Right?

“It just takes time, right?”

G and I caught up this week for the first time in forever. Our love lives parallel in such interesting ways it’s almost uncanny, and when we do catch up, the conversations can be tough. We can’t pretend with each other; yeah, we’re both moving onwards and upwards with our lives, but there’s a rawness to everything, a tinge of regret for someone else’s choices and for thinking maybe this is the time it’s for Real. Last night we joked for a while about her queen petty skills and my latest crazy workout, but after a few minutes the conversation quieted somewhat. “Even if I did want to date him,” she told me about (a guy), “it wouldn’t be fair to him. I’m still not over (the ex), and I can’t really be with anyone till that happens.” I echoed her sentiments with half of my brain, because on a logical level I totally agree with her. The other half though? It’s a little more complicated.

What do you really do with love that’s gone from your life? Do you ever really get over an ex? Is it okay to move on at 75 percent instead of 100? There are always a lot of things on my mind but those occupy a bit more space lately. If I look back on the people I loved that way, mostly I appreciate them for their part in my story; I love the original two of them like you love a character from a novel but nothing more. I can’t remember the early days after our stories ended well enough to know how I was doing two months on, but I think I was doing better and worse than I’m doing now. Worse, because I never tried to reach out to the others to extend one more chance to be definitive, tell me to fuck off or tell me you miss me but stop pretending everything’s fine. And better, because I definitely know I’m exactly where I should be, and if that means moving on then so be it.

I suppose this is the part where I mention that there’s someone waiting for me. Someone kind and funny, and he understands my job and lifestyle and doesn’t push. He’s someone who is eager to support me and makes me feel sexy and wanted, and he’s waiting for me to say “okay.” Every time I see him my heart skips, he makes me laugh like I haven’t in a long time, but I can’t tell if that’s enough. Sometimes I want to say that word to him and other times I want to run, and I can’t find a balance between the two extremes, and he doesn’t seem to mind either one of my moods. And yet, other times I catch him staring at me when we’re on the subway or out to dinner like he’s studying me. “I am studying you,” he told me one day over takeout Thai on his couch, and he pushed a strand of purple hair from my forehead. “I want to know everything you’re hiding behind those big blue eyes.”

So here I am, literally living a dream, and there’s someone who wants to be there with me while I do it. And much as I’m not really wishing for things to go back to the way they were, I also don’t think I’m ready for them to change from where they are now. Right now I’m still okay being alone because part of me still hurts, and I’m also okay having someone that I can text and call after a long day knowing he’ll make me smile. I’m still navigating the early waters of this dream and I love all the changes but I need a break. Will I ever be at 100 percent? Do I even want to be at 100 percent? Will I ever get a definitive answer? Will I ever tell him “okay”? There are always a lot of things on my mind but those occupy a bit more space lately. It just takes time to figure them out.

Right?

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.

Seemingly Random Specific Occurrences

I don’t believe in coincidence all the time. Sometimes sure, things are just so wonky you chalk it up to coincidence, but a lot of the time I find something that feels like a coincidence is just a precursor before everything else falls into place.

Like today, for instance. This morning was a calm morning like any other, I was checking the news before the day’s tasks picked up. I reached for the coffee I’d brought from home and warmed (excessively) in the microwave without looking (how hard is it for an adult to pick up a cup, right?) and I watched the next ten seconds in slow motion: a loud CLINK of ceramic on fake wood desk, the coffee loping over the fallen edge and all over my sweater and jeans before I could even say “Uh oh.” Barely 9am and not only am I pretty sure I’m burned from my stomach to the top of my thigh, but I’m now facing a full day of sitting in coffee-stained clothing, or popping to Anthropologie at the Market to spend way too much on clothing I don’t need. Great choices, right? As I took a deep breath and tried to figure out next steps, I realized last week I left a bag of clothes here, the infamous bag that had my keys at one point too. A dress and a denim jacket that miraculously match the shoes I put on this morning. Problem solved.

Tuesday I was scrolling through old entries. I came across A Story, One Year Later, and read through it a few times for a few reasons. Tuesday was two years since a day that was supposed to be a date turned into a Saturday Funday, as Facebook reminded me via a picture I still remember C taking of me, R and H at Boat Basin on a beautiful May afternoon. I reminisced about reading magazines over and over on the subway and realized I haven’t been reading the same way since I stopped getting those magazines, and then I tried to remember the last time I went anywhere without my headphones, and honestly, I can’t. I chalked it up to a weird coincidence, that I would find that entry on that exact day, and moved on with my day, hoping to get out a few minutes early to rush through a Whole Foods run before finally, blissfully, heading home alone.

It’s exhausting to think about signs everywhere, that nothing is a coincidence because “everything happens for a reason” and all that. Sometimes it’s really nice to think something is a coincidence because coincidences are easy to comprehend, they’re just random things that happen and make you go “huh” and then you move on. Sometimes I drive myself crazy trying to understand random things that happen, like how I can feel the shift of energy as the new moon approaches this weekend, and there’s a planet of healing turning retrograde this month that’s making me think about starting over. A thinks I’m crazy when I start going on about the planetary movements, and okay, I definitely am. Sometimes things are really just coincidences. Other times it feels like there’s more behind the random coincidences, and I need a reason to pay attention to them, especially when they pile up like they have been the past few weeks.

Back to Tuesday, it was a late night in the office, which I haven’t had in quite a long time. I tried to let myself skip grocery shopping but I’m sick of buying lunch and coffee every day, so I sucked up my last bit of energy and made my way to the Whole Foods by Columbus Circle, a pit stop on the way back to the Heights. I realized while shopping around that I didn’t have pockets for my phone, so as I checked out I tucked my phone and headphones into my backpack, a foreign motion for me. As I walked out the glass doors and towards the subway, I thought that moment, sans headphones, would be a funny moment to run into someone I knew. And not ten seconds later, I saw R walking towards me about 10 feet away. I was so shocked that I just stared at her for a minute with a huge smile, and then shouted her name like a crazy person. She looked equally as shocked to see me – turns out she’d seen one of the “If you see something, say something” signs a few minutes before, and nearly sent me a note. We could chalk all that up to a big coincidence – and there’s of course no denying it was! But in a moment where I was missing a friend and in need of a good way to end a long evening, I may have to chalk that up to a little push from the universe. Everything does happen for a reason, after all.

Retrograde

We’re goin’ hippie on the Chronicle again! Please feel free to tune out if you’re not into planetary motions and cosmic energy and come back later this week when I have another entry up (probably). I have a post I’ve been working on all week that I was hoping to have up today but just can’t seem to finish it, and then today happened and all I can think about is retrogrades and how they’re fucking with my life right now.

Even if you don’t believe in hippie mumbo-jumbo, you have to admit there’s something to be said about how the cosmos affects our tiny beings. The moon rules the tides, the ebbs and flows of the ocean, the motions of time. The planets all revolve around a single entity, held together by an energy that everyone accepts but doesn’t understand; we’re all ruled by the same cosmic matter and energy that creates the planets, a solar system, the trees in Central Park and the desk I’m writing this entry on. Is it so crazy to think that planetary movements, therefore, govern things that we can’t explain but accept as truth?

It is? Okay fine. Again, I invite you to stop reading now and come back later this week for more of my normal rambling.

Made it this far? Great. Mercury is currently in retrograde (looks like it’s moving backwards in the sky) and has been since late April. Mercury rules communication and technology, which is why when things are going haywire in our lives, people will jokingly blame Mercury retrograde. Retrogrades aren’t necessarily meant to be bad times actually – it’s just that the planet’s energies are expressed differently, more inward than outward. So yes, when technology goes haywire you can blame the retrograde, but this particularly long retrograde I’ve taken the opportunity to turn inwards on my own communication and goals to try and find growth in a period of backtracking. I’ve come to a lot of really interesting conclusions, meditating on all this, but there’s one really, really big one that I can’t run away from anymore, even though I’ve been trying to for a long time.

I really, really, really miss my best friend.

This is expressed for me in a million different ways right now for a lot of different people, but the one taking center stage is M. I miss M with my whole being. Literally every part of me aches every time I pass their old apartment or when I see that I’ve missed another text or a FaceTime from her, a product of backwards communication during this time. Everything reminds me of the past five years where she was my rock, the only one who could keep me sane, and for some reason this past week has been the hardest since she left, because we’re somehow talking more and saying less and I just want to walk the three blocks to her old apartment where she’s waiting for me with a glass of wine and an open ear.

And I miss the rest of my friends. H and I tried to plan a time where he and R and me and A could all get together and we’re not free at the same time till nearly August. C and I fortunately have a set date for a rooftop movie next week where I’ll finally be able to give her the birthday present I got for her birthday in February. S and I just laugh when we try to plan anything lately because we’re literally on opposite schedules. I’m so lucky to have A and his friends on a similar schedule, and they’re all wonderful, but except for K they’re not my people, not yet. Lately I feel like I’m floating in this weird bubble of life: this was supposed to be the countdown to my move, the countdown to a new beginning, the last weeks to see everyone; now I’m stuck and it’s hard not to feel alone.

Anyway. My whole life feels like a retrograde right now, moving backwards because none of us are where we thought we’d be at this point in our lives. This particular retrograde is ending on Sunday, and things will start to even out; things will start to move forward again. Energies will stabilize, and life will come together. I suppose that’s the best I can hope for, that things stabilize slowly in the next few days.

Either way, we’ll all adjust to the changes, the retrogrades, the new lives. We always do.

Ahim-suh craving a hamburger

Last week I had my first general health physical in probably three years. I don’t have a great excuse for not going to the doctor for that long, aside from generally being healthy and disliking the facial responses to my wine and coffee consumption in a typical week. I’ve been dealing with a minor knee injury for a few months now that kicked into high gear over the previous weekend, though, so despite my dislike of doctors in general, I made the appointment to my tired body in for a check-up. I couldn’t say nicer things about the office or staff if I tried – they were all wonderful and I felt at ease in a situation I dislike – save for one moment. In the initial health assessment with my doctor, the topic of yoga came up (e.g. for the first time ever I had an answer to “Do you exercise?” that wasn’t “Do subway stairs count?”); he seemed impressed that I was a yoga instructor until we reached the next set of questions. “So what’s your typical diet? You’re vegan or vegetarian, I assume?” he asked. I laughed as I normally do to that query and told him no, I’m one of those yogis that eats meat. Rather than moving on he looked me up and down for a minute with what can be described as a smirk, turned back to his computer and said “You’re not a real yogi then, are you.”

The first of the eight limbs of yoga (because yes, it’s actually more than just cool poses) is called the yamas – basically five rules of how to treat others. One of those concepts, arguably the most well-known, is ahimsa. Ahimsa translates to non-harming, or non-violence, depending on who you talk to, and on a top surface level, it’s pretty simple: don’t harm. Many yogis choose to interpret this particular yama as “Don’t Kill,” which is why so many yogis are vegetarians or vegans. This post isn’t to bash those people at all. If you choose to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet for whatever reason, I commend you! I firmly believe that physical and mental health starts with what we put into our bodies, and if you feel best by abstaining from animal meat or other products, consider this my support and encouragement. This post is not meant to bash those lifestyle choices, just because that isn’t my own. This post isn’t even really about food choices, though on the surface that’s what triggered the conversation. This post is about respect.

So often people demand respect without knowing what they’re demanding or why. Frankly, if your methods for earning respect begin with demanding it, you’re already doing something wrong. I’m not demanding respect in writing all this down, just to clarify. Going back to the story above though, not only was the doctor judgmental to my life choices, he was disrespectful to how I choose to care for my body. I mean come on. I don’t eat dairy or grains, I eat enough vegetables to send Cookie Monster into a coma and my worst indulgences are a few pieces of dark chocolate at the office (*to be fair that is daily) and a glass or two of wine after work (*that’s not daily but let’s just say I wouldn’t be shocked if he’d told me to cut it back). I source my food responsibly and have no problem spending more money for grass-fed or local cuts of meats than cutting corners and supporting factory farms. I’m not asking him to praise my diet. I’m asking him to respect my choices for how to care for my body, and to respect that I know what’s best for my health and well-being.

Some yogis I talk to agree with my doctor. Doesn’t matter if they’re certified to teach or not, doesn’t matter if they practice daily or once every few weeks, there are some people that have felt compelled, especially on social media, to comment on my choice to keep meat and animal products in my diet.  They cite ahimsa, telling me there is “no possible way” you can understand ahimsa and follow a yogic lifestyle and think that it’s acceptable to contribute to animal “torture.” I respect that some people interpret ahimsa that way – truly, I see where they’re coming from. I just understand and live ahimsa differently. The last time I tried to go vegetarian I felt so tired and weak I could barely function. My yoga suffered, my moods suffered, anyone who had to deal with me suffered through my pinballing blood sugar and subsequent outbursts. I was doing more harm to myself by changing my diet that way. More HARM – and ahimsa is non-harming. If I can’t start with the basest level of the yama – don’t harm yourself – how am I living that value?

I’ll probably keep seeing that doctor. The office is right next to my own, their lobby has good music and cucumber water, and other than the moment that inspired this post, I really liked the doctor and his whole staff. But let it all above be a lesson in respect. Respect each other. Respect our choices. Unless you can see someone actually harming themselves or someone else, let them continue living their lives as you go about yours. I’m a yogi because I live and breathe and love yoga in everything that I do. I’m not a yogi because of the diet choices I make. Respect that I’m a yogi who eats meat, and I’ll respect your choices too.

Forgive

Earlier this week, I was prompted upon signing into my work computer to change my password. Anyone who works at a desk knows how tediously annoying this process is, because your password is EVERYWHERE and you can’t use old ones again, so I sighed heavily and looked around me for inspiration to create the stupid new phrase. My eyes settled on this quote from the Tree of Life that I keep on my desk: “Help each other. Love everyone. Every leaf. Every ray of light. Forgive.” Honestly I haven’t seen the movie – I pulled the photo from one of those Buzzfeed posts where they take an inspirational stock photo and put text on it – but I found the words inspiring at the time, and this week I found them inspiring again. I created a new password with the last word, Forgive, and figured that was the end of password troubles until the system prompted me again. Except it wasn’t, at all. Turns out, “forgive” is kind of an annoyingly frustrating word to type on a regular basis.

Maybe it’s just that I haven’t got the hang of typing a new password yet, but I’m still having quite a time trying to type it every day. There’s something really introspective about typing the word “forgive” over and over, and messing it up most of those times. It’s not that there’s anything weighing on me; the yogi in me long realized holding grudges causes nothing but pain and I don’t feel the need to apologize to anyone for anything in recent days, except maybe A because little miss still does NOT like him and makes that very clear every time he’s over. Yet even though there isn’t a moment or an event or a person or a thing that’s bringing the concept of forgiveness to the forefront of my mind, messing up my password daily does force me to stop and think about forgiveness and contrition. It makes those two a larger ideology for me – like a constant reminder to forgive and ask forgiveness when necessary.

“You’re the kind of person that asks forgiveness instead of asking permission” are words I’ve heard on many occasions across many platforms, most recently as a character assessment for my job performance and style. Part of me thinks that sounds glamorous, like I fit into the free spirit mold that I’ve created for myself and I do what I want, thinking of consequences only when I have to. I don’t know that it’s glamorous or me though, frankly, because much as I’m someone to follow my intuition over reason, that statement makes it sound like I’m this reckless human out for her own self-interest, and I’ve worked hard in yoga not to be that kind of personality. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve been that person. I know what it’s like to get satisfaction thinking of all the wrongs that have felled you in the past and imagining how you’ll respond to someone who wrongs you in the future. It’s intoxicating to live in this place where everyone is out to get you so you can elicit sympathy or reply with the perfect comeback every time.

Forgiveness is something we can accept only in the present. Forgiveness means letting go of the past, of the hurt or the pain someone may or may not have caused you. Forgiveness means accepting that you don’t know the future, that it probably won’t feel that great if you’re in a situation where your perfect comeback is necessary. Forgiveness is living in the present, and for the majority of us, that’s really fucking hard, because it means you have to surrender to your ego and just Be. None of this is to imply that I’m this perfectly realized human – just last night on the subway, some kid either didn’t notice me or didn’t care that I was literally standing in front of the door, and went to push his way onto a train before I stopped in his track, shot him a death glare and made him back down (and yes, it felt really good). And then it didn’t feel good, because I don’t know if he didn’t notice me and it wouldn’t matter if he didn’t care. Ten seconds after it happened we were both in our own world on the train, and save for this story now immortalized, I wouldn’t remember him in another day or two.

So maybe this is just my small way of letting you know that I understand if you can’t or won’t forgive each other. Forgiveness is really freaking hard, no matter the size of the infraction or perceived wrong. But in tangible daily reminders of how difficult it is to “Forgive,” I suppose I’m hoping to do the same for anyone else reading as well. Just be aware in your days how willing or unwilling you are to forgive. Bring some awareness to the daily task of forgiving a stranger on your morning commute or letting it go when the Starbucks person adds an extra four syllables to the name they’ve already spelled wrong. It’s just a few good vibes to spread on this Thursday, in such a small act. Like the tiny print out on my desk says: “Help each other. Love everyone. Every leaf. Every ray of light.

Forgive.”

If it looks like a slut…

*Note: profanity and ‘I AM WOMAN HEAR ME ROOOAAAAAR’ ahead. 

I’m going to admit some things in this post that I haven’t said directly in the past, things I’ve hinted at but never officially ‘confirmed.’ But the things need to be admitted so that the rest of this story makes sense – and this story has been weighing on me for a little while now, so I’d rather admit things that maybe I would have wanted to keep quiet, in lieu of saying nothing at all.

Here goes: Last week I was slut-shamed by my therapist.

Quick background: I’ve been seeing this person for about three-and-a-half years, and he’s absolutely wonderful. He was the perfect person to get me through the end of one relationship into the beginning and end of another; he’s given me a new outlook on life that I never would have found on my own. I don’t see him that often anymore, save for a check-in every four-to-six months, but I usually cherish his advice and love the hour I get to chat with him about everything and nothing.

I realized just before the Savannah trip in November that I hadn’t seen him for nearly five months, and figured the end of the year would be a good chance to check-in again; my word, the last time I saw him no one was married and yoga teacher training was a distant dream. Originally, I assumed it would be a normal check-in, hi, how are you, how is your eating; but as life likes to do sometimes, there was a bit of a curveball instigated by the wedding last weekend, and it was extremely reassuring to know I’d be talking out some of my confusion with an old friend. I’m not going to go into too many details and I’m not going to give a play-by-play of the session, but here’s what happened: after discussing recent events in comparison to what’s happened to me in the past two years, my therapist turned to me and said this: “I think you’ve got the right attitude! Keep reminding yourself there is no reason to bring the past into the present. But LB, remember you shouldn’t jump into bed with guys so quickly. Make this one work for it a little bit, at least!”

On the surface, it doesn’t sound like much. Standard advice that’s beaten into all of us, right? Girls, don’t sleep with a guy right away, and don’t sleep with a lot of guys or you’ll be a slut and no one will want you. Self-respecting men don’t date sluts. Pretty simple, right?  Except it’s not simple at all. It’s actually a really fucking complicated scenario, and those scolding words are minimizing that.

I mean, let’s break it down now. I am a grown woman. I make the decisions about MY body, and it is MY choice who I do or do not sleep with, and when. It’s not anyone’s place, in particular my therapist’s place, to tell me what I choose to do and who I choose to do it with is wrong, or shameful. I’m so SICK of the notion that women need to use sex as a tool to keep men interested, like it’s currency, something we DEIGN to do, unless there’s something in it for us, like a piece of jewelry or the want of a man. Sex is a healthy and normal part of life and relationships, and I will not be told that the best way to make sure a guy stays interested is to hold out and leave us both with blue balls. Because GUESS WHAT: women enjoy having sex too. Mind-blowing. I know.

Slut-shaming runs so much deeper than merely calling someone a slut. I don’t care if someone wants to call me a slut. Don’t believe me? THEN GO FOR IT. You think your words hurt me? You think it’s anything I haven’t heard before? I’ve called myself worse things than you could ever call me. What’s weighing on me is not that my therapist actually called me a slut (because he didn’t), but the idea that he was encouraging me to use sex as a tool to get something (attention or desire), while simultaneously chastising me for having a healthy sex life as a single woman. News flash: I make no apologies for the decisions that I’ve made with regards to my body and I don’t regret a damn thing in my life, sexually or otherwise. And frankly, at the end of the day, if there is a guy that decides he’s no longer interested in me because we’ve had sex once, I don’t feel bad for me. I feel bad for him – how boring that you think sex is at its peak when you’re having it with someone new for the first time.

I’m going to step off my soapbox now and take a deep breath. I so rarely see my therapist anymore that it’s not worth it to make a huge stink with him – and honestly, I think he meant well; I know he wants the best for me, having watched me go through a lot of heartbreak in a short period of time. I know people see and hear and experience slut shaming to levels that are so far and away beyond mine. But I’m just sick of hearing these comments. I’m sick of it, especially as a 27-year-old single woman in New York City. I will not be shamed for the choices I’ve made because I stand by every single one of them. And always remember: neither should you.

Wedding Dos and Don’ts: 2015 Guest Edition

Any long-ish time readers of the blog know that the past year for me has basically centered around one thing and one thing only: other people’s weddings. For the past 12 months, and the last 5 in particular, my life has been a blur of bachelorette parties and bridal showers and rehearsal dinners, navy dresses or skirts and so much travel, all to celebrate some of the people I love the most saying I Do to the person they love most of all. It’s been a wonderful year, filled with happiness and love and wonderful memories, and it’s also been a year with a few *questionable* teaching moments for yours truly.

As someone who has been a bridesmaid, maid-of-honor, guest, and combination of all three across four weddings this fall, I feel fairly well qualified to provide a list of tips and tricks for how to have the best time. Each wedding I went to in the past five months was amazing in its own way: how do you top a freaking bagpipe-led parade down Fifth Avenue in our black-tie best? A ski lift during cocktail hour? An entire weekend with no open container laws? Or trying to out-crazy a bunch of drunk NYPD officers and rugby players? Answer: you don’t. I could never choose between four of the most fun nights of my life.

So here you go kids: My list of top wedding Dos and Don’ts:

DON’TS

  • DON’T drink too much at the rehearsal dinner. It may or may not lead to losing your phone in an Uber, losing your dignity around your friend’s extremely fancy family, losing an entire glass of red wine on your shoes or jumping so exuberantly on your sister the bride the morning of her wedding (read: still a lil drunk) when you guys wake up that she spends her big day with a massive bruise on her knee.
  • DON’T have a panic attack about your outfit. First, if R’s maid of honor still got a dress in time for the wedding after her original dress was ruined in Texas flooding like SIX WEEKS before the big day… your outfit will be fine. This also goes for guests – though I will condone impulse-buying sequin pants ONLY after your three closet dresses and two rented back-ups don’t fit.
  • DON’T freak out if you have a million weddings. Yes, they’re expensive and stressful and sometimes the food is terrible (*not the case for any of mine this year but I hear it happens), but it’s the happiest day of someone’s life. Once you see the couple looking at each other as they say “I do,” all the stress and money is worth it.
  • DON’T FORGET BOOB TAPE. I can’t stress this enough. There was not a single wedding I went to this year where that didn’t come in some form of handy.
  • DON’T take it too seriously. Some of the best parts of R and T’s weddings were in the mornings as we all got ready together. I have to say, in my head I assumed it was going to be this frenzy of activity, everyone freaking out and trying to calm down an anxious bride. Instead we were all quite calm, happily sipping on champagne and listening to music until it was about that time to get dressed. Things are going to happen on a wedding day that you can’t control, but you can control your reaction. Just let them happen, and remember to have fun.

DOS

  • DO have snacks. Snacks in the bridal suite, snacks in your hotel room, snacks in your purse before the ceremony – SNACKS. I know it’s tempting to eat nothing before the wedding to “save yourself” for the cocktail hour hors d’oeuvres or dinner, but that’s really poor planning. Bring snacks, and just assume you’re going to overeat. It’s okay. We won’t judge.
  • DO reuse accessories! I spent *probably* too much money new pair of shoes for R’s wedding but ended up wearing them to every other wedding I attended this year, and the higher quality was totally worth it. Same with earrings I bought for T’s wedding – probably spent too much and didn’t end up wearing them for her, but I’ve already worn them to two weddings and a holiday party this year. It’s worth it to plan ahead and spend a little extra on nice things if you have a lot of weddings or events.
  • DID I MENTION BRING BOOB TAPE. I’m not kidding it’s a lifesaver. Or a boob saver. Decency-saver? Well maybe not that last one if you’re like me and decide to drink whiskey. But seriously… bring boob tape.
  • DO get on the dance floor! I was SHOCKED at two of the weddings how many guests seemed embarrassed to dance once the band/DJ got going. It’s a wedding – dance like a fool, who cares! All eyes are on the happy couple anyway. And if you are the happy couple, dance like a fool – you just got married, so who cares!
  • DO take risks. The scariest thing I’ve done in a long time was attend an out-of-town wedding alone while wearing sequined pants, and it may have turned into the best decision I’ve ever made.

So there it is kids! My lessons from weddings this year. I would have done a PLD Montage but aside from the aforementioned rehearsal dinner mishaps, there weren’t really any terrible decisions on my end. I even had half a vodka shot and didn’t cry or lose anything!  It’s been such a wonderful year of love and new beginnings, and pleasant surprises. To all the new wives and husbands in my life, you’ve made this year unforgettable for me and I can’t thank you enough for planning such incredible weekends.

But also, thank you all for getting married within five months of each other. I’m for sure looking forward to a LONG break from those gold shoes.

advice from the girl in the mirror.

So, confession time. Because I live alone, I find myself talking in the mirror a lot. Like, probably too much. I can’t tell if it’s because I’m bored, and need to hear myself think aloud, or if it’s because it’s easier to talk stuff out when it looks like someone else is telling me about it. Also sometimes when I’m really worked up I get crazy eyes? and actually it’s kind of funny, so all of a sudden whatever worked me up seems funny, and then I feel normal again. Anyway, I digress.

So, last night I was talking to myself in the mirror about the weekend after next, when my E&G will be in NYC for the rescheduled annual girls trip, affectionately referred to as Peace, Love, 403 (it’s a college thing). I’m starting to get a plan in mind for what we’ll do in our precious few days in this city I love, so I was talking pros/cons of various bars we could go to on Saturday night. One that came out as I was brushing my teeth was Village Tavern, and as the words came out I nearly swallowed toothpaste for laughing so hard. “I can’t go back there,” I said into my toothbrush to the girl in the mirror, “I’m too old! Plus, there’s little to no chance I wouldn’t leave there basically blacked out and then feel terrible the next morning slash for the next two days.” Spit, rinse, mouthwash. The girl in the mirror looked back at me still laughing and said “Seriously. You’re enough of a trainwreck, anyway.”

I laughed and continued brushing my teeth, and for a minute the words started to breeze away, until all of a sudden I really heard what had come out of my mouth. I paused briefly and tried to figure out how I felt about those words. Part of me was definitely laughing because they’re true, but the rest of me is confused, slightly. Am I laughing because I’ve just accepted that I’m a mess? Or am I laughing because I’m sick of being a fucking trainwreck, and that’s why I’m so eager for change? It was one of those weird sentences that came out of my mouth before I realized what it meant, and for a few seconds I felt sad. I stared at the girl in the mirror, who had applied a clay mask and sort of looked like a half-formed zombie. “Screw it,” I told her. “ I can handle trainwreck status. Plus it’s not like I didn’t have enough fun to last me a few years in the first six months of 2014 alone.” I went back to the living room to finish up a rerun of The Office while the mask dried, and let all of the odd thoughts that had come to the forefront wash over me in the final stretch to sleep.

The definition of trainwreck in terms of a social life has changed a lot over the years for me, but I think to some extent that’s been my role in my social circle for a long time. It was something I resisted for a long time, and then something I embraced, and now I’m in this weird middle ground where I could be ready to move past it, but one tequila shot at the bar and I’m regressing back to messy LB glory days, slurring and high-pitched yelling-talking and demands that everyone chugs a beer. And when I write it out like that, I know it doesn’t seem like those are glory days, but they felt like it at the time. It’s glory days of spending 10 hours at the same bar with your college girlfriends, drinking wine with your best friend until the restaurant closes and going out until the city shuts down. I suppose I’m a little nostalgic for the days where it seemed like a good idea to get that crazy. Or maybe I’m justifying that I’m still acting like that despite everyone else around me growing up.

Back in my bathroom, I rinsed off the clay mask and took a long, close look at the girl staring back at me, my eyes drifting up to the tiny lines on her forehead that speak to lots of lessons learned in a short period of time. Sighing, I said aloud “I mean, whatever, my skin looks good for 25.” “WAIT what the fuck, 27 you weirdo!” Both sentences shot out of my mouth from me in rapid-fire, and I stared at myself in this moment of amused disbelief before laughing again. It wasn’t a pang of nostalgia for being 25 that brought that thought to the forefront, I think, but the cost of reliving memories from the glory days at Village Tavern and the last official 403 trip in Austin. I thought about that for a final second, or maybe it was an hour, and then shrugged at the girl in the mirror. “Whatever,” she said, before I turned the lights off and finally, finally crawled into my own bed. “You’ll figure it all out. And if you feel sad again, just think: you’re two years older now, but that means our skin looks that much better.”