Friday, April 6, 2018

otg (off the grid)

I’ve been off the grid for 5 days.  (I like to chant “OTG! OTG!”) I was a little afraid my life would fall apart while I was “gone,” and maybe it did a little bit: my gmail is apparently full and refusing emails, and who knows what else. I admit that makes me anxious; I’m not sure who might not try to re-contact me once I purge my email inbox.  But, I suppose I can look at the bright side: that also means I have a few less emails to wade through upon re-entry.

Before this experiment, I tried smaller ones: in the past couple of months I have regularly been doing two hours without my phone while going for a run and then stopping by the grocery store on the way home.  Not relying on my phone for entertainment while running and to remind me of my shopping list give me a sense of independence I didn’t know I missed.  And, when I get back from these little excursions, I often am not overly excited to look at my phone.

So, when I turned my phone off for the past several days, I expected to enjoy the freedom.  But I also thought I would miss the ease my phone offers: both emotionally and logistically. And I think I did at first.

In the first day or so, there were moments when I was waiting in line, or for a menu, where I instinctively wanted to grab my phone and scroll Instagram.  There were times when I got back to my room and automatically thought “oh I need to check and see who has texted since I was last with my phone.” There were instances when I wanted to know the answer to something quickly and wanted to immediately turn to Google.  And then sometimes I’d almost reach to carry my phone with me “just in case.”

After a day, though, these urges began to fade.  It was a relief to not have to carry my phone, or to have to check on its charge. The autonomy I had felt on my two-hour trial periods increased exponentially: I didn’t need my phone.  And, more notably, I didn’t want it.

I connected more deeply both with my best friend I was spending time with and the strangers I encountered each day; I listened to them more because I was never phone-distracted or even pre-phone-distracted (when I’m wondering what might be happening on my phone).  I noticed more things around me in the world because I was never ever looking down at a screen. And, when I wasn’t engaged with other people, I found myself meditating, which, over a few days, gave me a deeper sense of peace then I’ve been able to maintain for the past couple of months.  

I never felt bored.  I never felt lonely. 

As the end of the five days approached, I started to dread re-connecting. I tried not to waste any energy thinking about my worries, but I did brainstorm ways to stay as disconnected as possible once I returned. When I first started dating the man I married, in 2007, he used to leave his mobile phone at home during the day: he said it "lived" there.  I remember being angry at him; wanting to be able to text him to arrange things mid-day.  But now, in a totally different world, I see the appeal and plan to leave my phone at home as often as possible.  And so, now, as I am moments away from turning my phone back on, I find myself only slightly terrified of the other side. 

**24 hours later**

Turns out there was a disaster waiting for me.  But, like one of my best friends said, wasn't it better to have the space away for a few days, since the disaster would've been their either way?  (Yes.)  I'm pretty sure I was much better equipped to deal with it after my time away anyway.  

Oh, and you can email me again.  JIC you're one of those emails I missed! 😂

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

betrayal --> bloom

yesterday i got on the train at 148th and got out a few minutes later at 125th.  in the few moments that i was underground traveling about a mile, the weather changed.  i had walked on to the train amidst sun and i walked out into heavy rain.  and i felt betrayed.

that betrayal is an exact replica of another area of my life right now, where i experienced a lot of warmth and then, shortly afterward, an insane storm that left me slightly ravaged.

betrayal can leave you feeling detached from others, which is protective (from the person who betrayed your trust), but it is also harmful.  i.e. how can i move past this and continue fostering my relationships with others while feeling so detached?

i've had some version of this conversation with many many people over the past week.  i've also meditated and yoga-ed myself to exhaustion, journal-ed it, art-ed it, and had it invade my subconscious and dream spaces.  in other words, i've thought about it a little bit.

i've practiced several techniques of severing energetic ties, practicing forgiveness and compassion, and letting myself sit with my emotions, even the detached ones.  overall i feel calm; i feel like i've processed.  and i can see that it is working: as walking and conducting one of the meditations, a woman who was screaming and cursing into her phone as rushing down a busy NYC street stopped dead in her tracks and looked at me.  she smiled, saying "you look nice." i felt her energy shift just as i keep re-directing my own.

but then there are tiny, seemingly innocuous little things throughout my day that trigger me, letting me know that i need to continue the process.  to continue to trust; to continue to build; to continue to bloom.  because really, isn't that what i naturally have to do? my parents gave me a name, a birthright, that seemingly demands it.

yesterday in yoga felipe read us a portion of this quote by marianne williamson that further sparked my desire to stay on this path of blossoming:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
who am i not to be in full bloom?

despite the weather, despite the betrayals, who are you not to be?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

imprinting myself

in 2018, i'm being wholeheartedly myself.  imprinting myself inwardly and outwardly. being fully truthful with myself and those around me. 

and, as part of my "fuck the patriarchy" or maybe "fuck that old eating disordered self" or more likely "fuck YES i'm living my life FULLY!," i turned off my fitness tracking on my iphone. i even took a #nomakeupselfie of myself doing it as proof.

i turned it off the afternoon of jan 2.  i had told myself to turn it off 100 times, and then finally set the date of jan 1 as a goal, saying to myself "it's ok to review your full year of exercise one more time."

of course i didn't need to do that.  i've kept track of my exercise in one form or another since i was 10.  did i really need to look at some evidence that i've beaten myself up and treated myself poorly ONE MORE TIME?  no.

and actually i didn't look at it.  i danced all day on jan 1.  it wasn't until i did a customary mileage check tuesday afternoon that i realized i hadn't turned it off yet.  and so, CLICK. 

it felt HELLA scary to turn off the fitness tracking.  "how will i know if i have run enough? how will i know if i have burned enough calories? isn't it just nice to know that i'm being healthy?" my eating disordered voice screamed excuses in the back of my mind as i calmly replied, "you don't need this to be happy. in fact, this is blocking your full expression of happiness."

(yes, i legit said those things to myself.)  and, after i told myself that, i struggled to believe it.  i kept thinking i would turn it back on.  i didn't know how it would feel to be totally rid of any form of tracking.  this action my phone had been taking on its own seemed safe; it wasn't something i was actively doing, so i had convinced myself it was an "ok" behavior.

but, realistically, i should have known how it would feel.  because EVERY SINGLE TIME i shed an eating disordered behavior, i feel like i'm walking on air. i feel lighter.  i feel happier.  i feel my true inner self imprinting itself into the world around me; i become more unafraid.

since i turned off my fitness tracking yesterday: i left my phone at my desk while walking to the printer; i left my phone in my apartment while walking to the garbage room (yes these microscopic portions of my mileage were not to be left uncounted); i left my phone charging while doing a workout; i didn't feel the urge to check and re-check my mileage instead of focusing on other things;

and i felt like i could more fully disconnect from my phone.  it lost its specialness, its attachment i had embedded somewhere between the battery and the phone shell.

AND, OH. MY. GOD. do you know how good that feels?  how good i feel?  i taught a yoga class this morning and i felt the freedom pouring out in my teaching.  afterward, a regular student told me "i love your classes; they're so different than any other class i go to" and i felt my happiness bubble. i felt that confirmation of my truths in her words.

IMPRINT: my body can regulate itself; i can trust this amazing body my soul calls home.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

what eating disorder?

a week ago i was talking to someone about the history of my eating disorder. even though my eating disorder is not as impactful as it once was, there are remnants of it that still contribute to how i respond to things.

the person i was talking to wanted to know when the last time i had thrown up was, and i said that throwing up was only a small piece of my eating disorder; my eating disorder has multiple layers to it. the most recent layer i've pulled back was calorie-counting, and that was no small feat. i also mentioned that relaxing my strictness around exercise was (probably) the last layer i needed to work on... and that i didn't know that i wanted/needed to work on it.

is it so bad that i work out every day? that i prioritize it?  that i have to run before i leave for work for the day?  that i feel like i need to workout to deserve the food i eat?

later that night, i thought more about what i had said, and reflected on earlier layers of my eating disorder that i've since discarded.  things i used to think were "fine" include: calorie counting; recording all my food and exercise; constant excessive exercise; minimal binge/purge sessions; binging but just exercising off the calories (instead of throwing up); and extreme calorie restriction. because all of those things weren't as bad as binging and purging every day (or several times a day).

each time i shed a layer of the eating disorder, i am more accepting of the layer under it, thinking that i can live with this lesser version of my eating disorder.

that night, as i thought about what i had said, i remembered a few days before when i accepted an invitation to help a friend with her kids on a road trip this weekend. my only bartering chip had been to ask for time to run/yoga each morning. and i thought, "why did i have to say that? was that what was really most important to me?" 

because i'm scared that sometimes exercise is the most important thing to me, here i am, saying that i don't want it to dictate my life.

i don't want to stop exercising regularly; i want to live a healthy life that involves regular exercise but that doesn't revolve around it, so i brainstormed with my art therapist about what a good action step would be.  she said that i should "listen to my body, and workout when i needed to."

i couldn't help it; i laughed out loud when she said that. i was laughing hysterically, thinking, "that would never work!"  but, as i was laughing, i realized that when people used to say that i should listen to my body, and eat when i was hungry, i had also laughed, thinking that was impossible.

but now that's what i do. 

i used to ignore my body's cues around food, hit the "control" button and override what it was telling me. and now, i eat when i'm hungry.  i eat what i think my body needs.

therefore, i know that this new hurdle is also surmountable.  so i committed: i would listen to my body about when it needed activity instead of setting rules around what must happen.

this weekend, that's what i did.  not only did i chill the fuck out, but i didn't force myself to restrict sleep and get up super early for workout time; i didn't demand time to exercise; i didn't freak out about getting "enough" working out in; i wasn't thinking about my workout while spending time with the girls. 

oh.  and i felt great.       
***everything is possible***

Sunday, October 29, 2017

evolve with me

everyone knows that dating someone who is on a completely different life trajectory won't work: there has to be a basic underpinning in common to really build a life together.

as i move through my life, the basis of what that is has changed. earlier on it was most important to me to have someone who had the same educational aspirations. previously it has also been important to me to build a life with a runner or person who was into fitness. while both of those things still feature on a "that'd be nice to have a in a partner" list, there's something else that has replaced my non-negotiable when referring to the person i want to build my life with.

i want a partner who is a truth-seeker, who wants to evolve.

there are little ways that's kept playing as important to me: i notice i'm more drawn to people who practice yoga and meditation; i am turned on by someone who has chosen to stop using excessive drugs and alcohol in their life because they don't want or need the escapism; i follow my intuition toward events that are geared toward people that share these interests.

i kind of thought this was one of those "that'd be nice" items, but it has begun to scream its importance when i try to ignore it.

someone i've been dating had chosen to stop drinking with me, and while they hadn't started following a spiritual path, i was impressed and inspired by their commitment. until the dedication vanished overnight: they said their motivation was only driven by me and in time we had spent apart, the desire to prioritize non-use had waned and seemingly entirely disappeared.

their sharp change in attitude left me feeling deflated, and much more than i expected. i felt the disappointment magnify the more i thought about why it was important to me. it's not support in my decisions i want, it's a full and present life co-producer i yearn for.

i don't expect someone who doesn't make mistakes; it's impossible not to trip along the way. but it's the design behind the life path that matters to me. and, so that i can attract that in my life, i'm stating my intention clearly and with purpose.

i want someone who is present, who isn't afraid to be present, and who craves a full connection with both me and the world around them. i want someone who fully embodies the highest version of themselves because that's what they want for their life.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

( ) /invisible

me: i can't go out with you that night, i already have a date.
some male i'm dating, let's call him jim: WHAT?? YOU HAVE A DATE WITH SOMEONE ELSE?
me: yeah, her name is sarah.
jim: oh, hot.  can you guys stop by my place after?
me: i don't even know her; it's a first date.
jim: send me photos if you kiss her.
me: er, do you want to make plans with me later this weekend?
jim: saturday morning?
me: oh, i have yoga with george.

the above scenario is an invented one, but it represents about 193 interactions i've had.  i call it "invisibility."

invisibility: (noun) inability to be seen

the state of being ignored or not taken into consideration;
not reflected in statistics; 
concealed from public knowledge.

there are so many things that are invisible in our society, that we don't give enough time, space, or attention to. when we allow things to be invisible, we reiterate that they don't matter; that the people who experience that context don't matter.  however, placing a clear and specific focus on something highlights it and begins to build awareness and importance for it.  and can be the beginning of a very different life for someone living that truth.

september was bi visibility month, as in bisexual visibility.  and, somewhat unsurprisingly, i didn't know that it was bi visibility month until it was almost over. where were my social medias on this one? where were the hashtags and inundation of articles and cute pics of couples? i work in sexuality and follow several sexuality and sexual health experts and nonprofits.  how is it possible that bi visibility month was so invisible?

in health (mental and physical) research involving bisexuals, there is strikingly little information available: most research lumps bisexual-identifying individuals with homosexual-identifying individuals.  this is the same as assuming that the whole world's population is similar to white men (which, by the way, is what medical research did for years).  we do know that bisexual individuals have a much higher prevalence of mental illness, and i would argue that it is directly related to the problem presented here.

(           )   when bisexual identifying individuals are with a partner of the same gender, bisexual people go through a lot of the things that homosexual people do: i've had family members not want to acknowledge romantic relationships as something "more than friends," co-workers that have made rude comments, and uncertainty about how to introduce a female partner in some contexts.  and in these situations, most of these people are assuming i identify as homosexual.  ...except by people who do identify as homosexual: they tend to tell me things like "you're not a real gay."

(           )   when we are with a partner of a differing gender, there's an assumption that we're straight, that we identify with the heteronormative world, that we don't understand the "struggle."

(           )   but i would argue what is most frustrating, for me, is how the men i date treat the actual or potential women partners in my life: most men i have ever been out with think it's "cute" that i date women; they don't consider my female partners "real" partners or threatening to them in any way.  oh, and they fetishize the girl/girl kissing and assume they'll be invited to be a part of it.

so, yes, no matter who i date, my sexuality is normally dismissed by most people around me.

so, in honor of bi visibility, and of national coming out day (oct 11), i am writing this.  maybe you didn't know that i was bi, despite the photos i post and terms i use.  maybe you didn't want to admit that i was bi, despite things i've told you.  and part of it could be that i don't normally use the words bi or bisexual to describe myself; i'm more likely to say something like "i'm open to relationships with people regardless of gender."

but now you definitely know.  so no more excuses.  help make bi people feel safe, included, validated.


Wednesday, July 12, 2017


last week was my birthday.  that, in my world, is an event.  my parents made a big deal about birthdays (and holidays) when i was growing up, giving my transient family a sense of tradition that would provide us with a feeling of home as we moved from base to base. as a result, i play up the birthdays of all my friends and loved ones... and i celebrate my own in the same manner.

this birthday was not one of the best. i got in a huge fight with a loved one that ended up disrupting a majority of the day's plans.  and a yearly call i was expecting from another loved one didn't light up my phone, despite my constant monitoring. these let downs seemed magnified on my birthday, and i cried and felt depressed all afternoon and evening as a couple of friends visited and others facetimed and called to try to talk it through with me.

all i wanted was to have a glass of wine.  or six.  i wanted to just go out with my best friend and shrug it all off; to pretend like i wasn't hurt and fucking celebrate my birthday.

but there was one additional complication: i gave up drinking for my birthday.

last fall i toyed, for this first time, with being sober.  i blogged about the journey as i started with 40 days, extended it as i was "assigned" an additional 40 days by elena brower (ex-life coach, present and eternal teacher), and then the lessons i learned about myself along the way.

but there were a few things i left out, even in my honesty: 1) the real reason i started the first 40 days, and 2) the depth of the concern i had that i couldn't do it; that i enjoyed alcohol maybe a little too much for me to give it up for even 40 days.

the real reason i started the 40 days?  the rape i didn't really want to talk about yet.  yes, i wrote a vague blog about it.  yes, i named it as rape and several days later even reported it.  yes, i was doing a lot of things to process.  but the initial motivator for the 40 days was when my research assistant asked me "do you think you're drinking more?" as part of a post-rape self-care inventory.

"no," i immediately replied, insistent, even to myself, that i was handling this.  but when i got home and got in the bath that night, i noticed there was a large glass of wine in my hand.  and i thought, "i don't normally automatically pour wine when i walk into the house." and my next thought: FUCK.

and so, the 40 days.  i wanted to demonstrate that my life would not be negatively affected.  i wanted to show myself i had the strength to do something i didn't think i could (thematic in my life).

and that's where that second omission surfaces:  i had concerns about my ability to stop drinking. in my first post about it, i even seem to minimize the sobriety aspect of the 40 days with the calorie counting moratorium i threw in to the challenge. (side note: the calorie counting was actually harder for the first several days... and that behavior had plagued me much longer!) but i had deeper, more secretive worries about giving up drinking: some related to social situations, but others were around the relationship (or obsession) i've cultivated with avoidance mechanisms.

i've blogged more openly about bulimia and dating as avoidance, but not about drinking.  drinking, with most of my friends, is not something we need to talk about.  because it's assumed that everyone is always drinking.  a lot.  you could blame it on the penn state influence, australian norms, or the single-in-the-city lifestyle.  but a majority of my friends are drinkers. so why would i concern myself with analyzing an avoidance mechanism that is an acceptable part of my life and relationships?

each drinking event i attended sober became easier and easier.  sober dates and sober holidays and sober vacations followed.  it was more recently that i came across some life planning notes, from life coaching work with elena, that hit home the non-named concern i had with drinking at the start of the 40 days.

excerpt from work written 5/5/14:
Things friends have said recently, but I tucked away due to denial:
Hal: Does your drinking every worry you?
Owen: It’s basically like rape when we have sex and you’re that drunk.
Matt: Yeah, I didn’t realize we always do that [drink so much when together].
Kitty: But we don’t have a problem, right? We’re young and single; we wouldn’t do this if we had families.
dare i say i'm thankful for the impetus to start the 40 day journey?  reading about my previous denial scared me. i wondered if the "sober thing" would have ever appealed to me.  emergency room visits and blackouts hadn't influenced me to change my behavior; who's to say that anything would have?

in the 7 months after the "40" days, i haven't had much to drink on any one occasion.  i've learned i don't like alcohol or its after effects on my body or mind. and i LOVE being totally clear in my life and intentions.

this is how i 37.
and yet i've been afraid to totally give up alcohol.  isn't it nice to have that one glass of wine occasionally?  isn't it therapeutic to have a martini with a friend when they really need it?  isn't it socially acceptable to have a glass of champagne while attending a wedding? i had a million reasons not to give it up.

and then, about a week before my birthday, i realized the problem.  i was looking at this from a perspective of lack, and the only solution to that was to re-frame it.  and so i did: this birthday i gave myself the gift of not drinking (ever again).  the disappointing july 6th had no wine; the party with all my friends the next day had no whiskey (well, none in my glass!); the birthday dinner the following night had no cocktails. 

but i have so much more

and this, my loves, is the how, the why, and the what of my 37th birthday.