I Spent My Birthday Alone and I Feel Fine

As I approached my birthday, I told one of my dearest friends that the only thing I did not want was to be alone.

I had a rough breakup this year. I had hoped it was the kind of relationship that meant I would never spend a birthday alone again. Looking back, I can see that was never going to be the case, but at the time that is what I thought.

I don’t even think I could articulate why it was so important that I wasn’t alone. I was afraid of some kind of bad luck charm that would curse my year. Or if I didn’t have a momentous birthday it would reflect on who I am. There was some story I made up in my head, and I wasn’t even sure of what it was or what the root of the story was.

So this friend said that she would gladly celebrate with me and we made some plans for drinks. And then things went awry and she had to be in the hospital. I told her that I would love to come and just be with her.

And then it was the morning of my birthday I was thinking about the idea of being alone and I started feeling anxious. And when I felt that anxiety, I knew that was exactly what I had to do.

I had to confront this feeling of “I can’t be alone.”

I wish I could say that I loved being alone. I didn’t. But I didn’t hate it. I didn’t die. The Facebook messages saying “happy birthday” continued to roll in. Which felt ironic in a way. All these people that were sending me wishes and here I was sitting alone.

I picked up some delicious and fresh eggplant parmesan from the nearby market and my mom had made me an individual sized cherry pie the day before and I saved it for my birthday. That was lovely. I had that with a nice big glass of wine and The Queen’s Code. And I ended the night writing reflections and goals for my year ahead and also purging some things that I no longer needed.

While these are activities that I do love doing and I needed to do them, it’s not exactly how I wanted to spend my birthday. I would have rather been out with a friend talking about our lives over margaritas.

But the fact that the idea gave me anxiety was a strong enough reaction that I couldn’t ignore it. I couldn’t NOT do the thing that scared me that much. And one thing I want for the year is to confront these stories I am clinging to and prove to myself that they are just made up and worthless. Spending a birthday alone does not mean that your year will be less than. It is not bad luck. It does not mean people don’t care about you.

The one treat I gave to my self was a massage. The muscles in my back are a tight and a stubborn mess. He had to do a lot of work, and it’s probably just scratching the surface to fix those problems. It was not comfortable or relaxing. I did a lot of deep breathing to let oxygen into the muscles as he really worked. It was uncomfortable but I definitely stood taller with less pain in my normal places, and I can see the benefit after just one uncomfortable session.

It was exactly what I needed.

And at the end of the solo birthday experiment, there were no major revelations, no earth-shattering breakthroughs. But, it didn’t kill me. It didn’t mean I like myself less. Or that people don’t care about me or don’t want me around. It doesn’t mean that I am less important or that I am going to have less of a great year.

In fact, I think it may point to the opposite.Like the massage, the more willing I am to be uncomfortable the more I am able to grow and stretch. And that is what I am all about. Growth. Becoming the best version of myself. Becoming a person beyond what I could dream of being.

I just have to lean into the discomfort and see what is there.

 

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There Must Be A Better Way

I remember dating when I was in high school. And there was always such drama around the courtship period. I would have a crush and I would do everything to learn about his schedule, find out what he likes, and try to find a way to make myself converge with both of those things.

There were always that chats with girl friends about him. And about “the signs.” Ladies, you know “the signs” I’m talking about:

Ohmigod! He SMILED at me today!”

Squeal!!! He let me borrow his pencil! Our fingers touched. That means he likes me, right?”

We ran into each other after soccer practice and we actually talked for a whole 5 minutes!!!”

And I would analyze all these things with my friends. While it bonded the friendship because we had this common goal and something to talk about and analyze together. And it was such FUN.

I will be honest. The drama was a lot of fun. It gave me something to laugh at and distract myself from other things. It gave me something to fantasize about and dream about. I enjoyed it.

And because of that, I will never be The Cool Girl. I will never be the girl that has a crush and then can detach and not care if he likes me back. I get excited. I want him to care. I want him to want me back. I want him to want to see me again. I want this crush thing to be two sided.

I accept this about myself even though I don’t like it very much.

I know everyone says they want “no drama” but there is a reason there is so much drama. It’s because it is FUN and DISTRACTING. And at the end of the day, those are really easy things to give into.

My life has such great memories around the drama. Some of my silliest moments in high school were because I had a crush on a boy. I realize I even have relationships in my life with friends that I build around that drama. I have a few friends that I really only connect to them because we talk about the drama of our dating lives.

But despite the fun and excitement that comes from the drama of dating, I can’t help but think “isn’t there a better way?”

There is a saying that goes something like “When you ask for patience, life gives you a line at the bank.” And I just read the other day that when we commit to a new way of thinking or being, all of your old habits will get stirred up to test your new commitment.

Well, in my life, right now I am asking for freedom and ease. Those are not at all aligned with drama.

And here I am with this new and unexpected crush. And for a few days all my old habits kicked up. All the wondering about whether or not he will call. Placing my value   on whether or not he was interested.

But in the back of my head the whole time I had a tiny, quiet alarm that was ringing. It was saying “Isn’t there a better way?”

And that single question is enough to shift everything. Being open to a different way is like rewiring your brain. It allows new ways of thinking to start.

I know the answer to the question “Isn’t there a better way” is yes. But I don’t exactly have a specific answer of what that better way is or how I should be thinking differently. But I trust that will come to me in time.

And it is a lot easier to let go of the drama of “does he like me?” when I really approach the situation of “I like me.” And at the end of the day, that’s the only opinion that really matters. And if he sees me and doesn’t like me, that’s ok. I’m the one that has to live with me for the rest of my life, so his opinion doesn’t really matter.

The pros and cons of working out

I know I am supposed to say how great I feel now that I am working out again. I am supposed to talk about how much more energy I have and how it makes me want to eat healthier, etc, etc, etc.

And those are all valid things. But it’s bringing up other feelings that I think are worth examining.

In what feels like another lifetime, I was a personal trainer. For three years (and some time before that and a while after) I was pretty rigid with what I ate and when and what I did for my workouts. It was like a prescription I followed to a T. I took it very seriously, and tried to not preach too much to my friends.

I left that job and eventually realized that my body looks relatively the same with the specific diet and workout regimen as it does when I am doing those things in moderation. And then I thought “what if I swing all the way to the other end of the spectrum and do what I want when I want and eat the food I want?”

So I did. And I enjoyed it. And I was ok with it.

And then I started putting on weight, and I was ok with it. It was kinda nice to have curves again. It made me feel more feminine. And there was a big lesson in embracing my body in every shape.

When my clothes were fitting differently, I noticed and wasn’t completely happy that these clothes fit differently. But I made an important distinction- I wasn’t going to work out because I was unhappy with my body. I wanted to love my body as it is and when I chose to workout again it would be because I am celebrating what my body can do, because it makes me feel good, because it gives me energy, etc.

And it happened about two weeks ago. The running bug was back. And close behind it was the urge to get back to the gym and pick up kettlebells again (my favorite tool in the gym). And I was excited to get back.

But here’s the rub. You don’t pick up where you left off. You are knocked way, way back. Last year at this time, I was running a few miles easily. And now, a mile and a half in my neighborhood has me winded. And I had to pick up lighter weights in the gym. Stamina and strength were definitely not what they were.

And I have a gut reaction to criticize myself and beat myself up. “If you hadn’t quit you’d be better off.” “Why can’t you do what you used to?” “Oh, this tank top and shorts looks really different in the mirror- is that a fat roll??”

That doesn’t serve me, or my overall goal. My goal is to feel better, to feel stronger, to have energy. And I can’t get there by hating on my body. So I cranked up the music, gave a little dance to celebrate that I was there, and got back to work.

It helped me to focus on my goal, which was simply to feel good and not to look good for anyone else’s criteria, and to do what I came to do. It’s not what I expected, and that is ok. Just show up, do the work.

What have you recently struggled with and how did you overcome it? Can you relate to body issues? I would love to hear what you think!

An Unexpected Date

I did not know I was going on a date last night until 6 hours beforehand. While the idea of spontaneity and an unplanned date is nothing new, everything else around this date is completely out of the norm for me.

Here is what I am used to in my dating life: I meet a guy that I am incredibly attracted to and I think he is perfectly “my type.” I go out of my way to be available for this guy. I drop not-so0subtle hints that I am into him. I may even suggest we hang out or drop an activity that I want to go to and if he’s interested maybe we should go together. I would bat my eyes and do everything I could to look sexy and get his attention. I do all the things I think a person that is attractive is supposed to do and say. Correction- a person that is attractive to HIM.

Yes, I size up the guy immediately and diagnose what I think he wants and then I do my best to be the chameleon and become exactly that.

I realize how crazy that sounds. And believe me, I have unpacked that time and time again with my life coach and in books and morning pages in my journal. And it didn’t really click exactly why that was a bad thing until this date.

It’s funny the way that I can learn something in my head, and I can be given guidance about dating, and I can read about behavior. But then for no particular reason at all it clicked. And then to experience it everything changed.

I have been reading The Queen’s Code by Alison Armstrong, a book which I am positive I will be writing about at length because it has changed my life. I read a passage on Sunday that knocked me back in my chair and I could finally process something in my heart and body instead of truly in my head. The knowledge snack deeper and I could feel it everywhere.

I could finally let go of my past relationships. I finally understood what I had been doing wrong all along.

For me, I always picked men I was ridiculously attracted to or the ones I wasn’t attracted to at all but they checked the boxes on my “list.” And I would tend to pick men that were younger or I perceived that they weren’t fully in their own power.

(Please remember that I am bringing my demons into the light and being honest. I realize that things don’t sound perfect and I am not trying to be perfect. I am trying to be human and honest. Know what I mean?)

I liked controlling and manipulating because that I meant I could get what I want. For a little while. I traded long term potential happiness and fulfillment for short term satisfaction.

I see the error in my ways. And I see the major benefits in giving up control.

I made a commitment to myself. I would rather be alone than to force something. I am committed to not forcing anything. To receive. To trust.

And that’s what made this date radically different. So different I don’t even know how to answer the question “How did it go?” Because I don’t know! My old gauges for what made a good first date have gone completely out the window!

But I know that I like the guy. I like what I heard, I like how he behaved and I am curious to learn and know more. And if he didn’t feel the same way, that’s ok. I felt like I was very honest, very much myself and I truly would not want to be with someone that didn’t like my honest, true self.

And I feel no need to manipulate or control the situation. I feel like I can go with the flow and see where I am guided.

This feels fun!

Back in the Saddle Again

Hello everyone.

It’s been a while since I’ve published, I know. I’ve written things in my drafts for the last few months. Nothing felt right to publish. It was too raw. Too emotional. Too much.

I was also in the middle of a huge career task that required as much creative brain space and all the energy I could give. I am still up to my elbows in that work, but it has some momentum now and I have honestly missed writing about these things that are important to me- authenticity, living a full life, understanding relationships, and understanding myself even better.

So I am single again. Some day I will write about the relationship that ended and completely knocked the wind out of me but today is not that day.

Today I want to start building a conversation about the things we do because we love them. The things we do that make us feel lit up from the inside. The things we do because we feel good, not because it makes us look good.

I have just started to become aware of the things I do that make me feel good versus look good. There are certain things I know I’ve always done that make me feel good. Like swing dancing. I looooooved swing dancing. But I stopped because my schedule changed, and I was tired of going alone. I was tired of being reminded of being so alone during the songs I wasn’t dancing. Sometimes it made me feel desperate and that’s the opposite of what I wanted.

And I was also a personal trainer at the time, with a very early wake up call so going to bed early was crucial. And so was working out. Working out was required. And I realized I was doing that because I had to not because I wanted to.

So I am listening to my body more. Which means a lot of walking in nature, running two or three times a week and doing planks and pushups every morning.

I’m going to wine tastings, volunteering, reading, and spending time with my family. And I am really enjoying my food. I am eating food that is pleasurable to the senses- all of them. I’ve noticed how much I am enjoying colorful, bright salads full of a variety of seasonal food. And then when I want ice cream, I really enjoy the ice cream as a pleasurable experience.

I also booked myself a boudoir photo shoot to celebrate my body and all its curves. And that experience deserves a post all of its own… but let me tell you this: The shoot was a month ago and I am still rocking the confidence I gained from that experience. I highly recommend it.

What do you do that is purely for your own pleasure? Post it in the comments below and maybe you will inspire others to try something new!