it all.

The reality for me is really to understand myself as an addict, that the habits and tenancies of an addict reside in the brain and in the thoughts (something I will certainly expand on in the future) and the last 6 months have simply been a super charged marathon of what all the previous years of my life would support. An addict is different than a drunk or a junkie because rather than an acute affliction to something or a chemical dependency on a substance, the compulsive, obsessive mentality of bonafide addiction grips your every thought and transfers into everything that you do. So for me it’s not just about drinking, or doing drugs but it starts there because catching a buzz takes me out of my body, dilutes my intuition and gives the controls to my brain. But my brain cannot be trusted. Not to mention booze and drugs are the most dangerous and the least necessary for life compared to food, money and sex which are all really important parts of a healthy and happy lifestyle, but are also common ‘vices/addictions’ so ‘quitting’ them is really more about adjusting the brain and it’s influence into how you treat these things.

So that’s it. No more. I am sober for good. Today marks 6 days since I officially made this decision, rallied the troops, called for back up and got started with the rest of my life. I have arrived at a place of knowing that for me, living sober is not up for discussion and requires no explanation. It’s just what needed to happen. Of course I am also terrified and feel some serious grief, but as soon as I made the decision I felt deeply relieved. I also have great support.

The best advice I’ve gotten so far was from a friend who said “Step the fuck up, sobriety is hard but you’re capable of lots of hard things, you also make things really hard……..” and they are absolutely right on all accounts. I am capable. Keeping it simple is key and nothing is simpler than a moment at a time.

moveon

So cheers to the next chapter of life.

 

I Aint No Call You Back Girl

An Official Statement of Acknowledgment

Dear family and friends, I wanted to take a moment to formally and publicly address how absolutely awesome I am about staying in touch. NOT. I totally suck. I know I suck and am bordering on downright rude with many of you. I want you to know that I know this about myself and I know that it is truly frustrating and annoying to be on the receiving end of receiving nothing. I have never been particularly great at returning calls in a timely way, or following up on information I may have promised or getting back to you about making plans or reaching out just to check in with you. I have long since accepted that PR, as it is used in maintaining relationships, is not my strong suit. However, lately I have noticed that I have become downright unreachable. Not responding to texts was the real red flag for me as that has historically been my saving grace. Texting I could do. So I am not sure if the sheer volume of correspondence I have been receiving lately has increased or if I am just so focused on other things that it seems like too much. The specifics of this are yet to be determined. None the less I felt it necessary to make this official statement of acknowledgement as a means of reaching out to all of you who have been, and continue to make more effort than I to stay connected. Thank you. This is different than an apology as I believe that apologizing for a specific behavior should be connected with some serious efforts to then change this behavior and since I currently have no real plans to do anything about it, I feel it would be offering false hope for a change to apologize. I do however want you to know, that I know how shitty it is of me. A great deal of my time is spent seeing clients for massage, which is deeply gratifying to me. It does however, keep me from my phone for hours at a time and honestly when I am done with a day of massages the last thing I want to do is return phone calls and respond to texts. When I am not seeing massage clients I am in the studio, filling orders for GutsGlamGlory and dreaming up new designs and honestly when I am working in the studio the last thing I want to do is answer phone calls and respond to texts. When I am not in the studio I am doing things to take care of my self like eating and sleeping and honestly when I am eating and sleeping the last thing I want to do is…….alright I’ll stop. So here’s the other part I want to acknowledge. I know that I cannot expect you to be there for me if I have not, in return been there for you. That despite my valuing your place in my life, if I am doing nothing to show that you are important to me than you can only be left to assume that you are not. For this I AM sorry and do apologize sincerely if you have spent even a moment having to wonder if I give a shit about you. I am grateful for the number of people in my life who know that even if not another word was exchanged between us again you still mean the world to me. I also know that it is terribly presumptuous of me to expect this of you, even if it is true. SO what now? I don’t know exactly, I hadn’t gotten that far before I started writing. What I do know is that I don’t want to be attached to my phone MORE. In fact I would love to have it around less, but I also want to be doing a better job at staying connected and showing appreciation to all the great people in my life, so I will be working on making efforts at one on one connections with you, but in the meantime I have gotten back to blogging here at emeryruth.com. It’s the best way I know to balance my personal time with things that are gratifying and important to me as well as keeping a window open to stay connected with you. xoxo

For the record I am doing pretty damn good. I am working hard doing things I love, feeling challenged and stretched but never defeated and, in the last 6 months, have yet to take a moment to pause from going full force towards what I am dreaming up for myself in this life. But if there is a truth I can be sure about myself, it is that I continue to exist on the edge of disaster. Or so it feels, but I think that those closest would agree it can always go either way with me. This is why I am being extra extreme about self care right now and I know you already know this, but self sabotage is a bitch. But I want this life. The one that I’ve got, and the one it will become if I will just let myself have it.

I sincerely hope you aren’t grumbling my name for not having heard from me, but even more than this, I hope you’re time is full to the brim of your own self care.

Breaking the Ice

Today I had this feeling that it’s taken me too long to write and that to do so now would be weird, or awkward. But that’s a super lame and ultimately unacceptable reason for me not to put my fingers back to these keys and write to you anyway.  So I am typing and deleting, retyping and staring, just waiting for the flood gates to open up again. For a great thaw to occur inside my mind and for my thoughts to flow wildly like a river in the spring, or to rise up and crash onto the page the way the waves do in November.In the meantime I will count the cursor blinks between words ( I am up to 52) and stare at myself blankly in the mirror that sits at the foot of the bed (75). And it occurs to me.  I am trying to get out of telling you about how Body Love Month went, cause I blew it after about two weeks. But I can’t not mention it at all since the only thing I’ve posted in months was that goddamn video about it. So there it is, my ice breaker and wouldn’t you know it, it’s the truth.

It started with coffee. Delicious and highly caffeinated, dressed in honey and chocolate almond milk, I was on to my second cup before I realized what I had done. But when I did I didn’t care. So instead of getting back on track I just scrapped the whole plan. I feel a bit disappointed that I gave up so easily and a tad resentful about my lack of self control /discipline. But ultimately I am embarrassed that I said something about it, in hopes it would help me follow through with it and didn’t. But all that aside I realize that I kind of expected this to be some life changing experience. Like drinking only water and tea would catapult me into some new life, transform my body and enlighten my mind. I would suddenly overcome my dysfunctional body image issues and reach a greater understanding of all things. But I am not Gandhi, fasting my way to a spiritual utopia is not in my plan. And I wasn’t even fasting. So obviously THOSE things didn’t happen. But let me tell you what DID happen.

I’ve been exercising consistently and feel great. In fact I have been GETTING OUT OF BED IN THE MORNING to go to the gym, which is unheard of. and with the exception of that Cinnamon Crunch Pumpkin Pie with Bourbon Whipped cream I ate Thanksgiving weekend I have been eating pretty well. More importantly I have rekindled my love affair with the culinary arts and am cooking again.

I roasted my first chicken…I didn’t think to tie the legs together and am pretty sure I cooked it upside down, but there are fresh herbs stuffed inside. It turned out really well. We ate it with Marsala Mushroom and Chestnut Soup….I also made a Sun dried Tomato, basil and goat cheese quiche with almond milk instead of cream. So good.and my very favorite of all is this Ginger Pear Pie, which is really just cobbler in a crust. And if I were going to be super uppity about it I would call it an Organic Pear, Candied Ginger, Gluten Free Strudel Topped Vegan Pie. But I won’t.I challenged some insecurities and faced some fears by submitting some photos to a model search INKED Magazine was having.

Now I don’t want to be a model, so my goal was not to get a bunch of votes. What I wanted was, and is, not be afraid. Afraid of what exactly I can’t be sure yet. But it’s something along the lines of being afraid that someone might see my body the way I do. This is a terrifying thought. It’s also an infuriating thought, because I know my perception of myself is all fucked up. So it was more of a “look fear in the face” kind of exercise. And It was helpful, but the process of untangling myself from this net of self loathing seems endless. Sometime I will spend some time on the issue, but it’s a tender spot and so I try to keep it in small doses, but it is certainly more the issue I was trying to address via Body Love Month and has nothing to do with drinking coffee. Such a curious form of self sabotage to set goals irrelevant to the issue.

But the biggest thing this last month did for me is bring to my attention how ready I am to grow, evolve and transform in a big way. I am ready for an uprooting, a great adventure, a renewal. It’s funny to me how serious I was feeling about this liquid limitation exercise being the key, but it did help me to realize what I am actually hoping to accomplish and what I ACTUALLY need to do to accomplish this. So I take it back, Body Love Month was a huge success. I can’t wait to see what December reveals.