Happy Birthday to Me!

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I am home sick with a nasty, drippy cold. Tucked into bed with every pillow I own propping me up while I precariously balance the laptop on my outstretched legs, dirty tissues strewn about on either side of me, tea cup by my side (the steam doing nothing to help clear my sinuses), all plans for the day canceled so I don’t infect anyone else with the plague, I am left with my own thoughts, and a cat who periodically wanders into the bedroom to meow at me then leave before being exposed to the germy mess I am today. This was not how the day was supposed to go. It’s my birthday! This was not how my 37th year was supposed to start. And yet, here I am.

I’ve been pondering what I really want out of this year – not my goals or what I want to achieve, but what I really want to feel and be. Somehow, 37 feels big. I am way closer to 40 than 30. Forty is coming for me like an oversized boulder that was just pushed off a cliff. Thirty-six was a year of growth and healing and being downright uncomfortable as every piece of my life encouraged, or flat out pushed me out of my comfort zone. I came face to face with some old, deep-rooted inner dialogues that needed to be rewritten. As I finally began allowing myself to grow and speak to myself in new ways I had to let go of relationships, tend to unhealed wounds, and genuinely forgive people I thought I could secretly hate for the rest of my life with no great consequence. I’ve spent the last month laying the foundation for true self-love and self-care as I walk into this 37th year of life. Sometimes being an adult means getting up early to workout so your back doesn’t hurt and eating the salad for dinner instead of the French fries so you aren’t awake all night with indigestion. Man, I miss my 20’s…sometimes.

This year, I choose happiness. I think for many years I didn’t think I could be happy, or that I deserved to be happy. It feels a bit revolutionary to declare happiness when I don’t have what society says I should have to be happy and fulfilled at this point in my life. My generation was told women not only can have everything, but we are supposed to have everything. Anything less, and something is wrong with you. I am not married. I’m not even seriously dating anyone right now. I practically drop my phone in fright every time I get a notification from one of the dating apps I foolishly created profiles on. I don’t have any children – unless you count my cat, which I kind of do, especially when I get the bill for his cat food or he wakes me up at 5am for no good reason. I have some amazing kids in my life but I may never have children of my own. I’m on my third career. I don’t own a house or have a comfortably, consistently growing 401(k). And yet, I say, fuck it! I am going to be happy. I am going to consciously make the choice to be happy over and over and over again this year, because why the hell not?!? Sometimes we get so fixated on things happening in one way (our way) that we forget life can, and does, unfold in lots of different ways. It’s okay if things don’t look the way we thought they should, or the way they do for everyone else. This year I stand firmly rooted in the fact that I am fulfilled by my life as it is right now, and I choose to be happy.

Maybe this was the way the day was supposed to go. After all, one of my main goals this year is to deeply connect with my own voice and use it. And being sick allowed me to have quiet time with myself and actually write.

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A Rough Week


I feel like I have been in a fog this week. I am downright depressed over what is about to take place in this country. I decided to drag  myself to the gym after teaching this afternoon because I ate my weight in carbs yesterday and my metabolism is not what it used to be…and I needed the endorphin boost. I found myself watching the inauguration preparations on the TV attached to the elliptical while listening to an On Being episode called, “Meeting Our Enemies and Our Suffering.” Yes, I purposefully chose to listen to that episode today. No, I did not anticipate watching MSNBC muted on the TV screen. Sharon Salzberg and Robert Thurman share so much wisdom applicable to what is now happening right now in the United States that I invite all of you to take some time to listen to Krista Tippett’s interview with them. I think we could all use some practice and tips on “meeting our enemies and our suffering.”

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Adios 2016

2016 has been a doozy! I spent most of the year with an emotional hangover from everything 2015 threw my way. Even the good moments were intertwined with challenges and uncomfortable growth. There was lots of letting go. I learned that healing and growing are painful, messy, and confusingly nonlinear processes. My comfort zone became too confining, so I wandered, okay, sometimes I was lovingly pushed by my closest friends, outside of what felt safe. Some truly magical things happened (when I was able to quiet the intense anxiety of being so far away from my stifling comfort zone). I spent a lot of time feeling uncomfortably cracked open. However, Leonard Cohen, was indeed right, “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” A lot of light and love came into my life in 2016 (when I stopped fighting and blocking it). And, well, let’s not even get started on all the world events this year that made it seem as if hope, love, and acceptance were trendy things of the past meant to be squelched out for good. All I can say is, if you are reading this then you survived 2016…congratulations! May we all find greater clarity, love, and connection in 2017.

 

 

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Election Day Jitters

Confession…I am a bundle of nerves on this election day. I am secretly wondering if it is acceptable to have a stiff drink or a glass of wine with my bagel. Yes, it is a bagel kind of day. It is an eat as many carbs as I can stuff in my face in hopes they absorb some of this anxiety kind of day. No, I am not going to start drinking mid-day. I don’t think the students I see this afternoon and my classes this evening would appreciate that very much. Or maybe they would, but we will never find out.

The woman who greeted me at the door of my polling site was wearing a smile and a hijab. Most of the poll workers at my site are older African-Americans. Inside were people of every color and religion, lots of young girls standing hand in hand with their moms and dads, a lesbian couple with their two daughters, and I thought, “This is the America I want to live in.” Our communities and country gain strength when everyone has a voice. So many fought tirelessly and gave up so much for the people at my polling site to have the right to vote (there weren’t a lot of white males represented when I was there). We still have a very, very, VERY long way to go, but backsliding is not going to help anything.

For now, all I can do is wait…along with the rest of the country.

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Back in Brooklyn


My three month sabbatical in California came to an end yesterday. This morning I returned to my apartment in Brooklyn. Everything was the same, and yet different. My apartment had the lingering smell of someone else and an air freshener scent I never would have chosen to use in my home. Furniture had been shifted ever so slightly in every room. Little odds and ends had been left, quarters and pens that had fallen out of pants pockets, a book that got pushed under the dresser, the kitchen had olive oil, corn tortillas, and some random jars. The subletter, despite rave reviews about his plant tending from the previous person he sublet from, had let my bamboo plant and terrarium turn shriveled and brown. And while the place was nowhere near dirty, every surface was in need of dusting.

As I walked through the quiet early morning streets of my neighborhood to get a bagel and some basic groceries to tide me over for the day I felt the same dread and disdain I had felt upon leaving three months prior. Distance had not made my heart grow fonder. Had I ever really loved the neighborhood when I moved in four years ago? Or was it just conveniently located near people in my life at the time and still reasonably priced? I found myself, once again, missing my little studio on the Upper East Side, conveniently nestled between Central Park and Carl Schurz Park.

After a nap (when will I learn that I cannot sleep on planes, not even red eyes?), I opened the front closet where I had stored all of the stuff I chose to leave in my apartment but did not want to leave out for a random stranger, otherwise known as a subletter, to riffle through. It was time to make my home feel like mine again by placing pictures of family and friends back in their designated places, putting my clothes back into the bedroom closet and dresser, and arranging my toiletries in the bathroom. For what felt like the millionth time in several months, I began asking myself what to keep and what to get rid of. Literally and metaphorically. So much of the work I have been doing recently has revolved around peeling back the layers and letting go of what I no longer need. I had hoped my time away would bring greater clarity to the questions that began arising as the layers continued peeling away…instead, I was left with even more questions.

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Costa Rica Pictures

I returned from Costa Rica a few days ago. The trip I had a great freak out over. This city girl is reacclimating to being indoors with the background noise of cars driving by and the occasional dog barking or cat meowing instead of the crickets, frogs, howler monkeys, and birds constantly making their presences known. I have been trying to put into words my experience being in the Costa Rican jungle for a week, but I am not there yet. For now, I leave you with some pictures.

The view from our breakfast table every morning.

Our treehouse home.

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Freak Out

This afternoon all the logistics of leading my first yoga retreat came crashing down, dressed in all of my irrational (and some potentially rational if not blown totally out of proportion) fears. What if we don’t all find the shuttle from the airport to the resort? What if the resort isn’t as magical as it seemed online? What if the mosquitos are rampant (can we say, Zika)? What if it rains the whole time (it is the rainforest)? What if I didn’t pack the right stuff? And on that topic, none of my beach clothing fits properly because I have gained a lot of weight since last summer. So now I am the “fat” yoga teacher about to parade her jiggling cellulite all over the beaches of Costa Rica in front of her yoga students. And the scent of all my beach attire, which hasn’t been worn since last year, reminds me of people I went to the beach with weekly in the past, but who are no longer in my life…a wound that is still healing. I digress, though. What if I suck? What if the students, paying good money for this, are unhappy with their experiences? I am the one shouldering the blame. I am the one who lured them out to Costa Rica for a week.

Needless to say, it was a long afternoon leading up to getting dropped off at the airport. (My parents were the brunt of much of my swirling anxiety.) My students tend to believe I am always calm, cool, and collected. I teach in NYC, stuff happens. My students often pride me on my abilities to stay calm and eloquently handle just about any situation. In my personal life, however, freak outs happen. More often than I would like to admit, my anxiety gets the best of me. 

As I sit in an airport restaurant reflecting, and putting the finishing touches on my lesson plans for the upcoming week, I can almost laugh at the absurdity of it all. My freak outs are pointless, they never change the outcome of things. In the end I just get all riled up. You’d think by this point in my life I would have it together enough to squelch the freak outs. I was a therapist and now I teach yoga and meditation. Shouldn’t I have a better handle on my emotions and be able to remain calm by now? The answer…not yet.

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