needy human being

here’s the thing about a break-up: you don’t just “get over it.” everyone else gets that but me.

but here’s the truth, i want to get over it. i want to stop feeling vulnerable, and shattered, and sometimes good, and then emotional again. i want to move on. i want to stabilize. i want to get my shit together, to feel strong again. i don’t want to worry about someone saying or doing something really sweet or thoughtful or kind and me ending up in a puddle on the floor. i want to have energy and not feel like i need to sleep extra hours during the night (or day, let’s be honest). i want to have the money i need to get the place i need and the car i need. i want to have it all together so i never, ever, ever have to ask for help.

but i don’t/cant/won’t/haven’t….not yet.

i’m a needy human being. perhaps i always was. but i wasn’t allowed to be, or haven’t had the space to be, or, let’s just be real honest, haven’t been brave enough to be. to simply ask for what i need.

and i need a lot right now. i need safe places to take naps and be honest and cry. sometimes i need to build a fort. sometimes i need a smoke. sometimes i need money or a meal or just a ride. i need a lot. and i can’t help that. i can’t make it instantly better. i just don’t have the resources to fix it all.

i hope that will change. i foresee it changing, getting better with time.

but for now, i’m needy. and that is all.

heartbreak holiday

i’m currently sipping crown & coke, eating Thanksgiving leftovers, watching a chick flick with my sister. and i’m happy. i really am.

but there’s still that uncomfortable ache, that grapefruit-sized knot in the pit of my stomach. and i toy with the idea of texting the ex.

several years ago, when the ex and i were still just friends, i did something to hurt his feelings. we didn’t talk for several weeks. not until the night before Thanksgiving. i had decided to stay in and watch Christmas movies. i was near the end of watching Little Women when he text to see if i would wanted some extra sweet potato casserole he’d just made. he wanted to bring me a peace offering.

this year, the night before Thanksgiving involved getting out late from work, an argument with my sister, and prepping for my own sweet potato casserole.

i cried as i peeled each one.

there’s something about the holidays, the memories we wrap around the simplest of activities. the way moving forward pulls us bak and back and ties us to days we can’t get back. watching the parade reminded me of carefree Thanksgiving mornings at my grandma’s, roasting turkey of the first Thanksgiving my friends and i shared together, and peeling sweet potatoes of a sweet man who loved me before i loved him.

this holiday was beautiful, don’t get me wrong. i was pleasantly surprised to spend a quiet afternoon with my mom’s family on Thanksgiving, followed by time with my dad’s family on Friday. there was lots of good food, contagious laughter, fun crafts, youtube video-sharing.

the absence of old traditions made room for new.

which was good, it really was. but still, i miss the old.

layer by layer

money has been tight in these parts lately.

like, really tight.

on top of paying for yoga teacher training, i’ve been working less hours so i can actually attend class and focus on homework and not feel completely stressed out all the time.

the only thing is, my spending has stayed the same.

i’ve insisted on my daily coffee fix–a soy latte made with a delicious helping of honey. an expensive, indulgent choice. feeling the strain and stress of too much going on, i’ve stopped at the taco place or Yats or other take-out place because i just didn’t have the energy to cook. i’ve bought clothes on credit because i got a killer coupon in my email, and spent more at Target than i’ve had budgeted for 2 months.

i believe in living simply, in sacrificing “stuff” for chasing dreams, in doing without so you can pursue a higher calling. i just don’t believe enough to actually do it.

a couple weeks ago, i woke in the middle of the night in a panic. i decided to try meditating and calming my breath to see if this would help (sometimes i am able to feel relaxed enough after meditation to go back to sleep). it didn’t. i was still wide awake. so i reached for our yoga homework and began to read about suffering.

her general argument was simple: most of our suffering is not born of the circumstances around us. that is pain, yes, but suffering results from our own attachment to the circumstance. slowly, but surely, the lights began to go on upstairs and i began to realize, without judgment, that i am the author of my own suffering. at least in the area of money. if i do not have enough, it is not because i am the victim of not being paid enough or of my poor decision making re: student loans, but because i spend more than i make. plain and simple. i am unwilling to deny myself pleasure to take care of business.

a couple weeks ago, one of our instructors for teacher training mentioned that regular, steady practice helps bring behavioral and thought patterns to the surface. only by encountering ourselves in a similar situation, over and over again, do you begin to see what we so often try to hide behind busyness and noise.

so, here i am in one of the most stable places in my life–great relationship, living in the same place for nearly 2 years, same job for almost a year. and these money issues are surfacing clear and bright. for so long i’ve believed that money was only an issue when i wasn’t making as much. on more than one occasion in the past, i’ve gotten tangled up in money issues, quit everything i was doing, and took on a more “responsible” job to help heal the finances. once they were in better shape, i considered myself better.

but the truth is, the problems were always there, i just had more money (therefore, more margin). but the problems were always there.

the new challenge is to continue ignoring the issue or accept the invitation before me, the invitation to learn from this challenge. the invitation to accept my limitations, embrace them, find a way to let them go and try on new patterns of behavior. and so, layer by layer, i come to see myself in a much clearer light.

Yoga Teacher Training Week 1: An invitation to a spiritual life

Whether we seek something called spirituality, holiness, or enlightenment, the route to it is through our humanness, complete with our strengths AND our weaknesses, our successes AND our failures. You might say that we use ourselves to discover ourselves.
  -Judith Lasater

About 3 years ago, I walked out of and away from the Christian church. I had a very clear directive from above: to let go, follow my own inner wisdom and be free. It was as if chains had been cut and I could not only walk in freedom, I felt like I was flying. I no longer felt suppressed or oppressed, or any of the other “pressed”s. I stopped worrying about what god or christians thought of me and my decisions and started living, actually living, my own life.

Ever since I was a child, I was a devout student of Christianity. I knew the stories backwards and forwards, could quote the Bible at a turn, wondered and sought and journaled about the divine, specifically in the form of Jesus, and gobbled up spiritual books like candy. I knew how the writings of Merton differed from those of St. Augustine, and why Anne Lamott was such a revolutionary. I enjoyed my time of study and seeking, but when I left the church, I left that all behind.

I was burned out, exhausted, emotionally/spiritually bankrupt and I just needed a sincere space to rest and just BE.

Still, even as I wrestled with my anger toward the church and my frustration with spirituality as I had known it, I found that the only and rare times I was able to pray was during my practice. I didn’t often know who I was directing my prayers with as God had become a faceless, distant character. And my prayers didn’t look like they once had-instead of large questions and appeals they became statements. Instead of asking for peace for myself or someone I loved, I simply repeated the statement over and over as I moved through the poses and movements. Somewhere, deep down, I knew I would need to nurture my spiritual self but could only find myself capable of doing that when practicing yoga.

Prior to leaving the church, I engaged in a 9-month spiritual journey through my church in which I’d done a lot of deconstructing. We dug deep into the structure of all we’d been taught to believe about being “Christians” and examined the very fabric of our creations. All that deconstruction, I know, eventually set me free from the constructs I had been operating in.

As yoga teacher training approached, I began to sense the time had come to rebuild.

Our first gathering/class time was last Tuesday and one of the first questions we had to answer was, “Which area of your life do you sense is needing the most attention at this time: Intellectual, Social, Emotional, Physical and/or Spiritual.”

Ding ding ding. I’ll take Spiritual for $200, Alex.

There is something about standing on this precipice. Having avoided it for nearly 3 years, and having been hurt and wounded by “spiritual” people for the nearly 25 years prior to that, I’ve been hesitant to proceed. It is as if I’ve been standing on the edge of cliff, knowing I’ll have to eventually take the leap, and all I can utter is “fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.”

Then I open my homework assignment and start reading “Living Your Yoga” by Judith Lasater, and chapter one is titled “Spiritual Seeking.”

Shit.

How did I get here? How did this once curious, open-hearted child get so jaded and scared? How do I open my heart to the vastness of all that is beyond? How do I allow myself the possibility of experiencing spirituality beyond the confines of religion, and namely Christianity? 

These have been my true Week 1 Homework Questions, and I have a feeling I will spend the next 20 weeks (and the many years after) trying to answer them.

 

 

a long endurance.

(for Mindy, who I’m pretty sure is the only one reading these days, because she won’t join Facebook and still wants to keep up on me anonymously)

at the ripe ole age of 30, i’ve finally decided what i want to do with my life.

or, at least the path i want to be on. where it leads me exactly, i am still clueless.

but i know this: it will include natural health + yoga.

i’ve been practicing yoga for several years now, off and on. my earliest experiences were with a Y12SR group, which stand for Yoga and 12-Step-Recovery. yes, it’s a recovery group for addicts, based on the 12-step model, with yoga. although i’m not an addict, a healthcare practitioner recommended i try it and i fell in love. for the first hour, we shared our struggles with one another and no one was allowed to respond to you with “well, you should pray more” or “maybe you should try ___”, they simply listened. we breathed together. then another shared. it was through these discussions that i began to realize how i struggle with co-dependency.

then, just as everything was loosened up emotionally, we got onto our mats and this openly broken, beautifully raw group of humans practiced together. many tears were shed on that first mat of mine as years of wounds came to surface and were given space to heal.

when i began my naturopath program in the fall, i knew i would somehow incorporate these two worlds. i envisioned having a small practice and inviting a couple teachers to come in and lead classes. in my mind, natural healing and yoga are inseparable. in classes, i’ve always craved hearing how certain moves and poses would enhance the functioning of organs or help me sleep better. i knew i could never consult someone on healthy options without also suggesting a regular yoga practice.

i never thought i’d teach.

it wasn’t because i didn’t have a desire, but because i didn’t find myself worthy of that path. i have yogi friends who are stronger than me, who can do headstands and have more regular practices. my teachers all seemed so confident and proficient at yoga. i didn’t think i could ever measure up.

still, i needed to change the path i was on. so i reached out to my yoga teacher and asked if there were any studios in the city who could use my talents-PR, marketing, etc-and she directed me to the owner of the studio where i practiced. when we met, he explained i could take classes for free (BONUS!) and get a discount on teacher-training. i nodded, not wanting to betray my interest, but that hit home. i knew this was the right decision. and eventually, i gained the confidence and the affirmation i needed to pursuing teaching yoga.

but money…oh money, how that little beast gets in the way. i would only have part-time hours at the studio so i decided to sell Pampered Chef to supplement my income.

so, this is where things stand now:
money is stretched VERY thin as i work to pay off student loans, pay for my naturopath program and save up for Yoga Teacher Training.
i’m learning to budget (did you know, the key to financial well-being is to spend less than you make?!…neither did i! 😉 )
i’m finally, for the first time in my adult life, understanding the true meaning of the word “endurance”–i joke that this is my year for working and studying, as i’m doing one of the two nearly all the time

a long endurance.

that’s the phrase that keeps running thru my head when i reflect on this season. it is both exhausting/overwhelming/frustrating and relieving/exciting/hopeful. for the first time in my adult life, i know what i want to do. and i know the path i need to be on. something within me leaps for joy.

but not too many times, of course.
“endurance” takes all the strength i have to give.
but the results…the outcomes…well worth the work.

 

the little things.

i have a glass of wine in my hands.  sitting on the couch.  watching Beasts of the Southern WIld.  my honey’s shoulder rests against mine.  his warmth reminds me he is here with me.  not in Dallas on work, or at a Pacers’ game late.

he is here, with me.

the longer i live, and the farther i get from the glorious progression of milestones classic of my youth, the more i realize one important thing:

it truly is the little things that count.

one day last week, when i felt more fat than usual, more incompetent, more restless….just more i-want-to-throw-my-hands-to-the-heavens-and-rage, i got an email.  

it was an email from my college mentor, professor, and one of my overall favorite people from that time of my life.  he always reacted with surprise when i plopped my prepared schedule onto his desk, where my peers would walk in with a half-attemped effort, scribbled on scraps of paper.  i spent many hours with him, in upper level literature classes–American poetry, and Thoreau and so much more.  he even invited us to his home for a Christmas where we played games and exchanged white elephant gifts.  he was a mentor in the truest sense.

so, in a list of 1,200 unopened emails because i’ve gotten really bad about reading them all and deleting the ones that don’t matter, his stood out.  in so many ways.  

the email was simple: he and the English department were inviting me back to speak to current students about my journey and, ultimately, how my college experience benefitted me.  i cried.

i remembered those meetings, the ones where we met with alumni who were out in the world, making there way.  they told us of the world that lay just beyond us, the one that would soon threaten to swallow us up.  i admired them, and slightly feared them, mostly for their confidence and self-awareness.  and i remember distinctly thinking, i wonder if they will ever ask me?  will my life ever be something they’ll want to share with students, to help them understand what they’re capable of?

so, on that day when everything felt like too much and i felt like i just didn’t have what it took to sustain the storm…i got asked to help point a light into the dark void of what’s ahead.

it always comes down to this…the little things.  it’s always the little things that pick us back up.  keep our chins up.  help us to see that life is wondrous and full and so worth the living.  the little things that make the biggest difference.

riding the learning curve.

one of my favorite stories of my younger self (which I don’t remember, of course, but has been told to me over the years) is when i came home from preschool, just fresh from a teaching about nutrition, and told my family it was time to start eating better.

in so many ways, i am still that youthful 4-year-old.  wanting to know more, and more, and more about what keeps us healthy, how our bodies work, what diet works best for me (us) and why.

that’s what drove me to explore starting an all-raw diet last week.  although it was a challenge to learn new recipes and eat things i didn’t absolutely love (or even like), things were immediately going well.  i began to experience more and lasting energy.  i felt fuller on less food.  i began to lose weight (6lbs in just a week).  i began to feel something new and strange: at home in my own body.

i initially went into this great experiment with the thought that it would be 30 days and done.  but as i read more and more about the appeals of the all-raw route, i began to silently say good-bye to meats, pastas, breads and more.  i saw healthy people who’d made similar commitments and i began to want to be like them, no matter the consequence.

then the tide drastically shifted.

i woke up yesterday, day 8, with a dizziness i couldn’t shake.  i got out of the shower and laid back down, hoping it would dissipate.  it didn’t.  i went to work feeling shaky, weak, light-headed.  i had no energy to talk with customers so i kept my voice low on each call, and snuck off to the relaxation room on breaks to nap.  i came home completely exhausted and collapsed on the couch.

i’m anemic, was my immediate thought, and as i did some reading, all the symptoms lined up.  the only problem: how to stay vegan and not anemic.  i went to bed yesterday convinced I could be fine if i put kale in my morning smoothie and picked up iron supplements later.

then i woke up even worse this am and was forced to call in sick, unable to barely stand for feeling light-headed.  i knew i had to do something different.  the energetic, active me was suddenly awash in this land of fatigue and dizziness.

so, i emailed a friend who’d recommended the raw diet and began to read more about anemia.  my initial synopsis: i’m vitamin B12 deficient.  a resounding number of vegans/vegetarians (including the Raw Vegan Mama) struggle with this complex B vitamin because it appears primarily in meats.  from my reading i gathered that the best absorption comes from injection, then sublingual capsules, then pills.  dismissing the first as a non-option (no needles here), i set off for my favorite health foods store, The Good Earth, for some dissolvable B12 capsules.

on the way to the store i received an email back from the friend i emailed earlier.  she asked about my blood type and said that some are better suited for an all-veggie diet, but others require animal protein so subsist.  that perked my interest, but i was still sure i was going to pursue and all-veggie diet.

i got to the health store and began to search through 3 shelves of B12 and B12 plus Folate and liquid versus pills versus dissolvable capsules.  even in reading through all the labels, i found it hard to stand and began to feel like i was going to pass out.  but i grabbed the one i felt would be best (a combo of B12, Folic acid, B6 and Biotin that would dissolve under my tongue, and supposedly right into my blood stream), and headed for the counter.

when i finally got home, i felt contented to take my supplement and take a deep, long nap.  then i remembered that email, and the mention of blood type, and a book another friend had given me months ago about eating right for your blood type.  first thing i read:

“Type O’s thrive on animal protein.”

doh.  picture me hitting my forehead with my hand.  the book went on to outline a diet for my blood-type (“O”) that stresses animal proteins, veggies, and fruits, and cuts out sugars, grains, and dairy.

so, let’s go to McDonald’s!, my inner child screamed.

but meat is not meat is not meat.  even in my giddy of new-found freedom (i CAN eat meat; nay, i NEED to eat meat), i knew it had to be “clean”: organic, raised responsibly, free of hormones.  so i bundled up one last time and headed to the only source of such meat i knew of.  Goose the Market.

i came home immediately and made a hamburger.  made another hamburger for dinner, and have noticed an immediate improvement.  more energy.  less dizziness.

one of the things i appreciate most about this experiment of going raw is that i am (mostly) weaned off the carbs and have a greater appreciation of raw fruits and vegetables.  i still intend to practice a mostly raw diet, just supplemented now with regular doses of meat.

so there it is.  i woke up a raw vegan.  and am going to bed overdosed on red meat.  such is the learning curve of our lives.  very much like that 4-year-old, i’m still learning about myself,the things that are best for me, the foods and practices that will serve me into my old age.

today i learned several of those.