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Andi—Off the Mat

Andi’s email to me is entitled “Support, Insight, and Catharsis” and in the body she tells me that she has a hard time getting out of her head when it comes to her relationship with her fiancé Rob. Her head is a place of insecurity, of seeking perfection in herself and sabotaging her own happiness. I know what she’s talking about. It’s a place that I probably visit quite often in my own head.

The relationship that Andi now has with Rob is not one that came easily. It was full of fits and starts and a few misunderstandings. The two of them began as friends and after a year of this friendship, Andi decided that she was in love and when she professed this love to Rob, he shot her down. They became friends again. And then friends with benefits. And then they were nothing at all after an incident in which Rob really hurts Andi’s feelings.

Years later, Andi and Rob reconnected after he reached out to her and expressed his desire to see her again. They stayed up all night talking on that first night back in each other’s presence. They eventually became a couple. And then engaged. Rob is Andi’s first committed relationship; but all along she had a feeling that he was the one for her.

But now Andi is in front of me crying as she tells me that some days she feels like she will never be ‘enough’ for Rob. And the list she gives me is long. Perhaps she is not smart enough or philosophical enough. Her cooking skills make her feel incompetent.

“I get scared because I think he’ll get bored and see that I’m not what he wanted to invest in,” says Andi.

“How does he respond when you bring that up?” I ask her.

“He tells me ‘I wish I could see the you that I see.’”, she says.

I ask her if she realizes how beautiful that is…to have a partner that is soft enough to receive this offering of vulnerability and strong enough to respond lovingly. I think about how I’ve never had this sort of partner in my life. But then I think about how I’ve never given a partner the chance to be that person. Have I had these thoughts that I’m not enough and that one day the man I’m with will wise up and see that I’m not that great? Oh hell yeah. Have I ever actually expressed this to a partner? Oh hell no.

I don’t know if it’s so much of me being scared to admit my perceived weaknesses, or if it has more to do with my lack of delegation skills. That’s right. Maybe I make up some of my weaknesses but this one is spot on. I’m very much a “if you want something done right, do it yourself” type person. I suppose it stems from a need to control the outcome, or a lack of trust in others; most likely it’s a combination of the two.

I can easily see how the inability to delegate has made my life more difficult when it comes to my school and work life. But I’ve never paused to consider how it might be affecting my love life. When I’m in my head, when I’m insecure and scared and worried, I keep it to myself. I went for a long time without a partner and I’ve lived my whole life as an only child. I’ve learned to take care of myself. I yearn for a partner who wants to help me carry some of this weight. But have I ever allowed one to do so?

As Andi had outlined the course of her relationship with Rob, she briefly mentioned the possibility that maybe the fact that he ended their friendship so abruptly all those years ago made her insecure. I ask her if she is holding on to that part of their history and she says that she thinks that she has let it go.

“It’s an issue from the past and I’ve put it to bed,” says Andi. And then she pauses and the two of us sit in silence for a bit. “Maybe I needed to hear myself say it’s put to bed. If it ends, it ends. People grow apart and I think that knowing we’ve grown apart once, I guess it could happen again.”

“From the outside it looks like you have a great love story,” I say. “But you’re already writing the ending. You’re creating a self-fulfilling prophecy so that if he leaves, you get to be right—you’re not enough. You’re the only thing that’s standing in the way of this relationship.”

I can see the ‘aha’ moment light up from behind Andi’s tear-filled eyes and, sure enough, she tells me that hearing me say ‘you have control over you’ stuns her. I tell her that she is fortunate. So many things could stand in the way of a relationship’s success (addiction, infidelity, etc.) that she would have no control over. But in this case, she can do something about it. Andi tells me that she doesn’t know how to do it. I tell her she doesn’t know how to do it…yet.

The addition of this small word has been a game changer for me, personally. If I tack those three little letters on to the end of a thought that I have about things I can’t do or things I don’t know how to do, then those three little letters add hope. I don’t know how to have a healthy relationship…yet. I can’t seem to figure out how to be in a relationship with a man without giving up a part of myself…yet. I haven’t met a man who allows me safety in the folds of vulnerability…yet.

And it’s here where I meet up with all of my self-fulfilling prophecies. By me saying that I don’t know how to fall in love without losing myself, I create a situation in which I don’t even allow myself the possibility of doing so. If I say that I can’t find a partner who will allow me to exist in the full realm of myself, I will continue to pair myself up with those who don’t give me the chance. And if I say that love just simply doesn’t work for me, I write a thousand sad endings, over and over.

When Andi and I part ways after our interview, I give her a big hug and in that embrace, she feels a little lighter. I spent more time talking in this interview than I have in previous ones. In front of me was a woman who needed a little grounding and centering, a woman who needed someone to provide an outsider’s perspective of things. I gave her that; and in my advice, I also gave myself a little shift and a new viewpoint from which to observe my own issues.

The two-way flow of energy that happens during these interviews is starting to become so apparent. And I don’t think I ever doubted that would be the case; because it’s something that happens every time I teach a yoga class. There are times when I feel like I have absolutely nothing to give to a class full of students—I’m in a bad place in my head and my energy is bouncing around wildly in my soul. But because a job is a job and I can’t call in crazy, I show up. And I teach. And without fail, I leave the class feeling a little more at peace than I had before. It’s not that I passed on my bad juju to the others in the class; it’s simply that, in guiding others to find a little space and healing, I managed to find my own along the way.

During my time with Andi, I had suggested that she try yoga. I told her about all of the goodness in my life that I had received from the practice. I told her it was a practice that allowed me to accept where I was in the present moment…because in that moment, without past bullshit or future stresses, everything is simply enough. I told her that it was a practice that taught me that I didn’t have to look like anyone else in the room.   Heck, I didn’t even have to look like the person that I was on the previous day. I just had to show up and accept who I was in that slice of time. I told her that the more I practiced these things on the mat, the more naturally that they came to me off the mat.

I’m still working on all of this stuff. And that’s why we call yoga a practice. Our stories fall apart and then weave them back together again. But I think that this project is finally allowing me to clearly see the role that I am playing in all of my own endings. And when I think to myself ‘but I don’t know how to write anything but endings’, I’ll just whisper to myself those three little letters. Yet.

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This Too Shall Pass….

A few weeks ago, I completed my final interview for the book I am writing.  I was feeling like I had just wrapped up the most transformative year of my life.  I felt changed and accomplished and happy and hopeful.  I felt like I had finally gotten my shit together.  So then of course the Universe said Oh hey, take this.  I imagine an evil laugh accompanying those words.

In California, the place of my final interview, I went to see a healer whom my friend had recommended.  I had nothing to lose and a heavy dose of salt.  But then this woman started to be real spot on some things.  Like, real spot on.  After doing what was essentially a reading in which she consulted all of my spirit guides (I see you rolling your eyes, but again……she was real spot on), I laid down on a table for an hour of reiki, sound healing and guided mediation.  And some stuff came up.  And my shit fell right back apart.  I contacted my therapist the day I got home and told her that I needed to come back.

My therapist told me to try to put all of this in a box for a while because she knew I had my cousin’s wedding in New York coming up.  I was there, in a strange place, surrounded mostly by strangers, when I got the news that my friend Crystal took her own life.  My box grew a little larger.  My car was parked at the Asheville airport (long story) and so when my flight was delayed and then cancelled from Charlotte to Asheville on the way home, I took a two hour Uber ride.  It was worth every penny…..as my choices at that point were $120 for an Uber or me collapsing into an incomprehensible puddle in the middle of an airport.

I slept in the back of the Uber and at one point I awoke to see our driver was navigating through a fog thicker than I had ever seen.  And I don’t do this often….but I prayed at that point.  I drove home the next day from Asheville and it rained the whole time, sometimes in torrents that flooded the roads.  What are you trying to tell me?  I asked the Universe out loud, my hands clenching the wheel.  Get home and take care of your people….and more importantly, let them take care of you, she said.

Crystal was a pretty new friend in my life; we had only started hanging out a couple of years ago.  But we had this immediate, special bond.  We were both Leos, we were both navigating post-divorce dating life.  And my heart still fucking breaks when I think about never seeing her walk into my yoga class….or texting me to see if she could spend lunch break on my porch.  My heart breaks for me and for the rest of us…..but more than anything my heart breaks for her and what a terrifying place her mind must have been in those last days.

I think I will probably always want to play out some sliding doors, clicking my heels fantasy in which I was a better friend to her the past month or so and she would still be with us.  My life has been chaotic lately and I’ve loosened the reigns on a lot of my connections.  I know that many others are in this similar place of regret and confusion.

One of the first things I did upon hearing the news of Crystal’s death was go to her Facebook page But she was smiling and think about the last time I saw her She seemed so happy and the last text she sent me This too shall pass.  I was trying to get answers to questions that can’t help but to be asked, but have no real result on the outcome.

Crystal was so, so loved.  And for absolute good reason.  She was caring and fun and smart and intuitive.  I truly celebrate the time I had with her.  I’m joined in this sentiment by so many people that not even the four walls of a church could hold us all.  It’s just this cruel trick to think that someone so loved could feel so alone in some moments.

And I get it.

So I’m gonna get real transparent here.  For all of my life, I have battled depression on and off.  Bet you couldn’t tell that from my social media, could you?  And I don’t say this to elicit any sort of sympathy or worry.  I’m saying it because I am not ashamed of it.  I say it because everything I have been through in this life has shaped me into the woman I am today and I am proud of her and I am hopeful for her; even if she’s done some really stupid things in the past.  But my god, it’s been a journey and it ain’t over yet.

But these are the things that we don’t talk about when all we see is the pretty pictures on Instagram.

When I was in yoga school, I had a major realization that scared me straight.  We were working on our chakras and it was root chakra day.  In our bodies, this is our home of ‘right to be here’.  We had a yoga session focused on this chakra and then we were told to observe silence.  As I wrote in my journal, the words that came out were: I have no sense of survival.  Though I had never been seriously suicidal, there were certainly times in my life where death seemed like a more peaceful option than dealing with my pain.  Some weird stuff happened that day that involved my aunt’s spirit visiting me and an earthquake while I slept but that’s neither here nor there.  But that’s the day when I knew I would start fighting for myself.

These days I have a therapist, a psychiatrist, self help books and at times, healers and tarot card readers.  It takes a village, y’all.  I know that I need support for my mental and emotional health so I’m gonna work real hard to seek it out.  It’s really no different than seeking medical doctors, dieticians and exercise coaches to support your physical health.  When you see me out and about and I’m happy and spunky, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m lying…it means that the final product is not always easily won.

It also means that when my smile is a mask, I have those around me who know the truth because I have let them in.  They get me to the other side.  There have been appointments with my therapist at real low points in my life where I have been asked to promise that I won’t do anything to hurt myself in the time that exists until our next appointment.  I’m nothing if not a people pleaser; so sometimes this is just what I need to hear in order to start trying to heal myself a little bit.

And then, days, weeks, months, years later…I find myself on the other side.  Sometimes I have to squint real hard to see it.

But here’s the thing.  We have to start talking about this shit.  I know it’s weird and uncomfortable and super foreign to do but, my god, I swear it might be worth it.  And you might feel like you’re intruding on someone’s privacy by checking in constantly.  Check in anyway. You might feel like it’s offensive to ask if they are thinking about hurting themselves.   Ask anyway.

And if you’re on the other end—on that deep, dark hole side of things…I know that place.  Every single number in your phone seems impossible to dial.  Just pick one.  Some demon is telling you that you are not loved and that no one would miss you.  Fuck that guy.  You are so unbelievably loved and your absence would leave an unfillable hole.  And if you don’t have a number to call, use mine.

Take care of your people…..and let them take care of you.

 

 

 

A year ago I published a letter on this blog.  I want us to talk, I said.  The responses started coming in droves, their content as varied as the women sending them.  And it appeared I had a project on my hands.  And so I began interviewing and I began writing.

It all started with a trip to a music festival last summer.  It actually started with a come-to-Jesus incident that happened right before that but you’ll have to wait for the book to come out to read about the details of it.  But at this music fest, I danced with friends and entertained the idea of quitting my jobs to follow LCD Soundsystem on tour.  And then I met up with a couple old friends from Aspen, one planned….the other pleasant surprise.  One of them asked about my life as a single woman and yoga teacher.  The other asked when I was going to write a book.

And then, somewhere along I-64 East, between the rises and falls of those quiet hills of Kentucky, I had this idea.  And it lit my soul completely on fire.  Because I feel quite sure that this is the story that I am meant to tell.

As I drove to interview the first woman for my project, just days after my 39th birthday, I wondered wtf I was doing.  And then I went into a stranger’s house, sat on her couch and we talked for hours about love and heartbreak and the crazy little tricks that the universe has up her sleeve.

So I kept on going.  My age range is from 18-83 years old.  I have interviewed straight women and gay women and everything in between on the sexuality spectrum.  I’ve spoken with divorced women, married women, single women, widowed women.  I can no longer keep track of the tears spilled during these interviews, but oh, how there was laughter too.  There’s a chapter about online dating.  There’s a chapter about surviving an abusive relationship.  I could never have imagined the breadth and depth of the stories I have heard.  I promise to honor you joys and your sorrows and your truth, no matter what package they come in.

In the blink of an eye, a year passed and I found myself back at this same music festival.  I danced with friends and entertained the idea of quitting my jobs and following Arcade Fire on tour.  I told that old friend from Aspen that I was finally writing my book.  I told her that it was part memoir about my struggles in and out of relationship; I told her the other part was telling the stories of some really amazing women.

And when I got home from that festival, the craziest thing happened.  Somehow, this project felt complete.  I’ll be doing a couple more interviews.  But I’ve got 300 pages written that I’m really happy with.  My 40th birthday is coming up here in a few weeks and this book is my gift to myself.  But it’s a gift that I want to share.  And though it’s going to be by far the most vulnerable thing that I’ve ever done, I am ready to put it out there for the world to read.  Things tend to lose the power that they hold over us when we speak them aloud.

I’ve got a couple of next steps coming up….namely, hiring a proof editor to cross my t’s and dot my i’s and creating a website and a marketing plan to start gathering an audience for this book.  I’m leaning towards self-publishing so that I can control the final package of this project.  But it’s gonna take a village, y’all.  Both aforementioned next steps take money that I simply don’t have right now.  I’ve attached a link to my gofundme page and all donations, no matter the amount, would be very appreciated.  Or, if you are interested in helping some other way, I’m all ears.  I kinda suck at marketing myself.  But I promise, you will soon be holding my book in your hands.  It’s a promise I’m making to myself and to all of those reading this right now.

https://www.gofundme.com/4g7hd4g&rcid=r01-153298720713-50a5498a299b4d98&pc=ot_co_campmgmt_w

 

By the Way, I Forgive You

A few weeks ago my feet started itching from staying in the same place for too long; my gypsy soul started stirring so fast that I could not longer quiet her down.  And so I made plans to take a short trip down to Charleston, SC to do an interview for my project.   After conducting a three hour interview, I met a friend out at a dog-friendly bar.  And in this case, dog-friendly meant that it was a giant dog park with a little bar attached.  There was a bluegrass band, a food truck slinging delicious pizzas and a fire pit.

Sounds awesome, right?  Well, I gotta tell you something.  My dog Buddy?  The one that looks so sweet and cuddly all the time?  Yeah, he’s kind of an asshole.  And definitely not dog park material.  So we walk into this bar/dog park and about twenty dogs are running amok off leash.  Both times I went to the bar to get a beer, a giant St Bernard kept trying to hump Buddy.  It was a bit distracting.  At one point, I left Buddy in the care of my friend and went to the bathroom with my phone in my back pocket.  Can you guess what happened next?  Yup, phone in toilet.  I fished it out right away but it was already spazzing out on its way to death.

So there I was, in a strange city with no means of communication or GPS.  Hey old farts like me…..remember the days when we carried atlases in the car?  Or printed out MapQuest directions before we left on a trip?  Fortunately, my friend volunteered to let me follow her in her car back to my hotel.  I stopped at the grocery store next to my hotel to pick up a bag of rice to try to salvage my phone.  When I got to the checkout line, I opened my wallet to find that I had left my debit card at the bar/dog park; which I also blame on St. Bernard humpies.

With the help of the front desk at the hotel, I called the bar/dog park to make sure that they had my debit card and located the nearest AT&T store.  The next morning, I went there first thing and picked out a fancy new phone.  A woman named Harley helped me out and she and I talked and talked about my project and dating and life in general.  She was super cool; so I didn’t even mind when she broke the news that since I hadn’t backed up my phone since August 1, 2016, nothing stored after that date would carry over to my new phone.  Gone were so many pictures, and phone numbers…….and the previous day’s three hour interview.  Then Harley asked how I wanted to pay.  And I just started laughing at her.  And dug out my never used business debit card.

One might think that all of this would put a little rain cloud over my trip….having to deal with all of that.  But one doesn’t know what happened to me the morning of the phone-in-toilet-debit-card-at-bar incident.

So let me tell you.

The last time I had been in Charleston, SC was three and a half years ago.  I was in the center of a white hot heartbreak so I did what I always did when I find myself there.  I run to the ocean, hoping that her waves will take it all from me.  Three and a half years ago, I rented a little cabin on Folly Beach with just me and Buddy.  I spent my mornings stalking the shoreline and went to a yoga class every day.  I turned off my social media over those four days and tried to work this thing out of my system.  I went out to dinner by myself, and felt pity in the strange faces that surrounded me.  Not because I was alone, but probably because my pain was radiating off of me in sad pulsations.

And so the other day, I found myself once more walking on those same shores.  While I was walking, I started to think about that time three and a half years ago, that time when I thought my battered heart would never mend.  I thought about where I was in the present moment.  And I began to laugh and laugh.  And then I started to cry.  They were tears of gratitude.  I was so, so grateful to the gentle hands of time for doing their job.  I was so grateful that this, too, had passed.

In that time when everything was happening I was caught in a vortex of self pity.  I tried everything.  I wrote letters I would never send and then burned them in fire ceremonies.  I talked it to death with friends (my apologies to those who know who you are).  I ran and ran and punched heavy bags with boxing gloves.  None of those were a magical cure.  Because I’ve discovered that for some kinds of pain, the only antidote is time, and sometimes lots of it.

In 1914, Thomas Edison lost half of his plant to a giant fire.  The plant housed his ideas and inventions and his life’s work.  As the story goes, as flames consumed the buildings at a rate too rapid to be contained, Edison turned to his son and said, almost gleefully “Go get your mother and all her friends.  They’ll never see a fire like this again.”  And then the next day, he got right back to rebuilding.

The point of this blog is not to compare the loss of Edison’s plant to the loss of my phone….though it’s quite tempting.  Rather, it’s to talk about how three and a half years ago, I had never seen a fire like that before.  And how it’s only in retrospect that I can look back and see how beautiful it truly was; the way it lit up every single corner of my heart so that I knew I could indeed love again, the way it burned away debris so that I could see what was truly important.  It burned hot and furious for a while; and then got smaller and smaller until as time passed and passed.  And then suddenly, it was just a spark within me……which I keep as this beautiful token of my resilience.

This time around in Charleston, I meet people….on the beach, while shopping, out at breweries.  I am no longer this beacon of pain to be avoided in case it’s contagious.  I am all smiles and purpose and lust for life.  I am completely lit up from all these sparks within me.

This time of a year is when my extrovert and introvert tendencies declare war on each other.  My introvert self wants to hibernate on the couch under blankets with a good book and watch as the night descends early; keeping myself safe from cold and dark and Christmas music.  My extrovert self wonders what all the cool kids are doing and wants those little corners of loneliness to be filled.

Last night looked at me in that fashion, her long slim fingers beckoning me out while visions of a good novel and Netflix danced in my head.  Oh what to do…. Well, as luck would have it, I had an appointment with my life coach yesterday.  I told her about this little conundrum.  And I told her that I recognized that I was in a position to be vulnerable to loneliness.

These past few months, since starting my project, I have stopped my search for a partner.  I have been selfish for the first time in a while, focusing on me, my life, my friends, my project.  And I’m happier than I’ve been in a very long time.  Have I been lonely?  Well sure I have…..but lonely is on the range of human emotions which we are bound to feel at one point or another.  And I’ll tell you something else.  The last couple of years of my marriage were the loneliest I’ve ever felt in my life.  So this brand that I  feel these days?  That I can handle.

The important part of what happened yesterday is that I stood back and I recognized my lonely.  And then I made a conscious decision to not fill it the way I sometimes did, with social interaction or perhaps harmless (?) flirting.  But what to do with the evening stretched before me?   Life coach to the rescue.  She gave me homework.  She spoke to me of expressive arts.  She knew that writing and my yoga practice were the ones that I used on a regular basis; but she encouraged to push myself.

My homework was to make a playlist.  It was 1) the coolest homework I have ever been handed in my life and 2) supposed to be a playlist of songs that spoke to me of connection.  I also told her that I had a rarely used yoga coloring book and colored pencils that I was willing to blow the dust off of.  Here are the challenges of said homework:  the playlist would require me to search beyond the sad bastard music that I usually listened to and the coloring book….well, has anyone ever seen my attempts at art??

But alas, I made a pot of coffee (in retrospect, I should have used decaf) and scattered my pencils around me on my bed.  I turned on my speaker and my Spotify and opened the coloring book to a picture of a goddess riding a swan.  This particular coloring book that I have consists of outlines of mandalas and goddesses and then on the back of the page explains the meaning behind each.

And I shit you not, the goddess that I had chosen at random to draw was Sarasvati, the goddess of creativity, knowledge, music, poetry and the arts.  And as a river goddess, she is the power of grace that flows from a place beyond to find us beings on earth.

A river goddess.  Seriously.  And I know this does not mean a lot to you, friends.  But just the previous day, I had wrapped up the latest chapter to my book.  In said chapter, I spoke of rivers, of crossing the same one twice, of sitting on its banks with a man I once loved, of stalking its shores.  I asked the woman that I had interviewed that week what she was looking for in a partner and she said “I want a fucking river god.”  Same, girl.  Same.

I am getting more certain than not that this project is slowly easing me to the point where I will accept nothing less than a fucking river god.  But I know I’m not ready yet, I know that this time in my life still belongs to Sarasvati riding her swan.  This time of my life is all about connection, but not perhaps in the ways I always thought it would appear.  But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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On Being Vulnerable

I spoke  with someone about vulnerability yesterday.  And they spoke to me of intimacy.  And it turns out these things are two threads wound together.  We find intimacy when we are able to be vulnerable.  And we are vulnerable when we admit that we might not have it all together.  So I’ve been doing this project now for three months, a project which I am loosely calling “The Intimacy Interviews.”  And it makes complete sense that, in this project, I am asking sometimes complete strangers to be vulnerable with me.

I have no doubt that these women are holding nothing back from me.  And I am grateful beyond words.  And when I think about why they are doing so, of course it’s maybe because of the anonymity involved.  But I think there’s something else.  I think that we all have these stories locked up inside us that we are dying to tell.  Because we know we will feel better when we do.  But we keep them in; because we are scared of being judged; we wonder if anyone else can relate.  We are uncertain as to what it all means.

And that’s where we come to uncertainty.  Recently I’ve become part of a women’s group called Boss Babes.  It’s an organization that is just getting started.  The goal of the group is to empower women by sharing stories and doing some light networking.  The idea behind this is that Together We Rise.  Yeah, sure maybe we are all uncertain.  But when you are vulnerable enough to share with others and then to listen….truly listen…maybe you start to hear some truth that sounds familiar.

The other night we had our first meet-up in town and about 75 women attended, which was super exciting by the way.  Although I knew many faces in the room (I am so incredibly grateful every day that I surround myself with strong women), I made it a point to speak to new faces.  I told a couple of new people about my project and they told me what they were working on.  A few brave women stood up and told their stories; they were stories of difficult decisions having to be made in their lives, what they’ve done to heal, and what they are doing to affect change in the space that surrounds them.  And I listened and I thought, ‘thank you’.  I listened and I thought, ‘me too.’

I’ve been in situations before where I’ve felt as if I couldn’t be vulnerable.  In relationships that were toxic and professional situations in which I felt were keeping me held in place.  And I’ll admit it; not all of these situations involved men.  Some involved women and the mindset that I hope is on its’ way out of ‘if she succeeds then I can’t’ or ‘there’s not enough for all of us.’

It’s only now that I’m on the other side can I see why my life feels so completely limitless now.  I rent yoga class space from a woman with an online following and entrepreneurship that astounds me.  I could be jealous and wonder why I don’t have that yet.  Or I could learn from her because I know she’s happy to share.  There’s room enough for both of us.   I have started taking walks once a week with a woman who is creating a new business and doing something that I would love to do.  I could whine about why this hasn’t magically dropped in my lap.  Or I could talk with her for an hour each week and swap ideas about life, both of us admitting what we do not know.

And maybe there are people out there who are admiring what I am doing.  Which is great,  but I have no idea what I am doing, trust me.  But what I do know is the mistakes that I made and what has worked for me.  So now I’m just piecing it together from here.  And if anyone ever comes to me and wants to know how I did it, I will tell her.  Because we rise when we all rise.  Not when we elbow people out of the way in our efforts to always be first.

When this project wraps up and when (not if) it goes to print, it will certainly be the most vulnerable piece I’ve ever put out there.  It is, by far, the most intimate journey I’ve ever taken in my life.  And I have no doubt that this is all possible because I’m not doing it alone.  Every week I am talking to a different woman who seals her hands over mine and says ‘go forth with my story and allow it to help others.’  When we share….all of it, the peaks, the valleys, the shining moments and the black holes…..when we share all of this we learn.  When we learn, we succeed.  When we succeed, we rise.  And there’s just no telling where we can go from there.

Notes from Chapter 10

Yep, that’s right.  I have completed nine chapters (well, let’s be honest… nine shitty first drafts) of my book.  I decided to take a little break from writing my forthcoming chapter so that I could update this blog with my progress.  The little project that just floated into my head a few months ago has quickly become this thing that I devote 15-20 hours of my week to; with absolutely not a single complaint.  It’s the work I wake up excited to do. And….it’s the project I feel as if I was always meant to do.

Here’s the quick and dirty of what my typical week looks like these days.  I do an interview every week with a different woman.  These interviews have been with strangers, friends and acquaintances; but I haven’t left a single one without this crazy feeling of bonding and connection.  It’s usually about a two hour long sit down, with coffee or wine and I record all of the material on my phone so that I can devote all of my attention to what is being shared.  A day or so later, I transcribe the entirety of these interviews.  And then I write.  And I read from a stack of research books; two recent ones are “It’s Not You: 27 Wrong Reasons Why You’re Single” by Sara Eckel and “Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray and What It Means for Modern Relationships” by Christopher Ryan.  The former gave me a feeling of extreme hopefulness, the latter not so much.

Oh yeah, and I’m also starting to figure my shit out a little bit.  A few weeks ago I had such a feeling of ‘aha’ in regards to unraveling why I’ve been so terrible at relationships as of late that I almost decided to shout to the universe ‘OK, I’m ready now! Send in the soul mates.’  But luckily the wise little voice inside of me stepped in and said ‘Not so fast grasshopper.’  And I always listen when she calls me grasshopper.

But the way that this book has been lining up organically will just never cease to amaze me.  For example, a few weeks ago I had an interview in which a woman talked to me about a run-in that she had with her first boyfriend.  I didn’t know what story she would tell me when we sat down but it just so happened that within days of that interview, I had lunch with my first boyfriend.  And you’ll have to wait for publication to read about how those meetings couldn’t have been more similar but also entirely different all at the same time.  But it was a chapter I could barely see through my tears as I typed it out.  “This book is almost writing itself,” my dear friend Miranda said to me.

Which all brings us to Chapter 10.  I went to Columbus this past weekend to do an interview and I booked a hotel for the evening so that I could enjoy some time in ‘the big city’ and hopefully also interview an ex.  This ex was a big one; you know, he’s the one that when I say his name all of my friends roll their eyes because he’s that much of a jerk.  But! But…..though our time together was brief it was intense.  I had never felt as much connection upon meeting a man as I did with this guy.  And then he just disappeared (they call it ghosting these days…..yes, it’s such a common occurrence in today’s dating world that it has it’s own name…..I explore this phenomenon in Chapter 9 which is about online dating and is called Tinder is the Night).  But I digress.

This dude lives in Columbus so I contacted him and told him about my project.  It wasn’t super weird to text him; we have been in contact off and on for the past two years since he told me he couldn’t ‘do’ a relationship.  So, he agreed after I promised him that it wouldn’t be a bash fest with him on the receiving end, rather just an open, honest conversation about wtf happened.  He texted me a few weeks ago asking when his interview was and we agreed on a day.  And in the past week, leading up to my Columbus trip, he stopped answering my texts.   It didn’t surprise me at all.

My interview took place at my favorite coffee shop in Columbus.  There were parts in this woman’s story when my eyes welled with tears simply because what I was hearing was so beautiful and authentic.  My heart was absolutely full when I left the interview.  And I never heard from the dude.  But I did go to a book store following the interview and spent an hour or so wandering the 32 rooms of books.  I checked into my hotel and starfished on a king size bed, surrounded by my newly purchased novels and began to read.  And then I took myself out to dinner and had a meal that would probably be my requested final meal—steak with chimichurri sauce, perfectly cooked asparagus, corn soufflé and a Christmas beer from a local brewery.  I went back to the hotel and had a facetime phone date with the aforementioned Miranda.  And so despite what could be a disappointment in what I had planned in light of what was not happening….despite all this…..my heart remained happy.

As I transcribed everything yesterday, all of the threads of this chapter started to weave themselves together.  It has something to do with a nickname that a friend of mine gave that dude after he broke my heart, it has something to do with what happened when I met with a shaman the morning I left Columbus, and it has something to do with beautiful words of wisdom I heard in my interview.  And it has everything to do with the certainty I have about this path that I’m on; it has everything to do with this immense trust I have in what’s to come.

 

********For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been selected to attend the Haven Retreat in Whitefish, Montana in late February with New York Times Bestselling author Laura Munson.  Please check out this link for details on the retreat and how to donate if you so choose.  Any amount helps.  Any donation over $40 and you’ll be handsomely rewarded with a handmade knit hat made by the one and only Shannon Oakes (I’m modeling this hat in my profile picture).  If you don’t want to use GoFundMe, I accept cash and checks.

https://www.gofundme.com/4g7hd4g