There is so much to be said about moving to a new place, but if I had to sum it up in one sentence it would be this:
That shit is challenging!
and then I’d inevitably add (You will miss your old routines! You will miss your old friends! You will miss even the shit that you didn’t actually like about the place that you are from!)
But! Challenge is growthful. And as comfortable as it can be to wallow in the I-feel-homesicks, I am taking this particular challenge as an opportunity to recommit to myself and my goal of having a cool life. Here’s how I am attacking the task:
I’m Seeking wisdom: Did you know that Andrew W.K is basically a modern day Buddha? I do not listen the music of Andrew WK (I hear he likes to party?) but somehow I discovered that he is on Twitter saying things that give me some serious pause on a very regular basis. (In fact, I am willing to say that Andrew WK is the only reason I am really on Twitter at all anymore, because how much can one typically get out of 140 characters? For me, the answer is generally a resounding “not much”.) Anyway: not so long ago Andrew took to the tweets to offer this bit of advice:
When I stop and think about it, I cannot agree with this sentiment enough, and this feels especially poignant when my life is in flux in ways that I cannot control. Sure, I chose to move, but the reality is that everything that happened from that moment on was kind of just not up to me. I can be stressed out about shifting my clientele to those in the Pacific Northwest, finding my new go-to coffee shop, and getting my workout in at a gym that isn’t my first gym love or I can look forward to the opportunities that these tasks present. I have a choice about my stress levels, despite my apparent obsession with routine, and I am making efforts to choose stoked.
I’m making lists: When my world gets chaotic, my immediate urge is to make lists of things I can do to fix or change the situation. At this point, I am taking a step back from that sort of list making, and instead making lists of leads I already have (or things I already have going on) that will make me feel better about my life as it is, right fucking now. I’m spending some time trying-to-feel-grateful-even-when-I-don’t-feel-grateful, and it turns out that all you have to do to cultivate gratitude is try a little bit. Even if your gratitude is a tiny kernel in a sea of I-feel-scared, if you focus on it- it will inevitably get bigger. Example: Last week I went to bed scared that I was experiencing some writers block, and I started to focus on the tools I’ve used to get back in the flow in the past. Today I woke up super inspired and ready to write. That’s a quick turn around for just a little bit of a focus shift!
I’m reading: When I am overly stressed or stuck my tendency is to try to work. One day, I had the realization that working when I’m stressed typically makes me feel…..well, more stressed. So I opened a book. Not a fitness theory book. Not a nutrition book. But a fucking funny book that made me laugh , because laughter was more of what I needed than research. After that I read a book on fighting sad feels, because no matter where I’m at or what I do, I will always have lower points. (I am, like, human after all), and then I read a zine, because there is something about the urgency of DIY publishing that feels really good on paper. (It occurs to me that it makes perfect sense that I have become a blogger in my adult years, because damn if I don’t love the immediacy of making something and immediately having it in the world. There truly is something to be said for holding a personal work in your hands, though.)
I’m nourishing myself awesomely: When I am feeling out of sync with the world around me I tend to get overly analytical, clenched and tight around many areas of my life. Because I come from a background of eating disorders, food is often, like, a thing I think about more rigidly when I am not feeling so hot. Luckily, I have skills around this (I do not accept the voice in my head that tells me that if I feel bad I need to eat less) and make sure to extra-extra listen to my body’s cues. When I’m hungry, I make a snack that feels rad. I don’t ask myself why I am hungry or if I should possibly not be hungry or ignore my hunger. I just eat. I deserve nourishment, too. Done and done.
I’m sitting the fuck down: A huge part of feeling like I am able to go where the universe takes me is letting go of the idea that I am in charge or can micromanage every little thing around me. I shouldn’t, I can’t and I won’t be in charge of all the minutiae of everyday life, and when I take a back seat to trying to control every single thing around me, I am just happier. It’s easier said than done, and unfortunately, whether or not it sounds appealing, oftentimes actually sitting down in meditation truly helps. Rats!
So! I know not everyone is moving towns, but seasons are changing, schools are starting, life is moving. How are you handling it? What tools do you use to deal?
If you are looking for a little support during this transitional/festivity filled pre-holiday time, I totally have a program for you! My three week class, Reset and Restore, starts on November 2nd and offers meal plans, a group coaching setting, meditation and movement prompts, and unbridled support. You should totally sign up!
Let’s start from the beginning.
I have weighed many, many weights in my life. The common denominator for every single one of these weights is this: no matter where the number fell, no matter how small I got, I felt certain of one thing: my thighs were just too big.
I did not (do not, will not) have the kind of thighs that do not brush up against one another.
I did not (do not, will not) have the kind of thighs that easily fit into stiff denim. That remain demure and unobtrusive. That can be ignored.
I have spent years pissed off at my thighs, disgusted at what they were (huge) and what they would never be (invisible).
I have spent much of my life imagining what it would be like to whittle my thighs away. To cut slabs of flesh from the tops of my legs, peel the fat off, and discard them.
I have spent hours of time, hours that probably amount to days and months of time, on an elliptical machine hating my thighs, viscerally and specifically. I wished my thighs dead, ran in circles step after step trying to burn them away.
Deciding that someone else’s thick thighs were kind of amazing was my first step.
I saw these thighs in a squat rack. They were attached to a body holding a barbell with hundreds of pounds of chunky metal plates. They sunk down, supporting the brunt of the bar, and they popped back up, almost effortlessly.
These thighs were undeniably big. They were strong and I was very intrigued by the way my eyes were drawn to the thickness of them. I didn’t want to notice the thighs, but I also could not look away.
Could I actually admire these thick thighs and hate my own? Was that a parallel that I could manage to pull off?
This question haunted me, both as I fell to sleep at night and when I woke up to get back on the elliptical. Was it possible to live in a world where thick thighs were just okay? Where they were accepted as fact, embraced as a pillar of strength, or even just generally not thought about at all?
I saw the first pair of thick thighs that I admired years before I accepted my own.
Sure, the seed was planted. But it took focus to change my own mind about something. It took effort to make new thoughts stick.
“My thighs are fine” I said, until, eventually, I felt like “fine” wasn’t really good enough anymore.
“My thighs are powerful” I thought, until I realized that powerful was indeed what they were, but that that certainly wasn’t the breadth of how I wanted to feel about them.
“My thighs saved my life” I thought, almost kind of surprised.
Huh I thought.
Kind of a weird thing to think. But it was true, wasn’t it?
That my thighs walked me away from my alcoholic abusive parent as a teenager?
That they supported me when I no longer wanted to get out of bed?
That they took me, step by step, to every group therapy meeting I went to, every doctor’s appointment in the early days of recovery, even when I felt too tired to move? To the homes of every caring friend, to the gym and through every deadlift, sprint and push press?
Respecting my thighs became a conduit.
It brought me connection and intimacy because I stopped being afraid of eating, moving, and living amongst other people.
It brought me closer to my mom and my sister. Women of the same thighs, women that I wanted a relationship with more than I could even articulate or understand.
It brought me to women aside from my sister and my mom too, and to queer folks. Holy shit- I guess I am not the only person that has struggled with hating a certain aspect of my body. I guess I am not the only one who could have used a little support.
Embracing my thighs brought me to a personal nutrition practice rooted in loving the ever living shit out of every inch of my being.
It separated me from using exercise as a torture mechanism.
It took me away from the battle against myself- and it brought me right back into my life.
PS Lately, when I’m not waxing poetic about body positivity, I am spending much of my time formulating recipes for the newest Reset and Restore program, starting on November 2nd. If you’ve been looking to get a little more awesome with your mindfulness around food and body, this is totally your place.
PSS Isn’t that patch AWESOME? You can buy it here. (This is totally not an affiliate link, I just really like it and want many people to have it!)
In the past few weeks, I have hardcore learned that I need to spend some time cultivating my confidence. I need to go at it with a little tenacity, and I need to do it on a daily basis.
Let me explain:
Every single time I move cities, I have an adjustment period that honestly usually ends in some amount of depression. Even in the best of circumstances, starting a new life throws me for a loop, and maybe because I have grown up in a tight knit punk rock scene, a lot of my identity and happiness can be dictated by the people that I am around and what we’re all doing together. Adjustment from a place isn’t exactly my strong suit as it is, but when you add in the social aspect of moving, it becomes a whole ‘nother beast.
I had grown very confident in Oakland because I had an ironclad routine that supported the feeling of being seen and appreciated in my daily life. In the bay, I got up early and went to Grassroots Crossfit to work out with the four to five women that I saw every Monday, Wednesday and Friday without fail. When I was done I grabbed an iced coffee from Subrosa, spoke with clients, did a little work at PlantFit, pulled a second coffee shop shift to write at Timeless, then went to the Whole Foods a mile from my house. I ate at the same sushi place after hitting up the same farmer’s market every single Saturday. On Tuesdays I ran Lake Merritt. On Sundays I prepped my food for the week while listening to This American Life .
I love routine and I often support my clients in figuring out what routines might enrich their lives. But I am also aware that my emotional reliance on seeing the same people and doing the same shit day in and day out felt like a supportive blessing right up until the moment when I realized that I had no confidence without the safety of the habit. I used these routines to keep me feeling focused, stoked, on-track, and appreciated. The people I saw day in and day out learned to rely on my presence, and somehow, that made me feel like a good and productive person.
Feeling like I was reliable gave me a purpose, which, I think, gave me confidence.
But then I moved, and- dun dun dunnnn- I didn’t have a schedule.
Now what? I asked myself. Who am I when I am not doing my routine?
This was a great question, one that I didn’t have an answer for immediately. I found that arriving in Portland, I was shy. I wore pants for the first time in eight months, I didn’t drink my coffee iced, and I was kind of terrified of the many social events and cool people that I knew awaited for me. I was just getting my footing and somehow, I felt embarrassed not to have it all completely figured out the day I arrived.
I have a thing about being a regular. A regular gym goer, a regular coffee shop patron, a regular in someone’s grocery line. Of course, I wanted to find Portland versions of those activities, but more than anything I realized I needed to find ways to be confidant without those crutches.
So here’s what I did instead:
1) I fucking meditated.
If there’s one thing that kills me, it’s how mediation is kind of always the answer and never the thing that I want to do. One thing I know about confidence is that it is about deeply knowing yourself. Not deeply knowing what you DO, but deeply knowing who you ARE. I tend to pile on as much work as possible for myself. I used to think this was about scarcity issues having to do with growing up without huge amounts of cash and being self employed in uncertain times. The more I sit still, though, the more I realize that a big part of why I take on so much and go so fast is that I feel pretty uncomfortable simply sitting in silence and space. What is there to run away from? I’ve been asking as I sit. Why not spend a little time with myself?
2) I lovingly detached from the chaotic hellhole that is the Internet.
Okay. I love the Internet, and I bet you probably do too, or you wouldn’t be reading a blog. The Internet has helped me to meet a ridiculous amount of wonderful people, research all kinds of cool topics, and connect some of my ideas to action. ALL HAIL QUEEN INTERNET. That is, until queen Internet makes you feel like everything from your business to your breakfast is straight up, 100% not good enough.
With the uncertainty of a new environment, I begin to attach a lot of meaning to the fact that I identified as a writer and a blogger, and OHMYGOD I HAVEN’T BEEN BLOGGING. Holy shit did that take the creativity out of the process for me. Instead of watching what other people on social media were doing well, I decided to focus on what I thought I was crushing it at. Just a few years ago, negative body image, compulsive exercise, and fear of food was destroying my ability to have fun. Travel was out of the question, I was too exhausted to be creative, my relationships were strained and I hated myself. In the past few months I have been able to get married, enjoy myself at a ton of parties and events with food in the foreground, travel to kauai for two whole weeks without micromanaging every bite, and enjoy time in my body in a multitude of ways that didn’t have shit to do with how it looked. Being on the Internet less helped my confidence, and taking a good old fashioned selfie break helped me to value experiences I was having more than how I looked while having them.
3) I used a daily gratitude list to learn to focus on what I’m actually really stoked on.
Cultivating gratitude is like the parent to cultivating confidence. I found it very difficult to waste time feeling insecure about my lack of routine in Portland when I was really noticing the leaves start to change, how good the air felt on my runs, how awesome the meal I made tasted. Gratitude leads to all sorts of awesome new feelings popping up in my life and although I easily forget to focus on it, I love that the old habit always waits in the wings when I remember to pick it up.
4) I took some risks
Let’s be real, at this point I have been supporting myself with Super Strength Health and Rise and Resist long enough that although it IS still risky, I am quite comfortable doing it. The real risks I take in my life are honestly way more related to socializing.
Despite being somewhat extroverted I get extremely nervous in group situations and a lot of the time in Oakland that lead to me just not going out. Here in Portland I have challenged myself to very regularly go out and meet new people and holy crap has it paid off. So many vegans! So many lifters! So many feminists! (SO MANY VEGAN LIFTING FEMINISTS!!!) Forcing myself to leave my humble abode really did do wonders for my confidence, and upped the amount of people to get inspired by ten-fold. This was perhaps the hardest step I took to cultivate a little Pacific Northwestern confidence, and was also the one that was the most immediately beneficial.
So, I am hitting day fourteen of my new life up North and feeling markedly better than day 2. I would love to hear how you’ve cultivated confidence in times of transition, and how you get yourself to disconnect from the internet, meditate, leave the damn house, and go meet a friend. Love to you all!