Monday, February 19, 2018

Try Less, It's Worth A Try

Boom
I took a photo of this sculpture yesterday at the Museum of Fine Arts. I'm embarrassed because I can't remember which gallery it was in, which part of the world it's from, or which time period, but I LOVE IT and I can't stop looking at it. It's effortlessly strong and elegant and confident and to me it's made even stronger and more elegant and confident by the fact that it's missing some bits and pieces. I spend a lot of time in my head. A LOT. I also spend a lot of time trying to control things and figure them out and force them towards the place I think they should be. I'm big into the concept of SHOULD, and I overthink pretty much everything. The best moments of my life, though, are the ones where I'm doing the complete opposite of that; where I'm just letting things happen. I also stand in front of a room full of people three to four nights a week teaching them to dance and telling them that everything will be easier the less they think and the more they let go. I encourage them to give it a shot and see what happens when they just GO. I think I'll take my own advice this week and lose my head and take my hands off the wheel and see what happens. I'll try less, it's worth a try. Have a good week, you guys.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Self-Love

Today is Valentine's Day and I want to talk about self-love. Several years ago I was having a very bad day. I'd been dumped. I was on Cape Cod with three other women for a "girls weekend" and I really didn't want to be there but they'd talked me into going. As predicted being on the Cape made me feel like shit. One moment stuck out to me as being the shittiest, though. One of the women told me from her perch on the couch as I sat on the floor in tears that all I needed to do was love myself and then all the other pieces would fall into place and I'd be happy and find the right man and everything would be great. Hair flip. Wine sip. She said it like it was nothing, like it was easy. Just love yourself. Oh okay. Thanks. I'll go do that. BRB. Was she wrong? Not entirely. But loving myself was proving to be really difficult for me and continued to be difficult until very, very, very recently.

For a long time I genuinely thought I loved myself. When I saw something I wanted I bought it, ate it, or drank it. I felt sorry for myself when people were mean to me. Wasn't that it? Wasn't that me loving myself? Why wasn't my life getting better like Hair Flip Wine Sip said it would? Why did I feel anxious and like shit all the time? 

This year I took a closer look and oh wow. No. I did not love myself. If I loved myself, I wouldn't have gone on that trip to the Cape. I knew I was going to have a lousy time. Out of the three women I went on that trip with two were okay, but one of them was really cruel and passive aggressive to me and I knew being around her was going to make me feel worse. So why did I go? Why did I remain friends with her for 8 years? Why did I exclusively date men who disliked me to my very core and were horrible to me? Why didn't I have a dentist? Why didn't I own winter gloves? It really hit me: all those times that people told me I was mean to myself, all those times that people told me I just needed to love myself? Yeah. They were right. I was a total asshole to myself and I needed to fix it.

I think a lot of the time when people want to focus on self-love and self-care they immediately book a massage or a vacation or take a personal day from work, I started my self-love project by booking a bunch of doctor’s appointments. I wanted a clean bill of health and I'd go from there. I went into my doctor’s appointments prepared to advocate for myself and it felt really good. I wanted my questions answered, I wanted good referrals to specialists who were actually going to call me back, I wanted more than a cursory glance and a "see you in a year." I got a physical and made sure it lasted a solid 30 minutes, I didn't rush through it sheepishly because I felt bad for taking up my doctor's time. I did a ton of research on birth control options and found the safest, most reliable one for a woman my age and set it up. I badgered my way into the dermatologist and had her look at all my weird moles and cut two of them off and biopsy them. I relentlessly called psychiatrists and finally found someone who would see me and got medicine for the anxiety I'd been struggling with for 15 years. I quit drinking alcohol and that blew the roof off of things. Then I got started on my apartment. I got a hamper. I moved my toaster to a part of the counter that made it easier to use and it made me love my kitchen again. I got rid of mugs I hated and books I never liked and pictures of assholes I'd dated. I got batteries for my alarm clock so I'd stop sleeping with my phone every single night. I moved my now-useless wine glasses out of the huge cabinet and filled that cabinet with food. Then, I dove into my finances. I sat down and spent a long time looking at my credit card statement online and for the first time in my adult life (sad, I know) I truly understood what I was doing to myself by carrying around that debt and I made a plan to pay it off as quickly as I could. 

Isn't this all so exciting? Nope. It's pretty boring. It's not a massage, it's not a vacation. It's better. It's so so so much better. I stopped taking care of myself years ago because I just didn't give a shit. I felt awful and I got used to it. I stayed down there. I gave up. I passively bought myself sweaters and Ubers to work and pedicures and bottles of wine and $28 hamburgers at the Four Seasons and called it self-love because self-love was trendy and those things sounded good on Facebook, but it was far far far away from loving myself. 


I am in a relationship now and I'm very happy. (I love you, Prom Date.) But I am equally happy that I'm FINALLY back in a relationship with myself and knowing and loving myself fully for the very first time. Happy Valentine’s Day, all.   

Friday, December 8, 2017

Friday Five @ 5

Public Garden, Thursday Afternoon
1. I did a shitty job of exercising this week. I have taken not a single yoga class. Not one. Sure I technically exercised, but that was work. I was required to be there, I was paid to be there. Getting motivated to do your own exercise can be so freaking hard. Even if you love it. I LOVE yoga. I feel better when I'm going regularly, I love the routine it creates in my morning, nothing about it isn't wonderful. And yet, every single morning this week? NOPE. Hard pass. I had every excuse. I was tired. It was cold out. I had a mountain of dirty dishes in the sink and I needed to get up and wash them instead of going to class. I didn't totally know what I was teaching that night and I should use the time I'd be in yoga class to make my playlist. Did I get up and wash my dishes? No. Did I get up and make my playlist? No. I stayed in my bed for a WHILE. I got up and threw myself together in 20 mins. I bought breakfast on the way to work. One day I even had two doughnuts. Two of them. That was the best I could do this week, and I'm fine with it. Maybe I'll do better next week. Onward.

2. I love Old Navy so much. I went yesterday and got this shirtthis dressthis hat, and two pairs earrings that they don't appear to have online. I really like getting earrings at Old Navy. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to have a nice pair of earrings. I am researching gold hoops currently. I really want to buy myself a super nice pair of Big Girl gold hoops. But even when I do buy those hoops? I'm still going to buy earrings at Old Navy to wear day-to-day. They are between $6 and $10 and they are adorable. If you're on the go and disorganized like me and taking your earrings off and shoving them in your gym bag hurriedly, you're eventually going to lose one. If they are $6? It doesn't matter. Also. Anytime someone tells me they like my jewelry, it's something I've purchased at Old Navy. Every. Single. Time. I love you, Old Navy. Never change.

3. I made this Shrimp with Tomatoes, White Beans & Spinach recipe last night and it was divine. Highly recommended. For those of you who know my situation: I did include wine in my sauce. I bought $2.99 Charles Shaw Pinot Grigio, poured out the half cup of it that I needed, and then dumped the rest down the sink and put the empty bottle outside in recycling. I felt like a superhero.

4. While we are on THAT topic, I went to an AA meeting recently. I'm not going to tell you where or when it was. I'm not going to tell you who I went with. I was asked if I wanted to check it out and I went. A lot of things about the experience were eye-opening for me. The most major thing was that I could not believe how crowded the meeting was. HUGE group. Standing room only. Tons of people who looked exactly like me, tons of people who looked nothing like me. I looked at the person I went to the meeting with on the way in and jokingly said, "I thought I was the only one." I sat through the meeting and looked around and wondered who was in all the bars since everyone was here. I never realized and still can't totally comprehend how common it is to have a complicated, challenging relationship with alcohol. Going to this meeting and seeing how many people showed up for it kind of blew my mind. On one level it made me feel better: I'm not the only one who has this struggle. On another level, it sort of bothered me. If THIS many people in this tiny sliver of the world are showing up for this one meeting of which there are hundreds in the area, then why is it still okay in our culture to almost celebrate binge drinking? Sweatshirts that say, "Sip Sip Hooray" and tote bags that say "Rosé All Day." I tried drinking rosé all day many, many, many times. I tested it out. I made sure I got a good sense of it. Trust me, it's not a good thing. I was walking through Roche Bros in Downtown Crossing yesterday and the woman running the wine tasting asked me multiple times if I wanted to try some wine. I finally had to tell her I had a drinking problem and she needed to stop. I went to lunch in my beloved North End last month and at the end of the meal during which I did not drink alcohol, the server brought me a shot glass of limoncello. A nice gesture? Maybe. But thank goodness I was master of my drinking domain by then. If they'd hit me with that on a day earlier on in my process, I would have had the limoncello and it would have been off to the races for days and days. Now, I'm not turning into a preachy jerk who thinks everyone on the planet has a drinking problem and alcohol needs to be banned. I'm not saying that at all. On Thanksgiving my family split a bottle of white wine and I didn't really care. On my birthday I went to the Four Seasons with a huge group of my friends and 90% of them had cocktails and I didn't really care. It doesn't bother me that people drink. What does bother me is that there is this culture that really encourages us to overdo it. If you go to a restaurant and you aren't drinking alcohol, the server rarely asks you if you want another glass of whatever you're having. If you are drinking alcohol, they are up your ass to order your next round, they are refilling your wine glass before you can tell them not to. I went to a party on Friday night in a restaurant and told the server I didn't drink alcohol but that I wanted something with a lot of lime juice, a splash of grapefruit, seltzer, and a salt rim. It was delicious, I really liked it. I wanted another one. I had to chase him down to order it, but I noticed he offered everyone who WAS drinking alcohol a second round. I had a couple people at the party ask me how I went about ordering my drink, and I saw it occur to them that not having alcohol at the event was an option. For YEARS I felt I could not stop drinking because how on earth would I still socialize? How could I do all my favorite things like see friends after work and go to nice restaurants and have oysters in the summer and cook in my kitchen at the end of a long day? You needed wine to do those things. What I've learned over the past 121 days since my last drink, is that I can still do all my favorite things. I actually enjoy them more. Prom Date and I go to a really nice restaurant and have a gorgeous meal almost every Saturday night. I ate oysters several times this summer. I cook in my kitchen all the time. But it was driven into my brain for years that I couldn't do those things without alcohol, and that's bullshit. Now, this was my first AA meeting. I'm not going back to that particular one simply because it won't work with my schedule regularly. I'm not sure if I'll find another one. I might. We'll see. But I'm told that a big part of AA is to go through the steps and achieve sobriety and maintain that sobriety partially through your efforts to help others with the same struggle do the same thing. I am a huge fan of this model. When I shared my initial post about my drinking problem, I heard from a lot of people who confided in me that they wondered about their own drinking. Talking with those people did strengthen my resolve to stay sober and made me look at my newly adopted lifestyle and like it more. I want to put it out there that if you do wonder about your drinking and you want to talk about it, I am here to listen to you. Again, I don't think every person on the planet is an alcoholic, but I do think we are all encouraged to overdo it. If you need support figuring out where you fall on the alcohol spectrum, I am happy to provide a judgement-free space for you to talk it out. That meeting really let me know that I'm not alone, you're not alone either.

5. On a lighter note, have any of you seen this new movie Lady Bird? It looks really good and Stephen Colbert says it's one of the best movies he's ever seen. I'm thinking I might need to take myself to see it on Sunday afternoon.

Happy Friday, you guys.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Friday Five @ 5

1. I was late to the party in terms of loving butternut squash. Nowadays I can't get enough. Doesn't this recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash Hummus sound delicious? I love that there's no tahini in it. Can't stand tahini. Might whip up a batch of this over the weekend. 

2. I read this article on self-care this week and it really resonated. The whole concept of self-care sort of bothered me for years. Oh great, on top of everything else I'm dealing with, now there's pressure to find the money for a fucking facial and some free time to take a bath. Ugh. What the article was saying is that self-care isn't necessarily about making your life look like some happier woman's Pinterest board, it's literally about taking care of yourself. It's having a dentist. Making a spreadsheet so you can figure out your debt and your budget. It's staying home and letting yourself not wash the dishes and not care that you're not washing the dishes. I loved this article. You should read it if you haven't already. 

3. Tonight is my 20-year high school reunion in Quincy. I can't believe it's been 20 years. I kind of doubt anyone prepares for something like this and says, "Yeah. I can believe it's been 20 years," but I still have to say it. I didn't like high school. I was shy and awkward. I had a crush on a boy who didn't like me back. My favorite teacher from all four years was actually a student teacher from Boston College who taught my history class for just a few months one year. I didn't drink any water during the day because I was scared to go into the bathroom because people smoked in there. I was voted "Quietest" in our yearbook and the day they took the photos I refused to show up for them so they had to come upstairs and get me and make me come downstairs and in the picture I look like I've been crying and that's because I had been crying. My business teacher sent me to the school psychologist because he thought I seemed sad. I had a few very close friends, but I never really felt like I was part of a group. I didn't really go to parties or drink (I made up for that though, right? Haha, right.) My grades weren't amazing. I wasn't super nice, people weren't super nice to me, and I was pretty happy when it was all over. I never felt comfortable in that building. I went back there about eight months ago. I found myself in Quincy on a Saturday morning and was passing North Quincy High School on my way to the T and saw that there was a fair amount of activity out front, so I just followed a group of people in and kept walking so that I looked like I had a reason to be there. I noticed a few changes, but it was pretty much the same. It smelled the same, it echoed the same. I walked all over the building and tried to feel nostalgic or have a sense of, "Awww I remember that!" Never happened. I went to my five-year, my 10-year, and my 15-year high school reunions and I left all of them feeling funny. I've never gone to any of my college reunions. I think I popped into an after party for one of them in a bar one time, but that was about it. I loved college. I feel great about the experience I had there, I loved so many of my professors, and have so many fond memories. I'm at peace with college. I rarely think about it. So it seems for me reunions are not about reuniting with old friends and catching up and celebrating, they are about making sense of an experience, making peace with it. Maybe this will be the year high school will make sense.

4. Did you all have a nice Thanksgiving yesterday? Mine was pretty good. I was having an off day. Don't you hate it when your off day falls on a day where you're supposed to be cheerful and rosy cheeked and laughing and skipping everywhere? Yeah I was off. But teaching Thanksgiving morning classes perked me up and time with my family is always lovely and seeing my pug nephew never fails to make me smile. I think there's a LOT of pressure to be happy during the holiday season and I just want to put it out there that it's okay if you're feeling off or a little meh or downright sad here and there over the next few weeks. Everyone else is, too from time to time. Ease up on yourself. 

5. I chose new glasses frames and I'm so excited I could burst. I never thought I could be a cool Warby Parker person and I never in a billion years would have picked these out. I grabbed them by accident and put them on and LOVED them. I think I'm going to be a glasses person, I'm going to wear them all the time. I can't see a damn thing, if I'm honest. I've always been insecure and not wanted to wear my glasses regularly because I wasn't sure if people would think I looked funny. But, I'm 20 years removed from high school and shouldn't care about stuff like that anymore AND I'm into true self-care nowadays, so a glasses person I shall be.

Happy Weekend, everyone.    

Friday, November 17, 2017

Friday Five @ 5

One of my favorite pockets of the North End.
1. I love Frances McDormand. I love her. I'm going to see her new movie Three Bilboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri with my two best friends (Mom and Dad) this Sunday at the wonderful Coolidge Corner Theatre. It looks great, but honestly I'd see anything Ms. McDormand did. (Also the Coolidge has the best popcorn I've ever tasted.) If you're a fan of Frances and you haven't already, you should read this recent New York Times article about her. 

2. I think had what Oprah would call an "aha moment" the other night. I was sitting on a bench trying to get in the zone to teach a dance class. I started thinking about a class I'd taught recently that I was particularly pleased with. I approached that class almost as if I was trying to earn the right to continue teaching. I did this because my new manager was in the studio taking the class. I wanted to do my very best work, and convey how much I care about my participants and how grateful I am for the opportunity to teach. Teaching that way felt TERRIFIC. I realized sitting there that I could and should be approaching every single class that way; from a place of genuine caring and gratitude. Then I dug a bit deeper and decided that maybe I should approach other situations in my life that way, too. Maybe I should care a bit more and give my very best effort to everything that I'm grateful for. Maybe I can apply this approach to the way I do my job, the way I treat my people, and the way I treat myself. I'm going to think more about this. Operating from a place of gratitude. I've never really had a life motto or philosophy. I'm kind of loosey goose with how I live. Do you have a life philosophy? Is that what you even call this? A life philosophy? A human being mission statement?

3. While you're thinking about your life philosophy/human being mission statement, here is a quick and delicious snack you should make: sliced baguette brushed with olive oil and toasted in the oven, smear of good ricotta, sprinkle of black pepper, thin slice of Prosciutto di Parma piled loosely on top, drizzle of honey. I made this last weekend for me and Prom Date and it was quite good. I'd do it again with a bit more honey. Be indulgent with that drizzle. Make it rain.

4. 100 days ago today I officially quit drinking. 100 full and complete days. I keep waiting for the moment to arrive where I regret this decision or genuinely miss alcohol, but that moment hasn't arrived yet. Sometimes I crave the escape the bottles of wine once gave me. When you're sober you feel every feeling and hear every thought. On occasion that can be really hard, especially if you're like me and struggle with anxiety. I've tried to seek out other ways of coping with the noisier, harsher moments and I've done an okay job. I give myself a B. Maybe a B+. Overall, life is good. I don't miss the shame, exhaustion, and despair of my drinking. It sounds dramatic, but that's what it was for me. Shame, exhaustion, and despair. I was watching This is Us on Wednesday night and there was a scene where one of the characters who is battling an addiction to painkillers and alcohol crumples to the ground and tearfully keeps repeating, "I just need somebody to help me." Once again, This Is Us just nailed it. Nailed. It. I had a moment exactly like that. It was a year ago. A Saturday. Very, very late at night/early in the morning and I was sitting on the steps of a church in the North End bawling my eyes out. Several hours earlier I'd texted whichever friend I'd been out with and told them I was "Home safe!" Nope. Not home. Not safe. Sitting there outside the church after several hours of supplementary drinking by myself in an effort to not feel my feelings and hear my thoughts, I just wanted someone to find me. I was ready. I wanted someone to come out of the church and find me and take me inside where it was quiet and safe and let me tell them how I ended up there. I knew if I could start talking to someone right then, I'd start the process of fixing what was broken. No one ever came out of the church and eventually I walked home and went to sleep. I'm thankful for the combination of factors, people, and experiences that came together a little over 100 days ago and made me brave enough to start fixing what's broken.

5. I applied to a real, legit yoga teacher training program and got accepted. Isn't that weird? I start in January. If you told me two years ago that I'd be doing this I'd have laughed REALLY hard in your face. Sure, I teach in a gym. But I yell and crank music as loud as it will go and flail and say strange things and throw myself on the floor and at the mirror. I'm not a yoga instructor. For some reason I feel in my bones that this program is the right next step for me though, so maybe I'll become one. We'll see.

Happy Friday, you guys.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Friday Five @ 5

Wednesday evening, Hanover Street
1. Last night I took a new (to me) class at my yoga studio and I loved it so much that waking up this morning I still don't know what to do with all my feelings about it. Pilates Fusion. I'd seen it on the schedule for years. I'd taken other classes by this instructor. She is enormously popular and I enjoy her pilates mat classes on Saturday mornings from time to time. This was Something Else. It's a little cardio, a little ballet toning, a lot of push-ups and squats, AND a classical pilates mat flow. It was so good I had to stop myself from clapping several times. Bit of a reserved group at this studio, no floor slaps for them. So, after you do all of that stuff I just mentioned and you are sweatier than you've ever been in your entire life, there is an actual savasana, which essentially means you lie on the floor and do nothing. Or everything. During the savasana she shut all the lights off and blasted this "Praying" song by Ke$ha that I'd never heard before and that made me cry joyful tears on my mat. I realize I'm maybe a little too excited about this class. That's just me being me. But seriously,  this was the real deal. If you want a PHENOMENAL workout, you need to try this. And just a quick sidenote for all my fellow lower back pain sufferers: pilates really does help, my lower back pain is way more manageable since I've started doing pilates more regularly. Thursdays at 7:15pm in the North End. $16 walk-in.

2. Well, everyone warned me. Not everyone, but most people. When I contemplated bangs people said they'd be fun, but growing them out would be a bitch. I tried. I really did. I got fun hair combs and tried to have a positive attitude and just push them to the side. I Googled pictures of Kate Middleton during her bang grow-out phase to make myself feel like less of a monster. I bought a wide headband and tried to liked it. But yesterday I just snapped. I hate this. I HATE IT. I want them gone. I don't know where to put them. It's throwing off my whole head. It's throwing off my whole LIFE. Growing out bangs is the damn worst. If you are considering getting them, don't. Okay sorry. I just needed to let that out. You're supposed to be all sunshine on the internet and pretend that everything in your life is great and you have it all together and I just can't do that any longer in the area of bang growing. It sucks and I'm miserable.

3. Fun Fact: I don't know how to drive. I still haven't learned. I don't dislike the concept of driving, it just hasn't yet occurred to me to go learn how to do it. Cars have never been my thing. Interestingly, cars are very much THE Thing for my boyfriend (I have one of those now) and they always have been. They are his passion, they are his career. His whole energy changes when he talks about cars and the depth of his knowledge about them is (at least to me) extensive. 20 years prior to our first date this summer we actually went to my prom together. That magical night back in May of 1997 we opted to forgo the group limousine and instead ride in his very shiny fancy looking black Mustang that I'm quite sure has a proper name other than Very Shiny Fancy Looking Black Mustang. It looked really good. It had a loud engine. I liked it when he drove fast. I felt like a smug badass arriving at my prom in it. That was about as much as I knew. Fast forward to 2017 and I'm still pretty car clueless, but last weekend I went to my first real car event. It was called Cape Run and my Prom Date organized it with a friend of his. This is the 15th year they've done it. Every year it raises money for two charitable causes: the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline and a local family in need. I wasn't sure what to expect. He said there would be fast driving. I said, "Like 80 miles per hour?" He kind of smiled and said, "Faster" and I kind of considered wearing a helmet. I didn't, but this event was a total culture shock for me. Imagine approximately 80 of the most impressive looking automobiles you've ever seen in your non-driving life all in one place. Powerful. I couldn't believe my eyes. We gathered at a very nice car dealership in Norwell, checked everyone in, there were some poignant remarks about the two charities, some rules explained, an introduction to the police who'd be escorting us, and then we took off. Holy SHIT did we take off. Remember how I enjoyed how fast my Prom Date drove the night of the prom? Same deal. Times a million. I had butterflies in my stomach and was holding on to the door handle awkwardly and could only breathe in, but I really liked it. I was so proud of him. The event raised a good amount of money, it was a beautiful day, and the genuine camaraderie amongst the participants was something I didn't expect. Hearing them all talk to each other about their cars reminded me of hearing artists talk to each other about their work. I loved it. I started to understand the car thing a bit more. The best part of the day, though, was seeing my Prom Date immersed in something he really loves. One of my MOST favorite qualities in a person is the ability to be passionate about something. Anything. Even something I know nothing about.

4. I decided I'm going to attempt to write an actual book. Truthfully, I started it seven years ago. It's a bunch of essays saved in various email accounts and on various laptops and in the notes app on my iPhone at this point, but I really want to do something with it. Until recently I've been scared to give it a shot. Writing is the thing I love to do the most. If I make it real, if I attempt to really do it, what if it fails? I'll have lost it, it won't be mine anymore, it won't be the same. A few things came together to motivate me and make me feel more brave. Part of it was thinking about teaching fitness. I loved BodyJam SO much. It was the thing that, in my mind, saved my life. Taking class made me happier than I'd felt in so long. If I tried to teach it, it could ruin it. It didn't. It made it better. A lot better. I'm also two years away from 40 now. That milestone is making me think, hmmm, what do I want to accomplish before I get there? Also, quitting the booze has given me a TON of free time and I need to fill it up with something. And finally, seeing my Prom Date do something with his life that is tied to the thing he loves the most has been inspiring for me. I feel like I should do this. I'm going to try. Stay tuned.

5. It's getting cold out and I want to buy this, this, this, and these.      


Friday, October 20, 2017

Friday Five @ 5

And that's just what they'll do.
1. I shared this on Instagram earlier this week, but I'm mentioning it again here. You need need need need to go to Trader Joe's and buy their vegan Kale, Cashew, Basil Pesto. I cannot stop eating it and I'm terrified of the day they stop making it. It seems to be a new product so there isn't even a link for me to send you to. It's in the refrigerated section by their hummus and pico de gallo. Go get some, smear it on toast, top that with some thin slices of fresh mozz, and top that with an egg. SO DAMN GOOD.

2. I wish I could have done a "Me Too" post this week, but I couldn't. One thing I've always struggled with as a victim of sexual assault is to claim it. What does that mean? I can't say that it happened to me and really mean it. I cannot. I know what happened. I know what it's called. I knew it was wrong each and every time. I've even said it out loud. But, I can't say it and REALLY mean it. In the back of my head there's a teeny tiny voice that says I'm a liar. It didn't really happen to me. I didn't speak up soon enough so it doesn't count. I'd been drinking so there's a grey area. In at least one case I was probably strong enough to have physically stopped it and I didn't so consent was probably implied. And so on and so forth. I'm thankful to all of you who did share. I'm usually Share-y McShareson on Facebook and I really could not copy and paste and type those two words this week. That was weird for me. I thought about your posts a lot and that fact that it was probably pretty scary for you to write them and share them. You've really refocused and reinvigorated my healing process. Thank you, and I'm sorry for what each of you has experienced.

3. I haven't been to the MFA for a while. The last time I visited I wasn't in love with the experience. I got snapped at for attempting to use the wrong entrance and it soured the rest of my visit because I let it because that's how I am. I think I've recovered, and I'm glad because I am dying to see the Murakami show that just opened. Who wants to go with me? I think we should go and then go to the new Eventide Oyster that just opened in the Fenway. Doesn't that sound like a good day?

4. Earth shattering news: I've decided to grow out my bangs. Already? Yup. Tomorrow I will go to the salon and get a transitional haircut to begin the process of bidding my bangs farewell. In my heart I knew they would be temporary, a fling. I loved the time we had together. Honestly, I got them because I needed to act out. I was stressed and churning and needed to do something bratty and indulgent. But what could I do? I don't drink anymore. I couldn't find anything I really wanted to buy. Food wasn't cutting it. The night before I got my bangs, I taught my classes as hard as I could and the next morning I twisted myself into the most pretzel-y pretzel shape I've ever twisted myself into in yoga. But I still needed to do SOMETHING to get it out. Whatever "it" was. When I got to the salon I could barely sit still, and when it was done and I looked in the mirror it was such a relief. I really liked being a girl with bangs for a month, but now I'm done. I want my face back. I'm finished being in my disguise. I have combs to hold them back with and a headband and I'm ready. Let's grow.

5. I hate to get back on this and I really don't want to talk about it, but this Harvey Weinstein story is really making me itch. This morning I saw a New York Times video hitting the point home that most people in Hollywood knew about it and didn't do anything. This doesn't shock me. I had a situation at work many, many moons ago. It was totally separate and totally different from the situations I alluded to above in #2, but it was awful. It completely changed the course of my career and thew me into a tailspin in my life that, honestly, I'm sort of still trying to recover from. Most, if not all, of the people in the organization knew what was going on. They gossiped. Even the people who were hired after I'd left and who never even met me gossiped. They had a field day with it. I'm sure it was amusing, but they did nothing to help me. No one ever said, "Hey, you're a junior member of our staff. You've suddenly dropped 25 pounds and look like you're about to fall over and we know why. Maybe this isn't a good idea for you, let's talk about it and try and get you out of it." I've done my best over the years since then to be a good manager of younger female staff and a confidant for my female co-workers. If I notice even a tiny little thing that seems off, I drop everything and check in. It's important to do that, clearly... Okay. I'm done talking about this now. This isn't a very organized piece of writing. I'm not super clearheaded about all of this, but I'm getting more clearheaded and I plan to write a lot more about it :o)

Happy Friday, all.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Friday Five @ 5

The Back Bay looked nice yesterday, no?
1. So last night at 11:30 p.m. I decided it was time to clean and organize my entire apartment. It wasn't like I had to get up and go to work and then teach two classes today or anything. UGH. Anyway. One task was to clean off my kitchen table which was covered in the birthday cards and gifts I received last week. (I am a very lucky girl, thank you for all the cards and gifts, you guys.) One of those gifts was a copy of Amy Schumer's The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo. I picked it up and as I was walking to my bedroom to put it on my desk, I flipped through it. A sentence caught my eye and I stopped walking, got totally sucked in, and read an entire essay standing up right there in my hallway. I figured this book would be good. I had it on my list. But it's really not what I expected. It's better. I think you should all go get a copy and read it with me.

2. I'm on the hunt for a new apartment. It's time, but I'm not in a rush. I started my search a little over a week ago. I've been to see one unit and seeing that unit temporarily took the wind out of my sails. I don't understand how anyone affords to live in Boston. I moved into my place a little over five years ago, and I think it just might be the cheapest apartment in the entire city. I saw what I could get for $1700 (which would be a somewhat substantial increase in price) and it rattled me. I wouldn't have been able to keep both my bed and my couch. It was that small. Because I'm not in a hurry and not totally sure what I want and where I want it or who I am and what the meaning of life is, I've started to search by keyword on Craigslist and Zillow. Instead of searching by location and price I'm just typing in things like "clawfoot tub" and "walk to beach" and "hardwood floors." Priorities. So far the search results are telling me to live in Lowell, Swampscott, Brighton, or Revere. Interesting.

3. "When you are a young woman, and you believe in your own worth and personhood and agency, it can be hard, despite the cliches that govern this situation, to understand that an older man who takes an interest in you does not necessarily share these beliefs."

4. I'm making this spaghetti pangrattato recipe for dinner tonight. One of my absolute favorites. It's so flavorful and comforting. Also, I love capers. Capers on everything, please.

5. This week my therapist asked me a question and I can't stop thinking about it. I was telling her what my experience of being in a therapy session was like. I said that I felt like I sort of floated above myself and listened to the words I was saying for the 50 minutes I was with her, and then reflected on them afterwards. She asked me if I ever felt fully present in our sessions and I said no. I felt bad. I felt like I was telling her she wasn't doing a good job. She is doing SUCH a good job. She then asked me if I ever felt fully present anywhere else, and I said no again. Then I took it back and told her I felt fully present when I was teaching. This is true. It's not that I don't want to be fully present in any other areas of my life, it's just that I'm not. I can't be. Yet. Sometimes I'm 95% there. Sometimes I'm 50% there. But when I'm teaching I'm 100% there, and I always have been ever since the first time I attempted to teach six years ago. It was in my very first training. When I got up to present my track something clicked. I felt like I met myself. The second the music started I had this feeling of, "Oh, there you are. Hey." Like I'd been looking for someone for what felt like an eternity in a grocery store and they literally weren't in any of the aisles and then I finally spotted them way up front looking at the potted plants. I'm not sure why teaching is the place where I can be fully present. I'm very shy, pretty insecure, and not super in shape, but standing up in front of a room full of people with a microphone strapped to my face telling them how to exercise feels just right. I wish so much that I could take that feeling out of the studio and apply it to the rest of my life. In the meantime, I'm thankful to have that feeling in the studio. I'm excited to see some of you in the studio tonight.

Happy Friday, all.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

World Mental Health Day

Ann in the Sand.
Was feeling mopey today and the beach cheered me up.
Today the Internet told me that it's World Mental Health Day. I don't know if establishing a day ever actually accomplishes anything, but I'm glad this one exists. I think the world does need to pay more attention to the importance of mental health, and if this day encourages even a few people to start taking theirs more seriously, I'm all for it. I thought I'd share a tiny bit of my mental health story here:

I'm pretty open about the fact that I see a therapist once a week. I need help. I have no problem admitting that. I'm not going to whisper about it or call it something else in my planner in case someone sees it written down. I'm getting help because I struggle with anxiety and have some traumas to process. That doesn't make me a bad person. That doesn't make me "crazy." I'm getting help so that I can manage my anxiety and not let the things that happened to me in my past put a damper on my present and my future.  I'm getting help so I can treat the people I love better. I'm getting help so I can be a good co-worker and a more clearheaded instructor. I'm getting help because I want to live a happy and healthy life. Nothing to be embarrassed about. 

I'm a sharer, though. I'm an open book. I LOVE talking about my feelings. I'm aware that not everyone is this way. Sharing how you feel can be hard, asking for help can be really hard, and finding help can be absolutely BRUTAL. When I was looking for my current therapist, I wasn't feeling my best. I was feeling pretty lousy. I started to look for someone to talk to. A lot of providers just never called or emailed me back. Those who did reply went nowhere. They were either not taking new patients, they didn't take Harvard Pilgrim HMO, or they weren't available at a normal time of day. It can be so discouraging. You finally get to a place where you're ready to look for a therapist and you feel rejected over and over and over again. It can start to feel like it's not worth it because it's almost making you feel worse. 

When my current therapist wrote to me and said that she did take my insurance, she was located a 5-minute walk from my office, and she was available at a normal time on a normal day, I was in shock. I honestly still don't believe her sometimes. A tiny part of me is just waiting for the day when I arrive for my appointment and she tells me that woops, she was wrong, she doesn't take this particular type of Harvard Pilgrim insurance and here's a bill for $1.4 million dollars and have a nice life. I doubt that will happen, and the fact that I still kind of worry about it happening is the reason I'm there in the first place, yay! 

Anyway, trying to find help was shitty. If my therapist moves or retires and I have look for someone new, it will be shitty again. If you're in the process of trying to find help, you probably think the process is shitty, too. I totally understand. But what I want to scream from the rooftops tonight is that it is SO WORTH IT. Taking care of your own mental health is so important and can make such an enormous difference in less time than you probably think. If you feel sad, angry, overwhelmed, or anxious; if something terrible just happened and you need some help making sense of your feelings; if the extreme amount of violence in our country and around the world is shaking you to your core and you need to talk it out, go for it. Get some help. And (I mean this, I really really really mean this, you tiny community of people who read this blog) if you need help asking for help, I'm here to help you. Please never ever hesitate to ask me. 

Happy World Mental Health Day.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Friday Five @ 5

New year. New mug. New motto.
1. I'm going to keep this short because it's my birthday and I'm all jittery and happy and excited for my day. Today I am 38. Isn't that hysterical? They are going to let ME be an actual 38-year old. It really makes me laugh. I'm not 38. You should see my kitchen table right now. You can't even believe what a disaster it is. People who are 38 have neat, orderly, clean kitchen tables. Clearly, I am not really 38. How did this happen? I can actually remember my third birthday. I know you don't believe me, but I really honestly do. I have this vivid memory of coming downstairs and then turning around to face the stairs when I got to the bottom. I held three fingers up and stared at them and in my little kid brain I thought, "Woah. That's a lot. I hope I like 3." I still feel that way this morning. I hope I like 38. Even though I'm not really 38.

2. I fell in love with these Parcelona hair pins while back. I just thought they were so pretty. I finally ordered them and they arrived this week. OBSESSED. If you love a messy bun as much as I do, you need to get these magical things.

3. I can't put my feelings about the horrific massacre in Las Vegas into coherent sentences. I wanted to write something about it in this post, but I honestly can't find the words. I'm just going to say that if you're reading this, I love you and I'm happy you're alive and I'm alive and let's try and have a good day today because life is just too fragile.

4. The other night I was pouting into my kitchen cabinet like a brat thinking, "Why don't chickpeas go with pasta? What could be more disappointing and boring than chickpeas and pasta? Wah." That was pretty much all I had in. Well, guess WHAT! Turns out? Chickpeas do go with pasta. Thanks to Deb Perelman over at Smitten Kitchen I learned that Pasta e Ceci (Pasta with Chickpeas) is a staple dish in Rome. She posted this recipe yesterday and I made it last night and it was wonderful. Really delicious. The best part is the finishing oil, make sure you do that part, takes only a few minutes.

5. I was reflecting last night and honestly couldn't remember a time where I'd felt more content on a Birthday Eve. I cannot put into words how huge this is for me. I've spent a lot of years being deeply unhappy and really mean to myself. I was going to say that 37 was good to me, but honestly, I think I was good to 37. It was still a pretty typical year and nothing about my life is really THAT different. Some good things happened this year for sure. But some shitty things also happened. I cried. I got mad. You recall I have a very messy kitchen table. My butt is still bigger than I'd like it to be. I had some really bad days. It was far from perfect. But the thing that was different, was that I got on my own team this past year. I've never done that before. I've been self-centered. Really really self-centered. But there's a HUGE difference between being self-centered and practicing self care. I learned that this past year.  Onto the next one.

Happy Friday, all.