Search

Arrow & Roots

Wellness… with a pulse, and messy hair, and laughlines in the midst of chaos.

#metoo

For months, now, I’ve hesitated.  I’ve thought.  I’ve stewed.  I have watched friends–some brave, some scared.  Most, probably, were both.  I watched them on my newsfeed declare, #metoo.  Some shared stories of their own experiences with the world–boldly and unabashedly and shaking in their shoes.  Some of those stories were resonant with me.  Some were humans that are incredibly close to me.  Others are heroes and heroines i’ve never actually met.
“Yea, girl,” I’d say in my head, “I’ve been there, too.  I’ve been catcalled.  I’ve been pawed at.  I’ve been blamed for ‘being bitchy,’ for actively pushing a man whose touch I did not consent to off of me.  A couple of times, I’ll admit, with an elbow to keep myself safe.”  I’ve been called frigid for saying, “Get your hands off me.”  I’ve been called a tease for the same.  I’ve been called a cunt, when neither of the first two seemed to assuage a violator’s ego quite right.
“Wow,” I’d think, reading other truths, “I never knew.  And I honor you all the more for standing in the truth of that story you just shared.”  Those times, my brain would say to me, “Huh.  All of the #metoo you have, you silly thing, pale in comparison.”  I’m not worthy of sharing my stories.  My voice isn’t impactful enough.  My experiences were lesser-than.  They are lesser-than.
Funny.  Invalidation is a key tactic in abuse.
Funny.  I’m still struggling to stand in the truth of some of my own stories.  To stand in the truth of vehement boundary violations and protests and giving in, in the name of safety.  To stand in the truth that my refusals and protests and dissent were not respected.
“I mean it, no.”
“Slow down.”
“Wait.”
“Stop.”
“No.
“NO.”
“STOP.”
“…Fine.”
The other day, I went to the park.  It was a rare, warm, sunny day in January–almost 70 degrees.  I was ecstatic at the thought of grounding my bare feet–stifled by socks and weather-appropriate shoes for far too many weeks– on the soft earth.  I was delighted by the little bit of breeze that was rustling leftover leaves from autumn.  Heaven.  It was a little sliver of heaven in the middle of my weekend, and in the middle of South City.
I rolled out my mat; I plugged in my earbuds; I queued up a yoga practice on YouTube.  Oh, I was ready to sink into an hour of deep stretch and sanctuary.
For a while, my date laid in the grass next to me, soaking up his own slice of heaven, and catching his breath from a bike ride.  He wandered off, after a bit, to ride a few more miles.  I smiled when I noticed, and sank deeper into the asana.
Downward dog.
Plank.
Chaturanga.
Cobra.
Breathe.
Move.
Flow.
Repeat.
Until there was a tap on my shoulder.  A young woman–younger than me– and her boxer mix had come for a visit.  I pulled out an earbud and swept the hair out of my face.  “Miss,” she said.  Her brow was furrowed with grave concern.  “Miss, there’s a man sitting on that park bench over your shoulder.  I noticed him staring as we got over the hill.  I think he’s taking pictures of you.”  It was a stranger.  It was not my man, who, just minutes before, had been laying in the grass beside me.
Oh, my.  Oh, wow.  Gulp.  <eyes dart around, uncomfortable>
“And.  And you’re wearing yoga pants,” she said, in a loud whisper. As if it were a secret. As if I hadn’t been the one to pull them on, hours before.
Funny.  It was a Sunday.  It was a miracle that I had pants of any sort on.
Funny.  Yoga pants are not an invitation for harassment.
Funny.  My clothing does not signify my consent.
I thanked my sweet, young sister, scratched her pup’s head, and tried to figure out how to return to my mat–one of my sanctuaries.  I stood up, adjusted my mat, and stared at the man on the bench, trying to regain my flow.  Trying desperately to keep doing exactly what I’d shown up to doBreathe. Move. Repeat.
He caught my eye.  He knew.  He left.
It was the most confrontation I could muster.  It was the loudest protest I had, in that moment. It was far, far too quiet.

#metoo.  #metoo.  #metoo.
This barrage of stories in the news, on our feeds, buzzing in our ears, being debated in breakrooms, and over meals, and for some of us, in our own heads has taught me this:  Everything I thought  I new about consent was barely the tip of the iceberg.  I have work to do.  You have work to do, sweet friend.  We have work to do–to teach and learn from each other about boundaries, and to teach our children about body autonomy, respect, admiration, and humanity.
Some of my favorite, most respected men have asked me, candidly, “Is this, like, really a thing?”  Yes, sweet man.  It is.  It is a thing to get aggressively grabbed by the pussy while walking through a crowded bar (It’s not just a thing the president brags about and then denies).  It is a thing to be accused of “asking for it.”  It is a thing to have an intricate system in which your tribe of girlfriends instinctively watch your back, your purse, your drink, your walk to your car.  Who insist on knowing the names and phone numbers and occupations of every first date– not because they’re nosy, but because someone needs to know where to tell the police you were.  It is a thing to be valued for your your tits and demeaned for your brain.  It is a thing to be forced.  And it is not the exception to the rule.  I’m grateful that these men, these ones who were brave enough to ask a woman they love and respect, really didn’t know it’s a thing.  I operate under the assumption that they don’t know, because they’re not the reason it’s a thing.
Funny.  We’re all guilty of perpetuating the thing anyway.
Please know, you sweet, brave human–I hear your story.  I see you.  And I believe you.  Please, sweet, brave human–tell me what I can do to validate your story.  To heal with you.  To contribute to the collective healing.
My protest wasn’t loud, but maybe some of my actions from here will be. I’m still processing how and if and why to share all of my stories, but in the meantime, I’ve joined the Women’s Strength Coalition.  I’m researching consent (spoiler alert:  it’s so much more than a carte blanche  “yes” or “no” to sex).  I’ve learned from and contributed to conversations on social media.  I’m going to continue to practice yoga in the park, downward dogging right alongside Loughborough Avenue.  And I promise I’ll keep wearing yoga pants when I do.
This messy-haired girl won’t shrink or cover up or hide.  She’ll swipe some ginger and melaleuca and fir across her chest, as reminders to stand in her power and block out the outside garbage.  She’ll keep a piece of tourmaline close by, too.  And she’ll get to it, like she always does.
And as for you, sweet reader, I hope you do, too.
#timesup
#timesup
#timesup
Advertisements

Skinny, love.

The other day, I saw a picture of myself from four years ago. I was in full gym regalia: Tall socks. Spankies. Trendy cross-trainers. I was at my old crossfit box, surrounded by what are now some of my favorite people, gleaming with sweat and smiles after our first workout of that year.  

And holy shit was I skinny. And holy shit did my current self–without missing a beat–without hesitation–say, “Self, you should get back to that!”

Here’s the thing: I’ve NEVER had a bad relationship with my body or with food. Never once. Sure, I have an fleeting insecurity or two, but who doesn’t? And despite being genetically blessed to begin with, I’ve never tied “skinny” to a sense of self-worth. In fact, over the last half a decade, I’ve worked really, really hard to not be skinny. I’ve tried olympic weightlifting and crossfit and bodybuilding workouts and, spoiler alert, powerlifting. I’ve flipped tires, and pulled up, and picked up, and pushed up, and arched, and chalked, and dropped heavy squats below parallel LIKE IT’S MY JOB. I’ve conquered depression and anxiety and injuries and adrenals and plenty of shitty self-talk about what more I should be. All in the name of getting really, enormously strong.

True story: one time a family friend stopped me in a parking lot and said, “Wow! You look SO skinny! Great job!”

I was pissed.

Livid.

There I was, in a parking lot pushing a prowler loaded with weights for sprint times. My lungs were stinging. My legs and my core were on fire. I was dripping sweat in the middle of wintertime.

I.

Was.

Dying.

I was a fledgling gym rat just aching to be strong. “Skinny?” I thought. “She clearly doesn’t see that I’m pushing a grown man’s bodyweight across this blacktop.” In that exact moment, I made a decision for myself:  That this messy-haired girl would never be skinny.  She would be healthy and bold and fierce and strong.  Skinny was an insult.

But the other day, my brain, that has been conditioned by so, so many outside voices, said, “Drop some pounds,” as though skinny was good. Just for a fleeting, half-of-a-quarter-of-a second, I had that thought.

Skinny=good. 

Skinny=feminine. 

Skinny=achievement.

Skinny=not taking up too much space.

The year that picture was taken, I *almost* had washboard abs. Today, I don’t. I do, however, have a first place medal from a powerlifting meet. Badass traps (and lemme tell ya, you can’t diet your way to those beauties). Calloused hands. 30 pounds on my deadlift in six months’ time. New friends. A stellar—and fully healed—relationship with having a barbell on my back. Confidence. Sensuality. Sass. An ass. A collection of adventures I’d never have had, if I’d focused on staying skinny.    

I’ve also had setbacks and injuries and obstacles to conquer–experiences that, if I let myself, would play in my head telling me, “You senseless thing, you.  You should be more.  Do more.  Eat less.  Train harder.  Lift bigger.  You should probably run or something.  Or.  Quit.”

So, you healthy and bold and fierce thing, you.  Wash your singlet.  Grab your belt. Lace up your Chucks.  Listen to your coach.  And for heaven’s sake, don’t try to cut weight.  You have a meet next month.

Then find your sassiest dress–the one that hugs every, single hard-earned curve.  The one that doesn’t cover up your permanent deadlift scars.  Then, call up your fella.  Plan a date.  And when you go, order the steak.

And then get dessert.

A note on staying soft and open, grocery cart edition:

Until a couple of months ago, I always. Always. Always. Left my quarter in the cart after my trip to Aldi. A free gift for the next hungry shopper that came by. Hell, a smile for them and a bit of good luck, maybe. Maybe a few seconds of saved time for a tired momma fishing around the bottom of her purse with one hand, holding a fussy toddler with the other. Maybe. Call me an idealist. Call it my feeble payment to the universe. A prayer for good karma. 


A couple of months ago, though, I stopped leaving my quarter behind. I’d just loaded up my groceries, and diligently returned my cart to its slot (By the way, pay attention. You can learn a lot about a person by where they leave their cart). As I crossed the lot, I saw a man go to the cart return. I watched–horrified–as he checked each row of carts, took the quarters out of TWO, and then returned to his car! “He just stole my good deed!” I stomped and shouted in my head. “That asshole. He doesn’t need my quarter!”

“Oh, the injustice!” I cried. I quit leaving my quarter after that day.  

Wait… Did I just do the very thing that I hate?  I did.  I judged a man harshly based solely on my own perception. I deemed him undeserving of the gift that I’d left. Well, crap.  In that easy, hasty judgement, my heart hardened just a little. I never even stopped to think: maybe he does need $0.50. Maybe it was the only money he could scrounge. Maybe he just needed the universal pick-me-up that found change can bring. I don’t know, but maybe it’s not my place to be judge and jury of the Aldi parking lot. Ive felt my heart close and harden in lots of other seemingly microscopic ways lately.

The news has been full of hate and judgement and inequality lately. The unabashed stripping of human rights. The denial of value of living, breathing human’s lives. The shameless lessening of personhood, based on skin color, or country of origin, or religion, or what kind of parts are in a person’s pants, and whether or not a person loves who society assumes they should love. And worse: some of the loudest voices in our country are emboldening such bad behavior–lauding it, unmasked, as . It’s all so despicable. Oh. The injustice.

To be frank, I’ve had to turn inward. I’ve shied away from most of the most recent happenings in politics. Some deeply personal–though unrelated–situations have, for the moment, filled my plate, and I just haven’t figured out how to rearrange my heart-hurt so that these situations get attention alongside the sweeping social injustices that I believe in fighting for. This is temporary. Just for today, I’m still trying to figure out how to live in world that accepts not just ingrained bias and subtle, unspoken prejudice (we all have it, we all have to work to own it and adjust it), but blatant, screaming, front-page bigotry, racism, violence, and inequality. I haven’t. Figured it out, that is. HOW DO WE LIVE in 2017 like this? HOW IS THIS 2017? How is my world still so full of resentment, of chosen ignorance, and of such malicious venom? And how. Please, tell me how I can use my own privilege to move this whole story toward love and understanding? I haven’t figured it out. But I will. 

And in the meantime, I’ll be working to return my heart to softness. To kindness. To vulnerability. To love. And as silly as it sounds, today, for me, it starts with leaving a quarter for the next hungry shopper. It’s not enough, but it’s a start in returning to openness.

 Please, in the name of all things good–don’t be the jerk who steals my good deed.

 

Barbells and Soft Feminity

“I’m going to do it,” I declared, first to myself and then to my friends. “I’m finally going to do it. I’m going to find a coach, and I’m going to compete in a powerlifting meet.” I’m going to commit, and train, and eat a massive amount of nourishing food, and lift, and work, and sharpen my saw. I’m going to be a powerlifter–“I’m going to compete. I’m going to see what my body can do.” I’m going to push back my messy hair, and embrace my growing traps, and get to work.  I’ve been halfway thinking–mostly daydreaming–about it for years.  I’ve always had a good relationship with my body. I have long and slender limbs like my mother. My father’s eyes and lips. I’ve got flexibility from years of dancing, and alignment from dabbling in yoga, and damn, it feels good to pick up heavy stuff.

“Thank God,” the bestie said. “It’s about time.”

“That’s badass,” said another.

Gulp. Blink, blink. Inhale. Exxxxxxxhhhhhale. Lift things.

Cue: a running commentary of outside opinions– “You’ve gotten so skinny. You’re getting beefy. Your ass is so good; don’t lose that ass. Don’t wear those shorts in public; people don’t need to see your ass for christsake. You weigh how much? Why do you do this to yourself? You shouldn’t lift heavy. Women shouldn’t lift so much. Don’t get too bulky. Don’t get too muscular. Don’t get too manly. Keep your curves. You’re going to hurt yourself. You’ll never catch up to her. You’re not built for this. You eat HOW MUCH? You’re going to hurt yourself. Skip the gym today. It’s just a hobby.”

Inhale.

Cue: every story I’ve ever heard about my body. Cue: Gnawing my lip, wondering if I shouldn’t have committed. “I’m going to lose my softness. I’m going to lose my beautiful, deep, sexy, sassy feminity. I’m eating HOW MUCH?! What if my body becomes unrecognizable. What if my mind isn’t strong enough. What if I’m not resilient.”

Exhhaaaaaaaaale.

Oh, you sweet messy-haired thing, do this: Buy some new lipstick. Sit crosslegged on your floor. Meditate. Weep. Put on fancy underpants. Soften. Soften more. Go outside and put your toes in the grass. Bring fresh flowers into the house. And remember: your shape does not define your feminity.

And then, you sweet messy-haired thing, you. Cook a steak, medium rare. Tend to the calluses on your hands. And pick up that barbell.  It’s heavy, just like you like a barbell to be.  If you need to, grab your own ass, because you’re the only one who needs to approve of its shape and dents and strength and size. Tune the rest of the chatter out.

Chatter from people who care, because they’re intimidated by you doing something diferent.

Chatter from people who care, because they’d rather you stay stagnant.

Chatter from people who care, that don’t want to change themselves, and don’t want you to leave them behind.

And for Pete’s sake, show off your new traps.

Just. Rough.

Friends. Today has been rough. Yesterday was, too. And despite my best intentions, much of the week was. Rough.
Just.
Rough.

I had a friend ask me today, “What’s been shaking with that blog of yours?” Busted. I’ve been avoiding y’all. I’ve been avoiding this space… the one I’ve created, that’s still so tender and new, to raise my own voice for light, and love, and goodness. Because I’ve been working hard to find my way back to those things. I’ve been in my own head and working to find the fine… dare i use the word… balance, between strength and surrender.
Being as strong as granite and as soft as a kitten.
Diligence and flexibility.
Intention and distraction.
Abundance and pragmatism.
Vulnerability and bleeding out.

I don’t generally buy into the idea of balance, but that’s a topic for another day

It’s been exhausting and unfruitful. So today, instead, I am (finally) choosing to love this space I’m in, for all its warts and bumps and shadows and unrefined bits. And I’m choosing to remember that this space is beautiful, too. I’ll honor that, and I’ll gently fold myself up in things that feel goooooooooooooood. I will:

Take a salt bath (that’s where I’m writing today’s love note).
Eat extra veggies (they raise your vibes, too).
Grab my Rose Quartz (with the reminder, “Love, actually, is all around.”).
Diffusing birch and bergamot and black pepper oils (The alliteration is completely accidental. The energetic benefits are not: feeling firm in roots and support, acceptance of self, and unveiling of ways that are in integrety with my own soul).
Connect with people I love dearly (it takes a villiage).
Create something (this is a good start).
Show up with my very, very best for business and mentoring tonight.
Paint my toes and do a mud mask and take insanely good care of my appearance (ya look good, ya feel good, yes?).
Spend a little extra time speaking gratitude.
Spend a lot of extra time feeling gratitude.
Take a cat nap.

And remember: this life is beautifully, gorgeously, insanely blessed.

How do you choose love?  On the good days?  On the ones that are just…  rough?

Forgiveness

I’ve had a question rolling around in my head for days, sweet reader: What does it mean to forgive? What do you think?

I asked friends, “What is forgiveness? At its most genuine, unblaming definition?” One dear pal replied, “Forgiveness is accepting what happened, feeling it, and moving past it. It is not forgetting, but learning and moving forward in life, not dwelling on or being stuck on [something].” So forgiveness is movement.

Another, rather beautifully, wrote me a list of instructions, a field guide for forgiving. He says:
“1. Look me in the eyes and tell me you love me.
2. Tell me the truth of how you feel.
3. Again, tell me you love me.
4. Then, every now and then, skip on the opportunity to bring up my transgressions.”
In essence, he explained, when I prodded him on his answer a bit more, forgiveness choosing compassion, and then honesty over blame or assigning wrongdoing. It seems forgiveness, then, sure doesn’t keep score.

A third answered most simply, “I think we ‘forgive’ actions and ‘accept’ people.” Acceptance–that’s a beautiful thought. I. Accept. You.

I, traditionally, have had a really perverted relationship with forgiveness. I didn’t even realize it, for the longest time. Here’s how it would often go:

1. Someone does a “Shitty Thing” to me.
2. I get upset/hurt/tell a fantastically horrible story to myself about why they would do that Shitty Thing to me. This story usually sounded like:
1. I’m unworthy.
2. I’m unimportant to them.
3. I’m unloved by them. I mean, why else on earth would someone do a Shitty Thing to me?

3. I’d have a good cry. Maybe vent to a trusted friend.
4. I’d declare that person, the one who did the Shitty Thing, forgiven. Absolved of their actions. But, not quite.
5. **Fast Forward**
6. Person does Shitty Thing (same or different) again. And the cycle begins again. And I’d carry the burden left by the shadow of the Shitty Thing, twofold.

Over and over, I was presented with the same Shitty Things. Over and over, I took them deeply personally. Over and over, the Shitty Thing solidified my Shitty Personal Narraive. Over and over, it ultimately led to a story of resentment, the most toxic story I think a person can tell.
over.
and.
over.
and.
over.

Over and over, I would then ask myself, “What can I change so this never happens again?” But that question came from a place of inadequacy. What would make me enough that Shitty Thing Doer wouldn’t ever “wrong” me again? THAT is an exhausting mission, dear friend. Because people, even the best of them, are always going to hurt you. And they’ll usually do it completely unknowingly. Unwittingly. Motivated by their own issues or insecurities or logistical bullshit. Exhausting, too, because I’ve learned the universe will relentlessly serve you the same lesson, until you actually learn it. What lesson are you being served?  Over.  And.  Over.

Is there a right way to forgive? A better way? Maybe, an awakened way? I have to confess, a YouTube video sparked this query. In it, modern day philosopher and vlogger Alexi Panos poses that premise that the idea that “Me forgiving you,” is just another creative way to pass negative judgment. She proposes, “Saying that we forgive somebody isn’t true forgiveness, because we’e still saying ‘I was right, and you were wrong’… We get to realize all events are neutral. Every event. we play a part in cocreating our reality with whatever energy was present. Can we look at the wound that was created, and say, what is in that?” Watch the video here.

So what, then, is forgiveness at my most genuine and unblaming definition?

Forgiveness is empathy.
Forgiveness is choosing release. Of hurt. Of expectation. It is a gentle exhale.
Release.
Release.
Release.
Forgiveness is resolution. With the other. Or sometimes, only within the self.
Forgiveness is not martyrdom to the things and people and aches that hurt you.
Forgiveness is putting those things down. Not carrying them around as badges of displaced honor.
Forgiveness invokes light.
It is a reclaiming of innocence. It is a swipe of geranium oil over the heart and a piece of rose quartz to protect and soothe. It is a whiff of wintergreen to remind you to surrender to the flow, rather than rigidly expecting. It is a mantra to the tune of a Disney song. Let. It. Go.
It is an acknowledgment of the best of intentions, and an acceptance of person, and a deep, deep acknowledgment that imperfect is perfectly beautiful.
Forgiveness is not conditional.
Forgiveness is not ego-driven, but– I’ve learned– it can exasperate one’s ego to no end.
Ghandi said, “Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.” Forgiveness is strength. I’m perpetually striving to be stronger.
It is not keeping score.
It is teaching better, and growing, and not taking it personally.
Forgiveness is from the heart space.
Maya Angelou says, “It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.” It is self-love.
It is sometimes full of tears.
Forgiveness is not permission.
Forgiveness is not a call to tolerate assholes (We all have one. Don’t be one.).

Forgiveness, I think, is more an examination of self than an absolution of the other: what is this stirring up within me? Where is it coming from?

Forgiveness is not easy.
Forgiveness is utterly, absolutely necessary.
Forgiveness is love.

Mudlick Mountain

I hiked to the top of an Ozark mountain today, in a desperate attempt to find quiet– quiet from the world, quiet from the dings and the buzzes of my phone and its false senses of connection, and mostly, from the whirring of my own mind. As usually happens on a walk in the woods, though, I found more.

So.
Much.
More.

I almost didn’t go. I almost didn’t peel myself away from the warmth and safety of the house. Nestled under quilts that hold memories from my childhood– sleepy-eyed, and messy-haired, padding across the floor to pour a drowsy cup of coffee– I almost didn’t go. My ego almost chose to stay.

In comfort.
In warmth.
In sanctuary.

“It’s too cold,” I said to myself, “your clothes won’t be warm enough. You’ll freeze.”
“No one will know where you’ve gone.”
“You need more rest, silly girl. Your heart and your body are tired. Rest. Settle.”

But I didn’t. Settle, that is. Not this time. I listened, instead, to the faintest yearning of my restless heart. I poured another cup of coffee and pulled on the warm wool socks that an ex had left behind. I giggled to myself at the ghosts of the warmth and comfort past, conjured through a forgotten pair of socks. I set an intention for my trip, and I headed out the door.

Deep breath.

I found a trail. Two miles up the side of a mountain, said the brochure. Perfect. I can handle that. Even with still-sleepy eyes and still-messy hair. Even with the heavy feeling of “lost” in the pit of my stomach. Not geographically lost. Lost, othewise. Just a little. Just barely out of focus. Just two degrees off course. Off I went.

Up the hill.
One foot in front of the other.
Breathe.
Move.
Repeat.

And then, even though it was an Ozark mountain, I felt like I’d summited Everest–just for a beat. The top was breathtaking. My lungs were stinging, full of biting January air. My cheeks were burning from sunshine and wind. My hair, even messier. And then my heart whispered, “Ahh, yes, silly girl. You finally listened. You are in sanctuary. You are alive. You are love and vibrant life.”

And then my heart roared:
“Sit, silly girl. And rest.
Drop some frankincense on the crown of your head. Elevate.
Have communion with the cold.
Close your eyes. Exhale.
Find the clarity you’ve been begging the universe for.
Weep. Go on.
Keep going.
Wipe your nose, for goodness sake. It’s 17 degrees out here.
Laugh at the levity.
Savor the moment. Savor the homemade jerky you packed as a snack.
Descend.
Return to warmth. Remember, though, this isn’t about playing it safe.
Put pen to paper.
Open your soul.
Open your soul.
Open your soul and tell your story.
Now, breathe.
Move.
Repeat.”

Now, you. Yes, you sweet reader. Reading. Lurking. Wondering. Put your hand over your own heart. And, shhhhh… listen. What is it whispering? What is its roar?

I’m tuning into my own heart. Let’s just see what it has to say. Whatever it is, it’ll happen here. In this space. That I finally breathed to life, breathless, at the top of Mudlick Mountain.

You stay tuned in, love, and I will, too.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: