I thought I was being oh so sneaky and skipping most of February’s bleak, short days by saying hasta la vista Kansas City and leading a yoga retreat in 85 degree, sunny Puerto Vallarta.
I've been a little MIA on the blog scene lately. I've been feeling a little overwhelmed with life, the new year, classes and Rosa the Dog's constant adorableness (it is a distracting, yet welcome burden).
I am reminded constantly why I love what I do but man, I gotta get some serious me time in to recharge these batteries. If I don't, watch out. I'd say I get mean to scare you away but in reality I just get very tired, very emotional (I teared up watching a super cute old couple cross the street the other day) and very shut off. About this time my body says "Ooooook, Jesse - you're not getting the hint so I'm going to throw something a little more painful your way" i.e. sickness or injury.
Right now, I am in the midst of both. I hear you now body, you don't have to be such a bitch about it (she says after her body had been screaming for two weeks to slow the eff down).
For me, my self care rituals tend to border on what some might call work, but hey, to each their own. As I say in my yoga classes - you do you boo.
So we will start at the very beginning, it's a very good place to start, with a list of my self care activities.
These are a few of my FAVE-OR-IT things (enunciation people - Julie Andrews is the queen - I follow several of her rules, obviously):
- Long walk outside, in the sunshine
- Clean my apt/car/etc - decluttering space declutters my mind
- Meal Plan and Prep - When I don't have to worry about food I am far less anxious and cranky
- Find a warm place and read a book for fun not to learn nor to become a better person
- ALL OF THE NAPS
- Write - journal, stories, etc.
- Finally watch a movie I've been wanting to see
- Pet all of the dogs (Bar K is a great place to do this)
- Warm blanket which generally results in another nap
- If weather permits walk Rosa the Dog barefoot in the grass (watch out for poo)
- Organize my closet and get rid of the things
- Finally put away Christmas decor (don't judge me)
- Probably take another nap
- Take a deep stretch, restorative or yoga nidra class
- Salt Room time at The Laya Center
THEN I finally re-emerge from all the puppies, naps and cleaning to connect with the people that nourish my soul. I am working on listening to my body better, giving it what it needs and wants preemptively so maybe I don't have to nap as much but until then you'll probably find me cuddling Rosa the Dog and snoozing away.
Happy Self Care Time Everyone :)
I think of Hunter S. Thompson’s words in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas “....once you get locked into a serious drug collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can”.
So take out drug collection and insert your favorite self destructive behavior. That statement is so undeniably true. If you give yourself an inch you tend to take the next 26 miles and eat the whole wheel of cheese (or whatever your vice is).
This month is the anniversary of my doctor’s office calling and telling me, “Well, your test results came back definitely positive for Celiac disease. This means you can’t have gluten. Do you have any questions? We’ll mail you a brochure with information.” I fired that doctor soon after.
It’s been 5 years since that phone call. Several tests, diets, glutenings (it’s a word!), failed recipes and successful recipes later I can tell you - having an autoimmune disease is friggin’ hard. It’s gotten easier over the last few years with more brands, stores and restaurants being aware of what gluten free really needs to mean (cross contamination is Satan in crumb form) but it is a never ending story for those who deal.
I’ve learned a lot but here are the top 5 things I’ve learned over the last 5 years.
1. It Sucks
Yep, no sugar coating it (for real though sugar causes my body to FREAK out) Auto-immune diseases suck. Literally, they can suck the life right out of you. Each person is different from the next, so there is no cookie cutter form to healing or fixing an auto-immune disease. This means you can go through several treatment options to try to fix the symptoms or even the cause and some may help and others not at all.
Not to mention the pain in planning, eating, supplements, sleep, or explaining how your body hates itself. It’s not easy but, we are all doing our best in any given moment.
2) People Will Ask Questions
I used to feel awkward talking about celiac and answering what are very personal questions that come up in any ordinary conversation.
Instead of being embarrassed or feeling like I’m a pain in the ass because of my dietary needs, now I use it as an opportunity to educate.
No, I don’t avoid gluten to stay fit.
No, I can’t have any gluten at all.
Yes, I can get violently ill if I have the teensiest bit.
Yes, this is why I usually eat beforehand or bring my own meals.
Yes, cross contamination is a real thing.
Yes, there is actually a lot of food I can eat.
Now, I enjoy having the conversation - let’s talk about it and all learn a little something! Just like anything else, education is important so people can understand what’s going on and in my experience, most people want to understand.
We are all doing our best - let’s always assume that. Moving on.
3) You Never Know What Someone is Going Through, So Please Give Some Grace.
I get told all the time that I look healthy, happy, cheerful and for the most part I am. But people had no idea that for months my days looked like this:
8am - 11am: Wake up after sleeping 10-12 hours. Eat breakfast, judge how my day would go by how breakfast settled. Walk my dog.
12pm - 1pm: Teach a Yoga Class
1pm - 3pm: Eat a snack if breakfast settled ok, then nap for 1-2 hours.
3pm - 5pm: Chores if I could. Prep food if I could. Walk Rosa the Dog. Maybe eat again. Maybe.
5pm - 7pm: Teach another class
8pm: Bed for another 10-12 hours.
That was only 6 months ago. And this still happens when I get glutened. Five years ago my reactions and symptoms were different somewhat different with anxiety, brain fog, acne and cavities.
This has caused me to lose friends, jobs, dates and I’m sure patience of those people who have stuck with me.
It’s not a contest as to who has more shit going on. Everyone has stuff. Everyone’s stuff is different. This is about assuming the best, rather than the worst in people.
Remember, everyone is doing the best that they can in the moment they are in. Even you. Right Now. Good job. Keep it up.
4) Our bodies are pretty amazing.
I never really appreciated what my body was capable of until I got diagnosed with celiac.
I’ve successfully avoided any long term medication and even got off my anxiety medication. With learning about my body and it’s needs through my Functional Medicine doctor I was able to pinpoint why I was so exhausted, why my joints hurt, why I couldn’t seem to get any better and what I needed to do to fix those things.
I’ve seen my body bounce back and get healthier than I’ve been in years. I still have struggles and am continuing to learn, I will always have celiac disease, but I have avoided other medications or diagnoses I was on the path to developing - lupus, RA, diabetes, to name a few.
Even our bodies are doing the best it can do at any given moment. Give it what it needs to flourish.
5) People are Awesome and Mean Well
When I found out about my diagnosis I was a couple weeks away from attending what is one of my favorite events of the year - Friendsgiving. Obviously, Friendsgiving is all about the food. My dear friend who organizes Friendsgiving researched with me to ensure that the turkey, ham and mashed potatoes were all 100% gluten free - I brought other side dishes for myself. Every year since, she makes my own gluten free gravy and has dedicated counter space for my gluten free servings and side dishes.
My family eagerly did the same and researched all the details to ensure I could eat my favorites not only at Thanksgiving but for everyday meals as well. Thanks for changing your chili recipe Dad - it just wouldn’t be Fall or Winter without it!
However, there are such fine details that go into cooking for someone who has celiac or other food issues that buying or even cooking gluten free isn’t enough. I have to know about the facility it was cooked in, was there flour flying around, did the cooks change their gloves, did you use a cutting board that you’ve cut bread on, was the same knife used on your sandwich as it was my salad, the other food sensitivities I deal with….. there are SO MANY DETAILS.
So when I turn down your incredibly thoughtful gesture of buying gluten free cookies, it is out of fear of the unknown. Cooking something gluten free and ensuring it’s TOTALLY gluten free are different things. (Have you checked all the ingredients in your spices? Did you use butter that has also probably seen breadcrumbs from a knife?) It’s a lot. I know that. It’s exhausting.
So thank you for trying, it is so sweet and kind that you even thought to consider me. I know you mean the best and for that I am so thankful. Please know I mean the best when I have to decline your thoughtful and amazing gesture out of fear of any one of the hundreds of things that could make me very sick.
Moral of the story in all of this: We really are all doing our best in any given moment. Thank you. Good job. Keep it up.
And yes, those Liz Lemon high-fives are for you.
I hate that there are scumbags out there like Harvey Weinstein. I hate that it takes multiple accusers for anything to happen with predators that do this shit or for people to start believing the accusers. I hate that victims take the blame.
I hate a whole lot about these situations and it always brings up a flood of emotions from experiences with my own Harvey Weinstein to how terrifying it is that so many people still voted in our current President after he proved over and over his misogynistic and disgusting view of women. But this post isn't about that.
Talk About It came as a response to people asking how they can protect their kids, how they can help prevent this, how things could have been different for me back then. Basically, many people were asking, how can I be sure this never happens to my child. And well, unless your kid lives in a bubble, you can't be sure it won't.
You can be sure your children know how to not sexually harass someone (sounds stupid but I’m so dead serious) and you can be sure your kids can talk to you.
The following, with some updates, are some of my thoughts on what we can do to help stop this behavior before it gets bad and especially before it gets worse.
Talk About It. Early.
1 - Talking about stuff like this is AWKWARD. Do it anyway.
Talking about sex can be awkward and weird. I remember listening to my parents (our house was small and I have ears like an EAGLE when I need to) talk about giving me "the talk" and Dad saying, I already knew and Mom saying "How do you KNOW that?" - well, I being of infinite wisdom at the age of maybe 9 strolled all nonchalant through the kitchen and said "I DO have an older brother you know". Conversation. Ended.
My parents didn’t shy away from much but we did shy away from talking about anything TOO in depth. I didn't need "the sex talk" I knew what that was about, but I probably did need to know it shouldn't be so weird to talk about it.
Talk about sex, talk about sexual feelings, normalize it, because sex IS normal and pretty important. You know, procreating and healthy relationships and all that. Talk about the good stuff and don't shy away from the bad. If you make it not weird - it won't be weird for your kids to say something to you. If sex is seen as shameful, they will feel ashamed to tell you if something sexual happens to them.
2 - Being polite and being liked is good and all.... but there is a time to not give a rat's ass about being miss (or mr.) manners.
As kids, most of us are taught to be super polite which is an amazing thing and an attitude that can get you far in life. However, teaching kids (or learning as an adult) that it's ok to throw being polite out the window if you feel uncomfortable or unsafe - is much MORE important than manners.
I wish I would have had the gumption to not worry about “what would be thought of me” and to have kicked my Harvey Weinstein in the penis he was so eager to thrust into me. I wish I had the nerve to turn to his coworker who saw and call him a coward for not stopping his boss. I wish when he had followed me to my car I would have ran, or I would have screamed because turned out the begging in my eyes toward said coworker wasn’t enough to get help. I wish I wasn’t worried about ruining my career by doing any of those things. I wish I knew enough to know then that if that career was ruined, it wasn’t the career for me.
In an instance like that, screw being polite.
3 - Trust Your Gut
Not everyone has your best interest at heart. I assumed everyone did and always would. Teach your kids (and yourself) that if someone makes you uneasy - there is a reason. TRUST THAT FEELING, even if it is only a feeling.
Most importantly, talk about these feelings and let the people in your life know you will back them up, you will believe them and you won’t judge them on their outfit, appearance, circumstance, tone of voice, amount of makeup, amount of liquor, cleavage, eye contact...you get the idea.
4 - Watch Your Mouth
What are you saying that your kids, your coworkers, your significant other are hearing? What are you posting, emailing or joking about? Do they hear you victim blaming? Do you tease about it?
Take an honest look….You hear a headline and think - "ya but why was she out that late? How do you "accidentally" drink too much? I mean if she can't remember part of the night what makes you think she remembered going for it with him? She just wants money, fame.... Etc. Etc. Etc. " If you've ever said or thought those things - you're doing it - you're victim blaming.
As someone who has been assaulted I can tell you, we blame ourselves in every way possible and every way not possible. We don't need other people doing it too.
But most of us probably have done it and ya, I have too. When I looked back in some serious self reflection toward an article some time ago I realized I had been defaulting to..... "well, she could be making it up, she's just saying that to get attention, she might just be embarrassed b/c she had been drinking....."
And Holy Shit....that realization about myself left me feeling gutted. I couldn't believe that I had been doing the same thing that I feared others would have done to me if I had said something or even if I were to name names today. I was doing it immediately without even thinking. Talk about rape culture. This has to change.
If you're looking for sanctity of human life, try treating those lives around you with some respect. Listen to yourself, listen to others. You hear someone joking about assault? Call them out on that shit, let them know “locker room talk” is a myth and it’s not OK, it’s not a joke. It means something. It all let's victim blaming be ok and that quite simply, is never ok.
5 - If you’ve experienced sexual assault - know you are not alone. Ever. Talk about it.
Circumstances like this Weinstein crap, when multiple people start coming forward, is further proof that this is true. It is never just you. People who do this always have more victims before you, after you or scattered throughout their lives. When I wrote about my creepy 70yr old neighbor who assaulted me, I got a message from someone telling me, they too had been assaulted by him. I was shocked. I had assumed it was a one time thing, that surely he wasn't a serial sexual offender. I was wrong and it left me feeling physically ill that by not making a bigger deal of it than I did, I left him out there available to prey on another helpless 15 year old girl. UGH.
You’re never alone. You’re not the only one. Talk to friends. Talk to family. Talk to a counselor. Talk to an organization like MOCSA (Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault) locally in KC or RAINN (National Sexual Assault Hotline) . Both have staffed 24/7 hotlines you can call for help. You are never alone.
The more we talk about it, the less stigma will surround sexual assault, the less incidents there will be. I believe in us. We can make this better. We are better.
A Poem on Meditation - Dr. Suess Style
Meditate in the morning, meditate at night. Use apps or a program or else you won't do it right.
Meditate when it's cold, meditate when it's hot. Meditate when you feel good, meditate if you not.
Meditate with your eyes closed, meditate with them open. Sing a song or hum along to a mantra, chant along with words spoken.
Meditate with your legs crossed or when you're laying down. Meditate with your shoes on or if you're barefoot on the ground.
Screw all these meditation rules and do whatever the fuck you want. Because so long as you quiet your mind - You'll be a meditation savant.
Sometimes anxiety is a tiny little cuddly kitten who is purring on a chair in the background and you realize your full control over it, let it be, walk out the door and rock out your life. Other times that kitten morphs into a friggin' jaguar that is blocking your door, clawing at you and growling like it will inevitably eat your face.
What’s a yoni you ask? It’s a hindu term referring to a woman’s womb, reproductive parts or you know, a vagina. Really, it’s a beautiful word representing the divine procreative energy that resides in a woman and the home in which that energy resides. To be super clear here, we are talking about a vagina — specifically we are going to be talking about mine.
Anxiety sucks. If you've never had it - it is simply something that you can't understand.
If you do have anxiety, you label it as "yours". "My anxiety". Which I think is correct because no anxiety seems to be the same. It all has a similar feel but different roots.
Some days my anxiety goes along with me and I forget it's even there. Other days, it is this cloudy barrier in front of me at all times, where I have to constantly remind myself to breathe slowly and relax.
So those are two words that simply don't seem to go well together....Irritable Magic....Kind of like President Trump.... something about it FEELS off, contradictory, like it's a joke. Well, I can't speak on the latter pair of words but I can speak on Irritable Magic.
I started a journey with a Holistic Wellness Practitioner about 3.5 weeks ago.
Ok, so I have a lot of funny things happen to me. That's part of what this blog is about. I lose things, break things, make significant messes, have overly amazing ordinary moments, undeniable moments of miracles and lots of mayhem.
Despite growing up with no significant injuries, allergies or major illnesses throughout my childhood, apparently hitting puberty was the done deal for me. This is also what this blog is about.
The night of this election, seeing results coming in I knew what was happening and I felt gutted. Like each of the 61.2 million people who voted for now President-Elect Trump had collectively come together in a line and one by one punched me in the gut as they voted and here I am, days later, still trying to catch my breath.