We are all (we are all, all of us, all. All. All.)
swirling puddles of selves
Pure watercolor in a world of lines.
We are all (we are all, all of us, all. All. All.)
swirling puddles of selves
Pure watercolor in a world of lines.
Recently while traveling for work some teammates and I were sitting outside of a pizza place waiting for our food, and I answered a question that might have had to do with something slightly more personal than work, and one of them immediately called me out for being too deep. I promptly moved on to talking about the next drinking spot or the weather. This isn’t a new experience for me, far from it, it’s a label most people have given me through and through, as true now as it was when I was a little girl.
There’s a physicality to depth, a mystery to it, and a necessity for its teaching that we miss when we think it’s only accessible in therapy, in sermons, or in ‘deep talks with deep people’. We all have this capacity simply by being people interacting with the world and with each other, in participating in the living that generations before and after know and have to grapple with. But so many of us (including myself) walk around as though we’ve signed some social contract delineating what’s acceptable to discuss and what’s not. It has an authority that I fundamentally disagree with in its substance and in its existence. This is why I love writing— there is great freedom in being able to speak from my highest, my deepest, my most generous self. The older I get and the more people I know, the clearer it is to me that we are made of the same trappings and bits, and that we all fundamentally belong to each other, that the deeper we get into the source the more truth there is to discover. Depth is only scary when we see the bottomless aspect of it as threatening instead of inviting. Those of us lucky enough to have found our people know that it truly does take a lifetime to get to know someone because we have to let ourselves and others explore and change. Whether we admit it or not we are all always unfolding, never finding a definitive ground.
The word 'deep' has roots relating to the word ‘depart’, which connotes descending beyond the surface, much like coal miners back in the day who would take canaries with them as they walked deeper and deeper into the mines to serve as early warning systems for toxins in the air that people couldn’t sense until it was too late. The canaries would sing when they sensed the contamination in the air; essentially they were highly sensitive. I’ve always been told that I’m highly sensitive. So much of maturation is an owning and an unbecoming; it’s about looking our self-narratives in the eye and asking what belongs and what doesn’t. Being an empath means that I’m highly receptive to feelings and vibes that someone else could write off, not unlike the canaries. Because it’s a part of me that’s always been different--especially in my immediate family--it is almost inevitably called out in a shaming way. But just like with most things that are present for us early on, it has served as a loose road map of how I am always going to be. I just have to learn to love this part of myself. The world needs the highly sensitive to sing their songs.
My great grandmother is someone who I’m said to take after in ways that aren’t present for me in other women in my family. She died prematurely in her 50’s, when my dad was in high school, and both he and my grandma speak about her personhood often, drawing parallels between us. In times when I’ve felt foreign, I think about stories I’ve heard of her and take comfort knowing that there’s something literally deep inside my genetic makeup, a thread of connection that both predates and outlives. This is what I think of when I think about deep time and deep truths, realities that are true regardless of the immediate time and place context; certain kinds of wisdom weaves throughout, it informs me now and I trust that it informed her then.
Depth is transcendent in nature, orients the psyche, gives ultimate perspective, realigns us, grounds us, and thus heals us. It speaks to our core parts, both to the impermanence of them but also to their foundation. This is why deep truths are always archetypal— they exist beyond time period and culture. It is source and therefore it’s expansive, opening us and allowing us to access the psychology and history in interactions that seem mundane or everyday, but they’re not. I believe that nothing ever is.
As someone who often thinks about and is fascinated by the body-mind connection, this inevitably involves a sense of depth that is not only highly personal but also a curiosity about how some experiences can be lodged in our bones and our bodies, beyond where language or traditional therapeutic methods can reach, not because they’re weak but because they were never meant to solve what our bodies need to answer. Sometimes we need to work it out through movement, through touch, through awareness that’s felt and sensed and not just thought, but wholly realized. In this sense, exercise has come to mean an entirely different thing for me as I feel otherwise pervasive stress or anxiety melt when I put foot to pavement or hands to the mat.
When we write off depth as something contained to certain contexts for certain types of people, it limits us in our capacity for healing, living, and connecting. There is something profoundly curative in learning from what has threaded through chronology and geography, in seeking out each other’s expansive insides, and in seeking out the same in ourselves.
We all belong to each other,
which is impossible to see
if we don't belong to ourselves first.
Nobody ever talks about
how the exhale is the scariest part.
I wonder if my lungs know
that it could all stop there,
that the gift of another breath is still
to be trusted but not understood.
It's a relief to rest in the exhale
(I am good enough as I am
Beautiful as I am
Who I want to be
As I am).
The ground of being that is my body
that is the divine
Letting gravity do the work;
bound me to the earth,
to my loved ones,
bound me closer & closer still--
please and thank you
Little did I know
that I live in and of and within
Little did I know that
heaven and wholeness
are the same.
As I am.
As I am.
As I am.
As I’ve spoken about previously, last August Austin and I set some intentions for our 5th year of marriage: one for me, one for him, one for us as a couple. The hope that we wanted to put into words was to be braver talking about our marriage, to let it affect and be affected by others in its honesty and in its rawness. In many ways, this partnership is the most prominent teacher in my life; it’s exquisite and it’s muddy, and it’s not easy to show you, not easy to put up for others to see without the immediate recoiling fear of being judged.
When we were planning our wedding, the process regarding the ceremony was entirely ours to own, and it proved to be the point of the most tension with my parents. Most of my extended family are evangelical Christians, and both Austin and I are harder to pin down. The core of my parents’ concern was that our ceremony would be too ‘spiritual’ and not Christian enough, that it would be odd to the rest of my family. A few days before the wedding I sobbed to my Dad in our living room saying that if something that small were going to make my cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents stop loving me, then mostly that just felt really sad. It didn’t feel like something to try to mitigate; it felt like something to grieve.
We will have been married 5 years this August, and it strikes me still how infrequently we all collectively speak honestly about each others’ marriages and partnerships beyond the Instagram posts and planned date nights. Across many categories, I’m beginning to wake up to the many ways in which so many of us subscribe to a certain idea of normal or ‘the way things are done’, and how those assumed ‘shoulds’ keep us small. I believe there is a messiness about everything good and true in life, but my experience has been that bringing the messy seems threatening to other people, it scares them away. I think that’s where we need to start.
Growing up against a Christian backdrop that was meant to catch all of our morals, I saw marriage as the finish line. It was the light at the end of the horrendous dating tunnel, the thing to work toward. In college and beyond, I treated every single-ish guy as a potential future husband in my mind. Could we date? Is this awkward silence actually the beginning of something beautiful? Who do I have to pretend to be in order to be attractive to you? It was the worst.
Meeting and dating Austin was a fast dash to the journey’s end because I felt more comfortable with him than I had with any other man, and that was all I needed to call my mom and announce that I had found the one, before we even went out for our first date. I look back now and see my little baby heart, stunted romantically, no doubt, from years of not feeling at all comfortable with my sensuality, my body, my presence, how I took up space in a room. I was 25 years old but in this particular area, so, so much younger and less sure. It is grace upon grace that I could, with all of these ages and feelings, move forward with this other person, with all his ages and feelings. It still is. It still is.
I used to assume that there was this magic, this secret sauce, to finding a partner, and that some people had it and other people didn’t. If I had to come up with the sauce’s recipe, it would most definitely include being thin and smiley, highly accommodating, athletic and sporty in all the right ways, smart but not too smart, interested in a diversity of activities but humble when talking about them. And, of course, if you grow up believing a certain story about your desirability (as I did), the ingredients are the bible; sticking to them, morphing to them was my best hope. Some girls were popular and cool with their high school boyfriends and locker room stories, others bloomed late. I’m still blooming. I think we all are. I think that’s the point.
The first two years of being married were difficult, as so many people said they would be. I look back and see that I was working through a lot and being so unbelievably hard on myself, operating from an understanding that there was a right way to be married, to be a wife, to be a couple, and that deviation from that ideal of perfection meant failure and doom. “Hold fast to the marriage” was advice I heard frequently, but I never quite understood what that meant. I had a particularly hard time with sex because Christian communities tend to restrict that sort of self-expression and exploration, and it didn’t help that I was healing from an eating disorder, unsure about how to be present with my body in such vulnerability. We had a hard time not always being on the same page with expectations or money, or the fact that I lean toward introvert and need copious amounts of alone time to be silent and still, and Austin is extroverted, through and through.
It was also ridiculously fun. We had pet rats that Austin would try to teach how to swim in our bathtub. We made each other breakfast in bed, were doubled over laughing more often than not, and had friends over for dinner frequently. I felt like I had won the lottery with him, that somehow I had stumbled into the best thing that’s ever happened to me, but that if I didn't fulfill the wife checklist with flying colors, that somebody somehow was going to take it away from me, not because I didn’t trust Austin but because if the marriage was the goal, then not living up to it was always a threat.
Fast forward to now, people will often ask how Austin is, how we’re doing, I always say ‘good’, and I mean it. It’s so good. But it’s not the same as your marriage or your relationship or your idea of how marriage or relationships should be. It’s ours, it’s entirely and without apology ours. So many of us operate with fundamental assumption that there is marriage, that it has characteristics and traits and a trajectory and that all of our relationships are there to serve the partnership. But how can that be if each of us are entirely unique with our own emotional and psychological landscapes? Shouldn’t the relationship serve the people in it, not the other way around?
I believe that marriage is a commitment to see the other through their own transformation, their continuation, their wholeness with their holes (see what I did there?). To see the other through. Maybe throughout a life, maybe throughout a season, maybe for years, maybe not.
All of our interactions are living, breathing, dynamic happenings. Nothing about my marriage is fixed or static because nothing about how we move through the world and all of the big and small ways we help each other do the same is fixed or static. As Carlo Rovelli puts it, a rock is a thing. The rock is bound to a time and location, but a kiss is a happening. It’s an action, and it’s here one second and gone the next.
Anything that’s alive, that’s a happening, anything that has the agency to move and change, has seasons of growth and of ruin. It’s how we’re all made, it’s how the entirety of the world operates: in cycles and in intervals; impermanence is the only constant. The waves don’t wash up to shore only to stay. They go back, they return, always. The sun rises and falls. The moon, soft and tender, wanes and waxes— never the same. Our crops come and go with seasons, and all flora follows suit. Every creature have a lifespan, nothing is ever fixed that has life inside of them.
In that same vein, where two or more are gathered, in all interactions and all relationships, there is a life that forms entirely on its own. This new entity of the connection has an energy about it, a shelf life to it, its own unique cycle of growth, death, regrowth. I’m learning this particular lesson with friendships right now, that there is a wisdom is letting things run their course, even if my pride or my ego want it to be on my own terms. Sometimes things end that need to end. This is the truth and the strange mystery of it all; and it takes a certain bravery, which is difficult to develop if the group mentality makes you feel like a disappointment when things end or change. As a culture we don’t hold fast to seasons, we hold fast to agency and success. We create a reality with each other and our institutions that fosters this sort of self-driven, destination-seeking mentality, which inevitably fails because we live in a reality of seasons and consequent fluctuations.
Austin and I are constantly renegotiating the terms of our marriage because it’s always moving, breathing, growing, birthing itself into something new, just like I am, just like he is. This understanding, this surrender to the life that lives within and throughout, is a white flag that has saved me. Choosing to ride the wave of variation instead of standing firm against the tide has meant the difference between living our partnership out of love instead of out of fear. It has made all of the difference.
We have our hand-written vows framed in our home, vows that we were written after knowing each other for less than a year, vows that were emphatically read in front of our people, many of whom knew that what we were entering into was anything but a finish line, that the real work was just about to begin, who held such hope for us anyway. Among other things, we vowed to keep learning each other, celebrating and examining what we found, and showing up time and time again even and especially when we fail and fall. I love our words for their innocence but also for their prophecy; somehow they’ve rung true through all of our intervals and all of the ways we’ve grown both as individuals and together. We wrote them on our own and only read them to each other the evening before we were to be married, alone in my car as we stepped toward this bounding of a future we could not have conceived of, that we carefully avoided investigating. We wrote them with our little baby hearts, without edits and without knowledge of any of this, and they have been our greatest guides, promising us toward a future yet unknown.
Where two or more are gathered, in all interactions and all relationships, there is a life that forms that is entirely its own. This new entity of the connection has an energy about it, a shelf life to it, its own unique cycle of growth, death, regrowth.
When I sit down to write, a lot of the same themes present themselves to be seen and to be dealt with. I’m drawn to certain experiences and not others, and even when I try to force it, perhaps especially when I try to force it, like when I try to write about the places I travel to— beautiful cities! new people! spicy experiences!— it doesn’t actually reverberate true for me. Because here’s the thing: wherever we go, there we are. My writing isn’t interested in the scene or the condition, it’s interested in who my personhood is regardless of the place, regardless of the situation. Who I am in line at Trader Joe’s deciding between the last minute peanut butter cup purchase and who I am in Mexico (drinking all of the wine coolers— no decision necessary) is the same person. And she’s still got a lot to say.
For a number of years, I’ve thought that returning to the theme of body, of womanhood, of appetite and food would feel redundant and whiny. In many ways I come from and have retained a place of privilege, and my particular story of wounding looks a lot like a lot of other women’s, especially women who have the basic needs met so they can be affected by more transcendent, less concrete forces; if you don’t have enough food, shelter, or security, you probably could care less about the culture’s expectations of the feminine ideal. But then again, maybe you still would. It’s that pervasive and toxic.
This thinking is something that so many of us deal with when we get close to a pursuit that’s worthy of our efforts. I call it resistance, you may call it reason, reality, or self-doubt, but it’s all the same and it keeps us small, worried, and unchanging. It perpetuates. We’re all made up of these different parts, and when we do something or choose to believe something different than this particular part has had us tethered to, it comes back in full force demanding that we don’t abandon it, even when it’s harmful, even when it’s crazy-making.
It’s lunacy to think that the subject of body and the feminine idea of perfection has run its course, that we know what we need to know and we’re good to go. I don’t know a single woman who hasn’t dealt with or isn’t still in the throes of feeling unacceptable on some level, of feeling like her body or self is a project needing constant tweaking and adjustment, never good enough.
A good rule of thumb is that when something returns, it has more to teach; nothing ever dies that still has some truth to spout. May we listen. May we learn.
It doesn’t matter that it’s already been said
It doesn’t matter if it’s already been broadcast
by every sage
and every teacher
if you already have it tattooed on your body for safe keeping
and own every spiritual guide.
The truth is one source with many paths
and it needs as large of a chorus as it can get.
I sit to write a poem
because I don’t have time to edit the larger piece
and I need to put something down.
Because I have the rare combination of knowing something in my bones
and being told from those far wiser than I
that the secret is to keep going,
and that every morning I wake two hours before dawn
carving this time for my highest self
It's always been easier for me to write
when I'm trying to reason or feel my way through a problem
or a sadness.
I need to give shape to that which burdens me
share the weight of it with the page
and let the dark run away with my endings.
But I am so grateful for the tiny and large
miracles this morning (the sunshine, my body, Austin, this life).
So happy, elated, relieved, optimistic
on top of the world.
Wind at my back,
sun on my face and in my hair,
freckles of sheer joy bursting from
pinkish gold skin.
I will not stamp out this feeling.
I will not mute it
or silence it
or not give it voice.
It's not too good to be true--
It's just good.
I will sing of it
and let the words dance
as they fill the blank screen.
Twirling and dipping and laughing as they move,
hardly able to control themselves,
their giddiness and wildness
demanding our gaze and our gratitude
as we stand and sway in awe
unable to look away.
in its taupe hallways and dixie cups full of goldfish,
its hands raised up in unison,
its children being called to the front,
its navy blue bibles.
Now, please turn to first peter, chapter and verse.
Everything true and good surfaces and floats,
here and now, there and then.
Buildings and bulletins and exclusion and small thinking
sink to the bottom,
and only the fools try to save them.
But this need that I have
to hope and to trust,
like a hard, red oak.
Stained from centuries before
Not even the water can wash it clean now.
On mornings like these
When the hours are slow and drapey
The easy trickle of poetry sharing
Or dreaming of new ink and the travels to and from
Or touching your curls
Or pouring more coffee.
It was 11 am just a moment ago and now
It's 1, and now it's 3
and it doesn't matter today.
The typing and the sipping
soft and warm,
(which always build on top of themselves, after all) floods me with gratitude and awe.
What other response is there?
curled up like a ball
with ten swords sticking out of your back.
letting them pierce your heart
and your consideration
and your goodness.
Robbing you of what I saw
(what I thought I saw).
selfish and bleeding.
devastated by a distant, silent, internal war
a ravaged village with embers burning into the morning.
The space between us
sometimes is nothing.
It's like fucking and laughing
at the same time.
Inside and within and enveloped.
it's quieter and more vast.
Like both of us are exhausted
and can't take care of the other.
Living things are always both.
Throbbing, beating, still and fast.
It has been my experience and therefore my belief that the ineffable can exist within the expressed; that is, that words are not limiting in and of themselves and that the act of naming is not the final definition but rather a beginning, a jumping off point. This is what I love about writing, and it's why I've been more eager lately to describe myself, among other things, as a writer. Language can bring a concept to life, and since we all walk around thinking about ourselves as certain identities anyway-- faithful God-fearing husband, delinquent daughter, successful, lazy, excitable, brave, single, depressed, smart, etc.-- we might as well start to name and therefore think of ourselves as how we would like to be.
When I talk with people about writing they often ask what it is that I write about, and my response always orbits loosely around women, bodies, food, and female identity. When I began this particular blog a few years ago, I spoke very briefly about my previous eating disorder and my intentions for this space, and since then I've elaborated on that line of thought approximately three times. I think of myself as a generally self-aware, highly reflective person, and yet there's this chasm between how I perceive myself to be in the world and how I actually am. The space between is mostly made up of self-doubt and the fear of vulnerability, afraid that my messy and my broken are too much. This narrative that women are supposed to take up as little space as possible has been imprinted on me since birth, which is why it felt important to carve myself a new story.
Last August, Austin and I had been married for four years. It felt like an important marker because it had been a year full of experimentation, voicing our desires, showing up for each other in very unexpected ways, paying witness to each other's personal growth and change, trying to live up to our vows of always being the other's most fervent advocate. As he and I have grown accustomed to doing, we wanted to set some intentions for our fifth year of marriage, for the two of us as a couple, but also for each of us as individuals. As we discover more about what marriage for us means and is becoming, we wanted to be braver about sharing that process more with people around us. For Austin, he wanted to practice loving the questions themselves, an homage to Rilke and an understanding that his inquiries ought to be friends to find intimacy with, not anxieties to be banished or shamed. For me, my intention was to learn how to decidedly and militantly love myself.
It's hard not to treat that concept as merely a platitude, and I'm fighting that urge even now as I try to summon the urgency I felt toward making it a reality back when it felt so far out of reach. Sure, it can be overused, not to mention damning (mistakenly, in my opinion) in all of the literature discussing millennials' key character faults, but I believe that mastering self-love is the means as well as the end to living our best, most vibrant, most generous, most congruent lives. To state the obvious, our bodies are the most material parts of us. They are often the first way that other people experience who we are, and unlike our hearts or souls or thoughts, we can't hide them. They are clunky and bony and muscular and beautiful and unique, and they are our primary vehicle for experiencing the world and, at a surface level, how the world experiences us. As a little girl and then as an adolescent and now as a woman, my body has been the focus and the target for judgment, celebration, ridicule, lust, and comparison from loved ones and advertisers alike. It's been out there in all its awkward and gorgeous glory as my first line of defense and my first wall of perception, so it's no wonder that I've always felt an enormous pressure to fashion and shape it accordingly, as though it's a never-ending project to be completed and perfected.
When I graduated from college and was moving to New Mexico to teach, something in me snapped. Suddenly it all felt too exposing to have the appetite and the body that I had, like I was abruptly caught completely naked in a room full of everyone I knew and loved and they were all laughing at me or completely disgusted with what they saw. It became unbearable. I had, months prior, returned from my time abroad in the Middle East and I had unknowingly, gained some weight while there. I had become dissociative with food, a form of disordered eating no doubt, and had lost track of what hunger and satiation meant, replacing it with whatever my emotions wanted to consume (Peanut butter. They wanted peanut butter). As I was looking this new chapter of life in the eye, I felt it looking back at me judgmentally, and I didn't want anyone looking at me anymore; I wanted to hide, but baggy clothes can only do so much, so I slipped knowingly, willingly into obsessively restricted eating, praying that it would make being seen more tolerable and less excruciating.
Months later I remember asking my trusted nutritionist if there was ever going to be a time when this didn't weigh so heavily. At that point, it felt as though I was never going to be able to focus on anything other than bodies and food and how much and how little-- I was like one of those bees that can be trapped in a glass jar without a lid because they just walk around on the bottom and forget to look up. She told me that it was going to get much less consuming, that I would find freedom eventually, but that my eating disorder was always going to be a part of my story. She was right on all accounts, but it took so much longer than I had thought it would, and not only is it still a part of my story, it's still a mindset that I can access when things get dire, something to fall back on when the ground gets bumpy, or falls out completely.
In many ways, loving myself has been a much easier practice when I apply it to only my insides rather than my outsides. It's far less painless for me to love my soft heart, my often-sporadic mind, my hypochondria, my rash decision making, my excited curiosity, or my sensitivity than it is to love my soft stomach, my long straight hair, my square jaw, or my pinkish golden skin. By all accounts, loving my body has been the first and the final frontier, a way of experiencing myself that I've had to confront and make stubborn peace with, and the most difficult aspect of loving who I am.
Which is why that individual intention for our fifth year of partnership felt so crucial, and elusive enough to elicit a reminder of the most permanent kind: a tattoo in my own handwriting penned across my feet that says 'Beautiful and Fierce as I am.' As I am. Not when I lose or gain, not when I have this career or that one, not when I evoke any compliment or praise, not when. Just right now. Always. In my own flawed and bubbly scrawl I etched a new story onto my body, and every time I look down at my feet or feel them carrying me from this place or that, being my ever faithful vehicle and tool, my body is reflecting that resolve back to me as a reminder and as a truth, which were always the same things anyway.
Recently I've noticed myself asking and answering the "how are you feeling?" question, not regarding anything immediately physical but rather the state of our collective life and times. We have a new, devastatingly inept President and the last few weeks have seen a constant, unconsciounable exploitation of power. I've caught myself feeling and acting flummoxed more than once, unsure what my role is in this new world order. I've seen that sentiment reflected in my friends and colleagues, even as we are perched geographically and ideologically far away from the epicenter of harm.
The answer most of the time is, "You know, not great." Not great at all.
There's a large part of me that wants to numb that feeling, and because I'm someone with a fair amount of privilege, I have a number of tried and true tools available in order to make that happen. Exercise is an option, alcohol is an option, online shopping is an option, busyness is an option, the constant need for approval is an option. You name it. Everywhere I turn, avenues of distraction, normalization, and minutia present themselves almost effortlessly, and it takes very little for me to happily melt into them. It's relieving, after all, to deaden the discomfort and the ache. Those feelings were never meant to be pleasant, but I also don't think they were ever meant to be squashed; they have to be endured.
I have no recollection of the why or how of this (given my apparent aversion to all things competitive and sporty) but recently I was reading an interview with Joe Maddon, the coach of the Chicago Cubs. He was asked about how he handles the pressure of success and winning, and he replied that he refuses to focus on the outcome, but rather on the process because process is fearless. Process is fearless. If you do what you think you should do and stay true to the next right thing, the result will work itself out. In other words, you focus on what you can control and draw from the wisdom of others who have come before, and the rest was out of your hands anyway.
I find this incredibly comforting as well as liberating. There is always a next right step, and if we can assuage our anxieties long enough to stop and look, it is ever available. In this day and age, I am trying to take note from those who have come before and move forward as presently and congruently as possible. This means actively resisting the temptation to dilute or extinguish my anger. It also means showing up and paying attention in large but local ways, starting from my tiny radius of influence and moving outward, even and especially when it's uncomfortable, lonely, or risky. I'm not a natural organizer or activist, far from it, but the moment demands more.
Process is fearless. May we be as well.
Right now, the Women's March is happening all over the country, including one mile down the street from where I'm sitting cross-legged, candle lit, and hot chocolate-warmed. Chiara texted me earlier this afternoon to invite me to march alongside her and some new badass friends of ours. It's so important to show up, so important to be a part of it all, and all the best women I know are doing it. Now that I'm back on social media, I'm seeing it all over that as well. It's invigorating, it's so good, and I just don't feel like it. It's rainy outside, I've set aside this weekend time to be with writing-- my own and so many others-- and that felt really important. It felt more important to honor the still and quiet inside of me that needs tending, to block aside this time for my feminist spiritual writer self that needs some space to breathe and think. I'm learning that I am inherently wise, that my body is my tool for emotional intuition, and that when I stop to listen to it, whatever it's telling me, it will not steer me wrong. The problem is that it's not always convenient. Last weekend Austin and I joined 8 other new friends for a retreat in Santa Cruz, focusing on being badasses and teaching each other our own unique flavors of what that looks like. There had been talk of a dance party, but when 11 pm rolled around, and I found myself comfortably perched in a hot tub, I realized that all I really wanted to was to read my brand new New Yorker in bed and fall asleep in a cocoon of sheets and thoughts and wet hair. I didn't want to miss out on the good memories, and if our life is a story, then shouldn't we always be striving to live better stories (i.e. choosing to boogie over washing my face)? But also. We must honor ourselves.
This is what the Women's March is all about. It's about women and men all over the country making strides and taking stands for their whole personhood, in all their contradictions and messiness. It's about honoring ourselves, which is an inside job first and foremost, and then demanding that everybody else (especially our leaders) do the same.
It was important to show up today, and I didn't do that. I didn't join legions of others who made the time and space to walk shoulder to shoulder, to speak out and be seen. I feel some FOMO about this, obviously and honestly, but I also feel so proud to be showing up here, and making this march and this moment my own in the way that my truest self knew how to today.
This realization of our full personage is about so much more than being a woman and peacefully protesting bigotry and sexism. It's also about being brave enough to let more of myself and ourselves be seen, not just some layers and not just some angles, revering my truest self and getting out of my own way, believing that my truest self will recognize and honor your truest self, that that's so much of what we want most of the time. I love that this is what namaste means, that the light in me honors and recognizes the light in you. It's communication at its best, it's humanity at its best.
It reminds me that so much of what we loved about Obama was that he reflected, from beginning to end, the kind of people who we wanted to become: engaged, optimistic, agents of change, compassionate, the epitome of cool. There is something so ineffable about being called to be better, and that moment when we sense the other's sincere faith in who we are continually strikes me as one of the great honors and privileges of being human. Those moments alter lives because they change our self-spiraling narratives about ourselves, and I'm not sure there is a greater gift.
My writing voice is my most honorable and genuine expression of myself, which is why being separated from it feels like such a loss. It doesn't speak out of fear or angst, it grows from a place of stillness and wisdom, and we can't have one without the other. This act of sitting, this act of marching, this act of being still is my namaste to myself, honoring that which is most lit and most true, banishing fear and hatred and judgment. Today and always.
This week has been one of exhale, of letting go where I was holding on tight before. I've let my guard down this week, letting the pendulum swing to the other side. For example, over the holidays while we were traveling I was careful in terms of food. The assumption is that we pile it on through Christmas cookies or family gatherings, but I was scared of losing control so I just decided not to. I kept it clean through our trip and then, because we are always (whether we know it or not) trying to balance out, have let myself enjoy any and everything since coming back.
This is a truth that perhaps I'm finally starting to learn: the wisdom of our bodies and ourselves always strive for equilibrium, even if we do our darndest to keep it rigid and keep it harsh.
When I consider all of the various areas of life that I have some semblance of control over (health, work, love, play, learn), I've been spending a lot of my energies in just a few, and the wisdom of my soul and my heart have been working quietly but no less tirelessly to bring in the others as well. The best parts of me, my truest and highest self, knows what it needs and when I spend too much time and energy focusing on what other people think or dounced with worry about a certain relationship instead of focusing on work or play or health, it shows. It lets me know.
I'm not really that comfortable with the exhale part of life. It's too much surrender for me, too much freedom. We live in a universe of give and receive, inhale and exhale, live and die. With most of these, there is a side that I naturally gravitate towards if left to my own devices. This weekend I'll be practicing some surrender that I don't typically: showing up to a new, adventurous, wonderful group of people to open myself up to change and their wisdom. It will be beautiful and it will be open-handed and heart-forward. Yes please, yes please.
This is my first day back at work, and even though I have trusty Rufo by my side, it's the first time in three weeks that Austin won't be there too. As two married people, we naturally drift toward enmeshment-- it practically takes no time at all for Austin to want to take care of me and for me to want to be taken care of and la la la isn't it all great? Which is why, in very real ways, we've been working toward differentiation and redefining what our relationship looks like. What have we been assuming to be true because that's just the way that it's done? What feels good and what doesn't feel good? What makes sense for who I am and who he is? Having such robust uninterrupted time together adventuring and exploring is the spaciousness we need to live into our true selves and stave off the January blues for as long as we can.
But this morning, gearing up for rainy traffic and finally putting on mascara and going through emails, the goal is to bring the same level of freedom and space that's always present but not always accessed Monday-Friday, back in the grind, back in the commitments.
I fall prey to January newness and the desire for a reset almost every year-- I love goals, love the dreamy nature of resolutions, love to let that run free.