When the Universe Conspires Against You

The universe can’t always work in your favor.

Sometimes it conspires against you.

Sometimes nothing will work out.

Is that okay? Will you accept that?

I used to think that having a sense of control was supposed to be my priority. But now I try to go with the flow a bit more. It’s easier that way so I don’t have to struggle for my self-worth. I can live. I can exist. I can be myself.

I am on this app called Huddle and I frequent the Stress & Anxiety page. I look for people who want advice. It’s incredible to see how overactive our minds can be. A lot of people comment that “they can’t do it anymore” or that “they are tired of doing X for so long.” There is a lot of pain and suffering.

I can’t save them all, of course. But I can talk to a few. Offer my advice as to how to look at a situation differently and hope that they will take something to heart. A few times people don’t watch my videos but support it anyways; it annoys me a little bit, and I love it. What does that imply about me? People can choose to take in information however they want and express themselves however they want too.

It’s been a good ride so far for #HalfTheStory too, though it’s harder to get stories. I already am asking my network for so much that it is hard to get anything across. Maybe what I can do is start to model that method of sharing with people more; to get them to see by example that it isn’t so scary to submit a story and to share it with the world. Maybe I can get them to feel a little bit of what it’s like to be free of holding onto a secret. Of feeling alone and like you have no hope.

I write these blogs with the hope that people are reading, but I write them for myself as well. No matter what happens there will be adversity that comes my way; it’s my attitude that helps me decide how I react to them. Will I put up walls and refuse to let help come in? Or will I accept that I’ve been hurt already and reach out for help? That is the choice that ultimately I have to make, even if I don’t feel prepared to make it immediately.

Yesterday I had several items on my mind. I spent the snow day figuring out what exactly was bouncing around in my head and whether I wanted to address it with a task or admit that it was bothering me because I was trying to control. It turns out a fair number of stuff I was simply trying to control; some I didn’t actually want to do; and others were tasks that did need a lot of attention. I’ve done a lot of wonder for my anxiety level as a result; that’s why I encourage writing and journaling as a form of self-therapy because on some level only I can understand myself the best.

As for the direction that this blog will take, I don’t know, and I love it. It doesn’t matter if there are certain goals or metrics that my old ego would have want to hit. It’s more of a matter that I keep this up because I have faith that what I write will mean something to someone. Too long have I thought that what I say doesn’t matter; it makes me judge others for what they are worth, too. If I matter then it suddenly becomes easier for other people to matter as well. If I can love myself then it suddenly becomes easier to love others too. If I feel like I belong then I can see others as belonging as well.

Why Daycare is Interesting to Me as an Adult

I took a new route to work today and passed a daycare center. A lot of buildings in DC have daycare facilities for the parents who work in those buildings. I walked by it, twice, on my way to work and back home. A few things I noticed:

  • Lots of little-kid sized stuff. Little kid sized chairs, tables, and sinks. Would it be great if we also had stuff that was made to be completely accessible to us? What about if we made certain resources accessible to others?
  • An open-class concept with some boundaries. Classrooms flowed from one end of the building to another, separated not by rooms but by bookshelves. Imagine if we had more of a communal experience and was able to go from one space to another.
  • More beanbags than chairs. Why have chairs when you can rest in different places and different ways? Why even have any furniture at all? I don’t ever feel satisfied after sitting at a desk to try to rest.
  • Labels. Imagine being able to easily identify something and to understand what it is, even if that was the first time you saw it. Wouldn’t life be easier if things were more transparent? If people were more transparent?
  • Dancing. I’m pretty sure that the kid I saw rocking out didn’t have any music playing. He was grooving up a storm to all the passerbys in rush hour and did not care one bit. Movement is fun and healthy and keeps your joints happy.

 

Where I’m Supposed to Be

It’s weird not writing to a daily audience anymore, but I think that this will make me discover something about myself after I do it for some time. Sometimes I can give advice and help someone and not even know it, though I like it more when they tell me that I’ve helped them. It’s a natural human tendency to want to be useful and relevant in someone else’s life; that how I imagine how our ancestors decided who got to stay in the group versus out of it.

The past two mornings I’ve awaken and found it hard to get up. Whether it is from something stressful I’ve worked on in the evenings or something that happened during the early mornings, but I’ve gotten up feeling sweaty and uncomfortable about the day ahead. I’ve noticed that these early morning emotions dissipate after I get out of bed and begin my day, but that they can get worse if the first thing I do is to check my email or hit snooze on my alarm. I can’t help but think that some sort of seasonal depression is behind it, though as my friend Margot observed, perhaps it is normal to have your feelings change as they do.

I’m not sure why I write, but I think it’s to put all my feelings down on a page so they are a little less jumbled than in my head. Too often people don’t take the time or are afraid to confront who they really are, in that present moment. I think it has to do with feeling like the bad feelings will be here forever, and the good feelings all too transient. But I think being in the moment, the true moment, there is no bad or good.

The phrase that I repeat to myself quietly is “you are exactly in the place you are supposed to be” whenever I feel that profound sense of impatience or fear creeping in.

Whenever it is raining and cold, and I shiver because I can’t wear sweatpants into the office, I say to myself, “I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.”

Whenever I am frustrated about my professional goals not going a certain way, I repeat to myself, “I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be,” and then I feel less hard on myself, less out of control, and more empowered to accept that some times take more time.

But I think it works the other way too.

Whenever someone turns from good to bad, when I get a little flash of insight that I know I can use for the rest of my life, I don’t shy away from how quickly it happened, how easy or natural it was. I simply say to myself, “I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.”

I find it significant that “where” has the word “here” embedded in it. And I find it significant that this phrase has carried me through moments of tension with supervisors; through wanting to have something that I could not possibly get; with dealing with mental stress; with getting up from bed in the morning and laying my head down at night. Too often we want to be somewhere else, instead of comfortable in our minds, hearts, and bodies. Too often we feel like we are not enough, that we must be hustling for something, that we are not smart enough, that we have still too much to do, instead of saying that we are right where we are supposed to be.

I am as committed as the next person to get things done. I don’t mean this mindset to say that all the time I will be sitting on the couch eating potato chips (though, I have done that when I’ve wanted to, and the end results were wonderful, truly). There is a letting go that happens when I allow myself to flow from place to place, as opposed to trying to harangue, force, or berate myself into becoming or going or having what I am not. There is a forgiveness that I can give myself; a forgiveness that I wasn’t able to provide in my old identity as an “Achiever.”

If you put advice out there in the universe and no one is there to hear it, is it still advice? I believe it is. A lot of times we talk about what in our own hearts we want to work on the most, whether or not we realize or want to admit it. It’s having the awareness and self-love to speak those important truths anyways that contributes to our peace of mind.

Advice That Took Me 10+ Years to Understand

In my first summer at Amherst College (2008), I took a teaching job for the Pipeline Project in Amherst. Pipeline Project helped out disadvantaged kids who had a risk of falling behind in school and the goal was to get them some extra instruction and community during the summer. My parents didn’t want me to do it, but I’m glad I did (and it was that summer I met David!). In the first week, we worked closely with the instructors to get to know them better and to get a crash course in teaching. I don’t know how well I did, but I distinctly remember being very anxious about doing a good job, and I love it. Anyways, one teacher had one piece of advice for me which I found very curious and remembered all this time:

Feel your feet.

I’m pretty sure I asked a lot of follow-up questions, but the advice left me very much baffled. At that time I had never really been told to feel anything in my body and if I did I was conditioned to ignore it at all costs so that my brain could keep going.

I figured out what the advice meant this morning. Every morning now I wake up and feel my body by doing Controlled Articular Rotations, or CARs for short. If you don’t know what CARs are, go to Sam Faulhaber’s instagram here and check it out (no account needed for those of you who are blessedly off the socials). And I don’t think Sam is on this email list, but those things don’t matter to me anymore, and I love it.

​CARs is what works for me. I move around and feel all the joints in my body and see where the ranges are at that moment. I set a timer for 15 minutes and try not to do anything else during that time including play music or pet my cats. Sometimes I don’t last the entire 15 minutes, and I love that.

​Today I went for the entire 15 minutes and for some reason that I can’t articulate I focused on my feet. There’s an exercise you can do where you try to raise your big toe up and keep your little toes down, and then raise your little toes up and try to keep your big toes down. It’s a fun exercise and if I’m not careful my feet can cramp from it, but most times I find it fun to do.

Here’s what I wrote down after I did that exercise:

Wow, we spend a lot of time hiding our feet. Our feet are usually the only thing we have to support ourselves and is usually the only connection we have on the ground. I wonder what we are doing when we hide it all day and don’t let it out for air. Is a metaphor for how we hide other parts of ourselves and feel cramped and squeezed as a result.

My feet have been ignored for so long; it’s the first thing that Sam identified in the beginning of my three-day immersion. We didn’t work on it because I wasn’t ready to, but I see now.

I see how my feet is a measure of how connected I am to the world around me. My feet are often times the most often thing that touches the ground. It is the thing that crosses most often the paths of where others have walked. Countless things have been written about feet, from how you can’t understand someone until you’ve walked in their shoes to religious stories like Jesus washing his disciplines’ feet. I wrote my story about Footprints in the Sand about how I thought life would be like after I went to college; it made my high school English teacher cry (still one of favorite memories of high school). I remember how terrible it felt to have dislocated my toe and then sprained my foot in martial arts and having to go through the terrible process of rehab and crutches. But I remember triumphs too where my feet have taken me — things like a personal record in a 10K race that I barely finished the first time around, to the steep slopes of Mt. Snow for adventure races. I remember the beautiful moments like from walking down the aisle to see the most beautiful man of my life to mundane moments like grabbing an irresponsible amount of eggs and vodka for a New Years’ party, RSVP numbering just two. All of these moments have involved my feet.

I have taken so many steps forward and some steps back, but my feet have learned to do so much more. They are the first thing that come to my aid when I get knocked down again and get up. They carry me from adventure to adversity to achievement. I owe so much to thinking more about my feet, how they move, how can they best serve me, and maybe the world around me too.