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Stephen King Audiobooks And Self-Actualization

6 May

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For a couple of months there, I listened to Stephen King audiobooks nonstop.

It seemed like a revolution in my life.  Now all the time spent in my car would be Productive Time.  Now I would be reading!

Stephen King proved excellent for driving. The plots were quick and not too difficult.  The stories made me want to finish them.

 

Salem’s Lot

Misery

Christine

Dolores Claiborne

Carrie

Cujo

 

I made it a game.  Could I finish this book by Thursday? Or Friday?  How quickly could I get to the next?

I had it all figured out.  Driving for the rest of my life!

 

And then I didn’t.

I can’t pick out a specific turning point.  It was some time during The Shining.

I found that I didn’t want to turn the book on anymore. I didn’t want to turn any book on.

I downloaded a few podcasts, and then a few more.

 

This American Life

Anna Faris is unqualified

Women of the hour

Dear Sugar

Modern love

 

Suddenly my driving time was Productive Time.  I was listening to Important Things!  I was smart, interesting Podcast Girl!

I had figured it all out.

Driving for the rest of my life!

As Good As It Gets

7 Apr

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This week I went to my first yoga class in nearly a month.  I breathed and moved and failed to balance.  Shavasana was a chore, one of racing thoughts and a million to-dos.

Later Hilary and I got nachos. We decided to try the mole enchiladas.  Our waiter knew our order.

I commented to Hil that this is about as good as life gets.  Not in a depressing, Jack Nicholson way, but in a happy, yoga class on a cold afternoon and nachos with your best friend–that’s the stuff life is made of way.

Those are the things I need to hold on to.

I think I used to believe there was more.  That was good, yes, but obviously there was something better.  Something involving Europe and Prince Harry, probably.  A fabulous career and spiked stilettos. Something like that.

Birkenstocks and nachos and laughter were good and all, but I wanted great.

Later that day, I spent several hours pouring over every Zillow listing in a 50 mile radius of where I might want to live one day.  At first it started in good fun, as all Zillow dates start.  But then eventually came this desperate crushing feeling.  Soon I was researching elementary schools and grocery stores.  Googling churches and beaches and how much it costs to replace a roof.

I decided I was a do-it-yourself sort of gal and I could buy a home in ruins and transform it–no problem!

So long as there was a home!

Tell me there’s a home!

Somewhere in the third hour I realized that this fun Zillow date had taken a Stephen King-esque turn.  Zillow was my Christine and the car had gone of the rails.  It was trying to kill me and I was letting it.

This wasn’t about fun houses in a reasonable distance from the beach.  This was about my insatiable worry for my future.  My inability to just let it go and say, “It will all work out,” but to instead try to grab my future tightly and scream, “This is how it will happen, OK?”

I know.

I know that researching homes 50 miles from where I’d like to live, several years before I can even think of owning a home is not doing anything to help my life. It’s the basic prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

Wisdom tells me that this Zillow “research” isn’t helpful.  That the only thing I can really do about my fear of the future wae the things I already do.  I’m working towards my goals.  I have a plan.

But it’s too far away!

And there are no spiked stilettos!

Recently a friend and I were talking about our futures. She and I have extremely different lives at the moment, about as opposite as they can get.  Our goals are very different as well.  But we share one thing–we’ve never seen someone with the future we want.

We are afraid we can’t have the lives we so desperately desire and work for because we’ve never seen them.

Several days after this conversation I thought,

Of course no one else has the life I want!

No one else is me!

It seems so simple when I put it like that.

It doesn’t feel so simple, though.  It feels wrapped in our gender and our culture and the way that we never ask men if they can have it all.

It feels very complicated.

I’m worried about my future.

Hil reframed my Zillow date to a positive, saying that this is actually a strength of mine gone a little off course.  I care a lot.  I research and pay attention to eery detail.

And I do.

Gosh I do.  I care so much.  Sometimes (often) (always) it’s exhausting caring this much about every single thing.

But this wasn’t a positive.

This was Stephen King.

Tomorrow I’ll go to yoga again. My mind will be more on track, hopefully, or maybe it won’t.  And I will give myself grace and I will sit through the shavasana and I will count myself lucky that I can go at all.  That my body moves and that I have midday off and that my best friend currently lives 10 minutes from me and can get nachos with me whenever she wants.

I will do this and I will not check Zillow.

I will do this and laugh and laugh and smile and breathe remember

This is as good as it gets.

This

This moment

is great

 

Paper Clips And Fireworks And Weekends In Santa Barbara

28 Feb

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As far as weekends go, this one was a firework.

Every time I say “firework” I think of Katy Perry’s iconic opening line, “Do you ever feel like a plastic bag?” It’s almost up there with J Biebs’s poetry, “Sitting by the fire, eating fondu.”  I like to sing along to both songs, messing with the lyrics.

Do you ever feel like a paper clip–

Walked into the kitchen, made some pasta–

It’s more fun than I’m making it sound.

This weekend was a firework, baby, and I’m sitting here waiting for hometowns on The Bachelor and eating Thin Mints because I realized I DO need them in my life despite my bold statements and I’m thinking of the life I’ve built here.

I lead a small life, small but valuable, as Kathleen Kelly would say.  My life feels small here because it is small. In Utah I’m full—of people and friends and family and activities.  Here my life is small and it is hard won and I take the victories and fireworks as they come.

This weekend I drove to Riverside to see my cousin play volleyball.  He’s very good and very tall and I took approximately 400 pictures.

It’s hard to capture a 6’10” athlete smashing volleyballs into the ground and things.  It’s hard but someone’s got to try.

This weekend I drove to the outer edges of LA for Katie’s surprise birthday party.  I got her a Star Wars balloon and a book and we talked about all the exciting things going on in her life while we ate tatchos.

Tatchos=Tator tot nachos.

We discovered them on our girls weekend in Mammoth and they are what they sound like and you should try them.

This weekend I went to Rachelle’s birthday dinner.  I made it to Café Rio.  I tried on a pale purple lipstick that made me look like a body washed to shore and almost, almost bought it.

I did buy a bunch of new dresses.  You know when you get that shopping bug and nothing will satisfy it and suddenly you’re at the mall screaming CHURROS and REMEMBER HOT TOPIC?  This weekend was that sort of weekend.

This weekend I did a bunch of school related things.  I read Pope Francis’s book on mercy.  I got halfway through Salem’s Lot on audiobook and realized that Stephen King is my ultimate listening author.

I cleaned my room in 15 minute increments.

This weekend included today.

A sunny few hours spent in Santa Barbara.  A brunch of olive bread and artichoke spread and poached eggs.  A cream cheese pastry ripped from my beach bag by overly aggressive seagulls.

A new bikini and a (for-me) scandalous cover-up.

A day of 12,000 steps according to my iPhone.

There was more McConnell’s (CHURRO ice cream) and the best Mexican food of my life.  Stuff we licked off our plates, Rob powering through the last of the carnitas, me demanding he tell me this was the best chile relleno the world had ever seen. I was upset  when he responded “I have no complaints.”

“I didn’t hear you ask yourself if it was real when we were at Carmen’s” I accused, finding myself suddenly very protective over his favorite Mexican foods.

I feel at home in Santa Barbara.  Something about the Central Coast.  As soon as I cross that Los Angeles border I breathe a bit easier.

I’ve been wondering about where I’ll live, one day, when I settle down a bit.

It’s funny, I used to say that my future was constantly bright but my day-to-day life sucked.  Something like that.  And it always felt real.  I was sure that my future held something amazing that I couldn’t even comprehend, I just had to endure the pains of my current day to day.

Now it seems to have reversed.  My day-to-day life is really good.  I live in a beautiful place and surround myself with beautiful people and can have long weekends that include Santa Barbara semi-regularly.

It’s my future that seems dim now, my future that’s painful.  I don’t know what it will look like.  I don’t know if it’s as bright as I thought it would be.

I don’t even know where it will be.

I think the answer is somewhere there, beyond that border.  In the quiet towns and the carnitas.  In the turquoise sunsets and the vibrant tile and the palm trees swaying off the freeway.

I think the answer is in the day-to-day paper clips.

Right Now

15 Feb

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The air smells like fish or crotch, depending on who you ask.  The popcorn trees sprung up overnight along with the higher temperatures.  We’re back here, to melted coconut oil and melted Girl Scout cookies.

I realized that the only Girl Scout cookie worth talking about is the Tagalong.  This was a turning point because for so long I dutifully bought my Samoas and my Thin Mints like society told me to.

This year I stuck it to the Girl Scouts and just bought Tagalongs.

It was the right decision.

I finally invested in a beach cooler, and even more importantly used it.  I’ve owned it for months now, but never felt energetic enough to take off the tag and purchase the ice packs and do all the stuff.

This week I took off the tags and did the stuff.  It made a difference.

When I moved here I had no beach supplies.  No bag, no chair, no blanket.  I had a few towels stolen from my parents’ laundry room and a swimsuit from Target circa 2005.

Today I have it all and then some.  My blanket is from a flea market on Cape Cod.  My cooler is shaped like a watermelon.  My swimsuit is a pale pink bikini that T Swift would wear but I would claim to have worn first.  I have my stuff and it fits me and I feel settled.

(PS: That post I linked to is from January 2013 and I mention my friend Rob and…ohmygoodness.)

I’m transferring my car to California.

This feels like a big deal.  I’m saying goodbye to my Utah plates and doing the work and paying the money required to make myself a California resident.

I do need to vote this election, you know.

I have strong election feelings.  Ask my friends during the debates.

My nails aren’t painted.

Well, they do have a coat of glitter over them but I barely count that.  Did I do the glitter nails because I joined Apple Music just to watch the Taylor Swift 1989 tour and she had these nails?

What?

That concert would not load for HOURS I tell you, and of course, once I decide I need something I cannot let it go and so for hours I refreshed and vented and went on forums to assure myself that others were going through the same torture as I was.

Speaking of forums.

Married at First Sight.

I’m still here.  I’m still watching every week.  Are you? If you are, will you please text me 300-600 thoughts per episode?  I have a few friends who semi-regularly watch it, but I need you.  I need someone who cares.

I knew it had gone too far when I found myself of MAFS forums.  I’ve never actually commented on a forum of any kind, but I found myself desperately searching for spoilers and landing in a weird corner of the internet with people I swear I don’t relate to, but maybe relate to more than anyone.  People who CARE.

Care enough to discuss in vivid detail possible sightings of so and so at the Atlanta Ikea.

I’m in love with Neil from MAFS.

Hilary says this is a good thing because Neil is Rob and I love Rob.

Hi Rob!  We’re been dating longer now than we were friends.  Isn’t that crazy?

This summer will be my FOURTH year going to Cape Cod with him.

This October will be my FIFTH birthday spent at Roscoe’s with him.

Where is time going?  Why do I sound like a cliché old woman?

Neil from MAFS is much like Rob.  He is exceptionally kind and patient. He’s quirky.  He even looks vaguely like my Robert.

Sometimes I’ll bring up something to Rob and he’ll say, “Is this about Neil again?”  and I say, “I can’t help it!”

I need share my 300-600 thoughts!

Save me from myself!

I read 16 books in January.

I went to yoga every Wednesday and Thursday.

I found a reading lamp that works for me.

My therapist is named Sasha.  (No she isn’t.)

My life is coming together.  I considered writing a post titled, “how to be a grownup” and starting with “find yourself a therapist” but then I stopped.  Because it was sounding so hoo ha and hee ho.

How to be a grownup:

  1. Learn who you are.
  2. Take care of yourself.

It’s as hard as that.

I recently read an article that said being an adult isn’t hard.  It actually said this, “There are lots of things that are challenging and heartbreaking and trying in life, but learning how to perform basic functions is not one of them.”

And while I really like this writer and really liked most of the article, I vehemently disagree with this statement.  It is very hard and uncomfortable to go about the process of learning who you are and what you want and how to get there.  It’s painful, at times.  It requires stretching and growing and failing and starting over and over and over again.  It requires friends who will go on late night trips to the suburbs when you’re feeling homesick and jobs that don’t suck your soul and lots and lots of hours walking.

It requires weekly trips to the store for produce and budgets and eating bags of frozen vegetables for lunch sometimes.

It requires standing up for yourself.  Valuing kindness.  Getting your moles checked.

It is hard and it is a process and I feel like I’m on the path finally.

Like somehow I wandered around in some bleak, dry, desert for years and years getting nowhere at all, delirious with exhaustion, and then, miracle of miracles, I stumbled onto the right path.  The one that will take me to adulthood eventually.

It’s about time.

32 Ways To Change Your Mood In 10 Minutes

20 Dec

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As learned from trial and error, tears, and 28 years of experience with minor to major bad moods.

 

1.   Text five people you love and tell them why

Get as specific as you can.  Remind them of how important they are to you and exactly why you love having them in your life.

 

2. Make a cup of your favorite tea

Take your time.  Let the kettle whistle, the mug warm your hands.  Sip and calm.  Make it a ritual. Make it sacred.

 

3. Breathe

Stop everything and breathe for 10 minutes, actual, practiced breaths.

 

4. Go on a walk

Breathe some more.

 

5. Listen to that one playlist

The one that doesn’t include Fiona Apple but does include happy feelings.  No Fiona Apple.  She is banned from bad moods.

 

6. Self soothe

Break out your trendy adult coloring book or pull out the Play-Doh. Don’t think about anything but the lines or the shades or the shapes.

 

7. Plan something

Look up some service project and commit to it.  Text a friend you haven’t seen in a while and pencil in a date on the calendar.  Have something, anything, to look forward to.

 

8. Get something done

Not that terrible phone call to your health insurance provider that will take most of your afternoon and all of your patience.  Tackle something minor on your task list.  Then make a list of the two other things you need to do in the day to be productive.  Go do those.  Boom.  Accomplished.

 

9. Read your favorite words

Pick up your favorite book and read your favorite passage. Go to the blog that makes you laugh.  When in doubt, there’s always Anne Lamott’s FB page, sure to change you from the inside of your organs out.

 

10. Stretch

Stay in each position slightly longer than is comfortable.  Rest.  Stretch.  Rest stretch.

 

11. Make a list of everything you’ve accomplished in the last month

Remind yourself of everything you’ve accomplished, big and small.  Remind yourself, especially of the intangible things.  Of the times you were mindful, of the characteristics you have worked on.

 

12. Dance it out

Pretend you’re Meredith Grey.  Remember dancing makes you brave.

 

13. Perform some small beauty task

Shave your legs.  Pluck your eyebrows.  Paint your fingernails a shimmering gold or give yourself that sugar scrub facial.  Whatever it is you do, do it right now.

 

14. Shower

So simple!  So powerful!  Make it a real shower too. Cleanse your face.  Deep condition your hair.  Do those things that get lost in the three minute showers of “Oh I’m late and why is it work today.”

 

15. Put on lipstick

Comb through your knotted hair.  Get out of those pajamas.  Wear the cute shoes.  Pretend for a minute you’re a person who gets ready for the day.   Now you are that person who gets ready for the day.  Look at that.

 

16. Leave the house

Get in the car.  Put on music that you like.  Go do an errand.  Right now.  Any errand. You ended up at Bed Bath & Beyond getting a free foot massage?  Good girl.

 

17. Go to your third place

The place after work and home that you like to spend your time.  Starbucks? Trader Joe’s? The library?  Go there and breathe in the air.  Go there and do nothing.  Or rather, go there and do everything you always do.

 

18. Write

Don’t have anything to write about?  Put words to what you did today. How you feel.  How you want to feel.  How your lunch tasted.  How you want it to taste.  How you hate lunch with a burning passion and don’t know how to go about beginning to express it.

 

19. Eat a fruit or vegetable

It’s amazing what an apple and peanut butter can do for a low mood.  Was it all low blood sugar?  Was it too many onion rings?  Eat a banana, grab a pack of baby carrots.  Remember all hope is not lost.

 

20. Call your mom

Or your best friend.  Or whomever it is who gets you to your core.  The person that you can break down and they don’t pity you or respond in a shocked way.  They say, I love you. I see you. Let’s talk about it.

 

21. Clean

It’s a simple and complicated as that.

 

22. Turn off your phone

The world will live on for the next 10 minutes.  Do not check Instagram.  Do not collect $200.

 

23. Plan a meal

Find a new recipe, see if you have the supplies you need.  Maybe even go to the store!  That deserved an exclamation!

 

24. Pray/meditate

Whatever you call it, however you do it.  Now is the time.

 

25. Watch that clip you love.  Share it with someone you love.  Discuss why you love it.

Tell me all your feelings on this.

 

26. Write an email/letter to your grandma

Or grandpa.  Someone senior in your life.  Ask them questions about their life.

 

27. Send a handwritten thank you note

Spend your time.  Make it worth something, not just a “thanks for the gift card!” You’ve forgiven them for the gift card.  Maybe you were happy with the gift card!  This is not about the gift card.

 

28. Attempt a complicated dance routine

Such as this.  Laugh at yourself.  A lot.

 

29. Plan out future Christmas/birthday/whatever gifts

How are you going to understand someone else?  Do you even understand them?

 

30.  Take a bubble bath

Let your toes grow pruney and your thoughts grow soft.

 

31. Edit photos of a happy time

Remember that feelings aren’t final and experiences evolve and once, not long ago you were somewhere else feeling other things.  Get existential here.

 

32. Drink a cup of water

The whole thing.  Right now.  Maybe another one.  There you go.

Dribble Dribble Swoosh Swoosh

8 Dec

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The wind whips around the track, howling against the dorm rooms.  My bangs fly in front of my eyes.

I turn Enya up and bury my hands in my pockets.  An old striped hoodie, from something like 10 years ago.  Somehow it’s survived it all.   The cuts and the changes and the purges.

Somehow I’m still wearing it.

I’m operating under the assumption that a 20 minute walk every day is what’s going to change my life.  If not change it, renew it.  When I am lost and sad and stuck in my room, a 20 minute walk is going to make the difference.

And so I go to the Pepperdine track, the only place to walk in Malibu once the sun has set.

And so I walk.

I have a few rules for these walks.  I can’t text or look things up on my phone.

It’s harder than you imagine.  I’m constantly thinking and those thoughts lead to questions and questions lead to the internet.

To stop myself and say “later” is harder than you think.

To stop myself and say “don’t even write it down” is excrutiating.

My right hamstring is tight.  Why is it tight?  I haven’t worked out in a while.  That’s odd.

Now it feels normal.

How did that happen so quickly?

There’s a man dribbling a basketball as he runs around the track. Up down, up down.

The lights from the dorms twinkle on and off.  Some windows are open, revealing twin beds and blank furniture.  Palos Verdes glistens in the distance, like a city made of gold roofs.

The palm trees sway in rhythm.  Swoosh.  Swoosh.

Enya plays.  I resist the urge to look up what language she’s singing in.  That’s part of the deal.

Walks are for no phones. Walks are for me.

I round the corner again.  Deep breath in, release through the nose.

Things are calmer, simpler on the track.  Dribble dribble up down.  Swoosh swoosh.

My problems, once so daunting, have nothing to do with anything.

Dribble dribble swoosh swoosh

The moon is bright, a sliver of opal cheese in the sky.  I’m a child of the moon.  I’ve started to count down the hours until the sun sets, until I can breathe again.  Life is easier late at night.

Some time every day between the hours of 12-5 life seems too big, unmanageable for someone my size.  And then the opal cheese comes out and I remember that it’s going to be OK.

I remember my problems have nothing to do with anything.

Dribble dribble swoosh swoosh

Plop, Plop, Plop

2 Dec

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When I grow up and buy a house, sometime in the indeterminate future in an indeterminate town with several more indeterminates thrown in there, I want to have a library.

A patio library.

I didn’t know about the patio part, not until this week when I went to Bart’s Books in Ojai and saw all that a library/bookstore/patio could be.  But now that I know I can’t unknow.

This will be my patio.

My home will be yellow, like sunshine, and impossibly small.  It will have a checkered kitchen floor and battered crystal knobs and a fraying rug on the floor.

Lots of whites and patterns.  Eclectic dishes.  Lace curtains.  Something like your grandma’s home in 1965.

Outside will be the patio.

I showed the picture of this patio to a girl who knows me, not that well, but who knows me in some capacity.

“I can see you having that,” she said.  “You in a long housedress, wind chimes blowing, a hummingbird feeding, as you pick out your book in the morning.”

So maybe she does know me after all.

Or maybe everyone knows me.

I househunt all the time.  Is that normal for someone who isn’t remotely in a position to be househunting?

I blame my mother.

I blame my age.

I spend hours online viewing pictures, imagining futures.  How close is it to the library? What’s the Walk Score?

I keep the Walk Score app on my phone and use it regularly.  It might be my most random app.

What’s yours?

Whenever I address blog readers I think of Kathleen Kelly when she said, “I like to start my notes to you as if we’re already in the middle of a conversation. I pretend that we’re the oldest and dearest friends — as opposed to what we actually are, people who don’t know each other’s names and met in an ‘Over 30’ chat room where we both claimed we’d never been before.”

She was just over 30 in that movie.  Isn’t that strange? She had just wandered into the Over 30 chatroom as a joke and met NY152 and I’m catching up to my movies and my rom coms.

Possibilities, once limitless, are starting to fill themselves in.  My life is no longer a blank canvas, a coloring book waiting to come to life.  Slowly I’ve added some strokes.  Made some decisions.

Nothing too permanent yet.  No children or mortgage.

Loans are permanent, I suppose.  I do have those.

But in general I’m staying away from the lines.  Hesitant of filling them in.  Because once they’re filled that part of the story is filled.  It isn’t limitless, endless.  I lose other options.

And so I sit as Sylvia Plath sat before her fig tree and watch as my life, my figs, plop, plop, plop.

I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.

Plop, plop, plop.

Wind chime, wind chime.

Book of the day.

House dress.

Patio.

Checkered floors.

Plop, plop, plop.

My Ideal Man (And The List App)

15 Oct

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Yesterday BJ Novak became Ryan Howard and launched an app.  I always wondered just how much of Ryan was in BJ and now I know.  Now we all know.

The app is called, simply, “The List App.”  BJ employed his famous friends to write lists for him for the launch, and I spent most of the night sending Lena Dunham lists to people I know and exclaiming, “She’s me, but I don’t even care!”

Seriously, this title: 10 Times This Week I Have Been A Stranger To Myself

Or this: Illnesses No One Believes I’ve Had But I’ve Had

I don’t even blame her for it, I just love her.

Eventually, I got to this list, John Mayer’s ideal woman, which I sent to a friend.  He read it and said “John left out big boobs.  Though I guess the v-neck hints at it.”

And then I laughed and laughed and laughed.

This conversation, and John, inspired me to make my own list.  A list of my ideal man, if you will.

 

SMALL (AND SOMETIMES NEGOTIABLE) DREAMS I HAVE OF MY IDEAL MATE

Wears glasses

Calls his grandma*

Doesn’t care about gender roles*

Gourmet cook

Well dressed

Can talk music

Funny, but understated

Hates parties

Owns a library card

Identifies as a Ross

Will drive an extra hour for a good sunset

Food snob who appreciates Egg McMuffins

Obsessed with me*

*Non-negotiable

PS: My name on The List App is jillianlorraine.  We’ll see if I do this thing.

September 2015

7 Oct

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It’s so hot the bugs have come crawling indoors in search of water.  They are dying outside, baking under the urgent sun.

I am not made for these temperatures. I’m a delicate flower, a high maintenance, finicky thing who begins withering as soon as the sun says hello.

I need a lot of watering and a lot of attention.

Over the weekend I started looking at pictures of San Francisco, feeling my heart swell with each swirl and puff of fog, sighing as it enveloped trendy humans in their trendy sweaters.

Fog is so delicious, it’s the tastiest of all the weathers if you ask me.

I want my weather tasty.

I want my weather dramatic.

I’ve started going through my old notes on my phone.  It’s part of some attempt to life-changing magic myself into a calmer existence.

There are so many things I’m finding, notes that kind of break my heart.  My 2010 goals are on there.  That year I wanted to get my LCSW license and find a job in London.

I accomplished those goals.

Here I am.

I’ve been so stressed the last two weeks, it’s starting to affect me physically.  That’s when you know, I think.  When your body starts doing weird things.  When you’re on forums late at night looking up the latest symptom of the thing your body shouldn’t be doing.

That’s when you need to slow down.

I’m trying so.damn.hard.

That’s a blog post right there, if I ever get around to it.  I am trying so damn hard.

I am writing and producing new things.  I am working on bigger projects and long- term goals.  Those notes I went through! Oh the notes. I’ve spent years and years day in and day out writing notes on writing projects.

I am trying so damn hard.

It’s not cool to say that.  It’s cool to sit back and act like things just come at you, that you don’t have to do much.

I am doing a lot.

I am trying so damn hard.

It seems to always be the end of Act 2. Maybe it’s the stress of the last two weeks speaking, but there have been a lot of end of Act 2s.

The end of Act 2 is the all is lost moment. Kathleen Kelly shuts down the bookstore and breaks up with Frank and is alone and sad.

The end of Act 2 is when you’re sure it’s all over.

And then the heroine inside emerges from the ashes and Kathleen finds a new career and develops a friendship with Joe and eventually meets Brinckley in Washintgon Square Park.

Eventually it works out.

I keep wondering when life will change for me.  Life has changed from 2010.  Rather drastically.  I read somewhere recently that the human body regenerates its cells completely every seven years. Every seven years we are literally new people.

I don’t know if it’s true, but it is comforting.

It seems to take me seven years to get over things, to really, in my bones change.

Maybe that’s normal.

This is a phase, I know. This feeling.

This pocket in time is a phase. Maybe it’s a two-week phase, maybe it’s longer.  I feel better today than yesterday.

I’m trying so damn hard.

My 2010 goals were as follows:

  1. Achieve and maintain goal weight
  2. Stop all bad habits
  3. Become an LCSW
  4. Save x/month
  5. Publish first book
  6. Get a job in London
  7. Stop being so messy

I laughed when I read them.  What else do you do when you see the 22-year-old version of yourself casually throwing out that you would publish a book that year.

That’s the funniest goal, obviously.  It’s the funniest because I had no idea what it took to publish a book.  It’s also my favorite goal because it’s a reminder.  I’ve always, always wanted to do what I’m doing.

It took me a long time to get here.  I’m not ready to give up now.

This year has been a weird one professionally.  I’ve made decisions and done things and at the end I wonder, did I do that right?  It’s hard not to second-guess myself.  I look at 2010 and at that point my career came very easily to me.

I got my LCSW on time.  I found a job in London, two jobs in London, actually, without much of a fuss.  I saved that money every month and then blew it all in London.

Career was a breeze in 2010.

My personal life was not.

That’s the lesson, right?

This year my professional life has been very start and stop, but personal goals are coming along quite nicely.

I thought that today.

I can’t dwell on my professional goals/failures right now because it puts me in a state.  I can think on my personal ones.

This year, for instance, was the first year of my life I really tackled my messy trait.  Tackled it, conquered it, or at least got close.  Am close.

I budgeted.  I am budgeting.

I threw out the “goal weight” idea entirely.  It is gone.  Gone from my vocabulary.  Gone from my lists.

That’s a win.

I am seeing how my qualities, sometimes my best qualities, are also things I have to work on.

Hilary told me once that I buy things and go places and love people!  I do.

And yet buying things and going places and loving people usually mean money.  And I care so little about money and so much about buying and going and loving that I am the world’s most spastic budgeter.

And so this year I am learning to budget.

It’s against my nature.

It’s good for me.

Gratitude.  It comes back to this, right?

I read an article that I’ve vowed to read every morning until it soaks in. Until I don’t have to remind myself what it is to be grateful.

My favorite part was this section:

You already have the life you want.

I know what you’re thinking: no, I clearly don’t! I don’t have love, I don’t have money, I don’t have any of the things that I desire. And if that’s was your first reaction, that’s why  you don’t have the things that you desire. You’ve gotten relationships in the past. You’ve had more money, and less. You were only happier in retrospect, not in the moment. This is because the life you want will not come through getting the things you don’t have, but in shifting your perception of the things you already do. Until you understand this, you will be on a rat wheel of consumption, never reaching an end goal. The day your life changes is the day you see what you have, not what you don’t. That’s also the day you realize that wanting something else to change how you feel about your life was a deflection from having to change how you think.

I look at this time as the end of Act 2 so often.  But that’s just how I look at it.

It doesn’t mean it’s true.

Learning To Love Yoga

13 Aug

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I first signed up for a beginner’s yoga course about seven years ago.  I’m trying to pinpoint exactly when it was, but I can’t.  I know I was living in South Jordan, Utah and going to Lifetime Fitness.  I know I paid for a yoga starter pack.

The beginning yoga classes didn’t do much for me.  I don’t know if it was the instructors or the pace, or if I just wasn’t ready for yoga, but I got so antsy in class.  Breathing and relaxing and holding poses stressed me out.  If I was working out I wanted to be WORKING OUT.

And so I quit.

I did a class here and there over the years, one particularly painful hour next to a professional dancer friend, and every time I finished I concluded again: yoga is not for me.

I am not for yoga.

Early this year I decided to try out all of the group fitness classes at Pepperdine.  It happened naturally, my desire to be more active, and I’ve let myself approach this new lifestyle slowly and with lots of queso.  I’m never giving up queso.

I tried each class–a pilates class, a nightmare of a cardio kickboxing hour.  I attempted zumba, something I will never, ever do again in my life. I went to a half-baked barre class. None of these spoke to me.  None of these meant anything.

And then I went to yoga.

I was finally ready for yoga this year.  I was finally ready to be calm and to learn how to breathe.

I am a naturally very manic person.  I have a billion thoughts going at all times, a lot of energy and a lot of worry. I have a friend with a similar tempermanent and she has found her exercise home in fighting classes.  As I type this I realize I don’t even know what type of exercise she’s doing other than she’s bruised when she’s done and she physically fights other humans.

This is her outlet.  She can channel her anger and her energy into something intense.

I have found I need the opposite.  I need to channel my anger and my energy into something calming.

I need to learn how to breathe and breathe and breathe again.

I forget to breathe a lot in yoga.  It’s interesting that that’s a skill we learn.  Everyone breathes, it’s how we stay alive, but the idea of a structured, practiced breathing has changed a lot of things for me.  There’s a metaphor in there, somewhere.  About how you can get through life without practicing it, but it’s better when you do, when you’re present and active.

I forget to breathe in yoga and I continually remind myself.

I’m not that good.  At anything, really.

I’ve only been doing yoga consistently for about 8 months.  Headstands are terrible.  Every time we do a balancing pose I fall, seconds in.  Half moons are a no.  But I improve every week.

My heels don’t touch the ground on downward dog, but I improve every week.

There are girls in my yoga classes that started as dancers. They don’t even have to tell us, we just know.  The teacher helps them when they are hyper-stretching.  Then the teacher reminds us not to look at our neighbor, but to look at ourselves.

I like that with yoga too.  I am no dancer. My mother tells the story of my short-lived dancing career and how for the first time she saw her little girl do something athletic and…well…suck at it.  I’m a terrible dancer.  My dancing neighbors, ones who have never even attempted yoga before, all slide into poses much easier than my trying-for-eight-months body.

And yet it’s not about my neighbors.  It’s about me.

When I take naps, my goal is always to get to sleep.  I don’t take 4 hour naps, I take 15 minute naps.  The act of falling asleep, of allowing myself to relax enough to reach a state where I release that tension, that’s all I need.  My roommate jokes I sleep for minutes, wake up and say, “I legitimately fell asleep!” all happy like.  But it’s true.  I need help learning how to relax.

Yoga is about that.

It’s about learning to breathe, about relaxing, about calming myself.

I wasn’t ready for that seven years ago.  I was right in the middle of my most impatient, manic time.  I’m still impatient and still manic, but now I’m ready to combat it a little.  I’m ready to try, for a few hours a week, to learn how to calm myself.

I’m ready for yoga.