The Best Decisions

For right now, the best thing I’ve been doing is not putting pressure on myself to write here.  I expect that it will come back again, but right now I have to let myself off the hook a little in terms of needing to write.  With that said, I am also allowing myself the freedom to get all inspired and want to write here and there, and Amy’s post today did it for me.

The Five Best Decisions I’ve Made in my Adult Life

1. Leaving my PhD Program

Sometimes we are on a path and we let that become our identity.  I was 19 when I decided to major in Sociology and I knew that that path would lead to grad school and a PhD.  It was a huge lesson in learning to trust myself and trust that I could change my mind.  I remember the day I decided to leave the program.  I was walking to class, feeling miserable, thinking about how I used to adore sociology.  I spend most of my undergraduate career talking the ears off of anyone who would listen about all the amazing things I was learning about (criminalization of drugs!  gender inequality and power in marriages! marxism and the bourgeoisie!).  Grad school took all that joy away.  On that walk, I was playing with the idea of leaving in my head and when I did a weight lifted.  The simple idea of a life outside of academia was the happiest thought I had thought in weeks, so I went towards that.

I still got my MA, so that's something.

2. Moving to a new town, with no friends but my Grandparents, and living on my own.

I still can’t believe that I did this sometimes.  Have I ever mentioned that I picked my grad school based off of the relationship I was in?  I picked my college based off of (in part) to its proximity to my boyfriend.  I was developing a pattern of making huge decisions for the wrong reasons.  This decision was my own.  I went to the store and picked out my new bed alone.  I signed the apartment lease alone. I could decide to drive to LA Friday after work and not run it by anyone.  I could stay out late Thursday night and no one cared.  I learned about myself.  I learned about boundaries.  I learned how to connect the wireless internet, kill spiders, and hang wall art straight.  Most importantly I learned that I could do a hell of a lot more than I thought I could.  This was the period of my life that I gained ALL THE CONFIDENCE and I walked around feeling like I could handle pretty much anything life threw at me.

3. Forgiving my Mom.

Having a parent battle any addiction is hard.  (duh?)  It took my mom years, and one serious relapse, to get her life back. At the time she was going through everything, it was really crucial for me to put distance between us.  I could not be responsible for her sobriety, and that was incredibly difficult.  In a lot of ways I lost my mom during those years.  When she had been sober for a couple of years, I had a really hard time trusting the permanence of her sobriety.  I was also really angry.  I would recoil when she tried to hold my hand.

Miles changed everything.  Since the moment he arrived, I got it.  I understood my mom better.  I know she loves me as much as I love Miles.  Love heals a lot of wounds people.  My mom is the best Grandma.  I call her almost every day, because I genuinely want to.  Miles was a like the off-button for all of my anger and resentment… all I feel now is forgiveness and the desire for her to live closer to me.

4. Keeping the Baby.

Mike and I had been dating for a whole of 1.5 months when I found out I was pregnant.  An abortion could have been a real option for us.  We’d be crazy to have a baby after such a short time, right?

We chose Miles instead.  Of course this decision is the biggest decision I have ever made, but it’s also one of the best.  I am a better person because I am his Mamma.  My priorities have been adjusted to include a large amount of building obstacle courses for Miles to climb over.  He is so full of joy and mischief.  Life is better with him by about a million points.

 

5. Marrying my Baby’s Daddy.

Life is hard sometimes.  Sometimes we both get stressed out and we clench our jaws until we can just get through that day.  Most of the time, though, he’s a treat.  He’s my best friend.  I look forward to Miles falling asleep at night because it means I get to hang out with Mike.  I have full faith in him and us.  I want to have more babies with him and to spend my vacations sipping wine with him.  He’s hilarious and a good dancer and he adores me.  We chose each other and haven’t looked back since.

 

What about you guys?  What are the best decisions you’ve ever made?

Soul Weekend 2011

I believe in traditions.  I believe in claiming things as annual events with vigor even if it’s the first time you’ve done it.  My Bestie and I have a ton of traditions, things that we started doing and just didn’t let go of.

Soul Weekend is one of those things.

Every labor day weekend Olivia and I have soul weekend.  Soul Weekend started 5 months after my huge, messy break up and consequent move to the Bay Area.  I was broken and empty is a lot of ways.  A weekend that was focused on feeding my soul and happiness was exactly what I needed.

 

Soul Weekend 2009

Here is how Soul Weekend works:

  1. First, you block off a specific amount of time.  A weekend, two days.. whatever you have.  Maybe it’s the planner in me, but I relax best when I block off chunks of time to be unplanned.  Our Soul Weekend’s have adjusted to meet us where our lives are; this year there was no sleepovers because at 7.5 months pregnant my own bed is really the only place I can sleep.
  2. The first thing we do is make a list of the things that sound good.  Make art, bumble, read a book, visit a museum, dance party, drink wine, or plan a picnic.  We always paint mugs at a ceramics place.
  3. Then we just do them.  Or do other things.  Or follow any whim we have to a new thing that wasn’t on the list.  We follow our hearts.  We explore new towns; generally with a coffee in hand.
Soul Weekend 2010

Each year we are both in new places.  The first year I was still in the aftershocks of my break up, last year I was processing my mom’s cancer and our relationship… this year was more for Olivia.  She’s been having a tough time with some family things and I was so happy to just be able to sit with her.  Process with her.  Remind her that life is beautiful and that sometimes your friends can step in and carry you when you need it.  We talked about how next year, Miles will be here… and we will take him along.  He has a soul that will need tending to also.

Soul Weekend 2011

Guest Post: Wake Up Dance Parties, Revolutions, and Beginning of a Manifesto

I am headed back from Georgia today, which means you get another guest post!  Today’s post comes from my IRL friend Andrew.  He is literally the funniest person I know; hands down.  He’s also the king of karaoke.  He does not have a blog, but I wish he did so I could start my mornings laughing like I did reading this post.

He was born to have a mic in his hand.

Greetings Bri Fans!

For this post, your guest blogger is:
A. Female
B. Pregnant
C. Married
D. None of the Above

Answer: D. Don’t worry; you’re still in the right place.

For lack of a tactful segue from that disclaimer, I’ll paraphrase the greats and let you know that we’re going to tackle something completely different from this blog’s more recent content.  Ladies, gentlemen and sentient artificial intelligence of the internet, I invite you to join me in my current pursuit of Early Mornings and the Art of the Wake Up Dance Party.

On another blog, this post would have started, “My name is A______ S______, and I’m a Snooze-a-holic.”  That confounded button has been a blessing and a curse in my life (mostly curse) since I’ve been in high school.  At my Snooze Button Rock Bottom, I would easily set myself back a solid two hours each day by hitting snooze 12 times per morning.  The annoyance to roommates and wall-sharing-neighbors would provide short term deterrents, but as recently as last week I was snoozing for an hour each morning.

My intentions have always been good: to wake up early, spend some quality time with my canine pal Taylor and maybe even go for a run.  My actuality has been hurried morning preparation followed by a sense of guilt and disappointment that I let myself down once again.  In other words, my Snooze-a-holism has been anchored in a significant knowing/doing gap.  It’s taken over 10 years to find my bridge over the gap.

I’ve tried moving the alarm clock across the room, setting multiple alarms, waking up to music, setting a timed coffee pot, waking up to slow increases in volume and all of the other tricks in the book.

If you’re not the exposition type, start reading here.

Then I discovered that iHome* had started including a feature where you can wake up to a random song from a playlist. [*No financial compensation accepted for product placement. Yet.]  Now, I get to greet each morning with a surprise pump up song.  That in and of itself is great, but does not provide the complete solution to my Snooze-a-holism.

No, I’ve developed a new morning ritual: the wake up dance party.  While a walk across the bedroom was never enough to wake me up and keep me out of bed, the 3-4 minute mandatory dance party absolutely does the trick.  I’ve also found the wake up dance party benefits to be numerous:

1. I do get out of bed without hitting snooze.
2. My dog Taylor looks at me quizzically every morning, then joins in. It cracks me up
3. I typically *actually* wake-up midway through my dance party for one, and catch myself in the bedroom mirror.  It cracks me up.
4. Like Ellen Degeneres (who is also my fashion icon, but that’s another guest blog post), I dance my way around a larger space, and have mastered brewing coffee while dancing.  It cracks me up.
5. Per 2-4 above, I’m starting my day with levity instead of stress or worry and have found my disposition is consistently and congruently more positive every day.
6. I think I’m getting REALLY good at dancing, and all the laydees love that.

So, my friends, this 1% overall improvement in my life has led me to believe I’ve discovered a breakthrough with universal benefits.  Before I write my complete manifesto and become a self-help millionaire, I ask, are you with me?  Viva la revolucion!

More of this, Less of that.

Ruts.

Ruts are lame.

However, perhaps worst than the rut is the fact that I could tell you FIVE THINGS right now that would change the way I feel about my life.   It is time to snap the fuck out of it.  (She says looking into a mirror.)

See, I called my bestie last night as she was wrestling with some possible life decisions, and she said she was making lists of things she would like to do more of and things she would like to do less of.  She did it while coloring in her planner with colorful markers and singing (I am assuming) at the top of her lungs to Disney music.  She’s figuring things out WITH DISNEY MUSIC.  She is totally going to be just fine.

It’s so basic we FORGET it’s not that complicated.

Want your life to be different?  How?  Write it down.  What do you want more of?  What are the things you would spend your days doing if you could?  THEN, what are you doing that is bullshit?  What is wasting your time and energy?  What are you doing every day that is giving you NO JOY?

Do more of what makes you happy.  Do less of what makes you miserable.

Figure out what those things are.  Start doing them.   Schedule them in.  MAKE TIME FOR YOUR HAPPINESS.

Here’s what I have so far:

More:

  • Connecting with friends.  Dinners, champagne dates, skype nights?  My calender is about to get a whole lot happier.
  • Running.  (Why is this ALWAYS the easiest mood booster and the one we skip?)
  • Eating good food
  • Reading
  • Extended mornings of coffee and dancing around my apartment

Less:

  • Laziness
  • Television watching
  • Eating crap
  • Saying yes to things that fill up my calender with stress

What could you do more of and less of RIGHT NOW that would change your life?

How’s your heart today?

How’s your heart today?

There is a cardiologist in California who asks this question to his patients at every appointment.  It appears to be a pretty standard question, but it is actually a super personal question if you think about it.  In a cardiologist’s office this question gets to diet, stress level, exercise, and amount of sleep.  However, if you’ve ever watched an epidsode of House, you know that people aren’t always the most honest in the doctors office.  To really get at the true status of a patients heart, a cardiologist runs stress tests.  The way your heart responds under pressure is the most accurate picture of your heart’s health.

Stress brings out the truth about your heart’s status; but not just our physical heart.

It’s so easy in daily life to put on the facade of being great.  When everything is easy and peaceful, we can convince ourselves and others that the state of our hearts are double-rainbows and unicorn happiness.  But what happens when your life gets hard, complicated, and messy?  How do you respond?  And what does that say about the state of your heart.

I’ve always considered myself to be super open; to a fault perhaps.  My best friend once said that one of my weaknessess was not protecting my heart.  I didn’t mind though, I wore my heart on my sleeve with pride.  Convinced that anyone in my life deserved privleges to all of me. 

In July/August, when I was waiting for test results from my mom’s colon cancer diagnosis… I shut down in a lot of ways; and I wonder now how much that says about the current state of my heart.  My not-talking feels like it is me being closed off from people; something I am not particularly happy about.  Maybe my heart isn’t as open as I thought it was. 

So, here’s what I decided: there is a part of me heart that is deeply afraid to rely on most people to understand the complexity of the pain that I carry with me, but I’m understand it.  The “stress test” I went through this year told me that my heart has grown to be protective and selective, but that doesn’t mean I am avoiding anything.  If the issue with my mom’s cancer was JUST cancer?  I would have been fine; but it wasn’t.  The diagnosis required a quick and magnified focus on the relationship I have with my mom.  The painful parts.  The parts I don’t talk about 99% of the time, because talking about them hurts like hell.  This is a part of me that is not meant to be shared with everyone.  However, there is no part about the pain I carry that isn’t known by someone else.  Everything about me is not known by everyone; and that’s ok.  Sharing everything with everyone is probably a good thing to grow out of.
So, the status of my heart?  Still working.  A little less open perhaps, but still known.  And hopeful.  Definitely hopeful.  There are some new walls up, sure, but I 100% trust that the right people will have NO problem getting through them at all.  Status of my optimism and faith?  Fully operational.
How’s your heart today?

What I learned, Soul Weekend 2010.

“Well, what about yourself don’t you know yet?”

Olivia asked me this repeatedly over soul weekend.  It took until sometime on Sunday, while frolicking in San Francisco, for me to stop trying to come up with an answer.  I finally got it. The answer is “nothing really”.

I know exactly who I am.

I know who I am.  {Let me pause, to repeat this}

I’ve spent so much time this past year and a half NOT knowing.  Soul searching.  Having deep conversations.  Ripping out stitches.  Identifying every single scar.  Redefining and categorizing. 

Olivia helped me do this.  That’s what a soul mate best friend is for, in case you didn’t know.  We processed.  We cried.  She carefully coaxed me back.  Provided a safe place where I could be broken and hysterically laughing in the same breath. 

But I get it now.

I am perfectly imperfect.  With conflicting truths living happily together in my body.  I know exactly what I want, who I am, and how I got here.  No excuses.  No need to apologize. 

This soul weekend, I got to just be.  It was perfect.

The Blahs.

I’ve written before about how I am not good about being sad.  I’ve also vlogged about it.  Talked about it.  Meditated on it.  Made a pie in the shape of a sad face.  But I was still SUCKING at being sad.

But then Sunday happened. 

What made me blah?  In a nutshell, a horrible, no-good, very bad, date.  It shook my belief in the idea that someone is actually out there for me.  I mean, if THAT GUY is what I am working with?  Kill me.  And then I might have decided it would be a good idea to email an ex (not THE ex, but the one whom I call Spencer.  The one who got out of an even longer relationship when I did last year) and ask him for reassurance.  Which worked at first, but quickly turned into a crying fest on my part when he answered questions like “Are you still seeing that girl” honestly and affirmatively.  FUCK.

Usually, after a Sunday like I had, I would have planned my whole week full of social engagements and jaunts into the city; to avoid, to distract, to get over.

But instead, I decided to just be sad.  I didn’t talk to anyone.  I curled up on the couch and watched two amazing movies.  I wallowed.  I drank tea.  I didn’t try to make myself feel better.  I didn’t watch funny movies to laugh– I watched what my netflix has labeled “Sentimental Independent Movies”… and I might have cried some more.  And I was okay with it.  For one of the first times in my life.  I was totally content being not-happy.

And today I feel a little better.  And that’s all I need; a little hope. 

And maybe, just maybe, her heart needed to be broken.
broken and shattered and stomped into pieces.
then she could finally look down at the pieces,
and study each once and spend some time
getting to know
the person she’d become.
and when she finally had all the pieces back together again,
a little crooked, a little jumbled
but sealed firmly with love
she’d realize she was more beautiful than ever.
because this time,
she would love herself.

Words of Wisdom from the Jonas Bros

I came across this little gem of Jonas Brother wisdom and sent it to Nora who told me to “Blog the Shit out of it”.  Ok.


“I will find someone who loves me for who I am. And there’s nothing that I need to change about myself to find that- I can be confident in that.”

Nick Jonas 


Basically, I love this because it’s true.


Done.




And finally, in the spirit of HEY-YO HAPPY FRIDAY!  I made a VEDA video last night that I’m kind of proud of.  Take a look.  If you want.  Which you should.  Love your face.

What a difference a year makes…

Exactly one year ago, I logged in to my blogger and wrote this:

Ryan and I broke up last night.
My heart is broken.
I feel so lost and empty.
He’s coming to get his clothes in an hour.
I feel sick.

This is crazy to me. Nuts. It seems so very long ago. So much has happened, and stayed the same. I processed a lot this past year. I checked in at the six months, and felt pretty good, even if sometimes it didn’t feel like I was moving forward at all.

This year

This year I recovered so much of what I had lost.

Family,

friendships,
myself.

Not just recovered. Recovered and then I was transformed by what I found.

I am not the same girl I was a year ago.
I am changed;
and so are my relationships.
So is my faith in myself,
God,
the world.

Hemingway once wrote “The world breaks everyone, and afterward some are stronger in the broken places”.

I am so much stronger in the broken places.

And the scars are reminders that I have lived.

To Write Love on Her Arms.


To Write Love on Her Arms” is a beautiful movement. Beautiful and so desperately needed. It’s beauty is made more intense by the truth that all of us struggle with body image, self-esteem, and confidence at some point. Some of us, most of us, will revisit the same dark thoughts and memories repeatedly through our lives.

To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.

This letter was on their blog last week, and it gave me chills.

Dear Body,

I’ve always let some imperfection or another stand in the way of me seeing what you truly are, that you are beautiful. You are a divine creation housing the most valuable thing known to the universe, my soul. I’m beginning to realize that a person’s soul has the capacity to radiate light that transcends all the characteristics that I have been conditioned to believe are flaws.

You naturally tell a story. Your blue-green veins are like a map to where your heart has been and where it is going. The curve of your waist and the shape of your cheekbones tell a tale of heritage and ethnicity. There are crayon markings on the wall somewhere that has measured your height throughout the years. Always returning to the same spot to see how you’ve changed.

Your eyes bare resemblance to nature. They are a deep forest green with golden yellow sunflower flecks. Your faded birthmark, once beet red, brought me shame because all I wanted was to conform. It now reminds me of how unique you are and all I want is to be different.

Your body begins as a story but continues with new chapters throughout your life. Some are chapters of sadness and pain, others of joy, and all of growth. Each chapter a blank canvas meant to be painted by our experiences. Photos are memories but so are our bodies in a way that’s more real, no posing and no fakeness.

I’m realizing these things now, but I’m so sorry that I didn’t realize them before. I’ve done everything I could to destroy the canvas and deface and burn the pages of different chapters.

I’ve waged war on you before; used razor blades to feel and drugs to numb. I’ve used caffeine to stay awake and alcohol to sleep. Abusing the side effects of my prescription drugs like loss of appetite, to deliberately starve myself into making you skinnier. I’ve spent far too much time on a scale that merely weighs your effect on gravity, not the depth of your beauty. I wanted you to look like one of those girls in the magazines.

But in the ruins there is still a canvas. There is still beauty in your brokenness. The faded scars show healing reminding me that even though I’ve been in dark places, I’ve survived and learned and become stronger.

Although the war is over, the world still takes its toll. You have calluses on your hands from me writing too much and concentrating too hard. Yet the words are beautiful and the studying is worth it. You have the ache when it rains from broken bones, and stretch marks from growing too fast. You have burns from jobs and scars from falls. But those experiences were worth it.

Dear body, as I grow older I worry about how you will age. Together we gain wisdom and wrinkles, after being young and beautiful and naïve. The wisdom tells us that the beauty doesn’t subside, it only changes, and more of it comes from within. So I won’t worry when my hair doesn’t look just right, or when I do something stupidly funny and emerge with another scar because you are telling a story. And what would I be without my story and my past?