Getting Tattooed with Food Poisoning and Other Tales from Austin

Greetings from my home sweet home here in New York City, after a week that can only be described as “eventful.” I’m referring to my grand Austin adventure, originally planned as a way to start sowing seeds for a new life and instead becoming a grand ol’ vacation in Texas with my lovely G; and I’m referring to what it’s like to say goodbye to people that irrevocably changed your life just by being in it. I talk a lot about how crazy it is to realize how things change over the course of a year, or two years, or five, but this week I learned it’s crazy how things can change in just an hour – or five. But in the spirit of keeping this under 12 pages, let’s start with Austin Adventures:

We start our weekend last Friday at 4am, as I leave A’s place for a 5:45 flight from LaGuardia, stopping in Houston to switch planes before ATX, baby. The plan was to take the earliest flight out so I’d have the whole afternoon to bask in the Texas sun, go to a yoga studio, and generally enjoy my time in my second-favorite US city. Things felt *slightly* weird after boarding the plane and then not moving or hearing anything from the flight attendants for over an hour, but you know, flights can be weird. By the second hour that passed on the plane, I was getting pretty cranky. I should mention I avoid coffee before long flights and was not super thrilled with anything at that point, especially as I’d already missed my connecting flight. By 8:15 we finally had an update: everyone off the plane and maybe we’ll leave this morning. After a HUGE coffee and some airport yoga, I had a smile on my face – I wasn’t going to let a delay ruin my Austin weekend – but starting the weekend with a 5-hour delay should have been a clue that I may love Texas, but it was not about to love me back.

Friday and Saturday went off without a hitch, a perfect two days singing in the car and hanging out with G, those rare moments where we can pretend we do this all the time instead of barely once a year. I sang her Happy Birthday and we ate some of the best desserts (“manna cotta… panne cotti? Just put more in my mouth.”). G’s roommates joined us for Saturday night and we danced on Dirty Sixth among cowboys and bachelorette parties, and in the midst of getting our hair done earlier that afternoon, we hatched a plan to continue a now-tradition the next day during our Austin adventures: somewhat-spontaneous tattoos.

I woke up on Sunday morning feeling a little foggy but overall fine – I’d stuck to beer the night before and made a point to drink water so I’d be comfortable while needles pierced my skin that day. I’m an early riser and the girls were still sleeping, so I ventured down to the hotel lobby for a small breakfast of yogurt (<– that’s important) and cereal while watching an old episode of Ink Master on my computer (*how am I so cool). Eventually G and I went out for breakfast tacos, and I noticed my stomach felt…. not right. I should mention I’m not a hungover puker. Like, ever. I mean okay there have been occasions, but for the most part after heavy drinking, I get headaches and migraines, I don’t vomit. So when I started to feel my stomach churning in the middle of a delicious breakfast taco salad, I thought it was odd, but brushed it off – it had to be a hangover, right?

We went back to the hotel to lay down for a quick nap to stave off G’s hangover before heading out for spontaneous tattoo adventures. I didn’t sleep so much as toss and turn, telling myself I wasn’t about to vomit because that’s not what I do. Turns out that was what I ended up doing for the next hour – stupid hangover! Luckily, after a particularly spirited outburst of the final remnants of my breakfast in the streets of Austin while walking around to kill time before the shop opened, I miraculously felt wonderful. We spent the next few hours in the tattoo shop where we’d been two years before, chatting with the artist, reviewing the design, the familiar buzz of the machine and then just a hint of pain as I reminded myself why, in fact, I’d sworn off any more rib tattoos after the first one. As mine is larger, I was the first victim of the machine, and I watch G get two perfect arrows on her forearm with a mix of awe and excitement. And then my stomach did the familiar churn of the morning, and while her arm was saran-wrapped and instructions for healing were offered, I projectile-lost-everything-in-my-body in the shop bathroom and a nightmare night began.

I have to say, having never had food poisoning before (*and not realizing that’s what it was for a while since I was only vomiting), there really is no introduction quite like a night by yourself in a strange AirBNB in a semi-strange city, alternately wincing as you brush a fresh wound on your ribs and throwing up so violently you can’t breathe. Sadly said violent-vomiting meant my very last day in Austin, the only bright and sunny day, the one where I had two yoga studios picked out to attend and the whole city at my beck and call, was instead spent huddled on a strange bed under the air conditioning, sipping Walgreens-brand Pedialyte and watching Netflix.

I was more than grateful to get home early on Tuesday afternoon, except I knew that meant a terrible goodbye was on its way. It wasn’t the vacation I’d had planned at all – not even a little bit. But that’s exactly how my last Austin adventure went too. And really, nothing that I ever plan for Austin turns out the way I think it will. Maybe that’s the beauty of my relationship with that city: the constant reminders that life is full of little surprises, and forever is composed of nows.

Swan Song (Pt. Two)

Part Two: “Two words. Nine letters.”

C and I were enjoying our final sips of $7 pinot noir as the bartender brought over our check and I nervously bounced my foot, uneasy about leaving the escape of a perfect happy hour. It was early February, the weather had just changed from a mild winter into that deep chill that settles in your bones, the kind that makes you want to stay inside and hide from so many things. I was hiding, at that point, from a conversation that I’d been dreading having for nearly two months, because when the wine ran out I had to go to Queens and start talking. C gave me a perfect hug when we parted, and promised me everything was going to be okay, the thing that I needed to hear even if I didn’t believe it. I’m an eternal optimist, for sure, but even I was having trouble picturing an okay conclusion to a conversation where I had to tell the person that I didn’t plan for and was falling in love with “oh by the way, you might be the best thing that’s ever happened to me, and I’m planning to move across the country in the semi-near future.”

After I’d made the decision to leave the city, everything felt so clear. I was watching the life that I thought I wanted evolve around me, my focus shifting from work hard/play hard to following my heart. I felt this tangible pull to the decided new destination every time I walked around the city and saw that perfect NYC sunset, and I felt it when I would stand on a subway platform in tears, exhausted from a long day and still no sign of my train, 20 minutes later. I had graduation goggles mixed with impatience mixed with nostalgia mixed with love, but from August till December, much as my feelings surrounding the decision wavered from one end of the spectrum to another, my decision to leave never once wavered or changed. I knew that it was time to change my life. I knew from the bottom of my heart that the life I had built in the previous five years in the city was not a life I wanted to continue living. And so in the spirit of taking chances and being brave, towards the end of what I wanted to be my final full year in NYC, I went to a wedding in Jersey all by myself, not knowing a soul aside from the bride, and then all of a sudden my entire life changed.

I spent January and half of February waiting: waiting for Whole30 to be over, waiting for YTT to start, and most importantly, waiting for A to leave me, because how can someone handle a girl they barely know who stops drinking for a month right as you started dating, then disappears into a yoga studio for the next six weekends and oh by the way SHE’S PLANNING TO LEAVE THIS CITY. After all, that’s what I knew about dating from my limited experience, how to be left behind and forgotten. It will always be easier to prepare for the worst, so I convinced myself in all this waiting that it was silly to get invested, because eventually I’d find his breaking point, and at least then I could say I would never be the girl to change her plans because of a boy.

Once it hit me that he wasn’t going to leave me, I took stock of my entire life and tried to remind myself why I was so dead set on leaving everything. Not only did I have this person that was making me question everything, but my entire life was changing in ways I never saw coming: I had a new sister-in-law, and I had two baby nephews that are already growing up too quickly. I had a whole new tribe of women from YTT that were the missing pieces from the gap left by M&N as they moved across the world, and how would I find all of the best happy hours and workout spots without my C? Suddenly I realized the change I’d been craving like cool water on a New York summer day was already happening all around me, and the parts of my life I was ready to give up were already gone, whether by my own doing or by the slow creep of time and growing apart. In a moment that paralleled the moment I decided to leave back in August, I took a look at A one night as we were falling asleep, the tiny smile on his face as he stroked my hair and told me to sleep well, and in an instant I realized how happy I was. The next morning I took a look at myself in the mirror after realizing all of this and said out loud: Why the fuck am I leaving this all behind?

So this year, I’m still saying goodbye to a lot. Goodbye to the New York I came here to be a part of. Goodbye to that life, goodbye to who I thought I wanted to be. Goodbye to the LB fraught with insecurities and chasing happiness without stopping for a minute to let happiness find her. Goodbye to looking at life as something you can force.

“I’m staying.” 

And hello to love. Hello to making plans and making a huge deal about the plans; and hello to changing all of those because sometimes following surprises can be the biggest adventure of all. Hello to a new life that’s exactly what I was hoping to find when I made the big decision in the first place. And the biggest hello to my city, my New York. Throughout this entire process of staying and leaving and changes and non-changes, the one thing that’s never wavered is my undying love for this concrete jungle I call home. It’s an entirely new life in New York that I’m starting to build here, picking and choosing pieces I want to keep from the many years I’ve lived and loved here so far, and reveling in the blank spaces of new memories to come.

Swingandamiss

“Happy are those who dream dreams and are willing to pay the price to make them come true.”
~ Leon J. Suenes

Things are happening here that I didn’t expect. My week has been rattled ever so slightly and it’s completely throwing me off. I know I promised to post yesterday and now I’m posting a nothing entry today. But please know it’s not because I don’t have anything to say. It’s because right now I have too much to say, and it’s crowding its way out of my brain. I can’t get the thoughts out because once I pay attention to one, another pops up, and then another comes out of nowhere, and then things start happening and I’m so overwhelmed I have to shut my computer down before I scream.

Life throws us curveballs. That’s what it’s here for; that’s what it’s supposed to do. There were two this week that have really rattled me, so much so that the only things keeping me going at this point are the promise of dinner with A later tonight and a weekend with G in Texas. The juxtaposition of those two things is what makes the quote above and the announcement later in the week so darkly funny. None of what’s going on is funny at all, really, but in the comedic relief of life’s curveballs, all I can do when I think about this week, especially after the events this afternoon, is laugh. Better than crying, at least.

Friday I’m posting part one of a two-part entry, where the big “thing” I’ve been alluding to for the past nine months (*I’m not pregnant) will finally be out in the universe. It’s been a whirlwind since I first made a decision to change my life and somewhere in the time between then and now, my whole life has changed around me. It’s wild sometimes, looking around and marveling at how things have turned out. It’s terrifying, sometimes, to stray from your plan.

So in the spirit of wild, terrifying, sad, curvy things that are flying around me like spring fever, I’m going to finish out this day at work, one that threw me an entirely unwelcome but not unsurprising twist, and make my way through the rest of this week before I’m in Texas with my G. Good vibes appreciated, if you can spare any this way.

The secret life of daydreams

The images through the subway window started to blur, like a movie on fast forward, as the train buzzed past the local stations early this morning. Bundled in a leather jacket and a new fuzzy hat, I stared at the same spot on the window that wasn’t the same at all; one second it was dark as night and the next it was a rush of the blue and white of the subway station tile. As the images ran past me they started to meld together, and I found my thoughts wandering outside of the train into the night ahead of me, into the weekend ahead of me, into the month ahead. My meditation practice, while it could use some work, has come a long way in the past few months, and I found myself daydreaming in the present, watching my thoughts like a movie, letting things roll in one side and other the other; nothing stuck and nothing stayed but it was a pleasant way to stay in the present moment during the long commute into work.

I have a terrible attention span on a good day, frequently losing my train of thought in the middle of a sentence and. There’s something about daydreams that keep me grounded in moments where my normally overactive attention would be in overload – the subway being a prime example, with its unique blend of people watching, colorful ads, and random announcements that could be anything from “we apologize for any inconvenience” during a delay (sidenote: DO YOU THOUGH!?), to “if you see something, say something.” Getting lost in a daydream is the best way to pass the time; sometimes you see strangers and you know they’re caught in such a moment, staring off at nothing like it’s the most interesting moment of their life. Daydreams are as unique and telling as real dreams: when you start to notice where your mind is wandering it gives a great perspective on so many pieces of where your life is at that moment.

Last night I taught a yoga class for the first time for C and her coworkers, and the experience was both exactly as I’d expected and like nothing I expected at all. It’s really interesting to be on the other side of the yoga class, observing people in space and trying to cue and change the class accordingly. Something one of my instructors told us during training is to read each class as you’re teaching it and modify what you need to, based on the crowd. In my case, I put a fun class together that I can’t wait to teach in full someday, but this group of people needed a different type of class than what I’d been daydreaming about since the day C became the first person to follow up on my offer for free classes. There was a beautiful moment of intuition that I remember clearly, as we were finishing up the first flow of the class, where I knew everything needed to change on the fly to finish out the hour. That kind of situation is where my constant daydreaming comes in such handy, I think. When you spend so much time with your head in the clouds you realize how silly it is to stay grounded into one idea, or one plan, or one class.

Daydreaming, like so many things, takes a particular set of skills, though. Because daydreaming can lead to a rabbit hole of ego; like sitting on your couch reliving the class you taught for the first time and hyper-focusing on every moment that went wrong, or so you perceive. It’s easy to fall into the trap of focusing on how terrible something went instead of realizing that things went perfectly just because they went; it’s easy to root into the future dreaming of nothing but the worst of every situation instead of enjoying the present moment. Daydreams can root you in the best and worst parts of yourself, because a wandering mind takes you out of right now, setting up a dangerous spiral where you live in the present and in the future, the constant reminders of time passing and our utter lack of control over every piece of that time.

Tomorrow I’m teaching another class, this time to my YTT tribe. It’ll be a different class and a completely different vibe, combining a mini-reunion with the elation of practicing together for the first time in nearly a month. It’s a class I’m so looking forward to teaching I almost can’t stand it, and yet after last night there are all these little pieces of it I need to practice and change. This morning on the train I was listening to the playlist I put together for the class itself, and found my thoughts rooted deeply in fear, now that I know what it’s like to teach a class for a full hour. I noticed them start to drift again between the past, where I have things to work on, and the future, where I’ll put those things in action; in fluctuating between the two I found myself back in the present moment. The moment today where I was standing on a subway train, having taught my first of two classes this week, that beautiful moment where maybe for just a second I felt like a real teacher. The moment where there will always be things I’ll want to improve, and the moment where I put those into action.

It’s funny to think that this internal turmoil took place on a crowded subway. I suppose that’s why and how this is the secret life of a daydream, after all.

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.”

And then? Brunch.

You know how I’ve been bemoaning about how uninteresting my life has been lately? I was looking back on old entries, not just before YTT but going back to early 2015, and my word life has changed so much. All of the changes have been wonderful and positive, and I suppose most of the changes are what people refer to when they talk about growing up, but part of me missed that carefree LB. I missed reliving the ridiculous moments on the weekends, fueled by champagne and perfect weather, and I miss waking up to photos in my phone that I don’t remember taking, someone else’s selfies and kisses on cheeks as we fall down on the bar couch. I don’t want to go back to those times, but I did miss them for just a little while. And then this weekend happened. Or more specifically: and then? Brunch.

M’s sister was in town for the weekend, my first weekend after training, and we’d decided weeks ago that Sunday would involve the three of us and A getting together for brunch at Paradou, a tiny restaurant not too far from my office in the Meatpacking that offers what else? Unlimited champagne brunch. A and I had a perfectly lazy Saturday, dumplings in Williamsburg on Saturday afternoon followed by binge watching Amazon Prime on his couch in Queens, the lovely kind of nothing you don’t realize you miss until you go without for six weeks. Like the super-cool couple we are, we were dead asleep by 10:30 on Saturday, and up early in time for a long walk through Queens before we met M and her sister for the aforementioned brunch. I had grand plans to dedicate the afternoon to cleaning my apartment, grocery shopping, and generally being a productive member of society. And then? Brunch.

A. I haven’t mentioned him yet, have I? A is the person that I never saw coming, to say the very least. My 2016 had grand plans to continue the year of LB, a year for big life changes and life lessons and learnings, but never in there did I expect, anticipate or plan for A to crash into my life and change everything. We’ve been seeing each other for a while now, and to his enormous credit I have NOT made it easy on him. A few weeks after we met I was starting a Whole30, and then a few weeks after that YTT started, plus we live quite literally on opposite ends of the city. Rather than the typical “meet for drinks” getting-to-know-you dating that’s standard for New York City singles, our relationship has been yoga dates, cooking for each other, lazy nights on someone’s couch and weekends apart while I spent time in the studio. Actually, aside from the wedding where we met a few months back, he hadn’t really experienced drunk LB in her full glory, despite our dating for a few months now. And then? Brunch.

We all woke up in a daze on Monday morning, after brunch turned into the Standard Biergarten turned into a series of ridiculous happenings, like how M and I had to climb up her downstairs neighbors’ fire escape after locking ourselves out of her apartment and I almost lost my phone and keys in an Uber I don’t remember taking. A and I had talked about hanging out last night and quickly quashed those plans in favor of going to our respective apartments and crashing immediately; I don’t even know how I made it through an entire day in the office without throwing up in or around something. When I initially woke up I felt like such ass that I almost started to berate myself, talking down on my actions and decisions like scolding a child, trying to make hungover LB feel terrible enough that drunk LB would go back into hiding forever.

But the more events from the afternoon started coming out, the funnier everything became. There are videos on my phone that show the four of us heavily-lidded and laughing hysterically, a series of photos with A and I where we start off making joke faces and end up with these perfect smiles, a little reminder of how happy I’ve been since he swooped into my life and changed everything. We were all acting like the person that I was for so long and the one I missed a little bit; the hangover reminded me that I don’t actually miss her all that much, but I love the memories I have of that time. It’s easy to see life for all the changes at times, especially when they’re chronicled so neatly in a place like this. It’s easy to think you’ve grown past making some of those poor life decisions or bemoan that you’ll never be “that” person again. And then? Brunch.

Ready, Set

This weekend we had an interesting lecture in YTT about intuition and energy, and how to tap into intuition when logic and reason aren’t helping you with a conclusion. Oddly, just a few days before this lecture, I finally made a decision about something that’s been plaguing me for a few months based entirely on intuition. Anyway, we did this exercise where we had to tap into our intuitive energies to help our fellow yogis with problems, and I found I had a new problem to consider, something that came to a head recently despite my ignoring it for a very long time. I asked the question to my yogi partner – is it time? – and waited as she sat and talked through what she was feeling. I hoped so badly to hear things like “light,” “positivity,” and of course, “hope,” but instead she said this: “I just feel cold. My heart is racing, and my hands are clamming up, and I can feel this knot of anxiety in my stomach.” I sighed with a heady mix of sadness and relief at those words, because it pushed me into making a decision that I’ve been avoiding for way too long.

Am I ready? Is it time? These are questions that permeate so many aspects of my life these days, considering this past weekend was the penultimate for teacher training and my life as a fully-fledged yoga instructor starts soon, and considering some other recent developments as well. Existentially those are questions we all face on a daily basis, from things as little as when to eat your next meal to things as huge as changing your life’s plan. How do you truly know when you’re “ready” for something? I mean, I’ve been completely immersed in yoga alignment and teaching techniques, philosophy, meditation, pranayama, holistic theory and more for the past five weeks, and I still can’t imagine leading a class full of people in a yoga flow. Frankly I’ve been working in my same industry for the past five years and I still get anxiety when I have to lead client calls, even if it’s literally a quick check-in about a question.  Maybe we never know if we’re ready. Or maybe we only know when it’s finally time.

There are two things that I’ve been holding myself back from saying lately, on completely different ends of the emotional spectrum. The first is something I’ve written out over and over, and then deleted, written in a text and an email, then deleted, written in a script for a phone call and then deleted. Am I ready to say those words? I don’t think I ever will be. Is it time? It’s probably past time, by now. I think I used to be sad about the response to these words, but lately I don’t feel much of anything about them. I’m not happy about where they are but I’m not sad about them either. So maybe in that, I am ready to let them fade with time.

The other is something I’ve practiced not saying over and over, because every time I tell myself “no, not yet,” I have to close my lips so forcefully lest the words I’m dying to say burst out of my mouth. I’ve had to practice not saying them in texts, I’ve had to practice not saying them in person, and I’ve had to hold my lips closed with my teeth until I could run somewhere for two seconds just to say them out loud to myself. Am I ready to say those words? I think I have been for a while. Is it time for them to come out? It’s probably past time, by now. I think I used to be scared about the response to these words, but lately I don’t feel that fear at all. These words are the new beginning I couldn’t plan for and the one that I could be ready to follow. I suppose all of these answers will have to come with time.

Tick, Tick, Tick

Time is a funny thing, isn’t it? To some people, it’s completely linear and one-sided; time moves at the same speed always and nothing can stop the movement of time. To other people, its fluid or it doesn’t mean anything, just a silly concept to herd us all to meals and sleep at the same time. For most of my life I feel squarely into the first category, craving the rigidity of a schedule like a glass of rosé in a New York City summer, but I’ve found so far in 2016, I’ve shifted to somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. The loss of traditional weekends to YTT has meant that time has just sort of existed for me in the past three weeks; I wake up around the same time every day and move through a schedule until it’s time to sleep and do it all over again.

The weekends in particular are when I notice that time stops “existing” in favor of finding that perfect joy in a new day. We start our YTT days with 30 minutes of meditation, which if you’ve never meditated before, is a LONG freaking time to sit in stillness, but stopping and pausing and forgetting about the tick, tick, tick of the clock is a great way to center yourself ahead of 10 hours in the studio. It makes those long days feel like minutes. I’ve noticed since starting YTT even the work days don’t follow normal time, moving quickly and slowly and then not at all and then all at once; carrying that meditative stillness into the work week means my days don’t feel like slow honey down a cold spoon any longer, no more energy wasted willing the clock to race forward to 6pm.

Time has been on my mind a lot this week, to be sure, with a particular focus on the future. First its moving too quickly in all the stillness of the past three weeks; I’m already halfway done with YTT and big plans I thought I wanted feel like they’re running at me full speed. And then it stops moving altogether in this perfect stillness of meeting two little miracles that have completely captured my soul, their little beating hearts in either hand captivating every piece of me. It’s why I haven’t posted any entries here for a week, this strange movement of time, because somehow it seemed more important to ignore how many days had passed between posting in massive favor of living for however many days I needed to.

So why all the hippie speak about time? Because this week time slapped me hard in the face with a reality check that for all the dreamy moments where things move on these different waves, time is still a real thing that moves and grows and evolves the way the rest of us do. Six months ago I fell in love with an idea about six months from now; seeing how everything has changed makes me so confused about where things may end as time ticks on. Has this passage of time given me the change that I was craving enough to uproot everything I knew six months ago? Or do I have blinders on with all these changes around me now because part of me may still want to uproot and start over. This heady mix of the past and the present and the future are never far from my thoughts these days, and maybe the only release I have is losing myself in the minutes or days or hours or months where time stops existing and I’m able just to live.

To live is to understand that time is precious because it moves even when we stop. I need a few more days where time stops though; I need just a few more days to enjoy time moving the way it moves instead of torturing myself trying to slow it down so I can make a decision because I can’t delay that decision forever. Forever doesn’t have to mean never and it doesn’t have to mean now, though. Forever can mean whatever I need it to right now, in this impossibly quick and perfectly slow moment in time.

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.

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.