Status Update

Hello everyone!!

No new entries this week besides this one – life, yoga training and work are all WILDLY crazy right now and I don’t want to put up crappy content in the name of putting up new posts.

I have a few exciting things planned in the next few weeks, including more about how YTT is going (spoiler: IT’S AMAZING) and maybe even a life update that literally no one saw coming (least of all, me). I just need a few more days to get it all together – rest assured I will be back next week!

Thanks lovely readers. See you back here in February!

xo,
LB

Quick Thoughts: Today.

Remember the feeling before the first day of school? It’s a rush of anxiety and eager anticipation; it’s seeing all your friends and making new ones but it’s also hard work for the next few months. Part of you wants to throw up while the other part of you can’t wait to get started. It’s the fear of the unknown: what will my schedule be like? Will I have classes with friends? Will the teacher like me? Will I be enough?

Remember the feeling before your first day at a real job? It’s elation that you’re joining the real world and a terrified anxiety that this is it; you’ve entered the adult world and the rest of your life is the 9-5 that you’ve been training your whole life to enter. There’s a sense of wonder in finding a way to take care of yourself as an adult and a sense of dread that afternoon naps are a thing of the past, maybe forever. It’s the fear of the future: did I choose the right path? Did I choose the right place to grow? Will my coworkers like me? Will I be enough?

Today. Today is the day where I’m going back to school and I’m taking that step to start a real job all over again. I’m reverting back to the five-year-old LB, who ascended the bus to kindergarten holding tight to her twinster’s hand, lest she fall down the stairs or worse, cry. I’m reverting back to the 22-year-old LB, who descended the subway steps to her first job, holding tightly to her purse and her emotions, lest she lose the subway pass that was about to become a lifeline, or worse, cry. I’m reverting, in a sense, back to 25-year-old LB, who rolled out a yoga mat she purchased at Walmart over Easter weekend and flipped to a random YouTube video thinking she’d give this yoga a try.

But I’m also not reverting to any of those things, at all. Because in reliving all of the emotions before I take the first step into my yoga teacher training program tonight and watching as the cogs of change I’ve set in motion begin the slow turn to the rest of the year, I’ve felt a sense of calm and purpose. This is what I’m meant to be doing; this is exactly where I’m supposed to be. I am ready enough. I am studied enough. I am determined enough.

I am enough.

I am.

‘Laugh More, Worry Less’

People think Mondays are terrible. It’s the day you have to go back to work, it’s the start of a long week before another blissful two days where your responsibilities are to yourself, and not to your desk. Personally I love Mondays. There’s something really wonderful about starting a week over again, putting the past week behind you and looking ahead to wonderful things in the days to come. That’s not exactly the case this Monday though. I can’t figure out how I feel about this Monday, because it’s the last Monday before I start yoga teacher training (henceforth referred to as YTT), and that means it’s the first Monday of the next six weeks where, to an extent, I have no idea what to expect.

I’m a natural worrier, passed down from my grandmother and from Mama B, and shared with my sister. For many years, I think I relished my worrier status. It’s a lot easier to punish yourself than it is to feel a sense of pride in accomplishments sometimes, so even when I’d find myself in situations that didn’t require me to worry, I would let the anxiety that’s plagued me my entire life take over. Much of that started to change as yoga became more integrated into my life; first it was taking a few moments to breathe and stretch in the mornings and reset my brain before a day behind a desk, then I started doing yoga after work to quell the office anxiety that followed me home, and eventually yoga came into my daily life, breathing through moments that would normally make me crazy, removing my ego from negativity that would bubble up inside me when I found myself in situations I couldn’t control. It’s a huge reason I’ve been so adamant about getting certified to teach yoga: I want to deepen this practice within myself while simultaneously sharing what I’ve learned with other worriers who just need to learn how to breathe.

All this worry though, all these negative thoughts about whether I’m enough, whether I’m good enough, ready enough, strong enough to handle the next six weeks still hasn’t gone away. I’m nervous about this in the same way that I’m nervous about everything that’s going to happen in the next six, ten months; my mind is constantly on edge that something is going to tip the scales and it’s all going to come crashing down around me. It’s in these moments that it becomes difficult to breathe and simply live for the moment happening before it fades away. It’s in these moments I need yoga the most, and it’s in those moments lately that I’m beyond grateful I’ll have the chance to explore and deepen my life within yoga throughout the next six weeks and beyond.

Something that I’ve been working to grasp as I’ve gone through the Yoga Sutras ahead of Thursday is that everything is external. All the worry I have, all the joy, all the moments where I can’t shut my mind down are completely external from who I am and what I need. I don’t need to throw a tantrum because I lost my phone while drunk at an office party and I don’t need to make a rude facial expression at the person on the subway who pushes past me to grab a seat I didn’t want anyway. Everything around me and in me, the worry about whether I’m enough for YTT or where I’ll be when September is finally here, it’s all external, and I can control how I react to it if I know how to control my thoughts. I can choose to look at any situation as positive or negative, but after a lifetime of choosing the negative, controlling a stream of consciousness towards the positive is far easier said than done.

Bipolar Sunshine has a song, ‘Laugh More, Worry Less.’ that I listened to a few times this morning as my subway unexpectedly crawled along the local track from 175th street to 14th. Such simple words, but they’re such perfect words to live by this week and all the time. Laugh more, worry less. Remember to enjoy this moment because there will never be another one like it and you’ll never get to relive it again. It’s so easy to focus on the negative, and it’s so easy to distort things you can’t control into these huge problems that take over everything. Sometimes it’s as simple as changing your perspective on a situation, whether it’s a Monday morning or whether it’s the next six weeks of the rest of your life. If I can learn to love Mondays over time, I can learn to breathe in the moments this week where it feels impossible that something I’ve been dreaming of for nearly a year is finally here.

First Quarter

When you have a unique tattoo in a super-visible spot, people have a tendency to approach you about it in public. Strangers at Whole Foods, on the subway platform, hell even strangers in the office frequently approach me, usually with some variation of “I love your tattoo! What does it mean?” Some people are offended by these questions, as tattoos are next-level personal, but I don’t mind that much. I explain it’s the phases of the moon (“Oh! I thought that was the moon!”), and it represents the yoga journey I’ve been on in the past almost-two years. I don’t get into the nitty-gritty of how the phases represent the larger journey of life, that everything comes in waves if you know what to expect and when; that preparing yourself to face life head-on based on where the tides are currently turning helps put the hard days in perspective, blah blah hippie stuff, etc. Usually just saying “it’s the phases of the moon for yoga” is enough for most people to move on.

This week leads up to the first quarter moon, halfway between the new moon and the full moon, and this is the week where challenges present themselves. The new moon is a time to sit, reflect, set hopes and intentions for the moon cycle and look ahead to possibilities; the first quarter is where obstacles manifest and your goal, leading into the full moon, is to find ways to handle them. Once I started tracking the moon, I noticed that the second week of the cycle, one of two things would happen: there would be a number of tiny frustrations (bad commute, long day at work, can’t find my favorite yoga leggings, etc.), or something would happen that triggered a strong emotional reaction. Honestly, I prefer the former of those two things. It’s easier to breathe through a number of small frustrations, especially when you know everything will be okay. It’s harder to breathe through a cold, hard truth staring directly at you, and it’s even harder to stay focused on the fact that everything is going to be okay.

On Monday, my boss/friend stopped by my desk to download on my life, asking pointed questions about my weekend and teasing me lightly about this crazy 2016 life plan of mine. We had a silly, easy conversation, but in his teasing, he said something that’s been on repeat for me ever since. Essentially, he made me realize that for the past month, I’ve been living in a really comfortable bubble of denial that I’ve been purposely ignoring for fear of it popping too soon; and he made me realize that I’m holding onto my comfortable denial, because I’m afraid if I confront the situation head-on, everything will not, in fact, be okay.

Sometimes it’s hard to reconcile with the fact that things won’t always go our way. This is a lesson I learn weekly in NFL regular season as a Jets fan, this is a lesson I learn daily as a New Yorker forced to ride the subway, and this is just a lesson we all learn in life over time; but just because we know and understand this lesson doesn’t mean it sticks with us. I found myself trying to bargain with the moon this week, like maybe if I hope hard enough my challenges won’t be related to a conversation I don’t want to have that is rapidly approaching. Hope is deceptive; it’s wonderful but after an eventful few years I have a tendency to distrust hope and optimism in favor of “preparing for the worst.” Now I find myself in a situation where I’m finally feeling hopeful and optimistic for the first time in years, and I feel like I’m sitting on a ticking time bomb, with no way of seeing the clock. It could be two months or twelve hours or ten seconds from exploding all around me.

Again this morning someone approached me at the office to ask about my latest tattoo, what does it mean, it’s beautiful. I started joking about it being the first quarter this weekend, so if work is crazy to blame it on the moon. I suppose to an extent when anything gets crazy, my instinct lately is to check the moon, and map out a plan for when the issue could be resolved; but not this one. Maybe in theory I know in time, this will all work out, but for now? Nah. It feels like enough to know the challenge is there and start planning how to move past it. I’ve got the ink on my arm to remind me that I’ll have to deal with it eventually. But for now, nah. I’m going to enjoy the little bubble of denial and keep a close eye on the explosives under me, waiting to fight back when that clock finally ticks all the way down.

Do It Anyway

Lazy weekends are just the best, aren’t they? Two days where you can sit and watch Netflix for hours, where you can eat leftover fried rice for breakfast and stay in sweatpants all day. I had a weekend like that this past weekend, one of my last remaining weekends before yoga training starts and I basically hibernate into the studio for six weeks straight. I spent most of this weekend relaxing or doing yoga, a vinyasa date on Saturday followed by impulse-shopping at Lululemon (came home with a leotard…) and then a night with M and N’s dog watching Netflix while they were out of town; in the spirit of a lazy weekend I was in bed by 9:30pm, snuggled with the dog and dead to the world for nine blissful hours. In fact, the only almost-stress I had for the weekend came when trying to decide what to do on my Sunday afternoon: should I stay home, meal prep for Whole30 and clean my apartment (aka be responsible) or head out to Queens for the evening (aka be impulsive)?

I’m sure this will come as HUGE shock to literally no one, but responsibility and I are not on great terms. Last week I accidentally forgot to send my rent check until it was pushing past due for no other reason that I forgot it was still in my purse, I triple-booked myself on Sunday afternoon because apparently I can’t read my own calendar, and did I mention I impulse-purchased a LEOTARD for yoga this weekend? In normal circumstances it’d be funny how little I think ahead sometimes, and okay it’s pretty funny I now own (and stand by) a leotard as an adult, but in the context of the big plans for this year, I know I need to start reigning myself in from the wild child that’s been running around for the past five years and start planning like a functional adult.

But then again, that sounds terrible. I mean, okay, obviously I’m a functioning adult, in that I am over the age of 18, I work and pay taxes and eat vegetables and lots of the other things adults do. I’m thinking more from the day-to-day aspect; I don’t want to have an exciting thought and then train myself at the end of it all to pull back from what brought me joy or happiness or anticipation because it may not be the “right” thing to do. I wear these small metal bands every day, Mantrabands they’re called, each with a small saying to bring me whatever I need in the moment: inspiration, positivity, courage. None of them are there to remind me to be responsible; there’s no mantra for “hold yourself back” or “think this through carefully.” They’re there to remind me that spontaneous is good for the soul, and that to hold myself back from anything, especially now, would be the worst thing. Yet still, it’s an internal battle. When do you let the planner win, and when do you say “fuck it” and have fun?

Yesterday afternoon I stopped in to see M when she got back in town, and on the walk to her apartment, I found myself weighing pros and cons of staying home versus heading out. I wanted to go, I knew I wanted to go, but I could feel the responsible person in my head pulling me back from falling into the mindset of DO IT! with gentle reminders of “Whole30 takes planning!” and “You have work you should do tonight.” Usually I look to M as my moral compass; she’s the most responsible person I know and she usually steers me in the right direction when I’m fighting my always-impulsive nature with the need to be an adult. I explained the options I had in front of me: be responsible in Washington Heights, or go chase happiness in an evening in Queens, and I have to admit, I did not see her response coming: “I say go for it!” she said. “This is the second-to-last weekend before you’re in training till March. Who cares if it’s not the responsible thing to do. Go be happy.”

I walked out the door with a smile on my face, and as I threw my coat on in a frenzy to get back to my apartment to pack a few things quickly and start the long trek to the outer borough, I knocked one of my bracelets askew. I shook my wrist a bit to put the bracelet back on right, and smiled as I quickly looked to see which one had been disrupted in the first place: Do It Anyway. Those words have become some of my favorites in the last month, where all of my careful planning for the big change this year has imploded under the weight of something new and unexpected; the words were exactly what I needed to see yesterday in the midst of the internal battle between responsible and happy. I know responsibility is gunning for me right now, and I’m probably looking at a serious bite in the ass at some point very soon for being such an impulsive 27-year-old child. But at least for now, I’m riding the wave of spontaneity and the last week of freedom before training, saying yes to everything and nothing, and repeating that it doesn’t matter if it’s the irresponsible or reckless path to take: sometimes that path is the most beautiful, and hell, even if it isn’t: do it anyway.

[Draft Series] 2015: A Review

Original draft: December 3, 2015

Intro – promises and resolutions.

Things I Swore I Wouldn’t Do This Year (and then did anyway)

  • Use the phrase “On Fleek”: Hashtags I have either used or been associated with include #FluffingOnFleek and #OmeletteOnFleek
  • Get another tattoo: See ten.27
  • A Whole30: I’ve done two. Third planned for January 2. Sooo….
  • Finally become a crazy cat woman: See the holiday card I sent out this year.

Promises I Actually Kept in 2015

  • No dating. BOOM.
  • (It strikes me now I shouldn’t be bragging about how undateable I am. Oh well)
  • Aaaand that’s apparently the only one.
  • Update: Nope, actually strike that.
  • So apparently I didn’t keep any promises in 2015. Man I feel good about myself right now.

(revise if you stop being a lazy ass and make some) I don’t think I’ll set any resolutions this year, preferring instead to look at the year as a blank slate where I can create a new me, instead of “improving” the LB that was in 2015. Plus, she’s not all bad. A little manic, a little ridiculous, can’t hold her vodka and too loose with her tongue. But I don’t know that she needs improving through resolutions, really.

Are you smiling?

Are you happy? Are you smiling? Are you doing exactly what you’d want to be doing right now?

My time off to relax into the end of 2015 was exactly what I needed, a few days in Connecticut over Christmas to celebrate time with the family and our new puppy brother, followed by a full 8 days back in the city to enjoy. The week was almost a blur of relaxing, wandering the city to catch up with G and E on Tuesday, E and I binge-watching Netflix and putting together furniture on Wednesday, and then a lazy New Year’s Eve day, ahead of a fancy dinner with M&N&E&me in Mount Kisco, ending the year by celebrating in sweatpants at home, champagne in hand and a kiss at midnight to start 2016 on a great foot.

I spent the last Saturday night of the vacation in Queens, of all places, and as I was gearing up for the long trek home, I decided to download a TED talk podcast on happiness. After a segment on an app that helps track your happiness, which will periodically text you something akin to the three questions above, I started to get distracted by the time, in a valiant effort to get to my apartment before the (eventually terrible) Jets game kick-off, and put music into my headphones instead to calm down. Wait by NF immediately came up in Spotify; the lyrics include “Are you happy?” and “Are you smiling?,” also noted above. Being asked these questions in two different mediums led to some interesting internal dialogue, as I tried to answer the three questions above on the long journey home.

On the one hand, HELL no, I was not happy, nor smiling, nor doing what I’d like to be doing. I had been stuck with a local train out of Forest Hills to Midtown, and then stuck with ANOTHER local train from Midtown to the Heights, which cinched my missing part of the first quarter of the game. It was cold outside which I strongly dislike, it was Day 2 of my third Whole30 so I had carb flu (IT’S REAL AND TERRIBLE), and I was less than 24 hours from returning to the office after an extremely-needed 10 day break. Also there was a weird ringing in my ears that wasn’t due to my headphones? Basically if I took a look at that exact moment, and the circumstances around me, I was not happy at all.

Taking a step back is something that’s not generally associated with the new year. Come January 1, we’re expected to step into resolutions with enthusiasm and fervor, this is the year I’ll get healthier and cancel cable and shop less and love more. Then, of course, most of these are swiftly abandoned after a few weeks or days, depending on how much champagne we’d had prior to making them. This year I took a different approach to the new year, in that my whole goal leading up to 2016, even the night leading into 2016, was to dial down my normal enthusiasm and enjoy a moment to step back and reflect. I don’t do that enough, I’ve realized, step back and appreciate or reevaluate for a moment, but with everything coming up in a few short weeks, taking moments to appreciate the little bits of the new year is something I want to prioritize.

Because if I look back to the moment above, the cranky attitude on a slow subway uptown; if I take a step back and look at the bigger picture, the answer to those questions is a resounding hell yes. It came after the perfect vacation with friends and family and love, and it came after a night with friends where I stuck to seltzer and still managed to stay out till 3am. It came after a lazy morning on the couch, bundled in t-shirts and coffee in hands while laughing along to Parks and Rec; and it came before NFL Sunday and a yoga class by candlelight to end the weekend. So yes, world. I am happy, and I am smiling, and I am exactly where I want to be right now. As with all things in life I’m sure that will change, but if I can hold onto my 2016 intention to step back a little and appreciate the big picture, then I predict I’ll have another wild yet wonderful year ahead.