Confession: I Am 35

I am 35.

I don’t know if that really qualifies as a confession.  Or if that’s what I really mean to confess.

Maybe what I should have written is Confession: I am 35 and I’m not married and I don’t have kids and I’m not a publisher and I don’t own a big house or a car and I’m not where I always thought I would be at 35.

But that’s really too long for a title.  So I condense.  I am 35.

Sometimes it feels like I’m being left behind.

I am the bridesmaid, standing at the altar in the pink satin dress and matching shoes that I will never wear again, heart cracking a little each time I’m not the one saying “I Do.”  Each time someone else is chosen ‘for better or worse’.

I am “Aunt Katie”, aunt in quotes because I’m really not the aunt, just the stand in, that title bestowed upon single friends who gaze wistfully at sleeping babies and buy the impractical dresses with tutus because they’re just too cute to resist.  Who think when another baby is born, “this may not happen for me”, and die a tiny death each time.

I am the sales rep, I am the apartment dweller, I am the car leaser.  Nothing too permanent, nothing that lasts.  It’s a life lived in pencil instead of pen.  It can be erased in an instant.

I’m not where I always thought I would be at 35.

I was emailing with a male friend this week, marveling about our mutual friend who is having her third baby (THREE children?!?  How could that be?!).  I trotted out some of my canned lines about having children.  I prepared them years ago, anything to avoid the pitying stares that get doled out to the childless 30-somethings:

“I’m SO not ready to have children.”

“I can’t even take care of a plant.”

“I want to be able to plan an impromptu trip to Vietnam without coordinating with husbands/carpools/nannies/schools. I want to just get on a plane and go.”

I say them so frequently that I barely even know what they mean anymore.  They’re just lines in a play that I repeat back from memory with the same practiced gestures, the same indifferent expression, the blocking of this scene always the same.  But somehow this week, I actually heard what I was saying.  Maybe because I was talking to a male friend and I didn’t feel any pressure, or competition, or hint of pity from him (possibly because those without a ticking biological clock don’t know better).  Or maybe because I’m hitting a milestone birthday with regard to having children.  Or perhaps I just got it for the first time.

I really meant what I said.  I am not ready to have children.  I kill every plant I’ve ever had.  I do want to just get on a plane and go.  It’s all really, really true.   

So here I sit, throwing a pity party for one, mourning the loss of this imagined life.  Dreaming longingly about a life that, as it turns out, doesn’t even fit.  It’s like waking up and finding that the pair of shoes you have been completely lusting over for months actually pinch your toes and don’t look good on you because they are so not your style.  But you wanted them because everyone else wanted them so they must be special and so you just had to have them.

The night before my birthday, I began reading a book that just arrived by Karen Salmansohn called “Instant Happy”.  It includes simple but meaningful messages about finding happiness in your life.  One passage stood out in particular from the others on this birthday eve:

 “Much of the pain in life comes from having a life plan that you’ve fallen in love with, but that doesn’t work out.  Having to find a new life plan hurts.  The trick is not to become too attached to any particular life plan and remember that there is always a better, even-happier life plan out there somewhere.”

What?  You mean we’re not stuck with this dream that was formed at age 11, or at 25, or last night?  We can actually do a re-write?  Go back and choose a different path, like those Choose Your Own Adventure books that everyone read in the 80s?  I always read every ending.  I had to be sure I chose the right one, had to know what options existed so that I could change my mind and go another way.

I can choose my own adventure now.  I can explore every ending.  I can re-write the story, within every chapter even.  I can change the outcome.  I can change my confession.

Confession: I am 35.

I am loved.

I am successful.

I am following my passions.

I am an “intrepid traveler” (thanks JH!)

I am a writer.

And…I am happy.

I’ll choose that ending for today.





Confession: I Don’t Feel Worthy

This weekend marked the beginning of a week of birthday celebrations for me, orchestrated and carefully set up to ease me into this new year, a year that puts me into a new bracket on the age chart.  Setting up dinners with beloved friends, yoga classes and brunches, so that I’m surrounded by love instead of alone.  So far, it has been wonderful, fun, special….and just a bit uncomfortable.

I know, how incongruous is that?  That I would feel anything other than elation around friends I have known for months, for years, for decades even.  Who have seen me through joy and tears, heartbreaks and failures and growing ups.  Who have rallied around me, toasting me with red wine and giving me cards and singing Happy Birthdays.  I should have exalted in the attention, basked in the love.  And instead, a part of me was uneasy.  
Because they all showed up.
Some with headaches, some with husbands, some who can’t even eat pizza, some from the South Bay, some straight from work.  
That’s kind of the point, obviously.  And they’re my friends, who had told me they were coming, it really was no surprise to walk into a restaurant and see them sitting there.  So what exactly was my anxiety about?!?!
Part of me felt like I didn’t deserve it.
When I was in 8th grade, my best friend that year threw me a surprise party.  I can remember my mom having to tell me about it because I was having a moody, 14-year old kind of day and wanted to skip the sleepover that was planned at my friend’s house.  I refused to go.  She pleaded with me, trying to reason with her stubborn, self-righteous daughter (to no avail, I could out-stubborn anyone).  She finally resorted to telling me about the surprise party, thinking that would surely change my mind.  Um, no.  That made me want to go even less.  Because now I was not only the brat who didn’t want to go to her best friend’s sleepover, I was the brat didn’t want to go to her own surprise party sleepover that she clearly didn’t deserve and had to be forced by her mom to attend.
I went.  It was fun.  We ate junk food and laughed, watched Pretty Woman and Robin Hood with Kevin Costner, and tried to see who could hit the high notes in that Phantom of the Opera song, the one that ends in that piercing high E that mostly sounds like shrieking.  But I don’t think I stayed over.  I think I remember that I went home that night from this surprise birthday sleepover that my best friend threw for me because I couldn’t shake the knowledge that I didn’t deserve it.

It’s 20 years later and I’m 20 years older and it’s the same.  I don’t deserve it.
I never had another surprise party after that birthday.  I took control, planning my own birthday celebrations or lack of them some years, it was my choice.  That was so much safer.  I could control how much I allowed myself to take.  And I could share it, that felt okay.  I could have a blowout 3-day extravaganza 21st birthday with my two sorority sisters who were born the same day.  Surely I deserved at least 1/3 of a celebration?  I could indulge in the 30th birthday party at that bar on the Lower East Side called the Skinny and invite everyone I knew because it was also my friend Erin’s birthday.  And people could come to celebrate her and maybe I could accept a slice of the cake, a sliver really, and wash it down with her prosecco and just a little guilt.
The control felt necessary.  Because what if someone else threw me another party that I did not deserve?  Or worse, what if they didn’t?
I’m still worried no one will show up.
I went to a healer earlier this year who placed her hand on my heart and told me that she was sending love to me, directly into my heart.  Could I feel it?  I don’t know.  I could feel the light pressure from her hands, and feel her breath on my cheek, but love?  I don’t know.  She then asked me to focus on sending it back to her, straight back to her heart.  Suddenly it felt like my chest was on fire, heating up that cool room in Ojai the way the blankets and tea and afternoon sunshine had not.  Burning down through my fingertips and my toes like I had been holding them over a campfire, so hot it actually hurts but you can’t move away .  “I feel it”, she said. “I feel your love”.
“But you have trouble receiving the love that you give.”
How does that happen?  Did I miss that lesson in elementary school that taught how to give and receive love, nestled somewhere between sharing your toys and washing your hands in the bathroom?  Was I home sick that day and no one brought me the homework that had 10 multiple choice questions that led you to the knowledge that you are worthy of love?  Or did I just pick B for every answer and miss the point completely?
Instead I keep tallies of what I owe, like mini-golf scorecards that come with those stupid little pencils and always have me +1 over par.  Struggling to get my score down, to at least break even someday. 
It’s fine, I don’t need a ride to the airport. (Don’t go out of your way for me!)
You don’t need to come to my party. (I can’t take up your time!)
Please, don’t get me any gifts. (How will I repay you?!?)
How can I possibly repay you for this love that I’m not sure I deserve?
I can’t.  I have to drop the scorecards.  I have to go back through the questions and not just choose “B”.  I have to find another way that allows me to accept love.  While I’m struggling to open incredibly thoughtful gifts, when someone else wants to pick up the tab, when I’m confronted by the idea that I’m taking more than I deserve.  
All I can come up with is…thank you.  That’s all that’s left.
“In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives.  In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.”
-Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love
Thank you, to all of you who sustain me.  Who love me.  Who show up.  Who remind me that I am worthy, and that I do deserve love.

Confession: I Am (Still, A Little, Sometimes) Afraid

It happened nearly every night.  

Five years, eight years, who can remember.  I know it was there when I lived in the historically landmarked brownstone (or whitestone, because it wasn’t really brown) on the Upper West Side, downstairs from the family who owned it, underneath the girl who was a music prodigy with her daily piano lessons.  It followed me downtown to my apartment just outside the Meatpacking District, where it still sort of smelled like meat to me, or maybe just the memory of meat, in those cobblestoned streets.  Where the tranny prostitutes would compliment my hair, or sometimes my shoes, as I left for work in the mornings.  It trekked further east when I lived in the West Village building where that famous director died, the one who was hung from her shower rod by the illegal construction worker, back when it was still real, before it became a Law & Order episode.  Somehow it even knew when I moved to LA; it migrated west like a bird that mistakenly didn’t fly south with the others.  Into my beautiful, newly built Mediterranean condo, that reeked of marble and granite and space, it penetrated through the door that was almost too heavy for me to open.  But it got in.  How did it do that?  How could it slip in without a whisper, cutting through the still air without so much as a ripple, and find me, time after time.

I would wake with a start, bolting straight up in bed, eyes wildly and blindly and frantically searching every corner.  Sometimes I would see it in the dark shadows, sometimes it was almost next to me, just beyond my reach.  Other nights I would wake up more gradually, heart speeding up as I regained consciousness, aware that it was there again.  Those nights I would lie still, so still I was barely inhaling breath.  Exhaling silently under the covers, thinking that if I could just pretend I wasn’t here, it wouldn’t know.  I would be safe.
It always knew.  It always found me.  Fear doesn’t need directions, or a maps app, or even Siri.  It just…knows. 

There was never anyone there of course.  When I turned on the light, fully awake and ready to face my intruder, he was never there.  When I crept quietly into the living room, and then the kitchen, maybe the bathroom even.  No one was ever there.  JUST THE FEAR.
Last week I booked a solo trip to Vietnam for this spring.  I have grown accustomed to people asking me, incredulously, “Aren’t you afraid to travel alone?!?”, so when my friend threw out that question after I told her about this trip, I was prepared.  I started to answer her with my practiced bravado about how anything that could happen to me when traveling alone could just as easily happen if I was traveling with someone.  How I typically fly by myself across the country, or across the world and it’s really no big deal.  But she tacked on an addendum to the question, seemingly without having heard my initial reply.  “Aren’t you afraid you will be lonely?”.
Oh.  I hadn’t prepared an answer to that question.
Sure, the thought had fleetingly crossed my mind as I was hitting “purchase” on the plane ticket, but I immediately pushed it out of my head.  Stamped it out and buried it quickly, like I did when a rogue chocolate Sixlet flew out of my hand and landed by my feet in the sand at the beach.  I piled sand over it quickly, making it disappear before a seagull could come and snatch it up in its bill.  Piled up the sand and packed it tightly over that thought until I could no longer see it, until it didn’t exist anymore.  Until someone else gave voice to it and it was unearthed again, this time with no seagull even to take it away from me.  So I was left alone with the fear again.
Yes, I am afraid of being lonely.  Yes, it may be an awful trip and I may wake up every night with that same pounding heart that I have felt for years at 2am, seeing my enemy in the shadows of a dark room.  Yes, it does make me question whether I should be going.  
Yes, I Am Afraid.
I took a special Jennifer Pastiloff Manifestation Workshop over the weekend while in Atlanta.  I’ve done a lot in the past year, and considered maybe skipping this one, but when I heard the theme for the day, it spoke to me, and demanded my attendance.
“If I Wasn’t Afraid, I Would…”
If I wasn’t afraid, I would…well, finish that sentence, to start.  Isn’t it a little scary, owning up to what we’re afraid of?  Seeing it in black ink between the lines of a blue Moleskine notebook, no longer covered up by sand?
If I wasn’t afraid, I would…talk about my feelings instead of just writing them.
If I wasn’t afraid, I would…be able to share my writing with everyone without having heart palpitations.
If I wasn’t afraid, I would…try more things without worrying about being judged.
If I wasn’t afraid, I would risk being lonely and go on this trip that I really, really want to go on.  I wouldn’t save this place for some imagined future boyfriend or husband; I would go now, travel now, experience now.
I’m ready to take that step at least.  The other things may take a little more time, a little more practice, a little more writing down.  For now, I can go on my trip, and be the beauty hunter I so want to be.  Chasing sunsets and sunrises, exploring unspoiled beaches and reading all day in solitude and doing exactly every single thing that I want to do, just for me, just with me.
As I was writing this tonight, I half-watched one of my favorite shows, glancing up here and there when something caught my ear.  But it was how the episode ended that grabbed my attention, when one of the characters softly consoled another with a simple phrase in Hebrew (phonetically): “Aht Lo Leh-VAHD”
את לא לבד.  You Are Not Alone.
Doesn’t it sound beautiful in Hebrew?  Doesn’t it resonate even more?  Isn’t it one of the most absolutely perfect things that you can ever hear, regardless even of who says it?  You Are Not Alone.  
If I feel the loneliness threaten to creep in when I am halfway around the world in Vietnam, halfway around the world from everyone I know but me, I can whisper that softly, and console myself.
Aht Lo Leh-VAHD.  You Are Not Alone.

Confession: I Can See Clearly Now

When I was 16 I wanted to be Sarah McLachlan’s backup singer.

Not in an abstract, “OMG how cool would that be?!” way.  Or in a teenage fan worship kind of way.  More in a “THIS is what I am meant to be doing, THIS IS MY DHARMA” way.  I would practice in my car, those lilting soprano lines soaring high above the melody, adding beauty and texture and meaning.  Playing the “Fumbling Towards Ecstasy” album over and over as if it was the soundtrack of my life.  Chances are if you were a passenger in my car in high school, you witnessed this first hand.  It was so apparent how perfect I would have been in this role, don’t you think?  Couldn’t you attest to it too?
There may have even been a letter sent to Sarah stating as much.  No reply of course; she already had a backup singer, a lovely and (begrudgingly I admitted) talented blonde woman named Camille.  Who was not in high school, not 16 and dreaming of a way out.  It didn’t diminish my vision anyway.  I knew my calling, it was so clear.  It’s always so clear at 16, before doubt, before fear, before cynicism sets in.
It never occurred to me then that I could (should?) aspire to actually BE Sarah McLachlan, or the Katie Devine version of her.  To be a headliner, to be the star.  Somehow the supporting role felt more natural.  I could stay in the shadows if it meant someone else’s light shone brighter.  It wasn’t about me at all really.
Something shifted.  It does that so often.  Moving towards 18, towards the end of naivety, the focus narrowed.  Suddenly I needed to be the star.  The president of the choir program, the soloist, president of the sorority, salesperson of the year, the boss.  Look at me, listen to mefocus on ME.
It’s such a weird thing, being in the spotlight.  You realize you can’t see much beyond it.  You can’t see anything really, it blinds you, this light.  Everything else is dim, so you just shut your eyes.
You stop seeing.  You stop listening.  You stop really hearing.  You forget who you were.  You forget who you are.  You forget there’s more.
My eyes were pried back open this year.  It took 15 years.  It was like waking up that first morning after you have LASIK.  You fell asleep on the couch, vision distorted, dizzy, senses dulled by the Valium that had finally kicked in, but still anxious because you didn’t know how the world would look like tomorrow.  And then it’s tomorrow, and everything looks different.  Everything IS different.  The 7:03 glowing on the alarm clock, the red Christian Louboutin logo lit up outside your window, Al Roker and his weather map.  What you have seen every morning for 2 years (or for 10 years maybe, how long has it been?)…nothing looks the same.  And you realize how little you could actually see before.
It’s exciting, it’s scary, it’s liberating.  Maybe you mourn all of the wasted time spent walking around in a blur, squinting, never really focusing.  Maybe you can’t sleep because there is so much to see.  Maybe you even look deeper, and wonder what you do with all of this newly acquired clarity.
My eyes are now open.  Now what?
I had an “intuitive reading” a few weeks ago by an amazing astrologer, Danielle Paige, to try to understand all of this stuff that I am now starting to see, to make sense of what it all means.  Learning more about how the planets were aligned when I was born, and how it impacts my thoughts and actions was enlightening.  Danielle explained how our journey is all about moving from our South Node, which is ruled by the qualities we’ve brought into this world, where our actions are deeply ingrained and come easily, to our North Node, which is in direct opposition to our South Node but is where our soul resides.  Our true fulfillment, our karma destiny if you will, comes from continualy moving toward this North Node.
I took 10 pages of notes; I didn’t understand a lot of what planetary alignment and houses and rising signs all signified.  But I did hear that my South Node, maybe in a past life (high school, college perhaps?  They almost feel like another life), was ruled by I.  That there was possibly an overdevelopment of ‘self’ in this Node, with a lack of attention focused on THEM.  My North Node, conversely, is all about other people.  My real purpose, pursuant to astrology anyway, is to help, to support, to inspire OTHERS.  
I don’t fully know what the tactical application of this knowledge is yet.  And still, it resonates.  It begins to fill a void that seemed to previously only contain questions.
This week’s theme in yoga correlated with a project started by Jen Pastiloff and Karen Salmansohn through a recent blog Jen wrote titled “Light Sender”.  The call to action was simple: 
Be someone who lets your inner light shine through, so you might shine and rise to your highest self.
Be someone whose light inspires others to shine more brightly, igniting their inner embers, and brightening their inner darkness.
Be someone who is a beacon for love, light and forgiveness, whose light sheds illumination on the steps to take which lead to the highest good.
Ask yourself each day what you can do to let your light shine more brightly.
It’s simple really.  So simple I knew it at 16.  Isn’t this what it’s all about?
I don’t want to be in the spotlight.  I want to BE the spotlight.  
Let me shine it on you, so that you too may close your eyes, so that you too may re-open them and see clearly, with wonder, all of the beauty that surrounds you.
"Love Yourself.  Then forget it.  Then, love the world."-Mary Oliver

“Love Yourself. Then forget it. Then, love the world.”
-Mary Oliver


Confession: I Want You To Want Me

My friend Kim asked me yesterday what I was doing this weekend, and I told her how I was meeting up with one of my “Bali” friends after yoga on Saturday.  Nothing remarkable about this, just an ordinary Saturday morning.  Except that KIM is one of my “Bali” friends.  And I had completely forgotten.  I mean, she was my roommate on the trip, her face quite literally the first and last thing I saw everyday.  She’s in the majority of my photos.  Yet somehow I disassociated her from the group in my head, just plucked her out and dropped her without a splash into another group, and went about my day.   

So that happened.

It’s been one of those weeks.  A smoothie explosion in the car, glass shard in the thumb, flu shot in the arm, forgot my friend kind of week.  With no wine at the end of the day, because I gave that up for now (why?!).  Everyday something has happened that has thrown me just a bit.  
Wednesday night was no different, dinner with friends after yoga to celebrate a birthday.  Until one of those friends told me, while we were eating our spinach quesadillas, that a blog reader of hers asked if I had plagiarized her writing.  She wasn’t concerned, it wasn’t true in her mind so she delivered the news almost cavalierly, as if it were a funny anecdote, something we would both chuckle at, shake our heads at, and then forget entirely as we resumed talking about movies.  Instead it stopped me in my tracks, mid-bite, so that I didn’t even remember what comes next after you bite into a quesadilla.  
Did I plagiarize her?  I can’t even spell plagiarize.  I had to look it up and it still doesn’t look right to me.  Could I actually have done something I can’t even spell?
If not stealing her actual words, am I stealing her thoughts?  Her experiences?  Her badges of honor, the lessons she has fought tooth and nail to learn?
Am I a fraud?
Does this mean that I don’t have any original thoughts?
What am I doing writing a blog?!?!?  I’m not a writer!
That’s what a funny anecdote did to me over dinner on a Wednesday night at Mexican restaurant: reduced me to the root of all of my fears.  What will people think of me?
It shouldn’t matter.  It shouldn’t matter that a woman I don’t know, who meant no harm with her question, thinks I might have ripped off my friend, one of my favorite people (never, please believe me!).  It shouldn’t matter what she, or any other person who reads what I’ve written thinks (please think I am good, please like me!).  It shouldn’t, it shouldn’t, it shouldn’t.  And still it does.  I am still here, on my computer and it’s too late, pleading with the world to accept me, to love me. 
Just like that I doubt the authenticity of everything I’ve written.  Because someone, one person I know of but maybe more, said it might not be mine.  Because now in fact I can’t remember.
I don’t remember what I remember.  
It’s always been this way I think, or maybe it’s just a story that I tell myself (although all evidence seems to support the theory).  I have no idea what the book I read last week was about; I think I loved it.  I have virtually no recollection of what I wrote last week.  When I go back to read it in the future, I will be surprised, like discovering $5 in the inside pocket of your ski jacket that you’re sure you must have left there last season (because who else would have?) but you just can’t remember.   
When you don’t remember what you remember, how can you really know if you are lifting someone else’s words or writing your own?  They just pop up in your head and flow out your fingers, but are they yours?  Is it like when a friend points out that you are singing along to the song playing in the car, and you have no idea how you could have been, because you don’t know the words but apparently you do?  If you think you thought them, is that good enough?  
I guess it will have to be.  Since I can’t figure out a way to catalogue every word, every thought that I’ve read, I will just have to rely on myself…that something inside my brain will filter out what others have said and leave behind just me, for better or for worse.   
I wrote a blog earlier in the week that linked to another blogger I just discovered–a published and acclaimed book author whose writing I found inspirational.  I hit the “publish” button my post with trepidation.  What if she hated it?  What if she didn’t want to be associated with my amateurish little site, or my (possibly) unoriginal thoughts?  What will SHE think of me?
She, Jo, was gracious enough to reach out and thank me for the blog.  To tell me that she loved it even.  To validate it for me.  Like every comment on everything I have written thus far has done as well.  And I may always need that external validation.  I may always care, to some degree, what you think of me.  
But today, I will go back and read all of the blog posts before this (and I’ve practically forgotten this one already) and I will let myself be surprised.  And delighted.  Proud even.  
Because today, I want ME to want me.  And I think I will.

Confession: I Am In Love With The World

Commuting to work early this morning, driving east, driving almost into the rising sun it seemed, one of my favorite pieces of music started playing, a remnant of my beloved choir days.  Water Night, a complex and stunning choral piece that, 15 years after first hearing and singing it, can still bring tears to my eyes.  The chords squeeze my heart, rhythmically, matching the beat of the song, leaving behind a memory that never fades.  Most of my memories do fade, or never form in the first place, but this song leaves its mark.  The voices are woven together so tightly, sometimes 20 different, cacophonic notes held at once, in the most haunting way.  They don’t blend, but they do.  They don’t go together, but I can’t imagine them apart.  There is almost a palpable tension in that lack of melody, the lack of harmony amongst the voices.  The tension builds and recedes, drives forward, striving for rare moments of melodic bliss within the dissonance.


Isn’t that a little what it’s like for us in our lives as well?  Moving through our dissonant moments, aching to get back to harmony, wanting to hear the melody we know (we think) is coming.  We try to rush them, thinking that if we can just get through this work week, or this holiday month, or this birthday, we will be so happy once it is over.  Once the consonance has been restored.  The suffering during the tumultuous times can seem endless, unendurable, if not for that release we expect to eventually experience.

What is so lovely about this song is that even in the discord, you can hear, you can FEEL the beauty.  There is no rush, just movement, each movement as beautiful and deliberate as the next, as the one before.

Can we learn how to find this beauty throughout our lives, especially during the inharmoniousness?  Can we stop wishing away the tough days, and instead go deeper into them, finding what they are meant to teach us, and walking away even stronger, with more purpose AND more love?  

I stumbled across a gorgeously written blog yesterday by Jo Knowles, titled “Live Your Life: A Theme And Challenge for 2013”.  In it, she references and plays a last interview between author Maurice Sendak and NPR.  He is aging, and speaks with sadness about the losses he has faced.  He has learned his lessons late in life.  He cries while talking about being happy.  

He says, “There’s something I’m finding out as I’m aging.  That I am in love with the world.

The call to action in this blog is to not wait until you are at the end of your life, but to live your life NOW.  No more wishing away the difficulties and only appreciating what comes easily.  It is beautifully and simply articulated by Jo Knowles:

“In order to live your life, you have to love your life.  And sometimes, that is very hard.”

This week I have been traveling west, to the ocean, to watch the sun set each night.  “Chasing sunsets” as my friend Jen might say.  That same sun, always rising and always setting each day.  The sameness of it soothes my soul.  It wouldn’t be enough though, all of that sameness without change, without discord.  Without sometimes being hidden, without being orange some days and pink on others, without rain and wind and snow and traffic and all of the other things that can stand in the way of our perfect sunset photo in our minds.  We would never feel so alive, so thoroughly blessed, if that sunset didn’t disappear sometimes.  It’s always there, even when hidden to us.

Says Mr. Sendak, “Live your life. Live your life. Live your life.”

That eternal push towards melody may always be within us.  But maybe if we can tread slowly and mindfully through the dissonance, the world will expand to show us the beauty that surrounds us at all times, whether we can hear the harmony or not.  And open us up to more love than we have ever imagined.

Sunset in Santa Monica 1.8.13

Sunset in Santa Monica 1.8.13



Confession: I Hate Yoga

Today’s theme in yoga was TRUTH.

For the past three weeks, while I was was away and then my teacher was away, I’ve taken a variety of different yoga classes in New Jersey and Santa Monica.  All of them a total departure from what I have grown accustomed to.  No themes, no poems, sometimes even no music.  They were focused on breath and movement, alignment and angles.  I had almost forgotten what class feels like when there is an emotional connection.  When it reaches deep, deeper than you even want it to much of the time.  When it scares you, leaves you raw and exposed.  And that’s where I was today, at 8:00 on a Saturday morning.
I recently had a conversation with an important person in my life about honesty and truth. And how I knew she had been dishonest with me at so many places throughout our relationship, usually about things of no consequence, mostly just embellishments.  Which made it even more baffling to me, these mini-lies that meant nothing to me except the gradual chipping away of trust.  I wanted to understand, does she know when she’s telling me an untruth that it’s untrue?  Is it intentional (or does that even matter)?  If someone tells you that the sky is green, and you KNOW the sky is blue, where do you go from there?  
Do you argue, stating all of the reasons why you are absolutely sure that the sky is blue, pleading with her to see what’s real, what’s true, what you see?  Because if you see it, it must be true.  Do you ask questions about why the sky seems green to her, why this not-color-blind person seems to now be blind to something as clear as the color of the sky?  Do you take it personally that she would insist to you that the sky is green, assuming the intention is to misguide you, to trick you.  Or do you simply accept that for her…the sky is green?
I naturally lean towards the argumentative, the “listen to me, this is what is right!!”.  I internalize these lies as an affront to me, when really they have nothing to do with me.  I’m working on trying the questions now instead, seeking to understand.  I’m striving to be the person who just accepts, without questioning, without understanding, just accepts.
Because who am I to demand absolute truth when so often I’m not willing to live it, or to face it?  I think about the little untruths I’ve told myself, and others, just today:
“I’m detoxing from wine for a few weeks”.     Truth: I’m detoxing from the calories in wine.  
“I’m fine”.    Truth: I was grouchy, and tired.
“I can’t see myself in any of the characters in Girls”.     Truth: I may not see myself in their behaviors, but I am those girls, in their insecurities, in their desires for love and acceptance. 
I don’t know if these misrepresentations, these white lies, really affect anything.  Of course that begs the question, then why tell them?  I don’t need to share everything but it would be great if what I do choose to share is really, honestly, sometimes gut-wrenchingly true.
So here is what is really true for me today:
I would rather be skinny than healthy.  It would be great to be both, but right now skinny is higher on the priority list.
Trying to become a better person sometimes makes me feel like who I am now is a horrible person.
I am scared to figure out what I am supposed to be doing with this life..  Because what if I fail?
I’m hungry.
I’ve had a headache for two months.  I’m starting to worry that something is actually really wrong.
I hate yoga.
Not always, not usually even, but today I did.  I hated that it was so early.  I hated that it was so physically demanding, and that I struggled to keep up.  I hated that my stupid hamstrings refused to loosen, and that my body would not unclench.  Mostly though, I hated that someone was asking me to focus on the truth, asking me to reach inside and draw things out that I didn’t want to let out.  
Although of course I did.  Don’t we all really want to share our truths, despite our fears?  Don’t I, with this blog about “confessions”, really want other people to read my truths, and tell me that they still love me, that they love me even more?
So those were my truths today.  I hated yoga.  But I’ll go back tomorrow, because luckily we get to shift our thoughts, our bodies, and continually form new truths.  Tomorrow, I may not be hungry.  Tomorrow, I could quite possibly love yoga again.  And tomorrow the sky could be green.  I’ll accept that as truth.