[Draft Series] The Ex-files

Original draft: August 1, 2016

Summer is usually a time for healing.

I’m not saying I have a ton of experience with the traditional definition of “exes” because in the traditional definition of “date for a long time, fall in love, fall out of love, break up,” I have two, both of which started in college. I have a lot of experience with other kinds of exes though. There’s the Banker, who only met me in bars after 10pm to act like my boyfriend until the next morning, and there’s the Nice Guy that I went on four dates with and never once kissed because he bored me. There’s the Boss, who only liked me when he couldn’t have me and insulted my intelligence once I finally gave in, and of course there’s the Child, the story we don’t need to rehash again. Those stories are all finished and gratefully so, but there are always little chances to run into people in a city like New York. Especially when there’s a Fling from a few years back that’s related to a core member of the group, and you start a new job that is quite literally around the corner from an ex’s office. You know. Those typical situations.

Truth be told, more than anything those last bits are funny coincidences over anything substantial in my life.  And I didn’t think that I needed to be contemplating all these past parts of me, not now, when there are so many exciting things coming up in the next few weeks. Maybe I still don’t, who knows.

Ha det så lenge!

Chau for now, USA! A and I are off to Norway for the rest of the month, with plans to hit all the big cities, hike through some fjords and naturally, head to the Arctic Circle to play with sled dog husky puppies in training. If you don’t already, follow me on Instagram (@lokahlobrunt) for photos and updates from across the ocean, and perhaps a yoga photo in a fjord. Or more specifically, multiple yoga photos in all the fjords.

See you back here in September. Enjoy the end of summer, lovely reader!

xo,
LB

Quick thoughts: Perfect

Perfect is a relative term. Nothing is ever perfect, but sometimes there’s a simple perfection to the imperfect nature of things, and perfect becomes exactly what’s happening in those moments.

It’s not perfect when it’s a million degrees outside plus humidity, and I forget all my good makeup in NYC for a wedding in Connecticut, and we leave for Norway in less than a week and I have to teach two classes and there is no time for anything. It’s not perfect when A is in pain because of his back and I’m not going to see him till we’re at the airport on Friday and I forgot my work laptop at home this morning and my 6:30am Uber driver won’t stop talking on the ride from Forest Hills to Washington Heights and all I want to do is sleep. It’s not perfect when I’m about to leave my cat and my new job and my everything except for A for 11 days and I’m so terrified and anxious about it.

But it’s all perfect. It was perfect to watch my oldest friend marry his soul mate, even in the million degree heat, even without my good makeup. It’s perfect that after two months of barely seeing each other because life is so busy that A and I get almost two full weeks with just each other. It’s perfect that I’m teaching classes this week before I leave because that’s something that makes me happier than just about everything, and it’s perfect.

It’s perfect. It’s perfect just because it is. Because we are. Because you are. It’s all relative. But it’s all perfect too.

Aura and Energy

This past weekend was my last weekend in the city till September. September! I suppose that’s not too far away now, but last Friday it felt like a big deal and a long time. I wanted to soak in the energy of a summer weekend in the city in every possible way for those two days, knowing it’s the last precious few days where I can do exactly that; I had Friday night with A and friends, and all day Saturday with A and friends, but I took Sunday to be with my friends. I met a beautiful yogi friend from my training days for what turned out to be an intense free class at the Lululemon in the Meatpacking, followed by coffee, a fruit cup and then yoga in the park with strangers who are friends. I made it home around 5 that night, feeling completely invigorated, until I sat down on the couch and realized, amusingly, I was too sore to get back up.

Sunday was, in total, about six hours of yoga. Not a restorative or slow practice, not the calming hippie yoga stereotype; I spent six hours on my hands and my forearms, in splits and backbends, going upside down, trying new things like acroyoga, meeting new people for high fives and hugs. It was exhausting and amazing and I truly didn’t even notice how sore I was even then I didn’t care. It had been the perfect Sunday in Central Park, a perfect New York City Sunday to hold me over till September, and I went to bed on Sunday thinking I had never felt better, spiritually, emotionally, mentally.

And then I woke up the next morning at 5am to watch my Monday rapidly crumble to the worst migraine I’ve had in months.

Yoga philosophy says that there are thousands of energy channels throughout the body, kept healthy through self-care like asana practice and avoiding vices, but when these channels are blocked, all sorts of problems can happen. Fear stays near the chest above the heart, negativity and self-criticism settles into the hips, anxiety takes root in the shoulders and neck; it’s why sometimes yogis cry in savasana, because all this blocked energy has finally been released and now it has to get out somehow. Some yogis joke that a good sweaty practice can fix just about anything, but I would counter-suggest that it can open you up to a backlash of suppressing all those emotions and feelings for so long.

Last week I had to take four days off from any serious practice because of a back injury, and by the end of day 2 I noticed a serious difference in my demeanor. I was irritable, my attention span was even more out of control than usual; I wrote a whole post about it because I was just… off. My anxiety was back, I was getting upset about my physical body and those ten pounds that have crept on in 2016, and really nothing made me feel even a semblance of okay until I went to that Lulu class on Sunday. Had I stopped there, had I not spent the entire afternoon in the park continuing with the intense movement, who knows if the migraine would have happened. While I was in the worst of it on Monday though, I couldn’t help but wonder.

The migraine hit peak for me about 2pm on Monday, despite my retaliatory efforts of Excedrin and many essential oils. I laid in my bed and I tried to push through it but then my face was burning and my nose was burning and my eyes were trying to push out of my skull with every pound, pound, pound of the hammer of my heartbeat. The symptoms were getting worse and worse, and I could feel everything getting bigger. I took a deep breath trying to calm down, but instead it made everything so painful that I completely let go of whatever fight I had against the pounding in my skull and within a second I started to cry.

When I finally stopped crying and I could take that deep, if raggedy, breath, I started to calm down. I could feel the calm rush up from the base of my spine, into my chest, across my collarbone, up my neck and finally, finally, finally, a flush of relief through my brain. Over the next few hours I slowly made my way out of bed, put on my glasses and took a long shower, breathing deeply the whole time. I slept for 10 hours that night and woke up for work feeling like a new person; my focus was better, my mood was better, and when I saw A last night for the first time this week I practically leapt into his arms, flush with the good energy of being in love. I’m still physically sore from six hours of yoga this weekend, and this week is not without its challenges. But after a week of feeling like something was off, it only took a serious migraine and a good cry to turn my particular breed of sunshine back on, full throttle.

Is it too late now to say sorry?

Sometimes I like to think I’m like Donald Trump. I mean okay, I don’t agree with his personal politics nor campaign platform, nor pretty much anything that comes out of his mouth. Also I’m not an orange leather man-purse whose best accomplishment is hiding tax returns and tweeting at haters and my hair actually moves when prompted. Plus I’m not a demagogue racist pandering fear to an already-fearful electorate in an effort to get access to nuclear codes, and I definitely can’t match his duckface, he’s at like Kardashian level. So basically, we’re not alike at all, except for one thing: I love words. I have the best words.

I really do love vocabulary though. I love learning new words, finding obscure phrases with words that roll off the tongue like a song; if I can work “lackadaisical” or “diaphanous” or “nefarious” or “entranced” into a conversation you bet your sweet ass I will. I’m the nerd that would actually love a word of the day calendar (HINT HINT MY BIRTHDAY IS IN A MONTH) and I love that I work in an industry that’s heavy on writing and communication with top scientists and researchers who teach me new words with a single email. Yet with all of this – despite loving words and definitely having the best words – a conversation with a friend recently led me to realize that the word I say most often is “sorry!”

I apologize for everything. Sorry to the stranger who gets in my way on the subway, sorry to my coworker when we’re in the kitchen and I’m trying to sneak out of the way, sorry to my boyfriend when I laughed too hard after he mixed up chili powder and cayenne pepper in chili recently (that last one may have been okay though, he was in pain and I couldn’t even get him water for laughing so hard). I apologize to EVERYONE, for everything. Some of it is a cultural thing. Every time I travel abroad I’ll inevitably meet someone who will hear me apologize for looking at a building or sneezing or something else innocuous and they’ll laugh. “Americans apologize for everything! Why are you always so apologetic?” But even for an American I apologize a lot, and that conversation with a friend recently had me wondering why.

The conversation was after a yoga class in June. I had just decided to switch jobs after a wildly busy spring, I hadn’t spent time in my own apartment for longer than 24 hours since April, and basically I was a mess. The studio was too tiny and oddly set up for the class, and I hadn’t had time to practice it. As the class started and I fell into the easy rhythm of teaching, there were a few moments where I stumbled – as any new teacher does. But it wasn’t until after the class, walking back to the subway with a beautiful soul from my yoga training class, where she turned to me with a sheepish look on her face. “Can I give you one critique about your class?” she asked gently, to which I enthusiastically agreed, as she is a role model of mine for yoga. “Your class was beautiful – so STOP APOLOGIZING!! I was ready to get up and shake you at the last ‘Sorry!’ in there because you have nothing to apologize for!”

You have nothing to apologize for.

What a novel concept.

I’ve taken those words with me everywhere since then. Instead of apologizing for walking into the kitchen at the office when someone else is in the doorway I just say ‘Hi!’ Rather than apologizing to A when it takes me a while to get back to his text, I’ll just answer his question. I’ve stopped apologizing for things where I’m not actually sorry, and it was the most difficult and amazing transformation in my attitude and my day. I feel more confident. I speak more confidently, because I’m confident in my words rather than apologetic. I’d encourage each of you to consider how often you apologize for things and make that same change if you need to. Because you also have nothing to apologize for.

Unless, of course, you’re Donald Trump. Because frankly, anyone with the “best words” should know better than to use them for hate. And hate, in all forms, is absolutely something to be sorry for.

Fog Lights

Yesterday was a weird day. I tried to write a post about this past weekend, where we celebrated how wonderful E is and what it’s like to watch someone change their life for the better, but it kept coming up short. I wanted to tie it into a larger piece about our pasts and maybe eventually I will, but I kept stopping and staring at the words. I felt really stifled at the thought of delving back into my past for inspiration. I started to feel really stifled at the thought of my past at all. And I started to tell myself that maybe this reality I’m living would become a similar type of past in the near future, and this giant fog fell over my whole day that I couldn’t shake for anything.

I’m really bad at being happy, it turns out. Like, resorting to self-sabotage-bad at enjoying happiness for what it is in that moment instead of freaking out that things are going too well and have to stop going that well soon. It comes in waves, this resurgence of the anxiety that’s plagued me for years, but lately it’s sticking around. It’s not like it used to be, where it was intrinsically connected to my then-self, where I couldn’t disconnect where my anxiety ended and I began. Right now it feels like a bandaid I don’t want to rip off; I know it’s not a part of me and it’s temporary, but I’d rather let it hang out to the side for now and I’ll get rid of it when I’m ready. Anxiety sticks to everything when you pay it too much attention: new job, finances, plans for the next year, and relationships. Right now I’ve managed to assuage fears about the new job, about our budget for the Norwegian adventure, about any plans that haven’t come to fruition, and so it stuck to my relationship, because I’m really, really happy, so obviously that means everything is wrong.

When you live in this mindset it’s hard to be present externally because you’re so focused on what’s happening inside your ego, your mind.  Last night A and I went out for dinner with a few friends in Queens and I think I said three sentences all night. He could tell immediately I was off, but didn’t push, he just let me sit and be, clearly inside my own head about absolutely nothing.  When he asked me later “are you okay?” I told him the truth and said “Yes,” because I am okay. I’m just off, and I don’t know why. Sometimes for people that’s a lot to handle, when someone is okay but then again they’re not, and there’s nothing to do to fix it.

Not A, though. No, he knew exactly what to do. He didn’t push me to talk when we got back to his place; he didn’t try to offer solutions to fix every problem in my life and he didn’t ignore that I was off. Instead, he put on Last Week Tonight, handed me my favorite sweatpants of his and we snacked on peanut butter pretzels. When we settled into the couch he laid behind me and held me close. He stroked my hair and kissed my cheek and said he’d missed me the previous week. And we stayed there, half asleep, even after the show was over and the television was blank, until it was time to go to bed, where we talked about Norway till we fell asleep in the middle of sentences.

I woke up this morning like a new person, like something had been switched back to “on” and I could see through the fog. I made us coffee and we watched old SNL clips for no reason until it was time to leave. It felt like the bandaid had fallen off overnight and all the delving back into my past from the weekend that opened up the old anxiety wound didn’t matter anymore. The past has happened and the future will come, but the present is really beautiful for what it is: the sliver of sunshine amid a sea of fog that comes with a little self-awareness and a whole lot of love.

Friendly Conversations: To

Welcome to another edition of Friendly Conversations, where I screenshot how embarrassing my mother is and how absurd my relationship is. Sadly no cameos from T in this edition, but believe me, she’s got a full post coming up real soon.

This week’s theme is “Advice from my loved ones on switching jobs.” Enjoy!

On how to act in interviews:
Mama convo_july 2

On pre-resignation professional obligations:
A convo_july 7.png

On resigning
Mama convo_july 1.png

On what to do with some extra cash
M convo_july 1.png

On what I’ll actually do with the extra cash
A convo_july 5.png

 

 

Really, really, ridiculously

Sometimes things aren’t going well, and sometimes that’s where inspiration flows. For me it’s as simple as a bad commute, a bad practice in the morning, an exhausting day at work, and all of a sudden I can hyper-focus on all the terrible things I’ve ever done in my life and I have entries coming out of my brain like a typewriter ribbon, click click of the keyboard and I’ve got enough inspiration to last me a month. Some people only write in that world of inspiration, and I can understand why. It’s easy to create relatable material to the bad days, because we all have them. Some people like to live in that sphere of bad days, woe is me, everything is wrong; tragedy is inspiration and it would be meta-tragic to lose that muse.

Not today for me though. Not after this past week, this past weekend, the past month, hell, the entirety of 2016. It hit me recently that I’m really, really ridiculously happy. After minor freak-outs last week about things like “why is it so freaking hot in this subway station” and “what the fuck was I thinking leaving a job I loved?” the past five days have been, in one (non-existent) word, cra-mazing. As in Crazy. And also Amazing.

Life is crazy. I switched jobs. I’m staring down the likely barrel that I need to start planning when and how I’ll pack up my apartment after four years of living in the Heights, even though this is the time where I thought I’d be in the home stretch till moving to Texas. I’m trying to figure out if and how I can make it as a yogi in this concrete jungle I’m lucky enough to call home. My grandmother is in the hospital again. One month from tomorrow A and I leave for a two-week adventure around Norway and this summer feels like it’s already slipping away. I’ve put on ten pounds. My best friends moved to Vietnam. I haven’t seen my other best friends in months. Because life is crazy. Life is insane, life is can’t-stop-won’t-stop crazy.

But my word, life is amazing. Life is really, really, ridiculously good looking amazing. Tonight I have the summer party for my new agency, a chance, I hope, to keep getting to know this wacky group of people I’m already excited to call coworkers. This Tuesday I have dinner with my sorority big, and we haven’t caught up in way too god damn long. This Wednesday A and I are going to a concert in Forest Hills because why not, it’s summer! This Friday we’re watching D&D’s pit bull, which means a weekend in the Upper East Side, and on Saturday we have plans with R and H that have been on the calendar since May. May!! That is just the next week of my life and every piece of it makes me so excited and happy to be here, exactly here, in this moment, in this city, in this life.

And every day there’s A. Every day there’s someone who texts me “good morning” and “good night” and all day in between; every day there’s someone who tells me everything is going to be okay and brings me peanut butter pretzels from Trader Joe’s after I cry on the phone telling him I don’t think it will be. Every day there’s someone in my life who is really, really ridiculously good looking and smart and sweet and kind, and this past weekend we danced like nerds together at a bar with no walls while the summer rain raged outside, and I stopped for a minute to stare at him, because I realized he picked me and that thought took my breath away. Every day there’s someone who tells me “I love you” and it’s like the first time I’ve heard those words from anyone, and I feel like I can do anything. Maybe even fly. (okay maybe not literally but it’s pretty sweet hearing those words all the same).

Life is crazy. Life is amazing. Life is cra-mazing. Life will go back to the ebbs and flows, the ups and downs, the inspiration in the bad days or the slow churn of monotony, but man, I wanted to remember how crazy, amazing and really, really, ridiculously wonderful it is right now.

Summer Updates

Hello lovely readers!

I have a million and one things happening in life right now, from new jobs to planning the Norway vacation to planning a girls weekend at the end of the month, and in between all of that I’m still teaching yoga and trying to enjoy summer. Oddly, I have a million things happening all around me right now, but I’m not inspired to write. I’m just not. I wish I were but I can’t think of what to put down that’s interesting. So many things are changing right now that nothing feels permanent enough to put down here, and yet the constant shift of motion in my life is the reason I started the Chronicle in the first place.

All that to say, I’m going to take hiatus of sorts for the summer. I’ll still be posting, but think more “Friendly Conversations” and “Draft Series” and maybe a new series with excerpts from the journals I’ve been keeping for nearly 10 years. Maybe I’m not doing anything to inspiring right now, but believe me, summer 2010 is a gold mine of absurd ramblings of a 21-year-old unemployed college graduate. Maybe I’ll put up content, maybe I won’t. I’m trying not to hold myself to a schedule this summer, and trying even to come up with a post every week has been a challenge.

So stay tuned and check back here still for new content! I promise the Chronicle isn’t going away. It’s just taking a summer vacation, like the rest of us are as well.

With love,
LB