All of It, Everything

We’re going to talk about riding the wave, courtesy of the first photo to pop up on my Instagram feed this morning.


I’ve been making a concerted effort not to kick off my day by launching a trio of iPhone apps, but…you know.

Easy enough in theory, annoyingly difficult to put into practice — you are familiar, yes? Riding the wave also falls under that category. For me, anyway. I’m not much of a surfer.


There is a technical term for our topic today, but I don’t like it because it makes me feel like a sick person. It’s called urge surfing and someone named Alan Marlatt decided it was a good way to talk about triggers and how to cope with them. I don’t disagree, but I prefer to think about it in terms of learning how to maneuver any big big wave of emotion, which everybody has.

Some people make it look easier than others.

Coax me into a bathing suit, put me in the water, and you will soon see that second nature is not exactly the word that springs to mind. You see, I am one of those people who can’t stop plucking at her wet suit. Can’t help but peer anxiously into the sea of blue behind her. Can’t keep from worrying about when the next wave will come.


I am someone who keeps forgetting how lovely it is just to paddle around. Someone who honestly just needs to reee-lax, in every possible way. Do a better job of just generally going with the flow.

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I used to dread the big waves. They were absolutely no fun. They’d roll in and up and over, bring the world crashing down over my head. They’d tug me down and send me tumbling head over heels, headed for who knows where.

Whether I’d seen the swell coming and had all the time in the world to get all ready, or whether it had snuck up over my shoulder and taken me by complete surprise, the result would always be the same. I’d surface spitting salt, terrifically short of breath. Lungs burning, mouth gasping, chest heaving. Eyes stinging. In short, I’d wind up feeling as if I’d been sucker punched. Panties very definitely in a twist.

So yeah. Surfing is not my strong suit. I’m still learning.


“Sometimes courage is swallowing the ocean that tries to drown you but sometimes it’s drowning and drowning and going limp but still drowning and going salt but still drowning and making snow angels on the ocean floor.” -Unknown

This week was a rough one. I think you knew that already. Did I take all of my newfound knowledge, courtesy of the most patient woman on the planet, and manage to navigate the scarier seas admirably well?

Well, no. Not exactly. But that’s okay, because everything has turned tranquil again, and I have some thoughts:

1. Riding the wave does not mean bailing whenever a surge of hope slips so sadly far out of reach. Or maybe it does. Maybe learning when to bail, and loop back to try again, is part of it. A big part of it.

2. The downs are magnified 30x when I haven’t eaten enough. On the flipside, the ups are in-cred-i-ble when I’m full. When I can absorb every last bit of joy.

3. There are signs that I’ve reverted back to not eating enough (now that I’m free to practice eating to perceived fullness). These are them: waking up in the middle of the night with breakfast on the brain, crying like there has been a drastic drought in my part of the world, wrestling with a wildly increased preoccupation with the way I look, and suddenly having to contend with heightened anxiety re: all-the-things-ever.


4. My tendency is still to panic and pull back. Rein it in. I need to be careful when I’m stressed out. I need to notice when I start repeatedly reaching for whole grains instead of bread or bagels, when I start itching to add more vegetables, when I start shying away from higher-calorie foods, and when I start subbing stuff out without actually substituting. Without actually adding anything back in.

5. I need to ask myself the right questions, when it feels as if I’ve been set spinning through space. Do I want a child’s body? Do I want to be the kind of woman who never paints her nails because she doesn’t want them to chip? Do I want to be someone who crosses off the day’s date an hour after waking up? Do I want to spend the rest of my life hating what healthy looks like, on me? Do I honestly want to be someone who doesn’t buy Girl Scout cookies?

6. Curves are pretty. They are so, so pretty. Stop-and-stare pretty.


7. I have to be patient. More patient. About everything — not just about whether recovery feels like it’s pitching forward or rapidly receding. Even if I could go out and find somebody to be with, it wouldn’t be smart. If I were to kiss someone now, it wouldn’t be a kiss. It would be a bit of loneliness, laced with a bit of numbness. (Go ahead — ask me which two things I don’t want.)

8. I need to avoid the temptation to table my ongoing attempt to speak to myself more gently, in favor of prioritizing things like trying to become a superstar at work. I need to catch myself when I’m not being very nice to myself. The word blimp needs to be banished from my vocabulary. If/when I feel like I’m failing on that front, I should give writing nicely to myself a try.

You are beautiful, so beautiful. The way you see the world is beautiful. The way you make maps of your emotions is beautiful. You don’t believe me, but someone could fall in love with the way you look right now — sitting in that single slant of sun, sipping your coffee. Your fingers are dancing. Your highlights are shining. Your earrings are catching the light. Shake your head no, and you’ll send pretty prisms skittering. See?

Two more things: pencil skirts and pictures just don’t do you any justice. You were made for A-line skirts. For real life, for laugh out loud. For moments that can’t be so easily framed. But you won’t be camera shy forever. It’s okay if you can only stand to see a photo of your feet right now. There will be a someday. For all of it, for everything.


{Big Wave/Tiny Surfer via @kdkuiper. Mt. Hood via @ngreener. Haystack Rock via @mollypnwrn. Rowena Crest via @brandenharvey.}


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