premature nostalgia, and living in the present.

premature nostalgia, and living in the present.

In life there come times and places for change and transformation to occur, often cyclically. My life so far has been a whirlwind of such cycles of change, and as I find myself facing an upcoming journey, I have been preparing for yet another move, per usual to an eventual destination unknown. I believe plans to be overrated. Personally I find the more I try to force a happening as a piece of an idea my brain has decided should happen, the more it doesn’t feel like a fit. I much prefer to set clear intentions for how I want to live my life, and then allow the universe to present the opportunities to me in the right moments.

Last week as I cleared a bookshelf in the hopes of removing it and all the books I had hoped I would read, I came across old journals, which I began flipping through out of curiosity for what I might find.

I landed on pages from a few years ago, when I spent my days at my possible height of whimsical creativity, writing fairy tales every day and scribbling messy maps of each story beforehand outside the lines of my notebook, in my style, which is mostly indecipherable to nearly everyone else. My mind immediately traveled back to that point in time—how alive and free I felt, how bright-eyed and full of hope.

There’s this funny thing about nostalgia. It never exists in the present. Except for the present form of premature nostalgia I am currently experiencing, on the brinks of leaving this city I have grown to love and dislike in the same exact breath. My mind has already transported itself to a future state, one in which my present is past. I watch through the futuristic lenses I have taken to wearing, absorbing bits and pieces of a landscape I know I will feel nostalgic for down the road. The anticipation of nostalgia is enough to drive anyone wistfully crazy.

I love walking through my neighborhood in the sunny evenings, meeting new puppies with crystal blue eyes and watching children riding on the backs of tandem bicycles with orange tutus flying in the wind. I love climbing the hill that I can see from my window, watching as it turns different shades depending on the time of year. Green to brown to red to gold to brownish-green again.

I love the cafés, farmers markets, healing avenues, friends, teachers, and community I have found here. I feel as though I’m already watching my life in this place through a microscope of reminiscent remorse—remember when? And that one time, how we (fill in the blank)? Living in the space where beauty and growth and so-much-else happened?

The funny thing about nostalgia is she firmly resolves not to give the slightest bit of notice to anything less than the level of goodness she wants to believe. Her rose-colored lenses block out the heartbreak I was unknowingly experiencing, as well as a toxic learning experience I skipped right into, wearing a berry jacket with the hood up, emanating the innocence of Little Red Riding Hood in more ways than one during the peak of my fairy tale days years ago. Premature nostalgia is quick to forget about how I cried at least daily, for a year here. How within this city I found myself wishing, desperately, I could disappear.

I’m discovering nostalgia doesn’t only exist as past remembrance. It also happens in the present, particularly on the brinks of future change. It reminds us of why we may not truly want to change, because we kind of like our lives as-is for xyz reasons.  Anticipated nostalgia keeps us resistant to both moving forward and truly embracing the moment we are in.

These prematurely nostalgic thoughts do not serve me. It’s like when we’re about to leave a job that we’ve complained about for years, but suddenly the boss doesn’t seem so bad and the perks appear to outweigh the cons.

Any kind of change is scary, particularly one that clears out all things from our lives—both what we love and what we don’t love so much. But we can take the aspects we love, such as the feeling of walking up the hill at sunset, or the discovery of lying in a luscious patch of green grass in the late-summer sun. We can hold these bits of time in a pocket in our hearts, to return to whenever our memories recall the feeling of it. And I believe we can do so without nostalgic remorse, but from a place of loving understanding that the exact state of being we recall, while beautiful, can be beautifully remembered in the present, rather than with longing to return to a time passed.

Because the point of life is to stay present to it. And through the melancholy of my nostalgia, both from a time long-gone and the anticipation of it, I lose the ability to be present, as well as to embrace my life in its current form.

Now that I recognize the premature nostalgia standing on my reluctant shoulders, I can turn my head and give her a light smile and a nod. She understands the meaning, and already knows it’s time to leave. She’s clouding my ability to fully enjoy my last few weeks here. The seeds she scatters do not allow me to step, fully, into this moment and the place of change happening.

And so, moment by moment, I can choose to be presently involved again, living free of nostalgia for the past or even the future-past present.  

 

what we’re searching for when we run away

Five years have passed.

I watch the video we made 1,825 long, short days ago and it makes me feel a sad twist of melancholy.

I’m swinging on the wooden plank in front of my parent’s house and can hear your laughter in the background. My hair falls into my face as I dance in and out of shadows of light between the tree branches. The glint in my eye reflects your smile.

How in over my head I was back then, without even knowing it. How far-too-deep I’d plunged. I’m still carving my way out from that hole. And five years later, everything and nothing has changed.

It doesn’t need to make sense. Sense is an overrated, slimy-bodied beast. The more I try to find her, the slippier her scales, until I’ve swum so far in, I can no longer see the surface. An eery, green glow surrounds me. Are these your waters? Or mine? I’ll never know. Have I learned anything from this ordeal?

I’ve learned how to run.

Today I’m still running. I run from the feeling of aliveness you bring. I run from the sense I could stay up all night. I run from the idea that anything is meant to be. Because what I’ve learned most from this mess is that we humans, we f*ck up. We let our heads get in the way. We overthink, we hold back. And most of all, perhaps, we try to force the letting go.

You’ve never once held me back from my state of perpetual running. When left with space, we start to wonder—what is it that I want? Do I want you to love me? Yes. Do I want you to care? Yes. Do I want to love you back? Yes. Denying these three would be living within a delusional shield. You know me; I’ve never been one for masks.

And deep down, the teensiest bit of me, however small (or large), always wants to be saved, rescued, carried away from this ordeal. So I guess what I’m really looking for, in all of the running, is freedom. Freedom from a love that ties me down. Freedom from desire. Freedom from thought. Freedom from worry.

I don’t know if I’ll ever find it.

So, I keep running. From you, from me, from it all. And when my legs have tired and cannot carry on a moment longer, I leave my house for a walk. Wandering through streets I can no longer see, you whisper in my ear, asking to come along. At first, my mind tells you no, as I did last week when you called. I was emotionally drained, in a dark place. It was too hard.

But now I’m too tired to resist. I’ve screamed and pounded my fists against these walls for too long. My shoulders release for the first time in 260 weeks. And just like that, we’re arm-in-arm. We walk and I tell you of the things that I’ve found. I tell you about the feeling. I allude to the hole. You don’t say much in return.

Life has changed us both, and just like that, I realize the feelings are gone. I had battles prepared, in my mind, for when I would see you again. Yet all it took was a brief pause from the run. I release your fingers, one by one. I walk away carrying a weird sense of empty. Tired, but rejuvenated.

It’s funny how we place so much meaning on intuitive flashes. Intuition told me we were meant to be. And so for years, I couldn’t shake the back-of-mind longing. No matter how hard I tried. And trust me, I tried. I wanted the sensation I once had around you and you alone—that I was floating. But today, as we walked and talked, ears pressed against a microscopic hole, your voice growing fainter and fuzzier, the butterfly landed by my feet. All this time, I’ve been looking for the wings to fly, not to float.

I had turned you into more than a person. In the words of John Green, “What a treacherous thing.”

We were great once, comfortably intertwined like a log on a river. Carried along a current not quite our own. But I don’t want comfortable. I do want to serve as an active participant in the story unfolding. I want to dance through the fire that shapes me into something new. I want to roll along clouds of laughter.

I want to scream and for you to actually hear. As I somersault my way out of this place, I reflect on how much mental energy you’d been invisibly consuming, all this time. Thoughts take up space and emotions are carried in the body.

It’s amazing, and freeing, and scary, all in one. What to do with the space? Where to fly from here?

I’m finally ready to find out.

 

This piece was published on elephant journal

we are all alone

The first time my heart was broken, I received the best advice about love I had yet to hear, from (as is usually the case, with truly great advice) the seemingly least likely of sources. My manager at the time. A buttoned-up, stretched-too-thin, father to two-year-old twin girls, he and I, up to that point in our brief, professional relationship, had not delved anywhere near a topic as personal as either of our love lives.

Yet I, a hardly-turned-23-year-old, emotional mess with an inability to wear my heart anywhere but my sleeve, no matter how hard I tried, after spending a week blaming a mysterious case of Fall allergies and graciously declining all offers of Zyrtec with a barely-concealed, choked sob and a mumbled, “Thanks, but I don’t need any, really,” for whatever reason, decided to confide in him. Maybe I was finally tired of the front I had been living, for far too long.

He had pulled me into a private meeting to discuss something related to whatever I happened to be doing for my job, at the time, and of course, completely unrelated to my emotional state of affairs. And I, the whole while thinking I really shouldn’t talk to him about this (as it went against everything about professionalism, that had been beaten into my skull with a bat, from before I could walk), slowly began to apologize for my distraction, as of late. And then I told him about my blindsided breakup.

He responded by telling me his own, long-winded tale, of his version of heartbreak, that left the world as he knew it, shattered, all the years ago. And afterward, he told me two truths that I, to this day, carry with me.

That each of us, is, always, alone. And that love is a choice.

The latter was perhaps the easier of the two, at the time, for me to learn.

He exclaimed, as his eyes grew wide, “Love is not a feeling. We do not fall into love. We choose it. Each and every single day, we have to decide to love someone. Love is a verb. And so you need to find someone who is willing to make that choice.”

Ever since, I have not wasted more than a second (okay, really, a few months at most) on anyone who is not willing to make the choice.

You can smell them a mile away. The ones who are searching for the feeling. As so many of us do search.

Understanding the concept and putting it into practice are two separate things. But from my understanding, and the willingness to at least try to change my habits and inherited, neurotic tendency to want to fall into love, I can slowly chip away at the Walt Disney romance my mind spins like a cloud out of figments of imagined silver.

I can decide, time and again, to stay rooted in reality, even when it feels far less fairytale-esque and far more like a ridiculous sitcom in which you cringe as the protagonist, yet again, stumbles into that pothole you just know they should have seen coming. The soundtrack so clearly warned of its appearance, as did the fact that they trip over the same exact pothole, in the opening act of every episode.

The first piece of advice, that we are always alone, is one that I continue to wrestle with, years later. As my manager elaborated, he explained that, although happily married, his wife could leave him at any point in time. He does not rely on her to fill any kind of void he may experience in his life. Instead, he succumbs to the belief that he is, ultimately, always alone.

Because, in truth, the thing that connects us most, as humans, is our own flighty nature. We all live in temporary bodies, and no matter what kind of spirituality, reincarnation, or soul-life you believe in, the one constant among us all is that we are, in our current state of human minds and flesh, always changing.

Even my human understanding of God is always changing too, in rhythm with the present moment.

Ultimately, we cannot rely on any other human for any sort of permanence, or even longevity, in his or her choice (as a verb) to love us.

And any attempt to create a lasting structural bind, between ourselves and another human, is really just the vague masking of a deep-seated insecurity. Such as the belief that we are not enough.

I recently started a business with someone who, when we agreed to begin the project, appeared to complement my weaknesses. I thought I was doing the right thing, by working with someone who would address my own shortcomings, and, consequently, free me up to play to my strengths. And, to be fair, I was doing the right thing, as I was following my gut, the entire way. I do not regret for a second choosing to start the company together.

However, I discovered shortly thereafter, that she had changed her mind, and no longer wished to embark on this path together, at least, not in the same way I intended. Life had happened, steering her along an alternate course. And in the changing tides, she handled herself with integrity and grace. As did I. And to my knowledge, neither of us harbors any kind of ill feeling toward the other.

Even so, today I felt my insides twisted in a knot, as the reality of her decision slowly dawned. That I had, unwittingly, become a solo business owner. And all of the qualms, stresses, as well as the imminent possibility of failure associated with such an endeavor, loomed at me with an eery eye from around the murky corner of the wooded forest in which I found myself wandering.

Around every bend in the road, I could sense the gnarled roots growing larger and more trip-worthy. And I, unable to move fast enough, lest I escape the tree before the impending dusk.

Such is life, I guess. Wandering solo in the forest. Tripping over knots and brambles, and maybe catching myself or perhaps landing, with a scritch and a scratch, before picking myself up, dusting off, and traversing, forward, yet again. Just a bit stronger, or at least slightly tougher this time around.

Recently, I have personally come to know several single mothers. I hold great reverence for each of them, as I cannot imagine being solely responsible for the upbringing of another human. Yet they have done so, beautifully.

Every time I hear another one of these ladies’ stories, I stand in awe for the strength and fortitude before me. Yet now I recognize the common thread between us. While my own situation doesn’t even begin to hold a candle to theirs, there is one minuscule similarity between the tales.

At one point, these ladies, too, must have not had the ability to imagine raising children on their own. Yet when the time came, they just did it. Learning how to do so along the way, and uncovering their own strength, grain by grain.

In that golden example, I know I can walk through my own forest, however different it appears. I can choose, in every given moment, to stop relying on others to guide me or even walk alongside, hand-in-hand. I can allow myself, simply, to walk my path. Even when it feels terribly lonely.

In realizing that I am never the victim of another person’s flightiness, I also release myself from playing the role of the fake hero and inauthentic martyr. Because the other person never was the villain, in actuality. Any kind of self-contrived role, for either of us, is too great a burden for us both to bear. And only when we have dropped the roles we unconsciously play, do we have a hope for connection.

And so today, as I cycled, thoughts swirling until they began to make the slightest bit of sense, I realized just how hidden I was, in my own notion of togetherness. How much energy I had poured into cultivating a shared experience, as well as how much energy is now freed for me, to pour back into myself and my millions of projects.

Because I always have been the lone wolf of the pack. Adaptable enough to get along with the group, and if you mess with one of my babies (albeit, a creative baby), you had better watch out. But perhaps all along, freely myself, on my own.

We all stand, together, in our aloneness.

Rooted in a sense of the solitary nature of our existence, we begin to have a hope for authentic connection. Maybe even cultivating what we so desperately craved, to begin with, in our emphasis on so much togetherness: unity with something greater than ourselves.

 

This piece was published on Rebelle Society.

dream to write, or write to dream?

dream to write, or write to dream?

Today was one of those days.

You know the type.

The kind where your mind floated away just as fast as the sun, and somehow you found yourself walking home along lamp lit, cobbled streets, one earbud in place and the other construing sounds of all the people you’ll never meet.

And suddenly you found yourself back in the kitchen with shoes kicked off, and just as you drifted through the world of all-the-things you need to write, dinner was burnt and the room filled with smoke. Dry, hazy remnant sifting through the curtained close of today’s story.

You sprinkle half-cooked carrots, as the stinging discovery of the true meaning of a salt licked wound burns from above.

And in this instant, you want to give up.

You want to stop the madness.

Let go of the despair.

The ache, the itch, the crawling skin. Shed it all till it’s gone, so you can live the rest of your days in peace.

Because what’s the point of all the trouble?

Why the angst? Why the fear? Why the disillusioned hope that one day all of this will matter?

All you hear now is silence.

Crickets.

A dog yapping in the distance.

And you realize his voice is really just jibberish, anyhow. You feel annoyed at him. Just as you do the people on your path, today. Because when you stop feeling lifted up or pushed along by their cheers and their doubts, their yips and their yaps, you realize what you must have always known.

That behind every voice that tells you ‘you can’t,’ is really just your own.

Every naysayer and ‘get-a-real-job’-er moves from puppeted strings directed by an unsteady hand that jerks, twists, and turns.

Every disbeliever and believer alike dance to the same exact song whispered from your very lips.

Each and every one of them a smoky figment.

Each one a dream as still unborn.

And in this moment, you realize, you can let go of the dream.

Because dreams are meant to be held loosely, anyway.

And these dreams built on sandcastles have no lasting value, swept away by the shore. On this very shoreline, you begin to walk.

First one foot, and then another.

And as the waves wash away every print, the steps begin to mean less and less.

Just as each one carries all the weight of the world.

the real reason i started practicing yoga

I have a confession to make. There’s a bio floating out there (somewhere) about my yoga background and it is – get ready for it – a lie. Not a whole lie. A half-truth. And one made unintentionally. But I want to come clean all the same.

I started practicing yoga from a dvd in my bedroom, when I was about 11 or 12 years old. My partial-truth bio claims “as a complement to dance”. Which is true. I was a dancer (a not very good one) and I thought increased flexibility, which I heard I could get from yoga, might make me better. So the way I remembered it, I bought a “yoga for flexibility” dvd. I vividly remember practicing it in my bedroom – for some reason seated twists stand out in my memory. Maybe that dvd had a lot of them.

Memory is a funny little selective animal. Often it cages out the aspects on which we don’t want to focus our attention. Last winter, in the middle of a move, I came across that dvd again. The title was actually “yoga for weight loss”. Not flexibility. Aha – now all the twisting-postures make sense. The reality is, when I was in middle school, I had an eating disorder.

I used to limit myself to less than 1,000 calories a day. I worked out obsessively –running, swimming, dance, and, apparently, yoga, as long as it promised to turn me into a size zero.

The irony of it is – I started practicing because I wanted to be smaller, but instead, yoga had the opposite effect.

I have heard that eating disorders often originate a means for control. Which, in my case, makes sense. As a kid, I was an oddball. I got made fun of, and had a hard time fitting in. I remember one time, riding the bus home from third grade, a girl telling me the clothes I wore were weird and that I should dress more like her. She was wearing blue-jean overall shorts with bright flower patches sewed on in random (“fashionable”) places. That same day, shopping with my mom at Kids R’ Us, I saw those shorts. I asked my mom to buy them for me. That girl and I ended up becoming friends, when she realized I had the same shorts she did. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.

We didn’t have cable until I was eleven, and to this day I still don’t know how to play video games. I think those were the kinds of things that made you cool back then, but I’m not entirely sure. I remember making a new friend when we moved in sixth grade who, upon realizing how shy and awkward I was, stopped being my friend. I have always been an introvert – and in middle school, being quiet and shy was just plain not cool.

I think the combination of getting picked on, and my sensitivity, led 12-year-old me to subconsciously realize that I could never control other people and what happened around me. As a means for coping, I gripped at controlling the one thing I thought I could – myself. Namely, my body. I became obsessed with being perfect. I thought perfection equated happiness. Because people who, in my eyes, appeared perfect, also seemed to be happy. I forgot that inherently, I am happy. Always have been. My mom claims she never met a happier baby. And as a child, I may have been a goofy weirdo, but I loved every minute of being a goofy weirdo.

That “yoga for weight loss” dvd led me to my first “real”, instructor-taught yoga class, which I took at my high school. It was taught by the gym teacher, a marathon runner who I doubt had any kind of yoga-teaching credentials. This was back before yoga was all that popular in the US (and a smidgeon of the size it is now in DC). I told someone about this and he told me I’m “like an original hipster of yoga”, because I did it before it was cool. I think that comment will make my family laugh. At the time, armed with a field hockey stick and a slew of pink hair ribbons, I was the epitome of a catholic schoolgirl, and basically the opposite of hipster. I think the most ironic thing I did was go to a Fall Out Boy concert. And, apparently, do yoga.

I have nothing but fond memories of my freshman-year yoga class. I went to a large public school, and felt lost there. I had very few friends, and spent many an open-lunch period wandering the halls by myself, because I couldn’t find anyone to eat with. But in yoga, none of it mattered. Students of all ages and social statuses took the class, and in the “yoga room”, we were all equal. The teacher would write on a chalkboard the poses we were going to learn that day. Every Friday, she put on meditative rainforest-sounding music, and we did savasana (i.e., corpse pose, otherwise known as the yoga version of naptime), for the entire class. It was awesome.

My first yoga teacher did not wear lululemon (if that even existed then). She did not chant or take photos of herself doing fancy poses, or teach us rigorous flow classes with a peak pose (at least, not that I remember). What she did do was offer us a safe space, in which to explore our bodies through the practice of yoga. She read the room, and gave us what we needed (deep rest). She planted the seeds of yoga, which, for me, have since cultivated into a lifelong practice.

That year, I started eating again. I also, unknowingly at the time, learned to listen to my intuition. I made the challenging choice to transfer to a smaller, all-girls school, where I felt less lost and more at home to be myself.

At first, eating again had the opposite effect – I went through bulimic episodes, and frankly, blew up in size. My journey with food has been a long, hard-fought, solitary battle. It took me years to get to a place where I did not count calories or feel guilty about what I ate. Today, I eat a highly intuitive diet that works for my body. I focus on whole, unprocessed, natural foods, and have eliminated foods that don’t serve my body’s health. I have written briefly about my journey with food here.

Exploring my sensitivities, and which foods do and do not work for my body, led me to another version of my former eating-disorder behavior. This time, instead of focusing on loving myself because of how I looked, I turned my focus to loving how good I felt, as a result of practicing yoga and meditating everyday, self-care rituals, and living a clean, healthy lifestyle. Yet I was still missing the point. Because both of those versions of living involve conditional love – loving myself because I look or feel a certain way.

I realized this recently, when several instances of control-related issues emerged in my life. I believe we attract into our lives what our souls require for higher growth and learning. And I needed to learn the ugliness of the control-gripping monster.

Last week, I saw a photo of myself, and I realized that I was viewing it in a different way than I was accustomed to. A great deal of my life, I’ve seen my photo, and immediately began analyzing the parts. But last week, I looked at my face, and saw the whole person. I looked at my image just like I look at other people. I think this is what it means, to love myself unconditionally. Loving myself in entirety, no matter how I look, what I can do, or how I feel.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading about the beginning stages of my yoga journey. I think this is why I love teaching yoga to all ages, but especially kids and pre-teen and teenage girls. I have visions of one day starting a mindful living club for teenage girls, where we practice yoga, meditate, and talk about mind-body health.

For me, yoga is (and was) a game-changer, the gateway to my own healing. I began practicing because I wanted to be a size zero, and I thought “yoga for weight loss” would get me there. I think a lot of us start a yoga practice because we want something specific. Writing this reminds me of the song lyrics – “you can’t always get what you want/ but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need”. I never did become a size zero, from that dvd. Instead, I got exactly what I needed.

I intentionally don't keep photos around from my disorderly phase. Instead here's one from the peak of my "awkward phase" - 15 or 16 years old. Back when I thought it was okay to cut my own bangs. And apparently I really liked pink.
I intentionally don’t keep photos around from my unhealthy-eating period. Instead here’s one from one of my prime “awkward years” – 15 or 16 years old. Back when I thought it was okay to cut my own bangs. And apparently I liked pink.
Ten + years and so much growth later <3

“you’re allowed to jump crooked”

5.7blog quoteThree days ago, I walked into the Mysore room for the first time. Normally it takes me months, years even, to process things and feel like it’s okay to write about it. But right now, I’m reading a book, Scary Close, by Donald Miller, which talks about dropping the act (aka the masks we wear) in order to connect with people and find real intimacy. Through reading, I have discovered that my waiting-till-the-story-plays-out-in-order-to-write-about-my-actual-experience is all part of this idea I have that I am not enough, exactly as I am, in this moment.

So in order to attempt to blast that idea through the roof (or something along those lines), this is me writing about what is happening in my current life, full of judgment about the experience and all, without the nice, fluffy bow wrapped on top of a pretty little story-resolution package. With the full knowledge that it is still super early and I could decide Mysore isn’t for me, like, tomorrow. But who cares? I will never know what is going to happen in the future. It’s enough of a challenge absorbing what’s happening in the present moment.

I am also posting this without obsessing over every comma or begging asking a parent or housemate to read it prior. Yikes.

So my first day practicing Mysore-style, I went through Sun A’s, and my teacher came over and told me to attempt a jump-back. I looked at him and smiled, saying, “I jump crooked”. He told me to do it anyway.

Here’s the thing – I do jump crooked, and I do not know why. I have personal theories that it’s related to my “scoliosis” (my spine is slightly curved) – but really, it’s probably a combination of that and neuromuscular patterns formed from years of moving a certain way. And I honestly don’t even know if I have scoliosis. I’ve heard so many varying explanations for the way my body is from different bodywork practitioners; it’s one of those things that feels pretty impossible to define. It’s easier to put words to it and say “I’m this way” but the truth is that I don’t know and I’m always changing, so why narrow myself like that?

What I do see is the physical evidence that something is out of alignment, because of the simple fact that when I attempt to jump forward, I go to the right. I’ve tried so many different ways to train myself to go straight. I’ve used blocks. I’ve wrapped myself in voodoo bands, done flossing methods, rolled out on lacrosse balls, and used foam rollers. For a period of time, I even focused really intensely (no joke) on always stepping forward with the opposite foot from my default. I tried to re-pattern my body through seeing a chiropractor for years, as well as, more recently, a Thai massage therapist who claimed he could “fix my hip right quick”. But truth be told, it took me years to establish this movement pattern of jumping right, so naturally, it will take some time and a little lot of trial-and-error to un-do the pattern, right?

Anyway, later, he told me these magic words: “You are allowed to fall down. You are allowed to forget what comes next. You are allowed to jump crooked here.”

Later that day, I thought about being allowed to jump crooked, and I started to cry. I had gotten used to other people’s reactions, upon seeing my strange little crooked jump. Often, they laughed with me over it. I’m the first person to laugh at myself. Sometimes they are surprised and ask me what just happened. Sometimes they try to fix me. They are all just trying to help. Somewhere down the road, I created a story about it, and decided to stop jumping until I could get it straight. I learned to hold back to avoid any potential reaction. And consequently, I continued to cloud myself from a point of practice – meeting myself exactly where I am, crooked jumps at all.

A space where I’m allowed to jump crooked? That, to me, feels healing. But then again, no one before ever prevented me from jumping crooked, other than myself. I’ve always been allowed.