mistakes by the lake

sit down. let me tell you a story about ohmygod what am I doing?

Month: March, 2016

Emergency kit

When life gets hard, I pull out an emergency kit. My emergency kit has a dog in it. It also has coffee, a candle, sage and something to write with. There are some rings in there that remind me to be strong; one from my sister, and one from me. I put them on, make the coffee, and burn the things that smell good. I write with one hand and pet the dog with the other.

When emotions swirl in, and wrap themselves up in my head, I’ve been trying to resist the urge to do battle. I’ve been trying to learn about mindfulness lately, as I figure 488 million Buddhists can’t be wrong about something as simple as being present. I find it challenging because my brain is a pretty loud, jangly place. It is not a peaceful drive in the country. It is a sticky child in the backseat eating crayons, asking if we’re there yet.  So I’m interested in this mindfulness business, focusing on letting feelings come and just sort of observing them. This is uncomfortable at times, which is why I don’t think that the Buddha would mind me pulling out said emergency kit before sitting with all of this shit.

Eventually, I would love to feel comfortable wherever I am, with no need for a sense of security. My inner calm would be all I needed. For now, as I figure that stuff out, I’m not going to feel bad about the fact that my dog and some sage can help me avoid a panic attack. Or that sometimes they aren’t enough.  If I’m going to jump into all of this vulnerability, I need a baby blanket sometimes. Literally– I have the blanket I came home from the hospital in, on hand. JUST IN CASE. If I’m going to quit drinking booze to try to find some inner peace and balance, I’m going to occasionally eat ice cream while crying to my mom about how dating is hard when you have to tell dudes that you’d love to meet for drinks but that you won’t be drinking and could they please for the love of PBR just order a beer and not get weird about it?  I strive to love every inch of my body, because it’s mine and I know deep down that it’s great. I’m still going to spin into a body-loathing frenzy from time to time that involves trying on 7 pairs of jeans and then hiding in bed pants-less for a few minutes before getting back up and trying again.

Pants attack

When pants attack. *

Last summer, I wanted to do a headstand. I practiced almost every day in my room, smashing around, falling down, and sweating. It was not pretty. Eventually, I figured it out. I was able to do one. So I tried handstands. Same process, same smashing. I still can only hold it for a few seconds before I fall on my face, but those moments that I’m up there, balancing, feel good. The moments that I’m lying on the floor panting, checking for rug burn, also feel good. It’s a mess, but the whole thing makes my body stronger. Trying to do a handstand makes my arms just as sore as doing the actual handstand. Point: There aren’t good and bad parts here. Just parts. Trying parts, succeeding parts, starting over parts.

Today, I thought about some heartbreak, and I thought about some insecurity, and I felt small. I took a bath. I thought about all of the ways in which I am capable of treating myself like shit, and was tempted to do them all. I drank some coffee. I convinced the dog to snuggle with me by bringing all of my bedding to the couch. I lit a candle. I wrote this. Every step forward is a celebration.

 

*Want a colorful print of pants attacking? Comment here or share this post for a chance to win your very own copy, which I will send you in the mail. xo

Congrats to last week’s winner, the beautiful and talented Andrea Gallagher. I picked the winner live on Snapchat (me: perplexxis) so you know it was an honest random pick 🙂

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GTFO vs. bloom where you’re planted

Honest admission: I want to put my bed into a camper van, toss the dog in there, with a bunch of paper and pens and paints. I would drive around the country, slinging art, sleeping in my van. In reality, I would have no clue how to fix a van if it broke down, and without my sturdy 9 to 5, I wouldn’t have the money to do it in the first place. I like showering in my shower. I like sitting in my bedroom, after work, burning candles and rearranging furniture.  I recently started contributing more than zero dollars a month to my 401K fund, and I feel good about it. If that doesn’t strip me of my wanderlusty free spirit badge, I don’t know what does. And yet, the desire to run remains.

ByeJobsmall

Dream*

When I get restless, I first look back, to see if that’s the place I want to be. It’s not.  Paulo Coelho says “I think it’s important to realize you can miss something, but not want it back”. I miss Chicago, I miss mysterious, toxic people, and I miss smoking and drinking and dancing until the sun rises, but I don’t want any of it back.

I decided to move to Michigan from Chicago a year ago, to recover after a breakup and to find comfort in a state that I grew up in. It was part knee jerk part planned reaction. Most things I try to plan go directly to shit, but somehow, this one worked out. I had planned on a year. A year is, in my mind, how long you stay somewhere. A year is long enough to find a new passion, or job, or lover or person to live with. It’s long enough to hate something, to discover something better, or to decide it’s time for a fresh start. After a year, with no real reason to leave, I have no idea what to do. This has led me to a discovery: I love to react. Anyone else? Not reacting is hard, right? I started thinking about moving out of Michigan. Why? No idea. I just feel like I have to do something. Staying and just doing the things I’m doing now feels wrong, even though I love the things. So how long do we stay? Why do we stay? How do we know if we’re running away from something or towards something and do we have to judge it? Sometimes words do battle in my head. The word “complacent” and the word “content” fight when this topic comes up and I haven’t come up with a winner.  Did I “run away” or did I “try something new” when I left Chicago? Does it matter, if I’m better for it?

I’m in a better place now, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to run.

 

*Want me to send you a beautiful large print of this silly drawing I did? Leave a reply or share this post, and I’ll pick one of you at random and mail it to you.

Alexis, 32, 0 Miles Away

Something I hear from my married or coupled friends is “I really miss dating” or “I miss feeling like I should put a bra on when I leave the house in case future boo is running to Walgreens too” or (I get this all the time) “I am so jealous that you get to do online dating. That seems really life affirming”.  You guys? This one’s for you. Because you miss it, and I feel like it’s my job to help you feel like you’re right there with me.

If you have been in a relationship for a long time, you may have missed the online dating boat all together. I’m so sorry. You know that feeling of leafing through wet garbage to look for something you lost, but are not really sure you even want it anymore? Like, an earring you kinda like or maybe a 15 dollar check from Consumer’s Energy but you’re thinking, “Is it worth it? This garbage smells really bad”. There you go. That’s what it’s like. Please, don’t be jealous of my positive attitude.Trashdate

Here are some fun things that have happened for me on Tinder this year:

I went on a date.  My take away from that is you should tell me that you live with your parents and hate everything before I spend the time to put on mascara and pants. I bought Wendy’s on the way home from that date. My chicken nuggets made me feel like the evening wasn’t a complete wash.  I love Wendy’s and I’m not ashamed of that. I don’t like people who hate everything and I’m not ashamed of that either.

After something like this, I usually go through the following steps:

  1. Delete dating app
  2. Excitedly do all of the fun alone things that make me happy, like reading and napping and drawing
  3. Wonder if people in the future will refer to this as my prolific period because I make more art when I’m not looking for someone to make out with. Wonders if people in the future will remember me.
  4. Remembers that making out is fun.
  5. Downloads dating app

So then I gave it another go.

I recently had an internet conversation with someone who didn’t look gross and wasn’t holding a dead deer or fish up to the camera. Promising, right? Unfortunately, he made a joke about sex positions, twice, and then told me to relax. Barf. Repeat steps 1 through 5 above.

It’s not all bad, of course. Going dancing is something I do more of when I’m single. Last weekend I went dancing and practiced this slick move where I basically dance away from anyone who approaches me.  My legs were sore for 2 days from doing this.  When I got home, I made my dog “shake” my hand in celebration of the fact that I went out and danced and stayed up late.  She’s really proud of me.

Recently, my therapist asked me if I was dating. I laughed hysterically and finished with a “whhhewww…..yeahh”. Then she wrote something down. I imagine she wrote “Seems to be really good at dating”.

16 months later + 620 words on heartbreak.

Heartbreak is no joke.  Whether you are the one that ends it or not, the end aches with loss and emptiness. Time passes, and sometimes it heals all wounds, like it’s supposed to. Sometimes it doesn’t. People tell you to keep on keepin’ on, because time will totally take care of your sad little heart. Recently I learned that if we don’t let ourselves feel our feelings, and get mad and confront certain shitty truths, time can pass, and we can stay in the same place.

I went through a really hard breakup a little over a year ago. I thought that time would fix things. I thought 6 months sounded about right. But then 6 months passed. I was still hurting. It was constantly on my mind. I met new people but was not fully present because I was always thinking that maybe I made a mistake. Maybe that past relationship wasn’t as bad as I thought. Maybe I needed that person in my life at the cost of so many other things. Only recently, I realized that time does help to numb the sharpness of the loss, but by pretending I was fine, that I wasn’t mad, that it didn’t hurt, I was keeping myself in the same shitty place, mentally. I kept small ties to the person I had been with, because finally letting go would mean exactly that. That I had let them go. I found this quote by Lou Doillon. She’s a beautiful French woman who writes and sings and acts and I would like to be her friend. She had things to say about heartbreak and I was all “yes, yes, mhmm, yes” about it:

The best way to deal with heartbreak, she said, “is to embrace it, to surrender to it, because it’s all right and it makes you a better person to let it destroy you. My grandfather used to say, ‘No one’s dead yet’. The worst drama in life is death. The second drama in life is heartbreak. The worst ones are the ones that have to do with passion. I do believe that passion is a projection and love is a projection, when you fall in love with people who are mysterious enough for you to project whatever you needed to project. Those are the worst heartbreaks because it was all a fantasy anyway. You’re closer to a junkie at that point, so you might as well surrender to [the heartbreak].”—Jezebel

I had so much trouble with surrendering to the heartbreak and the loss because it made me feel vulnerable. I was much better at hurtling myself through the day, with tear soaked cheeks and wine stained lips, yelling “I’M FINE” as I headed off to my zillionth yoga class of the week. I thought I looked very together. Nobody bought it, because wine lips don’t lie, and when I try to lie I fail miserably. So I had to give it up, and go back to square one. Crap.

Heartbreak is hard but I don’t think we need to fear it. Embracing it without romanticizing it, accepting that you might be sabotaging your own grief by not letting go, and being about 10 times kinder to yourself than you think you deserve. That’s my advice, based on a year of mistakes and wrong turns. I deal with as it comes, whether it’s every day or once a week. I just let it in. It’s like a ringing phone. I answer it, I let it talk, and I listen, and then I hang up the phone. Letting the damn thing ring and ring will drive you nuts. I just go with the hope that, one day, it stops calling.

xo

Thoughts? Feels? Leave ’em in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.