Wednesday, October 19, 2016

next destiny

tonight i got a text from my husband; it told me that i'm now divorced.  four years after our split, we are finally divorced.

i didn't know how to reply to the text.  i wanted to say something elegant; i wanted to process everything i was feeling; i wanted us to heal our wounds. 

i replied "oh my god."


i did a two day teacher training with elena this weekend.  upon arriving, elena had us draw cards from a deck.  each card had a quote.  mine was:

Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

i like the quote; i like thinking that what we practice becomes us. i also like that we can create our destiny; and, that if we read deeper, we can change our destiny.

which is what i've been focusing on for the past 5 weeks. 37 days of no calorie counting, no drinking, no mood altering anything.   each day has gotten easier.  and now i feel better than normal about food and exercise. better than normal because i know what it is like to feel so undeniably obsessed with it. saturday i drank a juice without examining the calorie label.  sunday i'm pretty sure i had four full meals.  monday i ate some yogurt from a larger tub without measuring out a 1/2 cup serving so i'd know the calorie count.  these things all seem like actual miracles to me.

sunday night, at the end of the yoga training, i approached elena in a panic about my 40 days being almost up.  elena looked me in the eyes, grabbed my mala beads that were around my neck, pulled my face nose to nose with hers, and told me that she had an easy solution: she assigned me 40 more days.  i instantly felt relieved and thus knew that she was right in her assignment.

and i started to think about what it really was that i was in recovery from.  yes, the eating disorder; yes, i'm not using other substances right now... but was there a single addiction here? 

i think it's that i was addicted to numbing feelings and avoiding feeling hard emotions. and i do need another 40 days to continue to find my way without returning to any of the number of avoidant crutches i've used.


it's that addiction which i will now openly credit with accelerating the dissolution of my past relationships. 

processing the text tonight was surprisingly hard, despite the fact that the divorce was not at all sudden. friends questioned "is it because it's the end of a chapter?" "is it because you weren't expecting it?" "is it because of the way he told you?"  i kept saying that i didn't know.  lydia facetimed me from sydney, immediately upon receiving my text, and encouraged me to cry it out and try to determine what i was feeling.  when i still couldn't understand it, she prescribed meditation.

i meditated.  i sat.  i followed my breath.  i was present.  all the attempted processing, the breathing, even the meditation didn't identify what felt so hard about that text.  but, i did what i've almost never done: i sat with the hard feelings. instead of allowing myself to shrink inside a constricted breath, i was able to expand my breathing.

i would tell my best friend, who just soberly processed the death of her grandmother so beautifully: i'm proud of you.  I'M SO PROUD OF YOU.

so i breathe a deep breath, an expanded breath, into that pride i try to direct back toward myself. 

and i swear i can feel my next destiny inside that breath.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Halfway to Barbados

I was in the Miami airport, halfway to Barbados, and one of my favorite songs came through my iPhone headphones: “Moments,” by Tove Lo.  Partial lyrics: “I can get a little drunk/I get into all the don’ts/but on good days, I’m charming as fuck.”  Every time I hear those lyrics, I smile.  And I identify.  

Until I was halfway to Barbados. I was smiling, mouthing along to the lyrics, walking toward my gate, and, upon hearing those lyrics, I thought, “oh, that’s kinda sad.”

And I stopped in my tracks.  I actually stopped walking because I felt so confused. 

I have had a narrative in my head that I’m strong, even though I’m broken; that I’m surviving, even though I’m broken; that I’m functioning, even though I’m broken.

And when I paused to consider what was wrong, halfway through “Moments,” I realized it was a miracle moment: what was wrong was that I didn’t feel broken anymore. 

I smiled.  I smiled so big that I must have looked a little crazy to, well, everyone else in the airport. And I thought to myself, “I’m whole. I’m whole now.”

Feeling whole felt so fulfilling, and so different than anything I could remember, that it felt startling.  It feels scary for me to write: scary because I’m nervous that the feeling of wholeness might be transient.  My literal mind says, “but of course I was always whole; I just forgot.” And so I begin typing, assuring myself it’s safe to commit to digital ink.

The shift could be linked to the 40 days, friends’ life changes, the spontaneous impending vacation, the yoga workshops with Elena over the past two days, the reading and journaling I have been doing with Gabby’s new book The Universe Has Your Back, …or most likely a little bit of all of the above.

One of the lessons Gabby references from A Course in Miracles is that we “create visions of the world we want to see,” meaning that the stories we tell ourselves are powerful. The backstory to who we are, even if it is never written down or spoken aloud, resounds through our minds. 

The truth is, I liked thinking of myself as broken.  I liked the fragility and girlishness about it. I played into it. I felt like it gave me character.

But it was an excuse. The more I challenged the notion that I was broken, even though I wasn’t always doing it consciously, the harder it became to believe.  Until the Miami Miracle Moment, when it became impossible to believe.

Sunday, October 2, 2016


it's the evening of day 20 of my 40 day challenge.  40 days of no substances and no calorie counting.  20 days in: i've learned a few things.

a la movies   
no substances: i'm fun, and can party just as ridiculously sans alcohol.  i've been out with friends drinking late on weekend evenings, dancing til the wee hours, totally sober.  well, okay, maybe the diet cokes hyped me up a bit. so maybe 99% sober. 

some people haven't been inviting me to things as much, fearful that i wouldn't go or that i wouldn't have fun without being able to drink. but i don't blame them; i would probably suspect the same of most of my friends. luckily i also have a bestie who is doing the challenge with me.  and we look very cute sober at a movie on a saturday night.

first dates, cocktail parties where i don't know anyone, and business dinners are all a little terrifying without any alcohol. however, i've met a few brave dates open to the challenge, and made friends at parties and dinners despite the sobriety.

personally, i've been feeling more confident and happy: realizing i'm fun on my own and that i can make it through these events sober has translated into less fear overall.   the confidence has even bled into other areas of my life.  i've stood up for myself with colleagues that weren't listening to my expertise, and i've expressed my needs to friends and partners more readily. 

it's also made me much more sympathetic to people who have quit drinking.  i've always thought that recovering from bulimia was very hard because food is something that is necessary: you cannot exist in a world where people do not eat.  although i had sympathy for anyone in any type of recovery, i still felt like "but you don't HAVE to be around (insert drug or alcohol here) if you don't want to!"

but i don't know how true that is for alcohol, really.  it's quite pervasive in our social lives.  although i'm quite happy not drinking right now, i also know that it's not forever.  so to my sober peeps: i'm sorry if i minimized your struggle, even if only in my own mind.  also: i'm totes up for sober parties, even after my 40 days are up.

no counting: eating without counting every bite and calculating each calorie is way less stressful.  i never liked counting every chip at the mexican restaurant, or estimating how many tablespoons of ketchup i just squeezed on to my plate. i was doing it to ease the craziness in my brain, but it was actually only contributing to it.  (i know, i know, if you have never dealt with this issue, it sounds like a "DUH" statement.)

i'm more present when i'm eating with friends.  i listen to them talking instead of re-counting the number of calories i have consumed thus far at the meal.  i can reply to them and engage in conversation instead of calculating whether i have enough calories left in my day to have a bite of the dessert they ordered.

it has been hard, a million moments of each day.  i've created a few thought exercises to distract myself when i start to try to count something on my plate when eating alone or start to try to remember all the things i've eaten in a day. (they involve trying to remember very minute details in other areas of my life.) but, in general, it feels like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders.  not basing my self-value on a number, and whether or not i feel like it is the right number, is freeing. 

i no longer wake up after a day where i decided i had 200 too many calories with a sense of dread: a feeling that i had to make up for being "bad" the day before by eating less or exercising extra, trying to find extra time for working out or brainstorming places to save calories.  or even panicking because i might have a social event in the evening that i knew would involve alcohol--and extra calories. which leads me to the following. 

and the combo of the two: alcohol has calories. i've definitely played the sorority girl game of eating less to drink more.  i've run extra to drink more.  i've chosen which drinks to enjoy based on their calorie count (no different than foods).

not drinking for the past few weeks has taught me how afraid of alcohol calories i really am: on mornings of social functions i used to feel anxiety.  lately i have not.  and, scarily enough, i've realized it's because i don't feel internal pressure to run an extra few miles to prep for the looming alcohol calories. i can workout the normal amount without the fear of "going over" the calorie count i've allotted for my day.

and i've also started to become terrified for the time when the 40 days is up.  not counting calories has been a really big step in my recovery.  what if i'm not able to refrain from calorie counting when i introduce alcohol back into the equation? what if i try to go overboard on running (again)? what if...


if it was one of my friends saying things like this to me, i'd give the advice i always do: wasting time worrying about this in advance of the actual situation is not helpful.  and so, i keep up the meditation and the yoga.  i practice.  and i trust that i can keep flying that line between the sea and the sun.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


today i started 40 clear days.  meaning no alcohol or mood changers of any type. i've never tried to go any expanded amount of time without being able to relax with a glass of wine.  i have friends that do "dry july," which i've never consider doing, since that's my birthday month.  i have friends who have done cleanses, which i just never really felt called to do.  and luckily i never get sick, so i'm never forced to go on breaks while on antibiotics.

but last week i decided i wanted to do 40 clear days.  kind of spontaneously actually.  i texted my bff and told her and she immediately signed up. ("signed up" means she said "ok, i'll do it too!") over the course of the next few days before i started, a few other friends committed to their own variations of the theme.

and then, last night, right before i started, i added a challenge: a challenge that is way scarier than going to dinner or bars with my friends and watching them drink; way more horrifying than feeling left out of a social situation; much more terrifying than fomo.  i decided that i'd try to stop counting my calories for the next 40 days.

counting calories is something i've been doing some version of for 25 years.  i don't write everything i eat down anymore, and i don't keep track of each day's input and output now, but i still keep a running tally in my head every day.  i know that my usual breakfast has 450 calories.  i know i usually run 6 miles a day.  i know i usually have -250 going into lunch.  i check my daily mileage tracker regularly to see if i get to count extra calories as "burned."  i try to fit extra activity in where i can and automatically subtract it off my total consumed for the day.  ...the math is constant.

harlem street food, exhibit 1.
and it's also exhausting.  my brain gets quite consumed by this activity.  when i'm bored in a meeting, i recalculate for the day.  when i'm eating, i'm actually calculating calories. i can't concentrate on conversation at the dinner table until i've figured out the calorie count.

so i decided to experiment with letting it go--since i was getting clear.

today: i had my usual breakfast.  so i knew how many calories there were without having to do any work.  i ran an hour, and i knew how many calories i burned, so i didn't have to do the math.  it wasn't working.

so for lunch, i skipped usual options and went rogue.  i went to a cart on the street and bought a falafel pita: something that would've taken me several attempts and re-attempts until i decided which calorie total was closest to the truth.

while i was eating it, my brain actually tried to start adding things up.  SEVERAL TIMES.  so i pulled up an article and focused really hard on reading it while i was eating.  and then went right to the next task and kept yelling at myself: DO NOT THINK ABOUT HOW MANY CALORIES WERE IN THAT WRAP.

very occasionally, cat is calm.
i had a few more meetings.  i prepped for evening teaching.  i went to yoga.  i rushed back to teach and grabbed a snack en route.  i knew there were 250 calories in what i was eating, but i didn't know what to add it to.  i didn't know what my total was for the day. it hurt my brain not to think about it, but i pushed it away as i rushed into the classroom. 

i ate dinner watching tv. i kept quieting my mind.  but writing this is still quite an effort in non-addition.

however, it's 1am and i don't know my daily total.  i don't know if i'm "over" or "under" for the day.  the mental energy to not add, subtract, and re-calculate all day was almost equal to the amount of energy i would have expended doing so. i assume it will be easier tomorrow.

and, if it isn't, i'll just scratch cat behind the ears and think about  how much a glass of wine would help me forget about counting calories.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

creating ease

—> friday afternoon
i walked out of my second movie ever last night.  watching sausage party made me physically sick to my stomach. the rape culture that exists in our society was never so visible.

but spending any of my time writing about that movie is not what i want to do.  i left four friends in the theatre. i texted them and told them that i would be around the corner at a bar.  but i didn’t end up staying there: i sat down at the bar, ordered a glass of wine, started to cry immediately, and then promptly left and took an uber home. 

when i got in the uber, i had a few tears trickling down my face.  the uber driver told me not to be sad; i was too pretty to be sad. 

that command, combined with the implied cartoon rapes i had just watched, crashed down a wall blocking a lot of sadness and anger.  maybe even rage.  i began crying hysterically.  loud sobs were heaving from my body. 

i texted my friends at the movie; i texted a best friend abroad; i texted my gf.  tania called, heard me hysterical, and upon learning i was almost home, immediately followed up with my friends at the movie to ensure they were coming to attend to me. 

(what was the uber driver doing, you ask?  turning up the radio to drown me out.)

before tania even texted them though, my friends from the theater were on their way.  they all crowded into my bedroom, soothing and comforting me.  i was feeling guilty—that they had not gotten to eat dinner, that they hadn’t had a fun night out, that they would regret that they “had” to spend their evening this way.

of course that’s not what any of them were feeling.  and their check-ins later in the evening and the next morning confirmed that.  the gratitude i have for friends that are willing to chuck everything out the window to make their way to my side at a moment’s notice is… well, it's everything.

and this afternoon, here i am escaping to a yoga retreat in upstate new york: leaving the internet behind, leaving most of my every-day support behind, and venturing into soul-space.

space for my journalling, my sketching and doodling, my blogging, my chanting and meditation, and my yoga-ing. no bad movies, no uber drivers, no bad juju. 

—> insert yoga weekend 

we talked a lot this weekend about ganesha—who happens to be one of my favorite deities.  he is generally known as “the remover of obstacles,” but one of our teachers (deb) flipped that a bit and called him “the creator of ease,” which i really liked.  kenny told a story about him (oh, ps, he has the head of an elephant), where ganesha is the one who is under your foot, supporting it, when you lift your foot to take a step.

creating an easeful path, helping you move forward. 

just like my support team.

this is a blog of gratitude (i know, common theme), but also a reminder.  a reminder to 1) use your support teams without question: your friends love you and want to help.  and 2) to reflect that back out to all your closest friends: see what you can offer before they ask.  mirror mirror.

love/gratitude/support xo

Wednesday, August 3, 2016


disclaimer: this is one of the harder posts to share. 

when i teach about sexuality and the importance of enthusiastic consent for sexual activities, we talk about all the things that don't count as consent.  for example: assuming that because someone is ok with naked kissing that they want to have sex.  or assuming that because someone has had sex with you before they want to have sex with you again.  

or wearing someone down and getting a "yes" after 97 "no" replies.  

there's even an activity that is used in some sexuality courses where we give two individuals a role to play:  one is trying to get a "yes" from the other; the other is instructed to only say "no" to the first. what happens is that inevitably the person saying "no" is worn down; it is exhausting to say no so many times.  

i consider myself to have high sexual agency and am intelligent about my actions and reactions.  and yet my protective self-armor was worn down yesterday.

i was left feeling very angry.

i posted on facebook that i had a bad experience. several friends texted, offering support in numerous forms. one friend didn't think i needed support though, and she simply told me: "No matter what you go through you always come out on top, you're not just a fighter, you also inspire. That's why I love you Spring." 

it was nice to have various forms of support, but it was also nice to hear my strengths reflected back to me.  most friends i shared all the details with were very supportive; even creating new plans with me about how best to feel happy and safe.   one friend, however, replied "how could you let him treat you like that?" 

i know that friend cares about me deeply, and was angry at what had happened.  but i did not let him treat me badly.  it is this whole situation: the bad behavior i experienced as well as that response that led me to get over the fear of sharing this and to write this.

i've experienced other similar situations, and i know many of you reading this have as well.  the range of sexual assault is wide, and all too often hidden.  i work in sexuality and sexual health, so i felt somewhat responsible to share this story.

through this post i hope to 1) inspire--maybe you have a story you haven't ever shared or haven't told more than a couple of people, or maybe you want to share this story with others as a form of education; 2) start conversations--talking with peers and young people about consent and how it should look is an ongoing job; and 3) remind people to respond with unequivocal support to anyone who has experienced any form of sexual assault: blaming someone (even with a "how could you let him..." text) lays more burden on that person.

as a friend of mine, i'm asking you to challenge "typical" gender roles of males as aggressors, of females as conquests, as any gender as more powerful than another.  speak up when you hear friends or colleagues reinforcing them: it's up to all of us to make change. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

you can't judge my body

a boy recently dumped me because he didn't like my body (too skinny).  at least, that's the reason i interpreted from the one minute break up conversation. 

why does this reason piss me off more than any other reason i've ever heard in my life?  i'm so glad you asked.  BECAUSE I HAVE SPENT YEARS TRYING TO LEARN HOW TO LOVE MY BODY.  the last thing i need is someone else telling me they don't like something about it.

when i was thinking about this a little more today, i thought "i don't think anyone i've dated or been friends with has ever judged my body."  i mean i have, for sure.  but i had to scan each person in my life until i finally remembered one other:  a guy i was casually hooking up with about 4 years ago, who was 21 and very buff (and on steroids), told me after sex one day "you know, you could stand to do a few squats." 

i responded "i'm 32; this is the best it's gonna get, honey."

and then i proceeded to never again have sex with him.  but i did start doing a lot more squats.

why?  because i was still very intertwined with my bulimia.  i had just run a marathon; i was nearly the skinniest i've ever been.  i was teaching tons of fitness classes; i was well toned.  there was no reason i should have felt bad about my body, but of course i did.  and hearing it confirmed from someone i had just had sex with tore at my ego.

but this one last week--it hurt way more.  in a totally different way.  i have done a FUCK TON of work to love this body just as it is.  not because of its shape.  but because it houses a beautiful and brave soul.

no one gets to judge my body: no one gets to say i'm too fat.  no one gets to say i'm too thin.  no one gets to say i need to do a few more squats.


re: that one minute call last week: i don't think i'm maddest about the judgment received or the self-judgement inflicted afterwards; it was that i didn't stick up for the years of work i've done.

i respect each person's unique fetishes and attractions.  i respect each person's decision to date who they want. 

but i really respect myself, and my body.  and so, my gift to myself today, on my 8th wedding anniversary (if i still do that type of thing), is to come to my own defense.