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I wish I could have tape-recorded what my yoga teacher said at the end of class last week. I want to call it up and play it back now, like a podcast.

As it is, I only have the bits and pieces that shimmered for me in that boneless state of rare relaxation. Maybe I was just feeling particularly receptive, after 90 minutes of being so completely in my body, but oh, it resonated. My hand, which had been resting lightly on my belly, floated up towards my head and landed in the general vicinity of my heart.

  • Where there is negativity, may there be something helpful and uplifting
  • Where there is chaos, may there be calm
  • Where there is imbalance, may there be balance 
  • Where there is fear, may there be love
  • Where there is suffering, may there be healing

I walked home (actually, down to the Saturday market), thinking there are so many people in various stages of hurting and healing. Everyone is carrying something. Half of the room wouldn’t have tears streaming down their faces during Shavasana if that weren’t true.

For some of us, career is easy and love is hard. For others, everything is A++ amazing on the relationship front, but it’s money that’s a struggle, or health. Nobody has everything. Or not at all once, anyway.

This is why every once in a while, we should give ourselves the green light to buy things 100% guaranteed to improve all the days they last. Yes? Yes.

I was thinking about this on a walk yesterday: I feel like a failure because I haven’t gotten better yet. It doesn’t seem to matter that I’ve succeeded in so many other ways.

For someone who would be quick to call herself risk-averse, I’ve taken a lot of leaps in the last couple of years. I’ve left my hometown. I’ve drained my savings. I’ve broken up with someone I thought I might be with forever. I’ve lived in New York City. I’ve left what could’ve been described as a dream job, if I were a different sort of person. (Don’t believe everything you see on social media.)

I’ve moved across the country. I’ve learned my way around a second, wildly unfamiliar city. I’ve completely switched industries. I’ve built a network up from zero. I’ve done A LOT of public speaking. I’ve accepted two promotions I really wasn’t sure I was ready for. I’ve said yes when my gut has screamed — and I mean screamed — no. Wait, think good and hard about this. 

I’ve connected with people and made friends through Instagram, of all things, and a couple of other apps I’d rather not mention. Three years ago just the thought of sitting across from a stranger would have made me nauseous. Now I go out to coffee almost every weekend. I’m capable of striking up a conversation with just about anyone.

But I haven’t been on a third date in almost five years. I feel like a zoo exhibit. (Does anyone else ever feel this way? Why isn’t this something we’re willing to admit or talk about?)

At least once a month, typically between the hours of 2:00am and 4:00am, I wonder if it just isn’t in the cards for me. I think about what it might be like to be single forever, and if I’d be OK with that. And then: what I could do to feel more OK about that, if that turns out to be the case.

There’s just no denying it, though. As valuable as it can be to stand on your own two feet and focus on your hobbies and do all the self-care stuff, I am so envious of all of the people who have found someone to “do life with.” I don’t want to be my own best company.

Could I be any further from a fiancé or a family or a house or the little garden I’m beginning to think I may want more than any of those things?

That said, I am insanely proud of myself every time I go to meet someone new, whether it’s platonic or not. After all: I said yes, when my natural instinct would have been to stay at home in my pajamas. I felt those who-knows-what-might-happen butterflies. I took a little extra care when I got dressed. I felt confident because I like the person I’m becoming. I listened to somebody else’s story. I made them feel good about themselves. I had a nice time myself.

I wonder if at some point, I’ll stop beating myself up for not being perfect, or “done.” I wonder if in order to really have a happy life, I’ll need to get over anorexia and depression. I wonder if the two are tied together, for me. (I wonder if I wouldn’t do better in a place that didn’t make it very, very easy to be sad.)

Which do you address first? It feels like “lonely” may be the place to start, for me.

Because whenever I leave Oregon and go away, after just a few days of being back around people who love me, “anorexia” and “depression” cease to feel like size 72 font words.

They feel like words I’ll probably type and delete for a while, but they’re going to be really far down the page, because there are about 50 other things I want to write about first.

After this winter, there’s no doubt in my mind that seasonal depression is a thing. Even if nothing else changes — even if I’m still packing a picnic for one and my phone doesn’t ring all afternoon — when the sun comes out, life does magically stop feeling like this enormous ongoing effort.

On a standard week, when it rains six days out of seven, I feel like I have to be positively VIGILANT about keeping myself propped up. I don’t know what the consequence would be if I didn’t make that a priority, but I’ve never felt much like I wanted to find out.

It’s hard to remember, but when things are good: I am someone who loves to cook. I get such joy out of trying new foods and flavors. (This is mesmerizing.) I love sitting down to share a meal.

I also love to hike, take photos, read really great books, make plans, and spend time with other people. I’d love to love Portland. I’m trying so hard.

I WANT to be happy. I’m always looking for the little things.

It’s funny, though: I never used to consider myself an especially optimistic person. I think I could have had a better mindset and been more positive in college and the year afterward. But now, at a period in my life when it would make sense to feel pretty down, I’m more hopeful than I’ve ever been.

It makes no sense, none whatsoever. There is absolutely no evidence to support the idea that good things are heading my way. But I believe it anyway. I really do.

Where there is fear, may there be love.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

“I’m sorry it comes like this. Flood and undertow.” -J. Vernee

“May flowers grow in the saddest parts of you.” -Zainab Aamir

“Although it may not seem like it, this isn’t a story about darkness. It’s about light. Kahlil Gibran says joy can fill you only as deeply as sorrow has carved you. One day I’m going to hold a lot of joy.” -Karen Marie Moning

“We are all a people in need. We are not perfect. We are not machines. We make mistakes. We need grace. We need compassion. We need help at times. We need other people. It’s OK.” -Jamie Tworkowski

“You don’t pass or fail at being a person, dear.” -Neil Gaiman

“You can’t self-control your way out of sadness.” -E. Sampat

“May you have the courage to listen to the voice of desire that disturbs you when you have settled for something safe.” -J. O’Donahue

“Desire makes life happen. Makes it matter. Makes everything worth it. Desire is life. Hunger to see the next sunrise or sunset. To touch the one you love. To try again.” -Karen Marie Moning

“I don’t think you can really, truly be the partner you want to be until you know on an absolute level that you are a complete person on your own.” -Sophia Bush

“I do not want to have you //

To fill the empty parts of me

I want to be full on my own //

I want to be so complete

I could light a whole city //

And then //

I want to have you

Cause the two of us // combined

Could set it on fire.” -Rupi Kaur

{Portland 1 via @gavinrear, white tulip via @jakeegbert, Portland 2 via @gavinrear, Mt. Hood sunrise via @gemini_digitized, Cannon Beach via @samlarson, sunny street via @kostmoss, forest via @austin.mackay, Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival via @jakeegbert — all on Instagram.}

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