Direct Message

I could tell you about any number of things that have helped.

This week: an unexpected email. A much-needed haircut. A head massage. A frozen batch of farro. A tangle of sweet and spicy roast chicken [already! cooked!]. An ancient, cozy t-shirt. A slinky silk top. A string of sunny days. A totally different vibe.

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A video of my nephew, now 7 months. A pair of stick-straight pants, folded up and put away. A wedge of cheese with my name on it, literally. A surprise DM. (Direct message, Mom.) An hour of idleness in bed. (Not reading, not trying to summon sleep, not inducing a headache via so-much-social-media.)

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And more! More exciting things this week. There was:

An 8-letter word I got to stretch out over 10 calendar squares in June. [V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N!] Or, as I typed and erased and typed again: Home!

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A strawberry that tasted like a strawberry.

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(Related: peas that taste like peas.)

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A sure sign it’s peony season.

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A beautifully brewed latte. (With an even better one to come, in just a few short weeks!)

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You’ve probably already figured this out, but having something to look forward to helps enormously. (Even if it’s as small as a shot of espresso your brother pulled for you.) It changes the entire name of the game. It means in between all the questioning and wondering and seriously doubting, there is something in the not-too-far-future to really just enjoy anticipating.

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On that list, for me: seeing my dad (even though HARD, for a variety of reasons). Heirloom tomatoes. Dresses with pockets. Oregon blackberries. More time with my friend Embry, well on her way to becoming my very-good-friend Embry. And a trip/trek up to Munra Point, because look.

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Getting outside, getting out of my own head — that helps too. An awful lot.

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As does making more connections. (The deep, genuine kind that just can’t be expected to develop overnight.)

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When I am lonely now, when I am puzzling over whether or not there’s a place on the spectrum between beware, will wrap myself around you like a vine and hi, 100% emotionally stable, really lovely to meet you at this exactly perfect time…I am no longer quite so hard on myself. I am not a *complete* catastrophe. I don’t think any of us are. Not truly.

That helps to see/hear/type. It also helps to ask myself — whenever I feel like I’ve had enough of being brave and would just like for all of this to go AWAY, once and for all, only without really dealing with any more fluctuations in weight — whether I was really happy looking at life through a window.

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Was I content sitting on the sidelines, watching other people fall in love, take risks, swap stories, exchange intimacies, build trust, fill photo albums? Was I glad I had so many rules? Did I feel good about making fear-based decisions, 99% of the time? Was I pleased to be so preoccupied with my physical health that it came at social and emotional expense? Did I enjoy automatically tacking “good” and “bad” labels onto everything that crossed my line of sight? Was I ever truly present [relaxed, confident, kind]? Was I having a smashing good time on my island all to myself?

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The answer — to all of those questions — is no. Emphatic no. (But thanks for asking.)

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“I think these are two of the most important words in a person’s life: NOT THIS. There will almost surely come a moment in your life when your body, your heart, and your soul will gather together, look at the situation you are in (your toxic job, your failing marriage, your addiction, your depression, your spiritual despair) and say NOT THIS. We were not meant for this. The reason this moment is so scary is because you usually don’t yet have a Plan B. Your brain and your voice don’t want to say “NOT THIS” aloud, because the alternative is…??? If not this, then WHAT? I don’t know. But everyone I know who ever changed their life or laid claim to their own destiny began by surrendering to the truth of these two words: NOT THIS. It’s okay if you don’t know yet what happens next. You don’t have to know. You just have to be honest about what your deepest truth is trying to tell you, which is: NOT THIS. If that’s what your body, heart, and soul are trying to tell you: listen. Make your decisions from that place. Be brave. The future is a mystery, there are no promises, and whatever comes next may be better or worse. But at least it will be NOT THIS. And that alone is a good place to start.” -Elizabeth Gilbert

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“You’re softening all the edges, you’re misremembering. Take a moment to recall it as it really was: fucking hell.” -Miranda July

“I despair of the term ‘clean eating’…though I actually like the food that comes under that banner. ‘Clean eating’ implies that any other form of eating – and consequently the eater of it – is dirty or impure and thus bad. And that’s not something I can get behind.” -Nigella Lawson

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“I think my body is afraid of being a body again. It was nothing for the longest time.” -Meggie Royer

“Time ticks by; we grow older. Before we know it, too much time has passed and we’ve missed the chance to have had other people hurt us. To a younger me this sounded like luck; to an older me this sounds like a quiet tragedy.” -Douglas Coupland

“Love is not either/or. It is both/and.” -Elizabeth Gilbert

“Sometimes it takes darkness or the sweet confinement of your aloneness to realize that anyone or anything that does not bring you alive is too small for you.” -David Whyte

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“There are infinite routes to good health outside of ‘wellness’ and ‘clean eating.’ Reacquaint yourself with the sweet, heady scent of onions caramelizing in butter. When your birthday rolls around, make your own cake, and hold tight to your right to treat yourself with that same kindness as often as you need it. Trust that your body knows what it needs, and when you get a hankering for chips, chocolate, or courgette, look to that craving: the rumble of your belly is not a saboteur. Remember above all that you will be nourished not only by the food you eat, but by the pleasure you take in it. If you don’t trust me, take it from dietitian Michelle Allison: ‘Eating a wide variety of foods, trying new things, and taking pleasure in food is good for you. Combine that with the structure of regular meals and snacks, and make an effort to include most food groups at your meals, and you are covered.’ Eating well really is that simple. The key to good health isn’t hiding in a fad diet or an elimination regime. You won’t find it, as if by magic, at the bottom of a pack of chia seeds or as a prize for weight loss, gym time or a detox. Eating well is eating intuitively, with pleasure and without shame. Whatever the wellness industry may tell you, you have the secret to wellness already. You’ve had it all along.” -Ruby Tandoh

“Don’t cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.” -Unknown

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“Moving on is easy. It’s staying moved on that’s trickier.” -Katerina Stoykova-Klemer

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“Sometimes, maybe, we just need a quiet witness — someone to acknowledge that it isn’t easy, and that it’s all so very out of our control, and to assure us that at the end of this day, the world will turn and we are going to wake up tomorrow to a new one.” -Allison Fallon

“Our whole lives, it was like we were always trying so hard to be perfect — for our families and our friends, for each other — when the funny thing was, we didn’t have to. In the end, we were better than that.” -Brenna Yovanoff

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{Downtown PDX via @irinafab, starry sky via @andrewgolesch, dream life via @doeeme, Munra Point via @charlottelittlewolf, waterfalls via @andrewgolesch, rainy commute via @samhorine, Face Rock State Park via @idkpdx, wooden bridge via @logan_b_wright, Roman Candle Bakery interior via @carly.e.diaz, Mt. Hood National Forest road via @nicholas_steven_, sandhill cranes via @ladzinski — all on Instagram.}

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4 thoughts on “Direct Message

  1. I’m drawn to your blog on days like today when it’s Monday, overcast, and I’m alone (but only feeling just a little bit lonely). As I type this, a ray of sunlight ripples through my window, and somehow that’s fitting. Thank you for sharing.

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