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I'm Having a Baby!

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Is it a boy?

Is it a girl?

Is it puppy?

No!

It's a Business!

Ladies and gentlemen, boy and girls, please join me in welcoming to this world my brand new pride and joy... 
School of Self-Study
Weighing in both feather light and heavily substantial, this baby has been gestating for well over a dozen years. The shape of it began to come together when I was a university student participating in a valuable personal and professional development program called Community Involvement Center (CIC). CIC's curriculum was centered around helping students learn to critically reflect on what they learn in order to make the most of their experiences. I participated in the program for a year as a student, then spent the next two years instructing CIC seminars.

To this day, teaching at CIC is my favorite job and I've sought to recreate that in different professional formats with varying degrees of personal satisfaction. I have been a Kundalini yoga teacher, lead meditation sits, performed bo…

I Am Not Perfect, I Cannot Save You, and I Am Allowed to Change.

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The Netflix/Spike Lee Joint, She's Gotta Have It, opens with a third-wall-breaking monologue by main character Nola Darling. She faces the camera and states:
"I would like you to know, the only reason I'm doin' this is 'cause folks think they know me. They think they know what I'm about, and the truth is, they don't know me."

The series goes on to chronicle Nola's explorations of Self through her art and relationships. I love a lot of things about this show (the soundtrack alone! oh man.) but what I love best is how nuanced the characters are, particularly Nola. You can't help but root for her and her success, even while wincing a bit as she sometimes unskillfully fumbles her way through sticky interpersonal moments. She is imperfect, and she's allowed to be! She gifts herself the space and grace to try things and make mistakes as she learns herself in new, deepening ways.

This has been a strong source of inspiration for me this summer as…

A User's Guide to Not Fucking It Up

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Human relationships are both what give life so much of its rich meaning and also hazardous minefields of difficulty. Most of us are walking around with wounding we can be unaware of, and when someone rubs up against it, it's easy to interpret something innocuous as a major offense. It's common, we've all reacted in this way before.

Life is full of let downs, and humans are some of the guiltiest culprits of each other's disappointments. We persist in living among one another because our kind wasn't built for solo cave dwelling. Even as we age, we continue to have healthy attachment needs to meet in order to remain optimally well; we need to feel safe, to be seen and known, to be comforted when we're in pain, to feel valued, and to receive support for our best selves. Ideally, all the relationships in our lives would provide that kind of presence, but I've learnt that it's a rare enough occurrence that when you find someone with whom you can share a heal…

Clawing Out of a Deep Well of Sad

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The sad that lives in my body waxes and wanes, but it's never left me. Even when I'm at my most happy, calm and clear, sad is just beyond the edge of the horizon, out of view and still as much a part of me as anything else. When others learn this, it tends to come as a surprise. The way I present and the role I play is most often the cheerful, bright light. It's a large part of the story, but of course it's not the whole story. No one is just one way.

The picture on the left was taken at the end of the year, at the point of deepest pain I recall ever feeling. I had been crying everyday for awhile, and I would stand on the train platform fantasizing about leaping. I used to volunteer on a suicide crisis hotline and I still remember my training. I told people close to me how I was struggling, and made promises not to hurt myself. I knew the intent wasn't really there, but I was aching so badly that it was impossible not to desire its alleviation. I was at the bottom…

Well That Escalated Quickly! or, Toxic Monogamy Culture

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Imagine that you approach a fun-looking roller coaster and without knowing a lot about it, you buy a ticket. As you run through the line to get to the front, there are signs informing you about elements of the ride worth noting, but you only briefly glance, convinced as you are that it's the perfect ride for you. You get strapped in, the car jolts forward, and you realize after the third nauseating loop that this was, in fact, not a great decision.

Hunter S. Thompson wrote "buy the ticket, take the ride," and Dan Savage quotes this in a talk he gave about understanding and getting good with what you're buying into when you enter a relationship. I'm just as guilty as any fool of rushing into love, signing the liability waiver without so much as a skim of the fine print. There's a myriad of possible reasons for this; we live in a culture dominated by a monogamous relational model which passes some toxic mythology off as fact. For instance, under this model phy…

The Deep Dark Woods, or, A Place at the Table

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When I began to write this it felt familiar, so I scrolled back and discovered that I've written three similar pieces in the last two years alone. They all have a slightly different flavor, but the same salient central theme: the importance of learning to deal with your shit.

In a previous version of my life, I was crying in therapy because I'd recognized but couldn't seem to overcome my preternatural attraction to unhealthy men. Like Ebeneezer Scrooge, I've often found myself confronted by the ghosts of life past. Most of my "self-work" has been operated under the naive assumption that once I'd learned something, I was done! Got it! Every time I'd find myself revisiting a theme, I would read this as a personal failure and be awash in bitter shame. One of my favorite teachers, Paul Weinfield, wrote this supportive, apropos note today:

'Try to see your life as a spiral, circling around the same issues, the same problems, the same feelings, yet wit…

Unfolding Your Own Myth, or, Born Worthy

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At the end of the first week of my first "real" job as an adult, my manager checked in with me to see how it went. I looked her straight in the eyes and with bewilderment in my voice said, "I have to come here everyday." This didn't last long.

In retrospect, I see how this early exposure to professional work left a sour taste in my mouth. I was employed by a for-profit education corporation that tasked me with keeping students in school even if they really needed to be, say, going to rehab (many of them did). The school also encouraged students to take out large loans that they would never be able to repay with the low wage jobs they would be qualified for upon completion. Despite working with some excellent people, the environment was predominantly unhealthy. It took less than a year for me to jump ship for massage school and a helping career that didn't involve shoes or a cubicle.

In the 10 years since, I've done an eclectic smattering of work that&#…