Friday, March 22, 2013

"Soon you will see..."

Does anyone else have those friends on their Facebook feed who sappily post lyrics to pop songs in an effort to thinly veil their emotional duress behind the words of Katie Perry or the annoying Goteye?  For awhile on my wall a girl I vaguely know worked her way through the entire Top 40 in the 2 month duration of her relationship.  Its a little disturbing when songs I hear on my commute home remind me of a guy I never met because of this girl's regularity of high school girl style posting.  She didn't moderate herself at all.

Anyway, its something I swore that I would personally never do when I had an ex post ALL OF THE lyrics of Jewel's "You were meant for me" directly on my wall in case I overlooked it on my newsfeed or something.  My sister made fun of me for months, crooning "soon you will see you were meant for me" whenever I regaled her with his latest attempt to win me back.  In retrospect its just as hilarious as it was then, but really really sad in a pathetic "Dude pull yourself together" kind of way.  

I adhered for 4 years.

And then, today, I had an emotion that was best summed up with a Top 40 lyric.  I posted and quickly removed it.  Damn my inner high school girl who feels the only one who understands her in the whole world is Lady Gaga.  Of course maybe one song lyric in 4 years is moderation?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Flashback: NYE

As a concept I like the idea of New Year's Eve being a goal loving junkie, but in practice I loathe it.  

Not the resolutions portion, the celebration that mandates this be the best day of the previous year and set the standard of what is to come.  It never does.  Its always a mammoth let down. 

I spent most of my morning answering enraged emails and trying to locate product curled up in the fetal position in front of my work computer.   Around 8 o'clock I wiggled into a petite brown strapless dress that demanded attention for my legs and wandered to my friend's house party…and en route got a note from an ex wishing me a happy NYE, an instant downer and prelude of what was coming.  

I walked into the party and was immediately confronted at the door with a voice that made me stiffen.  The voice of someone I violently hate who a few months before I had been relentlessly pursued by until I wasn't, I swallowed down my rage plastered a smile onto my face and marched in… and he eyed my legs like a fox about to pounce.  Luckily my friend Jon swooped in and provided a social barrier.  About five minutes later another cast of thousands arrived and with it yet another of my Austin mistakes.  I felt awful and exposed,  I wanted to disappear.  

In the elevator on the way to another party one of the former contenders for my affection was loudly parroting on about wanting to get 'nailed' that night, Jon noticed I was going white knuckled and quickly handed me a bag of M&M's.  We crossed in front of my building and I resisted the urge to barrel home to Ari.  Once we arrived at the bar we got into the line, and yet another guy I had gone on 3 or 4 dates with jumped in behind me.  At this point I looked up at the stars and stated, "Are you fucking kidding me?"  I decided then and there that God was clearly trying to tell me something so I turned and chatted to the guy behind me and caught up on his life's happenings.  

Once in the bar I got a deathstare by some guy who had tried to pick me up at the bar the week before.  I was not surprised and prepared myself to assume that there was a real possibility that everyone I had locked lips with in the 3 years I've lived here was going to make an appearance.  I decided to be grateful I looked hot and that I was in the immediate vicinity of strong social lubricants.  

I saw some girlfriends across the bar and made my way over.  Once a beer went down I relaxed, and as the night wore on I talked to my assorted and failed dalliances.  And they were boring, kind of dumb, a little lame, or just plain old scuzzy man whores.  Out of no where I went from feeling awkward, to feeling grateful that these guys weren't a part of my life anymore.  I stopped feeling unloveable and focused on my friends.  

I danced and gabbed, and got a surprising kiss, with tongue, from one of my best girlfriends.  How's that for unloveable?  My savior of the night Jon kept me company with all manner of sarcastic commentary and at midnight spared me the awkwardness of staring at my glass by giving me a bear hug and a smooch.  After midnight he and I went to a diner and grabbed a late night snack with some friends who had also had the same idea.  We chuckled and laughed, and all around had a banner evening.  I was glad my night had ended far from where it started with someone I consider a real friend-the extra company was gone literally and figuratively.  

NYE is a time to spend reflecting on the year ahead and to spend some time with friends.  For my NYE my reflection was brought to the front and center of my space.  I faced my fear, and ended the night in a totally new place.  

I felt beautiful and lovable and completely free, and thats a great way to begin a new year.  

Friday, March 15, 2013

Sans Vino: Moderation Extreme Challenge

About 4 weeks ago I woke up on the floor of my apartment with all the lights on.  Shoes littered along with my bra in the path I navigated the night before from my doorway to my bedroom.  My phone denoted calls that I had little recollection of.  

This is never a good way to begin your day.

I crawled to my bathroom, and promptly vomited.  Did I mention it was a Monday morning?  I had gotten shit ripped on a Sunday evening…with my parents who were in town visiting.  Somewhere on the other side of Austin my Mother was making her own pilgrimage to the bathroom.  I had had a fabulous time with Mama and Papa Gray the night before, such a good time that we had all giggled when I was tossed into the back of the truck they were driving and I tried to guide them the wrong way down one way streets to get me home.  

As I sat in my cubicle at work an hour or so later feeling like garbage, I winced at the light and the annoying chipperness of my colleague I share a cubicle wall with, I cringed at the memory of my mother telling hilarious sex jokes, I felt nothing but embarrassed every time I glanced at my call log.  And dear god the text messages.  But mostly I felt squeamish by the idea of losing control.  On a Sunday.  On a school-errr-work night.  

I spent my lunch eating out in my car reading the latest Jillian Michaels book, alone with the silence trying to will my head to a non-pounding state.  Jillian went into great detail about why drinking to excess was bad for you. In my sorry state I was willing and eager apostle for her gospel, and decided then and there to go cold turkey on alcohol for 30 days.  No beer, no cocktails, and no wine.  Not even after a stressful workday, not even out with all my boozy friends.  For the first time since I was 19 I was going to abstain.  

Out the gate I was nervous, I have friends that can't go two days sans wine without getting the shakes.  But I was fine, didn't miss it at all.  I was sleeping better, getting in significantly better work outs and even waking up easily in the morning.  On Sunday mornings I would bounce out of bed by 9 in a blaze of productivity in time usually reserved for my moderate hangovers.   Do you know what its like to have gotten in a 2 hour work out, have cleaned your apartment, and done all your grocery shopping before 1 PM on a Sunday?  Neither did I before this little endeavor of mine,  let me assure you, It was awesome.  

Also, do you know what happens when you cut out drinking?  Say adios to your pouch.  In all my 27 years I have always stored anything excess in my body in my boobs and in my tummy…well…all of the excess in my stomach disappeared!  I have muscles that I can see, and they are cute ones!  I did a victory dance in my shower whenI noted the change.  

After 20 days I was ready to commit to a life without booze forever, I was on a high.

But then, I had a really shitty day at work.  Really shitty, like panic attack-tear inducing shitty day at work.  At home my wine winked at me from the bottom level of my fridge.  "Drink me!!!"  Unwind!!  Relaxing reds!  Kill the memories of today!"  I went to yoga instead.  It did not produce a satisfying buzz.  And I spent most of the class glaring at my mat, mentally at the office thinking about how badly I wanted wine.  

I went to a friend's birthday dinner and was that awkward one who wasn't drinking.  It was weird when people kept asking me why I wasn't drinking.  One colleague even asked me if I was abstaining because I was pregnant, which as he put it, "would explain me not drinking and being so moody at work."  I had no idea it was going to be such a thing.  

Out another night I faced questioning about whether or not I was on some weird medication, there could be no other reason for me to me alcoholless.

I went out with other friends, and once again I was heckled by all sides for not drinking.  Which was annoying, and so are drunk people when you are sober.  

I had never pictured not drinking alcohol to drive a social stigma, but it does.  Particularly when you are young, single, with a reputation for being fun.  I felt like a Debbie Downer-which was weird because I was all but levitating when I wasn't in social settings-my energy was through the roof, my skin was clear, and need I remind you, I had abs to keep me company.  

My 30 days are up today and I'm trying to figure out how to be moderate about alcohol now that my extreme is off the table.  Truth be told, I'm glad I did it, but I feel oddly lonely as I complete the journey.  The not drinking thing made me so uncomfortable around my friends I spent a lot of nights in.  On the flip side, I love how I feel after a cleanse from it.  

I'm am sure I will go back to having a glass or two of wine, and it will be nice to not to feel like a pariah when I'm out with friends-but its nice to feel like my body is powering on all cylinders. I just need to add some moderation to my plan to get the best of both worlds.  

Fare thee well abs, it was fun while it lasted.  

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Listening and Limits

I've been grappling with some issues lately, worsened by my irritating habit of believing that will is a skill and by god I'll push it until I achieve whatever it happens to be that I set out to achieve.  After spending a few Saturdays in bed quite literally curled into the fetal position frustrated by my inability to manifest change while Ari stood guard I decided I needed to stop moping and get outside and run.  

I settled into the soothing sounds of Jay-Z and took off.  Ever since my hip surgery a year ago I can feel when I'm not running "right".  Also, when a storm is coming.  I'm a human barometer, or like an old arthritic lady.  This run was no exception, almost immediately into my jog a dull ache decided to join the party.

This did not please me, and I pushed through.  Then a thought quite literally bubbled up into my head, "Jenna, what did that injury teach you?'

I ignored the condescending "teacher" attitude my inner voice had decided to utilize, and considered, "When I need to stop."  

The smug voice bubbled up, just as omnipotent, "And did you?"


"And what happened?"

"I really f-ing hurt myself.  I did real damage by ignoring the pain and not stopping."

"Sounds familiar…doesn't seem like you learned anything.  Have fun continuing to inflict damage on yourself."

My mind returned to its normal chatter.  But I couldn't shake the feeling that "the" voice was right and feeling a little disconcerted by the fact that I just got bitch-slapped with obviousness by my inner self.  

In some spiritual practices its thought that life throws out "tests" to see how you respond and the same test will keep coming up until you "pass".  People will date the people with the same destructive personality type over and over.  People will solicit partners or friends that imitate people from your past.  Until the issue is resolved it keeps coming back, life keeps giving you a chance to pass.  Around and around until you clear the hurtle and transcend to the next lesson you are meant to learn.

At the end of my run I had settled into a walk.  I couldn't let my internal conversation go.  

It had nothing to do with running through hip pain and everything to do with a self-destructive pattern.  My hip was just a literal physical manifestation of failing the lesson, but I was failing the same lesson in my personal life again and again.  All the issues I have-work troubles and social frustrations, all of it was driven by pushing through and not acknowledging the hurt that was being inflicted both by myself and others.  And by not knowing when to stop and respect my own limit.  

When I got home, I returned to bed, not to mope…strangely I didn't feel like moping anymore, but I was tired.

As I dozed off, all I could think was, "Thank you".

When I woke up on Sunday morning I was completely calm, almost devoid of any emotion whatsoever, I knew that "I" had finally "heard" the message.

But can I listen?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Yoga "Bliss": A Drowned Dolphin

I'm a pretty avid exerciser.  With a marathon under my belt, I deviated in the past couple years from a run-centric regimen to trying my hand with weight circuits and Pilates reformer classes.  Given my problems with moderation, when I commit to a fitness style I commit to mastery, abandon everything else, and plateau.

I decided this year to try several new fitness classes to "mix it up"-and destress.  My friend volunteered to take me to her hot yoga class.

I hate extreme temperatures, I spend Texas summers in some semblance of seasonal induced misery by being forced to stay indoors so I did not expect to enjoy being locked in a 105 degree room.

I arrived with my mat-but no towel.  Rookie mistake.

I slipped and slid out of poses that I should be able to hold no problem-it was work to hold the pose.  I was disturbed by the instructor who didn't sweat.  I looked like a drowned dolphin on the other hand by the end of class.  Sopping wet.

I stayed away for a month.  I was not into being hot.

Then I had a meltdown at work.  Not sweat running down my back, but a full on crying/stress panic attack breakdown.  As I drove home from work, I noticed a yoga studio a block from my apartment with a sign offering a free week.

This time I arrived with a towel, water, and I knew what I was getting into.

The instructor of this class did sweat, which I found reassuring.  He also told us to focus on "smiling", that between holding the pose and holding a smile we would push the other thoughts out of our heads.

He was right, and in the past 3 weeks I've been back 15 times.  To sweat the stress out.