My Favorite Posts I Wrote as a 28-Year-Old

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It’s my birthday today, friends. I’m 29.

So here are some of my favorite posts I wrote as a 28-year-old. Turns out there are more here than I expected, but it’s a nice little retrospective. I find that the posts I like the best are the ones where I didn’t really concern myself with my audience (even though I love you dearly). Whenever I was trying to be “helpful” I found my posts flat and kind of uninspiring. Writing for myself was much more fulfilling, and then you, my darling readers, can take the ideas for your own. I wrote it for myself, and you can have it for yourself.

These are the posts that stayed with me, and if you have others, let me know!

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Admittedly, the powerful parts of this post are not my original thoughts. But I think of these excerpts often, and they never fail to soothe my soul. The Latin root of the word “decide” is caidere which means “to kill or cut” (Think homicide, suicide, genocide). Technically, deciding to do something new without killing something old is not a decision at all. It is merely an addition. But killing something old is hard, and we sometimes don’t take the requisite time to mourn.

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I still think of this post often, because I struggle sometimes to remember that being lovable (or desirable, or sexy, or successful, or whatever) doesn’t require that I be found lovable (or desirable, or sexy, or successful, or whatever). Can I not only give that to myself, claim it for myself, but also resist the impulse to let other people take it away?

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Still true for me. I’m a terrible eater. In fact, I feel this way about most activities that have to occur daily. Can’t I just do it once and then have it self-sustain? So I still remind myself that part of the practice is to come back, even when the results don’t live up to what I imagined in my head. What’s that line from Anais Nin? “You live out the confusions until they become clear.” And that leads right into another favorite:

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Yet another post I think of often. I love this essay by Henry Rollins (and also every essay by Henry Rollins). It’s true for me that some things persist until they’re no longer needed, and then I can release them with ease. And when they persist even when I don’t want them, it’s not because I’m a failure; it’s because it’s not ready yet. Deep breath.

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It’s never about the food. The food is a go-to, a coping mechanism. It’s a really effective one. But once you’ve taken away the unconsciousness of your food habits, at some point you’ll have to look at the underlying emotional issues. Assume legitimacy.

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I don’t actually think this post is one of my best, so you don’t have to read it. The important part is this:

There is NOTHING about today that can explain the emotions I’m feeling right now. But there’s nothing about these emotions that I’m ready to NOT feel. There’s nothing about this story I’m ready to let go of.

And maybe that limits me, but fuck you.

Those are possibly the truest words I’ve ever written.

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I loved thinking of meals that mattered, and I particularly love and have memorized this quote:

Monotony collapses time; novelty unfolds it. You can exercise daily and eat healthily and live a long life, while experiencing a short one. If you spend your life sitting in a cubicle and passing papers, one day is bound to blend unmemorably into the next—and disappear. That’s why it’s important to change routines regularly, and take vacations to exotic locales, and have as many new experiences as possible that can serve to anchor our memories. Creating new memories stretches out psychological time, and lengthens our perception of our lives.

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My first heartbreak. I’ve never read anything more soothing than this essay on pothos,

the longing toward the unattainable, the ungraspable, the incomprehensible, that idealization which is attendant upon all love and which is always beyond capture…. we see that pothos is the motive force that drives desire ever onward, as the portion of love that is never satisfied by actual loving and actual possession of the object. It is the fantasy factor that pulls the chariot beyond immediacy, like the seizures that took Alexander and like Ulysses’s desire for “home.”

We are what we reach for.

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Bitch Boss and Boss Bitch. Still large and in charge, but in a trusted advisor kind of way :)

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The important parts of this post are really the poems. I think that one of the most important things we can do for ourselves is to recognize that, if you’re reading this post, your life is probably not in any immediate danger. So don’t put yourself in a survival response. Your appetite is not a weakness. It’s not a threat.

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when let it go is BS_fb

Because sometimes you’re in a situation that’s f*cking bullsh*t, and you’re not wrong to think so. Don’t make yourself wrong if someone else is acting like a jackass.

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I’m still surprised that I wrote this one, to be honest. I’ve never had a clinical eating disorder, but this is what happens in my mind sometimes when I feel absolutely powerless and out of control and try to compensate using food.

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I have to be very mindful to not let the Old King take over for me. Sometimes I still default to rejecting what I can’t control. Aren’t we fortunate to have many opportunities to learn? :) Be big enough to accept all of yourself, even that part that seems like chaos.

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I’ve been thinking of this post recently, particularly the idea of tolerating discomfort. It seems to me that “tolerating” might be the wrong word, because it implies resignation with an endgame. Ok, I’ll tolerate this stuff for now, but I’m only doing that so it can go away.

Sometimes feeling what we’re feeling and really letting that truth rest in our bodies is necessary. When the Supreme Court ruled on the Hobby Lobby case a few weeks ago, my only response for at least a week was, “What the actual f*ck?” I needed to mourn that decision, not spring into action.

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And my latest. I can’t get enough of this idea that divinity requires a human anchor to exist on earth. We are the ones that must come to consciousness and let the divine move forward. And that these opportunities often come nestled in between mistakes.

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So thank you, Me-From-Then. Thank you for writing. I’m looking forward to seeing what 29-year-old me has to say.

And thank you, friend, for reading. I hope sometime today you can take a break and drink your favorite drink or eat your favorite food or otherwise demonstrate self care. I love you very much.

Internet Inspiration – July 11, 2014

7.11.2014

Internet Inspiration is BACK! I was feeling so bad that all I was posting was Internet Inspiration; it felt like a cop-out. And I had a ton of things I wanted to share, but then I left my laptop in MD last weekend and won’t get it back until this weekend (thanks for bringing it to me, David!) and of course, I don’t find a good article and immediately put it in the post and save it to the cloud; that would be way too easy. I let all my computers become a tabstravaganza and hope that the power doesn’t go out and that I don’t leave my computer somewhere. Over the past few weeks I’ve been on the losing end of that strategy.

But whatever. There’s always good stuff on the interwebs. I hope you all are having a lovely week!

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15 Dead Giveaways that Someone is American. I think this is probably true, and not insulting at all (which I was expecting it to be).

I have so much love for this post on inhabiting soul from Susannah.

“You are an embodied soul. That means what your soul experiences, your body experiences.”

Underlining it with my orange pen, I read it again. There was a bell ringing in my head. I copied the quote into my journal, and then carried on writing:

I spend so much time fretting about being a soul “trapped” in a body, when, actually, my soul permeates every part of my body. I am an embodied soul. My soul and my body are not separate! If I consider that every single cell in my body contains my soul — that it’s not just perched in my head or my heart, or floating around outside of me — but actually IN me, inside every part of me, it makes me look at my body differently. It’s not “just the car I drive around in.”

Maybe this sounds obvious to you, but, friends, it was the first time I really got it (cue the irony) deep in my bones. From the tips of my toes and the in-growing hairs on my shins, to the wobbly flesh on my hips and the freckles on my nose, every single part of me contains my soul. After a lifetime of dismissing my body that was the day the dam broke and my head and body got stitched back together. I honestly don’t know why it had never occurred to me before.

I love this stencil wall from Ellen. Even after reading about all her frustrations, I still want to paint a wall magenta and do this stencil in gold.

Steve says it’s not about being fragile or sturdy, but about becoming antifragile. Love it.

Antifragile: Don’t handle with care! Throw it, try to break it, drop it, throw randomness and chaos at it, for it becomes stronger as a result.  Like the mythical Hydra: cut off one head, and two heads appear in its place.  In fact, antifragile objects can become weaker if you don’t mishandle them!

The most important skill you’ll learn this week: how to take jumping photos with an iPhone.

And, a public service announcement from Sarah: turn back the bread.

 

And Once You’ve Danced Again, Think Some More

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Friends, this post is a continuation of yesterday’s post. I just got back from a fun time dancing, and I have notes.

First, I’m pleased to report that I had no instances of “I’m wrong,” several exchanges where I said, “What am I supposed to do with that lead?” and let my partner teach me something new, zero falling, three dips, and many many spins. I also danced with that guy that frustrated me last week, and we had a great dance.

But there was a shortage of men tonight, so the ladies had to sit out for some dances. I never mind; I like watching other couples dance.

Tonight I paid special attention to couples that “messed up” during a dance, and the funny thing was, every time it happened, the pair would make eye contact, smile, laugh, and move on.

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And I got to thinking about this idea I’ve been discussing with my therapist, which is the idea of the Death of the Great Other. I think this idea originally came from an essay by Nietzsche where he asserted that God was dead.

** Some reading and commenting zen: I don’t follow any organized religion, and it’s certainly not my intention to offend. Please read this with your metaphor glasses on, and not your literal ones. **

So in Christianity, the divine being is actually a holy trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Most branches of Christianity believe in the trinity to some extent.

Nietzche (and many post-modern and post-Christian thinkers) contends the idea is that in the beginning, God was this omniscient, omnipotent, transcendent, divine being out in the ether (the Father).

When He chose to incarnate in Jesus (the Son), Nietzsche believes that in that moment the transcendent nature of divinity was lost, and any remaining divinity resided in this man, Jesus.

Jesus was tortured and crucified, and as he was dying on the cross, he cried out, “Father, why have you forsaken me?” Nietzsche believes that in that moment, the last shred of divinity left Jesus, and he died a mortal man.

So what happened to that divinity?

(This is the part I love.)

Jesus said,

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the middle of them. [Matthew 18:20]

In other words, any divinity left in the word has no real anchor, and cannot exist in any capacity in the world unless two (or more) people come together consciously. It ties into this idea that there is a collective Psyche trying to make things happen in the world, but incarnate beings are required for the job.

We, and our connection with others, are required for the divine to exist on Earth.

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So anyway, I thought of that as I saw these couples mess up. Because sometimes during the song, there would be no eye contact. Both people would just be doing their own thing, in their bodies, moving how they wanted. And then, both would realize at the same time, “That’s not what I was expecting!” and they would make eye contact and reconnect.

That “mistake” was an opportunity for connection, an opening for the divine, snuggled right in there in the time streams of embodiment. It was beautiful to watch.

I encourage you to let this one marinate, my friends, as you gather together with all your people over the next few days and weeks. Can you see the divine in your conscious, authentic, loving connections?

Can you observe these interactions, willing to be surprised? Let me know.

Love, Kathryn

Dance First, Think Later

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I have exciting news, peeps: I have a new friend. A real, live friend. And we go salsa dancing together. Twice a week.

Every time I come back to dancing, I wonder how I ever survived without it. In fact, dance has always been the tool I used to start to pull myself out of any depression I’ve been in.

Salsa was my first love, but bachata is my true love. It’s slow, it’s sexy, it’s fluid. Everyone looks good dancing bachata. Every body type works, there’s no ideal. In fact, my ample hips and booty were always most welcome on the dance floor, even if they weren’t anywhere else. (and yes, that’s exactly how I look when I dance)

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Another reason I love dance so much is because it gives me intimacy with boundaries.

I never knew how much I ached for human contact until I moved to Philadelphia for work. I didn’t know anybody, I had no family in the area, even my roommate was a stranger. I didn’t touch anyone. And one day, in yoga class, my favorite yoga teacher gave me the most basic assist on the face of the planet, and I almost started crying.

We crave intimacy. We need it physically, we need it emotionally, where we can show up as our authentic vulnerable selves and trust that our person can contain us.

But I also crave boundaries. I acknowledge that not everyone has this particular hang-up, but I always get a little anxious when I’m being myself to the opposite sex, because I worry that I might be giving an impression that I don’t mean. And I don’t mean that men are predatory, I just mean, I might be interested in you and not interested in you. Know what I mean?

When it comes to dancing, the rules are clear: it’s just a dance.

I can dance whatever I feel, and it’s just a dance. It’s contained within that song. If a guy thinks it means more, he’s flat-out mistaken. If someone gets jealous, they’ve misunderstood the rules.

It’s so liberating! I don’t have to stay in my head, worrying about what signals I’m sending and cutting off my authentic expression because I’m anticipating what other people are thinking of me.

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So the final frontier for me when it comes to staying embodied while dancing is following.

I want to be good at it.

That’s not even true. I want to be the perfect follower. I want to be able to handle every single move, effortlessly, smoothly, professionally. I want everyone to love dancing with me and to be psyched when I show up.

Of course, that’s not what makes dancing fun. And to illustrate the point, a few weeks ago I had a terrible time dancing.

I was with this guy that’s a very subtle leader, which is not really my style, and I just couldn’t figure out what he wanted me to do. He’d move his hand, and I’d think he meant one thing when in fact he was thinking another. And then I’d get mad at myself for “messing up” and he’d give me this look, like I was a kid that just colored on the walls with permanent marker. If I got it “right,” he’d cheer me on.

And then I got mad at him, in a “Hey! Nobody gets to be a jackass to me but ME!” kind of way. [see this note on my Ego needs: to resist the dominion of others]

I was so indignant the whole night. I was so angry that dance, my love, had turned into an environment where I was wrong on all fronts.

I was so self-conscious, waiting to mess up, worried people were dancing with me from obligation, jealous of the other girls that made it look so effortless. I kept apologizing to all my partners when I messed up, promising to be better if they tried that move again.

I was angry that I danced with someone who made me wrong, but I was mostly angry at myself for not only allowing myself to be treated that way, but for being the ringleader! I had shied away from real life, caught up in the image of perfection.

I made dancing black and white, right and wrong, his way vs. my way. His unspoken idea shoved into my space and became a template I had to match exactly. I sacrificed my self-expression for approval, and I was patronized in return.

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So when I went out on Friday night, I decided on a whole new experience. It was a new venue, I wore a different dress, different shoes, I “pre-gamed” with a “book group” (or so they call themselves. We just drank wine and chatted, which is the way I prefer it :) ), and I decided that, no matter what happened on the dance floor, I was not wrong. Nobody was wrong.

There’s no such thing as wrong when it comes to dancing. If I believe nothing else, I believe that.

And I had a wonderful time. I danced the whole night, with tons of new people, and I had a blast.

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That night I actually chatted with a friend about my thoughts on leading, following, and “messing up” and he said that he’s had to have that conversation with his wife when she comes out with him. He said

She’s trying to do what she thinks I want her to do. And I don’t want that at all. I just want to be with her, however she wants to move.

Never is it more apparent to me where I elevate other people above myself than when I dance. Never is it more apparent to me how often I make myself wrong than when I dance. Like all the other good things in my life, it’s a microcosm for how I’m showing up in the rest of my life, particularly when I show up to relationship with other people.

I censor myself all the time. I second-guess my honest opinion daily, thinking it’s not the “right” thing to say. The voice in my head that makes me wrong is effective and tyrannical, although it is a ghost of what it once was.

My point is not to say, “I’m imperfect and I still love myself!” I’m so tired of hearing statements like that I could scream; it’s just lip service to what’s actually a very vulnerable topic.

Acknowledging and rewriting patterns takes practice, courage, patience, and tenacity.

The point is to notice.

Let these areas be a microcosm for you: dancing, intimacy, eating, exercising, self-care. Notice the patterns there, and see if they show up anywhere else in your life. You don’t even have to change them quickly (although dancing becomes infinitely more enjoyable when you do). All you have to do is notice.

Let yourself be who you are. Change when you’re ready.

Love, Kathryn

On Change, Perfection, and Medusa

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One of my Psychology of Eating classmates has just completed a 10-Day Sugar Detox, and I am in awe of how consciously she’s going through the process. If you haven’t seen it, I particularly recommend watching her daily videos.

To me, the most amazing thing about her detox is the boundaries she’s put on her intention. She is removing processed sugar from her diet for 10 days in an attempt to see how she falls back on sugar to cope emotionally with her life. She’s interested to see how she’s using sugar as a symbolic substitute for abundance, and belonging, and anti-restriction.

I have given up sugar before. And coffee. And gluten. And grains. And solid food. I used to go on detoxes all the time. I loved them, and when I was sick and starting to explore the impact food and emotions had on my physical body, it was very useful to try and remove certain triggers and give my body and mind a chance to regulate itself.

But…

(you knew there was going to be a “but,” right?)

Sometimes I find myself with a secret endgame to these sorts of detoxes. Sure I want to explore my attachment and addiction, sure I want to do a little cleanse, but the subtext is actually, “I want to be perfect.”

My true goal is to be perfect, and this is the vehicle that’s going to catapult me there. This obsession, this fixation, this goal, this intention, at its core, it’s me trying to be perfect.

(And if you forgot what it means to be perfect, let me have you sit for a while with Bitch Boss. She’ll explain everything.)

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I don’t want to give the impression that I have low self-esteem or that I think I’m bad in some way, I just think that perfection is seductive. I think it’s easy to get sucked in to a goal and pursue it mindlessly, ignoring your soul and your sense of yourself as a person.

That’s why I get frustrated sometimes with articles that harp on self-acceptance and self-love. That’s important, but it’s not that simple.

It’s hard to live in the paradox of accepting yourself just as you are and wanting to be different. We fear that if we accept things as they are, we’ll never be able to change.

Until we get comfortable with the paradox, I think sometimes we latch on to one certainty, and then just hop from one “sure thing” to the next, like that hot lava game you used to play as a kid. If I fall into the abyss, I’ll burn up and die. I’m here and yeah yeah it’s fine, but I gotta get over THERE. First jump: cut sugar. Next jump: lose 20 pounds. After that: get a husband. Then: perfect wedding. We plan our lives out with one ideal after another, desperately trying to stave off uncertainty. We convince ourselves that this one thing is the key to happiness and ease forever and always.

If you’re that desperate to get from one ideal to another, you retreat from life.

Obsession is always a fixation – a freezing-over of the personality so that it becomes not a living being but something fixed, like a piece of sculpture, locked into a complex…. Almost inevitably a woman addicted to perfection will view herself as a work of art, and her real terror is that the work of art, being so absolutely precious, may in one instant be destroyed. She has to treat herself as a rare piece of Ming porcelain or what Keats described as a “still unravished bride of quietness,” a “foster-child of silence and slow time.” …To move towards perfection is to move out of life, or what is worse, never to enter it.

- Marion Woodman

My favorite way to think of perfection is by recognizing that its patron goddess is Medusa. The legend goes that Medusa was once a beautiful woman, but she offended the goddess Athena and, in an act of revenge, Athena turned Medusa’s hair into snakes and made her face so hideous that all who looked upon her were turned to stone. Medusa’s “snaky locks twist and writhe in constant agitation, reaching, reaching, reaching, wanting more and more and more.” When Perseus (armed with a mirror shield, a helmet that makes him invisible, and a curved sword) kills Medusa by lobbing off her head, “Pegasus, the winged horse of creativity, is released along with Chrysaor, he of the golden sword.” [Marion Woodman, Addiction to Perfection]

Whereas Medusa wants everything permanent and perfect, engraved in stone, Sophia wants things moving, breathing, creating.

So that’s what I marvel at when I watch Arielle’s videos, how she’s using her addiction to sugar as a vehicle to explore herself and her relationship with life. Because that’s what’s necessary when we start to wish for change: a conscious inquiry about what we desire, who we are, how we’re relating both to ourselves and to the outside world.

It’s a very vulnerable place.

We can’t make it as simplistic as Being Perfect, even if that’s the desire. What does it mean? What will be different once you’ve changed this thing? What are you afraid of? Who is this for? What are you defending against?

In the same way the woman who is virgin, one-in-herself, does what she does – not because of any desire to please, not to be liked, or to be approved, even by herself; not because of any desire to gain power over another, to catch his interest or love, but because what she does is true.

Esther Harding, Woman’s Mysteries

So that’s what I’m contemplating this week, my friends. This idea of staying in relationship with instinct and desire, using consciousness and questioning to evolve, rather than looking at change as a savior that will bring me to perfection and ease and happily ever after. Tell me your thoughts.