Managing The Intake/Output Balance

Today I feel like a knuckle that hasn't cracked in years, but yearns to. I feel a little wound up, a little like everything I've experienced this week has settled in between my bones and is now aching, to remind me it's there.

Photo by  Denys Nevozhai  on  Unsplash

Who else out there remembers being a kid and poking at end caps in the Target register line while your parent pulled out a well-worn checkbook, wrote a check, and noted the expense for balancing purposes later? Every time I write a check, I think about those moments, when things were so much slower and my attention span was still somehow longer.

I've been thinking specifically about the idea of balancing your intakes and outputs lately, and it takes me back to the lessons of balancing a checkbook or balancing chemical equations that I learned in high school. I always thought it was so interesting how things worked out in the end, as long as you didn't eff it up.

Someone recently said something about how we, as a society and as humans in this society, spend most of our days intaking absurd amounts of information. Pop yourself into the middle of Los Angeles, and your cup runneth over the second you step outside your apartment: billboards, bus signs, bus stop posters, banners flowing from behind tiny planes: it's all vying for your attention, and it's all getting a piece.

There are two facets to finding this balance that I've been working on: curating and creating. We can only curate what goes in - unless you're able to live a cabin in the woods lifestyle, it's almost impossible to remove yourself from the noise. From there, to keep the noise from building into a loud, rather dull static in your mind, it's essential to create. Let me explain:

First, Feed Yourself The Good Stuff

Are you feeding yourself well? Not just in a literal sense - social media is kind of like pizza and soda and candy. It's delicious and amazing, but we're eating it every. single. day. All day. We're eating it on the toilet. We're eating it in our Lyft, we're eating it right before and after yoga class and on our lunch breaks and even at work if it's our job to spend time on social media.

For the connected person, the junk food is almost unavoidable. But here are a few things that I've worked on to help manage it:

  • Unfollowed nearly everyone I am friends with on Facebook. Even family, even close friends. That way, if I want to opt in to see a friend's posts, I search their name and go directly to them. It also helps me realize when I'm just doing something to be nosy or if I genuinely care; 80% of the time it's to be nosy.
  • Avoided following people out of a feeling of obligation. I'm not the greatest at this one, but it's a helpful way to gauge whether or not I truly want to follow someone: am I following them just to be nice? If yes, then will their posts clutter my feed or make me feel overwhelmed or sad or angry? If yes again, just don't follow back. Ultimately, who's following who is not a marker of your friendship or loyalty.
  • Ditch the notification badges. If you can, ditch the apps all together (I've tried and all I've ended up doing is keeping a Facebook tab open at all times in my mobile browser...not very effective at curbing my use of it). If you must have the apps, go into your settings and get rid of all notification badges. Do this for email too - it will make you feel SO much better.
  • Don't knowingly harm yourself. If you're having a bad hair day, don't browse through lovely pictures of your friend with the gorgeous mane. Don't seek out drama, gossip, political bummers, or contentious people. Just...skip it.

When you find yourself sinking in to an old habit, try to replace it with a more productive or positive one. For example, instead of scrolling through Facebook, maybe click through to an article that sounds informative (and not fake) and give it a read. Go to a blog you enjoy, or watch an insightful YouTube video. Try to use as much of your "social media" time in a way that fills you up with good, healthy stuff instead of filling you up with greasy cheese and rage.

You've Curated Like A Champion - Now It's Time To Create

Don't cringe just yet! I'm not telling you that you have to create lyrical poetry or magical velvet paintings every day. 

Your version of creation can look any way you want. It can be through physical creation, or it can be a physical manifestation through movement or music. It can be organizing your home outside of the typical cleaning routine, it can be writing on a blog. Anything that takes you a few steps away from the mundane and gets your energy moving in a new way - that's the creation I'm talking about.

So no, sending routine work emails doesn't count. But calling a friend to tell them a story does!

Creating something, as often as you can, can help you balance the ruckus in your head. It's helped me feel a little less scattered, even on days when I create some terrible, awful things. (Seriously, some of the poetry I've written in the past twenty days of my thirty day challenge has sounded like poetry a third grader writes in hopes of getting it put on the fridge - and it doesn't even make the cut).

It helps you get all the bad noise out of your mind so that the true melodies can shine. It's so cheesy, but I think focusing on how I'm engaging and using my mind a little more, I've been able to see myself more clearly as a person.

And now I'm completely cured from consumerism and I only ever read sophisticated and intellectual things on the internet.

(Just kidding you guys - it's a daily battle that I regularly lose. But I'd rather be losing than quitting this one!)

Sending you all the love and balance that I can muster this evening.

Here’s The Thing About Doing The Thing You Want To Do

Today I feel like a leaky sugar bowl, like sweetness is coming out from between my jagged cracks and edges and softening them. I feel like a tired calendar that is ready to drop from the wall and rest.

Photo by  Joy Real  on  Unsplash

Photo by Joy Real on Unsplash

I’m on day three of my November poem-a-day challenge, and I am happy to say that I’ve written three terrible poems.

There are good bits in each one. One poem, about a terrible pearl, ends with the a reflection on nothing being left over except the work of living. Yesterday’s poem was about bivouacking, a new word I discovered. And today’s poem is about a sugar bowl that fell to the ground and shattered.

What I’m realizing is that things are more quickly coming to mind, things I never would have thought about had I not created this challenge for myself. Frankly, I wouldn’t be able to think this quickly if I hadn’t done the past month or so of daily writing on my blog.

And even though I’ve sent some pretty disappointing words onto the internet, I know I have so many more to go through. Like, probably years worth of awful writing before I get to the good stuff.

Which brings me to the point of today’s concise blog post:

In order to do the thing that you’ve wanted to do for so long, you have to do the thing.

And you have to be terrible at it, and you have to keep doing it anyways.

You have to look yourself in the eyes and say, yes, I am hungover and angry and drawing every blank in the world, but I must do this thing or else I cannot do this thing. And here’s the truth from someone who has been doing her thing every day for only 42 days: it’s awful. Some days it’s physically painful and you’ll sit at your desk and yell about how you don’t want to.

Those are the days that you just do whatever it takes to say you did it: even if the blog post is more whining, even if the poem is so abstract that a balloon wouldn’t bump into it.

I’m so, so sorry to tell you this. But if you aren’t doing the thing, then you aren’t doing the thing.

It’s something I’ve been told and every fiber of my being lashes out in defense and anger, but from where I stand right now it really is the truth.

There are so many days ahead of me that I will probably not do the thing. And there are deadbeat days ahead of me, but at least now I know that I am truly capable of handling the work, even at its worst.

Bad example: if you want to be a singer. Are you singing? It doesn’t have to be daily, but it helps if it is. Sing in the car, in the shower, in your designated singing room. Sing even if you’re hungover, and sing especially if you’re drunk. If you’re not singing even when you’re drunk, then you are somebody who wants to be a singer—you are not a singer. I am sorry.

I am, for all intents and purposes, a writer. I am not a good writer, but I write every day. I have been a writer for 45 days, but before then I was an aspiring writer. Before that, pretty much everything I wrote was emails, so I was an emailer.

Here’s the bottom line: if there’s something you want to do, do it. Sneak out of your day for a few minutes here and there and do the thing. Let yourself be devastatingly, embarrassingly bad at it, practice it, nurture it. And then get better.

November Goals For My Mind, Body, Spirit, And Relationships

Today I feel like each octagonal cell of my body is beating, pulsing to some autumn songs I will not remember in ten years. I feel yellow and mustard and ochre and marigold and canary and amber. A little burnt, but not badly. Cooler weather is here.

Photo by  Annie Spratt  on  Unsplash

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Tonight’s writing session will be short and sweet—it’s technically already November, although I’ll backdate this post so that it doesn’t look like I was up past midnight. I haven’t slept all the way through October yet, so I’ll take tonight as an opportunity to do some goal setting for this next month.

But first, a story:

I got a little kick in the pants this afternoon when I checked my personal email and found a newsletter from a poetry website that I never remember subscribing to (or even visiting). It was a call for contest submissions from new and emerging poets—with a deadline of the last day in November. I can’t help but feel like this is one of the loudest signs that I’m heading in the right direction.

So, at the end of the month, I am going to submit at least one poem to a literary magazine, with no expectations of outcomes or attachments to results. I’m just excited to do the thing that I’ve said, for years, that I was going to do.

Now onto my goals for the month. I’ve decided to batch them out into different facets of my life, not because I want to have a million goals, but because I want to stay balanced this month in all of these areas: mind, body, spirit, and relationships.


I really want to work on feeding myself healthy mental food. In November, I will finish reading This Side Of Paradise, and proceed to start reading a collection of poetry, maybe a collection of new American poetry.

I will also begin to limit my social media consumption without participation. That means that I can’t just scroll—I want to be posting, to be working a little bit for the rush. Stretching myself to take interesting photos or writing thoughtful captions will at least be a small step towards forming a more healthy relationship with Instagram. I know it sounds crazy, but my totally mindless consumption needs to chill out, and forcing my involvement will help me limit my time on the app.


Yoga every damn day, as usual.

But I also want to work on my other physical activity. Other than my little walk to and from the studio and my commute to work, I don’t usually get out in the world. I want to remedy that with a handful of destinationless walks each week. My goal for November is two walks a week, outside of work and yoga. Totally doable.

And, to my body’s delight, I would like to also set the intention of drinking more water. I’ll work on drinking a full water bottle before I arrive at work (I found it’s easy for me to grab a few sips at each stop light on my commute), one at work, and one more in the evening. I usually drink a full bottle after my yoga practice, and am okay about drinking one other full bottle somewhere in the day, so I’m ⅔ of the way there. Just need to be drinking one more bottle’s worth of water. Again, doable.


After a bit of thought, I believe this is the proper category for my writing challenge. I’ve found that my daily writing habit has certainly helped my mind, but it’s done even more for my heart. I’ve felt such a drive and regained a sense of self control throughout the past several weeks, even on nights where I write begrudgingly. At the end of this month, as I mentioned, I'll take the new and terrifying leap of submitting a poem for publishing consideration.

Other than writing a poem each day for 30 days, I want to work on discovering new ways to love myself. I’ve been so okay with disliking myself for so long (don’t we all do this?) that it’s definitely time for me to drop it all and just friggin’ love the crap out of me. This isn’t really a tangible goal, but I just wanted to share it out into the world so I can read this in a few weeks and remember to check in on myself. Maybe this is a reminder for you, too: you don’t have to hate yourself so much. In fact (and it is a fact), you don’t have to hate yourself at all—give yourself a little hug, because you’ve come all this way in life and I mean, come on, just look at you. You’re cool.


This one has been on my mind all summer and fall—I want to cultivate my relationship with my husband a little better, especially with the colder, darker months coming up. In November, I will spend one evening each week playing a few board or card games (I should probably tell him this). I feel like we’ve just been two ships passing in the night all summer long, and it’s time for us to drop anchor and chill for a bit. More yoga together, more board games, more coffee dates.

I want to touch base with all of my closest friends in November as well. It’s tough to keep in touch, and I’ve had much greater success with slow, sustainable communication versus a forced schedule. So I’ll set a goal to speak to one friend each week for an hour. This is a typical cadence for me, but I want to work a little harder to initiate calls and texts, since I could actually go for months without saying hello to some of my dearest people. That’s bad, I know. But I never stop loving them like crazy!

There you have it! What are your goals for November?

A Reminder For Structure And For Being Open To Changing Directions

Today I feel like a C on an otherwise brilliant report card, like a first detention. The vehicle of my day took a hard left in the middle of an afternoon joyride, and I’ve been trying to pull it out of the swamp it’s become mired in.

Photo by  beasty .  on  Unsplash

Photo by beasty . on Unsplash

I’m not very intentional about planning my weekends that work for my mind and body. A typical weekend looks like me sleeping in, sitting around for the first half of the day, panicking and trying to work for a few hours, going to the latest available yoga class and then dinner and watching movies and TV for the rest of the evening.

To say this type of weekend is unhealthy for me is an understatement. I’ve known it for a while, but usually by the end of the week I’m ready to stop thinking about anything and just go on autopilot for a few days.

Yesterday was the picture of pallid perfection as far as my standard Saturday goes, but I had some time-sensitive work to do today (and my husband was out), so my day was already feeling disrupted. The good news is that I got plenty of work done and avoided feeling too much like I hadn’t done enough. The bad news?

I started to head out to yoga for the 5:45 class. But muddled work-minded Emily forgot that the last class on Saturdays and Sundays starts at 5:30, and I had already missed the start of class. In less than a minute, my grand plans for a good sweat session after a rigorous work day were completely foiled, and my evening derailed from there.

So what do you do when your plans are a nonstarter?

Well, in my case, you sit scrolling through Instagram for a half an hour and zone out as Hello, Darkness My Old Friend plays on loop in your mind. I curled myself up into a tiny ball and sat with my back to the wall in our tiny hallway, trying to find funny memes to bring me a smile.

After I realized that I had spent over half of what would have been my yoga class just sitting in the darkening hallway, I finally pulled myself off the floor. If only you could have seen me—it was pretty dismal.

The rest of the evening has been a struggle to get back up to that productive feeling I had earlier today, because I haven’t known what to do with myself. But I did find something that helped:

I switched gears completely.

I had puttered around with some cleaning earlier in the day, but after my mind had melted like bad cheese on bad bread, I decided to dive into some deep cleaning that’s been on my mind.

I didn’t push myself to get back to work or to write or to dive right into a home yoga practice, and instead just started slowly scouring strange things in my apartment. I vacuumed under the couch (and all the upholstery that’s gathered bunny fur along the bottom edges). I took apart our living room box fan and scrubbed the blades clear of dust and fur, I vacuumed the air filter and the intake for our air conditioner. I vacuumed the blades of our ceiling fan and the only thing keeping me from taking apart our other box fan was a lack of the proper Philip’s head screwdriver.

I lit candles everywhere and diffused essential oils in the bedroom. I threw every knickknack that didn’t have a proper home into a box (that box now lives on my dining table and I’ll maybe get to it tomorrow).

I found a rug that I love on Amazon, and threw a handful of shower curtains into my shopping cart to show Victor when he got home. I actually threw quite a few things into our Amazon shopping cart without buying them—it just felt nice to feel like I had a little control.

I still didn’t have any structure in my evening, but I worked my way through, going from one action to another without any forethought or expectation. Basically I just cleaned the first things that I saw. I’m thrilled to say that the infamous pile of unsorted things in my room has disappeared thanks to today’s hard shift in my mood. I basically worked to use my unfocused mind and lack of structure to my advantage, instead of fighting against it.

Not quite a perfect ten

I’ve been feeling so well lately that this felt like a few aggrieved steps backwards, but I’m working on remembering how much I’ve appreciated the past week or two of feeling like a normal person for the first time in many moons.

Since I've been feeling a bit more levelheaded, I was also able to contemplate creating a shorthand way of telling my husband what to expect when he comes home to me in this bummer of a state.

I wonder if it would be helpful to have a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is fine and 10 is a full blown meltdown. I figured today was about a 5 or 6 on the sad/anxious scale, and that number made me feel better too. I don’t have to act like I’m perfectly fine, but I can also allow myself the grace of nuance. Plus, a 5 or 6 is manageable. The only answer to a 10 is putting myself to bed, and I’m fortunate to have only had a couple of those this year.

I think we could all use a little allowance for nuance in our lives—we can be functional at a 5 without ignoring ourselves. We don't have to be at a 9 or 10 to give ourselves proper attention. It’s a little tiny check in.

After a full evening of shifting my rusty gears, I feel myself slowly floating back down into a 3 or 4, and I’m looking forward to a good night’s sleep to dispel the lingering blues.

Just another manic Monday

I’m wrapping up this Sunday evening with lead-heavy eyelids and a half-clean apartment, and I know that I’ll face many of these same challenges tomorrow. Because Mondays, my work from home days, are a wild card. And it’s usually a rough wild card.

After doing some quiet yoga, I’m going to snuggle up in my bed with a huge mug of Sleepytime tea and my planner and set a few goals for tomorrow. A handful of expectations help keep this girl in check, and I’m getting better about setting reasonable ones for myself. I just have to set them beforehand, because flying by the seat of my pants usually ends up with my pants not leaving my desk chair.

(I stepped outside to take the trash out tonight, just as the sun was setting, and those 60 seconds were my only contact with the outside world today. Tomorrow I’ll set an easy goal of leaving the house for yoga and for one other small adventure—even if it’s to the grocery store or just a walk around the block, I know that will help me stay grounded.)

I hope you get a chance to do something that grounds you tomorrow, something that makes you feel accomplished and satisfied. I can’t wish enough grace for you, and for any day you’re anything but a 1 on that scale, I hope you listen to yourself and love yourself thoroughly.

I’m always a work in progress, and I’m glad that I’m back in working condition after today’s derailment. Sweet, sweet dreams my majestic friends.

Letting Go Of The Energy That Does Not Suit You

Today I feel as sweet as bubblegum pop from the aughts. I feel like stretching out on my belly and lipsyncing into a corded pink phone. Twisting my hair up into pigtails and calling it a vintage look. The kids will think it’s cool.

Photo by  Lui Peng  on  Unsplash

Photo by Lui Peng on Unsplash

It’s time to let it go.

I was at a beautiful party last night, and got to chat with new and wonderful people. One woman was engrossed in listening to what I’m doing in my career, and then asked me a question I think we should all ask one another: “what have you done in the last few months that has really brought you joy?”

Oh! I love it! A chance to talk about things that light me up outside of careers, a chance to explore my value and interests outside of my job title. Well, of course, I dove into talking about hot yoga.

The woman immediately shut down. After I told her it was yoga in a 98-100 degree room, she excused herself from my table and went to one only a handful of feet away—to talk to other people about how hot yoga was a terrible idea within obvious earshot. To make fun of it, and to ask everyone around her if anyone in their right mind would do it.

Before she left my table, she even had the nerve to say to me, sarcastically and mockingly, “oh right, I bet it’s TRANSFORMED your life.” Bitch, please. Don’t make me feel bad for being a person who’s found something that has literally saved me from my worst self.

Building outwards, not upwards

It sparked a long conversation between my husband and I about how we hope we can approach beliefs and energies that challenge our own set ideas. So many people create a base for themselves and continue to build upwards on those ideas, and never think to sprawl a bit into other territories.

I wasn’t asking her to try hot yoga, or preaching to her how it would change her life, I was talking about my own experience with it. But when you only build upwards off of your experience, you put up all the defenses when a wandering idea sets foot in the outskirts of your mind’s little town. Instead of welcoming it into the fold and putting it nicely within your city limits or setting it off into the rural areas, you waste your energy on reacting aggressively.

And that’s what Victor and I talked about. We spoke about how much of a waste of energy it is to be close-minded. You wind up being angry and defensive, letting the actions and beliefs of other seep in under your skin. It’s such a waste.

There’s a much more easeful approach. If you don’t think hot yoga is for you, let it go. Let the conversation flow onward. I will not judge you, and we can all have a good time. By holding on to your personal negativity about something, you’re draining yourself of the only resources you truly have: time and energy.

On my end

All that being said, I’ve spent a bit of time since that conversation dwelling on it. But I’ve been working on making it constructive—thinking more about what I can do to combat that mindset in my own life or how I can protect my own heart from sabotages like that.

I’ve come up with a couple of things. First, a proactive approach to avoiding that pointless drainage, I will work on staying open. One of the things that we practice in yoga (hah, if you’re not tired of me talking about it yet) is to let thoughts happen, and to not cling to any of them. Don’t resist, don’t force, just let them flow through your consciousness without grasping on.

We can use this when we’re faced with beliefs that challenge us. Be thoughtful about them; don’t shut out new ideas, because there might be something that can advance your knowledge about the world around you. Let new words resonate in your mental caverns and maybe they’ll leave a few residual bits of useful information. Maybe they won’t, but at least you let them in.

There’s so much defensiveness with the political climate nowadays, and no one seems to even be listening to each other. If we were able to have a conversation, we’d find that plenty of us want the same things: freedom, safety, the right to the pursuit of happiness. Instead, we resort to attacking each other based on sweeping generalizations and weaponized notions about one another and building our walls even higher so no new ideas can come in and shape our mental landscape.

If I could boil this down into one sentence it would be this: Be a student, always.

Know thyself.

I guarantee you will run into the proverbial hot yoga-mocker at some point in your life. Maybe he or she mocks your haircut, or your taste in music, or your religious beliefs, or your choice of pet without giving you the grace of an interactive conversation.

Unfortunately, you will have to spend some of your own energy to protect yourself from this. However, the more you’ve worked to know who you are and what works for you, the less energy you’ll have to waste on these pointless attacks. I know that I love my short hair, so I’ve become impervious to offensive and ignorant comments about how the length of my hair reflects on my worth as a woman.

If they refuse to hear you out, let that person be miserable or angry or jealous or an ignorant turd. That is their energy, and they’ll have to reckon with that turbulence when they see a new wrinkle popping up or when they’ve worked themselves up into a chaotic rush of negativity and can’t sleep at night. They’ll try to bring fire into your life, so don’t offer them your candles. Let them burn themselves.

All this being said, there are people you need to fight. I’m mostly talking about people who give you shit for liking something as crazy as hot yoga, but those who would willingly and gleefully do harm to others must be dealt with. Speak with them, arm yourself with knowledge and fight them, report them, cut them out of your life. This is worth your energy because it will lead to a better world for all of us.

So go ahead, be yourself. Love yourself. And don’t let anyone else dim your light.

The Ultra-Top-Secret Affirmations I Say To Myself Every Day

Today I feel like a buzzing reed on a soulful clarinet. I feel like a sun who’s slowly discovering her planets. I feel the dance emerging from my bones to resonate, once again, in my muscles.

Photo by  Fabian Møller  on  Unsplash

I celebrated the grand opening of my yoga studio’s second location this evening and saw so many of the people who I have begun to love all in the same space. I admire the way they all love each other, and felt full with the hope that I will only get to know them better in the years ahead.

With the challenge wrapping up (will she ever shut up about this thirty day challenge?), I figured that it might be a fun time to share a look at the way I conclude each and every yoga practice.

They’re little affirmations that I’ve carried, changed, and added throughout these past two hundred days, and after each practice when I'm laying in savasana, they’re there waiting for me. Starting with the first one:

I am open.

I love all of my affirmations, but this one always feels like the biggest reminder why I am where I am. It reminds me what I’ve been working on, and why I continue to practice. I am not only physically more open and flexible, I am also open in a larger way to the world around me.

This phrase allows me to ask for more patience with myself and with others, and encourages me to slow down my judgments with things like questions and context. It also helps me to “drop in” to my intuition without self-judgment or cynicism. I am open to experiencing things I don’t understand, specifically because I do not understand them. I am open to change.

I am healing.

This one came around when I first created my affirmation practice. As you might have guessed by my last post, I was in a dark headspace last year around this time and I needed the reminder that each day that went by meant I was getting a little better. If even just for the fact that I made it through another day.

But I’ve used it in the physical sense as well, where I’ve reminded myself that yoga is a healing practice (especially versus running for me at this moment in my life), and is good for my twiggy bones. I’ve used it to remind myself that I am gaining that weight I haven’t been able to gain, that I’m working more towards a well-balanced diet and hormonal situation, and of course, to try and stay positive about my acne. It’s a reminder that it’s all a journey, and that time and intention will certainly help carry me to where I want to be.

I am growing.

One day in class, I started to say I am healing in my head, and out of nowhere I heard a voice in my head say I am growing instead. It was my voice. She’s aliiiive!

That was a pivotal day in practice for me, because it made me realize that while I still have plenty of work to do, that I’m not as wounded as I once was. It’s not as important, and certainly not as helpful, for me to dwell on past emotional and physical injuries as it was when I started doing yoga.

Instead, I am now expanding upward and outward in new and beautiful ways, and I remind myself of that during each class. I still say I am healing, but remind myself that growth is happening alongside it.

I am capable.

This is the newest sheep in the flock, and it’s been phasing out I am healing. I’ve felt the need to shift into a place of self-encouragement rather than self-reflection. This affirmation makes me feel strong, and has been born of all these wacky thirty day challenges I’ve been doing. Because guess what? I’m way more capable than I ever thought I could be, physically, professionally, mentally, emotionally.

I am here.

This one is really rich. I always accompany it with a big breath in, and a deep breath out clearing any bad vibes or negative energy points I can feel in my body at the time. I like to imagine that a fish net is just scooping up all the crap and lifting it all out of my body with each exhale. If you’re open to it, practice doing this with each area of your body. It’s a trip.

I also use breathing here to spark myself into the present moment. I focus on my heartbeat, on the way every inch of my body feels in savasana. I feel for the electricity and try to spread it out into every fingertip.

The a la carte affirmation: by my own effort.

When I need an extra boost, I add on “by my own effort” to each affirmation:

I am open by my own effort.
I am capable by my own effort.
I am healing by my own effort.
I am growing by my own effort.
I am here by my own effort.

It feels so badass to remind myself that I have power in my life, and that so much of this would never have come about if I hadn’t decided to get off the couch and start. Of course, I can’t disregard the community of people who have lifted me up out of those dark days, and I could even add “thanks to this community” to the end of each affirmation as well.

I am open thanks to this community.
I am capable thanks to this community.
I am healing thanks to this community.
I am growing thanks to this community.
I am here thanks to this community.

When I’m done saying these sweet things to myself, I turn to my breath.

When my mind is already off processing my next thoughts, it’s a battle to spend a few minutes with my little brain factory shut down. I say these things alongside my breath to calm myself and remind myself I am safe:

I support you.
I love you.

I remind myself that my breath is supporting my life, and let the relief of letting everything go with the exhale is an act of self love.

If you want to create your own affirmations (or guiding principles, or mantras, or grounding phrases), spend some time in silence and let your chatty little ego chill out. Ask yourself what it is that you really need—Nurturing? Courage? Support? Kindness? Reassurance? Strength? Presence?

Let them come and go, depending on what you need. Don’t force something that doesn’t feel right—this is a practice and an exploration, not an assignment.

You don’t ever have to share your affirmations. You don’t even have to tell anyone you have them. You can say them after a yoga practice, or during your commute, or right before bed. Make them special, let them make you feel special. Because you are.

And remember, when all else feels hopeless:

I support you.
I love you.

If Not Now, When?

Today I feel dusty & dry, like an abandoned chalkboard. I feel like the hour hand in a clock tower, stern, slow, but forward-moving.

Today’s post is inspired by something my mother used to say to me all the time when I was growing up: “if you do that now, what will you do when you’re [insert age here]?”

Usually it had to do with clothing, specifically bathing suits. I wanted a certain bikini when I was 14, and I distinctly remember her taking one look at it and saying “if you wear that when you’re 14, what will you wear when you’re 16?” I think she thought I’d go full Brazilian cut by 16 and then just completely nude at 18.

I understand the desire to keep her daughter age-appropriate and modest, but the ideology of waiting until I’m older has been a rather unwelcome one in other areas of my life.

The present is not permanent

You see, I’ve been notorious about wallowing in the present circumstance as the permanent circumstance, and not taking action to change it. My gloomiest self will believe that nothing positive I do will change the future, so why even try? Thinking about how my older self will fix my younger self makes me feel overwhelmed and helpless, especially since I don’t know what future me will even be capable of.

If I was in a healthy routine today, what would tomorrow look like? I’m so hooked on the idea of some sort of trajectory that I forget that we can be in a healthy routine today, tomorrow, and literally every single day after that if we wanted to. We can even maintain if we desperately desire to do so. But honestly, growth will usually find a way to sneak in.

It’s funny, because you’d think that I’d be more willing to embrace new, healthy routines if I believed my present circumstances would be the peak of my life. I’m working on that—because really, what do we have other than the present moment and a few emotional suitcases full of the past?

The terror and the beauty of the fact that the present is not permanent means that this moment, right now, no matter how amazing or how awful, will pass. And you will tuck it away into one of those suitcases and maybe forget about it, maybe not. But it will fade.

When you’re future self is too much work

Another reason I was hesitant to start things like a regular writing or exercise routine was that I never felt “ready”. I always felt that if I started something, I’d have to suddenly be its sparkly-eyed devotee. I never felt like I had the energy to be the future self I wrote about in my journals.

But here’s another truth for you: you can fail. You can stop. You can start again. You can decide to never do it again. You can, even, fall in love with it and do it every day for 87 days and then stop for 87 days and then remember it when you wake from a dream one night and then start it back up again.

This has been difficult for me, because I’m constantly wanting to try new things. I tend to invest money in things before I realize it’s no longer something I’m interested in. Violin, calligraphy, weaving. It costs me a pretty penny each year to run this blog, and many times I’ve been frustrated to the point of shutting it all down forever. But it’s okay. It’s okay. It. Is. Okay.

Your future self will be your future self no matter what. She’s there, waiting for you to cut yourself a break and just play around, learning, challenging yourself, and loving yourself until the day you finally arrive to meet her. Then you’ll both journey on to meet your future future self. It’ll be great.

What I’m trying to say is this: don’t let your ideas about your future self stop you from doing something today.

And now for a quick chat about modesty.

Fuck modesty. I mean not really, but maybe a little. If your modesty keeps you grounded and provides comfort, then modest away, my love. But if modesty is holding you back from doing something that you truly want to do, like buying a Brazilian bikini or saying a bad word or starting a blog and just talking about yourself or taking a selfie because you look nice today, then that modesty is a false flag for shame. And a fear of what others think. And you don’t need that in your life.

If you’re worried about doing something or saying something because you’re not old enough or not pretty enough or not experienced enough, then your modesty is partying down in your headspace with all its friends: self-loathing, shame, doubt, and that asshole fear. Call the cops and report a noise violation, they are not welcome here and for fuck’s sake make them clean up their red solo cups on their way out.

Get to the chopper!

Do it now! I was reading through some random notes I had made to myself almost exactly a year ago, and I was so filled with fear and doubt that I just constantly said the same thing: I wish I could write. I wish I had the time, the energy, the knowledge, the experience, the comedic chops.

Don’t get me wrong, all those fears are still swarming in my head every day, but with one simple difference: I’m actually writing. You can be terrified of doing the thing and not do it, or you can be terrified of doing the thing and actually do it. You’ll be terrified either way.

But once I completed my first thirty day challenge at the yoga studio, I realized (in sheer terror at all the doors that opened up) that I could actually handle a daily routine. I realized that I could scale it to include writing as well, and my disaster-loving ego went into a tailspin. But if I write now, what will I have left to complain about?

If there’s something you want to do, commit to it. Tell your partner or your loved ones or your Instagram followers, and then do it because you have to (and trust me, you will not always want to do it, and that’s where it gets difficult). But do it anyway, and you’ll thank yourself for showing up.

And really, you do have to. Because if you don’t, and if you put it off until tomorrow, until next week, next month, next year, it may never happen. And by that I morbidly mean that something could happen at any moment and you’ll be out of time to do those things you always complained in your journal about not doing.

The discomfort of doing it pales in comparison to the regret you’ll carry in your suitcases if you don’t do it while you have the chance.

And if you’re too busy to do more than a few minutes today, don’t fret. We always overestimate what we can accomplish in a day, but underestimate what transformations we can undergo in a year.

Last year’s version of me was sad that she didn’t have time for a daily practice of anything. Today’s (still highly imperfect) version of Emily practices yoga for an hour each day and writes for an hour each day. Today’s version of Emily has been doing yoga every day, even just 15 minutes worth, for 200 days. She has written almost thirty hours this month. Today’s Emily can feel a six pack forming on her abdomen.

If you told last year’s Emily this, she’d be overwhelmed and maybe a little paralyzed, but all of this change hasn’t happened overnight. It’s taken 200 nights. And it’ll take hundreds and hundreds more before I can love myself and live fully the way I want to.

Not convinced? Here are some actual quotes from 2016 Emily who didn’t believe she could do anything:

“I keep self-sabotaging when it comes to the difficult creative work. Once we’re out of financial crisis mode, I need to reevaluate my relationship with work.” Spoiler alert: we never got out of financial crisis mode. There’s never a perfect time to start.

“I want to feel creative again. I want to feel productive and positive, but it’s very difficult now. It’s tough to not feel angry and bitter towards people who have regular opportunity to do something meaningful to them.” Oh, sweetheart. Oh, baby. Give yourself the biggest hug and the warmest cup of tea, get a good night’s sleep and then listen to me: you can do it. You can make your own opportunity. And you will. A year from now, you’ll be future Emily and you’ll be doing better in ways that will surprise you.

“I have no regularity or ritual in my life and I am living reactively to everyone around me. It makes me feel depersonalized and so tired. I need a grounding ritual.” YOU CAN DO IT GIRL AND YOU WILL I PROMISE.

“I don’t want to go to yoga because I don’t want to do any emotional labor. I want my life to be beautiful and bright and I just can’t even take steps towards that.” I still have days like this. But it turns out, the days that I wanted to do yoga the least were the days that were the most powerful. Stick with it, get uncomfortable, get stern with yourself and do the thing. Treat yourself like you would treat a child who doesn’t want to eat her vegetables, and make yourself do it for your own well-being.

Man, that’s enough of the sharing from my old journals. It’s really helpful to see how far I’ve come, but I’m left feeling so much pity for the poor creature who wrote those words. She’s getting better, every day.

I’ll leave you with this: The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.

If you don’t do what you feel compelled to do today, what will you say to yourself next year? Will you regret the wasted time? I know I do, but I'm working to be kind to myself about it.

Maybe you’ve wasted time, but you haven’t wasted too much time. You still have today. Go get em, babe.