Wednesday, June 30, 2010

In spite of my age

This morning, as I was riding up the west side highway, a serious biker rode up next to me. It had been happening all morning—I had no idea that before 8am the bike path would be cram- packed with people who all seemed to be training for the Tour de France, whipping by me as if I was pedaling through jello. I thought this guy was going to snidely comment about me taking up too much of the lane or something along those I'm-a-better-biker-than-you lines but no, he just started chatting.

Asked me if I, too, was riding to Albany. Turns out he wasn't either, it was just a good conversation starter. We talked about biking, bike paths, riding up from the west village. He asked if I'd be interested in a free course he was thinking about offering—dry land long boarding which is sort of like standing on a surfboard and paddling only the board would be on wheels. In Union Square Park. Later in the evenings. I laughed on the inside as I couldn't possibly imagine myself doing anything like that, but said that yes, it sounded interesting. He told me he was a photographer, I told him about FLOW and we talk menstruation and politics and woman's rights and history for a bit. It was snappy, fun, interesting, funny, engrossing and I had to work to remember, while making sure not to run into anyone and keeping the conversation going that the friend I was riding with was somewhere behind us.

I stopped abruptly at 125th street, saying I needed to make a call. She caught up, he waved goodbye and my friend and I sat before a few minutes before we turned back home, talking about why on earth he'd be chatting with me all that way.

Could have been he was looking for clients for his new venture. Could be he was glad to see women out riding bikes. Could be he wanted clients.

I threw out that maybe it was because he thought I was cute.

And then, I wished I could have taken it back. Who am I to have said something so ludicrous? Out loud. I'm 46, was flushed and sweaty, wearing yoga pants and a worn-to-shreds t-shirt. Not to mention my ridiculous helmet.

Then again, who knows. Maybe other people think I don't look so bad. Perhaps, in fact, maybe other people think I actually look good.

Who knows.

But it was nice to even entertain that thought for awhile. It's not often I am anonymous, with no history, no backstory, no connections. When a total stranger talks to me for no other reason than that they want to.

I'm still smiling.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

skin deep

This morning, while standing on a ridiculously long line at Trader Joe's, I noticed a short black hair. Sounds relatively innocuous, only it was growing out of my right forearm about an inch above my wrist.

Looking closer I realized it wasn't the only one. I discovered two more before we got to the cashier and I was thankfully distracted from further exploration.

This is not a big deal. Truly. And yet, it is. Why are black hairs suddenly sprouting out in plain sight?

Oh god, I just found another one.

And yet, hairs on my head are turning shades of grey. I've even spotted a couple of stray eyebrow hairs far lighter than they've ever been.

Can't my body color coordinate?

Although, would I choose all dark or all light? That's a tough one.

And while I'm talking hair I have to mention, why does there have to be more? Not to gross anyone out but my toes are sprouting slightly. I've got a fine coating on my knuckles too. My arms seem fuzzier than ever.

I'm thinking about carrying a tweezer with me at all times going forward. But I'm pretty sure I'd be fighting a losing battle.

Monday, June 28, 2010


Sometimes life floats by effortlessly, pieces fall easily into place and all is generally good. During those times it's not always easy to appreciate how lovely things are—there are still moments and stresses and arguments and pitfalls. Sometimes, in spite of there being very little to complain about, we too easily get caught up in the negative and spend a lot of time stuck there.

And sometimes it's just the opposite.

Sometimes, life smacks us hard, throws us too much to handle, piles so much on our plates it becomes too heavy to carry and we're lost.

We can't cope.

We can't deal.

We can't see the end of the tunnel because everything is pitch black, terrifying, heart-breakingly scary.

We can't believe we'll survive this.

We desperately want to go back to when things were fine because from this place we know how lucky we were.

We want to turn back time. Escape where we are. Avoid the pain, the doubt, the terror that nothing will return to normal. Because we know it never will.

But that's not to say things won't get back to a more balanced, more sane, more comfortable place. Different, but ok.

In those places we can be paralyzed, frozen, immobilized. Not know who to trust, what to do. Our faith in the word and ourselves can be shaken to the point there's nothing to hold onto anymore and all we can do is desperately wish for something, anything else.

Sitting smack in the middle of the unknown sucks.

Sometimes we have no choice.

Sometimes everything looks, feels, seems, is bleak.

But it never lasts forever.

From the midst of darkness it's hard to believe there's light anywhere out there.

But there is. There always is.

Someone I know, someone I love dearly is suffering right and has been lost in the tunnel for too long. In my heart, deep down, I know beyond knowing all will get to a better place. She doesn't know it yet but I do.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

my aging body

I've been 46 for 8 days.

This morning I rode my bike up the west side highway to the George Washington Bridge and back. 17 miles roundtrip. It's the 3rd time I've done that ride in less than a week.

This week the cosmic owner of my yoga studio mentioned she was impressed with how my practice has blossomed.

One of my favorite yoga teachers is coming back after a year away and is only teaching advanced classes going forward. I can't wait to dive in for an hour and 45 minutes and see what happens.

I've been relatively sugar free for more than a month.

This is just about the best physical shape I've ever been in.

In some ways.

I just bought a fabulous vintage dress (there are some people who will remain nameless who think I shouldn't be sharing this story, but hey, it's part of me and my aging body) that looks like something Barbara Eden would have worn when she wasn't being in her genie costume. Shades of purple, gold and green, fitted top and ballerina skirt held together with a see-through mesh band that winds tightly around my ribcage. I saw it hanging in a shop and knew it was meant for me, that it would fit, that it would feel like I'd always owned it as soon as I slipped it on.

It did. It was perfect. A little on the short side for me but nothing I couldn't pull off. Until, someone quietly mentioned that my bra was visible in the mesh band. No wardrobe malfunction worries folks, I hadn't left the house. But yes, there was my black bra peeking out, hanging lower than I ever would have thought it did.

But, there it was.

My breasts are changing. My skin is changing. What once was firmly in place isn't in the same place anymore. My breasts hang lower. My upper arms, while muscular and toned—all that yoga makes a difference—sag. The skin covering my thighs sometimes looks like its about to drip off.

My hair is now shot with enough grey that I can't pluck them all out and pretend they're not there.

I have two age spots.

There are some seriously deep crevices etched into my face.

My body is changing. In some ways for the better. And maybe the other ways aren't for the worse. Maybe those changes are just what are meant to be.

My job is to hold onto that—that getting older and celebrating where I am instead of groaning about where I'm not, is the way to be.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

urban bliss

Last night I went to my very first kirtan. From what I'd heard about them—hours of hot, sweaty ecstatic chanting and dancing, I never felt compelled to attend one. I'm far too cynical to let go and get swept away in those kinds of moments. But, Laughing Lotus was hosting a big summer solstice celebration and I replied yes to my facebook invite mostly to be polite, not really planning on attending. After several people mentioned they were excited I'd said yes, surprisingly, shockingly, there I was stressing about what to wear. Note: I ended up in a lilac tank top, long swirly brown skirt, funky beads which was perfectly appropriate although I learned less is more when it comes to kirtan wear.

As we approached the relatively nondescript office building the studio's in, we found the stunning sand art creation pictured above, radiant colors lighting up the concrete and gritty metal doors, pink, yellow and rich red rose petals strewn in front of the doorway, more petals creating a path down the hall, into the elevator and towards the studio front door. Inside the reception area was packed with people in sundresses, or yoga gear, the larger studio itself had dozens of yoga blankets neatly placed in a semi-circle, ropes of multi-colored lights wrapped around the instruments and chairs where the musicians would be.

The lotus chandeliers above were dim. The walls glowed with the warm orange pink of sunset.

People packed in tight and I was overcome by claustrophobia for a moment as the temperature rose and there was no discernible path to the door from where I was sitting. But, I took a deep breath, willing myself to stay in the moment.

The three members of Sean Johnson and the Wild Lotus Band quietly took their seats—Sean spoke for a few moments and then taught us the first song. Turns out a kirtan is basically a call and response. He sings, we sing back. He chants, we repeat. Some songs were in English, most were in sanskrit. I was prepared to sit through 2 to 3 songs tops and then sneak out quietly.

I had no idea that chanting "Maha Deva" and "Kali Ma" over and over (and over) could be so beautiful. That simple words and melodies could become so layered, so complex, so intense with voices and instruments weaving beat and rhythm and energy together. The band started slow and sweet, masterfully constructing ebbs and flows that had people quietly swaying and then leaping to their feet. As the pace picked up more and more got up and started moving, clapping, at times jumping up and down like happy 5 year olds in a bouncy castle.

I didn't jump. But, I did dance. And I even sang, getting past the fact that I actually can't sing.

It didn't matter.

I smiled at people I didn't know. I wrapped my arms around those I did, and hugged hard, drenched in sweat, at the thrill of sharing these moments.

I saw rapture. Celebration. A community building of people who never met and those who knew each other well all joining together through sound and creativity and presence.

And at times the silence between the songs was more powerful than the music itself.

As the last note slipped away, Sean chanted "om" and I found my hands automatically folded at my heart, then my forehead, my head dipping, as we shared a final moment of thanks, love and togetherness.

Much to my surprise, the jaded part of me was silenced for awhile.

I've already been invited to my next kirtan. I'm pretty sure I'll mean it when I respond yes.

Friday, June 25, 2010


After months (and months) of feeling compelled to write every day, I don't anymore.

I'm not completely sure why.

I don't know that I feel like figuring it out.

I've poured out so much time and energy and angst and anxiety here. I've analyzed, whined, interpreted, worried, questioned, doubted—I could go on and on. There have been delightful parts too, amazing moments, outrageous experiences, super highs to balance out the bottom of the barrel lows.

Maybe I'm tired of the exploration.

Maybe feeling less intense is a nice break.

I almost miss the drive, the energy, being compelled and driven, but not quite. It's feeling ok to be. Just be. Sitting with what is not what might be or what was before.

I'm learning how to be me in the moment, not me defined by a project, not me spinning my wheels at insane levels to accomplish more.

Having said that, maybe I have to make more of an effort so as not to get lost for too long in this place. I'm setting a new 40 day sadhana of writing every day.

We'll see where that takes me.

Day 1 is wondering where my laundry cards are and if anyone's interested in what I have to say anymore.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

celebrating my girl

Twelve years ago this morning, my beautiful chick arrived in the world. Twelve years ago at this very moment, I was in the throes of a nightmare labor—she was born at 8:43 so right about now was all about begging for drugs, broken machinery, losing her heartbeat, oxygen masks, and pain that ripped me apart. In the free-for-all no one noticed I was fully dilated and she was crowning—and 4 super pushes, I met Iz.

When the midwife congratulated me on a beautiful baby girl I said she was wrong, I was having a boy. I think I convinced myself she was a boy because I really wanted a girl and didn't want to be disappointed at birth. But, there she was, a beautiful girl who showed up a month early. She was whisked away to the neonatal ward to make sure all was ok and there I was, drenched in sweat, beyond exhausted, completely spent, overcome with too many emotions.

And I was a mother.

Her arrival made me who I am. Being a mother is the single most important role I'll ever have. I had no idea as I visited this tiny little being, attached to too many wires in the NICU, how radically she'd change my life.

But, this is about her.

Well before she was born I knew how determined she (or actually it) was. The baby, whom we called shmoo, spent much of its time kicking me from the inside with such force I'd often double over in pain. I'll never forget clutching my left rib, her favorite spot, yelling at her to stop. I'd never imagined I could get angry at a fetus, but there I was, screaming, finally grabbing an appendage that seemed as if it was about to burst through my abdominal wall with a nod to Alien and then screaming even more when I realized I had someone's very small, very strong foot in my hand. We were having a moment.

We still do.

She hasn't lost that determination. Focus. Drive.

She is also remarkably sweet and soothing. Loyal beyond imagination. Thoughtful. Caring.

So smart it's disconcerting at times. Wise far beyond her years. Creative and driven to make what she imagines a reality. Empathetic. Engaging.

Geeky—a description she wears with honor. Quirky. Weird is another word she uses to describe herself gleefully.

She hugs with fierceness. She loves with no reserves. Her soul runs deeper than just about anyone I've ever met.

And yet she loves Sponge Bob.

She has my heart. She is my hero.

Happy birthday to the fabulous Miss Iz.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Right now I've got writing to do. Not for here, but for the world at large:

2 pieces for Seventh Generation

1 piece for U by Kotex

1 piece for the White House Project

1 piece for blogher

an interview for No Room For Young Woman

plus, should creative thought strike it's been too long since I've Huffpo posted. And there's always

So, I'm going to take my blogging time and use it to work on work.

I know, how revolutionary.

Monday, June 21, 2010

medicated me

I had meant to chronicle my medication journey here, both to keep track of things for myself and to perhaps shed some light on issues other people might be having during similarly dark times. But, it hasn't been easy to write. About meds. About life. About where I am, where I've been, what's next. It's interesting, fascinating even that after months and months of being compelled to be here and share everything under the sun, that drive is gone. I don't have much to say.

My life is far less black and white.

Years and years (and years) ago, my therapist told me I had to learn to appreciate the grey, to let go of drama, to not need life to be so extreme all the time. That's sort of what this feels like. And it's ok. It's not great. I miss the rush, being driven, waking up with so much energy I knew I'd whip through my to-do list and accomplish far more than I'd imagined I could. I miss ideas constantly popping into my head. I miss being energized.

Last night I went to sleep at 9:30. I can't think of the last time I did anything like that. This morning I told Jon I imagine this must be what it's like to wake up as a normal person—wanting to drift back to sleep, needing coffee to get going. I'm not sure if this is a side effect of the meds or that perhaps I really am this tired, that it was anxiety pushing me all the time with a false sense of energy and focus.

It's nice to feel calmer, to feel relatively confident I won't spin out of control. I'm nervous about what will happen when I decide to go off the meds. I never, NEVER want to suffer the way I did this spring. But, I don't love always taking something. I feel like I need to put positive, constructive pieces in place to help me hold myself together when things get intense.

And they will. They always will.

No matter how I deal (or don't), life will keep challenging me. Dramas will unfold. Pain will show up. Things will be beyond my control.

It's up to me to find ways to take care of myself.

For now, the meds are helping me find a more stable place to function from. And when it's time, I'll figure out what's next.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Thinking about my father

There’s an old adage: “laughter is the best medicine.” No, it won’t cure a cold or fix a broken bone, but there’s something to say about letting go in a moment, no matter how nervous or nauseous or achy you feel, and letting yourself get swept up in anything from a raunchy joke or a witty riddle to something silly in between. I learned that important lesson from my father. My dad is the king of puns. Actually, let me clarify that a bit by saying he is the king of questionably amusing word play. Whenever the opportunity presents itself for a quick rejoinder or a snappy comeback, you can see a look of fierce concentration on his face as he works out the details to his latest vocabulary concoction. Conversation halts for a moment or two as we all wait for the inevitable, and invariably we groan, as his comebacks are masterpieces of cheese. He always looks so proud of his latest accomplishment, often repeating it more than once to make sure everyone heard him, as we visibly cringe, which makes him chuckle harder than he did at first telling. I’ve wracked my brain to list a few, but they’re generally so light and fluffy that within moments they’ve evaporated without a trace. And as if his pun play wasn’t enough, Dad always has a relevant joke to toss out. This past Jewish New Year’s dinner, he showed up with a folder filled with pages of one-liners he found online, just in case there was a lull in conversation. As he ran down the list, his eyes lit up with delight at eliciting any sort of even slightly amused response. Of course my dad isn’t different from many relatives who use family dinners as their comedic stomping ground. What sets him apart, however, is that he’s constantly looking for the humor in things, despite what he does all day. My dad is an oncologist, a cancer specialist. His days are filled with chemotherapy and painkillers, delivering hard-to-hear news to patients, helping them through their last months and days with grace and empathy. And a good laugh or two.

When I was growing up, I remember hearing Dad’s car pull into the driveway after I got home from school, and running to the front door to ask how his day was. He would fill me in on patients he’d seen, how they were feeling, if they were getting better. Or worse. He’d tell me if

they’d gone into remission or if they’d gone into the hospital. I remember hearing about one patient who asked him to keep her alive until her daughter’s wedding, another until her grandson’s bar mitzvah. We’d talk about patients who wanted to make it through the holidays so

their families wouldn’t be plunged into mourning at a usually happy time. Through weekly visits, lengthy chemotherapy treatments, and hospital stays, my dad became a friend, a confidant, a therapist to his patients. He worked with some for months, some for years. I never could understand how he seemed to handle so well the pain of sharing bad news, and then watching people he cared about deteriorate.

Looking back I realize that perhaps my dad was so well suited to his job because he came from a broken home back when divorce was shameful. I could feel his pain when he told me how he would spend weekends taking two subways, alone, to visit his own father, too embarrassed to tell anyone where he was going. Neither of his parents remarried and he didn’t have siblings. He lived with his mother and grandfather, who rarely spoke to each other. His childhood was filled with silence and solitude. In spite of his emotionally bereft family life, or perhaps because of it, he was able to develop empathetic bonds with his patients. Relating to his own family often remained difficult for him, as if by the end of his workday he was completely empty. He would regularly disappear into his study to spend hours alone, listening to classical music and dealing, in his own way, with the sadness that surrounded him from both the past and the present.

What’s truly inspirational about my dad is that somehow he found grace in that sadness. He explained to me once that when people have a finite amount of time left they often face the future with a heightened sense of appreciation and gratitude for what they have left. Being able

to help them gave him purpose and he often used humor to bring them back into the moment. He taught me that laughter is a remarkable way to be present. What my father was doing was helping his patients find moments of Zen (although he’d adamantly refuse to call it that). Being

fully present gave them a little break from the enormity of what they were dealing with. Years ago, a friend of my husband’s was in the hospital with cancer that had been in remission since he was a child. But it was back and his prospects were now bleak. When we got to his room, it was filled to capacity -- I think the staff knew time was limited so they let everyone stay. Rich was in bed, barely talking, surrounded by whispering friends and relatives. I started chatting away, as I do in stressful situations, telling him about a book I had recently written: a collection of silly, embarrassing, and laugh-out-loud funny vomit stories. At that point the room was silent when Rich said he had a story for me and shared a hilarious tale of college buddies (many of whom were near his bed), a case of beer, and a car air conditioner that spewed out fetid fumes every time it was turned on after that night. Rich’s eyes were sparkling and the tension in the room evaporated as everyone cracked up. The door opened and his mom walked in, looking worried, having heard all the noise out in the hallway. In that moment though, we had been transformed from anxious well-wishers back to college friends reminiscing about old times. Humor brought us together and made us forget the pain and sadness for a little while.

When I find myself in stressful situations, humor is my default coping mechanism. I find that laughing relieves anxiety, breaks tension, and effectively distracts unhappy children. It takes the edge off the pain of being in a different homeroom than a best friend. A baseball team loss becomes less tragic. An endless wait in an airport goes by faster. While I’m the world’s worst joke teller, I specialize in sharing embarrassing personal stories. Recounting how I broke my own finger in a step class, or the time I unwittingly had my hair chopped into a boy cut, can force a grin. Asking for help recounting a silly scene from a movie works. Sometimes I even resort to a quick tickle, knowing that once a smile breaks through, I’ve got a chance to help someone find a little joy and be in the moment.

Thanks, Dad.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

46 and counting

Today is my 46th birthday. 45 was one remarkable year. I accomplished things I'd never dreamed of. My sense of confidence has grown, I've established my voice and point of view. I've taken on responsibilty in ways I still amazed I can handle. I now comfortably call myself a writer.

I've also crashed lower than I ever have before, have doubted myself, have questioned just about everything in my life.

Yup, it's been quite a year.

46 is a blank slate. I have no projects in the works, no idea what's next, nothing in the future I'm thrilled about or dreading.

I'm here. I'm working on stillness, on gratitude, on being open. On not knowing, not planning, letting go of expectations, a sense of entitlement.

On seeing the good in situations. Being more understanding and supportive. Rediscovering patience.

Of accepting where I am instead of regretting where I'm not.

Friday, June 18, 2010

what's so great about me?

Yesterday I had quite the eye-opening conversation with the woman (although I think of her as a girl) behind the counter during my daily iced decaf run. She's in her early 20s and has her finger on the pulse of social media, feminism, politics, pop culture and what's trending in the world at large these days. We were talking about what to be when one grows up and touched on how one puts oneself out into the world, how one garners attention and builds an audience of interested people. One of the things she's working on is women and blogging—helping individuals figure out what their message is and how they resonate with potential followers. What their niche might be.

She completely stumped me and as I struggled to say something relevant I couldn't. I don't have a niche. I couldn't begin to think how to categorize what this blog is or why anyone would be interested. I have followers who read, comment, support, sometimes slam. I've been called a hero, inspirational, over-the-top whiny and undeserving. I started writing here to establish a regular writing practice, something I'd never had before and it's turned into far more than that.

I write about struggle, pain, frustration. About being a parent. Being a woman who's getting older and dealing with more changes than I want to. About my body and how hard it is to accept what it is, who I am sometimes. About the overwhelming juggle life can be when you have so many roles to fill. I write about moments of pure joy, pride, excitement. Others of panic, shame, fear. Of over-the-top experiences I've been lucky enough to live through. About others that are so quiet and small they could easily be overlooked, but resonate nonetheless.

In the end, I think people read because what I write about is what we all go through to a certain extent. Feelings are feelings and knowing other people understand what you're going through helps. We live in a splintered world where it's easy to shut off, shut down, shut out. Finding kindred souls, time to talk, a supportive, encouraging environment isn't always easy.

In fact, sometimes it feels impossible.

So, I pour it out here. Getting words down, organizing thoughts, putting structure to feelings helps me cope.

That others have found me is the icing.

Taking time for myself is the cake.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

lost in thought

It's Thursday which means I'm sitting in my car. I've got 40 minutes to go. I've already gotten 2 kids off to school, navigated major construction in the east village to pick up a printed t-shirt order. After this I'm co-hosting a teacher appreciation lunch at Iz's middle school. From there it's picking Jack up downtown, dinner for everyone and opening night of the 5th grade school play.

Somewhere in there I've got to design 3 web banners, put together a mechanical for a promo t-shirt, and start working on the 3 blog posts I've been asked to write. Not an atypical day.


The cool part is, at the moment all is mellow. I'm sitting here people watching, cloud gazing, trees waving in the brisk wind. My mind is quiet. Calm. Empty. The spin is there but it's been downgraded.

My jaw's not clenched. My hands aren't filled with tension. I don't have a pit in my stomach.

In fact, I feel like sprawling on a couch and just lying there.

Wallowing in stillness.

I'm so used to being revved up all the time that this is disconcerting. Generally I'm a multi-task master, lists forming in my head, plans and schedules rattling through my mind at a lightning pace.

Not today.

I'm sitting. I almost said "just sitting" but I think sitting, in itself, is something to be appreciated, not scorned.

That's a radical change in the way I think. I've always subscribed to "the busier, the better." The more I juggle the more productive I am the more I accomplish. I was disparaging of free time—mostly because it makes me so uncomfortable.

I've never known how to just be.

But, it's never too late to learn.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lessons from the inside

Today I had one of those lightbulb moments while walking to meet a friend for lunch. I was thinking about how good it would be to see her - she's one of my favorite yoga teachers on the planet. Her classes were filled with funk, groove and very often Pink Floyd, and I moved with grace through her creative flow. I'm not necessarily a graceful person so I'm more aware when my body clicks in the movement and all is utterly present. It's been almost a year since I've been in her class and I still yearn for that magic. I was also thinking about opening and closing doors - about how hard it was when she left the studio I practice at. And about people's reactions to what I wrote yesterday about change. Heartfelt honesty apparently can piss people off.

So, as I walked along the now ripped up Washington Square Park it hit me: it's not them. Nope, it's not them. People I look to for guidance, meaning, advice, people who are my teachers aren't the answer. If I'm not accepting the lessons they're here to share with me, I'm not learning. Their presence in my life becomes more of a crutch, a comfort, something I'm comfortable with.

That's not a bad thing. Comfort and familiarity are important. But if I'm always looking to the outside for an answer, where's my growth?

Looking inside is almost impossible
for me. I think it's not easy for many people to take responsibility for their thoughts and actions, reactions and how they are in this world. It's easier to blame situations, other people, to drink or exercise like mad, to avoid true introspection and what needs to change.

My familiar escapes don't work anymore and I think that's what this emotional crisis was about. I wanted someone to save me, to make it better, to undo the changes. I wanted to dive into somethig and ge lost there so I wouldn't have to deal.

But, I have to deal.


This journey can be so painful. On the one had it sucks. But on the other I'm grateful that I'm still questioning, growing, changing.

I'll be 46 in 3 days and I still feel like I'm the start of something new.

I'm grateful. And looking forward (with trepidation) to being my own teacher.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

that open door thing

I've been wanting to write for a couple of days about doors closing. About relationships dramatically changing out of the blue without my having any say in it. About friends who've been a significant part of my life disappearing without warning.

About how lost I've been.

About how I've been wishing I could go back in time and be where I was, before the rug was pulled out from under me. About how much I miss what was and how I know there's no going back.

About how I don't always have faith or trust or hope that these friends are still a part of my life.

About how frustrated I am that they think I'm being difficult, unsupportive, challenging.

But also about how new people have come into my life, unexpectedly. About how I'm discovering new relationships that are satisfying, interesting. Different.

Today I rode to the George Washington Bridge and back with a new friend. 17 miles on a deliciously sunny day, our morning spent on a breezy path nestled between the West Side Highway and the Hudson River.

I was afraid to go - it was so far out of my comfort zone. I didn't know I could make it that far. I had hoped she'd forgotten we'd talked about it, that maybe she'd changed her mind, that something else would come up so I wouldn't have to put myself out there and try something new.

That didn't happen. We went. I made it. And am just as thrilled about the physical accomplishment as by spending time with someone I think is super cool and truly enjoy being with.

Doors are opening.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Letting go of the sugar blues

I wrote a piece for this morning and thought I'd share it here. Tomorrow's it's back to regularly scheduled programming. Click below to read about my battle with blue icing:

Saturday, June 12, 2010

the end of a long day

I'm craving solitude. A moment alone. Quiet. Emptiness.


But it won't happen today.

Fortunately, today is almost over.

Tomorrow I'm making sure I make space for myself.

I'm learning (actually I already knew but don't always act on it) that days that are all about everyone else leave me depleted. I'm happy to nurture, love, support, mediate, listen and all that I do but it's got to be balanced for me to stay in a good place.

Today I ended up resentful, angry, frustrated, put upon. I lost my temper. I was rude when I shouldn't have been. I blew up and wished desperately to be somewhere else.

I still want to be somewhere else.

I'm having trouble getting back to gratitude.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Healing a heart

Sometimes we can get so tightly wrapped up in our own worlds, our own heads, our own stories, we cut off the outside world. Not on purpose. Not really. But it gets hard to let anyone in.

(I’m speaking for myself here although I doubt I’m alone in this).

Maybe it’s the fear of other people knowing I can’t handle everything. That I get scared. Terrified. Incapacitated at times.

And sometimes—this might sound strange—I can’t even let me help myself. I know I can breathe through things. I can meditate. Do yoga. Get involved in a project. Listen to music. Call a friend. Find a shoulder to lean on. Ask for help. But when I’m frozen tightly in that one spot, I can’t get past the dread that everything will shatter into millions of pieces.

Last night I woke up countless times. My ears have been filled with fluid for a couple of days and sleeping hasn’t been easy, especially with the memory of a burst eardrum resurfacing with every slosh (my left eardrum perforated two times in less than a year). Plus, I had taken mucinex before bed and was outrageously thirsty which led to copious amounts of pee. At one point, around 3 or so, I woke up happy. More than happy: gleeful. Literally almost giggling out loud. It was bizarre. Freaky really. I’ve woken up grumpy, cranky, put upon, annoyed, over-tired, anxious, nervous, still trapped in one of my cruise ship/hometown nightmares about not being able to get to where I’m going, but never this. I was so damn happy I had to consciously calm myself down.

And I realized being happy scares the shit out of me. Being so in the moment that I lose track of that voice, that commentator, that negative force spinning stories of doom and woe, is terrifying.

But this tiny feeling has been growing the past couple of days. Everything is ok. In fact, in spite of the doom and gloom attitude that’s my default mode, everything is fine. Even if there’s stuff to deal with, crises to handle, cranky kids to contend with, work disasters to manage, anxiety struggling to take control again I don’t have to wallow in it. I can float through and know, so down deep inside I rarely let myself go there, that I’ll be ok in the end, even if moments get really rough.

I can’t do everything, not all the time. Perhaps, in admitting both to myself and to other people that I need support, nurturing, help, I won’t have to hit rock bottom first. And in letting go of the straightjacket control I keep on myself, my heart will start to heal.

There are glimmers it’s doing just that.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ego vs Soul smackdown

It's not so easy, this writing positive every day. Usually, this is a place to go deep, let go of the storms swirling on the inside, to purge frustrations and feelings I haven't had anywhere else to deal with. Not that there's not positive stuff going on. There is. I'm feeling far better than I have in a long time. I'm handling stress better. The fear I'm going to crack isn't the uppermost thought in my mind.

But, it's still there. And writing, getting in touch, looking inside heightens my anxiety.

Maybe though, this state of unease is the brink of something bigger. Loosening the illusion of control will bring me to a better place.


So I'm at a loss of what to write about today. I'm dealing with a cold that's got both ears completely clogged, a printer disaster (1200 folders for middle school) that isn't resolving well, both kids home from school—citywide teacher meetings—along with my usual stress.

How do I move past that? My mind is stuck. It's so hard for me to break the patterns I've been trapped by for most of my life. Replaying scenes in my head. Remembering. Anticipating. Imagining. Dreading.


The astrologer I saw a couple of weeks ago told me I had to heal my heart. I understood what she was saying, but don't know how to. How do I change thought patterns, life patterns that are me? How do I let go of this when it terrifies me to do the very thing that will help me get to a better, calmer, more accepting, saner place?

Years ago, when I was caught in the iron-vise of anorexia I did a weight management program at my gym-it was about teaching people that it's the combination of diet and exercise which makes the difference. For everyone but me it was eating less and exercising more. And there I was, panic-stricken about eating more and exercising less. All I can say is thank you to that poor woman who counseled me. I was a train wreck of insecurity, hysteria, fear. And yet, in spite of myself, I got to a better place.

Now I'm more aware. I've stripped away many of the obsessions that filled me, sustained me. Now it's sort of a me against me battle. The old me afraid of letting go. The me I want to be no longer ok with rare glimmers of being.

My ego is battling my soul.

That realization rendered me speechless.

Ego vs Soul Smackdown.

(that could be a really cool t-shirt)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

good thoughts from elsewhere

I wrote a piece this morning for and to be honest, it's been a long day and I don't have anymore writing inside me. But, this was positive so I thought I'd share it here:

Enjoy folks.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

specific acts of gratitude

Every day (except for the week or so I was getting used to these meds), I get an afternoon coffee. It's always the same: light, iced decaf with half and half. I used to use splenda but am working on no artificial sweeteners so I toss in some organic raw sugar and am good to go. For the most part I go to the same place—for those of you how haven't noticed, I'm a creature of habit. I know everyone who works at Royale, the tiny hot pink coffee bar across the street from me and often, they start pouring my cup before I walk through the door.

I'm that predictable.

Today I got there and found one of the women who works there standing outside, perplexed. She'd locked the door to go to the bathroom next door and couldn't get back in. I tried. The locked was totally jammed.

She called her boss.

We chatted a bit.

Inside I was spinning about where to go for my coffee.

But, she said, "the usual?" and went through the restaurant next door to get in the back way. Moments later she was back, cup in hand.

While we were talking about blogging, job opportunities, how marketing to girls has gotten hot pink out of control a man walked up the ramp, disconcerted to find the door locked.

He had been looking forward to a vanilla chai and offered to come back later but my coffee friend said not at all, she'd be back with his drink in moments. He took my seat on the bench, offering to explain to potential patrons what was going on.

We agreed that this was a quirky, yet lovely NYC moment.

Gratitude day 2 is about sharing unlikely connections and appreciating the thoughtfulness of others.

Monday, June 7, 2010

a happiness challenge

I haven't felt like writing lately. In fact, I haven't felt like doing much of anything lately. I've been in this sort of limbo holding pattern, waiting, anxiously, to see if these meds would work. What I'm finding is that taking something is making me more aware of how I'm feeling—pretty much the opposite of what I want.

And so, days have been dragging slowly by. In waiting to feel better, I've been stuck in a shaky world that's about what's not working in the present.

But, this morning a friend presented me with an amazing challenge. To commit to writing positive for a certain period of time and in that writing from the half-full point of view I'd start swinging my mindset in that direction.

On the one hand, that should be easy. I have so much to be grateful for and I know that every day. Having said that, my hands are shaking as I type, and I'm having way too much trouble concentrating to put coherent thoughts together.

I guess that will make my challenge all the more challenging.

And so, taking all into consideration, I'm starting my happiness challenge. From now until my birthday (June 19th) I'm focusing on the positive.

It is a stunning morning. After days of steamy heat, the sky is crisp and blue, with a cool breeze blowing through the city. The sun is bright, the air clear, flowers vibrant against brick buildings and concrete sidewalks.

Days like this are hopeful. Enervating. Anything feels possible.

Ok. I hear Margaritaville. I've never heard that on a car radio in NYC. Talk about a powerful message.

It's so easy in this world to lose track of the good. To get lost in the stress, the pain, the anxiety, the worry. Yes, there's so much to feel awful about. But there's even more to appreciate.

I'm so grateful for my family. And my friends. For the amazing city I live in, for the neighborhood where I can't walk down the street without running into someone I know. For the many opportunities I have been given and have fought for. For having creative outlets. For the people interested in what I have to say and for sharing my journey with me. For being able to make a difference.

I'm grateful for having found the perfect lilac tank top. For having given up sugar successfully and for now fitting more comfortably into my clothes. I'm grateful for naps. For watermelon. For fresh peas from Chelsea Market. For having a car to sit in. For having this laptop to write on.

I'm grateful that I have a choice of delicious yoga classes to go to today. That I finished my first promo film for a client and I'm delighted with it. That I'm still learning new things. That I want to start sewing my own clothes (we'll see how that goes).

I'm grateful to my friend who didn't just listen, but suggested a different way of being when I wasn't able to do that myself. Sometimes we all need reminding and how lucky am I that when I needed it most, someone was there to do it.

Let me be that person for you. Take a moment to savor the good, the nurturing, the lovely. Appreciate it. Revel in it. Soak it in.

Hop on the happiness bandwagon folks. Come do this challenge with me.

An extra smile in someone's day can make a huge difference.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

nothing to say

Today I've got nothing. Everything is the same. I'm holding on. Still anxious. Still wondering if this drug is working or if it's making things worse.

I hate waiting.

I hate not knowing.

I hate not feeling like myself.

I hate complaining when there are so many people who have so much more on their plates than I do.

And so, tomorrow folks.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

more of the same

I don't have much to say today. I'm just trying to keep it together.

Last night I had a full scale panic attack. Either that or the longest fucking hot flash ever experienced on this planet. My neck and head felt like they were burning from the inside. I broke out in a sweat. I couldn't breathe. Insane pressure. It would subside but start again. Over and over. I did everything I could to ride them out but finally took half a xanax when I couldn't anymore.

It was terrifying.

This whole thing is terrifying. Wondering if I'll be ok again without medication. Wondering if I'll survive on it. Wondering when I'll feel better. If I'll feel better. If this jittery feeling will ever go completely away.

Having said that, I spent much of tonight feeling like myself, which I'm so grateful for. And I woke up this morning happy and content and comfortable.

I wish that for myself all the time.

I wish that for everyone out there struggling.

It gets so hard, so painful, so confusing, so scary at times. But, I truly believe it'll be ok in the end. Sometimes we just need help and have to trust that things will be fine.

Much love peeps.

To better, calmer, happier days.

Friday, June 4, 2010

death grip on my sanity

I have always been terrified that I'd go crazy. Thinking back to those fears I had when I was a kid, I'm not quite sure what that meant to me, but it was a sense of losing myself, losing control, losing my grip, my way, my point of view, my mind. There's plenty of mental illness in my family, some profound, some minor. And yet, it was another thing not properly explained or discussed. "She's just crazy," I'd hear about a relative and someone's torment and struggle was minimized.

And so, to this day, I hold onto my sanity so tightly no wonder it finally battling back.

It needs a break.

I need a break.

I need to accept that I'm ok and that I can't control everything the way I want to.

In fact, I can't control anything.

So much of my life has been about other people's chaos. Illness around me when I was little. Divorce. Discord. I lost more than a decade to anorexia, desperately trying to control what I could.

How horrifying, sad, tragic that I found comfort in starving myself. I was very good at it and, looking back, I think that particular brand of insanity held me together when I couldn't cope with all that was going on around me. Wow. I never thought of it that way before. Anorexia as my savior.

But now, those old behaviors don't work. I don't have a way of sticking my head in the sand anymore, of obsessing about something to the exclusion of all else to keep from getting lost in the pain. So, I have to deal.

I don't want to. I don't know how to. And so anxiety reared it's head and kept me from coping.

My life is still full of pain, of drama, of illness.

It's also filled with love, family, creativity, support.

My job is to learn how to balance the two and have faith that I can handle it all.

Deep down, I know I can.

But most of me hasn't accepted that yet.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

One track thinking

Sorry folks. All I can think about these days is about how I'm thinking. That is, how I'm integrating this medicated me into regular me and, in just about every moment, where I'm at with the whole thing.

I'm starting to feel more myself - motivated, enthusiastic, positive. But today I'm shaky. Anxious. Not in an about to have a panic attack sort of way but more a too much caffeine buzz.

I hate this feeling.

I'm also fighting sluggishness which makes it that much worse.

I couldn't sleep last night. I'm so convinced everything is revolving around meds but the air conditioning was on and it was both too cold and clammy at the same time. Plus, my period started this morning so I've been teetering on the edge of a headache for days.

As usual, I have too much to do but nothing creatively amazing to dig deep into. I'm accomplishing, which is good, but it's all low level creativity, which can be stifling.

I want to know everything will be ok. Not that that's different from any other point in my life, but I've never done anything like this before.

I wish I could just be in the moment and drift along in this but I'm a need to know person and not having all the answers or explanations is hard. Will I gain weight? Will the anxiety calm? Will my body still feel like my body? Will I stop asking so many questions?

That last one made me smile. I am who I am and nothing can change that.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

It's easier to smile

Today is day 6 of taking anti-anxiety meds and it's easier to smile. The dread, the pit in my stomach, the sense that something could start the downward spiral is lessening. It's still there, but it doesn't have the immediate pull it did a few days ago. I've been doing some research and have found some people say they feel a difference after a few days, others take weeks to notice changes. I'm more the paranoid, hyper aware sort and am sure much of what I'm feeling is psychosomatic. Having said that, I'm feeling different.

Right now, I feel loopy. Lethargic. I could take a nap for hours at this point. I feel hot. Groggy. Hungry.

I didn't go through the insane jitters that hit yesterday. That felt like 3 shots of strong espresso coursing through my blood. I had a meeting this morning and functioned through it, but don't know that I could do that right now. A friend who'd tried this particular drug said it made her too tired—if this part doesn't go away this won't work for me either.

It's an unfolding journey.

The kind I hate most.

To not know how I'll feel? Torture. I'm feeling more like myself in some ways but am aware enough to know what's not quite right. I've always been comfortable in my anxiety, or at least have found comfort in the stress, the gritted teeth, the mania. I'm afraid I'll lose my creative and drive to placidity. At the moment I can't imagine starting a new project or even thinking of a new project.

All I want to do is sleep.

But, I suppose, after the past months of endless stress, maybe my mind and body are craving a break, before things really break down.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

glimmers of hope

It was a long Memorial Day weekend. In many ways delightful, in other ways exhausting, which is generally the way my life works. We were visiting friends on Fire Island—the weather was stunning, the beach perfect, we slept at night listening to the ocean. Delicious food (I'm a sucker for grilled vegetables), good conversation, naps in the afternoon. The more challenging parts: one child suffering miserably with allergies. The lovely cherry blossom petals fluttering down in the breeze, which reminded us of a summer snowstorm, had her eyes swollen and itchy the entire time. Nose stuffed, down on sleep. It wasn't pretty. And my other child had issues with never going on vacation with his friends. He was the younger sibling, the only boy, and while most of the time he was having lots of fun, there was also plenty of grumbling to go along with it all. Plus, I started my anti-anxiety meds on Friday and in retrospect, that was really stupid. Starting something new, something I was incredibly nervous about while far from home, out of my routines? Recipe for disaster. In the end, I handled it ok, with moments here and there bordering on panic.

But, I didn't fall over the edge.

Which brings me to this morning. I woke up several times—hot, sweaty, sticky from an ultra muggy night. But, at some point, as the sky was getting lighter, a cool breeze wafted through the window. It was 5:37 and I was thrilled that I had more time to sleep. Yes, thrilled. Happy. Gleeful. Enthusiastic.

I hadn't felt that way in a really long time.

I basked in that for awhile, delighted to be without the anxious edge that's overtaken everything.

Am I still that way? No. I think after I take the meds I get very jittery for awhile, whether real or imagined I'm not quite sure. I'm on the tail end of it now and am hoping it fades soon.

It's better than it was half an hour ago.

But this anxiety is revved up without the dread knotted in the bottom of my stomach. It's more like after drinking too much caffeine. Which is why I don't drink caffeine anymore.

My dream is calm.

I'm hoping I'm on the right road.