love is a verb.

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FOR ONCE I can allow myself to gush about love and I’m so happy.

LOVE:: lets talk about it. 

It’s filling, it’s overwhelming. It makes you the happiest you’ve ever been while simultaneously being the deepest, darkest pool you’ll ever dive into, blindly…but you do it without batting an eye because of the wonder; the feeling of the unknown, the promise of discovery. It drives us, whether it’s to learn more about ourselves, or others; it pushes us. It’s demonstrative of everything we absorb and it’s a reflective illustration of who we are and what we want.

It’s a thirst, it’s a hunger; something we are innately designed to crave in one form or another. It is equal parts misery and ecstasy, the truest yin-yang I could ever imagine. It’s scary and wrong and right and hopeless and triumphant and glorious. Love is comprehensive, global. It spins the world…and often stops it.

We are so lucky because we are free to love; it’s the one thing in the world that is priceless, regardless of how high the cost may seem….love is free. It’s a right and a privilege all our own to choose it and live it and thrive in it. And now, we can all have it, equally.

For years I’ve tried to understand how the government could ever possibly dictate when and how two people could love each other and express that commitment. Though society may try, no one tells me how to dress or what to eat or how to think. I don’t see color, I don’t see sexual orientation or race or gender or religious affiliation; I see people. Today’s announcement sent me over the moon. My friends, ALL of my friends, now have the right that I have always had. I thankfully haven’t had to see or worry with much bigotry on social media because most of my friends and family are like-minded and open about these kinds of things, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not thinking about it. I know that local governments are going to fight marriage equality. I DO NOT UNDERSTAND.

A person is a person, man or woman, and that person has the right to love whomever they choose. BUT here’s the thing: we don’t choose, love chooses for us. I was given the right at birth to choose who I love and express it in any way I see fit. How do men who like men and women who like women not get the same right? You can’t help who you love. I can’t help that I was drawn to someone who would eventually stop loving me and fighting for our love. I can’t help that I’ve got too many opinions and thoughts in my head and that I’m not afraid to share them. I have watched my friends and friends of my mom and friends of her friends move their entire lives across the country to more supportive states so they could spend the rest of their lives with the person they’re meant to be with. That would never happen to me, because what? I just happen to prefer men over women? What the hell? What happened to humanity? The idea of that is so oppressive I can barely stand it. I am so so soooooo happy don’t have to even think of it because now, I can attend all of the amazing, beautiful, harmonious, sanctimonious ceremonies I know are going to take place. I can’t wait to support of my friends as they take their steps, just as they supported me.

I grew up in a Christian home, church twice a week and all that. I’ve studied several different forms of religion and there are just too many questions in my head for me to ever say what it is that I am. I have a moral code that I live by and I try to keep myself in check. But I would like to make a statement to the people who claim to be Christians (and this is the only comment I’m going to make on this end of it):: WE ARE CALLED TO LOVE.  And I’m really sorry, but there should be zero stipulations on love. When we start breaking it down, putting rules and regulations on the who, what, when, where, how and why of love, we ruin it. I have as much right as the next guy or girl to love who I want, when I want to and so on.

Love is a verb. A VERB. Action, a force, a response, a movement. Gay, straight, black, white…whatever. It’s all about love: demonstrating it and respecting it. NOW LETS DO IT.

luz

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I have to write a brief post about the practice I had last night. It was beyond.

As mentioned in my previous blog, I’d had a nice round of drinking with a girlfriend on Monday and I knew what I’d be facing on Tuesday: trying to somehow talk myself out of going to yoga at the gallery…and the thought crossed my mind several times over the course of the work day yesterday.

I had my mat and clothes to change in to, consciously ready for this practice that I was unenthusiastic about taking. I didn’t quite feel hung over, but remnants of drinking on an empty stomach even after a filling salad at lunch had me feeling less than awesome, on top of not much sleep.

Let me say this: the practice you feel unwilling or hesitant to take is the one you need the most. 

I got to the gallery, headed upstairs and rolled out my mat. I had a good twenty minutes or so before the practice started, so I took the time to go through my bag and see what all had been left since my last outing with my mat. Missing pants, missing bra (yay!) and a little pink tank. AND THEN! Two rings I thought were lost forever…right there in the bottom of my bag, wedged in the corner. I wanted to cry I was so happy, I thought I’d never see either ring again. First was a silver spoon ring that I’d purchased in New Orleans that I knew I could replace, but I still don’t like the idea of having lost a piece of jewelry, it irritates me. The second ring was one I’ve worn since the seventh grade, a single row of sapphire hearts; a gift from my father. I was so happy and grateful, in that moment I knew I had no choice but to be present and happy with whatever the practice was going to give to me.

Because I decided to change my attitude, I was able to really give myself to that hour and a half on my mat. I opened my heart and closed my eyes, and let my spirit go in that cold, beautiful, sunlit, museum room. When you really allow yourself to unwind, to clear your mind and surrender to the practice, the best things happen. I practiced with my eyes closed and let B.’s voice guide me through each asana. I needed this so much more than I could possibly ever find the words for. I didn’t realize how much I’d been holding in during my two weeks of no practice, due to injury (aka my own clumsiness.) I haven’t had a practice quite so renewing and rejuvenating in what felt like months, though I feel pretty happy any time I’m on my mat.

What was better than the practice? The meditation that followed. B. says, “our meditation tonight is on gratitude,” and I thought I was going to burst into tears, right there in savasana. Gratitude is a conscious decision, one we can make every day if we allow ourselves to do so. I know it’s hard, we don’t always see the reason to be grateful, especially when we’re presented with nothing but complex, bullshit, adult decisions. I am not the best with this, especially lately. BUT! If gratitude is in the forefront of your thinking, the rest will unfold as it should.

I left the gallery in a daze, my mind completely devoid of clutter and my body was actually completely relaxed…absent of stress. I followed this most cleansing hour with a hot bath, a book and early slumber. I slept in my rings, which I never do, and dreamt of nothing; it was epic. I am thankful for days of this kind.

just had to share.

a random sort of something

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this is going to be a random sort of something. I’ve had many, many thoughts jumbled in my head,mashed up between things that transpired over the weekend and observations I’ve made during my cleanse.

“To conquer oneself is a greater task than conquering others.” – Buddha (though debated)

I was talking with a friend the other day and we got on the topic of success. How is it measured? How do we go through life without feeling like failures all the time when we supposedly don’t meet certain marks?

I can’t stand the thought of going through life, constantly comparing ourselves to other people, better jobs, bigger this or that. The only person that is allowed to measure your success is YOU. I feel like we’d all go crazy if we really depended on other people and their standards to determine how far we’ve come and have far we have left to go. We can’t worry with that day by day; life is too short to live in constant fear of failure.

Sure, you’re going to run in to reviews at your job, and your boss, regardless of what job it is, is going to let you know if the work you’re doing is pleasing. Sure, outsiders are going to judge on what you do or don’t have; a degree, a house, fancy things, a husband, children…the list could go on. But how long do we let that go on? An idea like this has the ability to break our spirits in half and it’s just not worth it.

What is worth it, is the opinion you keep of yourself. Are your morals in check? Do you greet the day with optimism? I’m sure there are all kinds of checks and balances to keep yourself in line, but there’s only one question in my mind that matters most: are you happy?

If you can answer that question with any sort of yes, then fck the rest of it.

“Rare as is true love, true friendship is rarer.” – Jean de La Fontaine 

Friendship is one of those things I can barely think or write about without getting super emotional – I think I put more weight in it than I should. It wounds me easier than any other relationship I encounter in my life and lifts me higher than anything else on the planet – except for when friendship, love and passion collide. That’s spectacular. – I just don’t know how many people we become friends with, people who come in to our lives for one reason or another, place the same weight within and on the friendship. I’m a constant advocate for my friends. I’d like to think I’m a decent listener and I’d like to believe even more than I’m a solid person to lean on when things are hard. But what do we do when our friendships dissipate? Relationships that you have poured your heart and soul and love and light in to?

Friendship as an adult is so hard because you’re dealing with a multitude of balancing schedules between work and family and hobbies and weekend plans and significant others; but real friends work at it and make the time to talk and check in, even if it’s just a quick text or email.

For months now, hell, years probably I’ve struggled with letting things go; loss. I’m getting to the point now where I realize that people are going to come and go during the seasons of your life. (I mean obviously, hello divorce.) These people come to you when you need something specific in your life, whether it’s to move you through to the next part of your life or to teach you something; either way, we learn. The lesson may not be easy, and either way it’s going to hurt like hell when they leave, it’s going to break your heart and rip you up. I think losing friendship hurts worse than losing someone you’ve been romantically involved with…there’s a different level of expectation there. I really believe though now, that we must learn to let these friendships go; some things just reach a point where they no longer serve us in a positive way and we have to have the strength and knowledge to realize that it is okay to be okay with the loss.

This sort of loss in life just highlights the friends who choose to stay, no matter the hardship. One day, one argument, one unkind word doesn’t destroy the real ones, and that is beyond comforting. I’m thankful these; they’re gems.

Cleanse Observations 

My alcohol tolerance is sub zero. I’m not quite sure why I thought it was a good idea to arrive back at drinking with full force, starting with gin and ending with a few chocolatinis, but I did. I had a b-l-a-s-t and that’s really all that matters. I had my fill of alcohol, for now. Enough last night to last me at least two weeks; a, “snoot,” as my mother would lovingly call it.

My sweet tooth is extremely less sweet. I never thought I’d live to see the day where I would take two or three bites of cake and be finished or that I could stop at just one Reese’s Cup. After this cleanse, and I’ll admit I cheated with the sweets here and there, I actually cannot handle overly sweet things. This is such good news for my skin.

I prefer raw foods to anything else now. Processed food just tastes…weird. I am all about some whole foods, y’all…for real. My body feels better, lighter…tighter. I haven’t been able to do much yoga because of my fall, but even without much exercise I’ve noticed a change in my stomach, skin and overall tone. Also, my hair is a bit shinier and I’m giving the credit to the avocados.

I am still addicted to coffee. But I can give or take the cigarettes. I of course had one last night while I was drinking, and thought the entire time about how dumb the habit really is. I didn’t notice a flare-up in my skin, so my theory on a nicotine allergy may be overruled, but I still don’t think that smoking is for me.

Oil-pulling, every day. Not even trying to play here…if you’re not already oil-pulling, even if it’s just for five minutes every morning, I don’t know how you’re starting your day. My skin is clearer, brighter. My teeth are whiter than I’ve seen them in a while, which instantly brightens my entire face up when I smile. My breath stays fresh longer and it fells like the inside of my mouth has been moisturized to the umpteenth degree.

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I was so happy to spend time in nature this weekend kayaking. It reminded me that things are most beautiful when they’re simple. Sunshine, trees, water; earth. We should show more gratitude for the nurturing, reassuring and restorative properties that just a moment outside can bring.

Random fact: I am too obsessed with The Avett Brothers.

peanut butter and honey

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I heard the trickling of creek water and it stirred me enough to wake me. “Mmm coffeeeee,” I groaned. I batted my eyes a few times and saw beautiful, dim sunlight spreading through thick green leaves when I finally felt brave enough to open them wide. I took a deep breath in and smelled the salt, the pine and a pinch of that delicious wood ash from last night’s fire, my nostrils opening with sensitivity to the smell. I rolled to the side and pushed myself up, leaves crunching under my elbow and then my palm. I was bewildered in the wild. “Oh, right.” I wasn’t in my giant comfy, fluffy bed as I thought; I was wrapped in a forest-green, plaid sleeping bag, still in my swimsuit and shorts from the day before.

Too much beer, I thought.

I finally sat up, rubbing the back of my head, sore from sleeping on the ground and took in my surroundings. The good ol’ Whiskey Chitto…a childhood favorite, and now, an adulthood pleasing pastime. I l-o-v-e being in the great outdoors, though as a child, you wouldn’t have believed that. Sure, I was athletic. I could pick up anything with a bat, racquet or ball and be decent at it. But I was no granola girl, not at the time.

I looked around for my parents – my mom and step-dad, that is. My mom was NEVER much for the outdoors until Vince came along. Now she’s in to fishing and four-wheeler riding…a true sight to behold. (The woman starches her camo for crying out loud.) I finally spotted her, full-face of make-up on, bright red tank top,  down by the bank with Vince, sipping on a mug that I was sure was full of coffee.

“I don’t know how you drink it like this Tiff, black as night,” she said to me as I walked up. I grinned at her and snatched the mug from her hands and took a huge chug of that black elixir. “It’s heaven in a cup, mom.”

“Well, I miss my creamer. Do you want some eggs? I think that family over there is making breakfast.”

“What? I can’t just go ask them for breakfast mom, people don’t operate that way.”

“Well I do! I started talking to Lynn while I was making coffee; we traded. That’s them over there; Lynn, Jackson, her husband, and their son, Jake.” I surveyed the area…there were several families packing up their camping gear, getting ready for the last leg of the canoe trip. The Whiskey Chitto is only an eight-mile trip, but is split nicely if you choose to stop at each fluffy, white sandbar which is every mile or so, and spend the night under the stars. Really romantic, unless you’re with your mom. I thought about this for a moment and was glad I’d driven up separately.

I walked over and introduced myself to Mrs. Lynn and her family, taking note that Jake was exceptionally cute and wondered if I could sucker him in to abandoning his canoe to row with me. I’d spent the better part of yesterday canoeing from the middle of a three person canoe with all of my camping gear…and my mom’s…and Vince’s.

“You must be TiffanyJo! Your mom said you’d be over once you’d figured out someone was making pancakes and eggs.” I blushed a little and Jake slide over on the sand to make room for me; welcoming, warm and inviting…I liked him already.

We talked for a few minutes over hot coffee and breakfast, making conversation about the interesting people we’ve seen out here. The man collecting every snake he saw and throwing it in a bucket was at the top of both of our lists; I mean seriously, who does that? Jake told me that he was positive he saw a few alligators on the banks that were roped off. I gave him a few of my classic eye-rolls, but made sure to bat them just enough that he found them cute. Hopefully.

My mom eventually called for me and I thanked Mrs. Lynn for the breakfast and headed across the creek to my canoe. “Jesus, I’m glad you two think I’m strong.” My canoe was completely filled in the front and back of the canoe with sleeping bags and ice-chests and all sorts of other odds and ends that my mom insisted she bring. “I’ll see y’all at the next sandbar.” I plugged in my headphones after lathering on some sunscreen and headed off, leading the pack, though no one was behind me.

About an hour or so in to my trip, I came across a sandbar that looked like no one had touched it in weeks, which was odd since this place is flooded with people during the summer. I thought it would be the perfect time to catch a little day time yoga in celebration of the first International Day of Yoga…fitting since it’s the longest day of the year and beginning of the Summer Solstice. I was happily flowing through up and downward dogs when I heard something rustling in the greenery nearby. I didn’t think much of it and sat down to eat my peanut butter & honey sandwich…my favorite. I suppose the heat had zapped my appetite, because I couldn’t finish it. I stuffed the plastic wrap in my backpack and left the sandwich on the sand, figuring a bird or something would snatch it up. As I stood, the rustling grew closer and louder. I took this as a sign to get back in the canoe and finish the trip.

Since I was rowing solo, without another person in sight, I decided I’d challenge myself a little and stand on the middle row of the canoe, paddling like I was just off of some tropical island on a kick-ass paddle board. The water moved heavily under the paddle. I blamed my difficulty pushing on all of the shit my mom had thrown in the canoe. I eventually found a slow rhythm I was happy with and pushed on. The creek curved a little to the left, my canoe easing through the turn on the smooth water. I was smiling from ear to ear; the sun illuminated everything. “Instagram would kill for this filter,” I thought to myself. The water was shimmering, like a thousand coins under the hot sun; it almost hurt my eyes to look at it. The greens were vibrant, almost dream like. Surreal in a way.

I looked down at my arms and noticed how browned and freckled they were getting, compared to my forever stark-white legs. My legs rarely tan in the summer, and this bums me out to no end. When I looked back up, I notice that the creek was moving faster than I knew how to handle, the weight of the camping gear pushing me faster than I wanted…or could paddle. I was traveling solo on a path I’ve taken many times, I’m not quite sure why, but I was little worried. I focused my vision on the surface of the water, still standing, paddling as best as I could this way. When I felt confident enough in my strides to lift my gaze upwards, it was too late. My head met a huge, low-hanging branch and that was it, lights out.

I came to mid-stream and realized my arms were around someone’s neck. I forced my vision clear to get a good look at my rescuer. As his face was coming in to focus, I realized I hadn’t studied Jake’s face enough. Were his eyes this brown? I thought I’d made a mental not that they were blue like mine. His hair was definitely brown, but not this dark…and I didn’t remember him being the hairy type. My vision finally returned and it was all I could do to silence my scream. My little brown arms were wrapped around the neck of a giant Louisiana black bear.

The bear shook my stunned body off it’s back on the next sandbar and went back in to the water and plopped down, watching me. “The rustling, the peanut butter and honey,” I thought to myself. This bear had been following me the entire time in search of a bigger, tastier, blonde snack.

I started to speak but bit my tongue. “What the hell? Do you expect him to answer you? The heat has taken over your brain. You’ve gone mad.” The bear hunched down even further in to the water as if hearing my thoughts. My eyes never dropped its’ gaze; I was nervous to blink. There was something….understanding and familiar in his eyes. Something I’ve noticed before in strangers passing me on the street on my way to the mail.

Moments later I spot my canoe, floating languidly down the creek. “SHIT!” I managed to yell at a whisper. As if sensing my fear and dismay at losing all my things – including my mind – the bear made its way to the center of the creek and steered the edge of the vessel with the side of his huge body, thankfully towards the beach,  where I lay paralyzed with curiosity at what I was seeing. I’d never encountered an animal of this size before, not this close anyway. I’ve only ever heard horror stories about bear encounters and how menacing they are. But here’s this giant black bear, Jake, I’d named him in my head, rescuing me and my canoe.

The bear paused and watched my canoe slide on to the shore, then returned his gaze to me.

I drew in the heaviest of breaths and laid back on the sand, closing my eyes. I figured if Jake was going to maul me, he’d have done it already. I looked up once more at the sky, thankful for my life and this gorgeous day and the kindness of a bear.

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My alarm rang so loudly that I sprang out of bed, looking everywhere for either Jake. I looked down…no tan, no swimsuit. I looked around….no sand, no canoe, no bear. I fell back on my soft, fluffy, white pillows in sheer disappointment and laid there, paralyzed with curiosity about my dream.

I’d hit the snooze button, but I was too awake to lay in still silence any longer. I stood and realized I had a hunger, a specific taste for peanut butter and honey.

what once was

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there’s this really embarrassing part of me that no one really knows about; a secret that I’m about to spoil: I am far clumsier than I care to admit.

you’re dirty. you thought it was going to be sexier, didn’t you?

I took a bit of a spill in my kitchen last week after yoga. I am clumsy and short, a combination that doesn’t serve me well, especially in slippery, neon pink yoga pants. I hopped backwards on my counter – a maneuver I’ve done a million times – to reach a bowl on the top shelf. Thank to the lovely pants I was wearing, I slipped, hitting my tailbone hard on the top of the counter, then to protruding lip of the dishwasher. I wanted to scream it hurt so bad, but I was in the middle of talking to Tory and I didn’t want to freak her out, so I just kept moving. I tried the move again, this time with success…and thank heavens. At first, the fall didn’t seem too terrible, just a bit of a throbbing, stinging sensation like when you give someone a stellar high-five or something. A few hours later….it hurt to move my legs, and by morning this feeling was all over my lower half. Uncomfortable tingling, numbness in my lower back and my legs were tight with every step I tried to take.

I called in to work that morning and tried to work the following day…worst idea ever. I was seen by two different doctors, the second informed me that had I fallen any harder I’d have cracked my tailbone and been in REAL pain. I on-the-spot started mentally counting my blessings. I can’t imagine how people can endure that kind of pain, and I have, what I like to consider, high tolerance for it. I was put on bed-rest for the weekend and told, “no work, no yoga, no fun.” Great. No yoga? Well there goes my mental stability. I knew what I was facing, and no outlet for release.

After I left the doctor’s office on Thursday and dropped off prescriptions at the pharmacy, I had another stop to make before I could return to my bed and heating pad.

I powdered my face again, put on some lipstick and pulled myself together as best as I possible could; preparing myself for an inevitable flood of tears and heavy breathing…Elizabeth Taylor would have been proud. I pulled up to my lawyer’s office and breathed in my heavy heart. The parking lot was crowded. Jared was in the passenger seat next to me and politely offered to come in with me. “No, no thank you. This is something I need to do solo.” I grabbed my ivory Michael Kors bag, an anniversary/birthday/Valentine’s present (go figure,) and headed in to make the first of many signatures…my life revolves around everything in ink. I walked right in, rang for the office clerk and smoothed my dress, forcing a smile. She came around the corner and returned my half-ass excuse for a grin and told me who to make the check out to – some things just really come down to brass tacks. I was a bit relieved at the icy nature of the situation, it kept me from becoming a blubbering mess in the office in front of the notary, who seemed less than thrilled to be inking his Johnny Hancock on an under-30-something divorce.

The whole thing was over in less than five minutes and I was out the door.

“Mrs. ….uh…Po…Ms….would you like a copy of the errrr….paperwork?”

Sure.” I hesitated but I sort of wanted to read it…in the privacy of my own room. Let me say this: there is no grandeur in divorce. It doesn’t read like a poem; there is no flow or subtlety or flair. It is what it is and that’s all there is to it. Just a bunch of words printed on to a page, legally dissolving what once was.

I totally cheated on my cleanse and had a great big strawberry-coke Icee. I refrained from a cigarette that I subconsciously wanted, but only to give my hands something to do. I know my tell-tales well enough to know that I just wanted to be occupied so I wouldn’t cry, which I did plenty of later in the hot menthol bath I took. (And the shower the next day. And over cereal the following night.) From Thursday night forward, the remainder of the weekend was heating pads and hot baths and avoiding muscle-relaxers for as long as possible because they make me feel weird.

I will say, this particular time away from the world gave me a chance to really look at the things I was hoping to notice during the cleanse. I could do nothing but lay in bed Thursday-Sunday and I’m actually kind of happy about it.

Week #2 Cleanse Observations::

Sugar is still a struggle. I had no idea how much sugar is in everything and how addicted we all are to it. My case may be special because I loooooove sweet things, but nevertheless its wild how many sweeteners – artificial or not – are in EVERYTHING we eat. Though sugar is in most of the things I’ve eaten lately, I have said no to all desserts during the week. My mom made blueberry cobbler on Sunday and there was obviously no way I was saying no to that. My portion was small, but well worth the splurge on something sweet. My skin is clearing up tremendously, thanks largely in-part to the lack of added sugar and no cigarettes whatsoever. Nastiest not-actual habit I’ve ever acquired.

I’m learning a few new songs on the guitar and it feels great. I am no doubt more of a percussionist than anything and I’m thrilled about that, but picking up the guitar a few times over the weekend while I was comfortable enough to sit up longer than fifteen minutes was great. It’s an entirely different form of music therapy. I normally just beat the shit out of my drums and feel instant relief. The guitar is more soothing and pulls out way more emotion, in my opinion.

Clean eating options are available everywhere, you just have to know how to order and be confident in that choice. The salad you ordered may not look as appealing or taste half as great as the mountain-high pile of fried fish, shrimp and fries your step-dad got, but it will make your insides cleaner and make you feel better!

Alcohol is a non-issue, except I know I will want to drink socially when the cleanse is over. A big bottle-sized glass of pinot grigio sounded perfect after signing, but I opted for a nine-hour nap instead and that served me well.

Speaking of….I think the cleanse has made me an insomniac. Is this normal? I’m not sure why, but I have more energy at the wee hours of the morning after three or four hours of sleep than I do during the day. This makes no sense! I’m somehow functioning through it, though.

I’m dealing with my emotions, even though I want to shut them off. For as long as I can remember, the second I feel the sensation to cry I immediately shut the tears down, forcing them back inside my eyeballs and in to my skull and beat myself up for being weak. I won’t go as far as to say I’m comfortable enough to really let it out and cry in front of another person at this stage, but I’m definitely okay with giving myself that time when I’m alone. I almost feel like I’m pushing myself to cry it out. I’m trying to read books that will trigger all kinds of emotions and listen to music that does nothing but send me reeling. This may seem like emotional torture, but I am finding this very, very cleansing. Purifying.

Week #3 Cleanse Goal::  I’m keeping it stupid simple – keep it up. Learn from the last two weeks and appreciate the clarity. I know I’ve grown more thus far in 2015 than I ever imagined, and this cleanse has demonstrated that in ways I never thought possible. Had I filed for divorce in January, I’m not positive I could have handled it or followed through; my subconscious wasn’t strong enough, the encouraging voices in my life weren’t loud enough…but I’m there now. I can see that relationship for what it was now and I hear everything that Mark was trying to say to me loud and clear.

When I feel strong enough to do it, I will write about that experience in grave detail. Until then, I appreciate anyone who reads these ramblings and takes them for what they are: an account of what’s happening and little flashes of what once was.

the restoration period

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I had a flawless weekend. Let me tell you all about it in the greatest of detail – way more than you need but it was sooooooo perf I have to allow myself time to gush.

I kicked Friday night off right with a hot shower after work and put on an outfit I’ve been dying to try. My style is really tailored and classic, so stepping out in a geometric peach-grey number that buttoned all the way to my clavicle with metallic wedges was really, really pushing my fashion limits. It went over well I think; I felt sassy and chic, and though I immediately put on yoga pants and a tank a few hours later, it was great to feel mega-girly for a minute.

To continue on with the girlishness of Friday night (and the entire weekend,) I spent the night with one of my best friends. We just laid around all night, watched The Interview and talked until we passed out at the very late hour of midnight – we’re old, okay?

Saturday morning we were up and at it! First on the agenda was blackberry picking at Inglewood Farm. I think could pick berries all day, every day…I seriously loved it. I thought about pies and cobblers and ice cream the whole time; it was heaven. Tiffany (the friend I was with all weekend – it’s really difficult sometimes to have a BFF with your name, but convenient at others) brought her adorable son along for the fun and I know he had a blast too! Kids just make everything more fun. I’m glad I’ve got so many friends with kids to light up my life, for real. We bought these really interesting melon-cucumbers and some crazy mint-cucumber jam and other delicious, local, organic things, then headed for lunch…which was also tasty and perfect and al fresco. After that? Poolside for a few hours to soak up some sun before having the yummy taco soup Tiff made for supper. – I told you….I had THE PERFECT WEEKEND.

After we realized we were worn out and sleepy from all the fun we took showers and said, “live music? why the hell not?! SAUCE IS PLAYING!” So we dolled up a bit and walked to this little dive bar that’s close to my apartment and watched our friends jam for about an hour. Nothing feeds my soul like live music, except watching live music with my friends, being played by friends.

We then conceded defeat to our sleepiness and headed home for what can only be described as the best couch-rest I’ve ever had. But before we were allowed sleep…cobbler had to be made. So in our glasses and pajamas we made blackberry-strawberry cobbler and begged it to hurry up and bake. When it was finally out of the oven, we scooped some out in to coffee mugs and let our tastebuds dance all over the kitchen. It’s no surprise that I slept harder and more peacefully than I did all week long. I was beyond satisfied and happy.

Sunday was productive in the morning and lazy in the afternoon. Fresh sheets, clean towels; all of my laundry is done. YAY! I visited with friends then went out to the pool for more hang time, and definitely caught some sun! I haven’t had a summer in what feels like a really, really long time so I am loving all of this outdoor action. I mean, I’m actually catching a little tan and everything (no worries, lots of sunscreen!) Though, I think I may be forming an addiction to vitamin-D….I suppose there are worse things to find addicting.

The best part about this weekend? I was with my friends the entire time. This weekend was very remnant of those few and far between days I got to do this last summer with my NOLA crew. I can’t wait for my sets of friends to collide at some point this year, it’s going to be a riot.

I feel like this cleanse (and that glorious weekend) has helped me breach that weird limbo I was in. Now, don’t get it twisted. I still have no idea what’s going on in my head really, but I’m happily focusing on the day-to-day and that is legit as shit. I suppose it’s safe to call this my restoration period, and it’s been a long time coming.

What I learned from my first week of cleansing:

Sugar is hard to give up. Sugar is in EVERYTHING…e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. I can’t even explain how much I’m noticing and it’s just been a week and I cheated with sweets twice….I can only imagine how my body will feel after the next 12 days.

Regular oil-pulling is really helping whiten my teeth and get rid of all those dumb stains that cigarettes were giving me.

I don’t miss alcohol, unless I’m in the pool; and only then do I want some sort of umbrella drink served to me by a Mr. Hottie McHotterton that is also offering to cover me in coconut oil. English optional.

Making time to read is really, really challenging. Between work, popups and the random little things that come up in between, I just don’t have the energy when I get home. I’m also trying to get in bed and asleep at a decent time during this cleanse (in hopes for discipline) and it really just falls to the wayside. It might have to do with my selection. Dune is wonderful, but it’s heavy. The sunshine is beckoning me to pick up something light-hearted and funny, so maybe I’ll swap out for a little while and revisit Dune at a different time.

Life without all of the coffee I want is miserable. “I can’t even.” The headaches are bearable but I miss that part of my ritual. I did cheat a little by going to Tamp&Grind after yoga on Thursday afternoon, but I had a delightful cup of Oolong tea with hibiscus leaves and it satisfied my craving for something hot.

Raw foods/clean eating is a breeze but I feel hungry a good bit, so it’s time to incorporate EVEN MORE water, if that’s possible. I feel like all I did last week was pee, but hey. I guess that’s the name of the game. BTW, the clean eating is easier than you think. It’s all about conscious decisions (like everything else in life,) though I know that’s easier said than done. I know that I want my mind and body to feel better, so I use that as motivation to keep me going and it works!

I had a beautiful practice yesterday morning and it reminded me how much I love doing yoga solo. I can make the session as long or short as I want. I can take an inversion in the middle if I’m feeling it and long savasanas. It reminded me of why I wanted to make active gratitude my New Year’s resolution and why I wanted to participate in the cleanse.

Soul Cleanse, Week #2 Goals:

Learn a new song on the guitar. I don’t play nearly as much as I should because I’m so super obsessed with playing my drums (especially my beautiful new djembe!) and that’s awesome, but my guit-fiddle needs some love too. Gotta get on it.

Give more hugs. I didn’t realize that not being touched affectionately for almost a year really turned me off to being touched at all. I feel like my space is being invaded or something and that makes me really sad because I used to be super touchy-feely all the time. I made a conscious effort to hug my friends this weekend and there is such restorative power in that sensation.

No extra sugar, at all this week. I splurged a little with my mom on Tuesday last week after our trip to the law office, because let’s be honest, chocolate fro-yo is a lifesaver. Then…the cobbler of all cobblers. Though Tiff and I sweetened it only with light agave nectar, I knew I was being bad. None at all this week! No treating myself to sweet cheats.

Long story made short – she says after over 1,000 words – I feel like hope has been restored in fistfuls and I am absolutely in love. I know the days might be hard and the nights might be long, but I understand that tomorrow is coming and that I’m in control. Once you get your grip on that, you’re golden, baby.

Who knows, my Golden Era may be approaching.

road to joy

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I’ve had this blog for a year today, and my my my…how things have changed. It’s only fitting that I post something to mark the occasion.

“Something.”

…………………………………ha.

I’ve got jokes.

I’m only 5 days in to my cleanse and already I’m noticing so much. My skin is a little brighter than it has been (though I’m not sure how that’s possible today since I got zero sleep last night,) I feel like I have a little more lightness in me and though it’s been emotionally draining thus far, it feels damn good to allow myself to feel everything. I didn’t realize that I’ve been putting off my emotions; I think I flipped a switch after my birthday and just stopped feeling anything, honestly.

Through being busy, but not as this week, I’ve been able to think about things that I want and things that I don’t, the main focus being joy. I led two pop ups this week and spoke openly about finding joy and what that means. As I spoke, I felt empowered, something I’m not used to feeling unless I’m behind my drums or upside down, on my mat completely solo. The idea of feeling joy – which is defined as a feeling of great pleasure or happiness – is positively overwhelming sometimes. I know that we can make it in to a  grueling task instead of part of our path and that’s just nonsense. It is the easiest choice we can possibly make, and we have the opportunity to make it every single day. We are blessed with this adventure we call life. We have countless options and opportunities for happiness, so why would we choose anything else?

This week was hard. The work week was stressful and I officially filed for divorce from a man I was supposed to spend forever with…a choice that even as I walked up the front steps of the law office was heavy on my heart, though I knew it was right. I held my head high and spoke to my lawyer as professionally as possible. I’m really great with not crying in situations like that and for that particular iciness that runs in my veins, I’m grateful. I left feeling relief above anything else, because I knew that this was another step in the right direction, another step towards sublime happiness…pure joy.

I know it’s odd to associate the idea of joyousness with divorce. I wasn’t brought up to believe in the institution and I still don’t have any idea how I wound up having to make that decision, but here I am, on the cusp of what I know is the correct road for my future.

Life gives you signs and I didn’t believe that until I started following them.

Most everyone that knows me well rolled their eyes when I said I was going to take a twenty-day long cleanse of all the things that are,”bad,” for me. Coffee, alcohol, etc etc….PIZZA (really what was I thinking with the coffee and pizza?) None of them doubted I could do it, but I know most of them questioned how long I would last without certain vices. I was two days in and suffering from a wretched caffeine headache when I showed up at the law offices with my mom, because let’s be honest, who else was I going to bring to that? We talked for only a few minutes and I posed a final question to my legal eagle: “Okay, it seems simple enough and everything is in order, but I want to know…how long is this going to take?” My lawyer looked at me, with more than a frown but less than a smile and said, “twenty days.”

My jaw went through the proverbial center of the universe and I knew right then that I’d made the right choices up to this point. The, “cleanse of the things that are bad for me,” was all-inclusive, encircling the marriage I’d left in New Orleans that, seemingly now, meant nothing to no one but me. How’s that for a learning experience? How is that for the natural world saying, “hey, I know it sucks that you had to learn this way, but here’s a little something for all the shit that you endure.” We never stop learning, y’all.

Here’s what I’ve learned in the last few days of my cleanse:

I know now that I don’t miss alcohol at all, though that was never a question. I do love my Jameson on the rocks and I like to be out and drink socially, but I’ve always been able to give or take drinking, and that has been all the more validated now. My hatred for cigarettes has been reignited…the smell, the taste, everything positively repulses me. I’m not going to judge you if you do it, but I know it’s not for me.

I now know how to deal with the sugar better, though it’s only been a few days and that’s a big one to bust; I’m looking forward to how I’ll feel about it once the whole cleanse is over. Pizza and processed foods are one of those things I can give or take as well. Eating clean isn’t hard because you really feel so much better inside and out, but it’s expensive and requires time for preparation and sometimes we just don’t have tons of that.

Coffee, though….I can’t even talk about it without getting teary. It’s part of my morning, my mid-morning and my afternoon, and if I’m being honest, sometimes my night. I love it and miss it and on days following sleepless nights it is necessary and I will abuse it only in the best way possible for as long as we both shall live.

Other things that I know now after listening to the new Mumford&Sons on loop for several days:

I know now that I want a man who will stand in front of me when things get hard and tell me what I need to do to fix it, and that his actions are going to mirror mine. I know now that I need a man that’s going to love me, “in such a way that I feel free.” Free but not ignored; free but not alone. He’s going to adore my independence and cherish the moments when I choose to lean on him. I know now that I will accept nothing less than a man that is going to love watching me shine, that is going to push me harder and love me bigger and be more thankful for such love in his life that he can barely comprehend how it happened. He’s going to be confused by me and love it; maybe he’ll look at me like I’m a puzzle…one that he can’t wait to put together; find adventure in pieces that he has yet to discover and feel joy when he’s found the fragment that’s been missing. He’s going to be there when I come undone about stupid shit like losing jewelry or hearing a certain song or seeing sappy videos on Facebook. He’s going to be frustrated with how much I love him sometimes because he won’t always understand why and I won’t always be able to tell him. Most of all…I know now that joy is going to be the front running emotion in any relationship I pursue, because anything else is less than what we deserve and I won’t have that.

I can’t wait. I can’t wait for this. But for now, I’m happy to wake up and choose the road to joy EVERYDAY.