Jan 22, 2015

Today's Good, Bad and Uncouth

I'm leaving for India Tuesday and I'm fairly anxious about it. I've been fairly anxious about it for awhile. I'm also excited. But I'm a planner and there a lot of unknowns right now. Unknowns and long flights. Am I packing the right things, have I packed enough things, can I get a roll of toilet paper in my bag, will I need the Cipro the doctor gave me for "digestive issues" and also, will there even be toilets? Sorry, I like a toilet. I've experienced bathroom situations all over the world, so while I don't expect a toilet, it'd certainly be nice. 

Anyway, my point being, I've been a bit preoccupied and I'm leaving for India on Tuesday. I ran out to CVS today during work because I had the brainstorm of, "Hey, I should be granola bars to India!" They had a bulk pack, I had a $10 coupon...all-in-all, good trip to CVS. Then I strolled over to Rejuice-a-nation to get some soup. Soup and granola in hand, I walked back to the office. 

I get upstairs, put down my stuff, exclaim how happy I am about the free granola when I realize...my wallet is gone. Fuck. I take a moment and realize that I know I've been stressing and I'm probably just being a spaz and it's likely right in my hand. But it wasn't. It also wasn't in the CVS bag, the soup bag or my pockets, despite me checking them over and over. So I did what anyone would do. I yelled, "FUCK!" and ran outside to retrace my steps. 

I had only traveled two blocks, so I didn't have far to go. But there was nothing. Back in the juice shop they told me I hadn't left it there, but the owner awesomely offered to review the security footage and tell me what I did with it. Strangely (and here's where I need to start paying attention to my intuition), my mind was going a mile a minute trying to figure out how I could cancel all of my cards and get new cards by Monday since I am leaving the country for two weeks, but I didn't have that sense of panic in my chest. So I paused, took a breath, and thought, "Well maybe it is going to be ok. Maybe this is the universe telling me to just chill out and I will find it."

But as usual, the brain took over. After several minutes of waiting for the owner to come out, I left my number and proceeded to pace back and forth on the sidewalk. I even called the office to have THEM check the CVS bag in case I overlooked it. Sadly, no. The juice shop owner called and said I put it in my right pocket and then left. I checked my pocket again and then laughed at myself for doing so. I sighed and walked to the police station planning the order of my card-cancelling phone calls. I walked in, told the officer I lost my wallet and like a tiny miracle, he told me someone had just brought in a wallet and that it may be mine. 

And it was. I wanted to cry I was so happy. I wouldn't have to make frantic phone calls. I wouldn't have to cancel my appointment with my wonderful massage therapist. I wouldn't have to try to figure out how to access my money. The officer says to me, "I just have to verify your identity. I mean, it looks like you on your license. But you look A LOT younger in the picture."

I realized after he had left the window I had just been called old looking. Or at least not-as-young-as-your-license looking. Whatever. The other woman at the station also noticed his comment and then told me she was called a cunt earlier in the day when trying to park. Lovely.

But, my license was there and that was awesome. I didn't even care if my cash was gone. Well, I mean, I did CARE, but it was a minor point. But then, when I was handed back my wallet, it was 100% intact. I thanked the sky a hundred times on the walk back to the office. And thank YOU kind stranger who returned my wallet, didn't take anything and saved the day. 


Jan 5, 2015

The Things I Get Myself Into: A Tale from 30,000 Feet

This morning I was flying to San Francisco for work on a project. I woke up at 4:45 a.m., not from my alarm clock, but from nerves. I had to be out of the door by 5:30 a.m. anyway, but oh how anxious I get when I have to fly. I get to the airport, make it to my gate with twenty minutes to spare, pop a Xanax and get on the plane. 

The plan was to sleep for as much of the flight as possible to compensate for the long hours ahead with a nice layer of jet lag. I made it halfway. Despite my best efforts to go back to sleep, I was awake. "Ok," I thought, "let me dig into my email and see what I can start working on." 

I pull out my laptop and it's covered in...well, goo. Exhausted and sedated for the flight, I'm just utterly confused. But to be fair, if the same thing had occurred at home I'd be just as confused. I smell my hand, which is also covered in goo to find a teriyaki-ish, somewhat sour, something's-definitely-wrong-here kind of smell. That couldn't be good. 

Lucky for this particular situation, I had been sick for a small eternity so I had a lot tissues in my pocket. I began wiping down the laptop wondering what the hell was going on. Once I got the laptop all squared away, I stuck my hand in the computer pouch and encountered more goo. I try to find some sort of explanation. 

The bag had been sitting near the garbage for a week since I had been off. Maybe, somehow, some thai got dumped in it on the way to the garbage. Which would suck. Really, any answer here would suck, because there was some sort of rank goo in my bag. I clean up what I thought, well hoped, was all of it, but figured I'd best make sure. As I shoved my hand into the bottom of the computer pouch, I encountered a handful of the rancid smelling goo. What. The. Fuck. What was possibly going to be in my hand when I pulled it out. And then what? What am I supposed to do with this from an airplane, in a window seat, in the dark. (For whatever reason, not one person on this flight opened their window shade. So the entire flight was lit by some weird 90's pink neon lights, which I guess Virgin finds posh.) 

I grab the plastic case my tissues were in (you know those little travel plastic wrappers) and proceed to pull out a handful of awfulness to put in my tiny makeshift garbage bag. And that's when the goo revealed itself. A completely disintegrated banana. It must have been sitting there since the last time I worked, which was exactly a week ago, and the fruit was in questionable shape then.

I now have a travel tissue pack full of rancid banana and I'm still stuck in my seat because now the seatbelt light is on and some really decent turbulence is starting. Ah, but wait! My one quart bag! I dumped out all of my liquids containers into the middle section of the backpack, and put the mess in the quart bag and sealed it. (Clearly, not checking my bag was the correct choice this morning.) 

Now I have a quart bag full of rancid banana, a backpack that smells like week old garbage and sticky, smelly banana hands. Luckily a stewardess was walking by so I handed her the mess and was later able to get a plastic bag to wrap my computer in. Upon examination in the airport bathroom, I found had removed all the goo and only the smell remained. Small victory. The morning was redeemed, however, when I stopped to get a double double from In 'N Out burger on my way to the hotel. 

So the moral of the story? When life gives you rancid bananas, go get In 'N Out. Or maybe it's something like, don't check your bags when traveling, you never know when you'll need a one quart plastic bag. Or perhaps I just need to remember to check my bag for fruit at the end of each day. 

Dec 31, 2014

2014: A Quick Look Back

It's New Year's Eve and like everyone else, I'm thinking about the year behind me, the year ahead of me and the person I am right now. So where have I been, where I am going and what have I learned?

January 2014 marked one year since we lost Grams. I learned that with that kind of loss, life is never quite the same. We live with memories that conjure up smiles and laughs but also an ache that will never go away, one that I'm learning to live with. Now that we're coming up on almost two years since she left, I can hardly believe it's been that long. But, I realize each day how much of her is a part of me and how strong I am because of her.

February, the month of love, I fell more for Rich and happier every day that he is in my life...though March took him away for three months (#englandstolemyboyfriend). During those three months, with yoga teacher training nearing its end, I found I had become part of a small family I am eternally grateful for. All that I've learned from my months of training and through my friendships with those eight people is irreplaceable. Not sure what I would have done without them.

April brought me to England, where for the first time in my international travels, I found myself with a deep affinity for America. (You'd think squatting over a hole in Beijing would have inspired that same emotion, but not so much.) There were times walking around Leeds I nearly went up to other tourist-looking people to ask if they were from the states. I managed to refrain from quizzing strangers, and continued to wander around with not so much homesickness, but a feeling of disconnect.

A few days after coming home, I, for the first time in my life, was laid off. Which, like many people said to me at the time, may have been the best thing that's ever happened to me. My life veered off course and the road less traveled has been a really great, albeit sometimes extremely stressful, one. With a lot more time on my hands, I got to focus on yoga and finishing up teacher training strong. I felt, for the first time since graduating college, that I truly owned my life and my time.

By July, I was freelancing and finding that I could get by on my own. I took time to figure out what I "really wanted to do when I grew up" and found that it's what I've always loved doing—writing. Though money-wise it wasn't quite enough, I started making a small living writing and designing. I was, though, working from my kitchen table, casting aside years of a hellish commute, which was fantastic. I dabbled more in the "do things that scare you" arena and found the payoffs to be huge.

August brought me new clients and a bit of a breather from worrying about money and bills. I made some amazing new friends through my new gigs that I am inspired by and look up to. But just as quickly as I felt I had started moving in the right direction, I did fall off course for a bit, which brought with it health problems and headaches (not to mention BILLS — thank you overpriced and lackluster health insurance plan). But that too was a gift.

In November, I made the decision to go to India for 14 days. Still not working full-time, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to go since I didn't have to ask anyone but myself for the time off. I struggled with the decision for awhile because, well, it scared the crap out of me. Despite having been all over the world, this was out of my comfort zone. I'm going with strangers, it's the longest trip I've ever taken, and hell, I don't have a full-time job so handing over that credit card wasn't easy! I so wanted to be the girl that could just pick up and go to India. But then I realized...I could. So I am.

This year I learned that I need to listen to my gut. Not I should...I need. I learned that my intuition is pretty spot on, I just need to learn how to trust that feeling better...and breathe. Even for the little things like that voice in my head that said, "I think you may have dropped your glasses on the bus," that I ignored, when, in fact, I had dropped my glasses on the bus.

And now that 2014 is coming down to its last hours, I'm excited for the new year and what it holds for me. One of the most valuable lessons for me this year has been learning how to be grateful. Even in those moments when it feels like everything is falling apart, to try to find the purpose in them and be grateful. I'm grateful I had the time I had in teacher training; I'm grateful for the lessons I've learned in losing my job and perceived security; I'm grateful I've been able to earn a living doing things that make me happy; I'm beyond grateful for the people in my life; I'm grateful that for the times I took one step forward only to take two back, that I was given the chance to do so.

I'm not saying I've by any means mastered this, because if you know me, you know I can be quite the little stress ball, but it's something I'm going to continue to work on in 2015 and beyond. One of my yoga teachers posted this earlier today and I think it sums up the year (and all years) beautifully:

Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful - Gautama Buddha

So cheers to what we've learned, have yet to learn and what we can teach each other. Happy 2015.

Nov 12, 2014

Green Week, Day 4

But Jen, it's only Wednesday. Yes, I know. I started "Green Week" on Sunday, so today is day four. So far, I've seen a bigger improvement than on any of the antacids I've taken, double strength or otherwise. 

I've been starting the day with a shot of wheatgrass and a green juice. The wheatgrass isn't getting any easier to get down. In fact, yesterday it wasn't all juice, there were still pieces of grass. Blech. But, if it works, I'm in. The green juice isn't so bad...except for yesterday when I was convinced to throw a shot of wheatgrass in it. Otherwise, I'm pretty down with spirulina.

I've also been looking at alkaline versus acidic foods and following (as close as possible) an 80/20 diet (80% alkaline/20% acidic). It's only been four days, but the difference is noticeable. The prescriptions didn't make a dent. Food really is the answer. 

That and managing stress. I'm becoming more tuned into when I become anxious, even when it's just a tiny bit. My body responds right away which allows me to notice and react and necessary steps to not let it grow. I'm able to ask myself, "Why am I feeling this way? Is it a real issue or imagined? What can I do right now to alleviate some of the stress?"

This is four days in. I'm excited to see what a week, two weeks and even a month of 80/20 eating does for me!

Nov 10, 2014

Dr. Jen is Taking Charge

People have asked me my whole life how I stay so skinny. I always joked and answered, "Malnutrition." But really, I may not have been completely wrong in that statement. After dealing with years of stomach problems that my doctor feels can only be solved by taking a pill that may cause me to have "involuntary tongue movements," I'm taking a good look at what I'm putting into my body. 

I've eaten like a five-year-old pretty much until I was 31. I didn't want to try anything new and if it was green, dear god, get it away from me. When I started suffering from agonizing stomach pains due to stress, I started making some changes. But once my belly was better, my old eating habits came back quickly. 

Over the next few years, I slowly got more and more into yoga and more aware of the food I was eating. I started trying things—even salad! I thought I had been doing well at balancing my food intake, with the exception of the ridiculous amount of ice cream I ate. But hey, I was working out a lot, so it was okay right?

Well, sprinkle in a lot of stress over a short amount of time and I found myself battling heartburn. Every day. Every day for three months. I tried every over-the-counter remedy. Nothing was helping. So I started experimenting. I cut out dairy. Overall I felt better, I was even able to run some because the inflammation in my knees was going down. Great! But my stomach was still pissed. And it was only getting worse. 

After an endoscopy and no real issues, my doctor landed on telling me to double both of the meds he prescribed me for a week. If that didn't work, he'd put me on a med that would help regulate the muscles in my esophagus and potentially cause several muscle spasms, including uncontrollable tongue movements. I don't want that. 

I spent the weekend watching documentaries about juicing and reading about proper body pH, alkaline and acidic foods, and planning how I was going to eat as best I could for one week. That would include daily wheatgrass shots and focusing on alkaline foods to try to help balance my stomach...and my body. 

What bothers me is that my doctor doesn't seem to be interested in the root cause. He didn't recommend foods to eat, or ask deeper questions about my diet other than, "Do you drink coffee?" He just offered prescriptions—prescriptions that have side effects that I'd likely need to take more prescriptions for. 

So I'm going to spend the next couple of weeks spending some more time experimenting with food and taking in as much green as I can to see if it makes a difference. A shot of wheatgrass everyday certainly seems like a better option than having a spastic tongue. Let's see how it goes. 

Oct 17, 2014

When Life Punches You in the Face, Punch It Back

I am definitely one of those people who, when one thing goes wrong, it triggers a whole series of events that leave me feeling like I'm buried under a ton of bricks. Like the Universe pulled the wrong Jenga piece and they all just toppled on me. For those of you "when it rains it pours" people out there, you know what I'm talking about. 

This has been a banner week of "What the fuck is happening?" And it all just culminated with me witnessing a cat get run over by a car. Seriously. "This can't be happening," I thought as I watched her lift her dying head up, screaming in pain. 

As I stood there wondering what evil spirit is making all this shit happen around me and what I could do to help the cat, a man got out of his car, stopped traffic and ran into the road to pick up the dying cat. As he carried the cat's limp body to the sidewalk, I stood there to meet him, amazed that he did what I wanted to do but was too stuck trying to figure out if I actually should. 

He put her shaking body down on the ground and we stayed with her, petting her little paws until she passed. The stranger/cat superman said he would come back and bury her since the cops told me they would just call DPW for "removal".

I called my boyfriend as I walked away and asked him how I could get rid of this black cloud over me. He said that maybe we need to start remembering to focus on the positive. I reminded him that doing that is kind of hard when I'd just watched a cat get run over. 

But he's right. It's so easy to get caught up in the bad and let yourself mentally spiral into the negative. Especially weeks like this where the bad is pretty large and constantly punching you in the face. But there is good.

  • There's the guy who jumped out in traffic to keep any more cars from hitting that poor cat. I mean, that's pretty freaking awesome. It didn't even occur to me NOT to do that, where as I was standing on the side of the road still trying to figure out what to do.
  • There's my boyfriend who can stick with me through the good times and the bad. That in and of itself is a great thing. And I've done the same for him. Getting through the bad moments really does make the good ones much sweeter. 
  • There's the wonderful lunch with my father yesterday, giving me some quality Daddy/daughter time in. Those moments are too rare and I cherish them. 
  • There are my friends who constantly offer support, wine and exercise company. And they don't even think twice when I say, "I want to sage my apartment to get rid of the badness." They just show up with sage. I love them. 
Life can constantly remind us that it's hard. Sometimes we forget to fight back and remember that there is good. But it's a fight worth having, because if we give up, what's left?

Sep 23, 2014

Finding My Place in His Place

So I moved into my boyfriend's place, which means it's not a new place that we've deemed as ours and are both starting fresh. It was his place, with his routines and his memories that I'm trying to figure out how to make ours without stepping on toes, taking over too much, or just confusing the hell out of him because nothing is where it used to be. I'm trying to figure out the best way to fit. 

This is hard to do—period—when one is moving into another person's place, but even harder when he's not even in the country. So I can't ask him what he thinks of the shelves being hung there or hanging family photos over there or putting the kitchen table just so. And that kind of sucks because I want him to feel at home in his home that is no longer just his home. 

Before he left for his five-week sojourn the place was in a rather unbearable state of chaos. There was a giant mound of things in the kitchen that had to be moved to storage and there was everything else—all over the place. He was frustrated. I was frustrated. I think even our stuff was frustrated. 

Now that I am starting to get settled and the apartment is pretty much only a hint of what it used to be, I wonder if he will like it. I can't imagine what it would be like if I went away for weeks and came home to an apartment that looks nothing like the one I left. I mean, I think it looks pretty nice, but that's because I did it. And hell, after living with mounds of stuff piled on other stuff, just having a bit of order would seem nice. But really, it looks nice.

I tried to find balance throughout the place between his things and mine. I imagined conversations with him about what his thoughts were on each piece and where they should go. I tried to free up space for his art supplies, which I know he was sorely missing before he left. I tried to get my always-too-large collection of knick-knacks up without taking over the walls and shelves. I think I only partially succeeded on that second one. 

But mostly I miss him and just want him to come home. To our home. And the rest can be figured out along the way.