This is what it looks like when I spend an irresponsible amount of money, but hey, when you’ve been fantasizing about something for years, it might be time to pull the trigger.
A few years ago, I went to Portland when Harrison and I were going through a tough time and were unsure if we were going to stay together. One of us needed to remove ourselves from the situation. I was in Portland alone for a couple days and then a friend met me there. It rained so much. It poured every day that I was there. I came armed with my umbrella and carrying a broken spirit. As much as I love Denver, Portland was there when I needed it. I found my independence again in those days that I was alone navigating a new city in the rain. In the past, I’ve used rain as a metaphor for feelings. You can’t ignore them. You might be able to shield yourself a bit with the help of a good friend or an everyday distraction. In a downpour, an umbrella might help, but you will get wet no matter how much you try to avoid it. Feel your feelings; feel the rain.
I still love Portland, and this year, Harrison and I were able to enjoy the city together.
If you’re in the Denver area and looking for some excellent tattoo artists, check out Certified Customs. You can also check them out on Instagram.
If you recall (the two of you who have read this since the beginning), at the end of last year, I made a few goals for myself. One thing that I wanted to accomplish was to do more yoga. I have struggled so much with yoga in the past, but it was something I really wanted to figure out how to enjoy.
That was my first mistake- trying to figure it out. But that’s how my brain works. I took a personality test a few months ago, and my result was “Logistician.” I’m the kind of person who scoffs at the internet memes posted by yogis on Facebook. You know- the ones with uplifting quotes on a background of a grassy field at sunrise with the perfect Instagram filter. I ask why…. a lot. If something is “good for you,” I need someone to give me the reason it’s good for me using citable fact. It’s obnoxious, I know.
What I’ve realized is that most things take on a different meaning for everyone, and this is no different. And another thing- THAT’S OKAY! I really struggled with what I was supposed to be feeling when I practiced yoga. I had been occasionally practicing yoga in my apartment using a YouTube video as a guide, and maybe I would find it in myself to go to a class about every 6 months. I couldn’t get excited about it. I couldn’t get over my anxiety about being good at it or not. Then one day, something clicked when I went to a yoga class taught by a friend of mine after a night of battling insomnia. On that particular day, it offered a kind of focus and control that I needed to feel better. (You’d think I’d have figured out how to feel like a human on little sleep at this point, but I definitely haven’t.) That class, the sense of belonging and community that my friend offers to her students was a game changer for me. I was instantly hooked. I started going to class once a week, then twice a week, and now I catch a class as often as I can, and I crave it.
To be honest, it was a little bit surprising that I suddenly had this thing that I desired to put work into. I haven’t felt that way about anything in a really long time. It didn’t come without challenges, and it still doesn’t. I still bargain with myself every time I head to class. Sometimes, as I sit in a room before class begins and look around at the thin and athletic people there, I have the urge to bolt for the door. I am neither thin or athletic, and I never have been. But then I stay. Sometimes I’ll lay on my mat and close my eyes and remember that this time is about me and no one else. I’m reminded that I have a friend who teaches this stuff, and she thinks I’m awesome and have great form. Ha!
There are days my body doesn’t do the things I want it to. My hips lock up, my feet cramp, or I can’t fold over and grab my feet as comfortably as I could yesterday. I get frustrated because I’m the “Logistician,” and I just want things to work. It’s all part of the ride, and unlike most things in my life, I’m somehow okay with it when things don’t go the exact way I want them to. It’s all about how I respond to it, which is something I can take with me.
I’ve only been practicing yoga consistently for about 6 months. I’ve noticed changes both physically and mentally in ways that are more noticeable than any other period of my life. I have muscles I didn’t know were hiding under my skin. Sometimes I make Harrison feel my biceps- just for fun. I feel strong in my body like I never have, and I like that. I have a better relationship with sleep than I used to. I still fight insomnia sometimes, but far less often than I used to.
The mental changes I’ve noticed have been far more surprising than the physical mostly because of what I said before about scoffing at the uplifting memes. I still do that, and I probably will for a long time, maybe forever. I make unfair assumptions, I’m cranky sometimes, I’m cautious and sometimes suspicious of most people. I’ve been described as negative and misanthropic (mostly by people that don’t know me very well or as a joke, so I try not to let that get to me). I know people who are more comfortable being unhappy than happy, don’t do anything to help themselves, and subsequently make everyone around them miserable. I do not want to be that person. I want to be someone who respects others, treats people with kindness, and has the capacity for compassion and empathy. I am becoming the person I want to be – day by day, class by class. What I’ve realized in the last few months is that being nice does doesn’t mean that you can’t have boundaries, and being open is not same thing as being naïve. Being happy does not mean you can’t take time to recognize the unhappy feelings. Being positive does not mean that you can’t also be realistic and logical. Yoga has allowed me a safe environment to work through my personal shit in a way that I completely doubted could be effective for me. What I’m saying is that all the angry and sad people should probably try yoga.
Also, my sister (she plays soccer) said to me, “I’m running the whole time when I play soccer. You’re just standing.” I’ll let you know what happens when I get her to a class. It’s going to be AWESOME.
A little over a year ago, I was having dinner with my parents to celebrate my 28th birthday. I was scheduled to have surgery a few weeks later to remove an ovarian cyst that had been found unintentionally during an ultrasound purposed with locating missing IUD strings (because there are exactly zero birth control options that do not entail some sort of bullshit). During dinner, I mentioned how annoyed I was with the impending operation, its interruption to my routine, and the general unpredictability of recovery time and whether my doctor would have to remove the entire ovary or just the cyst. I don’t like not knowing things. Underneath my irritation, I was also very scared, but fear is not something I generally admit to.
My stepmom looked up, seemingly annoyed with me, and said, “Well, you just need to think positive about it.” The way she said it was quick and biting. It was as if to say, “Shut your mouth, you big baby. You’re ruining my street taco trio with your harrowing negativity.”
Communication 101: This is the WORST way to respond to someone who is upset about something. If you can’t think of anything to say, just say something like “I’m sorry, that sucks.”
I didn’t know how to respond, and I think I kind of froze. I felt judged, and that my feelings were in some way unjustified and invalid.
Please let Parks and Recreation show you the way…
My parents came to my apartment the day after my surgery to bring me some food and things to keep me busy while I couldn’t do much else but sit around with a lengthy Netflix queue. Side note: Laparoscopic surgeries are actually fucking terrible despite the shrugs they usually get from people. “You’re having surgery? Is it laparoscopic? It is? Oh.” *shrug* Sometimes it felt like my skin was about to rip apart at one or more of the four incision points including the one in my belly button. Not to mention not the inability to use your core to support yourself and the stress that puts on your arms and back.
The care package included a book about unlocking human motivational drives…or something like that. There was a note inside the book about how I deserved the best and could have it with “positive action.” I knew this gift was given to me as a result of the dinner conversation. Maybe I’m being an asshole about this, and my stepmom just gave me a book she read and enjoyed. But getting a note about positive action a few weeks after being barked at to “just think positive” was a little too obvious and very passive aggressive. It was clear someone thought this was a problem that I needed a self-help book to fix. It made me realize how little my parents know or understand how I process things, and they certainly don’t know that I have a pretty good handle on it. Maybe being understood by your parents doesn’t matter anymore when you’re almost 30, but if you’re going to give someone a gift like that, know your audience. I haven’t read the book yet, and I’m not sure that I will.
I stumbled upon a quote recently that made me stop for minute. It read, “The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said this. I’ll be honest, I’m mostly unfamiliar with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I know he was a poet, and that’s about it. I also don’t know what rain represents here, but for me, the rain is my feelings. In a way, this helped me figure out how to articulate to others how I feel about my feelings.
I’ve noticed that the willingness to acknowledge and sit with your feelings, however difficult they may be, is often misconstrued as being negative or pessimistic. It’s even worse if you tell the wrong person how you feel. It’s one thing to uselessly complain (we all know at least one person who does this). It’s another to tell someone how you feel because you’re looking for someone to trust and treat your feelings with the respect they deserve.
I’ll admit that hyper-positivity (I don’t know if that’s a phrase that people actually use) irritates the hell out of me, mostly because I have my doubts about how genuine it is. It’s like there’s happiness broom sweeping all of the shit you don’t want to deal with right now under a rug that’s supposed to hide all that is undesirable, but eventually, nothing else will fit under that rug. Then you have a big fucking mess to clean up when you could have dealt with it before you swept it under the rug. Maybe it is genuine and incredibly naïve at the same time. It’s the person who says, “I thought the world was a better place,” after a tragedy occurs, and you look at them with your head cocked to the side, like they are brand new to the planet and respond, “Oh, honey.” Then you feel like you need to hug them because, let’s face it, these kinds of people are huggers, and you’re doing okay (sad and angry maybe, but dealing with it) because already knew what a shit place the world can be. Except you’re not a hugger, and you kind of want them to suck it up and deal with it because that’s what you’ve been doing for basically your entire life.
Only the people closest to me know the extent of my optimism. I believe that most people are good, some are well-intentioned but uneducated, but the bad people who do exist can cause irreparable damage. I believe in the power of kindness and treating people with respect, and I hope with all of my soul that love and goodness will always win. I look for the good people who emerge in bad situations because they always do. I am also willing to acknowledge when things just suck and let it be for a while until I figure out how to make it not so.
It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to be annoyed. It’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to feel however you feel because you always work through it, and you’ll be okay.
After all, it doesn’t rain forever, but you can’t force it to stop. Eventually, the sun comes out, or better yet, a rainbow appears among dispersing clouds. Then you know that everything will be fine.