Gut Smash

I have to wear really long shirts to bed, because if I wear regular shirts, and my belly falls out, it will wake me up, usually with a stomach ache. 

Sometimes when I drive I try to not suck in my stomach but I don’t like the feeling of my fat touching each side of the seat belt pressed into it. 

I remember when I stopped going off the diving board, one of my favorite activities as a kid, because I hated my belly jiggle on such a wobbly board, when I was so visible to other people. 

Today, my lower belly hung out of my shirt in yin yoga, and I wasn’t able to be ok with that. I’ve been ok with how not ok I am with that for a long time. But, I can’t yet just let my belly out, I’m not there yet in my recovery.

I want to be ok with it. I want to be body positive. I want to be confident and a good role model of body acceptance. But it’s too much. It’s distracting. It’s everything I think about. I have spent every moment of my life hiding my low belly from the world, even now, that I don’t hate it, I still hide it. It’s my pattern. 


I don’t like it. I tell myself I do. But I don’t. Maybe there is power in admitting that. Maybe there is lots of space between hate and like. I don’t know where acceptance falls on that spectrum. Acceptance enough to let it be seen by someone else.

I tell myself I am not trying to fix my belly anymore. But I don’t know if that is true. I know there is nothing wrong with it to fix. I know that there are much more deep reasons why I insist on being perfect, that have nothing to do with my body fat percentage.

I know that hating my body is a way to avoid figuring out what I really don’t like about myself. 


I know men find me attractive. I know I am sexy. I know I am healthy. 
I don’t know if I have stopped wanting a different belly. 
It’s just my pattern. 

I get stomach aches on Wednesday because, Wednesday, at work, I am in a room where I see myself in the mirror for hours, and I suck it in. 
I can’t not. I’ve tried. It makes it worse. It’s an endless loop.
I don’t hate my belly anymore. I just can’t deal with the sight of it. 
How do you define hate?

In yoga they tell you to put one hand on your belly and I just always skip that part. 
It’s not something that makes me feel more grounded. 
Acceptance is being ok with where you are now. 

Sometimes when I am working out, my high waisted yoga pants fall below my belly button and I can feel my stomach press into my shirt and I have to stop to pull my pants back up. 
I’ve tried to ignore it because it can get very annoying when your pants keep falling down, but I can’t bare the feeling of it. 

I can’t wear tight shirts. 
Yoga with mirrors require high waisted pants. 
Why does yoga have mirrors?

I think I have spent my whole life sucking it in. 
I think I don’t know how to release my abdominal muscles. 
I’ve laid in bed and tried but the jiggle bothers me. 
I don’t want it to. I don’t hate my stomach anymore.
I worked really hard to be able to say that.
But feeling it jiggle still feels pretty horrible.

I am doing a women’s erotic movement class and part of it is touching your own body, for your own pleasure. I touch my neck, legs, back, butt, all day and enjoy them, but I’ve always avoided my lower belly. I just kinda work under the assumption that touching it will put me in a shame spiral so I avoid it. But I decided to try it. I remember a soft, brief little touch where my belly falls over my shorts on the way down to my pubic bone, and thinking, you know, I can see why this is sexy to some men. 

I think belly fat is very attractive on other people. I usually think flat stomachs are kinda boring. 
I told a lover about my realization in dance class, but when he touched my belly I froze and said I wasn’t ready. 

I think I don’t like spooning/snuggling because it’s really hard for a hand to not touch my belly. 

I remember severe stomach aches from pretending like I was ok with a hand on my belly, until he fell asleep, I could move his hand, and regain my ability to breath until I could go to sleep. 

I am, as I write this, realizing I don’t sleep well with people in my bed because they usually touch my stomach, or I spend the entire time fearing they might. This has a really negative effect on my life and relationships.

I suck it in, my gut, when I am scared or insecure. It’s my guard.
I get stomach aches a lot.

Tonight, I was in yoga, and we laid on our bellies on a small squishy ball to roll out our abs muscles. 

Instantly the pressure was overwhelming. Every excuse I could think of for why this was injuring me came rushing up. I tried foam rolling my abs once before and had the same instant pain. I asked a Physical Therapist who was there if it could be bad for you. He assured me it couldn’t. But I didn’t believe him and didn’t try to foam roll my abs ever again. 

It felt like I was dying. Or should die. My brain screamed in fear. 

It legitimately felt like I was going to have a bowel movement, or vomit. Or that the weight of the world was sitting on my belly button. The area around my belly button, the area that holds the fat.

It was a soft, gentle, thin rubber inflated purple ball, and I was gently laying on it.

My brain was being forced to process, for maybe the first time ever, that that part of my body exists. I couldn’t pretend, ignore, or hide it. 

I took a few deep breath attempts. I have been doing a lot of yoga, meditation, somatic training, self care, and personal development lately. I am becoming increasingly more and more aware of my embodiment, and lack thereof. 

I asked “Is this pain, or is this trauma?” and the tears instantly poured out of my eyes. 

I watched my brain violently surrender into the powerful realization that my body was safe to allow my nerve endings in that area to accept feedback. That there is life there. That my skin and fat around my belly button was me, was us, was home. 

The overpowering realization of how powerful my thoughts, fears, and dissociations are to have created this actual physiological adaptation, to associate a part of my body with severe pain, merely because I have spent so long wishing it didn’t exist--- was nearly as overwhelming.

More tears. 

I felt the pain of feeling the area I swore away for 31 years, and silently chanted something like pain-fear-i love you-pain-fear-i love you. Labeling the emotions. And telling that skin, those little hairs, the muscle under my belly button, the intestines underneath---that whole section of my body that I loved it too. 

I have had my doubts about all this brain-body connection stuff. But this was real. 
This was logical. It makes total sense. 
And it allows me to feel so powerful.

I am not a victim of bad habits that don’t align with my values anymore from a lifetime of eating disorders and body dysmorphia. I am all powerful. I created this, when I needed to.  And the universe is supporting me in my journey to not only move past it, but gave me solid proof to surrender into the power of my thoughts, the knowledge of my body, and the interconnectedness of it all. 

This is another step on my journey to trusting the universe to support me. 

I have a feeling I am going to be able to start overcoming some of my body image barriers soon. Realizing that the pain of the exposure is real, but only from hatred, I can now slowly introduce to both the world and myself, a part of me that’s been hidden. And I can do it with love and compassion.

I might become a better snuggler, enjoy more variety of fashion choices, maybe put my hand on my belly or wear whatever I want to yoga. I might have even figured out some of my life hindering chronic bloating, digestion, and upset stomach issues. 

Your body talks to you. 

When I left yoga I was greeted with one of the most beautiful sunsets I had ever seen as I walked home, confirming that god/the universe is a cocky shit and loves me unconditionally.


IT LOOKED BETTER IN REAL LIFE

IT LOOKED BETTER IN REAL LIFE

Dear 16 year old,

Dear 16 year old,

Sitting there, on the curb, outside the house I grew up in, in your lifeguard clothes, with a check in your hand that is ripped up and then taped together: today is a hard day.

Your father tricked you. He stole money from you. He took everything you worked all summer to earn. He told you the bank wouldn’t cash the check, but he would get it right back to you. The check isn’t real. The bank wouldn’t take the check. He lied. You aren’t getting the money back, that doesn’t matter. 

If the check isn’t real, what are you holding in your hands?
How can you let someone convince you it is?

Being deceived by a parent feels a lot like you are existentially wrong, and it’s your fault. 

You question what real is. 
You question what trust is.
You question what being a parent is. 
You question faith in the goodness of people. 
You question your intuition, the one that knew this would happen, but you didn’t listen. 
You question why people are nice to you and what they want from you. 

Today you made a pact. Today you decided to protect yourself. Today, you decided that you are too old to fall for things like this. This isn’t the first time this has happened. You believe you should have known better. You want to separate yourself from the child who is constantly manipulated.
You decided to grow up today. 

Today, and everyday until you become the me who is writing this: 
You will not trust.
You will not be lied to.
You will not be wrong. 
You will question everything. 
You will need to know all truths without any doubt to feel safe. 

Dear 31 year old, 
Today is a big day. 
Today, you trust. 

Trust that--
You will never know any real truths other than
You aren’t wrong. 
You belong. 
You are loved. 
The world is not trying to manipulate you.
You are safe here. 
You belong here. 
You can breath here.

And that’s enough.


Boundaries

“Sharing the story of your horrific divorce on Facebook where your children, who are reeling in pain because of said divorce, can read about it, is not vulnerability... You don’t share your stories with people who have not earned the right to hear them... You only share your stories with people who have earned the right to hear them... Vulnerability minus boundaries is not vulnerability...” -Brene Brown

This is news. This is new.

There is a dark, other side of vulnerability.

I swear, the universe provides me with chapters of information—-units of study.

Part of my Somatica (relationship/sex/intimacy) training was to define a clear boundary that I hold.

I’ve never done this before.

I thought boundaries were for people who had something to hide. I thought I wasn’t allowed to hide anything if I was gonna be real.

Through quivering lips, and a shaky voice of debilitating anxiety that feels like an overfull balloon in the back of my throat, I’ve stood on this metaphoric stage and screamed in the faces on innocent pedestrians, all concerned with their own problems, and demanding—-this is me, take it or leave it.

And most people have left it.

I was trying to be brave.

And I feel nothing but rejected.

My improv troupe and I had a disagreement about the artistic direction of our project. They wanted to define how vulnerable is too vulnerable, and I felt alone, weird, and restricted, thinking——none. All vulnerability is good vulnerability.

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I’m overcompensating? Maybe. I don’t know. I don’t know if my boundaries and just bigger than the rest of the world, or if I am hiding behind vulnerability with…openness.

I’m trying to stand in front of this broken world and show you all my scars, but you don’t seem to want to see them. And I am tired of blaming you. I am tired of being mad at the rest of the world for being scared of me.

I think I am putting up a wall and calling it vulnerability.
The wall of all my flaws you haven’t earned the right to see yet.

At first, quitting seemed like a fear based decision, but now I think it’s growth. I think it’s me finding a boundary. I think it’s me pushing the limits of what is safe, so I can define myself——my art, my writing, my love, my connectedness with the rest of the world. I think I am finding real trust. Not based in fear, but based on communication. I think it’s me searching for an audience who I can trust so I can stop hating them for not understanding me.

So I’m not going to do this anymore.

Handstands, Eating Slowly, and Trusting People

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“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” ( Dweck, 2015)

“People in a fixed mindset believe you either are or aren’t good at something, based on your inherent nature, because it’s just who you are.” (sivers.org/mindset)

I don’t always have a growth mindset around my lack of growth mindset.
So now I am working on it.


Handstands:

I have been working on my handstands for about 8 years. I work on them about 10-20 minutes, 5-6 days a week. I don’t plan it, I just work on them when I feel like it. I also take adult gymnastics classes, and occasionally get some tips like--- the shoulders need to be more over the wrists, use your fingers to balance more, and, use your hips and shoulders to find balance--- all things I’ve been working on for the last few months. That last one, about using my shoulders and hips, it just never really felt applicable to me. I wasn’t really holding my handstand long enough to need to balance, justified my argumentative brain. I have become kinda ok at kicking up and walking around on my hands, I’m usually not very straight and I don’t really ever find balance, but at least I am up there, kinda. I’ve been taking more yoga classes, which, provides me with an often much smaller space than a gymnastics or CrossFit floor to work on them. Usually a strangers’ downdog is 2 feet from my floppy, flailing handstand, so, out of fear of kicking them, I don’t do many handstands in yoga classes. But, sometimes, I do them, and just insist I not walk forward or backward with my hands to find balance, but instead, keep my hands planted where they are. A few days ago, I kicked up in yoga class, insistent on not moving my hands, and my hips did a little wiggle for me to help me balance! Whoa?! That’s what my coach has been saying all along!---using my hips and shoulders to help balance. So, after a few days of continuing to practice NOT walking on my hands, I’ve gotten a little better at balancing in place.

Eating Slowly:

This is kinda the cream-de-la-cream for me and my eating habits. I work with an eating counselor, given my history with eating disorders, she helps me navigate the field of being an eater, with a body, in recovery. I told her about 2 weeks ago that I want to try and slow down a little when I eat, not necessarily because I am trying to manipulate my natural speed of eating, but because I want to be mindful, appreciative, and in the moment when I am eating. I wanna taste my food. This is something I have a history of being very bad at. Before I met her, and before Intuitive Eating really freed my from my severe restriction and binge cycles, I hired a very esoteric (and probably orthorexic) diet coach, that gave me very challenging mindfulness exercises to do while I was eating. At that time, if I was eating food, I considered myself a failure, and did not want to feel my body. My body felt numb, my body felt shame, and the only tactic I knew to deal with that was over eat or don’t eat at all. There was no space in my head for smelling my food, feeling my heartbeat, taking deeps breaths, putting my fork down, etc. But, now... now, there was. And I’m almost ready to celebrate them.

So I go to eat, and I shove it in, as I always do, and I shove in another bite, and I notice I am eating fast, and not being mindful, and the shame comes pouring in, and I almost start to eat faster, in response, in reaction, in fear. I want to eat faster because I am mad at myself for being a fast eater.

But, I don’t. Eating fast isn’t who I am, it’s just something I am doing, and I can change. About 4 bites in, I stopped chewing and felt the food in my mouth, the texture, the seeds, the taste. I don’t know if I have ever done this before.

Noticing something about myself, that I am trying to change, doesn’t have to mean I should belittle myself because I am not where I want to be. It means I have an opportunity to grow. I was honestly, so afraid to force myself to eat more slowly because I was afraid that I will just be mean to myself about it, so….I HAVE NEVER TRIED.

So I chewed slowly, noticed my breathing, noticed my heart, noticed the swallow, noticed which tastes were interesting to which taste buds. I think I forgot by bite 7, but that doesn’t mean I can’t come right back, whenever I remember.  


Trusting People:

I posed the question the other day, on my Instagram stories, Are you willing to invest in someone so much that it will destroy your worldview if they betray you? It occured to me that people actually answer yes to this. Like, there are people out there, who invest fully into someone else. This blew my mind.

I have known, for a very long time, how severe my trust issues were, but now I am really starting to understand how and why this directly affects my relationships with other people.

And I immediately felt mad. Mad at my dad for lying to me a lot as a child. I had my worldview shattered a lot as a child, and decided very young that everyone has a duplicity. And ager has been my tactic for a long time, but it’s not helping. So I thanked the anger, listened to it, and used it in constructive ways (for me workouts, art, music) as they say to do, because ignoring or suppressing anger helps it grow.

But I am still back to ground zero.

How do I make myself trust people?

How do I go into a relationship all in?

I don't know.

I thought about seeing a therapist, but I have been dismissing the idea for so long, (like I did with balancing my handstand, instead of walking it around, or actually just try to slow down my eating) so I decided to really sit with the idea of why I don’t want to see a therapist, with curiosity and I found out. I am afraid to meet with a talk therapist because, I am afraid that if they don’t understand me, I will lose all hope of being understandable. So, then I sat with that, and realized I don’t trust my future therapist to be a “good” therapist and the relentless search to make sure someone is “good enough” sounds exhausting. Hmmm. This seems a lot like dating.

Most likely, I would go into any relationship with a therapist, thinking they are guilty until proven innocent...as I do with lots of other relationships in my life.

My writing coach once asked me “How long is it going to be you against the world, Chelsea?”

I haven’t decided if I can trust her or not, but…

handstands2.JPG

So, How do I learn to trust?

Well, I’m not sure. But I think, it starts with trying. I haven’t been trying. I have been too afraid to try. And blaming other people. And hating myself for being where I am in this journey...surrendering into a category of I am a person who has trust issues so this is just what I do, but...I don’t know...noticing...and like trying.

The Trauma of Being Different (part 3)

When I was 4, we moved into a new home. Obviously I don’t remember much about the old place, but I do remember missing it, and I do remember trying to tell my mom about it. I remember is so clearly, it’s hard to believe this was 27 years ago. I was feeling sad, and nostalgic for our old place. I remember feeling it like an opening in my chest and a yearning in my heart. I remember debating telling my mom because I didn’t want her to worry. I remember wondering if it was normal to feel this. It was days before I decided it was worth telling her, because she must know this feeling too, and can sit with me in it. I must have said something like “My heart feels funny. And when I think about our old house my heart hurts.”
I remember my mom asking if I should go to the doctor. I was devastated at how misunderstood I felt. I knew this wasn’t something the doctor could see or fix. She said “Well, if you feel it again, let me know and I will take you to the doctor.”
She walked away more quickly than I wanted and I remember regretting telling her, and feeling so alone.

For the record, I have a loving, wonderful mother. She did nothing wrong and I am absolutely sure she doesn’t remember this. She probably thought of it was a rambling, tired 4 year old and she was busy moving the house.


I am learning, from my developmental pysch studies, that this was actually a very traumatic happening for me. The books I’m reading define how these types of misunderstandings from primary care givers are burned into our memories. It’s one of my first memories. I remember my little feet being on the wall, as I laid in my bed, because I lived in a finished attic and we had diagonal ceilings, as my mom walked away. She had her hair in a long braid, much less gray than it is now, and she was carrying a white laundry basket. I remember sitting there after, knowing I feel worse than before, and I cannot assume others’ have this feeling too.

I’m learning that when you are a child, you don’t have a large world view. The way you view your parents, siblings, etc. builds your entire world view. If your dad is mean, you don’t think, I have a mean dad, you think, the world is mean.

When my mom didn’t understand me, I concluded that I am different from everyone else. I didn’t know the words for curious, sensitive, intuitive, or open but I knew I was those things.
And I knew no one else was.
And I knew if people were gonna love me,
I couldn’t let them know that part of me.
I’m not exactly sure how to unlearn this, but I start now with practicing.

The Trauma of Being Different (part 2)

A few years ago, I went to a Bernie rally in Oakland with some sex workers I met at the Anarchist book shop. I was worried I wasn’t weird enough for them to like me.

I was like that in high school too. I secretly wanted to be friends with the metal, emo, goth kids, but I was afraid of being too normal, and they wouldn’t accept me. Whenever I go to The Haight, I see these humans, total hippie archetypes. Once, one of them yelled at me about Capitalism as I walked by because I was on my phone, looking for the cold-pressed juice place. I felt like a white, rich, neo-liberal yuppy.

When I got to the rally, there was a really long line for security. The people I was with started smoking pot and talking to each other about work. They asked me if I wanted some pot, and I was afraid to tell them it gives me even worse anxiety, and I was afraid to talk to them about their work because I wondered if I was a prude, while I kinda wished they’d ask me to work with them. I had packed my journal. We were in downtown Oakland, on the side of a street, and it wasn’t super clean, but I sat down on the sidewalk and started to journal about politics. There were some Trump counter-rally people there, and I was really curious to their motives. Once I started writing, I felt the need to cover it up. I kinda tilted sideways away from them and left the cover half closed. I did not want anyone to know how weird I really was...even though I was surrounded by people who I worried would reject me for my normalness.

Every breakup I have ever had, I decide I am just too weird for this person.
Something like…I don’t fit their mold, or
I make them question themselves too much,
I’m too honest,
I’m too harsh,
I’m too curious,
I’m too much.

The crystal healing guy’s comments, my overly self-critical response to my writing (which represents my creativity), another failed attempt at romantically connecting with the weirdest person I know, and all the research and reading I have had to do lately about The Attachment Theory, developmental psychology, and studying connection and relationship for my upcoming sex coach training…
It all kinda came to a head.

Why am I simultaneously in love with my weirdness,
but also, terrified to be different?

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The Trauma of Being Different (part 1)


He took a clear, log shaped crystal and rolled it from my head to my waist, about 3 inches away from my body and asked if I could feel the energy.
“No.” I said, “I mean, maybe, but my brain is just processing the strangeness of it. I’m only in my brain. I can’t feel any energy.”
He laughed. “No one has ever said that before.”
He looked exactly like a stereotype of a guy who works in a crystal energy healing shop in San Francisco.
”I mean, I’m skeptical to all this. I guess because I don’t really understand the science. But I am open-minded, and I believe there is a lot of things science as we define it, hasn’t been able to explain that are very true….but who really defines truth anyway?…
Mostly I came in because I like the aesthetics of crystals, and I am decorating my room.”
”Are you autistic?”
me, sharply ”No.”
more softly “Well, I’ve not been tested, but…”
I wondered if I was offended or complemented. “Look, I can’t imagine that other people don’t experience that exact same thing. Like, the energy one feels from a crystal is pretty subtle, right? Do you do that to everyone? Do they lie and say they felt the energy?
I know these random ass people coming in here don’t all understand how to embody crystal energy, and are also just decorating.”
”You are very honest is all.” he said, justifying his comment about Autism.
I weirdly felt both seen and alone.

We finished about 30 min of conversations in which he would follow me around telling me about the energy of each crystal, and I would tell him that I was just looking for the ones I thought were pretty and not too expensive, but I don’t mind the vitality or whatever it was to be bringing to my room.

When we got to the checkout, he made a manual list of all the little rocks, and medium size crystals I’d collected. He started punching in the numbers into one of those large calculators with the big black buttons from the 80’s. I took out my phone and checked his math. He looked up at me like a proud parent——slight smile, blushed cheeks “I’ve been doing this 23 years and no one has ever checked my math. It’s nice to meet someone who is different.”

This would make sense if I were back home, at Olive Garden or in the local tavern, in Ohio, but I am at an energy healing center in San Francisco.
I intentionally moved to San Francisco to be around different people.
I felt alone. And, again,
I couldn’t decide if I was offended, or complemented.
I still haven’t decided.
”You work at a crystal healing shop! I would hope lots of people are different that come in here!” I spatted.
”Well, lots of people are pretending to be different. You are different”
I payed for my crystals and left.

The world sure does feel like it’s filled with people pretending to be different these days.

Feminists who send me unsolicited dick pics.
Buddhist teachers who don’t understand Karma.
Fitness professionals who don’t care about health.
Parents who torture their children with anxiety and expectations to help them be happy.
Ally’s who make jokes about marginalized groups.
Musical artists who speak of politics but don’t vote.



@lunar__mermaid

@lunar__mermaid

Intuitive Exercise (A play)

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Intuitive Exercise

(A play)

The other day I was on the bike, in CrossFit class.
We were doing intervals, and when it came time for me to “go faster” I didn’t feel like it.
So I pulled out my bag of tricks:

Voice in my head (my critic): “Everyone is working harder than you and you look lazy.”
Other voice in my head (my advocate): “You don’t need to compete or compare.”
<<still going slow>>
Critic: “You don’t ever work hard.”
Advocate: “I work really, really hard at a lot of things, exercise is just not a huge part of my life
that I want to focus improving right now.”
<<still going slow>>
Critic: “You are gonna gain weight, if you don’t!”
Advocate: “ Oh, come on. Those are bullshit fear tactics.
You are better than that. That’s not true. I’m not afraid of fat anymore”
Critic: “Are you sure?”
Advocate: “yes.”
Critic: “Are you suuuure?”
Advocate: “yes.”
Critic: “Are you sure you are sure?”
<<Advocate is thinking.>>
Critic: “I wouldn’t still be here if you were totally sure.”
Advocate: “Ok, I’m mostly sure.”
<<enter shame for not being completely in-control of the critic>>
<<Still going slow>>
Shame: “Ruuuuuun! Run away!! Bike so fast!!! Bike in anger! Bike in fear!”
<<Still going slow>>
Advocate: “No, Shame.
I won’t because I am not afraid to be here, because
I am ok here with you, and I want to learn from you, not run away from you.”
<<Shame sprints away>>
Advocate: “That went well.”
<<enter Dopamine>>
Dopamine: “I feel happy.”
Advocate: “What do you feel like doing now?
<<starts biking fast>>

Relapse

It’s late February and it’s still really cold in San Francisco, it’s 7:36am and the dew is just burning off my windshield from the sun that is freshly in the sky. Squinting, because I left my sunglasses in my car. I opened my driver side door and the white and silver Athleta bag filled with empty bags and wrappers, of cookies, a hunny bun, a protein bar, a protein cookie, cheese danish thing, potato chip wrappers, kinda cowered under the driver seat, but kinda glared at me too.

I did myself a favor and put them away last night, I’ve done this before. I know how it works, and although it’s been years, it’s like riding a bike. I couldn’t throw them away last night, because I couldn’t touch them, twice. I can’t handle picking up each one individually, like cleaning up little pieces of your broken heart all over the floor. Like, choosing a closed casket, because the damage is pretty bad. I knew if I could put my heart somewhat back together to deal with it in one piece, that would be better for future me.

Past me is always looking out for future me. I would look more into that but I don’t know how to phrase it without saying “I should look into that more.”
And I am just not ready for any more “should” right now.
All the personal development books I read tell me to avoid “should” but I’m not yet sure if I should or not.

Photo credit: @Keitth.Harney

Photo credit: @Keitth.Harney

This time wasn’t so bad. I took the bag out from under the seat, I stuffed it down there in case anyone walked by my car, they wouldn’t know what a failure I am, not that I now believe I am a failure, from failing, but because this is an old habit. I used to spend a lot of time hiding candy bar wrappers and such. I walked about 30 feet and tossed it in the dumpster behind me. It’s over.

I am not mad at myself. I can learn and reflect.
I don’t know how it is with drug or alcohol addicts, but when I binge, I don’t let myself know it’s bad when it’s happening. It just…happens. It’s like totally lizard brain. Some animals freeze in place, when they are this scared. My brain did not work. I don’t remember anything, just getting it over with. That’s all I remember.

I wonder, now, what the convenience store clerk thought of me? How big were my eyes?

Back in my car, the only self talk I had was “Get rid of it!”
I ate so fast, the muscles in my face hurt from fatigue.
This is so shameful, and hard to admit.
That’s why the wrappers needed to not exist. They are the remains, the bones, the evidence, the shame. I cannot see them.
I cannot tell myself what I did is ok if I see them.

And I cannot get out of it if I don’t believe that what I did was ok.
That’s the big difference this time. It is ok.

Years ago, when I would binge and purge a lot, it was never, ever, ever ok.


Restrict > Binge> Purge> Restrict>Binge>Purge

I spent some 15 years in this cycle.
Desperate attempts to stop the binge and the purge, but not the restrict.

We live in a society that nearly forces restrictive eating
especially to women
especially to young women
especially to young women who aren’t skinny
especially to young women who aren’t skinny who self shame
especially to young women who aren’t skinny who self shame because we are told our worth is dependent on how attracted a man is to us.

“We try hard to do some good. But we should try softer.” -Andrea Gibson

I am terrified of how powerful we are.
I am terrified of how in charge we get to be of our own lives.

This binge wasn’t about body image this time. It wasn’t shaming myself for being fat, or too big, or too much, or whatever I used to believe.

It’s about control. I am so scared of the truth that, I can manipulate my diet, and my weight.
I have the knowledge and, more recently, the emotional stability to be able to do that.

relapese1.jpg

Asking myself (truly believing it):
You can be anything you want, what do you want?
It’s the most terrifying question I have ever asked myself.
I kinda would prefer to be a victim of fate.
I kinda would prefer to let things fall where they may.
Do I have the emotional stability to be able to know that I am completely and totally in charge of my life, and still not shame myself for not being perfect?
I’m not sure.

You don’t really have to ask yourself that, if you self-sabatoge. God, the subconscious is just so smart. Funny how the subconscious is still you. I’m not an expert at the difference. I don’t know who took the steering wheel, conscious me or subconscious me, last night when I had lots of free time and I realized could eat whatever I wanted, and I asked my body what it wanted and it said a salad, and I believed it, and somehow I made my way to the convenience store instead, and purchased as much junk food as my arms could hold, and started eating it before I was out the door.

I wanted to feel the safety of out of control.
What’s that country song?
Jesus, take the wheel.

Except, I believe we are all God,
collectively and individually.
And so I am Jesus.
Jesus take the wheel,
for me,
is just a shoving match,
back and forth,
with all the parts of me.

I don’t wanna take the wheel, right now.
I’m scared.
But I think I do soon.
And I think I will soon.
I just have to believe in my ability to steer.

I am attached to challenging myself for sport.

I woke up about 10 minutes after I had fallen asleep, again. My hips were sore from being pressed into the cold, hard ground. The orange blow up air pad I bought on Amazon for $30 three nights before kept deflating. It wasn’t super painful, it was just uncomfortable to feel the wetness of the ground, a sleeping bag, deflated air pad, tent liner and a tarp away from the wet dirt. It was about 47 degrees. My hair was wet, had been for 3 days. The rain and wind was ruthless. My little green tent, also purchased on Amazon a few nights before, was holding up surprisingly well, but the wind was so intense, the moisture in the air and condensation was just unavoidable. My body just laid there. I planned to try to blow up the air pad again, or try to shove my pillow under my hip, but as uncomfortable as I was, I couldn’t really move yet. I had been wet, cold, and shivering in the rain for 3 days. My body was exhausted. I’m usually a really great sleeper, and so I had no problems falling asleep, even during this time, but I would wake up within minutes, because my ears were cold, and my hips hurt with no padding. I managed to roll over and search for my headlamp in the dark. Turned it on, I previously learned how to reflect it on the green wall of my tent so that it lit up my tent enough to see. I found the part of the air pad where there are two nobs to chose between “inflate” and “deflate.” Excited to have figured that out, I fumbled with my slow, cold fingers to, extremely relieved, inflate it correctly this time and quickly surrendered into the pad. Unfortunately, my cold hips woke me up again shortly. The air pad still deflated.

If you read my recent posts, you know I have been dealing with anxiety lately. Nothing too horrible has been happening in my life, I’m just having spirals of insecurity, and overanalyzing myself and my decisions, mostly related to recent huge jumps in personal development. I am growing a lot right now, and my head is kinda spinning.

So I’m laying there like, “Why am I here?”

I used to really love challenging myself. I have been doing it my entire life. But I am starting to think, my life is kinda programmed around challenging myself. I am attached to challenging myself for sport. I am an adrenaline junkie, but I’m not really getting high anymore. And I’m tired.

It’s becoming so clear that it is now time to rest some.

The survival school weekend started to feel a little like a very jr. version of the yoga ashram experience again. It wasn’t that bad, but I was stressing myself out, and shaming myself for how dramatic I was being. Mostly because it was hard, and I knew it would be hard, but I was still mad at myself for putting myself there, and for not enjoying it more. Should I be doing hard things right now? Have I done enough hard things for awhile?

The other day I listened to a song I had used as an escape tactic when I was at the yoga ashram. It’s enough in the past now, that, it made me kinda nostalgic. I laughed, realizing, wherever I am, I want to be somewhere else.

So I laid in my wet, cold, green tent, listened to the rain pour, puddle and slosh, and tried to be ok with where I was, and where I am, why I chose to come, and where I will be.

This morning, when I was meditating, (I try to do 6 min every morning) I realized how I was really just doing it because that is what I am supposed to do, and I was waiting for the 6 minutes to be over.
I tried to just be ok with where I was, and who I was. It’s not even so much liking or disliking what is happening, but just meeting it with equanimity.

Photo Credit: Black Oak Wilderness

Photo Credit: Black Oak Wilderness

Allowing. Softening. Surrendering.

No one expected it to be that cold and rainy, like really, really rainy. I didn’t expect that I would need twice as much clothing as I brought, and that my air pad wouldn’t work. I think I thought this would help me to be a more worldly, experienced person. It did. I don’t know if I have ever been that underdog in an event in my life, and everyone else was very helpful. I learned things I never knew I didn’t know about fire, plants, birds, tents, water, clothes, food, shoes, knifes, people, wind, sticks, bugs, diseases, shelters…the list goes on. The school took a very learn-by-trial-and-error approach, which was communicated before hand, appreciated, and productive. I also had lots of opportunities to connect with really interesting people who know things very different than the things I know.

I’m not exactly sure what I was thinking when I signed up for survival school. I can’t remember if I thought it would be hard, or fun, or informational. It was all of those things and, as normal, dealing with the things that happen in between my ears during, proved to be that hardest and most important lessons.






I left this weekend with the question:
How much should I be challenging myself?
I don’t know the answer but I am pretty sure it has something to do with surrendering into how Ok it is to be where you are.

Time

Time.jpg

Time

I didn’t have an anxiety attack at work yesterday. Maybe the first time since coming back from Christmas. I learned a lot about happiness that week. The week between Christmas and about January 2, I worked about 2 hours per day average, some days not at all, some days up to 4 or 5. But nothing compared to my normal, busy schedule. I walked, read, did yoga, worked out, meditated, drank lots of water, ate a lot of vegetables, cooked, cleaned my house, got sunlight, was creative, hung out with people who fill me up, slept a lot, and did higher than normal amounts of nothing. I kinda surrender into an Ok’ness I don’t think I’ve experienced before.

I don’t think I’ve had such a chill week since…fuck…I guess ever. Since I was 14 and started working. I had had weekends away, doing fabulous things with overbooked schedules. And I’ve thrust myself into stressful meditation retreats.
Hot and Cold—I found a lukewarm.
And it felt so much more like perfect than anything else I’ve ever experienced.

Nothing extraordinary happened. I was just happy, joyful, fulfilled, energetic.

I dove right back in to my full schedule very apprehensively, and rightfully so, with some hardcore anxiety and depression. Knowing what I want from life, and not being able to have it right now, usually makes me blame and shame myself; a constant, soft reminder that things take time. And It isn’t my, or anyone else’s fault that things aren’t exactly where I want them right now.
(and that they probably never will be, but that’s a different blog)

So. Here I am, in the beginning stages of what feels like another big life shift.
I want to make my whole life more like that week.
It feels overwhelming, I know it will take months or years to simplify.
THINGS. TAKE. TIME.
I believe it is possible, and I believe it is worth it.
I don’t believe, especially now that I realize what I want, that I even have a choice.
I believe the cultural belief that this is a fairy tale and is not possible is toxic, designed to keep us making money and buying things we don’t really want, and is killing us.
But I can’t speak for you, so here is what I want:


I want more time in my day to be spent enjoying life than to be doing something that is some type of building for the future. Right now, enjoying is very little part of my life. I love my job, a lot, so I got sucked into thinking it is ok to give my entire life to it. It’s not true. Work is still work no matter how much you love it. I work a lot, and when I am not working, I am working out, or sending emails, or cooking, or cleaning, or trying to recover mentally, and physically from how tired I am, just so I can continue doing it. I want my free time to be free. If my energy is completely depleted, or I am ravished with guilt about how I am not doing enough, while I am doing nothing, that is not enjoying. I refuse to not enjoy the majority of my life.

I want to walk at least an hour a day. It feels so human. Yesterday was one of the first days I went on a long walk since my schedule got crazy again. I truly believe this is why I was ok at work. I think a lot of times people confuse “exercise” with walking. Walking is a basic human need and we should do it regardless of if we exercise or not. I will spare you the scientific literature, but I am sure it’s there if you wanna look. Walking is irreplaceably good for your mental and physical health, and I think we don’t do it more just because it is time consuming.

I want to do yoga everyday. (And/or gymnastics, stretching, intuitive/primal movement something.) I like it. If feels good. It makes me feel good. It makes me feel more connected in my body. The human body is meant to be moved and I know, for me, this is the key to pain reduction and injury prevention as I age.

I want to drink more water than coffee. I want to not need coffee. I drink coffee because I am sad and it tastes good, I get a headache if I don’t, I want to rest and I don’t have time to, I want more happiness from my food than my food gave me, etc. Coffee is not the problem. Coffee is a Band-Aid to these problems. I want to reduce these problems, not put on more band-aids. I, however, for the record, do not plan to ever stop drinking coffee. I just force myself to drink a full glass of water between each cup. It’s actually been pretty successful in the past couple days! Try it?

I want to meditate daily. There is no point in meditation, it’s just time spent doing as least amount as possible, which seems like a worthy way to spend time.

I want to go to sleep when I am tired and wake up when I am not.

I want to workout daily.

I want to be outside a lot.

I want to have the energy to coach my kids as well as they deserve.

I want to have a full day of the week off with no plans. Like, wake up and be like “What do I feel like doing today?”

I wanna cook. I really like cooking. I just have a lot of fear and anxiety about losing time and often feel like it’s not worth it.

I want time to not be such a commodity.

Self Portrait

Anxiety Chelsea is  

a storm that is talked about for days. Destroys homes, and kills a friend of a friend. You are thankful you are safe as you watch Channel 10 explain the GoFundMe account made for the guy’s family and you do the math to see how many years older he was than you. 

Playful Chelsea is  

a baby zombie that gets bored quickly, animated with colossal spurts of curiosity that end abruptly. 

Living in the Future/ Happy Chelsea is 

the last day of your PhD program, the actual day; the day before you have that paper.  

Nihilism Chelsea is 

that pair of Chuck Taylors in your closet, half a size too small, you wear them from time to time because they don’t hurt when you first put them on, but they chafe the top of your pinky toe every time, so you only wear them on occasions when you don’t have to walk that much. 

Workout Chelsea is 

the bird that you watched when you didn’t need anything better to do. 

Tired Chelsea is 

a 6 year old fix-a-flat patch that still works pretty well but is declining. 

Zen Chelsea is 

the color white. 

Sexual Chelsea is 

the noise you beg to hear, in a late 90’s model brown Chevy four door, with tan interior, that won't start, when the engine revs but doesn’t turn over. 

Writing Chelsea is 

a tidal wave in the ocean, the powerful influx that breaks with white crashing energy well before reaching the sand, at 3 am, in the dark, when no humans are around and the coyotes heard it and didn’t think twice. 

Overwhelmed Chelsea is

“beep, beep, beep, beep, beep.”
That noise. Is it a car in the distance, or a stopwatch, or a phone? A TV? Where is it coming from? It has no pattern. Sometimes it goes for minutes straight, sometimes just twice. 

5am Chelsea is

a bowing bookshelf.

Coaching Chelsea is

a 4 year old child in an art class, before they would be accidentally forced to use art to stop trusting themselves a few years later, just so that they can, as an adult, learn to use art again, to heal themselves. 

Sunshine Chelsea is 

absorption.

Not in control of the situation Chelsea is 

blocks. Big, heavy, black steel cubes. Taller than you. Planted in inconvenient places. The ones always in your dreams. 

Too afraid to speak Chelsea is 

also an angry, screaming, white feminist with no bra, dreadlocks, and a peace sign tattoo, printed T-shirts she only hopes to understand, and good intentions. 

Need 3 Aleve to get through the rest of the day, not because she is sick, but because she is simultaneously bored and tired, and sad, and somehow it just seems like it will help a little Chelsea is 

those seconds, when the roller coaster is over and you have to sit there and wait for the 16 year old worker who smells like borrowed cigarettes and BubbleYum to come back and unlatch the large, intrusive yellow plastic container over your chest. 

Sitting on her parent’s couch Chelsea is

a soldier’s dream about saying goodbye to his lover, during “Don’t ask, don’t tell” 

With her best friend Chelsea is 

superman naked, and with nothing to do. 

Figuring out something important Chelsea is

the baby in the stroller at the grocery story, who, despite the hustle of everyone around him, is ok to stare off into nothingness for hours.

Dating Chelsea is 

the wrinkled white raincoat kept in your trunk; an exciting thrift store purchase 3 years ago, just in case.

Seeing a notification that she was tagged in a photo on Facebook Chelsea is 

the feeling in your stomach, in high school, when you are walking away from an exam you finished, that you guessed a lot on. 

Trying to get dressed Chelsea is

using a “no filter” hashtag on Instagram, with just a teeny bit of a filter.

 Wasting time on social media Chelsea is 

coffee with just slightly too much creamer, on a bad day

Afraid she is not a good person Chelsea is 

obedient, sweaty hands as you walk into the absurdly quiet hall starting your all day meditation retreat.

He hasn’t responded to her text yet Chelsea is 

dark air; ominous, black--- the air is black yet clear, room of mirrors. 

The air is enough Chelsea is 

when someone you love says “no matter what,” and you can believe them. 

BA319A09-5C40-4E96-A072-555714C0B0A7.JPG
 

It's a No for Me, Thanks

Speak your truth quietly and clearly. -Max Ehrmann, The Desiderata, 1952

a few happenings
in chronological order,
and below them,
why that matters:

photo credit: @Keith.Harney

photo credit: @Keith.Harney

  • My improv troupe was emailing to schedule a rehearsal. We couldn’t find a time for everyone to be able to make it, and so we decided to schedule a time when the the most amount of people could be there. One member of the group, who was planning to come, upon learning that everyone could not make it during the scheduled time, chimed in and said “It’s a no for me, thanks. I only have so much time and I want to only be there when everyone can to make full use of my time.”

This blew my mind. It caught me off guard. Firstly, they knew their choice was most likely going to result in us not having rehearsal that day. But they also knew that they weren’t actually making that decision, they were just honoring their truth, and setting their own boundaries, and then letting everyone else make theirs. I had a lot of trouble imagining myself every being that brave. I imagined, in this situation, I wouldn’t have even let myself have a personal opinion about something that effects the group. If I did have a strong opinion, I would swallow it. And if I didn’t dismiss it, it would have probably been a meek something like “Oh. Bummer. I would have really liked to get everyone together. But ok”

  • I was talking with an internet friend (You know what that is right? Someone you only know online but interact with often.) about being home for Christmas and how often, around my family, I have to just shut my mouth and smile. He asked me why I don’t feel safe expressing my opinion and I told him that it feels like I am trying to put my opinion on other people when I do. He said “Well, are you?”

I’ve always loved that quote from The Desiderata, but I was never sure how quiet I was supposed to let my truths be. I’d been used to either screaming them or burying them. But, after this question was posed, I started to see the “quiet” part isn’t anything to do with volume, or intensity.

I learned there is a big difference in speaking your opinion because you have the right to, and it is your opinion to do with freely, and speaking your opinion because you are trying to change/convince/fix/teach/correct/one up someone or something.

The sucky part is, yea, usually when I feel restricted from saying something, it is because I actually want to impose my opinion on them. Checking in with that, realizing it, and letting go of trying to change them, has really allowed me to feel safe in my thoughts, and safe creating my own boundaries, without the guilt or shame of self righteousness.

  • My friend was coming over to go to a poetry reading with me. He wanted to go to the beach, and then go to the poetry reading. I wanted to go to yoga and then the poetry reading. I told him he should go to the beach, and I will go to yoga, and then we will go to poetry reading together.

Previously, I would have definitely canceled yoga plans, and had 3 anxiety attacks about being rude or inconveniencing him. He was fine, loved the beach, happy I communicated, and I loved yoga.

I also realized, I don’t really need to over explain myself. I just wanna go to yoga. I didn’t need to justify that, to him or to myself.

  • I am arranging a new group with an improv idea I came up with. I emailed some people and asked if they were interested. They said they are but need some more information. I didn’t really have much more than an idea but I made some up.

High on my new found confidence and sense of voice, I took over executive decisions over a project I CREATED. What?! Previously, I would have been so worried that I was being bossy, that I would have spent 20 emails asking opinions and unnecessarily making polls about things that, turns out, people don’t have strong opinions about. How dare I make decisions about my own projects!?

  • A friend messaged me on Facebook and asked if I wanted to start running with her. I said I would like to, but I just really don’t think getting us together for it will work in my schedule right now, and thanked her for the inquiry.

I didn’t want to be rude or disappoint her, but I realized, this was just my truth, and maybe it’s not what she wants to hear, but I have to just speak it because, having anxiety around my truth doesn’t make it any less true.

  • I went to this place that blasts you with frozen nitrogen air. It is supposed to help with circulation and other things when you stand in it for 3 minutes. They have a first-time-deal that is pretty cheap. After the session, the worker gave me a packet and information and started talking about me coming back. I told her I wasn’t interested. I was trying it out of curiosity and because the intro deal, and I enjoyed it but don’t plan to come back.

This one was the icing on the cake, we both won. I left without packets of information to throw away, and she didn’t waste her time. I truly think, two weeks ago, I would have pretended to listen to just “Be polite.”

“It’s more considerate to interrupt people than to pretend to listen.” -Marshall Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication

Turning Men Into Poems

Second Date  
His room smelled like his neck
nervous pheromones
unsuccessfully masked
by unscented gender neutral deodorant.    
I liked it so much
that
I pressed my nose
into that spot
behind his ear,
energy shivered
cold circuits
throughout my body.
He fiddled
with his laptop
when I came
back from the bathroom.
Pressing more
keys than he needed to,
he said
his music is as weird as he is
through the teeth of
a nervous exhale.
We listened, acting
like the hollow muscular cave
inside both our chests weren’t
chattering.
I don’t remember the music.
I knew
how permanent of a choice
this had been
in the past-
Coming
into a man’s bedroom.

Don’t you
ever just want more from a person?
I admitted
“Look. My femininity isn’t casual”-


I’d not believed
in my closed off heart
chakra
until his response
spatted onward about scars
from old lovers
and I squealed
“I have them too.”
and exactly
51% of the glass wall
around my disposition
melted
into his bed
underneath me.


I told him
I was slut shamed for
being raped,
about belonging to 45 year old men
when I was 18
because I desperately needed
to feel
intact,
only attempting
intimacy
with people I hate
because
I didn’t want to expose
good people
to
my poison.


He tells
interesting woman
he’s gay
because he is afraid
of being
a predator.
He asked
to touch me
and I answered
“I have body
dysmorphia”,
He wanted
to know more
about it.

I told him
if I were to share myself
with him
I would likely determine,
soon,
that all his niceness
was
constructed.
And he looked
at me with his big,
deep, sad, green
mind and
listened.


I told him.
I’m afraid
of men.


Therapy;
partners
who said
“Oh I forgot, you are a feminist
when they could have said
“You are in charge
of what happens to you.”


With my legs clenched
together,
he declared he tastes
my openness


He told me
he doesn’t know
his pleasure;
when he is embraced
he thinks
about things like
size, smell, hair, being too early, or being too late.


Sharing until
finally
we settled.


His gaze
was hasty, like
it wanted
something,
I asked him
what he wants,
his imagination screaming
he was too
afraid to say the
words,
But I didn’t stop staring
at them. Words.
I thought
we wanted the same thing.


The room was heavy
and cloudy.
The music may have
stopped or our ears had
stopped listening.
I could taste his
delicate
ideas
of my power.

He said
“I only know you
by smell so far”
His arm reached around me
I squeezed him
and smelled him
and embraced him as,
as hard as I
absolutely could and
we were locked in
we surrendered.
Like we were insulating
possibilities,
recovering.
Like we were safe.
He said
“You aren’t broken”,
and we mourned
together
with our clothes on.


Third Date
I hid my face
under your padding,
poem
man, because
the last time
I allowed myself
to be this
exposed,
I believed that if
I can’t
see the world, it
can’t see me.


Fourth Date
Yesterday, I laid
on the floor
alone
and said
you just weren’t
the texting kind, and
I convinced
myself to believe it.
Today, I continued
to turn you into
a poem,
but I wasn’t
supposed
to give up
like that yet.
You were
a man
until,
you text me that
you weren't ready
for me
so this poem
is you now.

I don’t
want
you
to feel bad,
but
that was the first time
I have ever bought
two tickets to a concert


I really wanted you
to read yourself.


I wonder what
to do
with the tickets


I wrote
“you are special”
on the note
I haven’t changed
my mind.
This is not
a sad poem.

You
shattered
my glass heart,
previously
made of steel.


Although you said
to send daily texts
that didn’t get responses,
The only thing worse
than a
broken heart
is a heart
that can’t break
And.
The only thing worse
than a
bad poem
is a poem
that can’t exist


First Date
I was reading
on the bus
to meet you
about a girl who didn’t believe
in herself
and I knew it was
me,
so I was late
to you
because
I sat on the curb
to finish
and I realized
that
I was so sure
no one will like me.


So
when we were on the patio
and the band we had payed
to see was playing inside,
but I liked you more,
I didn’t stop myself from saying it.
Because
I let myself
like you.


Bloodline

Don’t stop,
that’s the secret to life.
You aren’t going to eliminate problems.
Just don’t stop.

That’s paraphrased from a YouTube video I watched, of Johnny Hawkins, lead singer of Nothing More about the band’s song ‘Don’t Stop’ from the Album ‘The Stories We Tell Ourselves’

The band is amazing. They care about their art. The lyrics are deep, and introspective, and mysterious, but ‘Don’t Stop’ is probably one of the more direct on the album.

The lyrics go something like:

bloodline.jpg

Johnny Hawkins

Image Credits: Carmen Lenk Photography www.carmen-lenk.de

I ain't waiting on the world to wake up
you never need luck when you don't stop, don't stop
My new year's resolution
To choke out my illusions
To cut through the confusion
keep on digging deep, keep digging deep
Keep digging deep, we keep digging
We don't stop, we don't stop

I was planning to write about Momentum anyway.
And New Year's Resolutions.
It IS January 1.
(This might actually be a blog about coaching!)

I love music.
I love lyrics.
I love writing.
I love displays of emotions.
I love artists,
of all kinds.
I love learning about artists.
I love reading artists’ biographies.
I love watching YouTube interviews of artists talking about their art.
I love hearing about their processes.
I love knowing that artists I respect, and are wildly or moderately successful, had moments when they wanted to quit, in the past.


Nothing More originally called the song ‘Don’t Stop’ ‘Bloodline’
It took them about 3 years to make the song.
In the interview mentioned earlier, Johnny, the lead singer, describes how the band had some 4 different lead singers, while Johnny was in the band the whole time, and has an amazing voice, but he didn’t have the confidence to be the frontman. It took some time.

I think I got one like on Facebook on my last blog post.
I’m really bothered by how little attention it is getting.
I’m really just at a point where I am writing the way I want, not trying to please anyone.
It is leaving me feeling so vulnerable, and I am getting nothing back.
In a point in my life where it feels like the whole world is telling me I am too much,
and it can’t handle me.
I told my friend “I really wanna quit blogging, and I love it so much.”
My good friend said “You are headed in a direction that is so much more beautiful and miraculous than likes on a blog.”
And I believed him.
My writing teacher said I am writing a book.
And I believe her.
So I won’t stop.

I remember driving, about 2 years ago, I was on the Golden Gate Bridge, and I was listening to this Twenty One Pilots song (Kitchen Sink) about how creating art forces you to face your perceived unworthiness. It really hit me how obsessed I am with this concept. It seemed like the only thing that’s ever been more interesting to me than changing my body, or helping other people change their bodies. It scared me because I loved that I was already working in health and fitness, something that I was so passionate about, and I didn’t want to have to think about a career change, or losing my passion for teaching movement. Fortunately, teaching movement and learning about your own worthiness tend to go hand in hand. And I get to make art by attempting to explain this to you all.
(As long as I don’t frustrated and quit, because…)

This is the part of the blog where I actually get into some coaching:

My coaching style, similar to my writing style, is very personal, I like to share my own stories to connect. I think it helps. Truth is, exercise, diet, weight loss, fitness, New Year’s Resolutions, even combating shitty diet culture, is always going to be a passion of mine, but it’s just not as interesting to me as making art is right now.
It took me about 27 years, but I’ve conquered my weight loss goals. (Thank you, next)
The interesting thing is that I am seeing this same pattern with my art.
This same pattern that I used to have problems with, and I help people, professionally, overcome with their health.
This same pattern of quitting because you think you aren’t good enough.

I don’t know, I guess I like this challenge of trying to merge my writing and my career. I want to explain to you that, I know what it feels like.
And I’m not better than you, because I am still dealing with it, I have just already done the one you are trying to do, so maybe I can be there for you.
Maybe we can be there for each other.

I had another friend who called me. She was new to the gym. She didn’t know how to use the machines, or if she was doing anything right. She was considering a personal trainer but didn’t really want one, she didn’t have extra money, and she likes to be alone at the gym. She didn’t want to be on a strict schedule, to be shamed for lack of motivation, or for missing sessions, which she inevitably will have to do because she has a baby. But just like so many other people who are going to be starting out new at the gym this month, because of their New Year’s Resolutions, she thought those were negatives traits about her, that she had to change to improve herself.
The fitness industry profits off you thinking you can’t do it.

I told her, "Look. You are smart, so I am not going to bullshit you. There is a secret (this is true) us fitness professionals all know, that we don’t want you to know. This shit isn’t that hard. You actually already know what to do, you don’t need me. Or a personal trainer. And, anything you do, as a brand new person in the gym, is physiologically kinda all the same. The first couple sessions are really just an attempt to change your habits and patterns and build your confidence. That’s all we do with brand new people for the first 3 months. It doesn't matter if you do 10 sets of 3, or 3 sets of 10. Or if you superset lower body with abs, and then cardio or if you go climb a tree, or run around with your kids instead. It’s about consistency, confidence, and forward momentum."
Just don’t stop.

Find something you enjoy doing. If you don’t exercise, and you want to do it everyday, you are going to have a really hard time following a super strict complicated plan. What do you like to do? Go on a walk? Hike? Bike? Elliptical? Zumba? Yoga? Do you like going somewhere or staying home? Just start with something, something you like, and trust you are good enough to do it, and just keep going. Keep going until it’s a pattern. Keep going until you are bored.
Don’t stop.

And if you do, don’t be mean to yourself, or just give up. It doesn’t mean anything. I know it feels like it means something, but it doesn’t. It just means you are changing. It means you are doing something that is hard to do. So just try again. Try to start again. And again, and again, and again. Until one day you just don’t stop, because there is a new thing you are trying to not quit.


My Magic

He had dropped out of Zen priest school, or maybe got kicked out, I can’t remember, and a few weeks later he broke up with me because I believe in magic. He told me I couldn’t make it in San Francisco because he couldn’t, and I used magic to prove him wrong.

This story may or may not be about Santa later.

I also broke up with a guy once because he believed in ghosts. This was a very real fight we had, him and I. It wasn’t one of those instantaneous, car screeching to a stop, ‘get the fuck out!’ kinda things---but once he told me he had seen a ghost, I knew he believed in a type of magic I couldn’t. And I want to make myself, but I can’t.

For someone who performs in improv troupes, I am not very good at make believe. I am a good actor, and I am quick witted, and good at making things up quickly, but I am not good at pretending things are any way than exactly how they are.

I hope this makes sense this time

I asked him, The Ghost Believer, who is a hardcore atheist, what a ghost actually is. He didn’t know. I don’t know either and don’t really wanna Google the actual definition of ghost, but he truly believed it was the spirit of a dead person. Ok, but if there is a spirit, that’s not atheist. That’s maybe Agnostic or Apatheist. He, like went to Atheist groups, and had Atheist tattoos, so, I was seeking clarification. We come to find out, he basically saw something, hoped it was a ghost, and decided it was, even though he didn’t really know how he defines “Ghost” and was totally OK with that.

How can people be so OK with not understanding something? How can you say you believe something you admit you don’t understand?
Look, I know it’s possible, more people do this than don’t. It’s not a bad thing. I’m jealous really, I absolutely can’t do it.
I broke up with him because I couldn’t prove him wrong.

A wonderful friend of mine proposed, on their Facebook page that we write a letter to Santa that we would write today if you still believed in him.
My brain goes:
Ok, it says today, so that is like, with all the current knowledge and thoughts that I have now. Like, everything is the same except I believe in Santa. So does that mean I believe in the North Pole? A sleigh? Coming down the chimney, doing everything overnight, and all that other bullshit? I mean, I guess that IS in the category of believing in Santa. You can’t really separate the Santa from the Santa bullshit….
You are overthinking, Chelsea! Just think what would you want? So like, how powerful is Santa? Like, if all this is really true, I wouldn’t want to waste my letter to him on something as mundane as an object. Like, can I ask Santa for…
Wait a minute, what even would I ask him for? World Peace? Radical Love? Universal Radical Enlightenment? ….Wait, that already exists. All the imperfectness of the world is necessary for the world to actually exist, therefore, if you removed the imperfect things, the imbalance would create chaos. Therefore the world would be not perfect.
Wait…(This is kinda when I realized my brain is having a lot of trouble with this task)
I go back in to my daydream, this time focusing on the note itself.
I try to imagine what I would write.
Does the letter to Santa, like, guarantee the wish will come true anyway? Like, why am I writing him anyway?

I gave up.

O ye, of little faith
It’s true. Whatever faith is, I don’t have a lot of it.

This process is also basically what happens in my head every time I try to entertain the idea of Christianity.
I don’t know, man, I think Santa is a lot like Jesus. And I can’t blindly believe things, even when I try. It just doesn’t work. I have tried. A lot, actually.

My father is a compulsive liar, I don’t trust anyone.
I have had my worldview shattered more times than I ever care to write about.
The first book that ever saved my recommended that I question everything and I have been.
It’s lonely and exhausting in my head sometimes.
most times.
I know I am not alone.
That’s why I write this shit.
I know there are other people who sometimes wish their brain worked, more...simply.

Ok, back to magic:

The Zen drop-out, didn’t understand my magic as well as Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Alan Watts, Jason Silva, BigThink or some similar pseudo-philosopher or scientist does on social media when they try to explain that music can change the cells in your body, or looking at the stars in the sky is really kinda time traveling, plants grow better when you talk nicely to them, and placebo’s work. Why isn’t anyone asking more questions about why placebos work? You know, no one really knows what love is, but everyone knows what love is, and from the view of an atom the human body is a universe.
That’s the kind of magic I believe in.

I just outright refuse to believe this kind of magic---the mysterious science, imagination, creativity, aliveness---isn’t enough.
That we need fake stories.

The RingPop and the 5 dollar bill was under her bed. Right next to the soft core porn magazine from 1989 in 1993 that had been there my entire life. I wasn’t surprised, but I was still devastated. My poor mom never stood a chance of being the Tooth Fairy. I did an experiment where I pretended to lose a tooth so I could check if the tooth fairy was real, or, as I had hypothesized, my mom was lying to me. And there was the same red RingPop I had received with the last tooth. Evidence. Naturally I reduced that this also means Santa isn’t real. I never really believed anyway.

I remember singing the songs, and going along with the stories, but by the time I was 4 or 5 and could start to understand what my mom was telling me about this man that comes once a year to bring gifts, I was skeptical. I kinda forced myself to believe. It felt like I was supposed to, like the rest of the world and my mom wanted me to. Like I would be disappointing them if I didn’t. I wanted to believe in Santa, I just never could.

Finding the RingPop, It didn’t feel victorious. It felt lonely. I felt conspired against. I wondered what else the world was lying to me about, and I wondered why they lied to me in the first place.

To me, Santa is a cute story, but kids would be totally fine to know it is a fairy tale and pretend. Kids are really good at that. Comic book characters, Princesses, costumes, and dress up parties have always been good enough.

I was walking down the street and a little boy was wearing a cape. He started running really fast and screamed “I’m flying”
And he could really care less if he is actually flying or not. He never stopped to wonder or care about truth.

Every year for the last 5 years or so I have spoke on Facebook about how I think it’s wrong for people to tell their kids there is a Santa and insist on believing in him or you will be punished with no presents. I also think this is a bad way to force adults into a certain religious faith.

I didn’t do that this year. I guess I am starting to see that magic is...
for those of you who ask endless beautiful questions and need to understand everything, and
for those of you who have a perfect acceptance into your faith
And for everyone in between...
Magic is something we all create differently.


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I am not an atheist because I believe in myself

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An attempt to write about the weirder things in life

Or

I am going to give myself permission to write and share something that probably doesn’t make sense

Or

There Is Nothing Wrong With Me
part 2

I was burdened with myself. Laying in bed. I couldn’t sleep, again. Another night knowing the power of earlier thoughts of “I hope this doesn’t prevent me from falling asleep tonight”
But this time I surrendered into over intellectualizing it. I know it won’t help me sleep.
Whatever, it’s what I do, and if I am going to lay here for 8 hours, might as well be me.
I would drift off---concrete concepts would become fluid, and I would recognize my dream state, recognize I recognized my dream state, be mad at myself for “waking myself up” and continue on this cycle.

Yep, cycles of shame and self hatred.
Yep, I won’t fix them tonight.
Yep, I am causing this myself, yep, yep, yep.
I know, this time, there is no point in trying to fix anything.
Is my ego stronger than other peoples? Have I not been meditating enough? Why is this happening to me. Blame.


I’m tired of wrestling with all the broken parts of me.
I surrendered, once again, to the solutions, as is the solution to nearly every single problem I have ever had:

There is nothing wrong with me

The problem: not believing it


I didn’t sleep this time. Chanting “there is nothing wrong with me” to fix the brokenness doesn’t work.
Ok.
I didn’t sleep, but I was ok with it. Which makes a really big difference.
It’s ok.
Remember?


She is 14 and perfect, but her perfectionism causes her lots of problems. She knows she is perfect, nothing is wrong with her, she just doesn’t feel safe enough to believe it. We were on a walk in the dark fog, we chose to leave our jackets, both knowing the cold helps us feel alive, but we just said it’s more fun. She told me she knows she is god.

We weren’t really talking about anything deep. She doesn’t know any of my beliefs. I didn't ask her. She is just a smart, amazing human who knows her power.
But sometimes forgets.


When I am feeling low about myself, I always think about what I would say to my kids that I mentor.

We were doing Meisner work in my improv rehearsal. We were watching two people go back and forth, making subjective or objective statements about each other. The tension and nervousness created obvious patterns of compulsions. The two in the hot seat were ‘trying to do it right’ but their emotions fogged their vision of what we in the audience could so clearly see.

It’s like, that bad relationship you see your friend in.
They can’t see how obvious it is, because they are too...in it.
Gets foggy.

I was in it. Fear, emotions. Lizard Brain screaming. Fight or flight, you know?

I’m in bed, scared of my own thoughts.

If I am god—

what is self-sabotage?

Let me try to explain that…

A guy on the internet once explained to me (they do that) that The Patriarchy doesn’t exist because gender stereotypes hurt men too. He imagined that I believe in some secret underground society of men who got together and planned this all, but it didn’t work out the way they thought.

That is not what The Patriarchy is and that's not what god is.*

The patriarchy is a system, and I am part of it, and you are part of it. When we make the choice to laugh at rape jokes, or scuff at men who wear skirts, we are feeding The Patriarchy.

When we litter, or steal a Kombucha tea from Whole Foods, we are contributing to a world with more trash and more theft.
The world we live in.

I don’t believe in a man in the sky who is up there keeping track of my good or bad choices.

I also don’t believe Karma is some type of cosmic energy that is keeping track for future lives to be good or bad, or to have to pay anyone back.**

I believe the consciousness I have now will end. And my body will dissolve back into this big messy world in which we , collectively, as constantly as our brains can understand the concept of constantly, are in charge of what happens to us.




*My god, at least, you have the right to have a different god than my god and that’s cool too.

**Again, you do you Boo.



Men Who Help Me

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Men Who Help Me

Another man I trust
listened to my story,
he’d been burdened with before,
loved my mind,
told me how to be something else

I said “I am not defective”
He submitted, and
tried to collapse himself.  

Without ill intention,
we teach young people-
prisms of feminine ears devour tenderness,
while
masculinity mouths spat characters
in the distorted mirrors of a fun house.

My other man
Didn’t always know what he knows  
about himself.
He listens,
like a woman

The world didn’t trust his unfolding
right away
Wasn’t born with the right body to fix me
He stopped adapting
My best man,
Being the man he’s always been
He knows me too.


Words

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I am treading in writings that I love that I am just too afraid to share with the world.

It’s been a hard day staring at computer screens, editing poems I know I can’t share.

I am just not there today.

The lump in my throat won’t let me share them.

I am trying to take a break from working with my writing coach because I cannot afford for her to affirm my fears of being a horrible writer, every week. I am trying to learn to do it on my own.

Apparently learning to trust yourself is the reason we create art?

I am also taking a poetry class, and I am at that stage in learning, where, I now know what NOT to do, but I am struggling with doing it, and it’s just making me judge myself even more.

I gave myself this deadline of ‘blog every Tuesday’ to force myself to do this.

My housemate suggested I write about having everything to write about and yet nothing to share. I feel like that’s all I ever do. But oh well, here is another one.

Writing about writing.

This is the first project to come out of my first ever poetry class:

The smell of the grass whispers
The womb was never a world at all.
I’d pledge my allegiance,
But I’m worried you would think I am trying too hard.
I’ll worry anyway.
Some things are so true, only wombs can ruin them,
Things on the edge of existing,
Words—
I tried to count how long I could tuck in my thumb,
The one that represents ego.
She said that I am so afraid of being right,
I believed her. She said
It’s holding me back: Words,
I’m afraid to come out of them, how much
I like them, allegiance to what is.
No one cares about me as much as I care
about what you think of this.
But It’s not for you,
I hate doing this for you, this
has to be enough
for you. The voice that tells me what this needs
to be: Fear. I’m mad
where I am, grass—
The wonder of if I could be what I hope I am.
Words, I’m scared
you’ll tell me I’m not,
I’m scared I’ll believe you.

You Are Not Alone

My car was sliding on ice and off the highway and I thought about my heart rate and realized that wasn’t the best use of my mental efforts during that time, and chastised myself, the ADHD, questioned ADHD’s existence, and back to blaming myself for poorly timed self awareness before the car stopped spinning. I turned on my hazards so the car behind me didn’t hit me.

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Dogs are so simple. Sometimes I envy the trees.

I remember wondering what it would be like to be blind. I can’t close my eyes and be blind, that’s different. Trees don’t see the backs of their eyelids like I do.

I remember watching the 2am trees Christmas Morning 1993, too excited to sleep. They were blue and swaying. I wondered if they knew it was Christmas, I wondered if they knew they were cold, I wondered if they knew I was watching them. I wondered if they were watching me. I put my hand under my bed and tried to imagine seeing without eyes, but I knew I wouldn’t understand.

What is anxiety?
That's a real question.
I want to know.

They say children don't develop an ego until about 7.
Before then, instead of “I am sad” it’s just “SAD!”
Instead of “I want that” it’s just “THAT!”

A guy once, at a conference I was speaking at, said I was the most self aware person he’s ever talked to. I was surprised at how seen that made me feel.
I don’t feel seen often.
This is me trying.  


They said I have anxiety and I believed them but I didn’t want to do anything about it so they left me alone.

When I was a kid, I used to call it “The Story”
I would tell people, in 3rd grade, that I write stories in my head. And I bounce back and forth between the actor and the author. I would tell that that I think I am spending more time as the author because the actor keeps checking in to make sure everything is ok.

Is that anxiety?

I started getting nervous about how often I would notice my own existence. But, even more, when I asked the other 4th graders about the authors in their heads, and no one had much to say on the topic.

I didn’t know how concerned I was supposed to be with fitting in with everyone else. I was trying to figure out how I fit in with own mind.

I stopped asking them within a few months.
I guess this is an attempt to ask again.

Last week, the girl was dancing at the concert, to a bouncy sounding song about suicide.
God, she annoyed me. “Do you even know what this song is about?”
But who is happier, her or me?
Her and her also dancing boyfriend, taking selfies, numb to the intensity of the moment.
I was alone.

I wish they never told me I was smart. Don’t tell children that.
I looked around at all the other kids, and finally understood why the rest of the world wasn’t like me, but now the only thing more scary than my own mind is needing people.

I used to talk to the people who were running my version of The Truman Show.
I wish I’d not seen that movie when I was 10.
I remember being certain of absolutely nothing except that I am alone.

But this helps.

“I have been told sometimes the most healing thing we can do is remind ourselves over, and over, and over, other people feel this too.”
-Andrea Gibson

So,  I think about you when I’m afraid to share this.
I see you.