Monday, July 28, 2014

Tether.

(40 Days of Dating)
Riding my bike down the long slope-y road, I tilted my head to the sun and closed my eyes for just a moment. I know I should wear a helmet, but sometimes I just need to feel the wind blow through my hair, rush past my ears. I haven’t felt this in a long time, I found myself thinking. There’s a particular sense of lack, a type of longing…I’ve written about it before, but the best way I can describe it is that it’s a warm breeze out of nowhere. For just a moment, the clouds will break and the sun will shine, and I’ll close my eyes and remember everything good about it, about him. And then it’s gone again, like it was never there at all. 

We had a summer and I ruined it. That is what I would catch myself thinking, sometimes. We had a summer and I ruined it. And I know I wasn’t ready, that he probably wasn’t either, and I know it wasn’t just all me (if you would have asked me in September, I probably would have told you that it wasn’t me at all) but. Sometimes I really wanted to try again. I wanted it back, I wanted to see if it could be different. And then…I didn’t want to try at all. I’ve read all the books that Greg Behrendt has written…no matter what we might have said before, I’m old enough to know now, and by heart, that a break is really a break-up. And that you can’t actually break up if you weren’t actually ever officially together. We weren’t on hold, and I didn’t want to be, when we talked about it. I wanted to take my year and write, learn how to love myself more, take care of my own goddamn heart. I wanted him to take his year and finish school, do whatever it was that he felt he needed to do.

But as the season drew near, I found myself wondering about it. Another summer. If I’ve learned anything in my life, it’s that there’s never any point in waiting for a new one with an old flame. But then I would think about it, and I would think about him, and even just telling myself that…it made me feel a little like crying. Let down. Like standing ready at the door for your prom date, only to have your mom finally break it to you that they weren’t coming.

***

“What, to you, is the best possible outcome of seeing him again?” Meg asked.

It had been planned for months. Looking at the calendar back in January, Meg and I had decided that it would be one of the events we would make a point to cover this year. When, a couple months later, someone mentioned that he would be back for it, I was careful to keep my expression placid, my reaction neutral.

“Part of me is hoping that he got totally fat and ugly so I don’t have to think about him anymore,” I joked. 
Meg laughed. 
“And, I really kind of hope that he doesn’t have a girlfriend,” I admitted, growing serious again. “I know it’s totally not fair of me to want that, because when we ended things, I wanted him to go back to school and date a bunch of girls, experience things, learn stuff. Have a full year and all of that. But now, when I think about it…the thought of him coming back with a girlfriend…it really bothers me.”
“If he didn’t have a girlfriend, would you want to start things up again?” 
I looked out the window and sighed, mostly to myself. “I don’t know.” 

Only a half a year ago, I had been riding my bike down that same slope-y road on a September morning after closing the book for the first time on him, on us. The sense of lack, then, was different…it was more persistent, more troubling. That hallow space inside, that I kept expecting someone else - him - to fill. Until I realized that it hadn’t really been about him, it had been about me. About figuring out what it was that I felt was lacking inside, and what I could do, on my own, to fill it. It was the reason why I was happy when no one else was around and so scattered when they were…because they magnified it. I didn’t have to think about it when I was just concentrating on myself, but then he blew in “with his hot face and awesome body and smart words and fucked it all up for me,” I had joked in an email to a friend, at one point. 

And I wanted to believe that I was getting better at this..that even though I don’t always perceive my own best interests, I knew enough to know when it’s time to call it quits. I really liked him - really, really liked him - and was grateful for the time we spent together and what I learned from him, but it just didn’t feel like it was the right time for us. I still had a hard battle to do with my own heart, and I liked him enough where I knew I had to do it on my own, instead of making him endure those particular brands of bullshit. And I had already started to see that I was sending it over to him - naggy, dumb texts over stupid things that bewildered him and embarrassed me. So when fall came around, we said goodbye, wished each other well. Thanks for the all the memories, have a good year at school, maybe I’ll see you next summer. 

And it was good for me, to be alone this year. I worked really hard to fill that void, to figure out how to love myself more than anyone could, more than I could expect anyone else to. It’s odd to me, how this comes so easily for other people. It feels like such a revelation, to me. 

But it also felt fragile, when confronted with the idea of putting it all into practice… and it had gotten harder, the more opportunity there had been for him to come back into my life. I had to make a decision, a few months ago, of whether or not I wanted to open that door again. In the end I did the right thing, the professional thing, the hey-my-heart-is-elastic-and-I’m-cool thing (That should go on my next resume: “Is able to move past the faults of failed romantic relationships for the sake of mutual professional advancement and community gain.”), but it bothered me, how much it made me think about him. 

“I’d like to see if there was at least potential. For maybe starting over, trying something new.” I told Meg, as I stirred my drink with my straw. “Do things differently this time.” Sighing, I stared out the window. “But what if he totally doesn’t even want to see me again? What if he just blows me off?”
“He’s not going to do that,” Meg reassured me. “I bet he’ll be just as excited to see you as you are to see him.” 
“Yeah, maybe,” I replied, stirring my drink with my straw. “But maybe not.”

***

Don’t think about it too much. I took a step back and glanced over to the other side of the partition of the bar, which divided the bar area from the ice cream/restaurant area. I was standing on one side, he was sitting on the other. Just go up to him and say hi. Be an adult.

I had spotted him as soon as I had arrived at Treelands that morning, with my little nanny charge in tow. He was working, though, so there was no chance to have a casual, “Oh hey, you’re here!” faux-surprised conversation. Which was totally okay, I reminded myself. My worst fear, for myself, was that I hadn’t wanted to get excited about seeing him again and let myself think about what could happen and what I wanted to happen, which would then put me back into that phase where it’s really important that those things happened, and exactly the way I wanted them to. That old middle school dramatics phase where, if I don’t get asked to slow dance by Chris Carlson to “More Than Words” at this dance tonight, my life is going to feel empty and meaningless for the rest of my life. So I tried really hard not to romanticize it, telling myself that I had to let go of my dumb fantasies of how I wanted the run-in to happen - the sun is shining. I’m looking amazing: Confident and blowy and nonchalant about it all at once. He sees me, but I don’t see him. Slowly, he makes his way towards me. When his hot face draws near, I look up, surprised, and then slowly, I smile at him. “Boy, are you a sight for sore eyes,” he would say, and then pull me tightly to him. “I missed you. I don’t care what happened before. I’m so glad you came to the Challenge. Let’s try this again.” And then we kiss and bluebirds fly out of the trees while a symphony orchestra starts playing in the distance somewhere  -  and just concentrate on having it happen, of biting the bullet, getting it out of the way, even if I had to orchestrate the entire thing. 

So the kid (that I was nannying for) and I spent the morning on the playground, waiting for Meg to arrive.Then the kid decided she wanted to watch the casting contest, which he was judging. Picking a spot just a few feet away from him, she had implored me to sit on the grass with her so we could watch the kids cast their lure towards the hula hoop in the water. He and I both had sunglasses on, so when he looked our way, I couldn’t quite tell if he was looking at me or just in our general direction, and it didn’t really matter, anyway. It wasn’t like he’s going to interrupt his judging to come over and say hi, I told myself. 

Later, after Meg had arrived and we finished our coverage of the event, we decided to go inside to get out the sun. My heart jumped into my chest as I walked into the bar area to find him sitting on the other side of the partition that divided that bar from the restaurant. I tried to play it cool, act like I hadn’t seen him. Which always works out so well, right? Guys love it when they know you’ve seen them but you act like you haven’t. 

You’ll hate yourself if you let the opportunity slip away and you didn’t do anything. I took a deep breath in and grabbed my drink from off the bar. “I’ll be right back,” I told Meg. 

Here was the inner dialogue during the span of maybe a 20 second conversation:
Whoa. I totally did forget just how hot he is, especially up close. 
Hmm. He doesn’t really seem that happy to see me. Better make this quick. 
He can’t seem to look at me head on. What’s up with the side-eye? Is he nervous? Or is he just feeling awkward because he’s wishing he wasn’t talking to me?
Why is he asking what I’m drinking? 
This is awkward. 
I should go now. Say goodbye, put him out of his misery. 
“Will I be around later?” What does that mean? He could barely look at me and now he wants to know if I’ll be around later? Is that good? 

“I mean, I rarely ever ask someone if they’re going to be around later if I *don’t* want to see them,” I pointed out to my friend Larkin over Twitter DM later that afternoon. Larkin is of those one guy friends who will always give it to me straight - the cold hard truth, whether I want it or not, every time. So naturally, he was the first person I went to with my, “What does a guy mean when he asks, “Will you be around later?”…?” Does that mean that he’s hoping to talk to me later, or that he just wants to know when and where to avoid me?
“I would go with your gut,” he replied. 
Yeah, but my gut sucks, I wanted to whine. 

Later that night, around 7, Lacy and I showed up at Treelands, ready for our Girls Night. This had also been planned for weeks: A babysitter had been arranged for the kid, and Meg was going to meet us out there later. So we sat outside with our drinks until it grew cold, then settled in at the bar. We hadn’t been in our bar stools for more than ten minutes before he came in. And sat down next to me at the bar. I could feel my hopes actually lift in my chest. We would get to talk now. We would get to catch up, I could figure out what might still be here, and what might not be. 

***

“Twas a bust,” I typed. 
Sitting cross-legged on the bed, the room dark except for the glow of my laptop screen, I clicked SEND on the Twitter DM. 
His reply came back a moment later. “Did you two talk at all?”
“Yeah. It was kind of a heartbreaking night.” I took Larkin through the timeline of the evening’s events, which basically could be summed up in one particular moment of the night, when I had turned to Lacy and mouthed, “Why would you sit next to me if you didn't actually want to talk to me? Like, at all?” 

I kept trying, too - that’s the thing that would kill me later. Determined to shake the weird awkward thing that we always used to have when we were around other people - when we were alone, we could talk for hours about everything, but around other people, we always seemed to clam up out of the sense that we were performing for a live studio audience - I continued to forge ahead, asking him questions about his year, inquiring about the things I knew he had been interested in when we were dating. But it was like pulling teeth. It was so painful…I would sit there, ask him a question, he would give me a short answer, and then there would just be silence. I had forgotten about this, I found myself thinking. That silent, small, stomach-dropping moment when you’re sitting next to someone and you can just feel your heart slowly breaking with hurt, with embarrassment.

It did get better as the night wore on - he started to talk to me more, and every once in a while, a bit of that old spark would come back. I would find myself remembering how easy it was to talk to him about things like writing or future plans or even just books that we had read and loved. At the end of the night, I found myself wondering what it was that I was waiting for…what did I want to happen? 

I knew what it was, and I also knew that I probably wasn’t going to get it. 

So, fingering my keys, I turned to him. “Well, I better go.” 

“Gotta get back to work, eh?” (I had told him earlier about how I was nannying/housesitting that week.)

“Ha. Yeah.” 

Silence. 

“So…It was nice to see you.”

“Yeah!” He replied, smiling. “It was nice to see you, too!”

I looked at him for just a second longer, waiting. “Okay,” I finally said, mostly to myself. “Bye.” And then I turned away and walked back into the dark.

“So,” I typed in another Twitter DM to Larkin. “I think it’s time to close the book on that one.” 
“Maybe. Maybe not. It’s so hard to tell these days, isn’t it? Everything is timing, everyone is mercurial. Aiming at a moving target all day and all night.” 
“Maybe he’ll come around tomorrow,” he continued. “Maybe next week. Then again, maybe you’ll move on to someone else.”
“Yeah,” I replied. “I really don’t know what to say that’s not going to sound like a miserly pity party, so. Yay summer?”
“It’s okay if it stings, Amber,” he wrote. “I’m not going to judge you.” 
“I know you won’t. I think I just need to go to bed and just…you know. Sleep it off.”

I closed my laptop and went into the bathroom to wash my face, tried not to catch my own eyes in the mirror. It had surprised me, how sad I had felt on the way home. Once the night was finally over and I could close the book on it, my dumb fragile heart just couldn’t hold it in anymore, and I realized that, deep down inside, I really had been hoping quite a lot for a different end to the night. A different end to us. Even though, like I had mentioned before, I knew better than anyone that a break really means a break up, it finally occurred to me that it had actually only felt like a dot dot dot. I hadn’t wanted to close the book, when he left for school. I kind of always hope, want, for a second chance. That maybe this isn’t the end, that maybe this will be one of those brilliant, blindingly beautiful “And then…” stories. We’ll see what happens when you come backMaybe next summer…  Things could change, we could both be different…

But I hadn’t actually wanted him to be different, I realized. At least, not in the way that he was. I had remembered him as being so sweet and engaging, warm, kind. Instead he had been dismissive, and cold, and…weird. It was so confusing, and then it wasn’t confusing at all. 

“You ok?” Meg texted as I crawled into bed. “It’s kind of lame that he wasn’t saying much to you.” 
“Yeah," I texted back. It’s pretty brutal, when even your friends note that you made an effort to make conversation and the guy did pretty much everything he could to not talk to you. “It was lame. I’m okay, though.”
“Good. Date on Tuesday, right?”
“Yep.” On Tuesday I have a blind date from someone I met on Tinder. Right? I tried telling myself. You have a date on Tuesday. Other guys are asking you out on dates, so it shouldn’t be a big deal if this one wasn’t. 

But it was, I heard a small voice inside my head say. Because why is it always the one that you want more than anyone else who isn’t? 

***

Two weeks passed. I rose early in the sunny early summer mornings and wrote, baked bacon on the heavier days because I love myself, and took my coffee out to the deck to sit in the sun and read and think. Because you’ve got to take care of your own goddamn heart, you know? And sometimes, working to Feel Good should be your only fucking job. 

(Sometimes I like my feel-good mantras with a side of swears)

Yet I do this thing every once in a while where I pull out of myself and reach out because I just need to see myself to the end of something. Even though it sets me up for pain, rejection, disappointment, whatever, I just feel like I need to see it through. Be the bigger person, do The Adult Thing. So a few days after seeing him for the first time, I sent him a text asking if he would be up for us getting together, just the two of us, after he got back from the small two-week interlude at school he had to complete before his full-blown summer began. Just to talk, catch up. Every little point of the communication felt like one of those mazes you’d use in psychology experiments: 

Maybe he will or he won’t text back. (Success/Fail)

Maybe he will or won’t want to get together. (Success/Fail)

Maybe he will or won’t text when he’s finally back. (Success/Fail)

Success rounded each corner, and we decided to get together in the middle of the week. The night before, I texted him to see what time he wanted to hang out. The next morning he told me that he was having a party at his new dwelling that night, around eight. 
“Cool. Hope it’s a blast.” I texted.
“There was an invitation implied there.”
“I know. But kind of the whole reason why I wanted to hang out with you tonight was so we could catch up one-on-one.”
“Oh, sorry. Kind of misread that.”
How? How could you have possibly misread a text whose whole entire point was us hanging out, just the two of us?

But I went to the party, because he invited me, and because I still had some small, dim hope that something about it would be different, this time. 

(Success/Fail)

At some point, I’ve got to learn to take a fucking hint, I told myself, as I watched him from across the room. He had barely talked to me all night - really, again, only when I screwed up enough courage to ask him a question - and now, as an extra special bonus, I had a front row seat to the view of him sitting next to his friend Tom while they checked out girls on Tom’s Tinder.
“Gary,” I asked, turning to my pal, “If you invited a girl to your party, would you spend all night not talking to her?”
Gary stared at me for a minute. “Ah, no…if I invited a girl to a party and she came, I would probably spend all my time trying to talk to her.”
“Exactly,” I replied. 
“Ready to go?” Lacy asked me.
“You bet.” 

We left at 11:30. At 1:32, I got a text from him asking why we had left so soon. 

(Success/Fail)

***

Standing at the door, waiting for your prom date to show up. 

Lying in bed in the morning, staring at the ceiling, I realized how much the whole thing felt like tacky fly paper stuck to the tips of my fingers - I wanted to just shake it off, but I knew that it was the kind of thing that I would have to carefully peel off, if I wanted to be rid of it. So I threw off the covers and slipped out of bed, made my espresso and poured it into a cup half full with steaming water, and then padded out to the deck. Sitting in the sun, I tilted my head up, took a big breath in, closed my eyes, and thought about how I had just wanted to practice. I had worked so hard all year, and I didn’t work so hard for him, but still. I wanted to apply the lessons I had learned. The good ones, the fun ones - flex and serve and twist to volley the emotional pacing, the staying true to myself through the excitement, the tempering of expectations when it came to intimacy, commitment. Instead, I guess, I got to keep building the frequency of mastering the lame and boring drills of still loving myself through rejection and disappointment. A huge sigh rolled out of my mouth, deflating my body from the inside out. I’m so fucking tired of that lesson. 

But I've definitely learned it. 

It’s frustrating to be frustrated. To know you’re ready, but your goddamn prom date is being a dink…and last year that would have made me feel like there was something wrong with me, instead of something wrong with him. This year, though…it’s nice to finally realize that we had a summer, but that I didn’t ruin it. That one of the things I had somehow forgotten in the freeze of winter was that, no matter how clueless or rude or cold or just plain dumb things were, I somehow always ended up being made to feel like it was my fault, that I was the one who had done something wrong. And a year ago I might have tried to figure that out, make it better…but now I know that’s just bullshit.

Now I know that I can trust my heart, the first time. It might be kind of dumb, and it might be kind of fragile, but it does always seem to know when it’s time to give up the ghost, even if my brain doesn’t want to agree. I knew enough the first time to let go…I just wasn’t capable, then and yet, of seeing the end. Now, though, I know that the dot dot dot is this…we had a really fun summer last year. I’m so grateful to him for the wonderful things that he is - smart, full of great character, generously accepting of others, gentle and strong and beautiful and inspiring all at the same time - and for the things that he taught me, that I learned just by being with him. But like this one song says, this is just not the time for us. He is not ready for the things that I’ve grown to expect, and I’m no longer willing to wait for someone to catch up. And all of that is okay. 

In the afternoon I grabbed my bike and set off. I felt the wind rush past my ears as I thought about how I’m getting better at this. Perceiving my own best interests, liking myself enough to not endure other people’s particular brands of bullshit, and cutting the tether when it's time. It feels better, now, to choose to ride down a different road this summer, this time around. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Self-Acceptance & 15 Overnight Bags.

If I could, I would bring all of this with me when I come over to your house for a sleepover. Also, the bed. (My bed's suuuuuper comfortable)
There's this thing that happens when you grow up...where you start to realize certain, undeniable facts about yourself, and instead of denying them or trying to change them, you just learn to accept them.

Like, for instance, this week I learned to accept that I am a ridiculous overpacker. 

It used to be, back in the day, that I was the kind of girl who could fly to Chicago for a long summer weekend with everything she needed stuffed into an oversized Marc Jacobs bag. I didn't even need an extra carry-on, my friends - just my regular daily purse/bag. 

Sundresses are remarkably versatile. 

And then there was the time when I went to a 10-day Disaster Relief Training in New Orleans with everything carefully packed into one of the smallest pieces of carry-on luggage known to man. I knew how to travel like a champion. I even felt smug about it...what a great girl, huh, guys? She doesn't need a whole truckload of luggage to go away for a weekend! She's spontaneous! She's low maintenance! She has a carefully planned, perfectly color coordinated wardrobe! 

But somewhere along the way, that's changed. Now I overpack to a seriously fucked-up degree. And I'm not just talking, "Oh, hey, I brought an extra shirt and a pair of shoes that I ended up not wearing." NO. We're talking, "WHY THE FUCK DO I FEEL THE NEED TO BRING MY ENTIRE BOOKCASE WITH ME WHEN I'M ONLY STAYING OVERNIGHT SOMEWHERE." 

For instance, here's a list of things that I *would* have liked to have taken with me to my 3-day nannying gig this week:

Hardcover of "May Cause Miracles" by Gabrielle Bernstein
Paperback of "Ask & It Is Given" by Ester & Jerry Hicks
Hardcover of "Maine" by J. Courtney Sullivan
Pilates DVD
Yoga DVD
25 lb Kettlebell
Yoga Mat
Resistance bands
8 lb pair of dumbbells
Hair dryer
Hairbrush
Curling Iron
Assorted magazines (Vogue, Natural Health, 3 back issues of Oprah, Shape)
Two pillows
Super soft sheet
Espresso machine
Bag of decaf espresso
Personal supply of coconut almond milk
Milk foamer
Favorite ravel mug
Bottle of Apple Cider Vinegar
Shot glass (with which to take the apple cider vinegar)
Baggie of shredded almonds
Baggie of whole flax seed
Baggie of chia seeds
Carton of organic, cage-free eggs
Bunch of black kale
6 outfits (2 outfits for each day, plus coordinated sandals to go with each one)
6 different coordinated pairs of underthings (because like Sonja Morgan of RHNY said, lingerie is the foundation for your outfit and your day. "That's why they're called foundation garments")
Yoga outfit
Pajama-jams for a Pajama-Jam Jam Party
Running shoes
Entire collection of doTERRA essential oils
Collection of doTERRA sample bottles
Entire collection of doTERRA Life Vitality supplements
Modern Essentials:A Contemporary Guide to the Therapeutic Use of Essential Oils Textbook
Toiletry bag (glasses, toothpaste, face wash, skin oil, razor, contact solution, etc)
Makeup bag
Macbook
Macbook power cord
USB cord for Mac
Kindle
Power cord for Kindle
Phone
Power cord for phone
Notebook
Journal
Gratitude Journal
Tums

Now here's the things that I actually brought with me during my 3-day nannying gig: 

Hardcover of "May Cause Miracles" by Gabrielle Bernstein
Paperback of "Ask & It Is Given" by Ester & Jerry Hicks
Hardcover of "Maine" by J. Courtney Sullivan
Pilates DVD
Yoga DVD
25 lb Kettlebell
Yoga Mat
Resistance bands
8 lb pair of dumbbells
Hair dryer
Hairbrush
Curling Iron
Assorted magazines (Vogue, Natural Health, 3 back issues of Oprah, Shape)
Two pillows
Super soft sheet
Espresso machine
Bag of decaf espresso
Personal supply of coconut almond milk
Milk foamer
Favorite travel mug
Bottle of Apple Cider Vinegar
Shot glass (with which to take the apple cider vinegar)
Baggie of shredded almonds
Baggie of whole flax seed
Baggie of chia seeds
Carton of organic, cage-free eggs
Bunch of black kale
6 outfits (2 outfits for each day, plus coordinated sandals to go with each one)
6 different coordinated pairs of underthings 
Yoga outfit
Pajama-jams for a Pajama-Jam Jam Party
Running shoes
Entire collection of doTERRA essential oils
Collection of doTERRA sample bottles
Entire collection of doTERRA Life Vitality supplements
Modern Essentials:A Contemporary Guide to the Therapeutic Use of Essential Oils Textbook
Toiletry bag (glasses, toothpaste, face wash, skin oil, razor, contact solution, etc)
Makeup bag
Macbook
Macbook power cord
USB cord for Mac
Kindle
Power cord for Kindle
Phone
Power cord for phone
Notebook
Journal
Gratitude Journal
Tums (I would later end up regretting this)

So yeah. It would appear that I have created a problem for myself. Could I throw all of this to the wind, throw a change of clothes into a small bag, head out across the world for a month and still be okay? Yeah. Would I want to? No. Going somewhere without my espresso machine is like camping to me - I could do it, and it would be okay and maybe even a little fun, but would I be happier sleeping in a fluffy hotel bed? FUCK YES I WOULD. 

Maybe this is just what happens when you become that woman who is all, "I have standards" and "I'm not just going to sleep with the first guy I find attractive." You start to create attachments to things in your life that provide comfort and joy, and then you want those things around you all the time so you can feel safe and happy and provided for. 

Like the way sex would, if you were having it. 

Love, I mean! I mean...love and companionship and commitment. 

Right, Mom? Hey, who's winning on The Voice right now? You better get back to watching it so you can bring me up to speed on everything that's happening the next time we get together for lunch! 

So anyway, you guys. I guess what I'm trying to say is, if you invite me over to your house for the weekend (or even just the night...haaaaay), you better have an espresso machine. 

Or one of those really sweet Nespresso machines. Those things are choice... I should probably just get one of those instead? I think it might be a little bit lighter than an espresso machine...and it's definitely more compact...that thing could totally fit into my overnight bag!

I just keep getting better and better at this life thing, you guys. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Candida Diaries: Lies, Supplements, & Steel.

Check out these Monday Morning Choices. 
I'm not gonna lie: This past week and a half of restarting treatment has been a total breeze.

Just kidding.

I totally lied.

You guys, I was THE WORST this past week and a half.

At first, it was like I had treatment amnesia...I'd be at a restaurant and be chomping my way through a dinner roll before realizing, mid-bite, "Hey. Hey you. You're not supposed to be eating this right now." I got so used to being able to have anything I want - albeit in moderation - that it became secondhand when I was out.

And the whole not eating starchy carbs but being able to eat sugar thing? Totally messed my brain up in a really weird way. I know my doc is all about my sliding back into treatment gradually, and I get the logic behind it, but it feels like that makes it so much harder to stick to the rules, you know? It feels strange to be able to have sugar but not bread, because I'm so used to avoiding both of those things, at the same time, like the plague. I just kind of feel like my all-or-nothing tendencies are going whack with all this loosey-goosey "Eaaaaase yourself off this thing that you love! Say goodbye slooooowly to the substances that you adore! Weeeaaaaan yourself in small increments off of the culinary delights that delight you!" Week 1/Week 2/Week 3 shiz. When I'm in the "I'll start doing this tomorrow!" mindset, then I feel like the responsible thing is to eat all the ice cream and chocolate the night before so that I can A. get it out of my house and B. feel like I gave it all a proper goodbye. This, of course, is what we call binge eating, which is not something I ordinarily do and most definitely do not want to make a habit.

To be honest, I feel like doing the gradual thing is making the road back to feeling 100% Super Awesome feel longer, slower, and more arduous.

So, in summary, it's just not really working for me, so I haven't really been working it.

BUT. Today was the day when I realized that I really do need to stop fucking around and get back to business. My body...ugh. The difference between when I was in full-throttle treatment and not has become really apparent to me. And it's not even vanity (okay. it's a little bit of vanity), but how I feel on the inside. The fog brain and the listlessness/lethargy and just overall blahs stormed back in with a vengeance, as has the acid reflux and less-than-awesome sleep.

In short, I just feel like crap, and the amount of craptasticness is no longer worth being able to do whatever I want.

So I'm just going to go ahead and fast track Week Three and start the whole process again tomorrow - no starchy carbs, dairy, or processed sugar (still sticking to the fruit and raw dark chocolate). The alcohol thing has actually gone surprisingly okay - I haven't been totally sticking the guidelines my doctor gave me, but I have cut back substantially (we're going to talk about this in another post, though, because I made a connection to my drinking and a couple of other things going on this summer, so the work to cut back on this is actually going to have to come from a different place).

And in a Chicken vs. Egg situation, I also really want to start trying doTERRA's Lifelong Vitality Supplements, as well as start using some of the more interesting oils on a daily basis (they even have one, Melaleuca, that's supposed to help with Candida Overgrowth), but I feel like, if I'm eating like crap, I'm just canceling out all the good effects that I might see by using some of that stuff. And if I'm going to use it, I want to know that it works for real before I share it with people, so it's important for me to make sure that I'm not just going at it half-heartedly.

Also, that stuff is quality, which also means it can be spendy, so I ain't gonna waste none of it. That'd be like a guy taking me out to a nice steak dinner and then dropping me off on a corner four blocks from my house. At least get a return on your investment, yeah?

*snaps*

The one good thing I managed to accomplish this last week and a half is getting started when it comes to workin' on my fitness. I have this stellar kettle bell lifting program that I received last winter via a distance coaching program with David Dellanave of Movement Minneapolis that I picked back up this past week, and it's been awesome so far. I discovered that while my flexibility has greatly increased over this spring's daily yoga, I've become a bit of a wuss in the muscle department...but that's okay, because I also really love the strong feeling that I get when I lift, so I have confidence that my muscles will bounce back in no time. I'm also flirting with picking the Couch To 5K program back up - there's a 5K at the end of September that I'm pretty sure I could do if I put my mind to it - but I'm not making any solid declarations of commitment to it yet, because I haven't run in a year and a half and I don't even know if I even like running anymore.
I felt like my first lifting session in months - and outside on a scorcher of a summer day - really deserved a "Haha, look at this nonexistent muscle" selfie.
Also, I really hate it when people bug me about stuff like training for a race (because what if I decide that I want to quit in the middle of it? What if I realize I love myself enough without needing to finish a race? Huh? What then?) so even if do decide to start doing Couch to 5K, I'm still undecided about whether or not I'll talk about it on here.

We'll see. I've pretty much decided to share every other intimate detail of my life with your guys, so maybe this shouldn't be any different, either.

See ya next week!

* I am in no way insinuating that if you take a girl out for a nice steak dinner that you should expect to score. I'm simply saying that if you take me out to a nice steak dinner, you should expect to score. I love steak dinners. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ladies of the Earth:

This is me, trying to be fancy. 
Okay, so I had this whole awesome post planned where I was going to tell you all about getting into essential oils because of how they can help with meditation and yoga and then going to a doTERRA class and learning about how they can help with Candida Overgrowth, too, and how I'm starting to get into it so much that it's now become A Thing for me, but then something happened today that was so, so awesome that I just wanted to share it with you right away instead of waiting for the slow build-up.

My gentle fellow womenfolk:

I have found the cure for Total Sucktown Lady Time Cramps. 

A couple months ago, I attended this super awesome doTERRA class, where I learned a bunch of really awesome stuff. (I will tell you more about this in said post mentioned above) From that class, I learned that ingesting lemon essential oil helps to cure a hangover, rubbing lavender and/or cedarwood helps with deep sleep, and that lemongrass keeps mosquitos away.

About a week later, I slathered myself with lemongrass before attending a party in the woods. When I got to said party in the woods, I watched in abject astonishment as troops of mosquitos swarmed me, yet not a one even touched my skin.

So that was awesome.

The next day, I sang the praises of this miraculous discovery to my family and friends, and have used it on every buggy day ever since. I don't even mind, anymore, that I smell like lemongrass. I'm bug-free! And at least I don't smell like patchouli, so, you know. You pick your battles.

But probably the biggest, most amazing thing with the oils happened today:

Today was the beginning of Mah Lady Days. Probably one of the ways I am Most Cursed By Thy Lord is that my body likes to make sure that I am fully awake when I start riding the crimson wave, so as to reap the full, painful, excruciating benefits of the accompanying abdominal cramps. Seriously - even if it's the middle of the night and I am asleep, my body will be like, "WAKE THE FUCK UP, PRETTY LADY, BECAUSE IT'S TIME FOR YOU TO PAY FOR ALL OF THE SINS OF THE UNIVERSE, BOTH IN THIS LIFETIME AND IN THE NEXT."

Or, you know, it will just wait for the moment I wake up in the morning to Bring The Pain. There is no slumbering blissfully through these cramps, my friends. I never get to wake up, yawn and stretch blissfully and be all, "Oh hey, guess I'm not pregnant from all the sex that I didn't have this month. Those cramps must have just came and went while I was parading through dreamtown! Let's dance!"

And that's not even the worse part: These camps are often so painful that it actually hurts to talk or move. Until I started working from home, it was a necessary occurrence that I would have to call in sick to work. One month they were so bad that I literally threw up.

So yeah. Super fun! See why I don't have any sympathy for men and their "But why do I have to initiate/pay/take charge of everything when it comes to dating?!" BECAUSE YOU WILL NEVER HAVE TO KNOW THE MIND-NUMBING PAIN THAT IS THE MENSTURAL CRAMP, THAT'S WHY. Also, you get paid more than us for doing the same work and you also seem to still somehow slide out of doing The Second Shift when it comes to family and kids, and you live longer and reap more health benefits just by being married, SO YEAH, YOU GET TO FREAKING INITIATE THE BEGINNING PROCESS OF THE THING THAT ULTIMATELY BENEFITS YOU AND NOT US.

Anyway.

So totally sucky cramps: It was just a part of my life, kids. It was simply the lot that I had been given, to bear alone.

Until now, that is. 

This morning, The Pain was brought'en, and it was The Bad Kind - I can tell it's going to be bad because my lower back starts to ache before the actual shit show even begins. So, knowing I had a full day ahead of me and desperately racking my brain for anything that could stop the cramps in their torture tracks, I broke out my rollerball of ClaryCalm and rubbed the oil on my chest and abdomen.

(Sidenote: It was pretty hot. Basically it was a scene straight out of your favorite soft-core Skinimax)

I had initially bought ClaryCalm because of its effects on emotions: It's a blend that has Lavendar, Bergamot, Roman Chamomile, Cedarwood, and Ylang Ylang, all of which are super calming, super great oils to use in meditation and yoga. But the teacher of my doTERRA class had also mentioned that ClaryCalm is popular with a lot of women because it helps with PMS and other rad Lady Business Stuff like cramps and hot flashes. So I figured this was probably the primo time to test that out.

5 minutes later, not even lying, the cramps were gone.

GONE.

That shit doesn't even happen with Amber's "Holy Shit This Is the Worst" Menstrual Cramp Power Attack Pack (mega-dosage of Midol, hot bath or heating pad, ice cream and magazines, and a lot of moaning and whining). Midol and other related substances will alleviate some of the pain, and the hot bat and heating pad will make it more bearable, but I've never had anything else just completely erase the cramps from my body.

You guys know I don't pimp out a lot of stuff on here, and I'm not what you'd call a seller - trying to sell someone on something kind of makes me a little sick to my stomach (unless it's like, you know...the value of high self-esteem or this really cute guy that I think you should go on a date with). But I gotta tell you - this stuff is amazeballs. I was already into essential oils and doTERRA after the delightful discovery of the magical uses for lemon, lavender, and lemongrass, but now with this ClaryCalm stuff, I'm totally freaking hooked. If you get Lady Cramps, you gotta get this stuff. It's seriously like magic, only it's NOT.

It's SCIENCE.

Which is also MAGIC, but just REALLY SMART LOGICAL MAGIC.

** If you're interested in trying ClaryCalm, Lemongrass, or other doTERRA oils, feel free to hit me up in the comments or send me an email to get hooked up with some super sweet knowledge on how to save cash money on the oils. I signed up as a wholesale member right away because A. I enjoy congratulating myself for being super smart and not having to pay full-price for stuff B. the wholesale membership pays for itself after only a few oils, and C. you can also earn loyalty points, which translates into free oils (I love being rewarded for doing stuff I was going to do anyway). AND, there's a super sweet deal going on this month for peeps who sign up as a new wholesale members ($50 in free oils!). And no pressure - I promise I won't try to sell you on anything you don't want - but if you want to try doTERRA, this is honestly the best way to do it. And then you'll have money left over for other stuff...like this, or this, or thiiiiiis.  

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Candida Diaries: Doin' it and doin' it and doin' it (wow)


Yesterday began the new (restart? phase? redo?) Candida treatment for me. It's fitting that it happened on July 15th, since I started the original treatment back on January 15th - there's something to the 15th with stuff like this - the 1st feels like too much pressure, but the 15th, man...it feels like you're just kind of slipping into it, like sliding across a hardwood floor on woolen socks.

I saw my doctor and we did testing for Candida Overgrowth, and even though we haven't gotten my results back yet, we both agreed that going on a modified version of it for now is the way to go. It's been super fun to kind of break all the rules and flirt with my old food loves - ice cream, frappucinos, pasta, gourmet cheese, etc - but at the end of the day, it's kind of been the same as making out with a guy you know is absolutely no good for you - super fun in the moment, but the next morning you wake up feeling like crap. Physically and mentally, I just haven't felt like myself these past two months. My old food addiction stuff returned with a vengeance, too - I found myself looking to food to make me happy again after a long day, and started feeling like good things (like Real Housewives) just weren't as much fun if I wasn't eating an ice cream bar at the same time. It kind of bums me out to know that no matter how much work I do on the health side, that stuff might never go away - that it's more an issue of reconfiguring patterns and eliminating triggers, since exorcising it totally from my brain will probably never happen - but on the bright side it's good to have an awareness of it so that I know that those things are stumbling blocks for me, and probably always will be.

So we're back. The difference with this time is that my doctor wants me to sliiide into treatment gradually, vs. the all or nothing approach I took back in January. Even though I constantly battle with my tendency to want to go full-frontal on everything, I know that she's right about this: It will help cut down on the detox bullshit that I went through in January (lots of naps, tons of crankiness (and self-pity), and some headaches) and make it that much easier to commit to the process as a whole if I feel like I can gradually eliminate stuff instead of having it all taken away from me at once.

Her guidelines were as follows:

Apple Cider Vinegar shot every morning... if I can stand it and it works into my schedule, before every meal is ideal.

Drink lots and lots and lots of water. 

Eight hours of sleep, minimum. (I laughed when she told me this - I've seriously been clocking in 9-11 hours of sleep every night this summer)

Take a probiotic supplement. She gave me a recommend on some good ones out there, and I have a couple that I'm looking into. I'll update you on what I decide on next week.

Think about Kombucha. I told her that I would think about it - every time I buy Kombucha, it ends up sitting in my fridge past the due date. I'm a little scared to try the Kombucha, friends. I know there are friends of mine who love and swear by it - Dave, Erin, Erica - but I can't quite make myself do it yet.

Week One: Eliminate what I would call "Carby-carbs" - bread, crust, crackers, buns, etc. Basically, anything with lots of flour and yeast in it. These are the biggest culprits to my treatment (but oddly, also the easiest for me to say goodbye to).

Week Two: Eliminate dairy (except Greek Yogurt, which is really good for candida treatment and has only a trace amount of lactose). Ain't no thing - I still barely do any dairy, besides cheese.

Week Three: Eliminate simple and processed sugars. Natural sugars (like fruit - YAY!) and raw (not processed) dark chocolate are still okay - on an occasional basis - for now. If I find myself craving this stuff more than once a day, though, I gotta cut it out - because then that means my body (and brain) still can't handle even the smallest amount of sugar without going sugar-fiend crazy.

Week Four: Eliminate caffeine. (This is one will be easy-peasy, since I almost never drink caffeine anymore, anyway)

Week Four: Testing week. This is a week of eating carb, dairy, and sugar-free, at the end of which I'll analyze how I'm feeling and how my body's responding. If I'm feeling better, my body's responding well, and I've started to shed a majority of candida-related symptoms, then I can keep going with natural sugars and raw dark chocolate and consider myself in lifetime maintenance mode. If my body is slow to make progress and the symptoms are still showing up, then I move into Week Five...

Week Five: Eliminate natural sugars and raw dark chocolate (sad face).

Week Six: Full blown candida diet in effect.

She also had some strong words about my alcohol usage (whoops). I will admit that I have been drinking a lot, even for me...but it's summer! I told her. I'm out with my friends, doing summer stuff! I whined. She basically called me a moron and pointed out that drinking tons of alcohol was one of the worst things I could do to my body, which...both are true. While she did begrudgingly celebrate with me over the fact that I can now drink a beer (or three) without feeling like I'm getting a cold, she put the kibosh on making it a regular habit. Since I was totally, brutally honest with her about the fact that there was no way I could go drinks-free for the rest of the summer, we compromised: Four drinks a week, with six being the absolute maximum (my rule, not hers - who are these people who only have two drinks on a Friday or Saturday night?!). And I gotta stick to drinks like gin and tonic or light white wine. If I want something fruity (always my downfall in the summa), I can (sparingly) add cranberry juice to the gin and tonic. I can have two beers every other week, but the moment I notice symptoms - including feeling bloated - I have to stop drinking beer and switch to something else.

AND, if I hit Week Four and my body is still sluggish in its response to treatment, then I gotta eliminate alcohol during Weeks Five and Week Six.

At the end of Week Six, I'll check back in with my doctor and we'll review my progress. The big hope right now is that Week Four is a success. If it is, then after Week Six I can start testing things like quinoa, oatmeal, smoothies, etc, and just basically work toward having a more well-rounded diet.

So I feel good about stuff. Yesterday and today were super easy - it's weird how bread stuff is the hardest on my system but easiest for me to eliminate - and I know this week will be a breeze. It feels weird to eliminate bread but still be able to have sugar...and don't get me wrong, I'm totally, totally enjoying an extra week of being able to have a soy mocha or a piece of chocolate (Bucket List for this week: Ice cream at West Dairy. I've literally lived here off and on for more than a decade and have never had it. Crazytown), but it almost feels even more forbidden to be able to have sugar and not bread than to just go cold turkey off both.

Also, since I won't have to deal with so much detox shiz, I am fully planning on upping the fitness component of my life. A couple weeks ago, this girl walked into the place where I sling beer for cash and I stopped dead in my tracks - her arms weren't big, but they were CUT. I was like, "WHOA. I WANTS." My body has always had some pretty decent muscle tone - underneath the flab, my arms are actually pretty dec when it comes to their strength, and my legs continue to be my favorite body part - but I want to ramp it up a bit. I actually have a program that I did last winter that I loved, but haven't blogged about yet because I wanted to write about it while I'm actually doing it, so I'm probs going to pick that up and then tell you all about it. I also need to look into shaking up my yoga routine with poses that actually challenge my strength...my focus this past year has been on building flexibility, which has been awesome, but it's also allowed me to be kind of a wuss when it comes to my routines. So if anyone out there knows of any great online videos/tutorials for yoga routines that will help build some serious strength, please let me know about them in the comments!

And on that note - thanks to everyone who has been following along with the Candida Diaries! When I first started writing about it, I figured that it would be something that would be important for me to write about as a way to keep myself accountable to....myself...and a great way to vent, but that it would be way boring for everyone else to read. The amount of great, positive feedback and cheering on that I've received since starting this series was totally unexpected but also totally, super awesome. The Candida Diaries has catapulted me on a journey that I'm excited to continue and build on...beyond the restart of my treatment, there are some other really fun and exciting things in the works that totally jive with this year's mission to feel great inside my own body, and I'm excited to share it all with you guys in the next few weeks!

Stay tuned... ;)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Candida Diaries: According to morosophic on Snapchat, it's all just beds and cats with me. And FOOD, morosophic. AND FOOD.

New morning reading/writing/coffee drinking nook.
The first couple of weeks in a new place always seem a little like a vacation, or suspended reality - like you should be excused from all obligations and other established routines, because hey, you just moved and you need to unpack and get settled in and figure out what your routine should be. 

Or maybe that's just me, using it as an excuse to do nothing but rearrange my closet and desk and shuffle a bunch of paperwork from one place to another while simultaneously feeling oddly productive. 

So hey, I just moved, I'm all unpacked (secret? It took me, like, a day to unpack, but I suuuper enjoyed using that excuse for an entire week to get out of stuff), and I'm finally settling into a routine at the new place).

New bed. (a.k.a., magic portal to heaven). I told my friend Megan that more guys should sleep with me just so they can experience my comfy bed making. #thiscouldbeus #butyouplayin
When I first decided to move in with Jen's, I had this sort of vision of what the rest of my summer would be like - yoga in the backyard in the morning; long, meandering walks to the post office, coffeeshop, and/or grocery store around noon; afternoons at my desk in my sunny bedroom; starry nights around the campfire in the backyard. 

This is the new backyard in which I (sometimes) do yoga.
And it's kind of been like that...one thing I've noticed about myself, however, is that when I move, when my environment is disrupted, my habits are disrupted, too. I love structure but I hate routine, so it's been a bit of a challenge, getting back into the daily schedule of things. 

Meditation space/altar and book nook (I'm liking the word "nook" lately, kay? Leave it alone!)
It also doesn't help that I'm in the testing phase of my Candida treatment right now. Basically, to catch everyone up, I was given permission by my doctor to go a little lax on my treatment the past few weeks so we can retest and see how much actual progress has been made. Which, in all honesty, has been GREAT - I haven't been going crazy with it, but it's been really nice to go out and order something and not have to think twice about whether or not I can have this or that. I already know that I'm going to have to restart some semblance of my treatment soon - my eyes still get blurry when I have too much sugar, I still fall into a coma after simple carbs, I can tell that my moods are still severely affected by both sugar and carby stuff, and my skin is less glowy - but the best discovery from this phase? I CAN NOW HAVE BEER. And more than one - multiples, even - with feeling like I'm getting a cold! I cannot tell you guys how much this absolutely delights me - I can drink beer like a normal, cool, totally awesome beer-drinking person again!!! My gut may never like carbs ever again, and my body definitely cannot handle sugar, but probably the best thing to come out of this treatment (other than the weight loss and the glowy skin) is that it's healed my gut enough that I can drink a beer around a campfire, just in time for summer. 

Creative corner. I am inspired by famous faces of fitness, a smartass baby, a speaking award masquerading as a Twilight meme, and outakes from a decades-old modeling gig where I was supposed to look cool but messed everything up with my dorkiness.
My one big hope from retesting is that I really want to reintroduce fruits back into my diet. Especially now that it's summer, it's really hard to think of passing up fruits like blueberries or strawberries or even blackberries because my body can't handle even the natural sugars in them. I used to crave strawberries the way drunk sorority chicks crave Taco Bell...and then I would literally devour them because  my body would respond to the sugar in them the way a hipster responds to the sound of a PBR being cracked open. But there's just something about having fruits in my daily diet that just makes me feel healthier, so I'm hoping that my gut has healed enough that I can have fruits in moderation. 

Took myself out to breakfast today because I love myself, and also stuffed French Toast.
That being said, while I've thoroughly enjoyed being in this lax phase, I'm actually kind of excited to get back to treatment. I just feel better, both mentally and physically, when I'm on it...and even though it was such a freaking struggle when I first started, I think I've actually grown to like the structure and the restriction of it. Whether this is good or bad, I don't know (and don't really care) but I've learned that when there are many choices, it's so much more fun for me to pick the bad ones. It's like I'm giving myself a dare..."So, you *could* have the scrambled eggs and lean turkey, but I DARE YOU TO HAVE THE STUFFED FRENCH TOAST."

It's just how my mind works. And I know myself well enough by now than to know better than to fight it. 

So next week (it was supposed to be a couple weeks ago, but like I said: I had to get SETTLED! I was MOVING! And also I needed to have stuffed French Toast JUST ONE LAST TIME) I'll be going in for retesting, and then from there we'll have a clearer picture of what my lifetime maintenance is going to look like...a.ka., what are the things that I can still have in moderation, what are the things that I should just stay away from for the rest of my life, and what are the things that I can start adding in and testing? ALL WILL BE REVEALED NEXT WEEK. 

And until then, please enjoy this photo of my new cat roommate, Chandler: 


Chandler is Jen's cat, and today I realized that he's basically the male version of the late Deloris Pookerton Carter (miss you, Pooks!): He never shuts up, he can't just mind his own business, and nothing is ever good enough for him. For instance, I love how HE'S annoyed with ME for taking a photo of him while he's laying on and messing up MY bed. 

So of course, I'm already half-way in love with him. 

Beds, cats, and food, people.

IT'S WHAT GREAT BLOGS LIKE THIS ONE IS MADE OF.

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