Quick Thoughts: FOOD WEEK!

In chronological order, the following amazing, food-related milestones are going down in my week:

  1. Tomorrow is DAY 30 of my second Whole30!! I’m sure at some point I’ll write about the final ‘results’ – let’s say it’s been a very interesting month, in ways I did not expect – but for now, I’m laser-focused on the wine I’ll be drinking the second I’m out of the office on Wednesday.
  2. Thursday is my first-ever Thanksgiving in New York City! Mama and Papa B will be joining D&D&me for a day where we’re going to watch the balloons, and drink more wine, eat delicious food and generally enjoy each other’s company. This is the first Thanksgiving since 1980 that Mama B hasn’t cooked a turkey for the family, so it’s quite fitting we’re all spending the day together in NYC, especially given my plans for next year.
  3. FRIDAY IS M AND N’S WEDDING WEEKEND I will be eating all the Southern food and drinking in the celebration and the love (and the wine) like I’ve been starved for all of those for weeks.

All this to say, no entries this week through some of next. When your real life has so many incredible, wonderful, amazing events coming up, there’s no time to reflect on your own inner monologue. No, I’ll save all that good reminiscing for next week, after things have settled and the real fun of planning for 2016 has begun.

Until next week then people! To those celebrating, enjoy your turkey or tofurkey or turducken and inevitable food coma this week. This note is my way to share all my thanks for readers, for this blog, for my friends and family, my health, my yoga – my word, there are so many things to be thankful for this year! 2015 has been so much more than I could have imagined, and it surprises me with smiles at every turn. I hope reading this note you know I’m sharing all of those good vibes with you and yours as well.

With gratitude, thanks, and love: SHANTI & NAMASTE!

LB

Am I my hair?

When you make a decision and it’s the right one, it seems like life starts again at that moment, like it’s silly that you’d ever lived with something else. This is something I never knew, or appreciated, for many years; I am not a great decision maker, and up until somewhat recently, I was *that* girl, whose response to “What are you in the mood to eat?” was a knee-jerk “Oh I’m fine with whatever,” or “I’ll go where the group goes!” I’m not sure what triggered the change in my decision-making prowess, but I’ve found in the past six months especially that I’ve been very confident in decisions I’ve made, big and small. That is, until this past weekend, when the haircut I’ve been looking forward to since August did NOT come out the way I wanted, and I’ve been second-guessing pretty much my entire life ever since.

Now I realize that hair is hair, and it grows back, and like let’s be real, this is currently the biggest headache in my life so obviously things are going pretty okay for me. But I can’t tell how I feel about this haircut. One minute I think it’s too short, and I have to resign myself to waiting for it to grow in a bit, and then the next minute I love that it’s so short, such a drastic contrast from my long blonde locks that served as a security blanket for over ten years. India.Arie has this amazing song, ‘I am not my hair,” a song of empowerment and understanding you’re so much more than how others define you. But somehow, I’ve found that my hair may not be necessarily what has “defined” me recently, but it has become an interesting point of focus for all the changes that I’ve made to become this person in the past two years.

As a species, we’re designed to adapt. Whether doing something as minor as getting a haircut, or as major as moving across the country, we’re not designed to stay fixed in one mindset, one spot, and never evolve or move forward. I resisted this adaptation for a really long time. Most of my teens and early twenties, in fact. I couldn’t handle big changes well, wracked by insecurities and anxieties, still deep in the throes of an eating disorder; I avoided inevitabilities like growing up and I clung to the things that made me feel safe, like the long blonde locks I’d been growing for years. Maybe the changes started when I moved in to my own place nine months prior to that first dye job, or maybe one month prior when I walked away from that bedroom for the last time. But there was something in the air when I looked and saw my no-longer-blonde hair in the mirror that made me feel excited, not scared, and the wheels of change started moving.

Last weekend I finally chopped off all my hair again, after growing it out for three months for Twinster’s wedding. It’s exactly what I wanted, but it is SHORT. Like, really short. And the shock of the short hair in the mirror completely threw me off my game, threw into question all of these changes I’ve been making the past two years, and for a brief moment I wanted my long blonde locks again, and I wanted it to be 2013 again. I took a deep breath to calm down my rapidly-beating heart at the panic of going to the office essentially bald (*not actually bald at all), and thought for a minute about what was really happening, what was really going on in my head that was making me second-guess all the changes I’ve embraced and wanted in the past few months and years.

Because the thing is, I am my hair. I am a drastic change from the person who wore those long blonde curls like a security blanket. I remember looking in the mirror the first time after I went red for the first time, and all I could think was “Oh, there I am.” And I remember looking in the mirror after I cut my hair this past spring and thinking “Oh, there I am.” Perhaps given the significance of this past weekend, I still had those long blonde curls in my head, and seeing a short red bob reminded me of how much I have embraced change in the last few years, a reminder that next year I’m making the biggest change of all. I am so much more than just my hair, but looking in the mirror as I’m still adjusting to the fact that for the first time I can’t put my hair in a ponytail, I’ll remember that who I am today, this person that I love today, started with a simple, impromptu trip to a hair salon on a cold December afternoon.

[Draft Series] Two.

[Original draft: Intended to post November 15, 2015]

One, two.

Two, one. Small numbers in theory, but what a series of forevers you can fit between them.

I wonder if there’s some alternate universe where I never left, or maybe one where he wanted the same things. Maybe that’s the odd sense of quiet and loss I’ve been feeling lately, the joy for this alternate universe (if the latter, at least). Maybe it’s an echo of my own trepidation at this day in one of those other worlds. It’s quite odd, though, to think that three years ago, I was hoping this would be a day we would have chosen together for a happy forever, not a separate one. If you’d told me three years ago that on this day, I’d actually wake up, shake out my short red hair, do a little yoga, sip on bone broth and head out for an afternoon with my family, I would be…

Well. Honestly? I think the alternate universe LBs would have thought that sounded great. Especially if you threw in the new tats and the yoga. I think she would be excited for this person, this universe’s LB, until she realized that this universe’s LB is doing all of that alone. Or who knows: maybe that’s exactly why she would be so excited for who I am today.

It does put things in perspective though, when comparing three years ago, versus two years ago, versus last year, versus today. Comparing who I was three years ago, versus two years ago, versus last year, versus today. I was almost sad as I started to write this down, but the more I talk it through, the more I’m feeling pretty good. Really good, actually. I’m reminded that I did make a good decision a few years ago, not just for me, but for him I’m sure as well.

In which I proselytize about yoga and life.

“You use the wall for strength. You don’t use it for balance.”

Last Saturday morning, I made my way to the Upper East Side for a yoga workshop with the incomparable Kerri Verna. I last took a workshop with her in February (if you recall), and wouldn’t have passed up an opportunity to practice with her again. Admittedly this workshop was not quite as evocative, physically nor emotionally, as the February one, but I think some of that was my own fault: I set my expectations very high, now that my inversions are nine months more practiced and advanced, and like all good lessons learned from the mat, my expectations were shattered, as the majority of workshop attendees were super new to any inversions, so we spent more time on fundamentals than the mid-room inversion practice I’d been hoping for. When we did finally start reviewing handstands, Kerri said the above line to the room, and I felt my face go beet red, because that’s exactly what I’ve been doing at home to practice handstands.

I walked away from the class slightly disappointed: it ran way over and I had to leave early to catch a train, leading me to miss savasana and the chance to spend time with her one-on-one, and my ego was a little frustrated that we hadn’t worked on the more advanced postures, despite taking valuable lessons in fundamentals away from the session. On the long train ride back to Connecticut, I decided to pull out the tiny notebook I keep in my purse for emergency inspiration and began writing. I journaled a stream-of-consciousness more than anything, trying to keep my handwriting steady as the train rocked left, right, but when I stepped back after 30 minutes of furious scribbling, the words from Kerri above are what stood out the most.

As the thought rolled around in my head, I started to relate it to a lot that’s been happening lately in life, and not just my own but in the lives around me as well. I see it in everyone that’s gotten married or will get married this year, and I see it in the sad moments, like walking into my childhood home on Saturday, only to run upstairs and burst into tears, because for the first time in eight years, the half-golden, half-Rottweiler welcome committee wasn’t there to guide me in the house before tackling me in slobbery kisses. There are these waves of life, new beginnings with endings, sad stories with a happy ending, which can all come back to something as simple as a handstand against a wall: the wall is for strength, not balance. What you choose to fall back on in life is for strength, but not for balance. The people in our lives that support us are for strength so we can pull ourselves out, but balance is something only we can achieve.

Balance is such an interesting and fragile concept, like balancing a needle on a thread, as someone important once told me. There’s the physical aspect of balancing, but on a higher level, balance is something we’re all desperately seeking in our lives. There’s the ever-difficult quest for a work-life balance and learning how to juggle responsibilities at home and to yourself, with the constant pull for happy hours and 4am nights in the city. As I thought this weekend about balance, and the walls I’ve been using to keep me upright, I thought about how the biggest balancing act I’ve had to manage in the past six months is between the strength I’ve gained from being on my own for two years, and the balance I’m chasing between the many selves, from the 23 year old party girl, to the brokenhearted 25 year old, to the 27 year old almost-yogi I can feel still present in the LB typing this entry now.

Probably the biggest thing I took away from the class on Saturday was the ability to reassess my life right now, and decide to take a step back from handstand practice. I may have the strength to hold myself up, but in the past two weeks things have felt so off balance, it’s no wonder I’d been leaning on the wall to keep me grounded. I walked away from a workshop feeling disappointed I couldn’t push myself into a pose, but in that disappointment I’ve found a calm peace of mind. We forget sometimes that the mind and body are intrinsically connected in ways we’ll never understand. Sometimes it takes a few weeks of getting back to the fundamentals before we can push ourselves away from our support systems, and find a balance on our own two feet – or in my case, hands.

Reassess//Adjust

The other day, I was sitting at my desk at work, furiously blowing on my forearm and tapping certain areas in a desperate bid to make the itching stop. This is the part of the tattoo process that I hate the most. I don’t mind getting tattoos themselves, I don’t mind the aftermath where people stare and ask to touch your tattoo like it might smudge if they try hard enough. But there’s a point in the healing process where the whole thing scabs and starts to fall off, so your skin is basically peeling off in colors, but you can’t pick at any of the peeling or scabby parts lest you want to ruin all that hard work of the artist. Basically this part sucks, and I’ve hated it for every single tattoo I have. I have to admit, though; this one is a little different.

I’ve spoken to a few friends about this, but feel like I need to say it here too: I’m having a really hard time connecting to my new tattoo. I don’t know what it is exactly: the design is exactly what I wanted, down to the sacred geometry and the extremely minimal use of color. The placement is exactly what I wanted, fitting perfectly with the rest of my tattoos, which are strategically placed so that if I’m standing in front of you, arms down in a bikini, you wouldn’t be able to see a single one. My artist told me when we were texting a bit after the fact that it’s one of his favorites he’s done in a long time, and every person who sees it stares in awe and tells me how much they love it. So why is it that every time I look down at this beautiful design on my forearm, I don’t really feel anything?

In the past week, as I’ve struggled to connect and love the new tattoo the way I did near immediately with all the others, I’ve been journaling a lot to try and work through what might be happening in my head to make connecting with this so difficult. Last night I sat curled up on my couch, pen in hand and journal on my lap, and started writing in a furious stream of thought. “What is wrong with me,” it started, “why can’t I appreciate something when it’s exactly what I wanted?” I suppose that speaks volume about my life in general – but on the forearm front, I started thinking about the tattoo itself and what’s evolved in my thought process in the past week.

Something I’ve learned in the past few years is that tattoos are powerful, whether you mean them to be or not. They invoke strong opinions from the people around you, strangers or not, and depending on the visibility, people will ask you intrusive questions about them. Frequently the questions are innocent, “what does it mean?,” “what made you decide to get that?,” etc., but sometimes they’re harsher, “why would you do that to yourself?,” “what were you thinking?” One of the reasons I chose my forearm for this tattoo is because I wanted it to be visible; I wanted to make a statement that yes, I have quite a few tattoos and no, they don’t make me a bad person. I wanted people to ask me about the moon phases so I can give them my elevator speech about how they’re connected to yoga and how yoga has transformed my life. Maybe I wasn’t prepared for the one-two punch of power in this tattoo – the near-constant visibility and the power of the meaning behind those globes in a line down my arm.

Much of this contemplation centers around six months ago, as I had this idea in my head, and how I started tracking the moon and trying to understand the power of the tides in life. Part of me wonders if there was a higher power of sorts, Gaia or God or gods or grilled cheesus, that’s been watching over this process and wanted to give me a bit of a wake-up call to the statement I’m really making with this tattoo. It’s not just a fluff piece about yoga, and it’s not just a way to rebel a little bit, finally having a super-visible tattoo like I’ve always wanted. Looking at the events surrounding the most recent full moon – weddings and loss and tattoos and more – it all feels like a reminder that there is a lot of power in the statement I’m making, and I need to respect and understand that. And honestly? I know it sounds like hippie mumbo-jumbo, but with everything that’s happened, the idea of this powerful energy around my right forearm is pretty fucking scary.

Anyway. I was hoping that in the past few days of drafting this post, I would have a happy conclusion, like “And then I woke up and looked at my arm and everything felt right.” Unfortunately, not the case here. It’s still difficult sometimes looking down and trying to reconcile that this is an image on me forever. It’s perfect, it’s exactly what I wanted, and I do love it – it’s just a lot more to absorb than I’d anticipated. Maybe that’s the final lesson in all of this, especially with the direction of my life in the next 12 months: you can plan and prepare and truly love something, but don’t be surprised if it takes longer than you’d expect to adjust.

Round 2, Day 9

For anyone who is a recent reader of the Chronicle, you may not know that back in April, I completed my first Whole30 (read about it here, I’m not going into it). It was challenging and wonderful all at the same time, but at the end of the 30 days, as I went to bed, dreaming about the nice bottle of wine waiting for me when I got home from work the next day, I remember thinking that sure, I felt great and had energy and I’d even lost a few pounds – but I didn’t think I’d ever want to do another. In fact, I think those were my exact words, when I went into the office the next day and my coworkers all stopped by my desk to ask me what my final thoughts were: “Honestly, I feel amazing, but I don’t think I’d ever do it again.”

So why is the title of this post Round 2, Day 9?

I could list a million reasons why I wanted to do another Whole30 after saying very insistently that I never would – I miss the mental focus! I like having solid nights of sleep and a steady mood! I love how much I can eat without the mental restrictions I’d imposed for years as an anorexic! – but I don’t actually care to justify my reasons for doing another round. Truth be told, I’ve been met with a lot of side-eye over this, from friends and family alike, and it all comes back to one thing: “but can’t you just do a Whole30 and still drink?”

To be clear: wine is my favorite food group. If anyone ever told me to stop drinking wine forever, unless it was imperative to my staying alive, I would laugh in their face as I popped another cork. I love the social aspect of going out with friends for a quick drink, and there is no better feeling after a long week at work than changing into sweats on a Friday night and pouring a big glass of wine. But it started to become abundantly clear to me just after finishing my last Whole30 that excessive drinking and I don’t really get along all that well. In all the other changes I’ve made in the past two years, I’ve neglected to learn my limits with alcohol in public settings. Since just May 1 of this year, that’s led to such lovely half-memories as: falling asleep in the middle of M and N’s engagement party that I technically hosted, losing my wallet in a cab, losing my phone in an Uber after an embarrassing display at R and H’s rehearsal dinner, and most recently, loudly fighting with an Irishman outside of the bar at H’s birthday (though to be fair, that last one ended pretty alright for me).

And also since May 1 of this year, I’ve: watched two wonderful friends get married, turned 27, made a decision for next year that will change my entire life, watched my twin sister marry her soul mate, said goodbye to a beautiful creature that helped me through some of my darkest days, and permanently altered my right forearm. In the two months to come, my best friends say forever under the Spanish moss in Savannah and I tick off a second year on my own, before we go into 2016, the year of yoga training and saying YES to moving on. There is so much love coming our way in the next few months and years, and the last thing I want to remember when I look back at the end of 2015 is how I did something else fucking stupid and ended the night in a blackout shame spiral, not learning from the past, yet again.

Whole30 means something different to every person, and it means something different to people at each round. I went into this round not so concerned with the food aspect, but hoping to reset my mind in the excessive drinking part of things. I want to take 30 days off from numbing emotions I need to feel about all of these insane changes in the past few months, and feel them. I want to remember that girl at 22, 23, 24 with crazy anxiety that drank first to loosen up and then because she didn’t know how to stop; and I want to remember how much I’ve grown from that girl, so the next time I go out with my friends I’m not a complete disaster, something that’s felt too familiar since finishing Whole30 the first time. Maybe the biggest surprise I’ve noticed in just this past nine days is that I don’t really miss drinking the way I thought I would, even a little bit. I don’t miss the social aspect because I’ve been out twice now in the past week where I’m drinking seltzer and no one blinks an eye; when we got the sad news last week, my instinct was not to reach for a liquid escape, preferring instead to cry and look at old photos, reliving memories rather than suppressing them. This round has felt like the very small introduction step to a new life that I’m chasing going into 2016, and while I know that myriad challenges lie ahead, I also know I’m ready, willing and able to take them on.

But I tell you this: come Day 31 on November 25, the VERY first thing I’m doing when I leave the office is buying myself a nice bottle of wine and enjoying as much of it, or all of it, as I damn well please.