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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

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”.

Now I’ve definitely been trying to change how I eat. Since I wrote the post “Afraid” in December, about needing to change my diet in order to lose a little weight, I’ve been eating fewer sweets a day.

First, I kept a little notebook that I called “Sweets Illustrated”: along with recording my sweets for the day on a single page, I drew them. I love drawing and doodling and had a blast capturing pastries, candies, chocolates. Aaron wondered if drawing each sweet with such relish was somewhat fetishizing the experience, adding to my obsession; when I tried just logging the sweets, though, without drawing them, it meant far more sweets could fit on a page—and psychologically, in my day. I returned to illustrating the records.

Then I attempted limiting myself to one sweet a day. This meant drawing, for example, a really big black-and-white cookie on the page—leaving (hopefully) no room for anything else. As important as the log was, it was also important that my partner, friends, and roommates knew about my resolution. One particular challenge was that, during this time, my roommate Rebecca launched a pie business and would say things in the evenings like “Want to try the new banana creme pie?”

Nothing happened to my weight one way or the other. Maybe because of this, I gradually became less strict about having just one serving of sweets per day. But I was being more mindful, I had some great drawings of rugelekh, and I was happy with Sweets Illustrated and my quirky status quo. Besides, I was planning my wedding, and was trying not to lose weight specifically for “the big day”. I was in it for long-term health, not a photo-op.

In April, a colleague told me about the website Stickk, a goal-setting site that helps you stick to your commitments. The creators had learned that people are often more motivated by avoiding a loss than by a potential gain; they included, accordingly, a suite of incentives for users that includes the potent “anti-charity” option. When you report a week that was unsuccessful in sticking to your commitment, your credit card is deducted a certain amount of money, which is sent to a charity of your choice—that you hate.

I picked an organization that lobbies for civil marriage to be only between a man and a woman. I put forty dollars a week on the line, and signed up for eight weeks.

Results were instant. I felt I could not break my goal. When my second Sweets Illustrated mini-journal was full, I didn’t need to start a new one. The anti-charity incentive was simultaneously funny, awful, and powerfully motivating.

I’ve fudged what one serving of sweets a day means, though I maintain it’s not cheating. These days if I’m about to eat something sweet, I think about what else I might be eating that day. If I have a cookie at lunch, I decide then if I’m having anything sweet later, and when. A serving of sweets can be spread throughout the day… but once I’m done with my allotment, I’m done. Interestingly, this decision-making process removes the angst later when something delicious is offered to me and I can’t have it; now I’m not bothered at all.

It’s my last week of my eight-week commitment with Stickk, and I’ve been successful every week thus far. Maybe my next goal on the site will be a return to exercise. Meanwhile, eating fewer sweets has finally stuck.

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

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