Thursday, March 7, 2013

this blog is about poop.

I found out yesterday that I have IBS and maybe also Celiac disease. I fondly refer my condition as "the crazy poops." I've always had a wacky tummy. Things go in great, but after that, it's pretty much a free for all. As I understand it, instead of my intestines doing their work at a nice steady rhythm, they function irrationally. Kinda like those folks who clap on 1 and 3.

I saw this coming. Last summer I took a 30-day eat clean challenge in which I was banned from consuming dairy, soy, alcohol, sugar and grains. It was fun to learn new recipes and eat like a super healthy beast. And you know what? I actually enjoyed using the bathroom. I read books and played games on my phone instead of racing in and out of there like there was a monster hiding in my toilet.

After the challenge ended, I slowly went back to my old ways -- but in moderation. I've kept a cap on my dairy and gluten consumption because I know my belly hates those guys. But for the love of everything that is holy, I adore cheese. Bread is sexy. If someone told me that I could only eat two things for the rest of my life, it would be bread and cheese. The end. 

I sort of asked for this, though. Actually, I definitely asked for it. A couple of hours before I visited the doctor, I was participating in a teleseries offered by Handel Group. This month-long series, lead by Elena Brower, is for yoga practicioners who are seeking the tools needed to realize their dreams and goals. In this first course, I was asked to write down three dreams for myself, in the present tense. I choose three different areas: career, food and romantic relationships. 

Guess what I said about food? 

"I eat smart. I love cooking healthy meals. My relationship with food is happy and nurturing. I see it as a source of energy and a gift."

Three hours later I was told I'd need to change my relationship with food. Big time. 

So, here we go. Time to figure out my triggers. Time to revamp the way I view food and how it fits into my life. While I'm mourning the likely loss of dairy and probable minimizing of gluten, I am pretty excited to like pooping. That'll be nice. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

ga'head. get angry.

Yup. You heard me, boo. Get pissed. Cry. Let your blood pressure rise. Swear a bunch. Scream into a pillow. Call a friend and freak the eff out (maybe ask permission first, because other people have lives too, you know).

This is my angry face. #adorbs

Yeah. Come on. Get mad. That idiot at work? That guy who keeps jerking you around? That girlfriend who hurt your feelings? That big world problem that seems to be hopelessly tragic and awful? Get angry.

You've heard it before. You must have the darkness in order to see the light. Obvees, I'm not telling you to get angry at every little thing. Also, if you have anger management issues, this blog probs isn't for you. Sorry, sweets.

But still, if that frustration and hurt is bubbling up inside you due to whatever circumstances -- internal, external, old or new -- let it fill you for a minute. Anger wouldn't exist if we weren't supposed to experience it. It's actually healthy to get pissed at things.

But as soon as you give it space to grow, you have to explore it.

Yeah. Sorry. There's a catch. Ask yourself why you're angry. Talk it out with yourself, out loud or on paper. Let the tears and frustration fill you.

Then take a super deep breath and ask yourself, "Well. What can I do about it?"

If your boss is being a jerk, you can't really tell them to stop. But you can look for a new job. You can tell yourself that, for your own health, you're not going to let him or her wear you down. As long as you can say you're doing your best -- well, then you're doing your best. Additionally, they could just be taking their ish out on you.

That brings up another point: don't take it out on other people. I don't want you to stuff it down and bury it, but try to work through it on your own or with a close pal who will listen, and let you talk it out with yourself. Splashing your poop storm up in someone's face is gross and rude. And it rarely every makes anything better.

So. Recap:

  1. You're mad. Yes. Be mad. Own it.
  2. Give yourself some time to breathe.
  3. Ask yourself, "What can I do about this?"
  4. If you can think of things, DO THEM. You'll feel better. Promise.
  5. If you can't think of things, that's okay. You will. 
  6. Finally, distract yourself. Go on a walk, watch a funny video, take a yoga class, read some celebrity gossip. Giving yourself a break will give you the space to come up with a few ideas.

But whatever you do, don't take it out on anyone else. Supes hard. But totes important.

It sounds way too simple kinda, yeah? If you can practice these steps, you will welcome oodles of happiness into your life. You will not stave off anger for life. But you'll learn how to play with it, how to use it properly and how to not hurt anyone else with it.

Also, did you get a hair[s] cut or something? You're looking extra fly today. Get it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

emotional a.d.d.

It's a thing, y'all. I swurr.

Men and women are both susceptible to this remarkable condition. Young and old. Gay and straight and everything outside, inside, to the right and to the left (to the left).

I have been emotionally ADD for about three days now. It rules. No, it sucks. It's weird. It's amazing. I hate it. I love it.

You follow? K. So I decided to write down every emotion I've experienced so far today:

Horny (yeap)

Some of these are just shades or flavors of the other, but they all conjure up a different image or sensation in my physical being. My breath changes, my body temperature shifts, my desire to move, my desire to sleep, my motivation to work, to communicate, to anything, it is all affected by these feelings.

Cool thing is: feelings aren't real! I mean, they're a thing. I'm actually experiencing them. But if I can experience that many in a single day, doesn't that mean I can NOT experience them if I so choose? Answer: totes.

But how!? Not everyone has time just to drop their ish and go to a yoga class or abandon work or whatevs. I know I sure don't. I mean, I have plenty of time for Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and texting and blogging and cuddling Gary (my cat). But how could I possibly have time to take 60 seconds to focus on my breath? Pssshhhh.

See what I did there? We have time. All of us. Do it. Right now. Unless you're driving, in which case, WHY ARE YOU READING THIS, YOU CRAY FOO!? Set the alarm on your phone and close your eyes and see how deep you can breathe in and how fully you can exhale. Send that breath into every corner of you. No peeking at the timer. When it dings, how do you feel? Different, yeah?


Also, you look super hot today. Winky face.

Friday, November 23, 2012

unconditional love for life, even when it smells like farts

You know what sucks sometimes? Life. You know why? Because we let it.

Okay, peace out. That's all I had to share.

Jaykay, dudes. I wouldn't leave you hanging after not updating in an embarrassingly long time. (Sorrrryyyy).

I've written about this before, because I've dealt with this before. I determined life can be a jerk and that we have a choice in how we react. I then figured, just by way of knowing this, that I'd magically be super great at reacting; like some sort of peace warrior. Or a happy ninja. Like the Pink Power Ranger.


Turns out, life is going to be good and bad and hard and fun and easy and lame. Forever. Life is like a relationship. I'm not married and I don't have a boyfriend, but from what I've seen and experienced, there is no magic tipping point in any couple's timeline in which everything becomes perfect. If unconditional love is the foundation of a relationship, as it should be, the yucky moments will be fused together by a really rad, glorious level of understanding. These two people will disagree with each other, one will experience pain while the other won't, one might unintentionally say the wrong thing or make a really dumb choice, and so on and so forth. But again, if this relationship is built on unconditional love, these speed bumps will be met with an understanding that it will change and that everything will be okay.

What if we had unconditional love for the events of our own lives? All of them. Especially the yucky ones.

All of the following things happened within about two weeks: 
  • One of my good friends passed away. I spent several days in the hospital before he died. 
  • Another friend was hospitalized and had surgery before I could visit her.
  • The day after she was released, my best friend was hospitalized for another condition. 
  • Another friend moved away suddenly and for a good cause, but watching him leave was hard.
  • A family member fell ill and may need surgery.
Throughout all of this, my body has taken a beating. I feel like a puffy marshmallow who can only eat more puffy marshmallows. I don't even like marshmallows. My spine is pretty upset with me and my chiropractor called me a jigsaw puzzle. There's more, but for the sake of time, I'll leave it at that.

If I'm taking my own advice here, I should be able to have unconditional love for all that really crappy stuff I just listed. But, last time I checked, I'm human. So there's pretty much no way that I could have rocked through all of that with butterflies flying out of my butt and cartoon hearts shooting out of my ears. Looking back (assuming Bad News Train has left Toots Station), I do feel like I could have handled things better. I got real low for a solid week. And not the cool "get low, girl, get low" kinda low. I was crying a lot, guys. I mean, I was a sloppy mess. 

But, if I'm honest with myself, I wasn't a weepy pile of unproductive poo because of the events themselves. I was a hot mess because I thought I could handle all of it. I thought I could visit the hospital daily and I could still be that strong, hilarious, quirky lady who all my friends saw me as. Turns out, I can't. And that's okay. Furthermore, for the rest of my life, I will probably struggle with listening to the voice that says, "This is where we get off, T. You've had enough and you need to sit back and listen to your heart now." 

I have a pretty sweet opportunity. Instead of judging how I dealt with all of that and making a set of rules for next time, I can compassionately and loving look at the experience and love myself for how I handled it. I did what I could with the energy, resources and time I had. Yeah, sure, I would have done things differently. Oh, well. Better luck next time. And next time a big chunk of life goes south, I might not be able to handle that well, either. But that's okay. 

I'm accepting that crappy things are going to happen to me and that, yes, I can choose how I react. But, when you're in it, like really in it, you may not feel like you have much control. All I'm asking of myself and of anyone else is: find space to love yourself in those moments. It would look something like this:

You're sitting on the edge of your bed with your head in your hands and you're crying snotty tears all over the place. You don't even know why you're crying this hard, but you just found out that some terrible shit is happening to you/to people close to you. You feel like there's nothing you can do. It's in this precise moment that I want you to look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself, "I love you." Love yourself for being able to feel this much, for caring this much and for wanting things to be okay. Take a really big breath and go eat some chocolate. This won't fix the problem you're facing, but it will soften the blow with love.

You know what? Life is probably going to get a lot harder than the last two weeks. I mean, there's a possibility for it, at least. That stuff was totally crummy, but I can list a lot of much nastier things that could happen right now. I'm not saying this to lessen the severity or belittle my problems or the problems of others. I'm mentioning this to remind myself (and you) that no matter how intense the issue, we'll have to face it. We just will. Because that's life. 

By having an unconditional amount of love for simply living, I know that I'll get through whatever it is and things will be okay. No judgement, no regrets. Just love.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

if you don't listen, your body will shout

I sustained my first yoga injury early last week. I came out of what felt like an amazing headstand and was greeted by not-very-amazing neck pain. Within 20 minutes, my range of mobility was limited. By the next morning, I couldn't look left to right, up or down, any direction really. Convinced I just slept on it wrong after a rigorous class, I drove to my desk job and started crying as I tried to check my blind spots.

Needless to say, I spent the rest of the week working from home, getting chiropractic and acupuncture care and not doing yoga. Or getting on my bike. Or running. Or driving.

It was torturous, forced stillness.

Throughout the week I experienced a lot of anger and frustration. Some of it was a product of the pain, but most of it was directed at myself. I've been flitting around like a kindergartener the day after Halloween for a few months now. I've experienced several gentle reminders physically and mentally that have told me to slow down. But I've all but heeded these kind little warnings. In fact, I think I greeted them with the same courtesy as a horse fly.

So, my body turned up the volume.

"Yeah? You think you can ignore me, babe? Not an option. If you're gonna make me yell, Imma yell. Nice and loud."

Oh, and she did. And listening sucked.

It's been almost a week since the message over the loudspeaker told me, "Be more mindful of how you spend your time. Be honest with yourself about your energy levels. You need to stop planning every minute of every day because you're scared to sit still. Being random and free-spirited is fine, but cut the impulsiveness down a little. Don't be afraid to keep saying no and say it more often. Create a healthier routine not just for your body, but for your heart."

Here's the rub, I'm really great at making it seem like I've got a lot things under control and that I'm living with a hyper-sensitive level of awareness. I used to be an actress. I'm a fantastic storyteller. I can spin just about anything, including the reality I want people to perceive about me.

Boo, lemme tell you sumfin. I been screwin' up all over the place. But I ain't mad. I'm just funna git better.

Slowly. Mindfully. And with heaping doses of forgiveness.

I have full range of mobility back in my neck now. You know what I wanna do more than anything? Get on my bike and ride until I vom. Then run. Then swim. Then go to yoga. Then make plans with everyone I know.

But I'm not gonna do that. I'm not even going to think about planning out time to do that. I'm just going to go to sleep and be so thankful that tomorrow morning, I probably won't cry when I try to lift my head off my pillow like I did a few days ago.

And that, is an amazing thing.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

one year

One year ago today, I started on a journey that has led me to corners of my being that I never knew existed. On this day last year, a significant, tumultuous relationship came to a crashing halt. Both of us knew it was coming. For quite some time, the relationship mirrored the path of a rock skipping over water. Bouncing quickly on the top of a frighteningly calm lake. Each time the rock hit the water it was closer to plummeting to its scary, unknown depths.
Unbeknownst to me, I found the depths to be unexpectedly cool and soothing. Icy and dizzying at first, the journey to the bottom was imperative to my growth and development. As the rock hit the bottom, it transformed into a lotus flower seed. These seeds grow from the gooey, muddy bottom, digging their roots into the mucky muck. As the flower’s stem grows, it arcs toward the surface of the water, only to bloom into a many-petaled beauty, feeding its firmly grounded roots with the sun’s inviting and blissful warmth.
Both of us knew that despite previous claims, what we shared was not meant to last a lifetime. The lessons therein, however, will last that long, if not longer. At times, it seems like my lotus flower has cracked the surface and started blooming, and other times it feels like I’m still working toward that barrier. Even if it has bloomed, there are still stormy days that test the petals’ resolve.
I’m in awe of how much has changed over the last year. I never expected to be where I am today. I remember vividly how I felt a year ago. I felt like the rug of my life had been ripped out from underneath me. I was 27 years old, working few hours a week, unable to buy my own groceries or pay rent. I looked at myself in the mirror with disgust. It was nearly impossible for me to see the blessings in my life. Fathoming happiness and love was a mighty feat.
I remember what my former beau said to me before I moved out, “You can do anything. You will be fine.”
The man was right. Further, I am fine even when I think I’m not. Because no matter how terrible I think I’ve had it, there are many millions of people in this world who struggle to simply survive. I am so thankful that even though I couldn’t see it, he could and he was bold enough to say that.
Slowly but surely, with the help of extraordinarily amazing friends and family, I picked myself up, piece by piece. I found that the puzzle no longer fit together as it once had and I realized that I had to start anew. I had an opportunity not to start over, but to absorb this experience and learn from it.
Throughout the course of the last year, so much has changed:

  • I went through and completed yoga teacher training.
  • I started teaching yoga, something I wasn’t sure I’d ever actually want to do. Turns out, from what I’ve been told, I am a natural.
  • I landed my first, full time, benefits included, well-paying job as a writer. While I’m not always comfortable with the content I write, I am writing. Something I never thought I would make money doing.
  • I’ve been on countless dates and had a few run-ins with a few dreamy fellows. They haven’t either come to fruition, or they were short-lived.
  • I’ve visited New York City twice and I have the green light from my job to move there next spring, keeping my job as I work remotely.
  • As of next month, I will have moved three times. Each place I’ve lived has carried incredibly valuable lessons regarding cohabitating.
  • I’ve become an avid cyclist.
  • I quit smoking.
  • I changed the way I view food.
  • I gave up alcohol for extended periods of time.
  • Virtually every friendship I have has experienced a significant shift and I have made many new friends, all of whom I am very grateful for.
  • I’ve found, that despite previous claims, that I love Minneapolis. A lot.

I think, a year ago, I said to myself, “A year from now, I better be moved the [expletive] out of this place, never to return. I will be over this [expletive] and peaced the [expletive] out.”
What a funny thought. What I now know is that the work is hardly over and guess what? It never will be. There is no, “If I do this, and this, get this and then that, I’ll be set. Then things will be better.” I will always be working on myself.  My list of things to work on is as long, if not longer than the changes I’ve been through:

  • I will not allow my life to become stagnant or filled with complacency. I want to look, feel, behave and interact differently every day. Not in an erratic way, but in a compassionate, growing, lively way.
  • I want to become a better runner.
  • I want to grow my knowledge about yoga and how to teach it.
  • I want to be more okay with being single. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a happy gal. But damn, I sure could use a good cuddle every now and then.
  • I want to be more okay with being alone and present. And I mean, really being alone. Not on the phone. Not texting. Not watching a movie. Not on Facebook. Alone. For realsies alone. Just me and my thoughts and the world around me.
  • I want to care less about what people think of me.
  • I want to stop assigning other people’s problems as my own. I cannot fix anyone. I am in charge of myself and only myself.
  • I want to get even better at being okay with being wrong.

The list goes on. These are things that I will be working on for-ev-er. I gladly accept the challenge.
On my walk to where I am currently sitting and writing this, a woman with a video camera stopped me. She was in a film class and was walking around filming individuals who had stories to tell. She asked if I would like to share something. I was happy to.
“What do you want to talk about?” she asked.
“Well, hmm,” I thought. “I’m a yoga teacher. I like riding my bike. I’m a writer.”
Then I smiled.
“Actually,” I said. “The reason I’m here right now is to write. A year ago I went through a very difficult break-up and I’m here to blog about how much is changed and how happy I am.”
She gasped.
“Can—can we talk about that? Can I film you talking about that?”
“Absolutely,” I said. “I wouldn’t have brought it up if I wasn’t okay sharing it.”
So she started her camera and I talked for a few minutes about how much I’ve grown and changed and how blessed I am. As I spoke, she beamed. When she was done filming, she thanked me for sharing my story and told me, “I’m so happy for you. It’s so nice to hear people talking about their happiness.”
I hope you feel the same way. But if you don’t, I know that has nothing to do with me and I earnestly wish you all of the peace and blessings you seek.

Friday, April 27, 2012

love, music, and experiencing pain

After my last break-up, I was advised to not listen to music for awhile. Nothing. While this seemed wise, seeing as the ex-fellow is a musician, I was taken aback. What about the songs that didn’t remind me of this guy? Those songs are safe, right? Nope. Those will then become associated with your hurt. Okay. Well then I’ll listen to happy music. Nuh-uh. Those will make you sick. So I did my best to follow these instructions. This was really hard. Music serves as a soundtrack to our memories and our moods. To just have silence seemed sad. I felt deprived.

I ended up giving up on this tactic and decided to just listen to music. To whatever I wanted. I tried to find new stuff but I found myself craving the old stuff. Friends made me mixes. Sometimes I would listen to the stuff that reminded me of the now-over relationship and it would make my stomach churn. I would shudder and have to turn it off. Other songs would make me mad and resentful. Some jams would make me weep -- like the music we recorded together. (That stuff, along with his records, aren’t in my library anymore -- you gotta let some stuff go.)

My friends would ask me why I tortured myself like that. I didn’t know. I wanted to work through it, I guess. Something felt really good about feeling so terrible (sick, right?). I was never able to explain this tendency toward experiencing pain. Until today, when I found this quote on Elena Brower’s Facebook page:
The only way to ease our pain is to experience it fully. Learn to stay in the uneasiness, learn to stay with the tightening, so that the habitual chain reaction doesn’t continue to rule your life. – Pema Chodron
When I read that, it hit me like a ton of bricks. There is a very big difference between allowing yourself to experience pain and wallowing in self-pity for so long that you get stuck. Hurt is a part of growth. If you don’t live in that place for a little bit and lick your wounds (versus staring at the wound and watching it gush blood or totally ignoring it), you’ll keep returning to that space. There’s a reason I was hurting. This wasn’t an unfamiliar ache (I'd had my heart broken a few times before), but it was one of the most significant I’ve ever experienced. I wanted to explore the shattered pieces, the panicky place, the sadness, the fear. I thought, “If I just feel everything that comes up, knowing that it will pass and change, it will do just that: pass and change.” And it did.

Almost a year later, I find that I can listen to music that used to make me gag. Instead of feeling sick or sad or hurt, I either feel nothing, or, every now and then, a memory pops up. The memory of that really great time we had when we were in the car together, singing harmonies and laughing. The wind whipping into the vehicle, the dog perching her head on our shoulders, and licking our ears and necks. Up until recently, I used to resent that moment or memory. I would find myself smiling and I would grow upset. "No, I thought. Screw that guy. He's a jerk."

Two weeks ago, I was in New York City at the Yoga Journal Conference. During two different classes, one with Sarah Powers -- focused on compassion -- and the other with Elena Brower -- focused on inviting grace -- we were asked to hold our hands over hearts and focus on love. While I was feeling all warm and nurturing and safe, both teachers asked us (unbeknownst to each other, I'm sure), to think of someone that is really hard to think about positively. Just let that person pop in. It could have been anyone. We all know who popped into my head. Then, both teachers asked us to invite this person into that loving, warm space and hold them there, and send them love.


I think they both heard my mental anguish and disgust because they both said, "If you want compassion and grace, you have to be able to give it to others and see others for who they are right now, without judgement."  

Oh, I thought. Damnit. Well in that case, fine. Come on in, bro.

I have no sufficient words to describe what it felt like to follow those instructions. Twice. In one day. I just don't. There were colors and smells and memories and it was like I made peace with something that had been riding around inside me for a very long time. But the peace was scary, because it was quiet. And I like my noise. It's like my music.

Now,when that song shuffles through my iPhone and the memory pops up of us impulsively getting out of his car and dancing in the middle of a country road on a hot summer night, I smile and I let myself hold that space. I tip my hat to it, thankful that, even though my heart was broken for a bit, that I did, at one point, experience love and happiness with another person. And that’s what’s great about us as humans – we have the ability to perceive life in that way. It’s not easy, but it’s available to you if you care to tap into it.