I Signed Up For This

I signed up for this. That is the refrain that moves through my mind almost daily now. This is the thing that I moved back to Kentucky to be close enough to do, this caring for my grandfather, this pitching in. The thing about it is that I don’t know if I actually believed that I would be called upon to pitch in, not for real. Not like this.

Maybe I thought I would move back to Kentucky and drive to Pikeville a couple of times a month and that would assuage my conscience. I wouldn’t feel that ache in my chest any longer every time I thought of my family and what I was missing by being so far away, not the way that I did while I lived in Florida.

The first month or two in Lexington were wonderful. Harry and I driving home to do the stuff that I wanted to, watching my nephew play ball, seeing my sister. Staying in Lexington otherwise to get settled in, stopping by to see Pap when I was in town, but doing none of the heavy lifting myself. Hell, rarely even seeing what the heavy lifting looked like.

It’s not that caring for my grandfather requires a lot. In reality, he is a low maintenance patient. He watches CNN for the majority of his day. He likes coffee in the morning with a bite of breakfast, doesn’t eat lunch, and then has his dinner around 7. Due to the Lewy Bodies symptoms, he needs help with walking, getting changed, personal issues, and into bed, but those are simple enough.

You would think so. Until you’re packing a bag at the beginning of every week to make the two and a half hour drive to the land of no phone service and 72 hours of putting your life on hold.

This undertaking is the hardest thing that I have ever done. Harder than graduating college, harder than moving across the country alone, and harder than getting sober. It is difficult in so many ways, ways that I never even considered when my uncle contacted me to say that they needed my help.

It is hard to leave the life that I am building with Harry in Lexington every single week. Our house is closer and closer to being done. Boxes unpacked, artwork on the walls, finally our home, and I want to enjoy it. Yet every Sunday or Monday I head to central Appalachia.

Watching the man that you thought was invincible deteriorate before your eyes is hard, especially when there are times when he doesn’t know who you are. Moving a 190-pound man takes a lot out of you. By the time that I get in the car to return I am emotionally and sometimes physically spent. It isn’t just the leaving that is difficult. It is the returning as well.

All that I want to do is curl up in bed for a day, maybe two, and ignore the world. I want to see my boyfriend and my dog, do my laundry to erase the smell of stale smoke and tend to the errands that have been neglected while I have been in Pikeville, like the grocery shopping and the meal prep, hopefully hitting the gym. This gets me to the weekend, where I start thinking about packing up my bag and heading back again. I have little energy left for friends and socializing. I simply want to sit on my couch with my tiny family.

Some weekends this desire wins out and I sink into Netflix and a warm fuzzy blanket, doing the absolute minimum that I can while still feeling like I’m not avoiding my responsibilities. Other weekends I do a little better and balance time spent with friends with my chill time at home. All of the time though, I wish that I had more of it, time that it is: more time to spend developing relationships in Lexington, more time to devote to my relationship with Harry, more time for self-care, just more time. Time is finite though, so I pack my bag and hit the Mountain Parkway again.

I signed up for this. This woman who shows up regardless of how badly she’d rather run, of how heavy her heart is, of how troubling her family can be. She is whom I have decided that I want to be. I am strong when I would rather crumble. I keep showing up. I do my best to be helpful. I try to do the things that no one else thinks to do and be useful in ways that are uniquely me. I keep my Grandmother’s spirit in all that I do. Then I return home and occasionally I fall apart. I hide in a serious Netflix binge or a flurry of reading. I accomplish what I can. I do my best to take care of my relationships and myself. I take small steps towards my future. And then I pack another bag because…

I signed up for this.

 

Mindfully in the Moment

Sitting here on my friend’s porch, post yoga, in the Florida humidity, I am grateful. I have been realizing over the last two weeks that I haven’t been present in my own life in a long while. I have had short periods over the last year of being in the moment, landing in a new city to do some exploring has a way of forcing you to be present, but if I am honest even then my mind has been elsewhere. When I am home I am usually playing catch up with schoolwork and housework, and trying to get my shit together for the next jaunt. I am planning the next trip, counting down the days until departure, or wishing I were already gone. This has made my life at home seem like one obligation after another. When you cram all of your responsibilities into four days, so that you can leave every weekend, life can seem a little hectic!

I am beginning to see that I have been running since May of last year. I haven’t been necessarily running away from anything so much as running towards something, that something being an understanding of myself, what I want, and what I need in this life. I have learned what I like in a city, that I can do anything alone, and that I still use all kinds of weird tools to escape from life, and that long-distance dating is really not great for me. The traveling has been very beneficial and so much fun, but I am looking forward to spending more time at home, to a slower pace, and maybe even some structure!

I am spending the next couple of months at home, except for one short trip, and I am looking forward to it. I had forgotten about how wonderful my life can be when I am an active participant in it. I have great people in my life from all over, but I have been sadly neglecting those close to home. I have been living selfishly. I fully believe that it was something that I had to do, but it is time for it to come to an end. I have spent the last two weeks being mindful of staying present. Life already looks remarkably different, in part because of my change of perception and in part because I am present to take an active role in what is happening around me. There are so many amazing things to see and experience in life, but only when you are present to do so!

Now is for New York

 

Last night I was lying in a bed in Brooklyn, wishing that I were home in Florida. What a difference a couple of weeks can make. All that I have thought about for months is escaping Florida and diving into the city. Now I cannot wait to fly home on Sunday and spend Memorial Day at the beach.

 

All of this may have a little something to do with the new man in my life, although new is kind of misleading. Truth be told, I was starting to question my decision to make the move come August even before he reappeared in my life. I had spent so much time on the road over the last year, that I had forgotten how much I really do enjoy my life in Florida, that is when I actually allow myself the time to enjoy it.

 

I consciously decided to spend my summer in Florida, other than this one trip to the city, to focus on some things that I have been neglecting. Within two full weeks of staying in one place, I really began to enjoy being home. I began to reconsider relocating; at least putting it off until after graduation and once I had found a job. I had even started to think that I should at least consider places other than New York City.

 

I had somehow convinced myself that what I am looking for could not possibly exist in Florida, since I had yet to find it. So I stopped looking in Florida. I looked elsewhere though. New York, Baton Rouge, even Long Island. Each of these searches ended with me disappointed and in tears. Tears of frustration mainly, as it was clear to me that I was setting myself up for this kind of let down. I decided to give up this search and focus on my life, where it is right now. I decided to firmly plant my feet in the present moment instead of somewhere off in the future or some other place.

It is amazing how quickly things can change when you allow yourself to actually be where you are. In reality, nothing changed, only my perception. My friends are no longer an obligation that I have to fit into the crammed 4 days that I spend at home getting ready for the next trip, they are a joy and a blessing. My house is no longer a war zone of travel bottles and dirty laundry waiting to be washed and repacked, but a welcoming home. All of a sudden I have the time to enjoy where I live because I am not cramming all of my responsibilities into too few days. Once I slowed down beautiful and amazing things started to unfold around me.

These things that are unfolding are both wonderful and a little scary. They are unfamiliar. Being in the present is still a challenge for me. I have to constantly pull myself out of the pretend worlds that I create in my mind. The payoff, I am finding, is more than I could have imagined. Things have happened that I would never have dreamed possible Being present has given me the opportunity to be available to receive the gifts that come along. It has allowed me to make conscientious decisions based on the reality of situations and not on what I would like them to be. It doesn’t mean that everything is smooth sailing; just that I can be present and breathe through whatever comes. And in this current moment, I am reminded that I am in my favorite city in the world with one of my favorite people. I have a full day left to enjoy and explore. Two more opportunities to start my day with a fresh bagel and a long walk with my adoptive dog. I have one and a half more days to eat like calories are a myth and it is Saturday in Brooklyn so Smorgasburg is on the agenda! Sunday evening and coming home to his smiling face will come soon enough. Now is for this moment. Now is for New York. ❤

 

Trust is Hard…

This feeling is the reason that I consider eating my words in “Wear My Heart on My Sleeve or Take Off My Shirt!” I feel slightly nauseous and I would like nothing more than to stay in bed and pull the covers over my head. Quitting life seems to be the most viable option today, just giving up and throwing in the towel. Nobody get excited, I have a tendency towards hyperbole.

Now this feeling is made all the worse by the fact that I played a large part in this outcome. Through looking at the events of the last month and a half, I can see what kind of part I have played in placing myself in a position to feel this hurt. It is a lot easier to deal with these kinds of things when I can place the blame on someone else. When I can hold on to my anger and insulate myself from the sadness with it.

The question now is, why do I choose to ignore things that would help me to make a more informed decision on whether to move forward or pump my breaks? Why, when a situation or statement doesn’t seem to make a great deal of sense to me, do I choose to take it as it is instead of asking questions?  The answer is simple and somewhat disturbing to me. I do not ask the questions because I do not want to hear the answers. I do not want the truth. I want what I want and I would rather believe whatever necessary to make it appear that I am going to get it than face the reality and let the idea go.

I would rather participate in a fantasy than hear something that would require me to make an informed decision about what to do in a given situation. I would rather build castles in the sky than deal with what is really going on around me. I would rather believe your pretty words than question you and find out that this exciting beginning is going nowhere fast.

Why is this? Do I truly still believe somewhere inside that I do not deserve something real and lasting? Do I think that almost is good enough? Or do I have the suspicion that I, myself, am not yet capable of being a true partner or participant and choose men and situations accordingly? Am I the girl constantly finding men who are unavailable in one way or the other because I am finding those that are mirrors of my current self? Sadly, I think that this must be the answer. I am not at a place where I can really be a partner. I am having commitment issues. I am still finding myself. I need to find my own direction instead of focusing on someone else and following.

I am fearful. The future is the scary unknown. I am a senior in college and I still have no idea what I want to do with my life.  I see people around me who seem to know what they want and where there are going and I am here chasing fantasies. This is unsettling. I think that I should have a concrete plan. I like plans. That are neat and tidy and help make sense of this crazy world. Instead it is looking like it will be a lot of trial and error for me to figure out what it is that I am good at, what it is that I enjoy doing, what it is that I really want.

Now the trick is to internalize that this is okay. I do not have to know where I am going. I just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and show up as my best self, which consequently, I have not been doing. The fear that I am feeling about my career and where I am headed has been causing me to behave in a manner that is outside the ideals that I have for myself.

This is the situation that needs my attention, not the lack of direction or the boys who send me mixed signals. My behavior should be my priority. I know from my own experience, that when I take care of the things that are in front of me and do what needs to be done, things tend to work out without any help from me. Action and trust in my creator, that is what I need now. One foot in front of the other. I may not receive everything that I think that I want right now, but I know that I will end up with exactly what I need.

Trust is hard, but then again, so is this.

FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Real or F@%k Everything And Run

I got called a “love pussy” the other day. I’ll admit that I had to ask for clarification as to what exactly that meant. The explanation I was given was, “you’re a pussy when every thing is perfect.” I was still a little confused. Sometimes I can be a little dense. She broke it down for me a little more, “you get scared.” Viola! I got it. Sadly, it is true. I can rush into a burning building, and have as a matter of fact, with minimal fear, but when everything seems to be moving along at an even keel and everything is good, I freak out!

I could probably go into about a million different reasons as to why I constantly expect the worst or how and by what life experiences I have been conditioned to do so. I think that they are valid reasons, but what I find most interesting and problematic is what goes on in my head on a regular basis, whether that other shoe is going to drop or not.  Sometimes these thoughts cause a lot more damage than if the shoe had actually fallen.

My mind can be an absolute torture chamber sometimes. I am not positive, but my guess is that it has always been this way. As a child, I was a constant worrier, terrified of everything. I remember having panic attacks during Desert Storm, just from watching the news. I would write letters to George Bush, imploring him to think about the ramifications of war. Hey, on the bright side, I was am activist! I was constantly working myself up into such a state that hyperventilation was a regular occurrence. I spent my fair share of time breathing into paper bags or with my head between my knees trying to gulp in air. It was a serious problem. I don’t think that my mom had any idea what to do with me.

Fast forward twenty-something years and you have a (kind of) grown woman who has learned to grit her teeth and face her fears, for the most part. I have learned over time, that if I just meet things head on, then the amount of agonizing is substantially less than if I hide from them. I know that it will have to be dealt with one way or another, so I might as well get it over with now. My threshold for discomfort is much lower than it once was. Thank God.

I am still scared or frightened by a lot of things, some real but most are imagined these days.  The fears are no longer paralyzing as they once were, but are just as disruptive. When I was a child, I would wake up from a bad dream and not be able to move. It would take what felt like minutes for me to gather the courage to scream for my mom. Those seconds after the scream before she answered are still burned into my mind as some of the most terrifying moments of my life. I do not know what exactly I was afraid of, but afraid I was. Now I just spin around inside my head until I have no idea what is true and what is false.

Today what I am left with is this mind that is an accomplished terrorist. It likes to scare the hell out of me! My mind looks for anything and everything with which it can unsettle me.  It looks for anything that it can grasp onto that could in one way or another be considered even remotely problematic.  It can locate and hone in on even the smallest negative and blow it completely out of proportion until it is the only thing that I can see, and then use it to terrorize me unceasingly until I am a basket case.

Over the last couple of years, I have been working to change these kinds of thought patterns. I am not sure how they were created in the first place, but they certainly do not serve me any longer. I have made progress, but there are days when I cannot get out of the loop. A day like last Friday happens and I am reminded that I have much more work to do.

It was a day just like any other, nothing much was going on and yet I was in complete fight or flight mode, as close to melting down as I get these days. Everything was/is going very well in my life, school is good, my internship is going well, my finances are stable. Hell, I am even making a dent in my minimal credit card debt, and there is this man who gives me butterflies. Everything sounds pretty great, right? Everything in reality is! It’s the imagined problems that are troublesome.

A friend of mine says that I like to collect evidence. It is completely true. Now, this wouldn’t be so bad if I collected only good evidence, or even any! That is not what I do though. If out of 300 things that happen in a given day, only three are bad, then those three will be the only ones that I will see and they will become larger than life. My mind only collects the evidence that proves my own misguided belief that I am not good enough. This is a belief system that has been very hard for me to disassemble. I keep chipping away at it, but it is pretty damn entrenched in me.

There was about eight years of my life where I lived in full on self-destruct mode. That time has given me plenty of evidence that proves these negative beliefs that I have about myself. There is almost as much time since that show me that I am a different person, yet somehow the good cannot outweigh the bad in my mind. My mind is a tricky adversary. The “you’ve done it again, why can’t you do better, you’re so selfish, he doesn’t really like you, you are making things up” thoughts are challenging to see around sometimes. And once I buy into just one of them, the downward spiral is quick and awful.

Luckily I have amazing women (and men) in my life, who I trust enough to share ALL of my crazy with. They don’t judge me too harshly and often laugh and remind me that I am, indeed, crazy when I cannot see the good, the truth, that is obvious to everyone but me. I have solutions that work more often than they do not, when I actually bother to use them. I know that these old patterns were some kind of weird coping mechanism that kept me alive when my life was a darker, sadder place. I also know that they do not serve me any longer and that I am letting them go bit by bit. I have learned that I can go to a yoga class and drop it all on my mat and leave a lighter, saner woman.  I am thankful for these things. I am also thankful that I have learned to see that these are only thoughts, that even when I am experiencing a day like Friday when I am full of fear, I can know logically that they are not real. Today I know that I am enough, exactly as I am. Maybe I can do better next time, or I am deluding myself, hell, maybe he doesn’t like me, but I know that if that is the case, there will be someone else who does. Everything is okay as it is. I know that God made me as I am and I know, without a doubt, that God does not make mistakes!

Confessions of a Bad Yogi

I have a confession to make. I am a bad yogi.  I did not practice one asana or mediate more than a few breaths at a time from November until February.  I did not even really want to. Hell, thinking about it made me physically ill. It was uncomfortable. I felt like I should want to practice. It made me feel guilty.

I know that I am not unique in this. I have read numerous articles that guaranteed, if you practice long enough, you will eventually come to a place where the thought of getting near your mat will be revolting.  I used to laugh when I came across these.  I’d think to myself, that will never be me, or, why would I stop doing the one thing that makes me feel grounded and whole? That’s crazy!

Well, it happened. In November I went through a break up, if you can even call it that. We had been together barely any time and yet it was hard on me. I was very angry, and I was disappointed. I think more than anything I was upset with myself. I had been swept away by little more than lip service and the rush of the fall. I had known that I was treading on dangerous ground and I had chosen to do it anyway. I put my trust in someone and it hadn’t panned out, again.

Prior to the morning when I received the blow off text, I had been working hard on establishing my daily yoga practice. It was really paying off in so many ways. I was more connected, more confident, and more centered than I can ever remember being. I have found that the more I practice, the better I feel. The calm and strength that I derive from my practice is addictive. It quiets my mind so much that I can actually hear that tiny voice inside me that lets me know what path to take.  I find so much joy in the small improvements that I see in the studio when I am diligently working towards bettering myself and being more present. My perspective on everything is noticeably different. These small breakthroughs on and off of my mat keep me coming back for more.

So when I received the “sorry, I’ve met someone” text, you would think that I would turn to my mat for solstice. If you did, you’d be wrong. It was 8 in the morning, the day before Thanksgiving and I simply didn’t want to deal with life. The thing about yoga is that it forces me to be present in my body; therefore I have to feel and process my feelings then release them. I wasn’t anywhere near ready for that.

Instead of turning to my mat, I cried, I railed, I engaged in some character assassination, and I found comfort in my friends. I traveled to New York, I hung out on Adam’s couch and ordered takeout, I went to the theatre, and saw bands that I loved, I danced, I laughed, and I cried some more.  I felt the loss and the disappointment almost every moment. I was bereft. I completely fell in love with New York City during this time. It was like a balm to the pain, which has turned out to be pivotal in my life, regardless of whether I end up there or not. I spent time alone thinking about what I want from my life, thinking about where I want to go from here, reevaluating, once again, what kind of woman I want to be.  I created a plan on how to get from here to there and I began taking the actions necessary to bring it to fruition.

All along though, in the back of my mind, I kept thinking about how I needed to get back to my practice. I was praying, but I wasn’t really listening. I connect with my God on my mat. It is where I am able to really feel his love for me and bring it along with me throughout my day. It was as if, at this point, I had decided, “No, I’ve got this. You let me down.” I had essentially turned my back on God.  I was angry with him and with myself.

I accomplished quite a lot in the two and a half months that I couldn’t get myself onto the mat.  I found an internship for the spring and then one for the summer. I began writing. I took the actions necessary to graduate and keep making progress in my life. I took control of the things that I could actually control and ran with them. Feeling in control kept me from feeling like I was completely falling apart.

A little over a week ago I spent the morning kayaking with my friend Elle, an amazing woman who I went through my yoga teacher training with. She is a light and an inspiration to me always. She is one of those people who upon first sight, I knew to be a kindred spirit, a soul mate. We spent hours on the water out in the sun. It was the perfect peaceful morning.

Later that evening, for the first time in a long time, I had an actual desire to practice yoga. There had been points in the preceding weeks, where I had wanted to, I would even set my alarm, so that I could get up and go to early morning classes. I was just never able to make it out of the bed. This was different. I got my mat out and placed it in my “yoga space” aka the kitchen. I went through my practice, albeit more quickly than I have been taught. It wasn’t an earth shattering practice, there was no burning bush, but I did feel better.

Over the next week some things unfolded that helped me to see that I was finally ready to let go. I had been holding onto the pain and sadness, wrapping myself in it like a blanket. I wasn’t holding on because I was still mourning the short-lived fling. I was holding on because as long as I did I would not be open to getting hurt again. If I stayed in the pain there was no risk. I knew what was coming and I was comfortable in it. There was no room for anyone to come into my life, not even God. I was protected by the anger and sadness. I had been playing it safe.

That Thursday I decided to go to my first class in a long time and it was difficult. My body wasn’t used to the heat or the postures, but I was glad that I had come.  The next day, after my 10 hour work day, I was hoping to stop and try out a raja course, which is very unlike my usual practice of active postures, it was all about relaxing into them and letting go. I, of course, tried to talk myself out of going throughout the drive up from Miami. I had a litany of rationalizations: I was too tired, my day had been too long, I was sore from the day before, and I wanted to practice in the morning so it was probably best if I just went on home to bed. Somehow though, all of these did not make a difference.

I walked into a packed room of yogis waiting to go into the studio. I felt intimidated. I was a little nervous and scared. I knew that this kind of class would have a lot of hip and heart opening poses, where emotion would be released. I was right. The class was challenging and at times downright painful, but I powered through, finding humor in my imperfections. The last ten minutes of the class, were spent on our backs. Mine, in body racking sobs. I cried through the last two postures and until the end of relaxation.

At first, I was conscious of the fact that we were packed into that room like sardines, that the gentleman to my right had to know that I was falling apart, that the teacher could see the tears streaming down my cheeks.  I was so overcome that I just let go.  It didn’t matter that anyone could see me or hear the sobs. I let it all out: all of the junk that had been trapped inside. I cried until I was out of tears, until I felt calm and cleansed. I left the room with an amazing lightness of heart and spirit. I couldn’t stop smiling.

My point through all of this rambling is that we all have our own journeys through life and each may look different than the last. When I start worrying about what I should be doing or about how things look different than I think that they should, I discredit what is actually happening in and around me. I am saying that I know better than God. That I know the right way and that this is not it. I do not give myself or God any credit and I am unable to appreciate the growth and changes that I am going through.  The beauty of life is wasted on me.

Looking back on the last couple of months I see now that I did exactly what I needed to do to heal. Each and every thing that I did and didn’t do had some kind of impact on me. I feel clearer and more centered than I have felt in a long time. I am stronger. And I know now, at least in this moment, that everything is as it should be. I am, once again, grateful. I am no longer playing it safe. I am not really that girl anyway. My heart is open and I am excited about the possibilities that each day brings. I can again see that life doesn’t have to be painless to be wonderful.

Wear My Heart On My Sleeve Or Take Off My Shirt?

I am a hopeless romantic. I am a seeker. I feel as if I am on a constant mission to find a man with whom I can share my life. This is something that I have been aware of for as long as I can remember. It as if it is already written and my soul knows the path that I am walking.

Most of the time I have real faith that eventually, when the time is right, I will find a person who will complement me, someone to be the yin to my yang, my partner in crime. Other times though, I fall into that pit of fear that exists inside me. The fear that my path does not include this kind of partnership pushes out the faith that I have. I think that maybe my God has other plans for me. I waffle between embracing my unfailing desire to find this individual, knowing that he awaits me at some point in my journey and hating that I cannot say, with complete honesty, that I am content to remain single forever.

Don’t get me wrong. My life is absolutely amazing. I often find myself in a moment observing the absolute perfection with which everything has unfolded around me. I have more friends than I have moments to share with them. My family is loving, supportive, and always there. I have a relationship with my creator that only strengthens and deepens with time. I have a yoga practice that blows my mind on a regular basis. I have a belief that everything happens for a reason and gratitude for the experiences that life has brought me. I have more than I need. I am truly blessed.

That being said, I often think that something is missing in my life. It manifests as a physical ache in my chest: it is longing, strong and sharp that cuts to the center of my being. It is a desire for a partner: someone to cook for and with, to fight with over the blankets and closet space, bicker with about whose turn it is to do the dishes, an accomplice for Home Depots runs, someone to come home to, and someone to make a home with.  I simply want to share these mundane tasks with someone on an intimate, daily basis.

This desire has brought some amazing men into my life over the years as well as some real jerks. Some of these men I still count as my closest friends and know that I can call on them anytime. They are a blessing.The others have shown me what I will and will not tolerate, how to communicate it, and how and when to set boundaries. These experiences have made me a stronger person. They have each taught me how to be a better partner and  a better friend.

This journey has taught me so much about honesty and open communication. It has taught me that love, whether brief or forever, is a gift that should be cherished. It has taught me to love myself a little more each time a “happily ever after” crashes down around me. Over time I have learned that relationships are challenging, but absolutely worth the effort. Romantic or platonic, these bonds are what this life is about.

Yet I sometimes wonder if life wouldn’t be simpler if I stopped the search and called it quits. It can bring a lot of pain along with the joy. Letting people in to end up disappointed, hurt, and feeling rejected can take a toll on the soul. The instinct is to show less of myself, to be less vulnerable, to put up a wall. This is what rationality tells me I should do: stop feeling so much and falling so fast, be careful, protect myself, be a watered down version of me. Thanks, but no thanks. I would rather stumble and fall than never run at all.

Today I choose to see dating as an adventure. I believe that the fall is exciting and beautiful even when it sometimes ends with me scraping myself up off of the floor. I have no plans to cease exploring every opportunity or close off my heart to the endless possibilities before me simply because I sometimes get hurt. I believe in love. And if I were to close myself off, even a little, I’d miss things that warm my heart, bring me joy, and make me laugh, like yesterday’s rapid fire texting with the charming #cajuncasanova, my frustrating twitter #luriatextcampaign, and all of the extensive and hilarious conversations that BH and I have about our own special kinds of crazy. And I ask, where would the fun be in that?!

Life is good my friends. You just have to take a risk and open your hearts to receive the gifts.

Be fearless and enjoy the ride.

Do It For You

Writing is a very new hobby of mine. I have always believed that I hated writing and thought of it as a chore. This blog and the occasional journaling kick have been the exceptions. I think it is because I get to write about things that matter to me and are directly related to my daily experiences. I put my heart into it and put my truth out there for others to see. It’s a bit unnerving at times but immensely rewarding.

Last week I was told that there was a group text between some guys making fun of my blog. Then when I mentioned it to a friend he made an offhand comment that those guys probably weren’t the only group making fun of it. I had gone into this expecting some flack from a certain group of people, but the idea that others were saying nasty things about me was really uncomfortable and something that I had never even considered.

There were a couple of breath-constricting moments where I tried to pretend that it didn’t bother me. I was unsuccessful. The tears started to well up in my eyes. This thing that I had seen as a challenge and a way to share myself was being mocked. Ouch. I picked up my phone and shot out a text to one of my closest friends. His response stopped my panic in its tracks. Don’t pay any mind to those people. You are amazing and I love your blog. Do it for you. Such simple words, yet they made all of the difference.

I would be lying if I claimed that my feelings weren’t hurt by people making fun of the things that I do. After all, I am a sensitive girl regardless of how tough I pretend to be. I’m just like everyone else. I want to be liked, respected, and loved.

Do it for you. It was exactly what I needed to hear. In that moment of panic I had forgotten why I do any of the things I do: travel, love, write, follow my heart, and open my life to all possibilities. These things are not done for other people, I do them for me. I do not do them to gain acceptance or love. I do them because they make my heart happy and fill my life with joy. I do them because they are challenging and help me to grow as a person. They build my character and they give me strength. They make me excited to wake up and in the morning and begrudge getting in bed at night because I want to experience more. They make me know that I am exactly where I should be. They make me someone that I have grown to respect and love.

What does it matter if others don’t understand me or judge the things that I do? It doesn’t, but it is hard to internalize this lesson. Thankfully I have reminders of how amazing life is all around me. I have a wonderful, loving group of friends spread out all over that I can count on to lift me up and encourage me. They are the ones whose opinions are important. Sometimes though, it is easy to forget about that amongst the fears and desires for acceptance. Then I get reminded, I am truly blessed. Even moments like these that are painful have their silver lining. They make me realize just how lucky I am, how full of love my life is. They also remind me of the kind of person I do not want  to be. If it weren’t for the moments of feeling hurt or judged, then maybe I wouldn’t appreciate living the life that I live or how beautiful it is to have the friends that I do. Even when I don’t see them they are there and it is nice to be reminded.

 strong peopl 2

Breaking Down Boxes: The Freedom to Become

The morning after I posted my last blog post my phone rang at around 7:30am. Let me be clear, I am NOT a morning person by nature. Regardless of the fact that I have been getting up for work before 6am for the past two years pretty regularly, I still hate that moment when the alarm buzzes. So when I answered my phone to discover my ex on the line, I wasn’t completely coherent.

“I figured out your problem! You are a lesbian!” This may or may not be what he said verbatim, but it is certainly the gist of it. Now let me say this, there is nothing wrong with being a lesbian, if you dig members of the same sex, that’s cool. Date whoever makes you happy. It just isn’t what floats my boat. I am perfectly content with my heterosexual status.  If you know me at all, then you know that I run toward the “boy crazy” end of the spectrum. I like men; I have dated quite a few of them in my 31 years, all shapes, sizes, and personalities. While I have finally learned that there are a couple of types that work best for me, I appreciate them all. I am clearly not a lesbian; therefore by his logic, I must be a fraud.

Now for the reasoning behind my ex’s proclamation. Apparently, this was brought on by the last topic or all topics that I write about here on Wandering Ginger. I am no longer the girl that he was in a relationship with through the years. His rationale is that I am either a) a lesbian or b) a fraud, writing about who I want to be rather than whom I am.

I can understand his confusion, or anyone’s really, over my transformation over the last few years. Especially if you only came to know me intimately over the first few years, I spent in Florida. I was just getting my life back together after quite a few years of utter chaos.  I was only interested in pulling things back together, in falling in line with the prevailing ideology of those around me, of the norms of upper-middle-class twenty-somethings.

Needless to say, I had certain ideas about how my life was supposed to look from the outside. Some of these things weren’t even possible at that exact moment – i.e. having a college degree – due to the choices I had made in my late teens and early twenties. The others, though, I emulated to the best of my ability.

To be fair, I was just getting to know myself, so it is not surprising that I had to try on a few different hats before I found the ones that fit me the best. “Housewife” with an education that I never had cause to use was one of the first stops on my journey from where I had come to where I am today. This is the hat that I wore for most of the time that he and I were together. It is the role that I tried the hardest to fit into, over and over and over again. I was hellbent on fitting that role no matter how many times I had to bang my head into the wall of failure. I was sure if I tried hard enough, if I just behaved myself and were a nice girl, I would be a happy homemaker, and we would live happily ever after. You know the type, nice home, expensive SUV, Lululemon filled closet (not that I don’t still LOVE Lulu), seeing a trainer several times a week, extensive travel, and a little help from a house cleaner.

Now there is nothing wrong with this picture. I really enjoyed it for a time and may or may not again in the future. I just couldn’t find fulfillment in that existence at that moment, so the ex and I would break up and makeup. I would run, or he would get tired of my bullshit. Yet, I couldn’t let go of the idea of what I thought we were and the ideas of what our future was supposed to be.

Let me say that I was intolerable a lot of the time. What I thought I wanted was utterly at war with what I needed to be happy. He was a good boyfriend and a great provider. I just needed things that he could not give. The final goodbye was one of the hardest things I have ever gone through. And occasionally I entertain the idea of trying it all over again.

The rest of the stops on the journey have been shorter, but just as important. There was my time as an inspiring college English professor. Getting my doctorate felt like the only way I could prove that I was successful until I realized that the idea of doing the work required to become a tenured professor followed by what the job actually entailed made me want to run screaming from campus. This was followed by my summer as a yogini in training, where I spent 9 weeks sans music, caffeine, loud noise, and meat, in hours of silent 6am meditation, and even more hours on my mat or teaching. This was great until I graduated and went back to my day-to-day life, which has little room for 30 hours of yoga a week. Next up was my stint as band groupie for Black Taxi, my favorite foursome! I’m pretty sure that this one ended only because they are currently spending all their time in the studio working on their new album. It is hard to follow a band if they aren’t touring. This leads to my latest phase, my wandering phase, where I cannot seem to sit in one place for very long at all.

All of these periods and the fears that have come along with them have been integral in shaping me. Some bits and pieces stick with me as I move from one phase to the next. I still love cooking, wearing Lulu, and expensive accessories, I wish that I had time for yoga and meditation, Black Taxi still makes me dance around my house alone and sing at the top of my lungs, I even try to see the guys anytime I visit NYC, I see as much live music as financially possible, and I clearly have no intent on staying put anytime soon. So you see, I am not a fraud, just a girl in evolution on her way to something unexpected and amazing.

I would really like to take exception to either of my ex’s assertions, but I find that I cannot. I am so much different than I was then, or at least who I thought I was. I think that his logic is interesting and understandable in a weird, not based in reality kind of way. It has given me cause to think about my own reactions over the years as I have noticed marked changes in the people that I have known well at one time or another.

Do I give people the freedom to change, to become whoever they desire, without my own judgments getting in the way? Or do I discredit these changes as my ex does, if people step too far out of the box in which I have placed them?

I would love to say that the answer is yes; of course, I allow people the room to change as they wish! I mean, I expect people to give me the freedom to change and grow into the person that I would one day like to be, so why wouldn’t I give them the same courtesy and understanding? I am afraid that I haven’t though. I get so caught up in the way that I think people should behave, in the way that they always have, that I cannot see beyond my own expectations. I feel let down when they show up differently or in ways that are unexpected.  I begin to question the validity of our previous interactions and sentiments towards one another. Sometimes I am angry with them for the differences I see.

I am happy for that 7:30 wake up call. It has brought to my attention the amount of rigidity I still exhibit in my relationships, both romantic and platonic. That is not the kind of person that I would like to be. It is something that I can work on though; it gives me an ideal to work towards.

I want to be the kind of woman who brings light, love, and understanding to those within her circle and even those outside it. I am intimately acquainted with the fear that goes along with breaking down the box, and I want to be someone who encourages people to make the change and face the fear.

Thanks, Stink, for the enlightenment and for always being there, even when it is begrudgingly. ILY.

And thank you @GatorFrank for being a source of inspiration this afternoon!

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