A Public Apology About my Fattitude

If I were to break down my life into categories that describe my experiences, there would be a handful of columns or pillars, if you will…

I’d say that there are bout five or six “Life Experience Pillars,” but here are few examples:

Pillar 1: Performing life.

Pillar 2: Romantic relationships.

Pillar 3: Weight Loss and Body Image

 

 

A lot of my friends think I’m absolutely nuts. The last time I could even be considered “big” was when I was ten years old. I went through a growth spurt as a pre-teen and have been a pretty healthy size my whole life. But the conversations that dominated my household during my most important years were always about the same thing:

Fat. Being big. Hating skinny people. Dieting. Low-carb. Low-fat. Size charts. measurements. Being put in the back. Feeling invisible. Size 2. Size 13. Hip size. Breast size. Hair color.

You can say that this is just how girls are as they are discovering their bodies, but in my house it was extreme. It was all we talked about. I know now that this was the result of insanely low self-esteem, and a common held belief by many of the women in my family that your worth was based on how you look, and nothing much else mattered.

This attitude sunk into the heads of the ladies around me. It really affected us and it’s infuriating.

I grew up believing I was “overweight” —and that it actually mattered.

 

 

I remember being taught in Kindergarten that it doesn’t matter what you look like, that the most important things in life were being kind and being a good friend.

So why on EARTH did that part of my growth and learning become less LOUD than the voices in my head that told me to keep losing weight?

It sure made adolescence a pain in the ass.

 

 

And you know what?

I’m 28 years old and I still bitch about it.

I still have to fight that little voice in my head that wants to start screaming any time I’m bloated.

I still look at “Lose 10 pounds in 10 Days” articles on pinterest.

I still have to quiet the part of me that wants to punch a thin woman in the face while she happily eats a donut or two.

I still look at the beautiful dancers at my theater job and ache over how I will never look like them, when all I wanted as a child was to be a ballerina. I entertain those sorrowful emotions until I knock some sense into myself for being an idiot because WE SHARE THE SAME COSTUMES and I’m being ridiculous.

Maybe I am insane.

But what I want to express is this:

I’m sorry.

I’m so SO sorry for contributing to this unhealthy culture  regarding size and body image by complaining OUT LOUD about my size or what I look like. How SHITTY is that to other people?

I am sorry that I openly talk about having “fat days” like they’re a truly negative thing. They’re not. They’re just a thing that happens to everybody when they retain water. It’s not a big deal.

I am sorry that I whined a little about finishing a half marathon and not losing any weight. (That should NOT have been a thing in my head when I made a big life accomplishment. But it was. And that is a failure on my part.)

I am sorry for the amount of time I spend on this subject when I could be doing so many other things with my time.

 

And I think, most importantly, I am sorry for believing that no one else went through this kind of struggle. I’m sorry that because I see my friends being successful in their lives, I assume that they must never have this mental fight that I have with myself almost every day…

 

THIS IS A REAL THING PEOPLE EXPERIENCE BECAUSE OF THE CULTURE OF FAT SHAMING AND SKINNY-GLORIFYING.

 

At what point are we just going to decide that what we are, in this very moment, is good enough? That our bodies do not need alterations? That the only thing that should be propelling us to eat healthy and exercise is the sheer fact that it makes us happy?

 

I try to run because it makes me happy… I like the feeling of accomplishment. It should have absolutely NOTHING to do with a desire to be skinnier.

I would really like to kill that part of my brain that still believes that I run so that I can be skinny.

It has definitely shrunk over the years, but it’s still there.

 

I’m sorry that I haven’t just made a choice to halt the negativity towards the way I look and to just have a good time living my life.

 

The self-hate is not worth the energy. It is hurtful to myself, and it is hurtful to those around me.

I’ll close with this letter.

 

Dear Sad-Fat Dragon:  

I love you. I love that you have given me the passion and fire to encourage other women to love and accept themselves. I love that what once started as a negativity toward my body eventually led me to love physical activity. However, it’s time for you to shut the eff up and let me be happy with the way I look. 

Thanks,

 Jess 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Live Your Truth (Explained with Tacos)

Live Your Truth.

What the heck does that mean?

It’s such a complicated little sentence because truth (if we are speaking away from any religious principles) ebbs and flows for a person.

When I was eight years old, I wanted to survive on cold bologna sandwiches and hamburger helper until the day I died.

As a high schooler, I was convinced that by the time I reached my twenties, I would be living the high life in New York City on the brink of my first Broadway production.

As a young college student, I had intense disdain for all things that could even remotely be considered lazy, took 18 units a semester, had a part time job, a boyfriend, and an incessant need to do more with my life.

Fresh out of college I had physical and emotional trouble, and ached for socializing as much as possible.

Today I like to run 10Ks, and take naps so I don’t have to talk to anyone.

 

So when someone tells me to “live my truth” or asks “What do you want?”  I sort of cock my head to the side, shrug, and say “I don’t know. Tacos?”

My truth has become tacos.

 

There has to be a bigger question here.

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In all serious, the fact of the matter is that I (like SO many other people out there) adjust their wants and needs based on the expectations of others.

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Maybe it’s the recovering Catholic in me, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this conversation:

A: What would you like to do?

B: I don’t know. Whatever you want makes me happy.

A: That’s not what I asked.

B: But that’s my answer.

A: Okay, I want to go watch a movie and eat pizza.

B: Great. I’ll do that with you. That will make me happy. (But I will silently be thinking about how badly I wanted to go to mini-golf and  have tacos. I will be distracted all night about it, and then I will start to get passive aggressive, blaming the other person for not knowing my needs that I never asked for in the first place.)  

 

This example is of course on a small scale, but once it becomes a habit, it ends up being applied to the big things in life as well.

Your religion.

Your sexuality.

Your marriage.

Your passions.

Your morality.

 

THAT stuff is your truth. That is the stardust inside of you that can’t be changed or altered, no matter how hard you try to ignore it. At some point or another, if you ignore it long enough, it’s going to explode out of your face and get all over everyone. You will want to blame everyone who has ever influenced you for the outcome of your life, but the fact of the matter is, you are the only one who has real control of your life!

So…

lets live our truth! Ask yourself what it is inside of you that you NEED to listen to.

Dig. Ask questions. Try different things.

Throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks.

DO NOT APOLOGIZE FOR IT.

Share the things you discover about yourself. Those who love you will stick around and support these things. Those who don’t will fall away. But it won’t matter because you’re being honest about who you are.

 

Then put that sh*t into practice. Stop denying yourself and start speaking up.

 

It may seem trivial, but it actually does help to start by saying:

“I do not want pizza. I want tacos.”

 

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It becomes a habit.

And then you learn how to ask for what you want.

And then you learn how to ask for what you need.

And then you learn how to know what you need, and declare that you’re going to go get it.

 

 

And then suddenly, we’re all eating tacos, and EVERYONE is happy.

 

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When the Fear Dragon Buries Your Dreams in the Dirt

When the Fear Dragon Buries Your Dreams in the Dirt

I have so many things on my body at any given time that remind me to stop being afraid.

I have a runners bracelet that says “Live Fearlessly.”

I have a necklace I wear almost every day that says “Fearless”

I have a tattoo on my left wrist that says “Courage, 1st John 4:18.” (This verse states “There is no fear in love.” I got that one after my abusive relationship in college)

 

I am very aware that I am constantly terrified.

And I’m trying to figure out what it is that scares me so much. I mean, I have the fear of people being upset with me. I am afraid of disappointing others. I am afraid that people will find out that I’m not all smiles, optimism, and kindness. I am afraid that I don’t deserve the job that I have. I am afraid that I don’t deserve to dream bigger. I am afraid of rejection. I am afraid of choosing the wrong “right” as I try to figure out my own right and wrong. I am afraid of being overweight. I am afraid of depression. I am afraid of being unhappy.  I am afraid I will someday be a terrible mother. I am afraid I won’t be able to finish my half marathon.

I’m afraid that I don’t deserve what I have, and that eventually someone will find out that I am not deserving of it, and it will all be taken from me.

 

Usually I use humor and creativity to deal with all of this.

But lately things don’t feel so funny or creative.

Lately it just feels like work. Being social feels like work. Talking about anything other than the mountain of emotion that I have buried myself under feels like work. I’m not allowing myself to have any fun because the fear has turned into imposter syndrome, which has turned into a belief that I don’t deserve what I have, which has turned into self-destruction and lack of motivation.

I like to think that maybe I’m just exhausted.

Or maybe I am selfishly trying to blame someone for these flaws… Recently I caught myself in a very ugly state, while I was watching some kids doing a wonderful performance, and my thoughts were “Wow, I wonder what MY life would have been like if someone gave a crap about how badly I wanted to perform as a kid, and didn’t berate me for wanting to do things that cost money outside of school.”

Now, of course this isn’t true, but somewhere deep down, there is a little girl in my heart who still feels like her dreams and hopes are not worth anyone’s time. She put them in a box and buried them, so they wouldn’t bother anybody. (Let me clarify– SHE put them there. It’s no one else’s fault.)

Now that I’ve learned this about myself, pulling that box out of that mound of dirt sometimes feels like the most difficult thing in the effing universe. I have to dig my hands into the dry, cracked, soil that has grown solid over time. I feel like I’m sobbing into the ground , screaming at my younger self for ignoring that box for all of this time. Meanwhile the grime gets under my fingernails, I can’t stop staring at this dirt, and while I dig, people in my life walk by, and get dirt thrown in their face.

 

That’s a very dramatic metaphor.

But it’s sort of what I feel like lately.

 

Every time I didn’t stick up for myself, I put more dirt on that box.

Every time I chose to stay up late on the phone for the sake of someone else’s problems, I put more dirt on that box.

Every time I put someone else’s needs before my own, I put more dirt on that box.

Every time I watered down my creative ideas out of fear of judgement, I put more dirt on that box.

Every time I lived according to someone else’s wishes and demands, I put more dirt on that box.

Every time I didn’t ask for what I needed, I put more dirt on that box.

Every time I chose to drink too much, and punish myself by locking myself in a bathroom, I put more dirt on that box.

 

Nobody else DID this to me. I let them do it, and thus I put the dirt there.

 

 

At the moment, I’m choosing to take the time so I can just pause, and write all this down. Earlier in the week I posted that “Get Money” quote on instagram, because I was in all of this pain, but didn’t have the time to feel it, give it the attention it deserves, and attempt to figure it out. So I used humor to deal. Sometimes, that’s the best I’ve got.

 

Right now, I’m tired of digging. I’m tired of trying to answer the question “What do you want?” because I don’t know how to answer it. I don’t remember what’s in that box in the dirt. I was always too scared to really look at it.

How do you ever know, really?  Maybe there’s nothing in it. If I learned anything from ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ and Dr. Seuss, the point is the journey, not the destination.

And maybe the journey doesn’t have to be all sunshine and rainbows.

And maybe that’s why I haven’t stopped digging.

 

 

Huh.

That’s deep shit.

(See what I did there?… Deep? … Like, ‘Dig Deep’?…No? MMk.)

 

 

 

Self-Deprecation: A Big Waste of Everyone’s Time

Something has been on my mind lately.

I know a lot of people that spend a significant amount of time self-deprecating.

“I’m just not that smart.”

“I wish my hair looked like yours.”

“That’s what I get for being short and fat.”

“I’ll never look good no matter how much I diet.”

“I mean, I’m obviously the least intelligent person in this room.”

“Could I be any more useless?”

“What good will it do if I try to communicate my feelings?”

“I’m not worth anyone’s time.”

(S/he says as s/he tries to backtrack the severity of this blanket, self-hate statement with a nervous laugh.)

My Response?

Shut. The hell. Up.

 

I refuse to any longer be the type of friend or family member that pats you on the head and tells you how pretty and perfect you are, despite how horribly you speak about yourself.

Do you know why?

Because I love you.

Because I believe we are so much better than just fishing for compliments.

I believe that there are FAR MORE INTERESTING things to talk about rather than our inability to lose ten pounds.

I believe that we are lovely, capable human beings who (just like every other human on this planet) may go through some awful times, but are courageous enough to put on their big girl pants and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

I believe that we spend so much time worrying and whining about what we aren’t,  that we don’t even get to scratch the surface of everything that we could be.

 

I am SO TIRED of this conversation. I’m tired of hearing it, and I’m tired of it being in my own head.  And you know what? Here’s the thing…

THE VOICES ARE ALWAYS GOING TO BE THERE.

There’s no magical little “off” switch that will suddenly make us feel perfectly confident and content. There will always be a time when we will feel like we aren’t enough. We will fall short. We will be forced to look at ourselves. We will fail.

So, we can choose to dwell on our failings, shamefully staring at our shortcomings OR we can use our failure as fuel.

Let your failure be your motivator.

So, maybe you’re saying “Jessica, the voices are so loud. I always hear them, causing so much anxiety and depression for me. They stunt me and make me feel terrible about myself. They make me want to quit my job and hide in a corner forever.”

I get it. I’ve been there. I’ve been there more often than I would like to admit. But I made the decision that I don’t want to be crying in a corner forever. I want to be useful to my community. I want to know what it’s like to feel like Superwoman. I want to know how to reach my full potential. I chose TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

For me, it’s running, writing, eating well, going to bed early, loving people as hard as I can, and laughing at myself.

Example: I used to hate the fact that I’m tall. Sometimes it is still a source of insecurity, but when it starts to bother me, I make a joke and say “Watch out, here comes the big gorilla” in a stupid voice  we all laugh about it.

The voices can’t control me if I am always aware that I control them.  

But that’s me. That’s my therapy.

For another person, it might be a different story. Maybe it’s taking up an interest like cooking, spending more time with kids, meditating, doing something useful in the community…(I’m a big believer in doing something charitable if you want to stop feeling like a Big Sad Screw-Up. It’s kind of impossible to feel like one when you’re focusing on giving.)

 

But, please. For everyone’s sake.

Find a way to get over it.

Find a way to start embracing the failure, and staring it dead in the face. If it’s something that’s really causing big problems to your health or your relationships, make a change.

Try something new and open your mind to different possibilities.

Ask yourself what you could be if you let go of the bull crap that clouds your head, and go become it.

It’s that simple.

You are in charge of the life that you live.

Whine a little if you have to, but find a way to get over it.

You deserve it.

How to Find Love: Step 1. Leave Toxic Relationships

Our hearts know when we are in a relationship that is unhealthy. But sometimes, we absolutely hate to admit it. We would rather drag out being uncomfortable with a person (and with ourselves) by sweeping things under the rug, or just pretending that the breakdown in communication doesn’t exist.

Maybe you have a ton of memories with this person. Maybe you’re connected financially. Maybe there is pressure from your family to stay attached to this person.

Maybe you’re just terrified of what it means if you cut ties.

 

All of this is normal. All of us have been through this experience of “trying to make things work” with that parent, that boyfriend, that spouse, that best friend, that boss, that sibling that is just KILLING us to be around for one reason or another. We make up excuses for that person, try to be understanding of their unacceptable behavior, and put ourselves second to a person that does nothing but cause us grief and suffering.

We put up blinders to their bad behavior and force ourselves to see the good in that person, even if that costs us our own sanity.

 

Why?

There truly is no point in staying intertwined with a person who only makes you hurt and angry. If you have done (and this is important) everything in your power to communicate your feelings with this person, and the message is not being received, then you just have to grow a pair and say good-bye.

Now let me touch on something for a moment—

Communicate How You Feel  

This is massively overlooked (particularly for those “Sweep-things-under-the-rug-to-avoid-conflict” types) when dealing with a toxic relationship. Sometimes the toxicity is growing in stench and thickness because the hurt individual isn’t communicating with their person to try and fix the problem. Sure, they’ll vent about that person to all of their friends and family, but they don’t go directly to the source, which only makes matters worse, and is terribly unfair to all parties involved. That being said, do not read the rest of this post until you have tried to communicate first, because it will do nothing for you. SAY SOMETHING.

Being quiet is the absolute worst thing you can do for yourself and your person if you are hurt. 

 

Now that that’s out of the way…

If you have tried to communicate and your message is not being received, you are not doing anyone any favors by staying connected to someone who is tearing you apart. (Unless there are children involved, then it gets complicated. But I am definitely no expert on this matter. I’l leave my opinions on this for another time in the future).

 

Now, stop being a martyr. GET OUT of the relationship.

Are you putting goals on hold because of this person’s opinions of you?

Are you compromising your health because of the senseless emotional stress this person is causing?

Are they dulling you? Making you worry about who you are? Making you question yourself and who you want to be?

Are they controlling you? Manipulating you? Lying to you?

Then, leave.

 

The best thing I ever could have done was get out of the relationships that were shrinking me. I had people in my life that made me feel small, that made me second-guess everything I believed in. I would be passionate and excited about a project, and get shrugged at or told it was a waste of time. I would feel sad about something, and was snubbed at for being to sensitive. I would ask for the person’s time, and they wouldn’t make room for me. I would compromise my own thoughts, feelings, and personality all to make this individual what I thought was “happy” when really it was just a big huge lie. It took a long time for me to figure it out, but the fact of the matter is,

When you lie to yourself, you can’t love yourself. And when you don’t love yourself, you sure as hell can’t love anyone else. 

 

I was making myself believe that I needed these individuals in my life. I believed that my worth would decrease if I was without them. I felt guilty for even questioning my happiness in the first place.

But in the months that I started to make room in my life to love myself, the toxic relationships started falling away like dominoes.

Not only that, but after some time, I learned (and am still learning) how to deal with the relationships that do take extra emotional energy. I can love these individuals, but not let them so far into my heart that it tears me apart. It takes patience and perseverance, but it is possible.

Part of loving yourself, is protecting your heart. And there is absolutely NO SHAME in needing to protect your heart. Anyone who truly loves you for who you are will understand and respect that fact. But you have to set the boundaries from the beginning. At some point, you stop and other people start. It is entirely up to you who you let over the wall of your heart. DO NOT GIVE THEM THE GATE KEY IF THEY DONT RESPECT THE WALL IN THE FIRST PLACE.

 

I made room in my life to love myself, and let me tell you, I have fallen into the greatest love of my life that I had no idea was fathomable outside of books and movies. Not only does this person love me for who I am, but he makes me feel more like myself than I ever thought was possible. And I never would have found him, if I didn’t learn how to eliminate the things in my life that were dulling who I am.

 

Everyone deserves to feel this kind of all-encompassing love. What an amazing world we would live in if everyone learned how to love themselves first.

 

 

 

 

The Dragon’s Voice Needs to Be Heard

Panic attacks run in my family.

Let me rephrase that… panic attacks are RAMPANT in my family. And anyone who has ever had one understands how awful and ridiculous they can feel.

I know they are different and come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they are so massive they can make you feel like you only have a few minutes to live. Others feel like a heart attack. Mine usually start with a nervous feeling in my gut which spreads to my mind, makes me start feeling like the biggest failure on the planet, gives me the shakes and cause the irrational fear that I am about to vomit in public. Also I usually can’t stop crying.

 

Yeah. They suck.

 

But I have been working hard to have a relationship with the thing (or things) that ignite my anxiety. I try to figure out why they start in the first place. I ask myself—

What did I do today?

Was I productive or did I neglect something important?

Did I eat to fuel my body and soul, or did I eat poorly?

Did I get enough sleep?

Did I focus on the good things in my life?

Did I achieve (or set) any goals?

How is my relationship with myself right now?

Am I being self-deprecating, or practicing gratitude and self-love?

 

I find, more often than not, that the overwhelming feeling of dread and sorrow stems from not saying “Yes” to what’s happening in my heart and mind. It often comes from self-neglect– in other words, letting the Dragon roar as loud as it wants and letting it win. Whether that is from not giving myself a break from hours of work, putting junk in my body, not getting enough rest, or dwelling on past mistakes.

These things are all just anxiety fuel.  Sad Dragon meat and potatoes with a side of vodka and an extra large slice of cheesecake.

 

So, what do you do when anxiety is running rampant? Personally, I don’t think it’s useful for anyone to hate or ignore the panicky uneasiness. In fact, it should be looked at as a message that your Dragon is trying to tell you something important. Something is causing the hurt, so it would be detrimental to neglect it. Otherwise, it will just start roaring louder and louder until you cant decipher the messages.

Combating anxiety is different for everybody, but I’m going to start by saying “Yes” to the things my body and mind really need. And now that I’ve had an anxiety-ridden conversation (well, more like a kicking-and-screaming-break-up-fight with my Sad Dragon) with myself, I’m starting to hear what the Dragon is trying to tell me.

So, I’m focusing on three things for the next few months:

  1. Cutting Back on Work. I find that I don’t know who I am when I am not working. At any given time, I usually have five or six jobs, mostly because I am terrified of being broke. That is very unhealthy fear-based mentality and I need to let it go. If I focus on staying minimalist, and loving living on less, I will be absolutely fine. I must trust this process.
  2. Running My First Half Marathon I have been running now for a little over a year (mostly 5Ks and 10Ks) and I love it. It calms my mind, elevates my mood, and makes me feel like the Super Hero I have longed to be since I was a teenager. I have had this goal for a while now, and I need to stop putting it off because of work. In April, it’s on. I will be running 13.1 miles for the first time.
  3. Traveling and Seeing as Much as Possible because it’s FUN The last time I truly went somewhere far away and different from home was in high school on a bus with a chaperone. I am a theater-loving Californian and I have never experienced San Francisco, have only seen Yosemite once (when I was eleven), and VERY rarely get out to see live entertainment. I don’t give myself permission to see things, just for the sake of seeing them. Again, it’s usually because I’m working.

 

I need to stop saying that I’m too busy to experience my own life. I need to stop letting my Dragon win. I am in control of my emotions. Sometimes I just have to remind myself of that, and that’s ok.

 

What is your Dragon trying to tell you?

.

 

From ‘Sad Dragon’ to Straight Up ‘Evil Demon Beast’

I’m a big believer in giving yourself a break when it comes to depression and self-deprecation. Humans are complicated creatures with varying emotions and mental states, and so sometimes less than ideal things will happen as a result of these emotions. However, if we’re lucky, we can learn to self-reflect and do everything in our power to be our best self for ourselves and for others.

So let’s say you have become pretty adequate at self-reflection. Let’s say you’re on a path to knowing yourself better than you ever have before. Let’s say you’re a pretty damn good person with a good heart and a strong moral system.

And then, for whatever reason, things go awry. Your Dragon takes over. You let Him get fierce beyond all belief, you listen to His lies, and you act upon them. You allow yourself to go to negative places about who you are and what you mean to people, and you become someone you don’t recognize.

You become destructive. You hurt people. You hurt yourself. You make yourself sick from your own actions. Finally, once the destruction is over you find yourself in a circle of rubble, strewn about by your Dragon’s chaos.

So what do you do?

I’ve been there. I’ve stared at that rubble from my self-war, totally dumbfounded that I was capable of such awfulness. It’s an awfully strange place to be because suddenly you have choices; choices of what the heck to do with all of that mess.

Some choices I made included:

  1. Sitting in the chaos and just bathing in it. I accepted that I am the Sad Dragon and I celebrated it. I metaphorically announced to the universe that I identified with the Dragon and there’s no going back.
  2. Numbing myself to the chaos and pretending it wasn’t there. Some great numbing agents include copious amounts of vodka and whiskey. It’s pretty amazing– when you’re so drunk from alcohol your brain can’t comprehend anything except it’s drunkenness, and your emotional pain goes away. (Somebody’s gotta be making money off of this concept somewhere… )
  3. Claiming the “I DESERVE IT” lie. This is a typical Sad Dragon whisper. It’s the little voice that tells you you’re WORTH getting an enormous hot fudge sundae instead of a healthy meal. It’s the voice that says you’re allowed to binge watch Netflix for 8 hours on a Saturday because you partied too hard the night before. It’s the voice that says you are above everyone else because you struggled over something. It’s Sad Dragon bullshit. “I Deserve it” is the lie that takes the place of the truthful sentence “It’s ok to mess up once in a while, but I want to be better than this.” They are very different messages. (I think I dislike this choice the most)
  4. Staring at the rubble and crying in disbelief and total, utter sorrow. This was the choice of acceptance. It was allowing myself to feel the despair once the high wore off.
  5. Drying my eyes, cleaning up the rubble, and apologizing to it that it will never look quite as pristine as it did before. Asking forgiveness, but not expecting it, and then walking away so the space could heal from my Sad Dragon’s hissy fit.

Now, in a perfect world, I wouldn’t let the Sad Dragon get as fierce as it did in the first place. In an almost perfect world, I would have jumped straight to choices #4 and #5. But that’s not what I did. When a person really messes up, it’s extremely tough to dig into acceptance and get back to the way life is supposed to be. It’s a process.   Everyone’s process is different, and I would never judge a person for dealing with their Sad Dragon’s hot mess in a way that works for them.

My only Soap Box Advice is This: DO NOT LIVE IN THE FALSE REALITY OF CHOICES 1-3 

Those choices are of pain. They are choices of loneliness. They are choices of letting the Sad Dragon win. Then, the Dragon becomes not just a cute Sad Dragon that hangs out with you sometimes, but a terrifying demonic beast that will just continue to widen the circumference of its chaos.

Clean up the mess, apologize, and don’t look back. YOU ARE BETTER THAN YOUR CHAOS.

In fact, you are BEAUTIFUL. Now go on and get yourself a good nap, a green smoothie, and some journaling so you can heal faster.

Fear, My Dear Old Friend

Fear, My Dear Old Friend

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Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to take a class at The Second City, Hollywood for free at their open house. I took a two-hour Musical Theater Improvisation Class. (I also like to call it Heaven.)

I shared the afternoon with about twenty other wonderfully brave individuals who wanted to explore one of the most terrifying art forms ever created.  It takes a specific type of weirdo to be able to get up in front of a group of strangers and sing a song that has no established melody, no established words, and no established story. You have to make it up. You have to trust that the people around you will support and contribute to your song. And the only way to learn or get better, is to get over your mental road blocks, trust yourself, and recognize that you are not going to die. And it is TERRIFYING.

Now, I have been lucky. I have been fortunate that my life and my training has taken me to this point. This point in which I know that getting on stage, choosing a character, and trusting myself is a better choice than letting fear take over. I have been lucky that I was taught to fight against my nerves, and to ignore the concern of whether or not I will be “good enough” on stage. But that took a lot of practice and patience.

That being said, I have been having so much trouble watching my peers, colleagues, and friends give in to their mental roadblocks on stage. I have been watching many performers lately in classes, auditions, and karaoke nights, succumbing to their fear. I can see in their eyes the message “I DO NOT DESERVE TO BE HERE,” “PLEASE GET ME OFF THIS STAGE,” “WHY AM I NOT GOOD ENOUGH TO SHARE THIS SPACE WITH YOU?”… And thus, the story becomes about those messages behind their eyes. The audience’s experience (if they are supportive) is being on the edge of their seats, hoping that this individual succeeds in getting through to the end of the scene, rather than the story the player is so desperately trying to tell.

Furthermore, I keep seeing this fear-mentality in people who are not performers as well. People who are too afraid to go for a new relationship, or talk to a stranger, or quit the job that they hate, or end a toxic relationship, or go on a trip to see new things. They always seem to come up with a reason why they are afraid, or why they don’t deserve that thing they want to go after, which is really outrageously silly.

Why do we do this to ourselves? And not just performers, but people? Why do some people with strong Sad Dragons walk into a space, or approach a new situation with deep inferiority? Most people with these types of Sad Dragons can tell you why.

“It was my upbringing.”

“It’s just in my blood.”

“I’m destined to be a depressed person, so there you go.”

“I’m going through a lot right now, so I just feel self-conscious all the time.”

“I’m not smart enough.”

“I’m not pretty enough.”

“I’m not talented enough.”

“I’m not thin enough.”

“I AM NOT ENOUGH.”

I empathize with these statements. They’re in my head all the time too. And these statements can either be speed bumps, stop signs, or straight-up brick walls in the way of a person’s joy. There’s no way on this planet I could have gotten up to sing improv if I listened to all of the voices in my head, and accepted them as truth.

My solution? Practice Accepting the Inner Monologue of the Sad Dragon, Noticing it’s Presence, and Using it for Motivation to Move. 

Negativity and self-doubt ARE in your head for a reason, but they don’t have to be manifested into a Stop Sign or a Brick Wall. Let’s explore further.

Let’s say you have a mental roadblock with running your first 5K.

Sad Dragon: “I will never be good enough to pull this off. I am too unhealthy and I will never have enough motivation to look as good as everyone else out there. I tried once before, and I’m going to fail again, so why try?” 

That’s some nasty mind-language. How can you change it?

Step 1: START THE THING. Put on your running shoes and go outside, even if you feel like crap about it.

Step 2: DO THE THING. Start moving. Even if it’s just a walk. Just go.

Step 3: SAY HI TO THE DRAGON Acknowledge your Sad Dragon’s monologue in your head. Say hello to it, and try to separate your emotions from it. Remember, you are NOT your Sad Dragon. It’s just one little piece of you.

Step 4: DONT STOP DOING THE THING  Keep moving.

Step 5: THANK THE DRAGON Give that sad language a mental hug and THANK IT. Offer it some GRATITUDE for being there to give you the motivation to get outside and try something that’s hard. (Because remember, you’re already outside, aren’t you?)

Step 6: CHANGE THE DRAGON’S LANGUAGE (This is the tough part, so be patient with yourself.)  The hard part is to switch the language in your head. “I acknowledge that I don’t feel as healthy as I would like to be, and that’s why I have these negative feelings about myself. But I signed up for a 5K which is a step in the right direction. I am so glad I took this chance on myself because I am giving myself an opportunity to grow.”

Step 7: LEARN AS MUCH ABOUT THE THING AS YOU CAN Do your homework, and find new ways to improve and get motivated. For this case, get a new running app, subscribe to a blog, or find a super fun race you can do with a buddy.

Step 8: KICK SOME ASS Run your race and watch change happen.

Never EVER EVVEEERRR let fear or self-doubt stop you from running after something that you want or need. No matter how small that little thing is, you will never get to sing your song for others if you’re too scared. Your voice matters. So give your Sad Dragon a hug, tell it to speak the right language, and give yourself the chance to sing your face off.

Keep training, my friends.

Your Life is Not a Math Problem

Something odd happened to me the other night that I felt might be relevant to the interest of potential readers. I was set up to visit someone I had not seen in a long time– an old flame, if you will. He contacted me. We texted a little bit. And then he said he wanted to “catch up and get a beer.” Now to be honest, this is NOT what I’m focusing on at this point in my life. I am genuinely trying to zero in on my career, my blog, my own personal growth AWAY from all things that have to do with dating. But, I’m a girl… no…. I’m a HUMAN …. and when a person decides to show interest in spending an evening with me, I am going to want to follow up. Who wouldn’t?

So, the evening of our meeting came up and I strutted around my room, planned a little extra time to get ready, thought about all of the questions he might ask, and the questions I wanted to ask him.

I left my house feeling optimistic and excited to share how successful I have been the past few years because DUDE, I work for a CHILDREN’S THEATER COMPANY (Putting my Theatre Arts B.A. to work, WHAT?!?)

Also, I’ve been running 10Ks, and lifting weights… so let’s go ahead and entertain the idea that I might look better in my jeans than the last time I saw this person.

I hadn’t felt so confident in weeks, and I was enjoying the crap out of it.

Finally, I got the place where this old flame was (a gathering with many old friends). I smiled and said hello. He gave me a hug– the first hug between us in probably four or five years. I waited for him to bring up where we might meet later.

Nothing happened.

Hours went by.

I kept looking at my phone to see if he was trying to be coy about it, and text me instead of asking in front of everyone.

Nothing.

I continued to talk to my old friends, catching up, pretending as hard as I could that I was interested in everything they had to say, when really I was just mortified at the idea that I was being ignored by the one person who I came to see— because HE SAID HE WANTED TO SEE ME.

Needless to say, it became apparent that he was 100% uninterested in catching up with me. He was distracted. He didn’t make much eye contact. He was heavily hanging all over some other girl, and she quickly turned into the personification of my insecurity. Because, you know, she was pretty.

After another half an hour or so of inner-turmoil, I decided to say a quick farewell, and I walked back to my car, alone.

I walked away feeling vague and disappointed that I even entertained the idea of “going out” with someone in the first place.

And then, the Sad Dragon showed up.

You are an idiot. 

Oh, hey there Sad Dragon.

You told yourself you weren’t interested in dating. This is just karma for going back on your word. How could you be such a moron? 

Shut up, I was just trying to do something fun.

A lot of good that did you. Nobody even wanted to talk to you. These people were not your friends then, and they’re not your friends now. You’re the same loser you were back in college, just trying to get attention from some guy. You’re repeating your old mistakes! So much for your journey on personal growth!  

Shit. You’re right. I’m a failure. This has been a failure of an evening. I could have been writing, practicing, exercising… anything but this.

But you didn’t! You chose to be stupid! Congratulations, Stupid Face! Now you and me get to feel stupid together! Now who wants a gallon of Ben and Jerry’s and a bottle of red wine? 

My Sad Dragon wanted to eat me from the inside out and I did everything I could to stop crying– tears mostly from disappointment in myself, rather than the situation at hand.

Now lets put a magnifying glass on this situation. What did I do to let the Sad Dragon out? Because believe it or not, I have control over the things it says to me… because, let’s face it… it IS me. What about this situation ruined me for an evening? Why did I beat myself up with self-hatred when all I was doing was dealing with the information that I had?

In my head was a simple equation:

Single Girl Trying to Get the Most Out of Life + Ex From the Past Wants to Hang Out =  A Super Duper Great Time!

But, here’s the thing. Life is not a Math Problem. Life is more like improvisation. We write the story as we go. We can’t control the outcome of our situation because we can’t control the people around us. All we can do is say yes to the facts we have at hand, and make a choice. We don’t always know how people are going to act, how we are going to be treated, or what our choices might amount to in a given day.

The equation is closer to this:

Single Girl  + Ex = Potential for a Great time  OR  Getting ignored  OR Being manipulated OR All the Bars are Closed  OR  We Have a Heated Argument  OR  We Fall in Love and Get Married  OR  I Get Sick and Throw Up all Over Him  OR  He Gets Sick and Throws Up All Over Me   OR  We Get Eaten by a Giant Spider  OR  He Kidnaps Me and Takes Me to Vegas

….. The list of possible outcomes is endless. Sure, some are more likely outcomes than others… but the best way I could have shut up my Sad Dragon that night, would be to simply celebrate the fact that I said YES to something.

I chose to open myself up to some kind of potential. The results weren’t great… but I went somewhere, instead of staying home. I caught up with people I haven’t seen in years. I confidently walked up to a building, and actually felt attractive. I made like, three new Facebook friends! It’s not all bad. So I didn’t get a beer with Mr. Whatever-His-Face. It doesn’t matter. I can move on. I can keep saying “Yes” and keep making new choices in every single moment.

And the Sad Dragon can’t win if I stay open to all possible outcomes of any given event.

Life is still fine.

And I can still say “yes” to any equation that comes my way.