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In Transition

Resetting. Be back soon.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Is it not queer, and both desolating and comforting, how, with all associations broken, one forms new ones, as a broken bone thickens in healing.

— Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

photo credit: slimmer_jimmer via photopin cc

Prayer for a Beginning

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Dear God, protect me.
Open my heart to let a person in.
If he reaches for my hand,
let me give it, and sometimes—
push me to reach for his hand, too.
Give voice to my fears
and may they not immobilize me.
Please—allow me to be myself morning and night,
in all my contradictory, vulnerable, dithering glory.
(And may it cause him to love me all the more.)
Strengthen me to make space for the gift
of another soul in my life.
God of my ancestors, God of my descendants,
guard this beginning with lovingkindess,
and may I continue to be worthy of Your blessings.
Blessed are You, God, who hears prayer.

 

written November 2012

run

from 2003

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The third summer is approaching and I can feel the energy coiling inside me and ready to jump through my skin.

I want to run away from this city that is not my home and yet all that I have. I’m doing well here but I want to slam the door and run. 

Throw everything to the wind and run. Keep Shabbat to find peace but keep running until I get somewhere, maybe I’ll never get there, but I think it’s close and I want to scream and be there already.

I am tired of breaking and I am tired of sobbing and I know I can reach inside and pull out my intestines and squeeze them for that drop of solid gold.

April has snuck up beside me with her chilly hands and flying hair. 

Ghosts dance around me. Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go already.

Damsel Rescues Self

From 2002, when I was a senior in high school. We chose (without looking) a random object out of a bag and had to give a short speech inspired by it. I chose a doorknob.

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Have you ever wondered how on earth Rapunzel got into the tower? I mean, when you think about it, it just doesn’t make sense. I can understand that once she was in, the witch would climb up Rapunzel’s hair and through the window to bring her food and whatnot. But I’d really like to know how Rapunzel got in in the first place. Surely there was a door. Which then begs the question: why didn’t Rapunzel just leave? Maybe the witch magically sealed up the door; I bet witches could do that. Still, they never do tell you that part of the story, and it seems pretty important to me.

I know a girl that thinks she lives in a tower, too. She’s always at home, and doesn’t have very many people she can talk to. She’s been in this tower for so long that she doesn’t remember how she got in—and doesn’t know how to get out. I think sometimes that we build towers for ourselves when perhaps there really wasn’t one to begin with. This girl is so convinced that she cannot leave—she doesn’t even try. She just sits and waits to be rescued.

Enough of metaphors. I am that girl. And there is no tower, no witch, no Rapunzel, no rescue. But there is a door. And there is no room for doubt with doors; you’re either on one side of it or the other. Inside, or out. The doorknob in my hand—that’s reality—that’s rescuing myself. Why be a damsel in distress when you can walk out the door and into your own damn sunset?

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions anymore. Instead—since I’m constantly making resolutions within the glowing pages of this blog—I use the turn of the calendar year to reflect on my resolutions made, my resolutions kept… and my resolutions that seemed like a good idea at the time.

So here they are, resolutions from this past year (even the vague ones):

  1. January 26, The Pleasure of Inferring — “If I can ease into the moment and appreciate the pleasure of inferring, I may even learn how to learn.”
  2. March 14, In the Long Run — “The trick here is to maintain, to keep going (and also to stop thinking that my torso is the only indicator of health).”
  3. May 3, Black Skinny Jeans — “I’m done obsessing. I’ll buy a smaller size if and when I get there.”
  4. July 12, Moving on a Whim / Shut Up and Write the Book — “I don’t want my writing to be irregular to the point of it being a pleasant surprise when something comes to fruition. I want a routine. Slowly, finally, I think I might be getting there. Make a space. Write every day. Shut up and write the book.”
  5. September 24, A Calculated Sheen — “I think I’d like to write more openly about dating, relationships, vulnerability, and love.”
  6. November 6, Anatomy of a Run — “I plan to go running again on Friday.”
  7. December 1, Afraid — “Before I can build trust with others in my life, I need to build trust with myself.”

I didn’t run that Friday. I didn’t write every day. But I did make a space, and I have been building more trust with myself, and I really am much more successful these days at easing into the moment. Some of the clearest indicators of presence are things I haven’t written about: I stopped gchatting, I’m more focused at my job, I’m less addicted to my phone. On the subway and walking around the city I don’t listen to endless music; I am more comfortable in my own mind. I do write more often and more openly about love—and plan to keep doing so.

I might still be obsessed with my weight. Or, at least, I still pay quite a lot of attention to it. But ever since writing the post “Afraid” (where I talk about improving my diet), I’ve tried to be happy with my body right now as well as make healthy choices right now. I’m eating a lot less sweets a day, walking more, and focusing on delicious meals instead of a quick sugar fix.

I can imagine all the different parts of me lining up, checking in, ready for love and work and art. This blog has brought me so much healing. There is more to be done—I feel the familiar tendrils of anxiety even as I write these words—but this year I learned how to show up and do the work. And when you know how to show up, nothing feels quite as insurmountable as it did before.

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Previous episodes of “Resolution Round-Up”:

2012 – Of Sound Mind and Body
2011 – The Person I Want to Be
2010 – New Me Resolution Round-Up

heartbreak

Afraid

I wrote almost a month ago about the anatomy of a run. The post concluded: “I plan to go running again on Friday. Is there a feat of changing-your-nature that you’re working on?”

But I didn’t run that Friday… or that weekend. Or the next week. Or the week after that. It’s embarrassing to admit this, but I haven’t run even once since that 22-minute run in the cold.

The loss here isn’t the running itself. I recently realized that I love walking—especially what I deem “epic walks”—and that long walks combined with yoga will be good enough for me right now. I may even try to walk to work some mornings.

No, the loss is something else. The loss is breaking a promise to myself. Before I can build trust with others in my life, I need to build trust with myself. Will I do the things I say I’ll do? Perhaps I’m not giving myself realistic goals. Perhaps something like running regularly (especially in the winter, especially without a gym membership) wasn’t the right fit for me in the first place.

Breaking a promise with myself means that doubt creeps in as I make future promises. It’s particularly difficult when no one else is holding their breath for me, like with writing: Will I submit to that poetry contest? Will I really write that new play? 

And sometimes, a different feeling creeps in—fear.

On Monday, I went to my doctor to talk about my weight and about exercise. While I am a normal weight for my height, over the past two years I’ve been gradually gaining a total of twenty pounds and three pant sizes. I was tired of Googling health advice, and of crowdsourcing from friends who offer attractive and contradictory opinions.

Also I thought that my new yoga+epic walks plan would get a straight-forward thumbs up from my doctor. I imagined her saying that the weight would naturally come off, or, if not, that it actually doesn’t need to come off at all.

She said I have to lose some of the weight. Not because I weigh too much, but because my steady increase is of concern. “You’ve gained six pounds since February,” she said. She didn’t give me an exact number to lose—though she felt that at my lowest I was probably too low—and she didn’t give me a time-frame. But while she approved of my exercise plan (“The best exercise is the kind you like doing”), she said that in order to lose weight, I have to also address my diet.

As I left the doctor’s office, I realized that I have never really tried to change how I eat. Sure, I’ve flirted with giving up sugar or eating more vegetables… but in general, I stick to my labels of “generally fine” and “have a sweet tooth”. But I know I eat too many beige foods, too much chocolate, too much processed food. I guess I’ve felt like if I toss a salad in here or there I’ll be okay. I walked to the subway already mourning the food I wouldn’t be eating.

Mostly, I’m afraid. I’m afraid I won’t be able to change how I eat in a meaningful, sustainable way. I’m afraid I won’t lose any weight. I’m afraid that I will lose the weight but that I’m doing this for my wedding and am just pretending that I’m doing it as a lifestyle change. I’m afraid I won’t go on epic walks. I’m afraid I’ll keep writing about my fitness plans and continue to break my promises in this public, vulnerable space. I’m afraid I’ll reach physical health at the expense of mental health—I’ve struggled before with anxiety and obsessive thinking.

I know with writing that when I get afraid, the good stuff starts to emerge. I’ve learned to write even when I’m terrified of what will come out because the thing that scares me is what I really want to explore.

So here we go.

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