find zen in a punching bag

It’s funny to think about where I was a year ago. Actually a year ago I was in a hospital bed trying to convince the doctors I rarely saw to let me go home. But on the other hand, I was also dead set on getting out of Maryland and moving to Colorado. And now, I’m here and I’m not sure why. Funny how something you thought you were so sure about ends up being the one thing you’re completely unsure about.

I was so sure that I just wanted to be here to figure my life out and just work. Well, I am doing that but it’s not nearly as glorious as I thought it would be. I did figure out where I want to be and want to do, but in the midst of that, I realized I needed to make an even bigger decision. Should I stay, or should I go?

Truth is, times are pretty tough. This whole “starting a new life” thing kind of has ended up being financial suicide, which is pretty untimely now that I’ve decided to go back to school. I keep wondering to myself, why didn’t I figure this all out BEFORE I decided to move here? Well, I guess I was just a bit naive. And that’s okay. Sometimes learning things the hard way is the only way. I followed my heart instead of my mind. In doing so, while this whole concept is incredibly freeing, it is incredibly terrifying as well. Staying out here is what my heart is telling me because I am free and I am afraid. My mind tells me to go back to Maryland because I might find myself out on the streets trying to teach my pet rats to do tricks to earn money if I stay here. But the fear and freedom I’ve found in being here in Colorado and finally figuring out what I want to do with my life has made me realize I’ve finally begun to think with my heart instead of my head. As irrational as the heart can be, I now feel free. Decisions are hard. I decided to follow my heart.

And I did make a few decisions. First, I made the decision that it really is time to get off of my meds and handle my anxiety in more holistic ways through meditation, tai chi, yoga, acupuncture, and of course the biggie: limiting alcohol. After dealing with this bitchy psychiatrist that I decided I never wanted to deal with again, I went to my primary care doctor who ACTUALLY LISTENED TO ME. He was completely on board with my decision and after telling him that I’m applying to acupuncture school, he was in complete support of me using acupuncture as an alternative treatment to my anxiety. Coolest doc ever, right? Doctors who actually support the lifestyle that you think is best for you is what every doctor should be, unless your lifestyle is hurting you, of course. He’s also the first doctor who hasn’t tried to scrutinize me for eating a mostly vegan diet by pushing me to take supplements and get my blood tested to make sure I’m healthy etc. etc.

Basically, I decided to take control of my life for the first time. Getting off of benzodiazepines is really tough, I won’t lie. There’s the physical withdrawal in which sleeping seems impossible because you feel like you’re heart is going to thump thump thump its way out of your chest because it’s beating so hard, and then waking up feeling hungover every morning even if you didn’t even have a sip of alcohol the night before. And there’s the mental withdrawal. Always on edge. Always afraid. Finding your anxiety worse than you can ever remember it being. It sucks, but I know that this too shall pass because I now know how to control it. I will be free.

Earlier this week, I had made plans to go hiking with a couple friends. Today, I woke up to get ready for the hike and I felt awful. Racing heartbeat, suddenly not wanting to go out, and still feeling hungover even though I didn’t drink last night (unless I’m getting Buffy hangovers, maybe I’m binging too much, possible?) Still, I wasn’t going to back out on plans because I wasn’t going to give into my anxiety. Once I got outside and we were on the trail and I’m 15 minutes into the hike and dying and hating myself (see JP Sears’ video about Boulder: The Consciousness Capital of the World, which also sums up what Boulder, CO really is like. Goddamn trustifarians, aka rich hippies), I looked out at the mountains and breathed in the fresh air and felt an immediate sense of peace. Sometimes it really is that simple, sometimes not. For me, getting outside and feeling the sun hit my face and breathing the fresh, clean air of the mountains reminds me to just be here, now. Sometimes it isn’t that simple. Sometimes you have to go Buffy on a punching bag until your knuckles are bruised and blistered and your mom yells at you that you’re going to get arthritis to get out that nervous energy. Because that’s all anxiety is for me: pent of energy. I guess also slowly dying on a beautiful hike uses up a lot of the anxious energy too. But hey, the mountains are still beautiful even if you’re surrounded by an entire forest that was completely burned away in a fire about 5 years ago. Deciding to live with my anxiety is freeing, while also being ultimately terrifying.

The other decision I made is that I still want to be here. For a few months, I had convinced myself that nothing was ever going to work out here. The job market out here is horrific and I’ve found myself losing money instead of making money. Finding friends that I actually like in a town full of college kids is pretty hard too, especially when you don’t like people your age. But when I see the red light shining through my window in the morning as the sun rises, and seeing the sun set over Horsetooth Rock after a snow storm, I feel peace and I remember why I wanted to be here so badly in the first place. Maybe not being here in Fort Collins, necessarily, but being in a different place where I’m surrounded by mountains and being away from the place that I had grown too comfortable with is enough. I’m trying so hard to give myself reasons to stay because it is freeing and terrifying and I don’t want my head to make me go crying back to my mom in Maryland because everything out here isn’t working out.

How did I decide that applying for a graduate program in acupuncture here in Colorado was the right decision? Well, I felt freedom and fear. Freedom in the sense that I finally figured out who I really want to be and what I want to do, and the fear of everything that goes along with applying to grad school when you’re pretty low on funds and looking at a $60,000 program.

Here I am now, a year later. This time last year, the only future I saw ahead of me was my delusional relationship with Blob, feeling sorry for myself, not knowing who I was or what I was doing, but only knowing that I wanted to run away, and so I decided to do that. Now, I’m away from everything. Free from my past life, mostly, ambitious to follow my heart and take the next big step in my life and willing to take control of my anxiety instead of hiding it under medications.

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One year ago

I found peace on a mountain top. I found it letting loose on a punching bag. It can be found even when everything seems dark and scary. 23 years later, I am free.

*Most people know JP Sears as that guy who appears on your newsfeed once in a while sarcastically talking about veganism or how to be gluten intolerant. I found out the other day that he’s actually a certified holistic health coach who specializes in self-empowerment. See his video How to Follow Your Head (not your heart).

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Today. Grateful. Free. At peace.

 

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The Official 2016 Wrap Up and My Unofficial Resolutions

My mom sent me an email this evening (okay like 20 minutes ago) wishing me happy new year and that she said (and I quote)

Hi! Am home this evening. No plans, but I have always hated New Years. –  too many expectations and unfulfilled resolutions. Am going to clean out my file cabinet in the den, as I always do for NY, and run the wood stove.
Yup. That’s my mom. She spends every new years eve/day cleaning out one filing cabinet in her house. Meanwhile, I’m doing laundry and plan on shaving for the first time in 2 months while consuming some NOT $5 wine and rewriting the lyrics to Wake Me Up When September Ends by Green Day (obviously, to be titled Wake Me Up When 2016 Ends). This may end up in a Green Day listening marathon and trying to awfully cover some Green Day songs on my guitar. Check the Instagram feed on the right side of this blog if you wanna see what happens after I’m through a couple of glasses. Sorry, Mom. I love you. I hate New Years too.
As far as resolutions go? Well, I did look back at my resolutions from last year (thank you, Facebook) and they go as follows:
1. Get back into yoga and running (I did not)
2. Stop buying $4 bottles of wine (any of previous posts will prove that didn’t happen. Sorry, but I’m a broke, unemployed alcoholic)
3. Graduate and move to Colorado (THAT I TOTALLY DID DO, where is my diploma UMBC???)
So I set some more realistic expectations for this year.
1. Seriously stop buying $4 bottles of wine
2. Reinvent my guitar career (via my room and entertaining my stuffed animals and boyfriend)
3. Overcome social anxiety (not sure how realistic that is, but we’ll see)
4. Climb a 14r. Definitely doable out here.
5. Don’t associate with sociopaths and fuckboys (definitely doable)
6. Get off of my klonopin
7. Stop vaping so I stop looking like such a douchebag
8. Not chop off my hair into a pixie cut so I regret it for the entirety of growing it out
9. Visit potential cities to move to (maybe just “city,” I’ll start with Seattle or Portland, maybe somewhere in Cali)
10. Quit therapy
11. Get serious about my writing career (you guys are reading my blog, aren’t you?)
12. Taxidermy something
13. Go to a music festival and actually have fun
Less realistic expectations:
1. Join Americorps
2. Move away from Colorado (yeeeahhhh we’ll see)
3. Overcome social anxiety (I put this in both categories, because let’s be honest, I’m such a social flaky croissant wreck)
4. Get tattooed by Kat Von D
5. Take the GRE (HAHAHAHHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA)
6. Quit drinking…………………………
I should really rethink these but really, I would like to thank for anyone who read my blog this year. You guys are awesome and deserve to be furiously happy with a cupcake and cherry on top. Unless you’re already there. Good for you.
And for real, RIP to everyone who died this year, especially my two 4 legged friends, Zeke and Gonzo who died in the same month.
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They didn’t like each other. But they were still my babies nonetheless and died quite tragically (Gonzo of pneumonia, and Zeke of an ear tumor).
Happy New Year everyone, I’ll be here with Xander and Finn and a bottle of wine.

things I do when I get catatonically depressed

  1. Look up pictures of fluffy dog butts on Pinterest. Corgis have the fluffiest butts, hands down.
  2. Watch my rats attack each other in their little t-rex way. The winner is the one who manages to stay up on his hind legs and push the other one over. The winner gets to groom the opponents belly.
  3. Pretend that I’m Adele and horribly belt out songs with my guitar. This isn’t so good for my self esteem. Note to self: do not record.
  4. Free association writing. Pick up some paper. Write down some random shit. Tear it up and throw it away (well actually please recycle it, unless you want to burn it, then that’s okay too).
  5. Eat something healthy because I know I really want to eat all of the cheese in my fridge and drink all of the beer I have. Strawberries and health tea make me feel superhuman for a second.
  6. Wear the comfiest socks I own.
  7. Put on non waterproof mascara and cry for the satisfaction of the emo look. It mostly just ends up being random streaks of black on my face.
  8. Clean my room. OCD tendencies are instantly satisfied.
  9. Pick up a damn book.
  10. Do not look at Facebook. I repeat. Do not. Look. At. Facebook.
  11. Read The Oatmeal
  12. Look at these cuties again. It was so cute I cried and sent the picture to my boyfriend.
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Holiday Blues and a premature 2016 wrap up

Well, 2016. You’ve been quite a trip. Every year brings new surprises both good and bad, but at least I can say that I crossed off some of my 2016 goals. And then dealt with some unexpected things as well. Wanna hear them? Too bad. Here they are. Continue reading “Holiday Blues and a premature 2016 wrap up”

that time I escaped a prairie storm and other West Coast/Mid West adventures

I finally made it to Colorado! Okay that was like 3 days ago. I got up at 3am on Saturday morning in Chicago after a 12 hour drive and booked it to Colorado which I knew would take me about 15 hours. Let me tell you: there is NOTHING in between Chicago and Fort Collins, Colorado.Except for the World’s Largest Truck Stop in Iowa:

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You could say he wasn’t very happy in Iowa either Continue reading “that time I escaped a prairie storm and other West Coast/Mid West adventures”

that time I wrote a blog post to stay awake in class

Guys, I’m literally falling asleep. I’m just writing so that I can stay awake. Help me. I’m trapped in a room that I’ve been in for the past 4 hours and I’m being forced to learn things.

Bed, I miss you. I’ll be there soon.

And yet I signed up for a 7:30am pure barre class tomorrow morning. Why do I do these things to myself? I only feel productive when I start doing the impossible. Like not sleep like a normal person then end up sleeping for 16 hours straight at the end of the week. Repeat the cycle.

I also kind of feel bad that I haven’t been posting as much as I have in the past. It’s been, what, 5 or 6 days since my last post? I have so much to talk about and yet nothing at all mostly because I’ve been starting to wonder if anyone actually cares.

So confession? I am not ready to move to Colorado. In a manic state, I completely jumped on the housing opportunity I found, and now that it’s become so real to the point where I can’t not go, I am fucking terrified. Cause first of all, there’s the drive. 24 hours in a car by myself (ok I’ll have Finn the rat with me, prepare thyself for pictures of Finn in different places across the United States. Like a garden gnome. But a live rat.) But I’m gonna need to stock up on some life changing cd’s to listen to because my car does not connect to my iPhone (hold on while I check the Apple store for fancy devices…..OK APPARENTLY ONE DOES NOT EXIST AND YOUR SITE IS STUPID SLOW). Hopefully Siri will also hold out for me on the way there so that I’m not stuck in the middle of Kansas chomping on corn and trying to hitchhike with a rat in tow. This is worst case scenario here, it’s worth thinking about. Like, if I were to end up hitchhiking, what things would I grab from my car and what would I leave? My ENTIRE LIFE is going to be in that car. I might leave my meds behind. I’ll probably take my 23rd birthday wine for sentimentality and a potential good weapon. And something to keep me calm (alcoholism at it’s finest that may or may not be left behind). But honestly I’d probably take my cast-iron skillet because that’s definitely a good weapon. You know. Just in case.

I think thinking of the worst case scenarios is what will keep me semi-sane. Blob broke it down for me when I was freaking out about everything I have to do before I leave (how does he manage to keep everything so simple? Nothing is complicated to him and I totally don’t understand it. It’s also nice knowing that he’s probably not reading this right now because he’s currently camping with his dog to contemplate his life. I expect a homeless man beard upon his return. Unless he actually just ran away and isn’t returning. Fine by me. I’m doing the same thing in August). So there is a lot to do but I think I’m just overthinking it. It’s also finals week. Granted, I have more time in my day now that I have an excuse to not wear makeup or make any real decisions about what I’m going to wear so that I can get ready to go anywhere in 15 minutes. Finals week is amazing in this respect. And unlike all the freshman, sophomores, juniors and newbie seniors, I am a burned out super senior who does not give a shit and goes with the motto of “C’s get degrees.” I’m ok with this. I’ve been in school for 5 fucking years. I don’t even want this degree because I don’t want to use it unless it involves me working in a rat lab (aka not working, just playing with rats all day and maybe make them run through a maze so that I can confirm with my boss that rats whose hippocampus is intact can remember where the treat is in a maze).

But anyway, yes, I will blog along the way to Colorado. While it is 24 hours of driving that I could do in one shot, why not take my time getting out there and see some stuff? How many times in my life am I going to drive cross country? Might happen again, might not, so I’m going to treat this like I’m not going to do it again. Who knows, maybe I’ll end up all the way in the middle of Montana because why not? Okay, my sister lives there so maybe I’ll surprise visit her (not really a surprise if I’m writing this here). And I’m going to be doing all of this by myself. No, Blob is not coming with me. Everyone’s been asking me that and he will not be following me. He may end up on my end of the country at some point, but no one is holding their breath for it. It’s fine. People come and go, but life doesn’t stop for anybody.

Besides kayaking the entirety of the Chesapeake Bay in high school, this is probably the biggest adventure I’ve put myself into. This is my rabbit hole. My head will come with me, but what is down that rabbit hole? Who knows. I might not be the same person I am today. I’ll go from East Coast miserable Emily to West Coast……….Emily?? I might still be miserable and anxiety ridden and still end up hiding under my desk because all the voices in my head are telling me that’s the safest place to be right now. But I could be someone else. Who knows. It’s a rabbit hole. Why not be curious?

My Wonderland awaits, for better or for worse.

Can’t you see the faces melting as the sun rains from their eyes?
Who are you to keep your head with the hearts that you hang behind?
Look at yourself, look in the mirror, don’t you see a lie?
That you tell yourself again a thousand times
And the truth that makes us laugh will make you cry
You want to die? No?
-Embarrassing favorite song from the All-American Rejects: The Poison from Tim Burton’s Almost Alice

 

that time my life finally started

So long Maryland! It’s been real.

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This is it guys. I have exactly 4 more months of living in Maryland and then I’m leaving everything behind. Even my furniture and my cat (sorry, Dexter). I’m off to Colorado! Everyone keeps asking me what I’m going to do out there or why I want to move there and honestly? I don’t know. My answer? Why not? I’ve never fallen in love with a place so much as I have with Colorado. The mountains are beautiful, the skies are huge, and the air is clear.

You know what I did realize though? I’m going to go through so many pairs of socks. And I HATE doing sock laundry. That’s part of the reason why none of my socks match, and it’s not just to annoy Blob. I just hate sorting socks. It’s a freakin’ scavenger hunt.

But this is a real thing now though. I found housing and I’m going to be signing a lease for a shared apartment in August! Ok so it’s not the greatest living situation, but for packing up my rat and all my clothes into my car and driving 25 hours and having a place to go to directly? Yeah, I’m ok with that. I don’t have to worry about my furniture or finding roommates or anything. Step 1 covered. Step 2: Get my car across the country without it dying. Step 3: Find a job. I got this, right? Who wants to drive with me?

In celebration of spending money on expensive things, I bought myself another hula hoop as well. Those crazy hoop tricks aren’t just for dumb rave kids, guys. Don’t judge so much. I’ve only found myself smiling when I’m inside a plastic circle lately. It’s re sparked my love of performance art and how much I love dancing. It’s freeing. And frustrating. I’ve only been playing with a hoop for 3 weeks and I can smack myself in the face repeatedly and do a back roll. But dammit I will become a hoop queen. And that’s why I bought another hoop for different kinds of tricks. I’ve never really had a real hobby before, so it feels so good to have this now. Every night, I look forward to pouring myself a beer and feeling some plastic roll across my skin while I blast all of my favorite music. These nights are better than the ones I used to spend with a bottle of cheap wine and a Netflix marathon. I go to bed so happy I have trouble falling asleep.

I’m seeing the world with new eyes. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. The world is slowly opening and I won’t have to conform to society’s or my family’s standards anymore. I’m about to live my life how I’ve wanted to. Free, nomadic, no direction. My only goal is to live and enjoy this beautiful world. I will never settle down. I won’t settle for a 9-5 job or buy a house and get married and have 2 and a half kids. This is my journey. I’m never going to settle down anywhere and I’m ok with that. If I find myself living out of my car, that’s ok too.

I’ve accomplished so much.

And it feels so good.