01 Jul 2018

when it’s time to soften

me, a few years ago.

Any word taken to its edge is perilous.

Years ago, I took a yoga class. At the time, I’d been practicing for 6 years, 5 days a week & I thought I was the BUSINESS. Here I was executing arm balances and spending Saturdays at kirtan. On this particular day, my teacher was prepping us for bound triangle pose or baddha trikonasana. I said to myself, girl, you SO got this. My teacher walked over and tapped me on the shoulder, leaned in, and said not today, love. She knew my body and its limitations (one of my arms is longer than the other because of a car accident I had as a child and a broken collarbone that never set right). She knew my practice. And she also knew about my arrogance, which was foreign to me at the time. I ignored her and tore my hamstring, an injury which took a year to heal. Later, she talked to me about ambition. The word, in and of itself, is noble. We pursue the things we want with fervor. We’re focused and determined. However, push a word to its edge and ambition blinds you. It’s like a blanket smothering the rational part of you that tells you to back out of the pose. Just breathe. You’re not ready yet. All you could see is your want and your hunger for it. Everything else, however logical, is a distraction.

It would take me years to listen, even more, to understand. My ambition, the blind desire for the world and everything in it, had swallowed me whole. Back then, I went at everything so fucking hard.

I look at pictures of me at Brooklyn BodyBurn the year I moved to Los Angeles and I was FIT. My language was violent. I was crushing it. Killing itIn beast mode. I was surgical about my workouts and I calibrated everything I put in my mouth. I wanted to be FIT. But if we’re being honest, I wanted to be thin.

Sometimes the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves are often more powerful and persuasive than the truths.

I look at pictures of me from my 20s, bone thin and unhappy. As nostalgia would have it, you forget the unhappiness and the hours you counted before 120 calorie yogurt and a 330 calorie Lean Cuisine lunch. You forget the seven miles a day you ran on the sand and the physical therapy you needed because you’d worn down the cartilage in your knee. You forget yourself in the dressing room, naked, wondering if it’s possible to be smaller. You shouted out, is there anything smaller than a zero, to which an annoyed salesperson responded, we don’t sell negative integers.

God, I used to be an asshole.

I arrived in Los Angeles three years ago this August trim and obsessive about the foods I could and could not eat. In a span of a few months, I felt the weight of all the unresolved history I’d left in New York and it was killing me. Daylight had become an assault and the idea of leaving my home was unimaginable. All I wanted to do was sleep in the bathtub and wrap the curtain tight around me. I was slipping. I ate until I got hives again. Then I saw a doctor for cortisone shots. Then I ordered razor blades off Amazon and I saw a doctor for that too.  

I’ve likely gained 20 lbs since I moved here and I remember walking into a megaformer studio in Los Angeles. Part of me took comfort in the fact that my old habits would get me back to center, to normal (even though I was anything but). Though, it hadn’t occurred to me just how much I’d changed. Depression does that to you. Strips you down to your rawest, most vulnerable self. There exists no fat. Only bone. Midway through the class, I said to myself, this is fucking crazy. I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to suffer for a size.

I never went back.

Then there were people in my life who had a disordered relationship with food & their body, which I absorbed. Food was relegated to two camps: virtuous or villain. Carbs were the enemy. If you stop eating X food by Y time, your body will go into fat burning mode. Don’t spin–it increases cortisol, which is an open invitation to the belly fat party. Did you hear that you’re not burning 800 calories in a SoulCyle class? Did you know? And so on. The only “it” I was crushing was what was left of my self.

Those people? Gone, girl. For the past two years, I hated how my body looked. I hated that I no longer wanted to go so hard at everything. That my velocity was no longer something that I admired, it had become the part of me I abhorred. Slowly, my ambition had morphed into some sort of quiet purpose. I’m softer in all aspects of the word. I no longer felt starved; I felt sustained. 

I may have gained a little weight, but I never smiled like this when I was thin.

Then I came back to the mat. At first, I compared myself to what I knew I could do, what I had done!! But that’s dangerous and unkind. There is no comparison, and your body, whether you like or not, changes shape and form and there’s a degree to which fighting that becomes a game of diminishing returns. I no longer wanted to bang out poses, I wanted to breathe through them.

Always, I’m reminded of what my teacher had told me about ego and ambition. The mark of an advanced practitioner is not someone who drops down their mat and kicks up into handstand–that’s ego. The advanced yogi returns to a basics class and re-learns the poses from the ground up as if she’s encountered them for the first time. Think about a book you’ve re-read at various points in your life. Your view of the characters and stories has shifted over the years. What you thought you knew or believed to be true became something new and other. There were new truths. You advance by returning to the foundation, not stacking brick after brick over an unchanged foundation. Soon the ground will give way and all the bricks will become rubble–all because you were too arrogant to revisit and relearn that which you thought you knew. 

That’s the practice.

I’ve always believed that who you are in the mat is who you are in life. Granted, I can’t do all the poses I used to do, but that’s okay. My work is about coming to the mat and being okay with who I am, right now, at this moment in time.

A few days ago, I took a 90-min class and the teacher was exacting and methodical. None of this speed yoga that’s become fashionable at gyms and boutique studios to entertain the perennially I’m so bored set. The class was old school Anusara & Iyengar. Long holds. Complicated sequencing. Crazy discomfort.

I played every pose as it laid because it wasn’t about what I don’t look like or what I can’t do, rather, it’s about what this body can do. Right now. At this moment. How could I be kinder to myself with that knowledge? How do I tell myself it’s okay that I’m no longer a skinny Minnie workout maniac? That it’s okay to eat the damn pasta without feeling the weight of it. That my body is a house that shouldn’t be in demolition.

That there’s nobility in leading a quiet, slower life.

2 Comments

  1. That there’s nobility in leading a quiet, slower life.

    yes yes YES!

    Posted on 7.4.18 · Reply to comment
  2. Karen wrote:

    I love your honesty and thought provoking writing. Thanks for refreshing today. Apology if comment seems quaint, I’m better at composing music, sometimes.

    Posted on 8.29.18 · Reply to comment

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Instagram

  • I’m sharing a MONSTER how-to guide on influencer marketing campaigns and I get tactical. Curious? You know you are. Hit up that link in my bio.
.
.
.
.
#howtoguide #influencermarketing #marketingstrategy #marketingdigital #getinvolved #wednesdaywisdom
  • When I was in Cape Town, I was supposed to have been making headway with my new book—the first story since I started my last novel in 2013 that’s excited me. All my books have been about familial, specifically maternal, discord. A mother and daughter never made whole. And this is the first story where parents don’t play a role. At the heart of the story is the friendship between two broken, flawed, and funny women who lean on one another to crawl out of darkness. It’s hard for me to write about love, but this, I think, is the closest I’ve come to it.
.
I like these characters. I like imbuing my dark sense of humor into my work. I like leaning away from. The weight of language and literary fiction to tell a story as simply as possible. And believe me when I say that simplicity is fucking hard. Writing lean, impactful sentences are hard. Conveying so much in a small space feels, in a way, like poetry.
.
I WAS supposed to have made headway, but that didn’t pan out and it’s okay because I was more focused in relaxing. I was more in awe of the landscape and people than I’d anticipated so all I wanted to do was be outside. Funny for someone who holes up in her Los Angeles apartment, but I digress.
.
I’m back and the story is coming, albeit slowly, but it’s coming. There is a plot only I don’t know it completely yet. I know the ending—I can see it clearly—it’s just the path there is a little foggy.
.
And this is the first book I’ve written that is more linear than anything I’ve written.
.
I’m proud of this.
.
And I’m trying not to think of the business of books. The chore of searching for a new agent after I fired my one of 20 years. The chore of overcoming my last book’s Bookscan numbers, the pitching and the selling. The fucking preening. I want none of it.
.
So, for now, I just think about the work.
.
.
.
.
#amwriting #books #authorsofinstagram authorsofig
  • Oh hey! The awesome people at @medium spiffed up some of my favorite pieces on freelancing and created a little home for them in their Collections. I write about all things freelancing—all the tactics, no of that vague crap. I give it ALL. Hit up the link in profile. 💙 #freelancing #beingboss
  • So...apparently I’m writing a new book. It’s interesting (or odd, depending on your view) that new work comes in my darker moments. I started my last book after I had a breakdown from a job (and sociopathic boss) that was killing me. I was in Biarritz when I started what would become my second book, which is darker than my first book.
.
This time, I’m toying with what happens when you climb out of the dark (my first two never got to that place). The book is titled The Only Possible and it centers on the close friendship between two broken women who are climbing out of their familial and person wreckage. This might be the first long work that ends with hope. I have this marker for myself, which is totally arbitrary. If I get to 50 good pages, the book is real.
.
I’m at 52, so I suppose this thing is real. Light in the dark and like that.
.
A brief thank you to the people who’ve been there for me these past few weeks. The ones who haven’t ignored or muted my posts—you are true friends and allies. Thank you for your friendship and kindness. I don’t give my heart and trust to many people for these obvious reasons, but I’m grateful to those that have it.
.
.
.
.
#amwriting #risingtidesociety #thehustle #novelwriting #writersofig
  • Come, have a seat. Settle in with some tea and read all the incredible articles I’ve been sharing on @medium. From step-by-step tutorials on going Live and a blueprint for launching products online to personal essays, you’ve got the whole kit and caboodle. Hit up the link in profile to get the goods.
.
.
.
.
#beingboss #risingtidesociety #marketingdigital #marketingstrategy #femtrepreneur #thehustle #brandstrategist #livestream #goinglive #digitalmarketing
  • Can we talk?
.
I think it’s important to learn from the experiences we’re desperate to forget. Some of my greatest teachings come from working with terrible clients and sociopathic bosses. I wrote about this on medium (@felsull) and I’d love for to check it out, clap, and share.
.

But remember this. Don’t let anyone define your worth. Only you have the right to that math. No one deserves to be yelled at. No one deserves verbal abuse. No one deserves to hear that they’re worthless, stupid, or an idiot. You are the guardian of your worth.
.

Constructive feedback is a valuable tool, but it doesn’t define you as a person. We will fail. We’ll botch a job or make mistakes. Value comes from learning from the missteps, in creating systems and processes for yourself that reduces the likeliness of that mistake from happening again. Your worth is not the measure of your failures, but how you’ve rebounded from them. How you’ve grown professionally AND personally. It’s about you standing up in the wreckage and saying, okay, let’s keep going.
.

Your worth is not bound to your work product — it’s defined by all the things that make you, you.
.
.
.
.
#bizadvice #entrepreneur #freelancingadvice #thehustle #badclients
  • This morning, I finished all my deliverables for two of my biggest projects this year. I can’t believe I got it all done!!! Save for two client calls today, I plan to spend the day supine and watching horror movies. #yassssss #brandstrategist #marketingstrategy
  • I used to be this intense person and I assure you this is not a compliment. I went at everything so hard. I worked through pain and exhaustion. I cleaved to velocity — a body in motion stays in motion and like that. Force = mass x acceleration and like that. I placed more value on outcomes than inputs. I cared about what people thought of me and wanted to please everyone at the expense of my well-being. I placed an unhealthy level of emphasis on amassing a large collection of people in my life more than cultivating richer relationships with a handful. I pursued things at the expense of the quiet nobility of living an honest, full life.
.

My wake-up call was a phonebook packed with numbers but no one to call when I was breaking. What changed during that dark time was this: I began to live small and this is, I assure you, is a good thing.
.

Small isn’t a pejorative. It’s about getting surgical about the people and things that inhabit your life. Cut the barnacles. Eliminate that which is extraneous and unnecessary. Don’t settle for common or this is how it’s always been done. Small is about the amount of noise you allow in. It’s about making the choices that won’t please the majority of people, but you end up pleasing yourself. It’s the difference between living in a mansion and creating a house that is a home. Fewer, better are words whose meaning has shifted for you. They are words of wealth. And more suddenly feels like a burden.
.

For those who suffer from depression, meds and therapy simply level the playing field. They elevate you from negative integers to zero. It’s easier to build from zero than from mounting losses. Meds and therapy don’t create shiny, happy people. There are days that are dark and tough and what’s allowed me to function during that time is the concept of living simply and small.
.
.
.
#realtalk #depression #productivity #entrepreneurlife #thehustle #risingtidesociety #mentalhealth #selfcare

Follow Me!