Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope you are all experiencing joy and love in many ways today (and every day for that matter).

Today marks my 8th solo V-Day and if the stars have anything to say about it, maybe my last. A girl can dream, right? No moping here though. I’m spending the evening with an awesome girlfriend at the gym. We’re taking a Body Combat class, ha!

Here’s to strength, health, happiness and all the different kinds of love we encounter along these twisting paths of life we lead ❤ ❤ ❤

A Poem from the Masses

she-persistedWhen I first saw this meme on Facebook I thought it was going to encompass the experiences of women from all walks of life. I thought a few would sound familiar but since we’re so vastly different surely many of them would be foreign to me. In short, I believed it wouldn’t particularly pertain to me because I’ve only done the things that I’ve done. I haven’t lived in any other woman’s shoes.

I was really just skimming it, but when my eyes got to You’d be so much prettier if you wore makeup, they froze. I’ve heard this from adults in my life easily 100X, from girlfriends, boyfriends, strangers, you name it. For some lucky reason I was born with the ability to tune it out. It’s always been inexplicable to me that anyone would question my choice to allow my face to be seen just as it is (Egads, the horror!) as if it’s some extreme break from the norm. Doesn’t most of humanity do this? Also why does anyone think I have a life goal of helping the judgmental masses find me pretty?

But most recently I heard it from a 10 year-old girl, who was practicing her make up skills on my cheeks at the time. “You know what Jen? You’d be really pretty if you wore make up every day.”

Now I’m a strong confident woman and I’m also a solid-show-up-pay-attention-and-give-a-fuck aunt and role model. I can see a teaching moment and spin that shit into a life lesson like magic. It just saddens me when I need to do so with a kid who at ten (10!), already believes us to be less than because of our fashion choices.

I’ve often chided myself for getting more sensitive as I get older, but these comments still don’t have much effect on me personally. The real trouble is that with age I’ve become more aware. I see these comments affecting other people now. I see the damage they do to our children which shows me the responsibility I have to help stifle it.

I went back to the top and read through the quotes on the meme much slower. My heart twinged as I began to realize there would actually be three or four on there that rang true for me…

Oh how naïve we can be. Ammiright ladies?

Try nineteen.

Really the only ones I haven’t heard on a regular basis for the entirety of my life are the ones directed towards mothers and that’s just because I haven’t become one yet.

I get the part about raising our children to believe in the uncanny notion that women are of use to the planet in ways outside of their looks and gestational capabilities. But in that process I need to do a better job of shining the light on how destructive these words are. If we let them, they make us believe it doesn’t matter where we’re from, what careers we have, what journeys we’ve taken, or what incredible accomplishments we’ve made.

So without further adieu, here are My Nineteen in the form of a poem other people wrote for me:

Bossy
You’d be so much prettier if you wore make up.
Calm down
Why didn’t you just leave him?
Whore
He picks on you because he likes you.
Over-sensitive
You’re too skinny. Eat a burger.
Smile!
You’re wearing THAT?
You’d be so pretty if you made an effort.
Relax
You just haven’t found the right man.
Moody
Your biological clock is ticking.
Bitchy
Whoa, take your Midol.
Aren’t you cute?
*Catcall*

Let’s continue the work it will take to fix this, OK? Are we all in?

This Time It’s Too Important

I would be remiss to suggest the anxiety I’m currently entrenched in stems solely from a broken heart, but that’s what I know the most about. Sadly it’s become my comfort zone. Aside from adventures on my bike it’s practically the only thing I write about.

Since I started blogging I’ve adhered to a strict guideline of never even attempting to approach politics. I do not possess a single drop of eloquence when it comes to things I feel so strongly about. It would seem as if my political tolerance lies very much in the realm of “You’re wrong, I’m right, and you should shut up because your opinion doesn’t matter.” Except that it doesn’t lie there. Cheetoh Prez aside, I do have a genuine interest in where people are coming from. I just don’t project that stance in the slightest.

After I came back from the Women’s March, a.k.a. the most pleasant and uplifting day I have ever spent in NYC, I was filled to the brim with love and hope for an immediate future where the resistance peacefully rises up and makes everything right in the world. That quickly faded due to a mostly innocuous post on Facebook by a friend of my parents who just couldn’t get past the pink hats and the word “pussy”. Meow!

I knew I shouldn’t have engaged her. I pride myself on never engaging in these things! But I couldn’t help it. Something came over me when I saw reports bashing the march. It was maddening to learn there are a lot of people who believe our peaceful protest was in the wrong, that we were filthy and vile because of a cartoon fallopian tube giving the finger to the current administration. A cartoon fallopian tube!

I almost lost it with this family friend saying ‘Call me old fashioned, but I just think these women should be polite in their demand for respect.’ It’s as though she actually believes the suffragettes won us the right to vote by maintaining their primness!

The situation absolutely added to the stress that sent the muscles of my back into havoc. But if I look at the experience as a whole I have to admit that I got through it just fine. Sure I had a few days of being offended and riled up by prudeness and overwhelming amounts of ignorance, but can’t I handle that, especially considering the level of injustice other people are currently enduring?

I’m embarrassed to admit that for over two weeks now the answer has been No, I can’t. When things don’t go my way I freeze.

Ultimately it was a conversation between two sane people being firm in their convictions but also fair. I’ve re-read my comments many times and come to the conclusion that I wasn’t dismissive, nor was I vile. She asked for Maya Angelou, I gave her Maya Angelou. And I proactively made the point that this time it’s just too important. Furthermore, she wasn’t mean either.

The only glitch was I wasn’t able to convince her of my “right-ness”, so I felt like an absolute failure and I stalled out.

One of Seth Godin’s nuggets of wisdom is “Do what you should. Your mood will follow.” In other words, Grow up, shit needs to get done no matter what kind of mood you’re in. Taken farther, how about we all learn to become the fixers of our own bad moods?

Godin goes on to suggest we’re only capable of creating work that matters if we’re willing to be uncomfortable while we do it. It’s a point well taken yet difficult to push past. Since the march and the fallout and the day that sent me back over the edge with Peter, I’ve been waiting for my mood to be magically fixed so I can move on.

I can’t train for my triathlon because my back is out and my back will only feel better when my mood enhances. I can’t engage politically until I can fix all the world’s problems and convince the bad people that I’m right. I can’t… I can’t… I can’t because I feel stressed out and sad… wah 😦

Meanwhile what am I doing to voluntarily and actively enhance my own mood?

Buried emotions bite back. I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat it ‘til the day I die. It’s not healthy to suppress them. Emotions lodge in our bodies like any of the other crap we constantly stuff ourselves with. You don’t have to believe me, but I know this be true: in the grand scheme of health there is very little difference between fast food and emotional baggage.

It’s time to step up and really get on track. My course of action is three-fold. First and foremost I’m taking a negativity retreat. I’ve never been able to handle the news. Now I can’t even handle the Yahoo homepage. Or Google. Or my close friends Facebook walls. Or anything! I’m choosing to improve my sanity by limiting my access to all of the above because I can’t be hooked on the drama that brings me down. Frayed nerves = a useless version of myself writhing in pain. Writhing! I literally writhe. I’m not even exaggerating on that. It’s ridiculous!

Second: acupuncture. Because duh.

Third: You know it, you love it or you hate it. If you’re one of the people who loves me it probably stresses you out to think about, I’m sorry, but I’m fasting again. (Relax Ohio, I’m not going 40 days this time.) I’m currently 6 safe days into a month long cleanse. I say safe because I’m past the point of giving up. Repeated false starts are common for me until I reach the point where I really want to do it. And I am definitely at that point!

The month of February is 28 days long. I’m doing 8 days of clean eating surrounding 20 days of fasting. The last thing I ate was a small salad at a catered lunch on the 1st. I can feel my clarity getting closer. It’s only a few blocks away now.

I want to run screaming from the world, and from Peter for that matter, stuffing my face with Cheez-Its and chocolate milk as I hightail it outta here. But these situations are unlike any I’ve experienced before, so instead I will stay positive. I will walk my talk.

I won’t give up on my fast because this time it’s too important.

I won’t give up on trying to rationally engage in political discourse while educating myself on the way my country and government actually work. Because this time it’s too important.

And if I may dare to be so audacious… I won’t give up on Peter either. Because my gut keeps telling me over and over again, this time it’s too important. If I’m wrong in the end, I’ll survive. But what if I’m right?

Let’s Call Him Peter

We met last spring in a grocery store. We were in the produce section talking about organic certification and the word sustainable. Three minutes into our conversation I said I liked ‘holistic’ better because ‘sustainable’ was just so… overused. As he jumped in to finish my sentence and we simultaneously said the word ‘overused’, a wave of certainty flushed through my entire body.

It was one buzzy yet calm split second of knowing – I was OK and I would never be alone again.

A voice that was sort of mine, but not really, used a phrasing that was definitely not mine. In my head someone asked for me, “Please can I talk to this man every day for the rest of my life?” It felt like a dream and I trusted it.

I don’t know who was doing the asking. I’m telling you it was not me. Nor do I know who was being asked. I can tell you it felt like a higher universal power, but I can’t explain it in a way that makes any kind of sense.

As we continued to chat I swam back to the surface of my own brain and began to think, Yah OK, I can do this. I can do whatever this is every day for the rest of my life.

We became friends and three months later I told him how I felt. He replied that while I was beautiful, smart and confident, that our friendship made him a better man and he was lucky to know me, that he hated the fact that he had to break my heart… he just didn’t feel the same way.

For two weeks I was broken and he didn’t budge. Instead he held up a mirror that showed me I had become a really pathetic version of myself. I was ugly, wrathful, enraged, and I didn’t like it. So when he told me what he needed, I decided to give it to him: the best version of me… totally cool… with us just being friends.

That was in September. It’s almost February now and nothing has changed for me. Absolutely nothing. Every time I see him I think This is it, This is right, This is where my contentment lies. And still he doesn’t budge.

I love you all so much but I hate that I’m telling you this story. I never wanted to. I wanted to tell him in our bed on our first anniversary. I wanted it to be our private origination tale, a thing between us that only he and I had to believe. And I know he would have believed it. But there is no he and I.

Sadly the lack of an ‘us’ has not taken away my need to get the story out. I’ve never felt this way about a person before. It’s honestly quite new to me. I want to put him first. I do put him first. Every time I see him I put his needs before mine. I act like everything is totally fine and I’m good and I let it all go. But the truth is I let nothing go. I seem to have zero capability of letting it go because it’s the realest, happiest most comfortable thing to me.

Last Tuesday my back went into spasm. Seven days later I can still barely move. I’ve been sleeping on the thinly veiled concrete floor of my parents’ basement writhing in a pain that doesn’t cease for more than five minutes at a time. I can’t sit. I can’t roll over. At times I can’t even stand up straight. Instead I’m bent over, hobbling around like an octogenarian with scoliosis.

I know from the last time this happened (2010, 40-Day Master Cleanse) that my pain is a physical manifestation of the emotional anxiety I’ve been burying. I kind of can’t take it anymore. I know this pain is tied to him but still I struggle to release it. Since I made the choice to become single in 2009, I’ve never had trouble walking away from someone who just wasn’t into me. Why is it so much different this time?

Attach, Send, GAH!

I just sent my manuscript to my editor.

I just used the phrases “my manuscript” and “my editor” in a sentence.

It took a year, but with my favorite writing buddy by my side every step of the way, I actually completed a first draft of a manuscript and sent it out into the world. I’ve placed it into the hands of a professional editor.

GAH!

img_7288Time to buckle up! I have so much work to do.

Resolution Road(map)

Yesterday I discovered what kind of crazy person runs a race on New Year’s Day in sub-freezing northeastern temperatures. I’m so happy to report that kind of crazy person is now me!

New Year’s Eve is my favorite holiday and I take that rather seriously. It’s super un-social of me and I freakin’ love it. No apologies! Instead of a raging party scene with silly hats and noisemakers, I tend to opt for a quiet evening sans alcohol, oftentimes alone. No matter where I am, I duck out to chant the Om Namo Bhagavate 108 times on the cusp of midnight, concentrating intently on what I want to usher forth in the new year. Then I sleep.

This New Year’s Day I awoke early, laced up my sneakers and drove north to Milton, an idyllic Connecticut town full of rolling hills and horse pastures. I fidgeted outside in the freezing cold, sang America the Beautiful with a small clique of friendly progressive NPR-listening Litchfield-ers and took off to the ring of a cowbell onto an unpaved dirt road covered in slush and ice for the 27th Annual Resolution Road Race five miler.

To my surprise and delight, my parents had packed the dogs into their car and drove up to cheer me on. So as I rounded the first bend I got to pause for unexpected puppy love and encouragement from the world’s best cheerleaders.

From the picture below you can sort of see that I’m happy, I’m cold, and I have zero running form.

img_7272Let’s concentrate on the first part, I’m happy, and ignore the obvious question of: How in the world did my parents figure out how to take blurry sun-glared pictures with their brand new smartphones?

My life is not void of distress or difficulties, no one’s is. But I’m in a very good place physically, emotionally and financially with some incredibly exciting developments on the horizon. My goals for this year are not resolutions. They are clearly thought out projects with road maps to get me to each finish line: IronMan 70.3, buying a house, editing and publishing my first book.

Nerd alert! I am literally entering 2017 with a plan (my favorite thing) in a formatted Excel spreadsheet (my second favorite thing)! Game. Frickin’. On.!

Happy New Year everyone! Neil Gaiman sums up my wishes for you the best:

15727043_10154368425993717_4853095508206915157_n

So much LOVE ❤

– Jennifer

 

 

 

Nature’s Gym

This morning I took the dogs to Tarrywile (a 700 acre nature preserve in my hometown) for a trail run. It was crisp and we started off cold and slow.

I’ve been spending enough time at the gym lately for my body to remember and appreciate regular exercise. Once we got going on the trail the joy of it started to click. The thigh workout felt like a warm blanket instead of an achy burn. The chilly air invigorated my lungs rather than exhaust them.

We had been jogging around the woods for about 30 minutes when we came upon an off-shoot trail – a steep shot up followed by a long meandering wrap down around the back of the hill. As much as I wanted to take it, I knew we didn’t have time to complete it before my afternoon plans. But rather than pass it up all together I decided to run up the hill, turn around at the top and come straight back down to finish the shorter trail we were on.

I went for it and for the first time since I trained for the Honolulu Triathlon back in 2013, I felt the fire within me. I tapped into the desire to push myself farther and to try harder.

It was great for a minute but here’s the whole truth: I didn’t actually run up the hill. It was a mix of jogging and hiking that quickly slowed to a crawl. And the reality is I only made it 2/3 of the way up before getting too winded to continue.

It was time to choose an option: A) I could berate myself for not cresting the top like a champion. B) I could choose to be completely satisfied with the effort.

I went with B. This is just the beginning of training after all. The beauty is that I wanted to try and I did.

With a smile on my face I turned around to take in the wintry view through the starkly empty trees as I caught my breath. Just then a herd of deer ran by us, right down below where we had started, an exhilarating reward for the climb. They wouldn’t have run past if the dogs and I were still at the bottom of the hill. They would have stayed in hiding until we were long gone. But from our elevated perch we were both gone and still able to witness their stunning beauty as they galloped past.

And so there I had it: the first tiny miracle of this latest adventure. Which reminds me… I’m supposed to be studying A Course in Miracles