Friday, October 27, 2017

Friday Five @ 5

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

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.