My First Last Place!

Well you guys, I did it. I successfully finished the Syracuse Iron Man 70.3 (with about seven minutes to spare)!

It was so incredibly difficult, like mind bogglingly difficult. I was so scared about the swim I started crying while waiting in line for my wave to start, but when the horn went off I just dove in and fucking swam that shit!

It took a few buoys to find a groove but once the majority of people passed me and I had a little space, I ended up feeling OK.  I was so thankful to be in fresh water, instead of a chlorinated pool or the ocean! The lake wasn’t nearly as slimy or disgusting as I thought it would be. And I got out of the water fifteen minutes faster than I expected.

The bike course was brutally hilly and windy. Elevation gain for the 56 mile course was 3,244’. Plus the air temperature was in the 90’s and the sun was unrelenting – no clouds! Overall it took me 45 minutes longer than I hoped, partly because I accidentally rode two extra miles when I got confused at an intersection where the directional sign had fallen over and the cop was uber-cranky. Oops!

Let’s not even talk about the run, OK? Sun, hills, heat, torture. That’s pretty much all I have to say about that. Except this: the volunteers out there were AMAZING and I love them. And some of them even sang to us.

Often in life we have to be our own cheerleader. I repetitively and consistently mantra’d my way through the scariest and hardest parts with the following:

I am grateful that I try
I am grateful that I TRI
I’ve got heart, I’ve got courage, Go! Go! Go courage!
I’ve got courage, I’ve got heart, Go! Go! Go heart!

In the end, I was the last female to cross the finish line before the cut off time, so hooray for my first last place finish! Yeeehaw! I can only go up from here, right?

I wasn’t last overall though. My time was 8:22:55 and my place was 1,039 out of 1,049 finishers (which means I beat ten men – booyah!). There were actually 1,472 athletes at this race so that’s A LOT of people who didn’t make it to the end. Maybe I can say I was 1,039 out of 1,472 – that sounds so much better hahaha!

I have to say I am very excited to try again. I want to do Boulder in August of 2018. You should come join me!


Just The Facts Ma’am

This afternoon in Sunnyside, Queens, while I was waiting to cross an intersection, a stranger in a sleek grey business suit, briefcase in hand, came up behind me on my left. He passed me by no more than a few inches then looked back at me. For a second I caught his eye. He seemed to be around my age, maybe a few years older.

Then he spit on me.

He didn’t spit towards the ground. No, this respectable looking man spit up into the air so that his spew landed squarely on my face and in my hair.

I was completely startled. It took my brain a few seconds to accept what had happened. The man just kept walking as I reached up to touch my forehead to confirm it was indeed covered in his saliva.

I hurried to catch up to him and said, “What the hell? You just spit on me!”

To which he replied with a great deal of scorn, “No I didn’t. You’re dreaming.”

His pace quickened and I kept up with him determined to put him in his place but nothing was coming to mind. So he continued berating me.

“Wow you must really want my attention. This is pathetic,” he snarled.

All I could do was mumble something about him being disgusting. “You’re the one who’s pathetic!” I finally blurted out.

“You’re really dying for my attention, aren’t you?” he said. Then he crossed the middle of the street to get away from me and yelled back, “So pathetic! Why don’t you get down on your knees while you’re at it?”

Every inch of my body, inside and out, was burning hot from my anger. I wanted so badly to run out into the road and push him into oncoming traffic but I didn’t. I didn’t cry, even though I really wanted to. I just kept walking. Took the 7 to Grand Central, washed my forehead in the public restroom and hopped a Metro North train home.

Tiptoein’ On Outta Here

Last week my friend Kristen replied to my recent blog posts about alcohol with this: “I realized six months ago my life is better without booze.”

I hadn’t seen her since I left New York in 2009 and she just returned to the northeast after five years in Austin, TX. So I wasn’t the only one who needed a break from NYC. We caught up on a lovely day in the Catskills. Bright sun, every tree in full bloom. Walking through the woods near her house with her dog Violet she divulged a journey that felt very similar to mine.

Kristen’s metaphor about quitting drinking is so great I have to share it here:

She feels like she just got way undercharged at the register of a designer clothing store and she’s standing there wondering if anyone is going to notice or if they’re gonna let her walk out with a free dress. Well no one notices. So she takes her shopping bag and tiptoes quickly out the front door as if she just won $20,000 on a scratch ticket.

She is Scot free. She doesn’t get caught. Kristen survived her old boozy life, relatively unscathed, and now she gets to walk into her new happy clean one in a brand new wavy flowing gorgeous floral print dress. No guilt. No shame. Just positive forward motion.

I feel very similarly, like I was let in on a secret and forgiven for sins that I now know, without any doubt, I will never commit again. That is the level of emotional control I gave to alcohol. I really can’t overstate the burden I feel has been lifted. The result is I continue to feel relieved and lightened, as though I had been carrying a 50 lb. log (read : guilt) on my shoulder and I was finally allowed to put it down.

Actually I shouldn’t say ‘the burden has been lifted’ or ‘I was finally allowed’ because that implies someone else did it. It was me. I lifted the burden off of myself. And furthermore, I didn’t need permission to do so.

Is there a guilt log you can stop carrying? Is there something you do on a regular basis that subconsciously you know is self-sabotaging? What if you brought that knowing to your conscious level and then put the log down and tiptoed away from it?

What if no one noticed because it was actually OK for you to feel light and happy and guilt-free all the time?


In Bed with James Altucher

James Altucher will likely become legendary for his grammatical errors and I’m not exaggerating here. On page 43 of The Choose Yourself Guide to Wealth he ends a paragraph with a comma. Then on page 52 he ends one with nothing, no punctuation whatsoever. And he takes the idea of writing the way you talk to an entirely new level. Seriously, listen to one of his podcasts then imagine it transcribed verbatim and there you have his latest book. And The Choose Yourself Guide to Wealth is the one he says was professionally edited.

It’s like a waking nightmare for grammar and presentation police slash wannabe authors like myself and yet he is the one on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list. Because the truth is none of my nitpicking actually matters. I can stress about it. I can force my frustration to be important to me but I can’t make it matter to anyone else. I can brush James off as a hack but then I’ll lose the prize at the end of the grammarbow: his wisdom.

So much of life is like this. We subconsciously block out what doesn’t fit our preconceived mold. We judge quickly and harshly then move on without a care for what we may have missed. Stupid brains gettin’ in the way of our learnin’ and growin’.

I have to say I’m learning a lot from the simple process of reading his book without allowing myself to go crazy when he writes “The people   They”. He just doesn’t care and he’s obviously made it apparent to his editors that they shouldn’t either. He wants to get his ideas across, not his ability to properly structure sentences and he can’t get bogged down by the time and attention it would take to fix mistakes he doesn’t deem worthy of time or attention.

It’s kinda brilliant and not the sort of thing just anyone could get away with.

I guess my big important point here is that James has individual style and I find myself particularly loving his. I am refreshed and fascinated by his devil may care approach to writing. It is bad. Like really really bad. And furthermore he admits that it’s bad. And then he moves on because he doesn’t care. He loves to write and people love to read his writing. Case closed.

Because of this I have fallen in love (in the far removed respectful way, not the pining romantic way) with this crazy haired mess of a human being who is giving us all a living breathing example of how to not start great but to turn out great anyway.

It makes me very thankful to live in an age where I can listen to writers whenever I want. I can see them and hear them. I can interact with them. Seeing our idols as real people is vital to believing that we can become successful ourselves. The higher you place someone on a pedestal the more impossible it is to reach her/his level. If it’s truly impossible then what’s the point of trying, right?

The biggest thing Altucher advocates for is that ideas are the new currency. And he backs everything he says up with a very Robbins / Oprah / Bernstein-esque approach of gratitude first, gratitude second, gratitude last. He’s open and honest about his faults while being transparent about what has worked for him and how.

He is, hands down, one of the most generous people out there. Sure I was happy to pay a few bucks for one of his books but I didn’t need to. Everything he has to offer (which is quite a lot) is on the web at no cost. And yet… James Altucher is a multi-millionaire.

Also, he’s self deprecating, kind of an asshole sometimes and genuinely funny.

Perhaps most importantly, for the sake of this blog post anyway, James Altucher is the only writer I can read at night without falling asleep. I always thought it was me, that I just couldn’t read after dark without immediately drifting off into Snoozeville, but maybe that’s not true. Maybe I just hadn’t found the right author. Until now…

And so it is that I find myself happily laying in bed with James very much not falling asleep, instead drinking up his awkward grammatically profane wisdom juice.

If you choose to read any of his books I strongly suggest listening to a bunch of his podcasts first. There is something so inexplicably soothing about his classically nasal New Yorker voice, fraught with all the expected self-doubt repetition and Woody Allen-ness (minus the skeezeball) that comes with that stereotype. Like you can hear him shrugging. I can’t tell you why but I freaking love it.

Oh! And guess who doesn’t drink alcohol? Yah. James. Totes sober. Mwah!

Let’s Glamorize This Shit!

I think a lot of people expect me to be fragile and vulnerable (in a negative way) right now, crying a lot and seeking therapy. I’m not and that seems to be catching some off guard.

I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Not drinking is a decision I have wanted to make for YEARS and at long last I have finally actually made it, not because I’m weak or sad. I made it because I am strong as fuck and all I want to do is get stronger.

I made this decision because by proactively reprogramming my brain (thank you Tony Robbins) to believe I am good and worthy of beautiful things, it finally dawned on me that I’m not required to occasionally feel like shit anymore.

The only negativity I feel right now is the same feeling I had when I finally left my stupid douchey ex boyfriend: Why in the world did it take me so long to make this decision? But I’m not going to sit around and dwell on it. I’m just going to move on feeling light as a bird and ready to fly.

But not drinking is generally seen as a dire punishment we force upon ourselves. Shame on you! You did a bad thing so you never get to relax or have any fun again! Sobriety is considered such an ugly word. Straight edge is way too extreme to be normal. Lack of alcohol is rarely if ever perceived as a gift.

In fact a large part of why it took me so long to remove myself from this particular roller coaster is the flood of peer pressure that rushed in every time I said out loud, “I don’t think I want to do this anymore.” Quit drinking?? GASP! The horror! Why would you ever do something like that to yourself??!!

From what I can tell Gabby Bernstein is the only person coming anywhere close to insisting sobriety can be joyful instead of depressing. Really where is the sober positive advertising? All I can find are 12-step memes that ooze desperation and guilt.

Here’s something Gabby says in May Cause Miracles that I love:

Our fear-based minds believe that change is tough and self-reflective work is difficult. But let’s face it: being consumed by fear is far more difficult than showing up for love – we’re just tricked into thinking fear is “easier” because it’s more familiar. When people at my lectures complain that change takes too much energy, my response is, “It takes a lot of time and energy to feel like crap, right?”

This clearly defined direction is not some rock bottom foundation upon which I’m building my new life. It’s just a really good healthy decision I’m making. What’s happened is I’ve figured out a negative pattern in my life and I’m making an active choice to call it out and eliminate it.

I would much prefer high fives over reminders that This is going to be so hard and You’ll have many more ups and downs. The point is I stepped off the roller coaster. So how about I just go up from here?

I’m excited for where I’m heading. And I’m excited to have two new big goals to add to my list of things to accomplish before this Last Year of Life as I Know It is over:

#1 Feel better at forty than I have ever felt in my life
(I have until March to get that one done)

#2 Figure out how to glamorize the shit out of sobriety
(This will be something I work on forever)

So here’s a toast of seltzer with a splash of O.J. to the glamorization of things that bring us happiness and joy. Things that make us smile and love ourselves. Things that help us go deeper into our beautiful bodies so we can clean out the gook rather than stuff it farther down. And here’s to an in depth spring cleaning of the soul.

Sending love and light ❤

All of the Horrible Things

I struggle with alcohol. I always have. Like a mathematician at a chalkboard losing her mind over an impossible equation, this is a problem I have been trying to solve for my entire adult life.

I’ve studied myself, watched my patterns, declared halfhearted decisions and followed them up with excuses. After fifteen years of failure here is what I have finally come to understand:

I can handle everything in my life going really well, like straight up life is amazing and I’m happy and taking excellent care of myself, for about six weeks, maybe two months, maximum. Then I start slipping into self sabotage. It’s subtle to the naked eye. It shows up as forgetting to meditate in the morning or eating junk food, skipping a workout. I’ll have a beer one night, then two beers the next. And, whatever right? It’s just a couple drinks to take the edge off and relax. I deserve it. If I get drunk every now and then what’s the big deal? Everybody does it.

But this is what I’m really doing: I’m using alcohol like a baseball bat to knock myself down a few pegs every time life gets too good for me to handle. Psychologically speaking that’s pretty dark, but I’m not going to sugar coat this because I need it done. I need alcohol gone forever because I’ve decided to be happy and, for me, the two cannot coexist.

Up to this point when I’ve considered never drinking again I’ve quickly found myself consumed by all of the horrible things that will happen if I actually stop drinking beer and wine. All the new microbrews I’ll never taste. All the unwinding on a deck with a glass of chardonnay I’ll never do. All the friends I’ll lose. All the people who won’t like me. [And yes I actually had a grown ass man in NYC tell me no one would like me if I quit drinking many years ago, and rather than toss that out the door for the bullshit that it was, I chose to internalize and believe it.]

And what about all the potential friends I’ll never meet? All the parties I won’t get invited to because I’m so boring and uptight. All the fun I’ll miss out on. All the stress relief I’ll deny myself.

What about the difficult moments in life when we just need a crutch to get us through? I am in fact dealing with something difficult right now. I was given a significant financial gift that I didn’t earn. Isn’t that awful? Couldn’t you just cry for me?

On the outside I’m handling it well. I’m investing most of it. I’m taking time off from full-time employment to edit my first book and I’m traveling. Because on the outside I understand that we only have one life to live and it is way too precious to spend it suffering and scared of what everyone else thinks.

But that knowledge is only skin deep. Right below the surface I am a mess because my subconscious mind believes that I don’t deserve anything I haven’t worked incredibly hard for. I don’t deserve gifts and freedom so I literally force myself to suffer when they are offered up. It’s so much easier to stay rooted in the comfort zone.

I tried to make it to the next level. I made a promise to myself that I would never be drunk again. And then I promptly got drunk again, twice. I let six weeks of feeling good pass then I got stressed out and sunk into old patterns until WHAM! I busted out the baseball bat and cracked my own noggin. I drank a bottle and a half of wine by myself, passed out and woke up miserable in every way.

The last time I did this was three hours after I wrote my most recent post, when I felt absa-fucking-fantastic. So yah… What’s that Jen, you feel like you’re on top of the world? THWACK! Right across the back of the head and I get to start the cycle again.

Everyone will always forgive me. Oh don’t worry it’s just a tiny slip backwards. You’ll stay strong next time.

It’s just like being in a bad relationship for years – everyone will understand and forgive me and no one will step up and say Get out! Stop the madness! It’s just like being 100’ from the top of Olomana and wanting to turn back because I was too scared – everyone would have forgiven me if I never made it to the top. EVERY SINGLE PERSON I KNOW would have forgiven me if I gave up on my forty day juice fast. And in a few weeks, everyone will forgive me if I don’t complete the Syracuse Half Iron Man 70.3.

Forgiveness is a vital piece of life. It is essential to happiness. And I don’t say these things to place blame on other people for not solving my problems. I don’t mean that at all. What I mean is, I’m lucky to be so loved, but if I really want to make changes in my life it’s completely up to me to make them happen no matter what anyone around me thinks. I can’t justify my behavior by the degree of forgiveness I receive from people who love me. Nor can I justify it when they say Oh gosh Jenny don’t be so dramatic. You don’t have to give anything up, just drink less for goodness sake!

I can love everyone for being kind and letting me off the hook. I can forgive myself for mistakes in the past. But I cannot forgive myself for drinking alcohol again. It never gives me anything positive. It never heightens my awareness of the good in life; it only heightens my awareness of all the horrible things. It gives me a reason to go back to hating myself.

When I say I deserve this drink I am also saying the following:

I deserve to feel like shit tomorrow.
I deserve to fall short of my goals.
I deserve to be at risk.
I deserve to live on a roller coaster.
I deserve to feel sick.
I deserve to suffer.
I deserve to be guilty of something awful.
I deserve to hate myself.
I deserve to be held back.
I deserve to be unhappy.

But here’s the thing, I have never once in my life woken up sober and thought, Gosh you know I really should have drank alcohol last night. Quite the opposite actually.

Alcohol is insidious. You can hide a problem from anyone, even yourself. It robs me of my happiness. It halts me in my tracks and I can no longer afford that because I have a lot of places to go and a lot of big things to accomplish.

Fifteen years is enough. It’s way too much actually but there’s not much we can do about how long it takes us to see things clearly. I know that I can do this but more importantly I now understand that I MUST. That is the key difference. I absolutely MUST do this. I don’t have another option.

So that’s it. Let’s call it official. Life is too beautiful and sweet to suffer therefore I no longer consume alcohol. So if I’m heading to your house for a barbecue you best have some root beer or a seltzer for me 🙂 ❤