Stop, Drop, Roll...and Surrender

When reading some blogs upon entering 2017, I kept coming across the idea of keeping it simple, using a one word Intention that would be your North Star for the year ahead. And of course because I’m suuper smart and know better than everyone else, I thought psshh there’s so much I want to accomplish this year, I need more than one word! So of course as life would have it, instead of the easy scenic route, I needed to be smacked in the head a bit with my word before really getting it. And when I mean smacked I mean repeatedly hit over and over.

Yesterday I was sitting in my car in the parking lot of my apartment complex. I was staring at my neighbors second floor balcony and had the extremely random though of, “huh, if I jumped from that balcony I probably wouldn’t be too badly injured” (quick note: I am NOT about to jump from a balcony, I have just been watching too many episodes of The Blacklist). Next I reasoned, while making my escape from a crime lord and jumping, I’d have to make sure I rolled into the impact instead of tensing every single muscle. After all, I didn't want to sustain an injury….I know i know, just go with me on this. I then said to myself “psshh there’s no way in hell I wouldn’t tense my entire body if I jumped!” Luckily, I didn't  have to, and so I went about my normal, manhunt escapade free day.

This morning I woke ironically feeling as if I had indeed taken that balcony dive. My entire body, while always in chronic pain is particularly severe today, and many of the interventions that I have been doing to improve the condition of it, were not helping like they should have. And so I promptly moved in to the fields of anger and despair. I started a dialogue with myself. Why is this happening, I do everything I am supposed to, I go above and beyond in my daily care routine, my nutrition, my sleep, I'm ticking all the boxes why does it sometimes help and sometimes make no difference at all? Should I just give up and not try? No, that feels yucky and not like something I’d be willing to do. So what then, I’m tired of having such high expectations and feeling so disappointed when it doesn't play out as I deem it should. Giving up though isn't an option either. And then a lightbulb went on. Surrender.

I used to think Surrender was this fluff term, where you just give up all control and have a idealist attitude such as “It is what it is”  and "Whatever happens, happens”. It’s only lately that I'm coming to fully understand the term. Surrender doesn't mean giving up, it means giving over, and there is a huge distinction in that. I realized It’s great that I complete the checklist of items I need to  in order to take care of myself. Where I was getting hung up, was that I was doing so and then not releasing the outcome. Instead I have a narrow view of what “should” happen, and anything that falls short is a failure. What would it feel like to take care of myself, to partake in the things I believe are helpful and I want to do, but then to step back and release the results. It may feel similar to I don’t know…taking the step off the balcony and then staying soft, rolling into, instead of, bracing for impact. Wait are you suggesting that my instinct of tensing every muscle before falling, is just a weird metaphor for how I live my life every single day? Ugh ok Universe i get it.

So I guess my 2017 word is Surrender. Surrender my beliefs about my health, my career aspirations, relationships. I’ll show up, I’ll do the work, I’ll keep fighting…but maybe, just maybe, I’ll also let go and stay soft.

Show up.

I’ve been thinking a lot about anger lately, I guess how could you not with the current state of affairs we find ourselves in. As with any concept that is huge and overwhelming on a grand scale, I’ve found it helpful to take a look inward, before worrying about all the noise that surrounds us, and what our part in it plays. I was surprised at what I found though. The past few weeks I’ve been treating myself and my body more gently and with kindness. Which seems pretty simple and straightforward, but in reality has really shown me just how much anger I've carried around my neck like a dead weight. My whole life I’ve heard the phrase “I’m not angry with you, I’m angry at EB” (my disorder). I’ve always wholeheartedly agreed, Yes! It’s my disorder to blame to, hate, beat up on. And with this came the split, the idea that myself (Corinne) and EB were two different entities. I’ve always been proud and held strong to the identity that I am not my disorder, it does not define me or limit me. However, I've just now come to the realization that actually duh we are one and the same. You cannot have me without my disorder and everything both “good” and “bad” stem from it, because it is the lens in which I experience the world.

I have always taken “great” care of myself. I follow doctor’s orders, I go above and beyond to constantly strive towards better health- to never give up and stop searching for a way to help myself. However I have always, whether I knew it or not, done so with a measure of resentment. I have done it out of anger and frustration, internalizing the message the whole time that I have to be hard on myself, push myself, do the things that hurt, because there is no other way. And I sat here thinking that “Corinne” was getting away scot free. That I was pounding on the EB beating it back into submissiveness, unaware that all along the only thing I was tearing down was-Me.

I always thought that the whole “love yourself” kumbaya tree hugging way of life was great as an idea, but just not something I had the luxury of experiencing. This shift these past few weeks has been scary, and yet something that I never knew I was so desperately craving. I’ve become much more aware and able to observe almost as if I am hovering outside of my body, the way in which I treat and talk to myself.

A good example, was something I noticed on Sunday. I was with my friend Steph (hey girl!) at a yoga event over the weekend. We were being led through the poses and I immediately found myself pushing my limits, trying to submit my body to act like everyone else’s, to do the poses no matter how much pain I was in. And then I realized, um- who exactly is it that you are trying to prove yourself to? What is it that you think you gain by hurting yourself all in the name of being “normal”? And so I watched the struggle. I would push and push and then, pull back. I took myself out of the pose and took a beat, only to find myself cracking the whip again. Each time though I was able to witness more quickly when I was doing so, and gently self correct. During one of the last poses I stuck it out longer than necessary and finally took myself out of it and sat back on my mat. When I did, I looked up and one of the assistants was right by my side, she asked if it was ok to touch me and then gently started massaging my neck and back. My gut reaction was to tense and guard against this touch, and then a voice deeper within said “relax” And so I did, I let myself be cared for briefly. And it was beautiful. The thing is if I had kept listening to the enforcer part of me, I would have missed this interaction completely. But by “loving” myself, and choosing myself I allowed for the space for others to step in and care as well.

EB, Corinne, whatever name is used at the end of the day we’re describing one and the same. Anger towards parts is anger towards all. Conversely, love towards parts bleeds into all.  And how can we expect anyone to show up for anyone else, if we can't first do so for ourself? We’ve heard the phrase “put on your oxygen mask before helping others” and the words hold up.  Self-care, Self-love it’s not selfish. By giving to ourselves we are then much more able to give to others.

As I sit here and realize that being mean, angry, and having hatred toward my disorder in essence is really hurting all of me, I can’t help but think of our society. Whether we want to admit it or not at the end of the day we are all one. What hurts some of us, hurts us all. Gabby Bernstein says “show up or it will keep showing up.” I think we are all faced with this idea currently…I don't have the answers to the large issues we find ourselves collectively in and I certainly won’t pretend to. I don't know what will come next, and what my role in it will be. I do know that without having empathy and loving kindness for myself, my totality, that I will never fully have it for everyone else that so needs it. I want to show up for my fellow brothers and sisters, but it all starts with one small decision first. Will I show up for me? Will you?

Pearls of wisdom from down under

So books save my life. Always have, always will. Gabby Bernstein’s The Universe Has Your Back-says it all in the title. I had the honor of seeing Gabby speak live at a conference in 2013 and her presence was palpable. I immediately connected with her and her message. Little did I know it would take me three hellacious years to come out the other side, in no small part to her and to the Universe. There’s a lot more I will be saying on my journey with her message and how its impacted my life in a BIG way, but it’s election night and I'm gonna keep it light and mostly dumb. And by mostly I mean completely… Our Founding Fathers might be blushing in the grave from how many times our country has publicly uttered the word ‘Pussy’ over the course of this election. They might even ask what the hell does an innocent pussy cat have to do with a presidential election? Oh by pussy that means vagina…got it…wait no still don't get what THAT has to do with an Erection heh heh I mean Election… I assume the Founding Fathers had the humor of a prepubescent boy. Anyways I digress.

So in honor of this election, I'm here to talk about my very own Vajeen. There’s a sentence I never imagined typing.

Last Thursday I had my annual OBGYN visit booked. I called the office before leaving my house to confirm the appt. and was told that my doctor was actually not in today and they forgot to call me to let me know. They did however have a midwife named Ursula who could see me. In my new state of “go with the universe girl, maybe this will be a good thing” I said um ok?

-Actual first thoughts when they said I was going to see a midwife named Ursula…darling it's better down where it's wetter take it from true Sebastian. So true.

So, off I went for my clam shell to be pried open and sent a quick prayer that I would fare better than my fellow sister Ariel had.

Ursula ended up being a lovely 61 year old german woman, and not a sea monster. Close call. After going over my history and getting to know each other very intimately, Ursula had some parting words of wisdom. And I didn't even have to pay with the price of my voice! (just my dignity that was on the floor alongside my pants). Sweet Ursula kept telling me in a very serious tone- I'm a beautiful person, to keep the faith, and hopes I find a good man and relationship. Amen sister and Right on Universe!

...She also hoped I was seeing a doctor for my brain i.e. Therapist. I assured her I was and upon further reflection imagine I was screaming out to her 1. I'm emotionally unstable AND 2. I need to get laid...honestly fixing number problem 2 might cure problem number 1

....lessons learned all around.

‘Murica! Freedom of Speech! You're welcome for the unsolicited Vagina Monologue. Like Ursula says keep the faith! We’re all gonna be just fine…

The Road Less Traveled

  I haven't written here in years and I kept thinking how can I just pick it up, so much has happened. Too much has happened. So I choose to do the only thing we ever really can, start with where I am, right now in this moment.

We all are probably familiar with the quote “ Two roads diverged in a wood, and I- I took the one less traveled by” - Robert Frost’s ‘The Road Not Taken.’ It has been a long time since I have read this poem, and so I went to Google to make sure I quoted it correctly. What really struck me however, were the opening lines. They read as: “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both.”

Wow. Yup. Lightbulb.

You see, I’ve always believed I had two lanes in my life that I would hustle and sometimes not so gently jostle back and forth from. Lane one- my body is physically broken down, I’m on the side of the road, and there’s no choice but to pause and get my hands dirty, slick with the sweat, work, and tears of trying to recover and gain my strength and wellness back.

Then there is Lane 2- Autopilot, where I can take my hands off the wheel because I am feeling healthy enough, capable and able to participate in my life the way I so deeply desire to. I’m able to show up for myself and for others. And I would struggle with how the pendulum kept swinging, sometimes becoming angry and resentful. Why cant I have both? Why can’t I be healthy and take care of myself physically, and accomplish, and do, and see, and be, without paying the consequences later on?

I thought there were only two gears, two lanes. Flying High and Feeling Free, OR Major Burnout, Danger Zone. Stop your gas tank light is screaming E!!!!

It’s only now that I am realizing there has been a third lane hiding in plain sight.

In this third lane, what if while I was feeling good, relatively healthy, able to create and serve others, what if, as I got to the top of the hill, I gently started pumping the breaks. Just a bit. Each day. What would happen if we took time along the journey to refuel and fill up our stores. That we didn't need a health crisis, or a crushing loss to send us to our knees and wake us up.

The past few years I was brought to my knees so hard that I began to wonder if the indentations from my fall would ever leave the earth.  I tipped to one extreme. Hustling for my life and my health became my 24/7/365 job for two years straight. And I had to, I was literally fighting for my life, but it did come with a cost. It didn't kill me but I lost myself somewhere along the way. And so as soon as I could I see-sawed myself back over to the other lane, trying desperately to fill in my life and my days with things that brought me (or used to) bring me happiness and fulfillment, ignoring when my body was giving me signals that it was tired and needed off the mat.

So about a month ago I started to surrender (not gracefully mind you) and I gave my body the break. I took the steroids I was so afraid of, I went back on the feeding pump (more on this later) and I got really still. I didn't have the numbing distraction of food, I dragged my ass to my yoga mat. I meditated. I prayed. And when I opened my eyes I realized I was on a whole new road. New and strange, but one that had been waiting for me all along.

I’ve already been tested in a small way by the Universe and just so y’all know I kinda failed it so have no fear I’m not Mother Teresa yet. Last night I finally felt inspired to write, which I haven't in over a year. And I was in the zone. My creative energy was flowing and my adrenaline was running and I felt incredible. Except that I didn’t. Because it was already late at night, I hadn't slept well in two days and I had been on my feet more than usual as well. I knew I needed to put myself to bed, that if I kept going, I wouldn't give a shit about what I had written or what ideas I had because I would feel so physically bulldozed the next day. And so listening to my wise self I went off to slumber town. JK! I didn’t! And everything I “predicted” came true. I woke up this morning feeling exhausted and in so much pain and who gives a shit that I had a funny joke using a Justin Bieber lyric last night?

So I did my usual dance of beating myself up and despair. Until I made myself get still, look at the situation with a softer lens, and magically the third lane appeared.

This is just a small example in how we can all be kinder to ourselves and to honor all of our parts. Yes self, I am thankful for your creativity and ideas, I will make a note of them and then put it away. Yes Self, I hear you, you are exhausted and the best gift you can give me right now is sleep. I will see you in the morning, projects, ideas, and to-do lists.

Whatever you are carrying be it good, bad, big or small, it will be there in the morning.

So try the third lane on for size. Get honest, start small, and then walk. Maybe one day you won’t even want to look back…

*Footnote- I wanted to finish up this post last night but I made myself take my own advice, shut the laptop and get ready for bed. I put on Lady Gaga’s new album Joanne while getting ready and the first lyrics I hear are-

Oh I could use some two or three or other kinds of way to be, but today I wont be so hard on me. I’ll walk alone down a different street and smile at all the new strange I meet

For those of you who know me all I have to say to that is….whaaaaatt?!


Won't you be my neighbor?

This time last year during the lovely polar vortex, due to recovering from foot surgery, I spent my days sliding up and down my apartment stairs with a chic garbage bag tied to my waist in attempt to keep my bum somewhat dry. I know how to party. IMG_0304

Leopard scarf with cinched garbage bag skirt...don't tell me I don't know how to accessorize. Also instead of helping me, Lily thought this would be a good time to capture the friends are the best.

In honor of the snow and bitter cold this week I thought this would be an appropriate story to flash back to…

~It was just another Monday, sliding up the cold concrete steps on my ass, taking solace in the fact that at least the left side of my body would be jacked and gorgeously toned by the end of this latest adventure. So I make it to the top of the landing, wheezing as per usual, and preparing myself for the final choreographed move in this daily dance with the stairs. It entails me swinging from my butt onto my right knee, making sure my right foot doesn’t hit the ground, than grabbing the railing with my left hand, pulling myself up on my left leg and swinging into the awaiting wheelchair.

This all goes down right on the threshold of my neighbor’s front door. I’ve never met this neighbor, but I once had a dream that they were French and in a band, and was seriously convinced for awhile that this wasn’t a dream and actually true. Well sadly that day I debunked that belief, for my neighbor whom I had never had the pleasure of meeting, decided to open his front door at the exact moment of *right knee on pillow, ass in air*

I don’t know who was more surprised, me that someone actually lived there and probably really could hear me belting out my version of Beyonce’s If I were a Boy at all hours of the night, or him, confused as to why this strange woman was ass up on his welcome mat. Welcome indeed. I did a quick awkward wave, because what else is there really to do at this point and he naturally averted eye contact and walked around me.

I really think we’re going to be good friends.

Same Old New Year

The New Year is fast approaching, and as society has drilled into us, it is time to evaluate where we are at in our lives and what we would like to manifest as we propel into January. I have many goals and ambitions for myself in this upcoming year, as I am at a point in which I am ready to make the leap  both in terms of my writing and potential work as a patient advocate. All of these goals and desires while exciting also fill me with a mixture of great fear and unknowing. Yesterday I was sitting in Freehold mall having shopped till I dropped, when all of a sudden a familiar feeling overtook me. It is one I have experienced many times before. When there is a lull, however small it may be in the roller coaster that is my health, out of nowhere a panicky feeling bubbles up within. I suddenly get visions of myself, snapshots from battles past. Me in a hospital gown, or IV’s snaking in my arm. It is more than just a image in my head, in those brief moments I am experiencing the moment all over again. It is visceral and unyielding. The first feeling that surfaces is usually panic, panic in not knowing when the other shoe will drop, when the next challenge will present itself, and feeling that this reprieve I am in is just too good to last. It always is.

But these feelings are not the ones that frighten me. Instead the ones that follow next are the ones I am always ashamed of. I have the thought of, “well at least dealing with a health crisis is a known entity.” It is comfortable, familiar territory. I am equipped to deal with whatever springs up and I am good at it. I am good at feeling horrible and having to puzzle through the next saga. It doesn’t mean I like it or want to be dealing with it, far from it. However the known unknown of my health sometimes feels a lot less overwhelming than the complete and utter unknown of what I call my “actual life”. The me apart from my illness. My ambitions, passions, goals etc. And I immediately feel guilty for thinking this way. Am I nuts? When I am sick all I dream about is feeling better and getting back to “normal.” So why then am I sitting here scared of it, of potentially even experiencing success and fulfillment.

When looking back in my journal I came across a brief entry from around this time last year. It seems to sum up perfectly what I have been struggling with lately.

12/2/13 -Why is it the things we really want in life, we dream about them, turn them over from every angle in our mind, imagine living out these moments- yet when they are actually close to coming to fruition, we are suddenly panic stricken and terrified? Maybe I don’t actually want this, I won’t be good at this, who do I think I am, or my favorite, I’m not ready. When are we ever truly ready for any experience good or bad? That’s why it is called an experience. We are learning as we go and deriving meaning from every encounter.

So have I learned anything in the past year about fear? I’m not sure.

I know that I’m more afraid of not trying than trying. I know when I ‘m experiencing a big surging wave of fear that most likely means I’m stumbling onto something great. That I can and should push forward and take the next step, be it baby or giant. And I know beating ourselves up for being afraid is counterproductive. We all have something we are afraid of; fear is innate and serves a purpose. It is what we choose to do with it that matters. It’s saying Fuck It and holding on tight for the wild ride ahead.

So yee-haw here’s to 2015. May it be a crap your pants terrifying, exhilarating, wonderful and brand-new year for you all!

Ain't no hair do crazy enough, to keep me from getting to you babe.

So I’m pulling out this story from two years ago because just a few days ago this almost same exact scenario happened yet again. You’ll see. Two years ago: It all started one lazy Sunday with Lily and myself. Lily is much more than my caregiver; she is my sounding board, partner in crime and all around badass of a person that I somehow lucked into having in my life. That morning I had asked dear Lily if she could throw a few braids in my hair; in attempt to get the beachy goddess wave look going on. When I looked in the mirror I could see she had instead given me full on snoop dog, going in a million crazy directions cornrows. After a gentle reminder that yes I am her sister from another mister, but no I do not have black hair, I shrugged it off knowing I was spending the entire day on the couch. So to complete the ensemble I threw on my Aladdin Genie Blue Adidas pants. Yes I like to describe colors based on Aladdin-Jasmine Turquoise is my everything. I topped the look off with my senior week shirt from college. Stunning. I then settled in for a nice marathon of USA network’s fine programming, White Collar. A few short hours later the phone rang from that same beloved Lily.

Me: “Oh hey girl what’s up”

Lily: “Oh not much, um I crashed my car and my mom and I are in the hospital”

I immediately jumped into help mode and asked what she needed from me. She asked me to bring a spare pair of underwear because she may have peed herself a little. Spoiler alert, this won’t be the last story I tell involving accidental urination. Anyways, I jumped in my car and rushed to the hospital, only to realize when I arrived that I looked crazy. I mean ape shit crazy. So in attempt to hide my ‘hurr do I casually threw on an off white beret I had lying in the passenger seat of my car. I’m gonna be honest here I think it really set off the entire look. Did I mention it was July? The next text I received as I was working my way into the hospital was “oh by the way Darrell’s here”

Darrell, oh ok as in your boyfriend and love of your life that I’ve NEVER met. And I’m about to meet. And I look insane. As soon as I strode through those ER doors, Lily started laughing immediately. I soothed myself by feeling happy that I could put a smile on her face in times of crisis. Hey, I’m a giver. I spent the rest of the day bossing around the ER nurses who were doing a shit job. I think my ghetto hobo look added that extra something to help them view me as a serious mature adult. Yes Nurse Jones I may look like an escaped mental patient but I know what I am talking about, and my father is a physician at this hospital. You paged him to confirm? He refuses to acknowledge that we are related once he peeked in and saw me? Oh.


Last week:

So here we are, almost two years later and it’s just a normal unassuming Monday. Lily had just finished putting a deep conditioning treatment in my hair and placed the plastic cap over my head. I sat down in the kitchen to answer some emails when Lily’s cell phone rings. I can immediately tell something is wrong and as soon as she gets off the phone she bursts into tears. Her mother in law was calling to say that Darrell, Lily’s now husband may have just been in a car accident. Lily is shaking and trying desperately to reach him, and I’m not going to lie to you guys, my first thought was, Shit. I can’t believe we are meeting Darrell again at the hospital and I am once again looking like some kind of fool with a madea-esque shower cap on.

It’s all good we can laugh about this guys, turns out her husband was fine and it was just some thugs scamming her and trying to get money from them. Just another Manic Monday.

The moral of this story is- friends before split ends.