Quick Thoughts: August

Alternative title: this is my white flag, part two.

I need a break from the blog for the next few weeks. Between work and the final preparations for T’s bridal shower slash bachelorette weekend extraordinaire next weekend, I barely have time to eat and breathe, let alone write. I have so many unfinished drafts from weekends past that I can’t figure out if they make sense to post or not anymore. Writing grounds me, and it makes me happier, gives me a new perspective when I desperately need one; but it’s also, admittedly, very time consuming and it requires my full attention, which I can’t give to anyone or anything right now, except for work and the wedding weekend extraordinaire.

T’s weekend is the one that starts everything: weddings every month for the rest of the year, my impending birthday, 10/27 and all the fun things in between. I know I can find a balance in life with all important things, including this blog, but for the next two weeks, I need a break to get everything else in order.

So if you want to keep up with me, follow me on Twitter (@LBthe20whatev) and Instagram (@lbdoesyoga), where I’ll still be posting silly things. And I’ll be working on lots of fun content for August, which will include finishing all the draft posts I’ve started in the last month.

Sending love and light, and good vibes for less hectic times ahead,

LB

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This is my white flag.

Everyone has bad days, personally, professionally, because of strangers, or lovers, or partners, or friends. We all have our ebbs and flows, we have the days where you’re flying and the days where you’re drowning, and that’s not what I’m here to talk about. This isn’t another post about the bad days, and how I know things are going to get better, because if this was a post about the bad days I would already know that. This is a post that simply has one message: I surrender.

The chaotic monotony of life has been building me up and breaking me down lately, and walking out of the office 2 hours after I’d first packed up to leave last night was the icing on a really fucked cake. I’m exhausted. Stressful weeks mean I’m abusing the chocolate drawer, and all that sugar in my system has aggravated the anxiety that hasn’t flared up since before I did the Whole30 in April. All I wanted was to get to a yoga class, and once again that was taken from me; all I wanted was to get to my mat at home but I couldn’t even have that to look forward to, because I had to stop at my lovely friend M’s to pick up my dress for R’s wedding, and then I had to feed myself, and I needed to clean, and shower, somewhere in there I suppose I’ll have to sleep before going back into work forever; and everywhere in there I’m still covered in poison ivy, which has a real way of making you feel life a fucking rockstar. When my head hit the pillow last night, I let the tears frame the sides of my face as they streamed down, down, and found a new mantra to guide me to a restless sleep: deep inhale, deep exhale: I surrender.

I surrender. I’ve been so fortunate for the past few weeks that things have been fantastically wonderful in my life, with positive thinking and attitudes, but something snapped in me this week and I don’t have it in me to fight anymore. Last night when I got to M and N’s place, I started talking about my day, as they are the most amazing listeners and let me complain whenever I need to, and about two minutes into my frustrated lamentations, M walked over to me from where she was sitting on the couch and without missing a beat pulled me into a hug. The second my head hit her shoulder in a grateful release from the tense nature of feeling overwhelmed at life, I started to cry, the first time that night that I felt like I couldn’t push through. It was just a few minutes where she let me cry on her shoulder, shoulders shaking with the tiny sobs of someone who doesn’t have it in her to fight any longer, and the rest of the night before my head hit the pillow, I was trying to figure out where my fight went, and why I surrender felt so good to repeat over and over, before falling into a dreamless sleep.

I’m a fighter by nature. I fight back bad moods, I fight back at stress, I push through the bad days and I don’t let people walk over me; it took me years to find my voice and I will be damned if anyone tries to mute it again. I make mistakes because I’m human, but I fight to grow from those mistakes instead of letting them define me. But I’m waving the white flag on this week. I can’t fight anymore. Last night I felt defeated, like I’d run a race as the leader until the last three steps, where I fell and watched everyone else sprint past. I was supposed to have a Summer Friday today but I’ll likely be here late, pushing to get things done on time, even though it won’t matter, and next week everything will still be crazy. Monotony, circles, running around like my job matters in the largest grand scheme of things, like the world might stop turning unless I get that email out in the next five minutes.

This morning I woke up early and sighed, deeply, the kind of sigh that speaks to a long week and the optimism that ran out by Wednesday. I stared at my yoga mat and heard the little voice in the back of my head saying that it would be okay to surrender back to sleep and stretch tomorrow. But I didn’t. Instead I worked through a really easy, basic flow, whatever came to mind, while keeping I surrender top-of-mind. And it started to take a new meaning. I surrender to the bad days and the bad moods. I surrender to being crazy at work. I surrender to the limitations of being human – maybe I’m cranky and upset today, but by the time tomorrow comes around, it’s a new day, with new challenges, and eventually it’s going to be okay. So this is my white flag to this week, where I’m going to let everything just happen now, and I’m going to try my best to trust that things will work out the way they need to. I surrender to the weekend and to what I hope will be a learning experience, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the fighter comes back next week.

Paths

If your path is more difficult, it means your calling is higher.

Maybe I’m spending too much time on Instagram lately, and like 90 percent of the people I follow are yogis so we’re all about mantras and good energy, but I seem to be finding a lot of inspirational quotes there lately. The one above posted late last night, as I scrolled through my feed while waiting patiently for all the essential oils treating the poison ivy on my torso (oh yeah IT SPREAD) to dry, and it made me stop for a minute. The person who wrote it talks about her faith a lot, and while I don’t necessarily share the same world view, there is something about that statement, especially when you’ve had a week like I have, that makes you think.

I fucked up this week. There’s really no better way to say it. After all of the great things that have been happening personally and professionally lately, this week threw me a real curveball. From one perspective, I’m not entirely surprised – it’s a new moon today – but from the others, I hate that I can work so hard and juggle so many pieces in the air, and do it well, only to have a gust of wind come by and cause everything to drop in a panic. Mistakes are learning experiences, and to some extent I know they have to happen for growth, but it does suck to be in the same position I was in this time last year, feeling once again like I’m making the same mistakes, if a little different as well. After a few meetings with my bosses yesterday things are making more sense, pieces are coming together, but I kept waiting to find myself in a ball under my desk, fist in my mouth to keep from screaming, entire body rigid to keep from crying. And yet, I managed to finish the day on a stronger note than I’d started, and instead of taking on my usual coping technique of “a large bottle of red wine alone in my apartment,” I took a walk after work to call my anchor G, made it back to my apartment before the sun went down, and spent an hour doing yoga, letting the stretching and balancing reset my whole perspective.

There were times in my life where things would happen and immediately everything looked bleak, like a black night, no moon, nothing ahead but darkness, searching feebly for a ray of light to hold onto. There were times that the darkness was a twilight, where I fought to find the light without realizing I was letting it fade slowly and on purpose, despite insistent screaming for it to come back. Around this time last year I ran around telling everyone who would listen that I could see the light, I found it, I took it, it’s mine; but it was a flashlight, artificial, I thought I was taking charge of it but I was anxious for the day that the battery would run out. This is what I’m used to in my life, reacting to situations by falling into the darkness accidentally on purpose, and working hard but not at all to pull myself out. And now something happened this week, which was similar to something that happened last month, which was similar to something that happened last year, and I spent all yesterday waiting to enter the slow descent into the dark tunnel, the kind where you don’t realize how deep you’re in until no one can see you to guide you back out.

Sometimes it feels like I make a lot of mistakes, all in the name of growth. The paths I’ve chosen for myself, living in NYC, working in the field that I do, the terrible decisions that I make fueled by vodka and an instinct for self-destruction, are difficult paths to walk. Yesterday I acknowledged that the darkness that has tortured and comforted me since my teens wanted to take over, wanted to let me wallow in What Ifs and Why Mes. Instead, though, this time I acknowledged that it was there, and I stared back at it. I let it scream, and call for me, and I didn’t answer; I continued on with my day, letting that voice fade into the background by the time I made it to my mat at the end of the night. What would normally put me into a tunnel of depression instead made me feel stronger, and guiding my practice with my favorite mantra of I will do well contributed to my waking up this morning with a smile on my face, knowing the past can’t change, so all we can do is move forward.

There are paths that we’re given and paths that we choose, and each of them converge into a wild ride of life. Maybe the paths that I’ve chosen are the difficult ones, or maybe the ones I’ve been given are driving me to something more. Whether it’s divinely decreed or written in the stars or whatever else you believe in, I think that the quote above makes sense for everyone. Instead of crying that our paths are harder than everyone else’s, or wallowing in the belief that things will always be exactly as they are right now, we should all make a point to remember that there’s a light somewhere in every tunnel. Let the mistakes that can tear us down instead fuel us further, higher, better, more. Remember that we all have a higher purpose than stewing in the misery of a moment, and we’re all capable of watching the tunnel from afar instead of charging into it like it has the answers. The quote at the beginning of this post inspired me to make sure that I’m carving my path, and letting the rocky mistakes along the way call me to the best version of myself.

Same Same, but Different

Something very weird is happening right now. Actually, there are a lot of weird things happening right now. Let’s start with the least disruptive: because I can only do a handstand minus the wall when I’m outside (and also in a quest for cute Instagram photos), I spent a lot of time practicing yoga in the yard this weekend, and consequently there is poison ivy all over my back. ALL OVER. Granted, it gives me a good excuse to walk around my apartment without a shirt on in the muggy New York summer (shades drawn) (well, usually), but this certainly isn’t what I would call “fun.” Work has also been wild this week, and I’m leaving my apartment again this weekend to stay with D&D’s dogs in the Upper East Side, a staycation I can’t wait for, yet I’m desperate for a weekend at home in the Heights, curled into my chair with bad Netflix and little miss. All of these things contribute to weirdness in my already-very-weird life, but those aren’t what’s making my life weird at this moment. No, it’s something more funny and frustrating all at the same time. It’s funny because I’m acting so ridiculous, and it’s frustrating because I’ve had these conversations with myself before, and I can’t believe I’m having them all over again.

Lately I feel like I’m in the exact same spot I was a year ago, after six months of feeling like I’m a whole new person; like I’m a whole new person that’s exactly the same, with the exact same surroundings that have changed completely. People are still together but now they’re planning weddings, not Saturday nights; he and I are planning my next tattoo, only now it’s my sixth. I sleep in the same room that looks entirely different, and I’m having a conversation with myself I’ve had before, but even that’s a little different, too. “It’s all in your head!” the mirror tells me, “it’s just because you want a good story.” I tell her maybe it’s going to be right this time, and then I play Maybes and What Ifs, and she reminds me what happened last time, and why sometimes it’s silly to dream. It’s a conversation I had with myself just over a year ago, and now I’m having it again. Same same, but different.

Maybe things are in transition, and in an effort to prepare me for something totally different, the universe is throwing me a curveball of familiar, like a reminder that I pulled through last time, so just hold on for now. Maybe it’s just a fucking coincidence and who even cares tho really. And really, I’m probably reading too much into the situation, in need of an escape from the long days at my desk, and the long summer weekends where my free time sold out faster than a Taylor Swift concert. But all the same things wrapped into everything that’s changed are making the conversation that I’m having with myself again very strange, like a constant reminder of how much I’ve matured, except it looks the same as when I thought that was true the last time, too.

Someone I follow on Instagram posted one of those corny but poignant quotes recently, and I took a screenshot on a whim: “The struggle you’re in today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow.” On the least disruptive level, I sincerely hope that means that the poison ivy all over my back is healing and I won’t be in this kind of itchy-gross agony that has plagued me all week. It could mean that work is going to calm down soon, or that I’ll appreciate next weekend more than I already know I will, the only weekend in July where I have no plans but to enjoy my own apartment. But no, right now I think that means something more frustrating and funny all at the same time. It’s frustrating because I can’t figure out how to feel about this situation, and it’s scaring me that it feels so familiar yet foreign; and it’s funny, because I think this is what they call growing up.

Pause.

Fourth of July weekend. A few days off the daily grind to relax by the pool, cook everything on a grill and enjoy such classic American pastimes as drinking beer and tanning excessively. I debated heavily back and forth this weekend whether I wanted to spend the time in Connecticut with family or stick around the city to see what the Nickname Posse would get into, but by Thursday, exhausted from a long week and in desperate need of a pause button, I decided I’d sleep in on Friday morning but take the first available train back once I was functional enough to make a coffee and check the schedule. Connecticut is like that for me, a pause button on everything else in life for a crucial few moments, falling asleep and waking up to nature and devoid of real responsibilities during the day. I’m not constantly on my phone when I’m back at home, I don’t bring a computer or use the desktop there that often. Aside from a few Instagrams (because obviously), I stayed pretty off the grid most of the weekend, and it was exactly what I needed, a pause on the crazy before everything picks back up again.

Part of the weekend was a welcome throwback, a concert on the town green which featured the youth orchestra I played in for six years. Yes, I just said youth orchestra and no, I’m not embarrassed. I’m proud of the time I put into playing my instruments, especially since I’m near positive I can’t anymore, and the conductors, a married couple who also teach the band/orchestra at the middle school and have basically shaped a part of the town culture for the past forty years, finally retired; this was their last concert, potentially ever. We rounded up the old group, the only people I still keep in touch with from high school, and surprised the conductors by near-rushing the stage at the end of the performance. After gently chiding us for not grabbing our instruments and playing with them, their first question was of course “what have you all been up to in the past few years?” We looked at each other, and one friend summed up my life perfectly with her next words. Pointing in order to my sister, another friend, herself and then me, she replied “Engaged, married, engaged, yoga.” I laughed so hard at that statement tears ran down my face – what a perfect way to sum up the most important things in our lives since they last saw us all together in 2006.

Sometimes it feels like my life is a romantic comedy, except I’m the quirky best friend who provides advice and comic relief, while the lead characters grow up and move forward. I’m there for the nights out to follow through on the dare from an engaged friend to make out with a stranger, I’m the last-minute date stand-in when something comes up. I’m never left out of the plot for long, but my role isn’t crucial to the love stories taking place around me each day. Simply put, hearing that statement was certainly funny, but as the words sat with me, they were a little challenging as well, laying out pretty neatly how it feels to play second fiddle to everyone else’s lead character navigating the standard milestones of your late 20s. It was nice to be able to go back to my parent’s place after that, grab a towel and head to the front yard for a little yoga on my own, separated from the rest of the family with just my thoughts and the slow movements of a gentle vinyasa flow, a pause button on a weekend that had already paused everything. I needed the meta-pause for a few minutes to gently remind myself that I’m not being left behind, and I’m not doing something wrong. I’m just not living life on the same wavelength of some of the people I love the most, and maybe it’s a scary thing, but it certainly isn’t a bad one.

Yesterday I got home early and sighed with relief at the chance to roll out my mat and stretch in the comfort of my own living room. I worked through a lot of tension in my hips and my back, long, slow stretches that opened up everything, all the anxieties of the past weekend, all the clenched mouth responses to the “of course it’ll be your turn soon!”s that follow me like a mosquito in my ear when I’m trying to fall asleep. After things felt properly bendy, I started to play with arm balances, first a headstand, then a forearm stand, and finally I moved myself to the wall to practice handstands, surprising myself as I find it starting to become easier and easier to hold the pose without the support of the wall. At one attempt I didn’t need the wall at all, until my excited gasp of air at holding the pose brought me back down with a laugh and a rush of endorphins. It was the kind of yoga high that made me so grateful for the pause button that was my life for the two days prior, a chance to set my head on straight again; and finding balance in those two seconds of hangtime in a handstand made me so grateful towards my body and mind for learning to breathe through these challenging moments, both physically and emotionally. A pause button by way of a weekend away recharged my positive energy for the future, and pausing in an almost-handstand reminded me progress and change will come with time. Now it’s time to push play on a new week, a crazy new week, and a new summer season, where the only pause will have to come from me, taking advantage of the precious moments where I can roll out my mat and remind myself that the end goal is just progress – and that’s something I can do all on my own.

Quick Thoughts: Just Me

I saw a friend last night for the first time in probably six months, and we had so many things to catch up on – my no-longer new job, no-longer new haircut, and to his biggest surprise, my commitment at not dating in 2015. “What do you mean not dating though,” he remarked after I told him that the plan was still in effect. “Like you’ve only been on a few dates and don’t want anything serious?” Nope, I told him. I haven’t been on a date since January and it was so terrible that I just decided I’m not going to deal with them anymore, or at least not till I start contemplating getting more cats even more seriously than I already am. He sat back with a smile on his face, and stared for a moment, like he was trying to find something in me, maybe a sadness, a longing, or a trace of the “left behind” feeling so many people are convinced I’m experiencing now that everyone around me is engaged. The words he said next really stuck with me, and haven’t left my head all day:

“So this is what LB is like without a man. I gotta say lady, she was great to begin with but this is a whole new level.”

Much as I profess to being “single” for a year and a half now, he really has a good point. Last year was a flurry of dates and almost-relationships, of big promises and me wanting, trying, needing to find someone to fill this void that I thought would never go away on its own. If we’re talking single life as in no dates, no relationships, no promises, no crushes even, I’ve made it six full months and I’m on my seventh. It’s as though last year I was trying so hard to get to know other people that I forgot to take a few months to get to know myself.

So this is what LB is like without a man. I gotta say readers, I’ve been pretty okay with her for a number of years, but the past six months really are on a whole new level.