the next step

Next week, I’m moving to New York City.

I’m sitting here today, on a rainy afternoon in Oregon, looking back over the last few years and feeling just tremendous gratitude for the path and the people that have supported me along the way.

It was a year ago last May that I stood barefoot in my kitchen in Portland and decided to leave my job, my school, my family, my known life; to move across the country, and to start over. Without a clue what I was going to do once I got there.

I keep coming back to how many times over the years I’ve felt like the only thing I’ve had is an instinct that keeps me moving forward. Looking back now, what I see is how gently and consistently and yet so utterly unrelentingly I’ve been pried loose from each of the external anchors I’ve hung on to in order to ground myself. Those anchors can take a lot of different forms –a person, a relationship, a job, a goal, an identity…any of the things that help me feel safe.

And each of these things served a purpose. Each one gave me focus and security at a time when I needed it. But as I let go of each anchor – sometimes willingly, and sometimes being dragged kicking and screaming – I realized that the process of building an internal anchor is probably the most important work I’ve ever done.

The 9 months I just spent in DC were all about this journey. I was so blessed to have a sister and brother in law who took care of me while I cried and ranted and moped and agonized. I was so blessed to have a job that allowed me so much flexibility. I was so blessed to be able to devote my time and energy and resources to healing and growing. I’ll never forget that or underestimate how lucky I am.

Because then, when I got the call from New York, I was ready. I was ready to step into the next high growth stage. I am ready. I’m scared, of course. I have a huge learning curve ahead of me. I’ve had to readjust how I might still accomplish some of my other goals. But I know, at such a deep level, that this is the right place and the right time and the right next step. I’m tremendously excited. And as someone once showed me, in a different time and place – I can feel fear and joy in equal measures at the same time. And hopefully, with experience and time, the fear lessens and the joy increases.

And if that’s not the hand of the divine taking me from Portland to Park Ave., I don’t know what is.

santa barbara

August 2013

This little cottage is perfect. It is such a blessing. It is just the right size – not too big,
not too small – and there is light everywhere and a feeling of peace. I felt relaxed and at home the moment I walked in the door. I knew it was exactly what I needed – what my heart had been telling me to go find ever since sometime in May when I knew it was time to make a change and reconnect with myself and be reborn, if I can say it that way. Yearning for rest and rejuvenation. I love my family and friends and I have been given so much love from them on my travels so far, but I knew I needed some quiet time alone. To think and sleep and process and pray and meditate and take care of myself the way I need to.

And speaking of sleep…wow. I’ve been logging about 12 hours a day. I just go to bed and somehow I sleep and sleep. And it’s good sleep, too. I also found a great deal for a package of massages so I scheduled myself one every day. I found a yoga studio with classes at the right time and practice area and price.

Today, I got out of bed at noon. Showered, ate my “cleansing” lunch of salmon, brown rice, and spinach. Then I went for my massage, and then I attended two yoga classes – the first, heated vinyasa, and the second, yin meditation. I feel so relaxed and connected to my body. It’s only 8.20 and already I feel like I want to be in bed by 9.00.

Tomorrow, after my massage, my new friend Elizabeth (pictured below – she used to live in this cottage) is going to take me downtown and we are going to explore and do some wine tasting and whatever else seems fun. I’m going to try to go to the beach I think one or both of the weekend days.

E and I in Santa Barbara

My other goal while here – beyond physical recovery – was to set aside some time for an emotional and spiritual journey. Last night I was just sitting here, thinking – I was trying to meditate but having a hard time focusing on my breath, so I gave up and just let the thoughts in – and some really good – but HARD!! – insights and questions came into my mind. It’s like I was having a conversation – with myself? with God/the Divine? – and I had to really confront how selfish I had been being in a certain area. How focused on myself and my feelings and my needs. I had to really look at what I was willing to lay down of myself and my own desires for love of another person.

I feel like I must have sat there for 2 hours, just being put through the wringer on this stuff, when I finally started laughing. And I started laughing because I remembered a thought I had had earlier this year, where I was congratulating myself for how much my emotional bandwidth had been stretched because of the challenges over the previous few years, and how mature that must mean I now was. I actually thought to myself, “I have the most bomb-ass emotional bandwidth.” And it’s as if God (or the Universe, or my Higher Power, or whatever – I still haven’t decided what to call IT) heard me think that, and laughed as well – and said, “Oh, you think so, hotshot? Ok then. Try this on for size.” And consequently I found myself facing an emotional and spiritual challenge of a greater magnitude than I ever imagined possible. I’m trying to see it as a blessing. An intense and crazy opportunity for growth. A pathway to becoming the most amazing, authentic, accomplished, incredibly strong, and totally kick-ass version of myself that I can be. A time and a chance to lay the foundations for my future, my kingdom, my life.

i’m ready for music again

I spent the weekend in Eugene recently – indulging myself in, among other things, Lisa’s baby grand piano. I’ve (somehow) survived the last year without an instrument, and I’ve practiced only sporadically for the last few years. Playing hers, I was frustrated by the depths to which my technique had sunk, and felt as though I’d lost the mental discipline it takes to really focus and improve, as versus playing for fun (and sounding like crap).

But it still felt SO so good. I was flooded with relief and happiness. It was cathartic and joyful and strangely painful all at the same time, and it got me thinking about why the act of musical expression is so important to me.

The first time I remember music standing out to me in importance was when I was about 11. I was going through a crisis because all my ideas about how I might some day earn my living had been discredited by Mom, and I was seriously worried that I might end up starving in a gutter somewhere for lack of other options. First, I had wanted to be a rock drummer, but Mom didn’t want to listen to me practise drums so she made me take piano lessons instead. Then I wanted to be a freedom figher/hired assassin and skulk around in tight black leather with a big gun, taking down dictators in Africa, but Mom said no one would hire me because I didn’t look forbidding enough. Finally, I wanted to be a Bedouin princess, and lie around on silk cushions in a multi-colored tent in the desert, amusing myself with gorgeous men and fast horses, but I wasn’t Bedu and Mom wouldn’t give me an allowance, so I had no money for a ticket to the mythical Orient. I was in despair. All I could think of as far as my marketable skills was being semi-proficient at the piano.

Over time, making music morphed from being a useful skill to being an absolutely essential lifeline of physical, emotional, and intellectual activity. It provides the counterpoint to the logical, unemotional, cooly stratified reality of my quotidien tendencies. It served, for many years, as a conduit through which I could explore the nuances of my unexamined passions and emancipate the resultant internal tension. I’m realizing it’s one of those things that I need to make a priority, regardless of anything else. Time to get creative!

hic adsum

Yes, I’m still here. You may see me popping up on FB every once in a (long) while – simultaneously attempting to catch up on what you all are up to, and procrastinating on homework.

The non-stop intensity that is the MBA has basically taken over my life. I think that work and school combined has been about a 70-hour a week process thus far. And in the last 6 weeks, beyond SWOT analysis, public speaking, and financial ratios, I’ve learned some additional things:

1. I have an amazing support system
2. My friends in the program are a rockin’ lifeline
3. I think I was pretty much born to do this (ie, why did I wait so long?)

It amazes me how well the skills and analytical processes I’m learing map on to my already well-defined personality traits, preferences, and inherent modes of thinking. As a self-identified Roman, I am very happy to think and plan and philosophize carefully for quite a while, but eventually I need to…attack something. Or conquer someone. Or build some shit. Aqueduct, anyone?

Yeah, So I’m 30 Now

May 2011

27

And I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a super awesome year. The funny thing is that I had a really hard time turning 29. I angst-ed over the loss of my youth and anguished over whether I had wasted much of the last decade ekeing out a nomadic, penniless student existence that didn’t even culminate in a second degree! Or, even if I eschewed the higher echelons of academic impressiveness, maybe if I had originally studied something Useful like Economics or Engineering, I could at the very least drop by Nordstrom’s Half Yearly Sale now and walk away with 5 bags of goodies without a second thought! I imagine successful materialism is a highly soothing balm to Ph.D drop-outs (or, as I prefer to think of myself, Ph.D hold-outs, because I haven’t totally given up the idea of finishing it at some point…).

But something kind of odd happened once I actually left my 20s. I feel calm. And confident. And excited about the future. And much more comfortable with who I am and what’s important to me. Maybe it’s the fact that all my friends (except Sara and Ro) are already in their 30s and really seem to be enjoying themselves. Maybe it’s the fact that Adam finally graduated and we’re only a few short months from our everyday lives changing drastically for the better. Maybe it’s partly because my 30th birthday party was at least twice as fun as any birthday party in my 20s (we had a private chef! we killed our own lobsters! my sister flew out from DC to surprise me!), and this bodes well for the future. I don’t really care what it is, though. I’m just happy that Adam summed it up by saying, “I love that you’re 30! That’s hot.”

 

antidote to everything

I have to start this post by giving public acclaim (or, as public as a blog read by 8 people can be) to my friend Jeff, who in the time since my last post has provided me with the most effective, exhilarating, hardcore, totally kick-ass antidote to all the winter blues, lazy red-wine drinking/porn-reading/couch-laying-about tendencies, life stress, and generally bored blahs that were afflicting me. Jeff started working out with a ( muscle-bound, black belt, MMA fighter)  trainer a number of months ago and couldn’t stop talking about it all – his program, his diet, his pain – and I was entranced. He started bugging me to come with him and try it out, but I kept demurring – mostly since he wanted to go during our lunch break, and I was worried about my hair and makeup and cute outfits getting messed up.

But one of the great things about having a guy as a close friend is that they totally do not give a shit about those kind of issues, and eventually Jeff prevailed. We’ve been working out together for around three months now I think, and it’s been AWESOME. He designed a complete resistance-training program for me based on tips and suggestions from his trainer, and he walks me through it each time. One of the greatest aspects of working out with a buddy who’s much larger and stronger than I am is that he can push me way past the point I would be getting to on my own, and consequently my progress has been pretty fast. And the endorphins are intense! A great, healthy, natural high is exactly what I’ve been needing. So I’m feeling alot happier and healthier and way hotter than I have in a long time.

Also, I came across this recently:

 

Obvi this is the hand of Constantine. I was being such a dork that Adam almost wouldn’t take the picture, but I begged him.

And I also just found this one of me at Dana’s wedding. That was such wonderful day! So both these pics made me smile.

 

 

 

Ummm…

How horribly embarrassing that it was JUNE last time I posted something. Brooks warned me back when I started this thing that keeping a blog was full-time work. Well, maybe not full-time, but alot.

The last few months have been kind of a blur. Adam’s sequestered in his office pretty much full-time. It’s been getting progressively colder and darker and more rainy, which means all I want to do is curl up under my big fluffy white blanket and read novels (or watch Glee), and while it feels sort of hedonistic to do that instead of working out or reading academic monographs (like I should be), it’s not terribly interesting to write about.  A post would go something like this:

“Tonight, I drank half a bottle of red wine and stayed up too late reading yet another romance novel in which the impossibly gorgeous, yet conflicted and misunderstood medieval Highland lord/hero alternately fumes at and swoons over the aloof and also impossibly gorgeous woman he ends up somehow married to; she does the same; after multiple completely stupid misunderstandings, eventually they end up in bed and everything is resolved and they commit to making a lot of babies and growing lavender and living happily ever after.” Ok, maybe I’ve read only one of these recently, but as it was exactly like every other romance novel I’ve ever read, it felt like more. I sniggered frequently, and rolled my eyes, and thought things like, “wow, how incredibly sexist and mysogynistic these people are,” but I still read it. I’m not sure why. I could probably figure it out if I indulged in a little more self-reflection. It’s basically porn for women (you know, cuz it has a “plot” and “characters”).

I’ve also been shopping at J. Crew alot. They recently rolled out their weekend-only online site, J. Crew Factory, which looks like basically the same stuff but greatly reduced in price. Now THERE is a true hedonistic pleasure. Online shopping on reduced-priced J. Crew! I haven’t actually seen any of the items in person yet (my first order is on its way), so I can’t speak to the quality, but I’m eternally optimistic when it comes to the Crew. Everything is sparkly or ruffly and so feminine! But not like Laura Ashley (ugh). They also have free personal stylists in the stores; I connected with an awesome girl months ago and I now feel like a celebrity whenever I go in. She knows my sizes and color and style preferences and puts stuff aside for me and always remembers to give me my student discount (thanks to my still-active @ucla.edu account), and recommends things I wouldn’t have considered alot of times. Super cool.

I’ve been drinking alot of wine (as mentioned…) and attempting to put kale into everything. Kale is a rock-star superfood, apparently. My favorite method of eating it currently is to chop a bunch up really small, saute it briefly with olive oil, garlic, and shallots, and then stir it into a big bowl of creamy mashed potatoes. With broiled salmon (basted with dijon, wasabi, and ginger), a divine dinner.

I guess that’s been about it. Food, wine, shopping, novels…not too bad. Still kind of feels like just running out the clock till law school is over. I have been reading some academic stuff on American history, which is more like eating broccoli…not at all my real historical interest, and just doing it because I have to. Still, I’m expecting to get more interested as I learn more. I like modern American much better than colonial/revolutionary/expansion/Civil war – that’s like blah, blah, blah. I’m reading an interesting book about women and families during the cold war, and how anti-communist propaganda shaped or influenced notions of the family in society. That stuff is actually really enlightening; it’s political and cultural and relevant. Also I really like Mad Men, which speaks to some of the same themes.

Anyway…I’ve got about six more months before the next big life change, and it really has been a total slog in getting here, and so often I’m tempted to get kind of blue and feel in a rut and self-medicate on red wine and mindless fiction, but in honor of the holiday we just celebrated, I’m reaffirming my commitment to being grateful for all the little luxuries that I have in my life, and I am going to start blogging about them here! If for no other reason than to prove myself how lucky I really am.