Monday, December 23, 2013

A Very Merry Christmas to You (have a song)

We are having a really busy holiday season, but trying to enjoy the ride. Hopefully we manage to slow down enough to enjoy the family and friend time. I was listening to the Harmontown podcast last week and Dan and Jeff were talking about Christmas music, and about how the songs that really stuck out to them were the gloomy ones with sad undertones. The Vince Guaraldi Trio's Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack, for example. And "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" -- which is overall a hopeful and sentimental song, but its original lyrics allude to the willful ignorance with which we approach the season. Forgetting of the rest of the year when we all concede ourselves, our schedules, our time, our energy to the pursuits of comfortable survival. We have to do what we have to do, and it usually means spending lots of time away from our loved ones. Christmas is the season when we all find the strength/courage/bravado to lock those things in a closet, just for a day or two, and be with people we care about. Even if that means your family across the country, coworkers at a bar, or friends around a fire.

I'm looking forward to another Christmas as a new, developing little family, forming our own traditions and celebrations of goodness, family, humanity, and redemption at the winter solstice of every coming year.

Here's to many more.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Oh Yay: Holidays, 2014, etc.

I've been kinda pissed lately. Why you might ask? Well, I'm not really sure. Maybe it's the busyness of the holidays, or maybe it's the impending new year, or maybe it's that my birthday is coming up. Maybe it's all of the above. Another year has flown by and I keep thinking about the year gone by and the year ahead.

This time of year I always ponder what the hell happened over the past year. Often times that pondering leads to self pitty and empty promises but this year is different. This year I'm irritated and frustrated. Which is good or bad, depending on the way you look at it.

Anyways, the holidays are always hard because everything- good and bad- is amplified. Those little things that bother you about your family that you figure out how to deal with year-round no longer seem to be avoidable. The excitement of the holiday season is dampened by your schedule that has become jammed packed with events and shopping centers and finding the perfect gift so your kid doesn't resent you for the next year. We try to cram in as much as possible to try and make each holiday season better than the last. And we will make it happen at any cost. It's kinda stupid.

The thing that's been pissing me off is that everything has been busy and overwhelming and there is no quiet time. Family, work and friend obligations become the priority while the simple things in fall by the wayside- the peaceful, nourishing moments we honor ourselves with throughout the year are the first things to go during the busy holiday season (and sometimes all year round). Things like yoga or sit down family dinners or quiet time turn into rushing out the door for work before the sun's even up, scouring the mall for gifts all night, and cramming in family obligations in between. I can tell that, at this point, I have not been honoring myself and listening to what I need and my patience for all this is waning.
motivational poster

I hate sacrificing things I care about for what other people want me to do. I hate pretending to be positive when I don't really feel that way. I hate feeling guilty when I say NO. And I hate that the holidays have become a chore.

Next year I'm going to actively curate my year. I'm sick of doing everything for everyone. I'm sick of allowing others to encroach upon my plans, thoughts and values. And for once in my life I'm going to be selfish with my time and energy. I'm going to have a plan. I'm going to be unapologetically myself, to plan my days according to what I want to do and what will nurture and nourish me, to make boundaries and not explain myself to others. I feel like more often than not I feel bad about myself and THAT'S NOT OK.

Next year I am going to make my emotional and physical health my priority. I'm going to work out and take care of myself. I'm going perfect a diet that works for me. I'm going to practice yoga and meditation daily because it's the only thing that makes me feel amazing and NOTHING should come before that. I'm going to cut back the obligations and make space for things I want to do. I'm going to say NO. Instead of yes being my go-to I'm going to say no or wait to respond until I can feel in my gut the right answer for me. And I'm going to let go of the guilt that goes along with saying no. I'm going to make my home an oasis. I am going to minimize the stuff and learn to live simply and intentionally. I'm going to re-spark my curiosity and creativity and invest more time in learning. I'm going to create quality time with Trev and create habits and traditions for OUR family. I'm going to draw people in to me that will be positive and supportive, people who honor me and who see my value. I will no longer be invisible. I am going to take those scary steps toward what I want (and figure out what that is). I will not be ruled by fear. I will not hide. I will not live small. I'm gonna fuck 2014 up.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Arizona through Instagoggles

Experiences are everything. That's what I have learned from riding my bike around the metro area in which I was born, raised, and am currently existing. Phoenix, along with every other city, has its certain stigmas for certain people. But whether someone is stuck here or chooses to be here, they're here--which means we're here.
I whoosh by pedestrians and all their experiences--I glimpse through the crack in their universe's door. I share a small sliver of history with each one. He's the guy whose dog barked and chased me until the leash ran out of slack, while he gave me a look. I am the bearded white guy that rode by and made his dog start barking while he was on the phone.
She is the woman who I waited for at the drinking fountain who wished her two kids would appreciate historical sites when they obviously did not. I was the guy that mumbled a witty comment that she didn't understand and so casually fled from, grasping her children's hands.
The cacti are monumental here. It's arresting to think about the variety of humans that have come to dwell in this desert--an ecosystem so unique that the mere presence of a Saguaro cactus pinpoints your location on the globe to within a couple thousand square kilometers. These fulfill for me any conceivable purpose that a church spire might fill for another. They serve as monuments to the lands and processes that have survived millions of years only to have no choice but to allow us to depend on them.
And let's face it. Our sports history is tragic.
But there remains that relationship to my surroundings that is always so apparent. We don't exist so that our freeways are used--they exist for our use because we chose to build them. But the Saguaros watch on, weathered yet stoic, threatened yet protected. Threatened, yet they have never had a fight to fight. I am proud of them but there is nothing about them to be particularly proud of. The pride felt for the Saguaro is not ownership, it's not tribalism. I think deep down and it turns out to be a selfish pride. I'm proud they've stuck around despite me. I'm proud that we haven't yet screwed things up so badly that they're gone. I'm proud of the Saguaro because it has escaped so far.
The state symbols and Arizona's natural imagery are two different things, though there is substantial overlap. A flag is an effective mode of representation communicated from human to human. But coyotes don't know what the copper star means, and Gila monsters have never heard of Barry Goldwater. I've always wanted a tattoo of a Saguaro, but I feel like the level of permanent trauma between cactus and human is already at a pretty solid level.
And there are the hidden things. The pearls that the swine from other states are not privy to. There is a cactus in my backyard that blooms once a year for only one day before the petals shrivel and fall.
Other-wordly pods grow dark purple and I can almost see them pulsating with anticipatory energy. The annual fuse runs low and a painfully gradual explosion of white and yellow bursts forth hour upon hour. I want to call everybody I know to come appreciate the arresting sight in person, but the window is too small.
The petals have withered and fallen to the rocks by morning. There is a present feeling of grief felt at its passing, knowing that a similar moment would not occur again for a full year--and that it will be very easy to miss when it does.
But in Arizona we sing on anyway. Because there is a lot of that kind of stuff. Most of it is a lot harder to notice and appreciate upon first experience, but that's the desert. It's an acquired taste that doesn't deserve the term. I like to think of it as foolproof. Transplants swarm in from snowy cities to use the climate here while they wait for theirs to climb back up. It's nice to have something other people want.
Then again, we don't have the desert--it has us. Those of us with roots here, I think we do relate to the cacti more than we realize. A cactus survives almost in defiance of its environment. Throughout the world, life is drawn to water. The history of life centers almost completely around its use of water. Civilization was originally birthed between the convergence of two long rivers, a metaphor of femininity too perfect to be made up.
Whatever all that means, it matters little to the desert plants. They've hacked nature, as humans also get a thrill out of doing. Over the millennia, they reworked their biological systems to avoid being so dependent on water. They're still ultimately dependent on it, but they realized long ago that Mother Nature was going to be stingy with moisture in the Sonoran Desert and that it probably wouldn't change soon. What did cacti do? They developed water storage and rationing systems. What did we do? We developed reservoirs and canals. Ours just happen to be outside our bodies.
I love my home state. If I ever do leave, I'll likely return. I learn here every day--from the people I pass to the resources I use--and, because of that, my mind is my own mind from living in my own Arizona.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Fuck You Very Much

a short story by T

I just sat through 45 minutes of nightmarish traffic and I decide to cut through the far side of my city block to stop at the neighborhood corner store for cigarettes. School is just getting out, so the streets are crowded with parents in cars. There’s a complicated interaction of machinery unfolding in front of me–moving parts that evolved to their present state through mutations of new solutions, rules, and regulations that arise for the purpose of increasing efficiency and safety of each individual part. I keep this in mind as I grow anxious about an upcoming crowded intersection.
Politeness and courtesy are virtues mastered by the kind of people we want to fill the world with, right? But I’d argue that it ought not to be the rule all the time. Any chronic pleaser will tell you that much. Sometimes it is not only appropriate but integral to personal fulfillment to do away with pleasantries and selfishly look out for “Number One.”
Listen, a lot of us work hard every day to make the world a better place in which to live. We try not to destroy things and we are nice to people. We don’t take our own frustrations out on our loved ones, or even strangers. Most of us understand that the 19-year-old barista isn’t conspiring to make our bad day worse by taking extra long to get our coffee order.
Call it contextual politeness.
Pass on the left.
Use your blinkers before turns.
Stay in the inside lanes when turning.
Use your lights at night.
And, for Christ sake, four way stops go in the order of who got there first.
The closer I get to the intersection with the stop sign, the more anxious I feel, like in an airport security line. No need for any hiccups, I should just be able to get through this smoothly–if I just follow the rules that have been laid out as a result of countless trials and errors before me, things should go off without a hitch. There’s a system for this.
Okay, pulling forward.
Yes, there is a system in place. One that ensures that as long as you stay in the boundaries of the system, your turn will come and you’ll be able to be safely on your way. We all get that comfort at traffic lights, stop signs, airport security, the Chipotle ordering line, the DMV, theme parks, dog parks, parking lots, liquor stores, gas stations, banks, grocery stores, hospitals–the rules provide us with comfort. They allow us to approach varieties of high-stress situations without freaking the fuck out every single time. They give our brains familiarities so that we can react in orderly ways that minimize harm and stress for everyone involved.
But when your sense of chivalry starts to monkey with the operations of our well-oiled machine? That’s when I have a problem.
As I pull up to the stop sign, a perfectly fine-looking older woman in a Saturn Mercury has already come to a complete stop, a few full seconds before my car stops. She’s there first, there is no question. Yet I sit and I wait. I wait and I don’t see her car moving at all. I’m staring at the tires because as soon as I see those babies rolling, I start taking my foot off the pedal to get on my way, safe and sound, through this intersection that was designed with solutions to the problems that come with four way intersections. I stare at her tires and there is no action. My eyes drift up to the driver seat. There she is, waving me forward. I despise her for trying to be so nice.
Courtesy is fine, but not when it sticks a wrench in my spokes. I take a split second to try and supersede her “generosity” with my own more vigorous wave, hoping to inspire her to take her turn after all, restoring balance to my driving universe. But before I can execute the full wave, I’ve already given up. The cars behind her will start honking at any moment.
I want to give her the finger, but I don’t. But I sort of think she deserves it. I drive away feeling a lingering sense of an unresolved cadence. I want that root chord back; I want order restored. I realize the longer I dwell on it the crazier it makes me. 
I get home and I go into what we’ve unofficially designated as our “creativity room.” The room is a jumbled mess of storage and procrastination, but ultimately it’s supposed to be our creatively inspiring area to work in. We are artists after all! But in this room, like in our lives, the creative things get squeezed into the spaces between all the other shit we’ve put in there. Here’s a box of crap from high school. Why? This here is a project we’re hoping to wrap up in the near future to clear some space out. Oh, that over there is an amplifier I’m in the process of building? That? That’s my day job. Over there is the book I’m writing.
I go into the kitchen and get water out of the pitcher in the fridge. Ashley is looking for the cheese grater. She’s rushing to finish making a salad for an event that starts in 8ish minutes. All she has left to do is shred some carrots and cheese on top and she can leave–but she can’t find the grater.
“Oh, it went through the wash yesterday,” I volunteer. “I put it up in that corner cabinet.”
“Why would you put it there? That’s up by all our mixing bowls. The graters, slicers, and strainers are all under the island.”
“There was just room up there and I didn’t think it would need to be found so urgently–sorry.”
She shakes her head in frustration because I have an ongoing problem of not putting our household items in their proper places, and now it’s screwing up her night. She rolls her eyes at me as she walks by with the salad bowl filling her arms.
I probably deserve that eye roll.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


We had a super fun friendsgiving with our pals this year! We had special guests Sonny and Ashley visit. I frikken love that little boy. Such a sweetie. We had tons of yummy food- cornbread stuffing, cheesy potatoes, from scratch green bean casserole, bread, chicken fried tofu, herbed gravy and lots of treats. And we figured out that everything except the cheesy potatoes were vegan. So yay! We win! Hope you had a great thanksgiving. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Commitment to Myself

Hey y'all. Big news. I recently became a Beachbody Coach. I feel more inspired than ever to get my shit together and get healthy and hope that one day I can help others!  I feel so honored to be able to be a part of the Beachbody team. 

This is my public commitment to myself. Here's my story: 
When Trevor and I got engaged in the Spring, I was legitimately freaking out. I have always kinda tried to fade into the background and just knowing that everyone would be staring at me on our big day made me totally panic. I just wasn't (am not) used to the attention. I'm not the type of person to be all like, "OMG my wedding I have to lose 5 pounds or I'll die of embarrassment!" I'm not that vain and like, hello! I'm a feminist- I'm not gonna buy into that wedding industrial complex bullshit that convinces women they are not "perfect" enough (though I think every bride buys into it just a little). Anyways, around the same time both my mother and father had some slight health issues and I just thought, eff this I'm not doing it anymore. I've always believed that our bodies are temples and that we need to care for them but I've never really lived it. I believe we spend a lot of time punishing our bodies into submission instead of honoring them and treating them with love. I finally just got to the point where I was so frustrated that my values and my habits were not in alignment- plus watching my parents struggle with their weight and health really hit me. So I hit up my pal Michelle who was beginning a workout challenge. At first I did not want to commit. There were a million excuses running through my head- "We don't have the money for this!" and "I don't wanna do this with other people!" But I decided to bite the bullet and invest in myself- even if that meant having to cut back elsewhere to afford it. 

So I began the challenge and my first day I cried. I literally cried. I was so overwhelmed by everything. I had been working out by walking 20 minutes a day on the treadmill and was so frustrated I wasn't seeing any results. I even went to the doctor because I thought there was something wrong with me. So jumping into a program that was asking 40-60 minutes of me was super overwhelming. And posting everything I ate to a bunch of strangers who were eating only ground turkey for dinner was too much for me. But then I remembered that it had only been ONE DAY and I thought of how much my coach believed in my success. My driving force in the beginning was not letting my coach down. And after a couple weeks I formed some relationships with people on the challenge message board and I didn't want to let them down either. And now I'm beginning to realize that these people believe in me and see something that I hadn't seen in myself. And guess what? In my first week I lost an inch and a half off my waist! Not to mention the benefits I've seen from drinking Shakeology every day- my skin has cleared up and my stomach issues are nearly gone. I had never seen those results and that quickly. My self esteem has definitely grown leaps and bounds and my relationship with my body has gotten healthier. I'm enjoying this process and learning what it means to live a healthy lifestyle. I obviously want to look and feel great on my wedding day but that's not even the point anymore. As my challenge progresses so do my goals. My first week was just to actually do the workouts (and not die). But now I find myself creating bigger and bigger goals and actually believing that I can achieve them. My goal is to get fit for my wedding, my family, and myself. And more so to be fit to have children. I know it seems kinda counter intuitive to get fit to get pregnant but its something that is very important to me. I'm going to bring healthy children into this world!

When Michelle approached me about the coaching opportunity and my first thought was, "umm I'm like, fat and totally not fit YET!I had heard about coaching previously but my impression was that it was basically a pyramid scheme. I had never actually done the workouts or seen results from their products and had seen coaches ruthlessly try to solicit to people (which I despise). But now that I have seen results and have fallen totally in love with Sean T, I can honestly say that the products work. I hope that one day I will be able to pay it forward and offer the kind of support that my coach has given me. I have drive and commitment and a kind heart and I love helping people. Becoming a coach is a commitment to myself and my family. I am on a journey and it doesn't end on March 29th. We are going to be a fit and healthy family! If you have any questions about my journey email me!