The Other Side of This Feeling

Oh, hi. Let me tell you some shit. 

I haven't been around because I've had kind of an up and down last few months, and not for any particular reason, just the usual depression and spiraling. 

It's not always easy for me to recognize when I'm depressed. When I'm happy it feels so natural, so deep, and so lasting that I somehow forget that depression is a thing I have to deal with from time to time. It's like when I get over a wave of depression I think I've made it - I'm done, all of my emotional and mental health problems solved, permanently.

But my depression sneaks up on me, slowly, gradually, in a way that makes it difficult for me to distinguish when I'm actually unhappy or when my mental state is merely tinged with shades of gray. I fall into a trap of assigning my unhappiness to things that are outside of me - work stress, relationship stress, etc. - and spiral into dangerous thought patterns that only fuel the fires of my depression. If only this person paid more attention to me, if only I had less work on my plate, if only, if only, maybe then I would be happy, maybe then I wouldn't feel the way that I feel. 

For months I've been ignoring the deeper issue at hand, until a couple weeks ago when I had a particularly bad episode. It was crippling and extreme and unlike anything I've experienced before - I couldn't bring myself to do anything, couldn't even write, and instead lied in bed for hours, my thoughts spinning and spinning until I fell asleep, woke up still tired, and finally decided that this wasn't fucking normal and that I clearly have some shit to deal with. 

I've been better this past week. I've been meditating and making a conscious effort to be more mindful of where my thoughts go, because my depression tricks me into thinking that my life is harder and shittier than it actually is. Objectively, my life isn't shitty. The rest of this is going to be self-congratulatory, but fuck it because I've been in a hole and I need to remind myself that my life is actually great right now. 

As of this past week my job has officially been converted from a contract role to a permanent full-time one, a full 5 months sooner than I expected. I received warm, enthusiastic congratulations from colleagues in San Francisco, DC, and LA, and honestly it still blows my mind that people even know who I am at this large behemoth of a company filled with brilliant people. 

Thanks to Timehop, I was also reminded this week of how much progress I've made physically in the past 2 years. I've lost 17 lbs., escaped the pre-diabetic zone, and am the strongest and healthiest I've ever been. I'm a little embarrassed to show this before and after picture - taken exactly 2 years apart to the day - but again, fuck it, because I had to change basically my whole fucking life to get to this point, so I'm going to celebrate it. 

I also have a lot to look forward to over the next 6 months. I only have 15 more hours to complete before I'm officially a 200-HR Registered Yoga Teacher. I have trips lined up to San Francisco, Austin, Mexico City, Denver, Scottsdale, and New York. Come August, my favorite people will be flying in from all over the country to celebrate my 30th birthday in Malibu.

For me, happiness is a choice. I know that I have all of the ingredients for a full, satisfying life. I have a successful career, a wide network of people who love and support me, and hobbies that challenge and uplift me. My depression is a distraction, one that I have to actively and consciously work to overcome. 

One of the goals of yoga is to cultivate a greater awareness of your thoughts, and as my teacher often says, to let go of the ones that don't serve you - "I can't do this," "I look stupid," "I fucked up," etc. It's interesting, because when I practice yoga, I'm focused and present and fucking fearless - I've never felt incapable or doubted myself when presented with a new challenge. 

I know that the work that I have to do is to bring this same level of attention, awareness, and fearlessness into my everyday life. To catch myself when negative thoughts branch and weave in and out of my emotional center, and remind myself that I'm strong, capable, and deserving of any amount of love and success that I want.

Yoga and meditation have been profoundly helpful, and every year I feel like I get a little bit better and a little bit faster at re-centering myself when my emotional state is in flux. Here's to continuing to find more ease and balance. 

2017 - You Were One of the Good Ones

At long last, my favorite time of the year has arrived!

This is my 14th year doing this survey, and it's like an annual time capsule that I leave for myself. I honestly think about this survey throughout the year, thinking about how my responses may change from previous years. Some of the questions are silly and juvenile, remnants of MySpace message board days, but it's a fun little snapshot of who I am at a given point in time and I've grown to really love it. 

Past years for reference:


1. What did you do in 2017 that you’d never done before?
I went to Berlin, Stockholm, DC, Austin and San Luis Obispo. I did a Yoga Teacher Training. I took a dance hall class. I went on a date with someone 10+ years older than me. I rode on the back of a motorcycle. I mailed a love letter. I tried acroyoga. I had a one night stand. Some other sex things, some other yoga things, like this: 


2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
My 2017 goals:

  • See a side project through to fruition. Kind of achieved? I definitely blogged and took more pictures this year, but the frequency still wasn't where I wanted it to be. I did, however, finish a Yoga Teacher Training, so perhaps that counts? 
  • Stop playing games. I still play games, but it's less of a constant tick than it's been in previous years. And I've definitely gotten better about being more present with others, participating and listening and engaging more actively in social settings. Which is sometimes exhausting, but more fulfilling in the long run. 
  • Stop being selfish about food, and other weird character flaws. Definitely achieved! And fuck, is it AN EFFORT. I've actually started practicing letting people choose what bites they want (even if they're the ones I want) and I look away when people take bites off my plate so I don't give my eyes the opportunity to appraise and panic. Seriously, it's an active fucking mental exercise, but I've gotten much better about it. 
  • Maintain grocery/exercise habit. I maintained the grocery habit up until I started working again, and then I got busy and then Yoga Teacher Training happened and then I had no time for anything. The exercise habit has been pretty solid though, I haven't gone more than a week without doing some form of exercise, which is pretty good for me. 
  • Set aside time to give back on a monthly basis. Again, something I maintained until I started working again and doing teacher training. However, I really really loved volunteering with 826LA and strongly identify with their mission of cultivating students' expository and creative writing skills, so I'd like to pick up a regular volunteering cadence with them next year. 

My 2018 goals: 

  • Find balance in the different parts of my life. There are a lot of things that I enjoy filling my time with, but I find that I tend to drop one thing for another because of time constraints. Next year I'd like to find a way to balance my different hobbies and priorities - work, yoga, writing, friends, cooking, volunteering, artsy shit, etc. Ideally I'd like to make space for all of these things on a monthly basis. 
  • Teach yoga on a semi-regular basis. I wasn't initially planning on teaching right away, but I think doing so might help keep me accountable and stay on top of my practice on a daily basis. My goal is to start subbing classes the first half of next year and then get on a semi-regular teaching schedule the second half of the year. 
  • Make an active effort to avoid behaviors that cause me anxiety. There was a brief period of time in high school where I genuinely thought I had an eating disorder. I've since realized that I didn't have an eating disorder, and that instead what I was feeling was an anxiety-induced lack of appetite. For the most part, I'm a pretty chill person and it takes a lot to stress me out or offend me, but when I do have anxiety, I get nauseous and I have trouble eating and it's a whole fucking thing. There were periods of this year where my anxiety got the best of me and some of the weight I've lost has been an outcome of that. But I know what my triggers are, so I'd like to be more careful next year of avoiding behaviors and situations that trigger me. 
  • Maintain a regular meditation practice. I use to pish posh meditation, but I've noticed a dramatic improvement in my happiness levels and sense of centeredness since meditating regularly (thanks, yoga teacher training!). Totally a believer now.
  • Finish my bedroom. I've been living in my apartment for 3-fucking-years and I still haven't framed or hung up any of my art, nor have I bought a queen sized mattress for my queen sized bed frame. I need to get on that shit next year. 


3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My Facebook is a constant source of baby announcements these days, but no, no one "close"  

4. Did anyone close to you die?

5. What countries did you visit?
France, Germany, Sweden (but only for like 12 hours)  

6. What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked in 2017?
A Senate that caters less to the plutocracy

7. What date from 2017 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
July 10 - when I started my new job! 

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Getting a boss new job, significantly reducing my sugar intake and leaving the pre-diabetes zone, completing a Yoga Teacher Training, and achieving previously unreached happiness and confidence levels. I've had a good fucking year  

9. What was your biggest failure?
See above, re: anxiety-induced weight loss. 

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I had two weeks of gnarly coughing fits this year, one in January and one in November

11. What was the best thing you bought?
My Yoga Teacher Training program 

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Mine. I turned my whole fucking life around, guys, not even going to apologize for being proud of myself

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
The dumpster fire that is our Congress 

14. Where did most of your money go?
Yoga, in the form of new clothes (SO MANY NEW CLOTHES) and teacher training 

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Getting a new job, my Yoga Teacher Training (HEY DID I MENTION I DID A YOGA TEACHER TRAINING THIS YEAR) 

16. What song will always remind you of 2017?
Leon Power - You'll Be Fine, EXES - Like You, Mating Ritual - Cold, Frank Ocean - Biking (Solo), Khalid - Location

17. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?
Significantly happier

ii. thinner or fatter?
Thinner, fitter, and healthier! Seriously though, this is the best shape I've ever been in. I fall asleep more easily, I regularly wake up before my alarm, I have better sex - it's like I unlocked the cheat code to my body (and vagina) 

iii. richer or poorer?
Richer, but it's an easy comparison, considering I was basically unemployed this time last year 

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
I actually can't think of anything. I lived a full fucking life this year, nurturing friendships, traveling, writing, indulging my ~artsy~ side, working out, etc. 

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Participating in behaviors that caused me anxiety (like stalking, let's just be real) 

20. How did you spend Christmas?
Watching a marathon of Christmas movies with my immediate family until it felt like my brain was leaking from my ears. It was a quiet Christmas, but actually really pleasant 

22. Did you fall in love in 2017?
I said this last year, but it still holds true - with myself, and my life

23. How many one night stands?

24. What was your favorite TV program?
Insecure, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Game of Thrones (minus the episode where they went beyond the wall because that was the stupidest, most plot hole-y shit I've ever seen) 

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
There are definitely some Congressional members I didn't realize I hated until this year 

26. What was the best book you read?
I read a lot of poetry this year and in sum they were great, but I can't pinpoint one book that really stands out as a favorite. I also enjoyed the readings I did for my YTT, but again, more in sum than an individual book 

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Mating Ritual, EXES, Zebra Katz (I know, I'm delayed), Leon Power 

28. What did you want and get?
A new job. A more stable sense of self. All of the yoga clothes and a variety of black leather goods (thanks, Christmas!) 

29. What did you want and not get?
Nothing. I don't want for much, but when I do want things, I tend to get them

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
Fuck, Lady Bird was so good. Also enjoyed The Disaster Artist, but Lady Bird is one of those rare movies that stays with you

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
The weekend before my birthday I got a table at Honeycut and just got fucking trashed with all of my favorite people. But I was in the midst of my summer anxiety session on my actual birthday, so I spent most of the day nauseous and starving. But I also saw Jimmy Eat World and Incubus at the Hollywood Bowl, and that was the best. I turned 29. 

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Mmmm. Nothing. I had a pretty good fucking year

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2017?
More black, more cropped tees, more shredded/revealing clothing. A lot more overlap between what I wear to yoga and what I wear in the real world 

34. What kept you sane?
Yoga, writing, and my newfound (yet somewhat inconsistent) meditation practice

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you want the most?
I was originally going to say that I didn't really have a celeb crush this year because I had IRL crushes that took up most of my attention, but that would have been a lie. 

Because Jay Ellis. 



36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Fucking all of it, like, what is this country 

37. Who did you miss?
There was someone, but it was short-lived

38. Who are cool new people you met?
Shout out to my yoga fam, love you guys ❤️ 

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2017?
It's absolutely necessary to be single for a period of time after getting out of a very long-term relationship. I was initially resistant, thinking my self-awareness had made me a more evolved person, but that confidence was misplaced. I needed the time to fill the spaces of my life with my own hobbies, my own dreams, my own pursuits, and I'm definitely a happier person for it

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Come on darling you'll be fine
It's just emotion divided by time
And as the world keeps spinning round
I'm getting twisted me to unwind

Leon Power - You'll Be Fine

I've found a new home in myself.

"The goal of yoga is to encourage us to be a little better than we were before. We must actively seize every opportunity that helps us to progress. 

We must accept where we are and move in the direction we want to go." 

- T.K.V. Desikachar

I live my life with intensity and intention. It's perhaps one of my favorite characteristics about myself. When I decide to pursue something, I put all of my focus and energy into it - at times sacrificing physical or mental comfort to do so. I don't half-ass anything. 

I haven't written in a while because I've been busy, putting my effort and energy into my work and into my yoga practice and into my friendships. I've filled the empty spaces of my life and have been feeling really balanced and happy and settled as a result. Things have been going so well, it's almost obnoxious - to be this happy, to feel this grateful. 

But the first half of this year was challenging for me - I struggled a lot with issues of identity and direction, unsure of who I was or where I was headed or where I fit into the world. So I'm allowing myself to feel this and to bask in the fruits of the emotional work and plain old "work" work I've invested my time in over the last several months. I'm allowing myself to pause and reflect on what it took to get to this point. 

I've done a lot of fucking writing this year. A lot. Which is saying something, because I've always written a lot. But I've noticed an evolution in the way I approach my writing - probing myself to dive deeper and to be more honest with myself. What am I feeling? Why am I feeling it? Is this anxiety? Is this anger? Is this stress? Is this love? What are the specific, individual thoughts or ideas that are swirling around in my head that are contributing to this emotional response? What are the actions that are causing them? Can I isolate them? Can I name them? 

All of the intensity I put towards my work and my hobbies, I put in equal measure towards anything I'm feeling - love, anger, excitement. And going through this exercise whenever I'm feeling any significant emotion has helped me confront ugly truths about myself - like the fact that I tend to assume the worst in others when faced with a lack of information - and has prevented me from acting on some of my worst impulses. It's also helped me embrace the best parts of myself - my confidence, my drive, my willingness to be open. 

Being more honest with myself in my personal writing has also helped me be more vulnerable with others, leading to deeper, more satisfying interactions with the people in my life. I don't hide what I'm thinking or what I'm feeling anymore. My shit's all out there, available for your consumption. And I actually feel lighter, knowing that I've uncovered and shared all of myself, everything I have to offer. 

So yeah, this is a lot of words just to say that I've been feeling more balanced and focused as of late, and I can see this new ease contributing to the success in my work life and the growth in my yoga practice. I'm happy. I feel resettled in my skin, finding a new home in myself. I'm enjoying the stability that comes with the confidence of knowing who I am, and loving myself for it.