heartbreak, vol 19

There are no GIFS in this post. I just needed to write words. I hope you forgive me…

What I often forget is that a lot of us are tragic, complicated, messy human beings. It’s a miracle if we can keep it all together. I have never been someone who pretends that I can.

I know that I will not find the answers to life in a book or under the covers or googling HELP ME on my phone. Sometimes I convince myself I can. Sometimes that seems easier than putting yourself out there and living. Living hurts. Like a motherfucker. But then I remind myself that I can make the choice to feel everything…or feel nothing at all. I choose everything.

My last post about my summer of love reminded me how I was struggling to understand myself in a relationship. I was in a new world. One where I realized I had learned how to manage my demons as a single person…but now I had this other person in my life.

Where am I now? Heartbroken yet hopeful. Hopeful for what? I’m not sure. But these words meant a lot to me…

“Heartbreak is unpreventable; the natural outcome of caring for people and things over which we have no control…

Heartbreak begins the moment we are asked to let go but cannot, in other words, it colors and inhabits and magnifies each and every day; heartbreak is not a visitation, but a path that human beings follow through even the most average life.

Heartbreak is an indication of our sincerity: in a love relationship, in a life’s work, in trying to learn a musical instrument, in the attempt to shape a better more generous self. Heartbreak is the beautifully helpless side of love and affection and is an essence and emblem of care…

Heartbreak has its own way of inhabiting time and its own beautiful and trying patience in coming and going.

Heartbreak is how we mature; yet we use the word heartbreak as if it only occurs when things have gone wrong: an unrequited love, a shattered dream…but heartbreak may be the very essence of being human, of being on the journey from here to there, and of coming to care deeply for what we find along the way.

There is almost no path a human being can follow that does not lead to heartbreak.”

David Whyte on the True Meaning of Friendship, Love, and Heartbreak

In times where everything feels like shit, one of the only things that makes me feel better is to know where I’m going. What I’m working towards, how I am growing as a person, what I have to get excited about.

…and friends, this IS a time where everything does feel like shit. If you’re reading this, please reach out and say hello. I could use some support and stupid yet witty, relevant GIFS about being a sad, struggling twenty something WHO HAS NO IDEA WHAT SHE IS DOING.

I said I would never give up on love and dating. I was finally in my first adult relationship after almost a year of failed online dating. I fell in love. I made mistakes. I listened to my feelings. I tried to ask for what I needed.I also became self-aware about behaviors I never considered. It is true that you can only know certain things about yourself by being in a relationship. That is something to always be grateful for, no matter how things turn out.

My relationship has taught me a lot. I’ve taken the first steps in starting therapy for my anxiety and general WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING feeling I carry around with me most days. Wish me luck.

Thank you for being here. Writing gives me a sense of community. I feel loved, seen, understood, and appreciated. That means everything to me.

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the after photo, vol 16

“This is what most girls are taught — that we should be slender and small. We should not take up space. We should be seen and not heard, and if we are seen, we should be pleasing to men, acceptable to society. And most women know this, that we are supposed to disappear, but it’s something that needs to be said, loudly, over and over again, so that we can resist surrendering to what is expected of us.” Roxane Gay, Hunger

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I have spent a majority of my short-lived 25 years dreaming of my “after photo” moment. You know, that moment you put one photo of you, heavier and sadder and frumpier, next to the “NEW AND IMPROVED” you? Everyone oohs and ahhs at this hotter version of yourself and you feel like a whole person again. You realize all those color coded portion control containers you used and virgin’s blood you drank finally paid off.

I have fantasized of all the things I would do with my after photo body. Things I told myself I could never do in my before photo body. Things like improv classes, having an orgasm, wearing rompers, being in ANY PHOTO EVER. I have convinced myself that this after photo body would bring me the love and happiness I so desired. That by being a certain number on a scale, I would somehow have discovered the answer to life.

Of course, that is all total bullshit.

Life has nothing, (but also everything, according to society), to do with a number on a scale. Or the size of your jeans. Or whether you’re blessed with stretch marks, cellulite, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, inverted nipples. Are you ALSO a member of the saggy boobs matter movement?! Man, human bodies are fucking weird and beautiful.

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I have reflected and reflected and done more reflecting on my body ad nauseum. I have before photos. Tons of them. All various weights. Weights you could call thin, heavy, or my personal fav, “her face would be way more attractive if she lost 15 pounds”. As I write this, I am the healthiest I have ever been. I am not at my thinnest weight and I am not at my heaviest weight. I just am, and I am 1000% content with this.

I realize now that a number never mattered. It had everything to do with what I thought of myself. It turns out that when you hate yourself, you hate yourself no matter what number the scale says.

Listen. I don’t know jackshit. But I do know what worked for me when it came to being able to live and love and find peace with my body. I am finally comfortable in my own skin. Welll, for the most part. I still cringe at the idea of bikinis and am very pro boob job. Who cares. I AM FINALLY FEELIN’ MYSELF AND I WANT THIS FEELING FOR EVERYONE.

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It came down to two things…

One. I had to say fuck you to diet culture and learn to love food again. Diets and restrictions trigger my eating disorder because I want what I tell myself I can’t have. When you have something you’ve told yourself you can’t have you feel shame. Shame manifested itself in my life as a five year long eating disorder I am still managing today.

Confused about diet culture? Read Isabel Foxen Duke and avoid anything with the following words: meal plan, X day challenge, clean(se), whole, containers, shake, good food, bad food, paleo, elimination, beach, body, anything on your TV past 2 AM, and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Two. I refuse to exercise with the goal of weight loss. Instead, I focus on what I want my body to be able to do and then train accordingly. Can I run for thirty minutes without stopping? Can I hike Glacier National Park without wanting to die? Can I go three rounds in the boxing ring? Can I grind on my partner without dog panting? Can I decrease my bike commute time? Can I lift heavy shit? Can I do manual labor for eight hours? Can I do one armed push-ups like Demi in GI Jane? DO I FEEL STRONG AND CAPABLE?

This moment, right now, is that after photo moment I always dreamed of. I knew I would get here one day. Here is a video of me getting punched in the face at the boxing gym to celebrate. Thank you for being here and sharing this moment with me.

dating is rough, vol 15

I know that right now, I am living my best life. On the other, I also know I am living my hardest life. They go hand in hand though, right? Once you start becoming your *WARNING: BUZZWORD*…authentic self, you feel more. You experience more. This is the hardest but most gratifying way to live. With that being said…DATING IS ROUGH! Woof! I don’t know if I’m cut out for these experiences! I thought my authentic self would attract less busters! So, here’s some “gratifying” life lessons I’ve learned from dating so far…

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…Two words. ATTACHMENT THEORY. I am 1000% an anxious person exclusively dating avoidants. These relationships makes me go bat shit crazy and I am hyper-sensitive to everything they do and say. Canceling my dating apps until I finish this book, k?

…The four-six week relationship is the new one night stand. COOL. That explains why I can’t get past one menstrual cycle with someone. These are not relationships, they are “fun”. Either that, or again, I am dating the wrong people.

…My grandma says one day my prince will come. To which I reply…yeah, he’s gonna come. AND THEN ROLL OVER AND LEAVE RIGHT AFTER.

…I tried out the bootycall relationship. It lasted 48 hours and all I got from it was a UTI.

…If you’re with a partner that is not excited about getting you off from casual sex, there is no point in casual sex. Casual sex leaves me dead inside. I’ll keep having great sex with myself and leave you out of it. Thanks.

…Saying, “we can be friends”, after you stop sleeping with someone is the equivalent of seeing an old friend from high school at Whole Foods and saying OMG let’s meet up for coffee soon. GREAT IDEA BUT NEVER GONNA HAPPEN.

…99% of people will not be upfront about what they’re looking for. Probably because no one knows. It looks like that’s up to you unless you’re cool with having a permanent broken heart.

…The minute you have feelings for someone, an angel loses its wings.

…Bootycall? FWB? FB? Forever confused and would rather let tarantulas crawl over my face than figure out what the hell you want from me. Or what the hell I want from me. *AUDIBLE SIGH*

…Life is not a fairy tale, romance is dead, and grand gestures do not exist. I mean…they do, you’re just dealing with people who don’t actually like you.

…I am obsessed with my life, goals, and hobbies. I want to share my life with someone and learn about their life, goals, and hobbies. Netflix and chill with zero conversation is not going to get you there. Why waste your time?

…People will tell you you’re “brave” for putting yourself out there. That’s what you have to do to date these days: be brave.

…I am so much stronger than I ever realized.

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We’re here and we’re doing this. A reminder to myself and you to try and find the humor in things, share your stories, tell people you love them, and LIVE. YA. LIFE. And yes, I know I’m a little heavy on the Will Ferrell gifs. Sorry not sorry.

xo

baking, vol 9

“A party without cake is just a meeting.” – Julia Child

Hello, my name is Brittany and I am addicted to sugar. Left to my own devices I would have a diet resembling Buddy the Elf. Sometimes I let myself and don’t feel bad about it. Today for breakfast I went dutch. Not the kind of dutch where you’re on a crappy date and then they top it off by asking you, “Can we go dutch?”. Yeah, sure, feminism, whatever. But the delicious kind of dutch with Anijsmelk Lattes and homemade Stroopwafels. For lunch I baked up a batch of Dark Chocolate, Pistachio, & Smoked Sea Salt Cookies and made love to my mixer bowl. By this time I had a major sugar headache and forced myself to eat vegetables for dinner. Making my life an equal balance of green things and baked goods has been…challenging.

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I do not shy away from talking about suffering from eating disorders. In my previous life, AKA the last five years, I ate food without ever enjoying it. I was great at eating food to numb my feelings. As I began getting my eating issues under control, I found myself saying NO MORE SUGAR EVER AGAIN. But this went against everything I loved and believed that was holy! You are talking to someone whose idea of a fun Friday night is spending an entire paycheck in a bakery. I wanted to be like Julia Child! I wanted to enjoy all things butter and sugar without wanting to kill myself. Most important, I didn’t want to ever have hard rules and restrictions around food again. To do so played straight into the hands of the diet industry. Yuck.

I have always loved to bake. I have only loved one baker. The blogger turned cookbook author, Joy the Baker. I remember the day her first cookbook came out in 2012. I went to Barnes & Noble as soon as they opened and demanded a copy. They didn’t even have them on the shelf yet and had no idea what I was talking about. I assured them that today was the release date and someone found me a copy. I was going to make every single recipe from that book.

Yeah…the only thing I did was stuff it on a shelf and let it gather dust. I made a few recipes here and there but it was never a true hobby. Five years later, I was leaving Indiana to move to Portland. Packing up my belongings, I once again held the book in my hands all Marie Kondo like. Am I going to carry this book around with me the rest of my life just to stare at it? That’s like being the person obsessed with cooking shows that doesn’t cook (me, then).

For whatever reason, I decided 2017 was my year of baking. Once a week, I would bake something from that damn cookbook no matter what. Guess what!? This week is my one year anniversary of weekly baking adventures. I’ve made cookies, cakes, breads, pies, tarts, brownies, bars, scones, muffins, cheesecakes, biscuits. I put love and energy and good ingredients into every recipe and enjoyed them with no guilt. My favorite part? Sharing them with others! Do you know how hard it used to be for me to have sweets within a hundred mile vicinity of my mouth? Now, I can bake up dozens of cookies, eat one, and share the rest. WHO AM I!?!?

 

(That’s me looking cute AF eating pudding.) Apparently, it also turns out that baking is excellent for your mental health. Yeah, “Baking Therapy” is a real thing. Check this shit out:

“Psychologists Explain the Benefits of Baking for Other People” – Huffington Post

“Does Baking Help Mental Health?” – Bustle

It makes sense! Watching someone enjoy something I made is the ultimate joy. Someone told me that I am the best baker they know and my heart almost burst. It’s a nice feeling to know I can contribute to a community by coaxing something beautiful out of my kitchen. I can also take fate into my own hands. Never again will I have to worry about going to a party and there be no dessert. I am now the dessert bringer which GUARANTEES cake wherever I go.

So…eat the damn cake! Seduce people with sugar! It works. Life is way too short to avoid the bakery aisle. I’ll be over here planning my future sprinkle pool…dreaming of all the sweet, sticky things I’m gonna lick off my fingers (heh). Now…if only I can become one of Joy’s recipe testers. #lifegoals

Love to you!!!
xo

say what you mean, vol 6

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” Audre Lorde

Two very important things have consumed my thoughts the last few weeks…

1) How concepts like self-care become trends which strips away the substance behind it. I hate trends, and I hate being ignorant to trends.

2) How dating is the hardest thing I’ve ever done because it requires two to tango. Unfortunately, I’ve gotten real good at being alone and independent. More unfortunately, I actually like the idea of sharing a life with someone. Most unfortunately, that requires communication, vulnerability, and risk. Oh shit…

So please bear with me as I attempt to combine the two.

I haven’t been supporting myself in the best ways. I’ve been doing things new to me that I thought I was ready for (ahem, dating). Isn’t it funny how you think you can “prepare” for something you have no control of? At least with dating, there are a million variables at play and you are at the mercy of another human. It doesn’t matter how many books or Google articles you read about the damn subject. If you enter any sort of relationship not ready to say what you mean and mean what you say…you’re fucked. Or you’re at least going to have a very hard time getting what you want.

Dating has sent my anxiety into overdrive. But it’s NOT the people I date who are responsible for my anxiety. The minute we blame others for our emotions we can no longer own our experiences. Can we all agree that we need to take personal responsibility for our feelings and reactions? Do we always want to be playing the blame game?

This is where self-care comes in. It’s clear that new experiences, like dating, trigger my anxiety. Anxiety is a major red flag that I am not paying attention to what I need. Since I am human, I do my damnedest to suppress my anxiety, which never works, and soon I have entered “the hole”. Then you’re doing everything BUT the things that contribute to your well-being. Things like writing weekly posts about supporting yourself. Sigh.

Self-care asks that I prioritize my wellness and my values. It’s not a fancy trend so we can sell more buddha bowls and increase the number of hot yoga studios in the world. Before writing anything else about self-care, I needed to understand it better, especially as a white girl.

Self-care is first, a radical and political statement. There are things to consider about race, gender, and class. I am going to continue to practice self-care, but my antennas are up. In the meantime, these questions are a beautiful reminder of how we can navigate our feelings. From the activist and writer most associated with self-care, Audre Lorde, adapted from Lorde’s ‘The Cancer Journals’ by Divya Victor

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What are the words you do not have yet?

What do you need to say? List as many things as necessary.

What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence? List as many as necessary today. Then write a new list tomorrow. And the day after.

If we have been socialized to respect fear more than our own need for language, ask yourself: “What’s the worst that could happen to me if I tell this truth?” Answer this today, and everyday.

I”ll be thinking about these questions this week with an open heart and mind. I’m also going to be thinking about how to avoid all the holiday treats that magically appear this time of year. But, I definitely WON’T be thinking about failed non-relationships (UGH) or dying alone. Nope, not at all!

P.S. Here are articles that focus on the history and political statements behind self-care…

Love and support to you!

travel, vol 5

Hello from San Francisco, friends! To start, I offer you a poem…

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
T.S. Eliot “Little Giddings”

I’m writing from a coffee shop in downtown San Francisco, one of my favorite things to do. I wanted to write an ode to the ways traveling changed my life. Can I be dramatic and say that it saved my life? BECAUSE IT DID.

Traveling is a privilege not everyone can afford. I’ve struggled with talking about travel as a way to “fix your life” because that’s not an option to everyone. For me, I was in such a horrible place a few years ago and felt I exhausted all my options short of moving far, far away.

Cut to: November 2015. For years I had been among the walking fucking depressed. Walking depression is a real thing. I didn’t know it at the time, but all the signs were there. I missed work on a regular basis. I stayed in bed for days. I rented my house out and moved back in with my grandma. Nothing was fun. I cried a lot. My eating disorder was worse than ever. I had gained over fifty pounds. I ruined dear friendships by isolating myself and being an asshole. I refused to date because I felt emotionally incapable of being in a relationship. A lot of that had to do with how much I hated my body. You could not pay me a million dollars to be intimate with someone. And yet…

I was good at my job. I smiled at coworkers and for the most part was a pleasant person to be around. I organized a huge project in my community. I spent time with people and family. I laughed. I volunteered, did social things, went to young professionals events. I did all the things that should have made me happy.

But none of that mattered, because I always knew something was off. I’ve always had this overwhelming feeling that I am not reaching my full potential. That I am five steps behind the rest of the world at all times. Can you relate?

On one of the shit days I couldn’t get out of bed, I received a package. It was my lavender bouquet I had ordered as a futile attempt to make myself feel better. The strangest thing happened. I knew I had to go to the place the lavender came from. Maybe I was craving something life changing so bad that I was looking for an answer anywhere. I’ll never know, but I know at that moment my answer was leaving Indiana. I got online to message the shop owner when I read this on her profile…

“Sometimes I get to help someone else start a lavender field and I have to say, that always makes me feel a little bit like a fairy godmother. I know what it will be like to sit in the middle of a field, alive with bees, and full of purple. There’s nothing else like that.”

Damn. I was going to sit in the middle of that goddamn field if it was the last thing I did. That place was Paradise, Montana…and I did sit in the field that Summer.

That Summer I would come to learn a lot about myself. The most important thing being a piece I read from Sylvia Plath’s Bell Jar.

“…because wherever I sat–on the deck of a ship or at a street café in Paris or Bangkok–I would be sitting under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air.”

Traveling did not fix the issues I carried with me. Traveling made me feel like for the first time I had control over my own life. I had made the decision to change directions and forge a new path for myself. It allowed me to reflect on my life and figure out where I wanted to go next. I realized that what I needed most was some self-fucking-care. Radical self-care, even.

I am allllll about self-care now. It’s more than just a buzz word. Self-care is connected to many other important virtues in life. It’s a chain of events. Radical self-care starts with gratitude. Gratitude leads to simplicity. Simplicity brings order. Order creates harmony. Harmony gives us the inner peace needed to appreciate beauty. Beauty opens us up to joy. Joy was something I had not felt in a long time.

For this week – I hope you are able to do whatever you need to do to support yourself. Maybe that’s something small, or something BIG. If you can’t travel 1,700 miles away, that’s OK. When you look closer, the only thing I actually did was commit to focusing on myself for once. To slow down and pay attention to my feelings. To acknowledge what wasn’t working and refuse to walk through life as a zombie. To have new experiences that brought me joy.

Here’s to new experiences! Whether that’s staying in a hostel and learning you don’t enjoy sleeping in bunk beds next to snoring dudes or enjoying San Francisco sourdough and clam chowda, it all matters. You matter. I love you!

“the list”, vol 4

Tomorrow is Monday and most of us are going back to work. Work. Werrrrrk. An interesting thing, eh? Do you realize how much of our life we spend working and/or preparing for work? It can be depressing, especially when you get all science-y and look at the numbers. 1/3 of our life spent working!

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So maybe we should rethink some things? This is NOT where I start talking about following a passion. I decided passion was bullshit a while ago. Because people do jobs every single day that are not sexy, fun, or cool. If everyone followed their passion we would be in deep shit. No, forreal – it is someone’s job to clean up our shit. Is that their passion? No. But they show up every day to do dirty work that in some way supports one of their passions, I’m sure. Also, passion miiiiight be a thing privileged people invented?

I tried figuring out my “passion” for the longest time. I thought my passion was food, travel, and studying humans. So I went to college for Anthropology. I dropped out after one semester. My logic was I could do the same thing talking to people and reading books and it was (almost) free. That logic might be insulting, but college was NOT the world for me. I tried though! I also went back for baking and graphic design. Thousands of dollars later and nothing to show for it I said goodbye to college forever.

I’m not going to get into the anxiety one feels when they go against the status quo and decide not to go to college. The world tells us that is our only option or we will end up at McDonalds forever! So what the hell do you do if you don’t go to college to follow your passion? So far in my 25 years of living people have paid me to…

  • clear off plates and sometimes eat unwanted leftover food (dishwasher)
  • organize children’s clothing (retail scum)
  • make sure people don’t touch the paintings (gallery attendant)
  • put fruit on sticks in fancy bouquets (food production)
  • trick people into thinking they need said fancy fruit bouquets (marketing assistant)
  • dance a waltz (ballroom dance instructor)
  • take food orders and then deliver said food (car hop)
  • make sure a bunch of teenage girls do their job right (head car hop)
  • stir an ungodly amount of pecan pralines (candy maker)
  • accidentally put whole milk instead of skim milk in a NF latte but serve it to them anyways (barista)
  • create curated amazon wish lists based on DIY pinterest projects (??? not sure – was real sketch)
  • sit at a desk and order catered lunches for very important people (office coordinator)
  • sit at a desk and stare at spreadsheets (account manager)
  • sell indie movie tickets (heartland film fest ticket seller)
  • *organize classes where students pay with barter items (community organizer)
  • pick produce and sell them to all the beautiful people of Montana (farmhand)

*The funny thing about life is that I was not paid to do this, yet it’s the longest (and most favorite) “job” I’ve had.

This list makes it appear that I’m a struggling actor living in NYC. Nope, only a confused Midwestern girl praying she finds her way. BUT NOW…I have never been more stoked about my career than now. Today, I work as a Facilities Assistant at a Montessori school in NW Portland. It’s something totally different than any of my previous jobs. I work in the trades world! I use my hands to fix things! I get to be outside every day! I don’t have to worry about what I wear to work because I spend my time around toilets and children’s vomit!

Do you know what working in facilities means? Because I had zero idea what I was signing up for. For the curious, facilities is anything that has to do with maintaining a building. This includes grounds, maintenance, janitorial, security, etc.

Working facilities in a school with grades pre-k to middle school makes it all the better. It’s also hysterical. I have this genius idea called “The List”. “The List” is my idea for a facilities based television show, produced by Amy Poehler, and filmed in the same style as Parks and Rec/The Office. It tells the story of the day to day life of a small facilities crew featuring WOMEN IN POWER POSITIONS WHO WORK WITH POWER TOOLS. I live and die by my work list. All day long I am adding things to a list: “make sign that says coffee cups are NOT recyclable”, “pull down fly trap”, “why is HVAC not working in the playroom”, “inspect sketchy homeless camp on corner”, “have talk with boys about peeing on walls”. Just last week a kid stuck his head in a chair and facilities had to CUT HIS HEAD OUT.

So if you wanna follow along my facilities career, I’m gonna start using the hashtag #thelistPDX on my Insta. Who knows? Anything can happen.

For once in my life, someone is paying me to learn things I am interested in that supports my passions. I’m still passionate about travel, food, and studying humans. But, I also have very specific goals of owning a small homestead and building a house. My passions now consist of supporting myself and sustainable living. I get to learn skills that support my goals working in facilities. And guess what? I’m going to San Francisco soon, I bake every week, and right now I’m binge watching a show about FBI agents who study psycho killers! I’m doing everything I wanted. This is my dream life!

What has your career path looked like? Do you like where you are at today? Where do you wanna go? It’s writing pieces like these that remind me how grateful I am for my life. That gratefulness seeps into my ability to support myself, so that’s what I’m gonna focus on this week.

Love you, friends!