Still and Again

I wasn’t going to write this weekend. Actually, if you want to know the truth, I’d decided I was going to let myself off of the hook for the rest of the summer. Since I live in a place where Vitamin D is a hot commodity, I’ve been feeling almost duty-bound to enjoy every single second of sun.

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Alfresco dining. Beach days. Hiking trips. Park picnics. Flip-flops. Sundresses. The ability to go without a raincoat. All must be relished in the months of June, July, and August.

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Side note: how it is already August? What is happening.

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(If Instagram is anything to go by: tomatoes. Tomatoes are happening. Plus pretty heirloom peppers, plus peaches and pluots, plus nectarines sweet enough to make you stop dead, plus ground cherries in their funny little husks, plus every variety of berries, plus squeaky Romano beans like my mom used to grow, plus ALL KINDS OF THINGS! I am top-of-the-Ferris-wheel excited, as you can see. The farmer’s market is not a bad place to be.)

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So, yes: this feels like a time to be out wandering. To be making simple but so good meals. To be sharing with friends.

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I’m going to need you to nod your head yes here: any pressure I feel to post is a little silly and a lot self-imposed.

I’m in a time period where I need to do what’s least arduous. What’s gentlest; what’s most forgiving.

Last night I was in bed, alternating between a book that isn’t really holding my interest and a dating app I’ve been feeling equally halfhearted about, and I suddenly felt awful. Awfully sad, awfully lonely, awfully hungry, awfully afraid. You know how it can sort of hit you all at once?

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I went back to my blog and reread a whole bunch of posts from 2015, and all I could think was I’d come so far. Because I need to face the music (not because I don’t trust your ability to read between the lines), I’ll say the unspoken, too: I’ve fallen so far off the rails.

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I’ve been back up to my same old tricks. A celery stick instead of a second peanut butter cup. A long walk instead of a true day off. A stick of gum instead of a mid-morning snack. If I look at my diet overall: rapidly shrinking portions of protein, fat, and carbohydrate, offset by increasingly larger servings of vegetable. (Name of the game = volume.)

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How strongly I cling to those behaviors fluctuates. How successful I am at drawing a red line through “the rules” varies. But what’s most alarming is how quickly I return to wanting to clutch them. For comfort, for calm. For safety, for stability. For something I’m somehow not getting. Or not managing to give myself.

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Even though it feels horrible to take an honest look at where I am and how far I have to go (still or again), it is also a relief. It is a relief to give it up again. To just eat when I am hungry. To cry when I am sad.

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It feels good to even say that: I am sad. I am lonely and scared and I am feeling these things, way deep down inside where it hurts. And that’s a big step in the right direction.

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The prospect of listening to my body again feels good and right. It makes me feel better to give myself the permission to ignore my brain, a little warped right now, and say okay, I think I might need some help. Some more help.

I have so many things leaning in my favor this time. Time and distance from my parents’ divorce. Independence. Real closure from my life as it was (pre-Oregon). Support coming from so many people, so so kind. A repaired, if not totally rock-solid, relationship with my dad. Tangible movements career-wise (let’s take a second to talk about things trending up, up, up!). An exponentially higher sense of self-esteem. And an overwhelming desire to feel like myself again — whatever that may mean, however that may look.

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There is a weight at which I look athletic and in shape, but I can’t actually do much of anything. And then there is a weight at which I look much less like a 17-year old girl, and I can do ALL KINDS OF THINGS. I can go hiking and stay up late and relax and have an ice cream and wake up thinking about something besides my next meal. I can be a good daughter and a good friend and a good employee, and I can be softer, in a very nice way, and a lot more approachable. I can be smiley. I can be bubbly; I can be happy. I can be my best self. [And who cares if that self is a little bigger than you remembered.]

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“If you want deeper connections with the people around you…reach out more. Sometimes if you reach out, the person you’re trying to reach will be right there waiting.” -Susane Colasanti

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“Weeping is not the same thing as crying — it takes your whole body to weep, and when it’s over, you feel like you don’t have any bones left to hold you up.” -Sarah Ockler

“What if joy were my only metric for success?” -Sarah Jones

“I want everything — love, adventure, intimacy, work.” -Virginia Woolf

“Some people think that a place can save them. Like if they could just be somewhere else, their lives would be totally different. They could finally be the people they always wanted to be. But to me, a place is just a place. If you really want things to change, you can make them change no matter where you are.” -Hannah Harrington

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“Given a Time Turner, I would tell my 21-year-old self that personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a checklist of acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications and your CV are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two. Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone’s total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.” -J.K. Rowling

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“You spend your 20s thinking all these things are wrong with you, like you’re not beautiful. But then, if you’re lucky, it doesn’t take you another 20 or 30 years after that to realize what a weird self-centered destructiveness that is. People are beautiful. Life is beautiful.” -Jean Godfrey-June

{Director’s Park via @downtownpdx, Trillium Crossing via @dusmanoff, Haystack Rock via @spencer.kirk, woods via @andrewgolesch, downtown Portland via @findfarah — all on Instagram.}

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In case you’re in a reading mood…a few links from years past:

Giant Hugs, X’s and O’s

Survival Skills

The Best Possible Chance

Week 1

Pearls on a String

Tea Lights

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