Tuesday, May 19, 2015

write it down

writing things down gives them an importance: whether it's in the notes on your phone, a draft in your email, or tweeted/posted/blogged publicly.

i didn't used to believe that simply writing something down gave it power. now i find it hard to believe how much power.

last year i was doing some life coaching with elena and she had us make a list of dreams for the year. i skeptically made a list, including things on the list that i didn't even think were really possible.

among the items that i had been told were impossible or had no reason to expect that would happen: 1) receive ARC funding (check), 2) become an associate professor (check). at the end of the year, when i found that list in my phone, i almost freaked out. i hadn't even applied for the CUNY job when i made that list--i had no reason to believe that i would be able to get to where i am now at that point. sure, i had a hand in those things happening. but writing them down gave them a place in my mind, a sense of priority.

the same thing can happen in reverse. do you know what else i write down every day? how many calories i've eaten and how much i've worked out. this is one of those pieces of an eating disorder that i've termed "ok" for my life. it isn't actively hurting me, so why not?

because i'm giving it power. i don't even ever look back over my past days. it just gives me some sort of comfort knowing i have it in a list.

but it's also embarrassing: when i update the list, i'm terrified that someone will look over my shoulder and see what i'm typing. i envision my friend next to me asking "why are you writing down '45 mins run' in your phone?" my secret answer: "um, because i'm afraid that it doesn't count if i don't write it in this list right this second." hmm. clearly that doesn't make sense.

i've been writing down my exercise and food intake since i was little. my parents paid my sister and i to do so when we were young--it was about making sure we were getting our fruits and vegetables and dairy per day, etc. i don't think this version was bad parenting, but i've been doing variations of this for 22 years now, and sometimes with dangerous levels of obsession. there were points when i weighed food and wrote down exactly how many calories, protein, and fat in each serving of each thing i had that day. i carried a notebook with me everywhere. now i "just" make notes of exercise and a running tally of calories for the day.

some of my closest friends know about this, but i've delayed writing about it because i was afraid of what anyone might say about the initial food diary keeping my parents encouraged. but let me say this in their defense: my sister never even completed hers when she was getting paid for it. me, on the other hand? i chose this behavior as a safety net. i chose to take it into adulthood.

so why am i writing about it now? because i'm tired of it. i'm ready to let go a little more. and i had some motivation yesterday: i received this message via facebook from amy.
Hi spring! Not sure if you'd remember me...but I was also and instructor at Penn state! I graduated in '08. I was also a BBH major! Anyways I recently completed a 200 hour yoga teacher training....amazing!! So I have been reflecting back on all the inspiring teachers I've had along the way and you're one of them!! I always loved your classes at PSU...they offered a little something more than just fitness. And you were also a great female role model to look up to as I was just an ungrad and you were working your PhD! You totally emulated girl power!! I enjoy reading your blogs because it's always on a theme that anyone can resonant with! It just shows that by being a bit vulnerable and opening yourself up you really can connect on a deeper level! Anyways I just wanted to share this with you because as I look forward to a new blog post I realized that you probably don't know how influential you are! So thank you Spring for being such a great teacher!
there are some days when writing things down makes more of a difference than we know. did amy know that message would hit me today? that it would inspire me right back? probably not. but that's what happened. (amy, that was one of the most beautiful messages i've ever received; thank you.) and i'm going to place attention a little more thoughtfully: 1) i'm making a new dreams-for-the-year list, and 2) i'm no longer going to write down my exercise activity. i want the dreams to have power; i don't want the disordered eating behaviors to have power.

when i was unpacking the things that arrived from sydney last week (FINALLY!!!), i found a notebook of exercise notes from 2008. yeah, i still had it; i always saved them. as evidence.

guess where the notebook is now? in the garbage.

i dare you to dream.

and xo amy.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

5 things i'm grateful for this morning

1. the people in my life that make all the little moments worth it: that person i text when it's 11:11 just to be like YEAH; the one who texts me about birthday plans over two months in advance; the person who makes me smile every time i see their name on my phone. #gratitude

2. the joy i have in my work. even when the administration of it all threatens to crack me, there are those bright spots of meetings with inspired students that reignite my passion. #gratitude

3. my yoga practice. last night it lit me up after a long day. this morning i'm looking forward to teaching at a youth-centered non-profit tonight. i can't wait to share that peace and light. #gratitude

4. starting to feel like where i live is my home. yesterday i went to buy a bagel and didn't have any cash: they were like, eh; just get it next time, and this morning i paid double. the belongingness i feel from that familiarity is so comforting. #gratitude

5. SPRING. (obviously!) suddenly i begin to see why people might like NYC. i've noticed new coffee shops and stores: i'm looking around more. my head isn't burrowed inside the hood of my jacket. and everything is blossoming. #gratitude

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

signs

you know the ones:
the little knot in the pit of your stomach,
the nagging feeling that something isn't right,
the little unease about, well, *something*

we get to be experts at ignoring them; we cultivate that practice in our society. i don't know why. it's not like politeness rules the airwaves. it's certainly not as if we never see or hear conflict in our offices or on the streets. (ok, yeah, yeah, get your "i'm a new yorker now, i must see tons of mean shoppers" jokes out of the way!) but i suppose avoidance can feel simpler. easier than figuring out what that little sign actually means.

i hurt my shoulder last weekend at penn state. i slipped on a step and caught myself by grabbing a handrail. it jerked my shoulder out of joint, but i didn't fall down the steps. my shoulder was not mobile at all for a couple of days. mobility started to return a little here and a little there. but this physical sign in my shoulder was much easier to listen to. yoga practice? not for a few days. then standing asanas without arms. then some flow without the chaturangas. now most of it, but still without the handstands. yeah, it's sucked. but i wish that listening to those emotional signs was as "easy" as this has been.

tonight i had a friend text about one of those feelings, that he had been experiencing it all day. <--that kinda stabbed me in the stomach. i know those feelings. if anyone knows those feelings, it's me. i know this is like one of the top 5 themes of my blogs, but, then again, i clearly need to write about it.

i've spent so much time ignoring uncomfortable twinges. and every time, the situations got worse. until they became unbearable in some way. either the friendship would dissolve, trust would be ruined, or maybe i would *just* take it out on myself by excessive exercise or binging and purging.

as i've learned to recognize these signs for what they are--signs that something needs to be explored, discussed, evaluated, and resolved--i've gotten more and more practice. and i feel so much better now that it physically hurt me to think about NOT talking through the issue; it hurt me to hear my friend had been sitting in that space.

since i've been in the US (3 months minus my quick 2 week trip back!), i've binged and purged a total of one time. i'm totally proud of that fact, but also horrified and ashamed and angry about it as well. it's a balancing act. but the balance beam continually seems wider.

and, for me, that openness is the key factor. i'll tell you anything you want to know. usually before you ask. i was at a "after seminar appetizers" event one evening a few weeks ago. i was with a colleague and some doctoral students. for some reason, the colleague was very interested in the types of food i eat. he was asking, in front of everyone, about my breakfast habits. i tried to evade and laugh off, but after his insistance, i answered. he then moved to lunch. i hadn't felt so uncomfortable in a very long time. i paused, took a breath, and said "i'm in recovery from an eating disorder, and i don't really feel comfortable discussing my dietary habits like this."

everyone laughed.
i didn't.
one woman glanced at my face and yelled "she's serious!"
and then it was silent.

i followed up with, "i'm ok, but i had to tell you that i was feeling uncomfortable." and then i changed the topic. yeah, it was awkward for a second. but a few minutes later? i felt much better than i would have if i had sat there and been grilled (food joke) about my eating without saying anything.

so yes. i blurt it out now. part of it is practice, part of it positive reinforcement for my openness... and part of it is that little extra inspiration. just this morning i received an email from my favorite energy healer patty about speaking your truth. i've learned a lot from patty on this subject, and i had just been inspired by it again this morning. so when my friend texted this evening, i was straight to the phone lines. READ THAT SIGN.

in her blog i read this morning:
"the biggest block that tends to come up, is that we don’t want to hurt our partner / lover / friend / family member by telling them how we truly feel. but when our actions become more about the other person’s feelings, our personal vibration then starts to vibrate at a frequency that doesn’t resonate the truth of what we think and how we feel. as a result, our reactions and responses lack a genuine sincerity, which then results in a domino effect of misunderstandings and resentment."
yeah. i like that. we make these excuses for not being open, for not speaking our truth. "i don't think he/she/they will like what i have to say." or "i'm worried that i will hurt his/her/their feelings." guess what. that isn't an excuse for not talking about it. it's only an excuse that we tell ourselves to feel better about avoiding that sign.

i'm proud of my friend for texting about it in the first place. so i wanted to say it publicly. hard work this whole living-happily-in-a-functioning-society-as-an-adult thing, huh?

what's your body/inner knowing trying to tell you? i'm just hoping mine tells me i get to do handstands again soon. xo

Sunday, April 12, 2015

dual

I got citizenship. I got a passport: "two black books" as adi says. I left Sydney feeling like I was moving... again. it still feels like home. I have the loyalty card for every coffee and frozen yoghurt shop, I have the lingo down, I have the peeps to call in any mild emergency: I have my own international family there.

but, yes, nyc feels a little like home too.

I feel guilty every time I think that; like I'm betraying my life in sydney.

in some ways I feel like I belong nowhere. (Air Force brat!) but I also feel like yeah, maybe I belong both places. maybe I belong everywhere.

I had a few different friends tell me things like that. mr I'm-a-citizen-of-the-world matt was my favorite: we are "like fucking James Bond!" laurel: "We are now officially more cool than allllll of our friends!" yeah. ok. dual citizenship is pretty fucking awesome. but. how do you actually live in two countries, in two hemispheres, in two datelines?

that's a real question. help me, because that's what I plan on doing. I fully believe in this: I covered a yoga class while I happened to be in Sydney, I ran into a friend on the street I hadn't seen in months, I picked up a ring that I had left for repairs, I was asked by a bakery lady how has it been that she hasn't seen me recently... I still belong there. and I want to continue to belong there.

so f u convention. (yeah, you totes never expected that from me, huh?!) but seriously. I'm doing this. see you in three months Sydney. I love you.

jo. lydia. bal. chuck. hal et al. matt (yeah I consider you Sydney). same, anthony. hayden. mandy. kel. david. sydney. rob. sam. norm, nut, sally (all the hashers). shel. lisa. julie. rachel. bron. mish. samantha. rachel and jeremy. adam. superman. james. chris. even owen. all the boys. all the friends. all the yoga students.

andrew.

just so you know: you're all there. and I'm there. and I'll be back. xo

Friday, March 13, 2015

impatienttransition

impatient. there's no other word for it. I can clearly differentiate between how I normally feel and how I feel right now. everything seems to take longer than it should. that six minutes til the local-stops train arrives on my way to my friend's house tonight? seems like at least 24 minutes. that additional four weeks til my blackmilk and Roxie's legs arrive from Australia? seems like two years.

I want to feel settled. hell. I want to BE settled. but I have this nagging sense that the feeling of settledness comes with a bed. you know. that bed that's still on the boat.

and so I wait. and wait. but not quite as patiently as I'm used to. talking with a friend as I leave yoga: "look, I don't know. just decide already!" him: "you're just... leaving yoga?" yeah. that's me as I'm leaving my happy place. can you imagine how I am as I walk into class?

luckily for my friends, it's mostly in my head. unluckily for me, it's mostly in my head. in yoga class yesterday, I taught about being present in a transition phase, rather than continually waiting for what was next. I taught that theme because I have been hearing over and over "I can't wait til spring is ACTUALLY here!" (btw, me too.) but this continual forward focus distracts from the now. ...and only today did I realize that I was really trying to teach that theme to myself.

so we are in seasonal transition. and I'm definitely in transition. but we are all in transition.

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impatient
transition

*more patience
*now

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

germinating

"if you've ever experienced
the mountains in the springtime:
snow is melting into rivulets
of crystal clear water
trickling from underneath
and coarsing ever downward
into widening streams
birds singing; the air sweet and clean
new buds and greenery sprouting forth
everything fresh and new
... that's spring"

legend goes that when they were naming me, my dad uttered those words. my mom scribbled them down, wanting to cement the reasoning behind my name. she then wrote it in calligraphy, and it has been hanging in my room ever since.

i get a lot of jokes about my name. ESPECIALLY this time of year. ESPECIALLY as new yorkers are getting sick and tired of snow. each person i meet says "oh, can you do something about this weather?" or "you're bringing the warm weather with you, right?"

but it's ok: i secretly like it. i roll my eyes playfully and tell them that i'll do what i can. or i joke back, saying "you know, i've NEVER had ANYone tell me that before!" ...which usually gets a blushed chuckle.

but the truth of why i like my name is because of what is written above. the word "spring" has many meanings. but the connotation of the seasonal change is the one that resonates with me and has guided my life in so many ways.

everyone has to live up to their name in one way or another. me, i feel a little pressure to be bouncy. a little urge to keep the smile on my face. a bit of desire to make everyone's life a little brighter. but honestly... that's something i can deal with. i want to live my life with responsibility like that.

almost every yoga class i've been to in the past week has talked about germination; sprouting; blossoming... all of the metaphors you could think of for spring. and every single one seems to speak directly to me. (just like when the person on the corner goes "ohmigoodness i think spring is coming!" and i turn my head to respond, but then realize they might NOT be speaking to me.)

germinating it totally me right now: figuring out how to blossom in this new place.

but even more, it's my sister. my beautiful baby sister is about to have her first baby blossom. and she has been germinating with all her strength and beauty for the past nine months. i'm so proud of her. so excited for her. so excited for us.

and this blog is dedicated to her, and to her and andy's choice for their baby's name. shayna: your baby will grow into his name. he will find the meaning he wants behind it. he will blossom into it and learn to joke back with whatever anyone says to him. he will find his strength and beauty in it. i promise.

we all germinate.
we all blossom when we are ready to.
learning to be in the germination phase is sometimes hard,
but we always know that spring is coming.
xoxo

Monday, February 16, 2015

pink noise

pink noise. go ahead. listen.

I learned about pink noise this weekend when visiting the new museum in NYC. of course I was attracted to the concept (ahem, my hair), but for some reason I also felt comforted by the actual phrase "pink noise."

other phrases that made it into my notes this weekend?

"my realities never quite lined up."

"add more volume to your life."

"he was attracted to limitlessness." and

"my capacity has returned."

hmmm. what was my subconscious trying to tell me as it placed these phrases into my life? well, it was lovey love weekend, so take what you want from that... but, I think these signify the confirmation of my re-set. and, perhaps more than that, confirmation that I [we] can re-set.

we can re-set after a job change; after a move; after a break-up; after an epiphany. sometimes it takes a while; sometimes it's hard; sometimes we have to wait until we're ready; sometimes it takes a universal kick in the butt.

regardless of circumstance, that underlying possibility and potential for love (self, platonic, romantic) is nothing less than amazing.

I have already experienced heaps of changes this year (note that aussie-ness!), and I know there are many more still in store. re-set: listening for the next message.

even if it sounds a bit like pink noise at first.