Note: Earlier today I was looking for a picture and came across an album from Thanksgiving 2005. And in that album, this pic (and others) stopped me in my tracks. Weird to think back to that time and realize that this was the last picture I would ever take with my brother. Who knew he would die unexpectedly less than five months later. Life. Such a bitch sometimes. Naturally I burst into tears because, well, I’m a crybaby (to know me is to both love me and cry with me). And then I did what I always do when I need to get things off my chest (or in this case my heart): I wrote about all of my feels. So I’m posting this now and am taking a break from social media for a few days, to get past the hump that is April 8. But, as the saying goes, I’ll be back. In the meantime, do me a favor and pour one out on Friday for one of the coolest dudes to ever live, my little bro Lando.
Every year around this time an unexplainable sadness creeps into my life, and this year is no exception. But this year is also different for a lot of reasons. And the sadness is in fact explainable: it’s the sadness of loss and grief.
April 8, 2006 was, hands-down, the worst day of my life. I remember every second of that day like it happened yesterday. Then there are times when it feels so long ago that I wonder if I’ve missed a detail in the day. I wonder if my memory is accurate. I wonder if I’m remembering Lanny’s voice accurately. How he used to answer the phone. What we said when we hung up. I wonder if I remember how tall he was. When I gave him a hug was he a lot taller than me or a little. How his eyes sparkled when he laughed. How sweet and sensitive he was. What a pain in the ass he could be. I wonder about everything. Not a day goes by that I don’t wonder why it had to happen. And that is unfortunately not something I’ll ever be able to answer. If you’ve ever lost someone super close to you, totally unexpectedly, you get this. If you haven’t, count your blessings. And go do so right now.
My brother Lanny died of an accidental drug overdose on April 8, 2006. Tragic. A stupid, stupid mistake. Ten years. I have no fucking idea where the time goes. All I know is that this kind of grief really does not get better with time. I’ve tried to tell myself that it will. Over and over. It does not. When Lanny died, part of me died too. He was celebrating my brother Jamie’s birthday. He was just 25. It rocked me (and my family) to my (our) core. It shocked his friends, all the people who loved him. It was (and is) terrible. I remember when I heard the news. I’d never wish that news – giving it or receiving it – on anyone.
For the last few years, I’ve tried really hard not to think too much about it when this day inevitably rolls around. (If you’ve known me longer than an hour you know it is impossible for me to hide my emotions, good bad or otherwise.) I’ve told myself Lanny would want me – and all of my family – to be happy on Jamie’s birthday. I said those words out loud. Over and over. And I’m sure that they’re true. Lanny was a fun guy who loved life. I’ve tried to do things for Jamie on his birthday to help him get through the day. To make it less painful. To try to celebrate his life and the time we had with Lanny for those 25 years. It has worked to some extent. But this year I won’t be able to celebrate Jamie’s birthday on April 8 – for a variety of reasons I will not go into here – and so that makes this day all the sadder. I’ll see Jamie soon though and for that I am extraordinarily grateful. And next year will be that much better. Only 360-something days to go! Woo.
When I started writing this blog post I intended to write a letter to Lanny. To ask him to watch over me. To watch over Jamie. To send me a sign that he gets this. To be there in spirit always for my family. For all the people who knew and loved him. To know how much he’s missed. And loved. To tell him that he will always ALWAYS ALWAYS be in my heart and in my thoughts, no matter how much time passes. To tell him that I’m going to frame his Joey Harrington jersey (finally) and hang it proudly in my apartment. To tell him that it’s probably time to find a new NFL team to root for because, well, the Lions. And to just be able to tell him anything. But, alas, that is not how my brain works. So instead I wrote this, but I’m OK with it. The outcome is the same – Lanny has been gone for 10 years and even though I haven’t seen him or heard his voice, the love is not lost. Not for a second. Ultimately, that’s what matters. That he will forever have a place in my heart.
And this year I will leave you with this… go now and hug the people you love. Hell, hug the people you just kind of like. Fuck it, hug everyone. Let the little shit go. Be there for each other. Be kind to each other. Don’t sweat the things that don’t matter. And, in the words of my FlyWheel instructor, leave the rest of the day for the rest of the day. Be present. Be in the moment. Be aware. Be brave. Be bold. Be strong. Be happy. Be awesome. Be beautiful. Be you.
This is my year. But don’t worry, it can be your year, too. After all, sharing is caring.
I spent last night in a fairly reflective mood. I was thinking about the things for which I am incredibly thankful… so, yes, I thought for a while. Even though 2015 was a pretty tough year for me, with the future comes hope and for that I am eternally grateful.
I wouldn’t have made it through 2015 without a community of support, but but most notably the amazing team I have the privilege of working with at Cutline. You guys rock. Total badasses. And also my dear girl friends who have been there for me every step of the way. You know who you are and I love you to the moon and back. My family, immediate and extended. But, of course, no post about what I’m thankful for would be complete without a shout out to my two precious fur babies who make every day fun, challenging, and a bit of a mystery. I now truly believe that there is no love like the love of a puppy. It’s crazy and sweet and hilarious and totally unconditional. And that is my wish for 2016…
That my life is crazy and sweet and hilarious and that I am graced with unconditional love, dear friends and family, lots of sunshine and good health. As I kick off 2016, I’ve realized that I already have several things that I’m thankful for on this first day of January.
I have so many amazing friends who accept me for who I am, my crazy included. And who challenge me and inspire me to be better every day. I thank you for always being there for me and I look forward to making so many more memories together in 2016. Love you guys.
My family went through a lot in the last few months but I wanted to give a nod to someone important: my Aunt Shirley, one of the most amazing women you’ll ever meet. So strong and so fierce. And with the most wonderful heart. She’s been there for me every day through an incredibly hard time — no questions asked — and for that I am grateful. I also have a lot of hope that the challenges my family has faced are challenges we will definitely overcome this year. Together, we will conquer it all. No doubt.
To you, Mr. Sass (FYI this is our weekly 12 hour sass-free zone, you’re welcome), thanks for putting up with my crazy in 2015 and for sticking it out.
Your You’re awesome and I’m really looking forward to more vodka and caviar-fueled fun. Thank you for being so so cool and for reminding me what’s important in life. And, yes, I’ll tell you this in person, too.
I am privileged to work with incredibly smart people and I am so. seriously. excited. to get back to work on Monday. You know you work with the best crew when you spend part of your vacation wishing you could reach out to tell your colleagues something funny… on the daily… but then have to balance that with trying to set a good example when it comes to disconnecting. (The struggle is real, people.) You guys. I’ve missed you so much these last three weeks!
And now for something new and completely amazing: I met my Big Brothers Big Sisters Little yesterday! She’s smart and curious and talented (she made the coolest sticker for her laptop out of a straw and fingernail polish; color me impressed!) and I’m so very excited and honored to have the opportunity to help make a positive impact in her life. What a wonderful way to kick off the new year, too. I couldn’t be happier!
With that, I wish you a year filled with love, happiness, good health, and lots of sunshine and rainbows. I also wish for you the strength to get through the tough times and the hope that your tomorrow is always better than your today. Go on now and live life fully and fiercely… and don’t forget to sprinkle glitter everywhere you go.
Happy New Year, y’all! Cheers! xoxo
I’ve been sitting on my couch staring at my laptop for the last three hours. I’ve spent the last 72 hours crying in a way that only someone who has intimately experienced loss or has gone through the various stages of grief can understand. It feels like someone took my heart out of my chest and stomped it to pieces. I have barely slept. I wake up hoping, and at this point praying, that whatever is happening is just a bad dream. It is not. The only way I can explain this is that I am grieving for a love not yet lost.
Out of respect for the families and all of the people involved, I will not share any details publicly about this situation. In a way, this is definitely my story to share. But in another, it is not. It’s also too real, too raw, too painful right now. There are too many questions, not enough answers. I am hoping and praying for a small miracle. I’ve experienced miracles before and I’m remaining hopeful that this situation can and will end well. And I am asking that you do the same. Hope and pray for my family. For everyone involved. For all people who are going through hard times. For humanity. You can never have too much hope.
I’ve spent nearly every waking moment in the last 72 hours – which have now outnumbered moments of sleep – on the phone trying to piece together this story that doesn’t make any sense to me. When I’m not on the phone, my thoughts have consumed me. I now know more about things I never thought I’d need to know about in my life. I might not be able to help in this situation but I’m now trying to figure out how I might be able to apply the things I’ve learned in order to help others. Those who want to be helped. Those who want out of a dark hole. Those who don’t want to live a life that resembles hell on earth. Because I have learned once again that you honestly cannot help people who do not want help. It’s heartbreaking but so true.
I’ve also spent every waking moment in the last 72 hours surrounded – both physically and virtually – by close friends. And that is why I am writing this post. I’ve always had a lot of friends but never have I felt like I’ve had more sisters as friends than I do right now (and this includes my real sister, of course). They have reached out around the clock to check on me. To find out if there’s anything new to report. And they have done so despite the fact that they too are going through different things in their lives. I haven’t even asked how they’re doing. Maybe I have. I can’t remember. I feel like a terrible friend. But this is real friendship. This is sisterhood. And I could not be more grateful to have them in my life. Right now and always. You all know who you are. And I love you to pieces.
This morning I opened a gift from one of these sisters. It’s a compass. At first I was confused. Then I remembered that I was recently in DC and someone gave me directions along the lines of “walk NW through the park” which is funny because I sometimes need to use Google Maps just to get around the block. I told her that her directions would have been perfect if I had a compass. But I knew this wasn’t from her. I read the card and burst into tears. It was the most beautiful note I think I could have read this morning. It was totally what both my heart and my head needed today. To remember the importance of friends. To never forget the things in life that are truly important. And the compass makes perfect sense in so many ways. I will treasure it forever and ever. It is beautiful. Thank you, my dear dear friends. I love you both. To the moon and back.
And to those of you who have reached out because I haven’t posted anything on social media in five days, I love you too. And you’ve made me smile. Clearly I live my life pretty openly. I was recently talking with a friend after reading an article in the New York Times about the number of people who die alone. We both live alone and were wondering how that could happen. It’s tragic. I realized then that there are people I talk to every day and if a day went by and they didn’t hear from me, they’d most definitely send the search team. I didn’t mean to not post in the last five days. I meant to take a day or two off from social media. But then life happened. And there wasn’t anything I could say or post that would articulate how I’ve been feeling in an honest way without alarming everyone. I didn’t realize that my lack of posting would trigger a virtual search team. I am sorry I worried you. You all also know who you are. And you are awesome. I promise you this: I am OK.
I know this post is all over the place. On normal days, I am usually all over the place. I like to think of it as my sparkling effortless charm. But there is a method to the madness. There are a few things that I’ve been thinking about a LOT over the past few days and I wanted to share with the hope that it’ll help someone else.
First, when people are going through a difficult time, don’t ask “are you ok?” It’s highly likely that they are not OK. It’s also highly likely that they will be OK again. It’s a VERY hard question to answer, for the person who is going through the hard time. Nobody wants to say “no, I’m not OK.” And, honestly, how do you, the asker, respond to that anyway? Deep down we know we are OK. We don’t need you to ask. Unless you are a miracle worker. Then, by all means, do your thing. But really, all we need to know is that you’re thinking about us and you are there for us. We’ll be OK. I’ll be OK. I am OK. Having a sad heart is OK. It’s part of life. OK?
Second, smile at people who look like they could use a smile. Smile at people who are smiling back. You really never know what people are going through. And you will 100 percent be grateful to be on the other side of that smile when you need one. Yesterday I hopped on the train, got off in lower Manhattan, and walked around the city aimlessly for three hours. I had sunglasses on but was quietly crying during different parts of my walk. There were people who stared and whispered to their partner. There were people who smiled. You can guess which one made all the difference in the world. I found my inner happiness and smiled back.
And, finally, when all else fails in life, walk into a cupcake shop and order the largest cupcake you can find. Make sure it’s covered in sprinkles, has some shade of pink, and is piled high with frosting. Bonus if it also has filling. Sit by the window, smile at passersby, clear your mind, open your heart. Then reach out to all of the people who are closest to you in life and tell them you love them. Because that is all that matters in life.
My wish for those of you reading this is that you’re surrounded by love this holiday season. That in times of trouble you are able to look for the light. That you don’t experience pain but if you do you’re surrounded by love. That you both give and receive smiles and hugs freely. That you’re able to always see the beauty in life, even when it seems impossible. That you are lucky enough to have the same kind of friends that have been my rock these past few days. And that when life hands you lemons, you turn them into a lemon cupcake. With lots of frosting and sprinkles.
When I first told close friends I was thinking about getting a second dog, a playmate for Bax Man, my big plans were met with totally mixed reactions:
- “Are you crazy? That is a LOT of work!”
- “YES! Do it!”
- “Did you forget how much work it is to train a puppy? Do you even have time?
- “OMG! Puppy!”
Needless to say, this is something that I considered carefully for a long time. And there were definitely moments when I was convinced I’d never do it: when Baxter would get sick (what would I do with two sick pups?), in the winter when it’s snowing outside (how could I possibly manage putting on eight booties?), on the weekends when I had big dreams of sleeping in (but then I remembered I never sleep in anyway). I kept looking for reasons NOT to do it. And they all made sense.
But then I started thinking about how awesome it was to have Baxter as a puppy and to watch him grow and turn into such a cool little dog. I thought about how amazing it is to come home – from the gym, from work, from taking the garbage out, from a trip – to so so so much love. And I thought about my long work days where, even if I’m working from home, I can’t pay that much attention to Baxter. And that’s what really tugged at my heartstrings.
If you follow my blog, you know that the introduction of Lucy North to our lives was bittersweet. In hindsight, I’m glad that it happened the way it did. Having Lulu for 48 hours taught me a thing or two about life. Important lessons that are so easily lost in the day-to-day grind. I can now say with 100% certainty that Lucy is, in a word, perfect. And I couldn’t be happier to be the mom of two amazing fur babies.
It’s been an incredible few weeks watching Baxter and Lucy get to know each other. And it’s been beyond fascinating to watch their personalities grow. Lucy has helped Baxter as much as she has helped me. And while she annoys him some days – like when she sits on his head – it’s clear to me that he loves her. I saw that in action this morning when we were all sitting on the couch and I took a ball away from Lucy and put it on the coffee table. Two minutes later, Baxter got off the couch, took the ball off the coffee table and put it on the floor in front of her. I was totally blown away.
They’re both crazy smart but they’re also wildly different. I think that’s what makes them so special as a pair.
- Baxter is so serious. Lucy is beyond playful.
- Baxter is very cautious of everything. Lucy is fearless and curious about everything.
- Baxter is a very picky eater. Lucy will eat anything.
- Baxter won’t go anywhere near the windows in my apartment. Lucy sticks her head out of the window and sleeps on the windowsill. (In this case, I prefer Baxter’s approach. Eek!)
- Baxter is graceful. Lucy is a klutz.
- Baxter walks with a swagger and always has. Lucy walks like she’s had one too many cocktails.
- Baxter loves his alone time. Lucy prefers to be in the center of the action.
- Baxter is terrified of the vacuum and always has been. Lucy runs around it barking and jumping.
And the list goes on.
As they’ve learned to love each other, Baxter has definitely emerged as the protective big brother. He looks out for her when we’re outside and, as I’ve learned thanks to my new puppy cam, he also watches her when I’m not at home. It’s adorable and amazing. Right now, as I write this, they’re wrestling on the floor in front of me. Both tails wagging. Both clearly happy. Both where they belong. And my heart is now full and happy.
It’s been a rough few days. I honestly don’t remember crying this much since my brother Lanny died almost 10 years ago. My eyes are swollen, my heart is broken, and, in some sense, I feel like a failure. But, in a weird twist of fate, I’m also happy and have realized a lot about life in the last four days.
I’d been thinking about getting a puppy for a while and socialized the idea with my closest girlfriends. I’d also been thinking about whether or not I wanted to raise a family, potentially on my own. A human baby. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. I don’t have many regrets in life but some days I do regret putting my career first and not focusing on myself and building a family, something I’ve always wanted. But, alas, life works out the way it works out, ya’ know? And now I wouldn’t trade Cutline or my career for anything in the world. Between my *real* nieces and nephews and those I’ve claimed as nieces and nephews over the years, I’m a 20-time auntie. And I’ve realized that, in a weird way, that truly completes me.
So with all of that in mind, I decided that I’m not at a point in my life to go the baby route solo (and bless you ladies who make that choice; I bow to you). And because Baxter is approaching five, which is somewhere in the neighborhood of half of his life, I decided that a puppy would be great for Baxter and for me. He’d have a playmate and I’d still have a dog at some point when Baxter is no longer (which, right now, I can’t even begin to think about).
I did some research. Probably not enough. I found a place, I went there, I met Lulu North. I named her in honor of my Grandma North. She was the first puppy I held and she was so sweet and so shy and reminded me so much of Baxter as a puppy that I couldn’t resist her. They told me she was a little underweight. I didn’t care. I took her to their vet, who told me she could potentially have growth issues. I didn’t care.
I got home, totally in love already, and found out that my dear sweet grams, who just celebrated her 94th (and I was lucky enough to be in Michigan with her on that day just a couple of weeks ago) was not doing well. My aunt had sent me an email hours earlier, which I missed. My grams had been in a hospice facility since shortly after her birthday, my incredible aunt by her side every minute of the day. She passed away while I was picking out Lulu. That means something, right? I was crushed. Absolutely crushed. And I was happy to have a puppy who could keep my mind off of my sadness. A tiny puppy with giant floppy ears and the sweetest eyes. But things quickly went south with Lulu.
She refused to eat. She refused to drink. She was only a couple of pounds but, man, was she feisty! I took her to my vet the next day, worried sick because I read everything on the interwebs that said if mini puppies don’t eat every couple of hours they could die. The vet determined she potentially had a stomach blockage and she had low blood sugar. We came up with a plan and she instructed me to take her to the ER if she got worse. She also gave me an unfit for purchase certificate (I’ll get to that in a bit) and told me Lulu would likely require a lot of medical care and she’d probably only be five pounds full-grown (I was originally told 8-9 pounds). I was a little worried but decided I wanted to keep her. I hand-fed Lulu supplements for the next 20 hours around the clock and bought every single thing – in multiple varieties – that I read about and that friends told me that would help puppies eat… dry food, wet food, peanut butter, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, Parmesan cheese, you name it. None of it worked. She still seemed OK energy-wise but I definitely felt it change. At 5:00 am, less than 48 hours after I brought her home, I rushed her to the ER. I’m not getting into the details here because, well, I can’t. It’s just too sad. Too raw. Too much. For a little tiny baby to be that sick so early in life is just plain sad.
One of the things I learned through this process is that New Jersey is one of several states that has a lemon law for puppies. Any for-profit place that sells puppies (pet stores, brokers, breeders) is required by law to refund or replace a puppy that was deemed unfit for purchase by a veterinarian within the first 14 days of purchase or six months for congenital issues. (I received that within the first 24 hours of taking Lulu into my care. Gutted.) There are many other aspects of the law that really don’t matter at the moment. Yes, Lulu was a lemon. Yes, to bring some levity to the situation, I called her Lululemon once or twice. She hadn’t even learned her name in her short life so she didn’t care.
There’s something about this law that brings on an incredible amount of guilt. I was so heartbroken about the life of Lulu that I wasn’t sure what to do. I was skeptical about getting another puppy. What if this happened again? Am I a total jerk for not grieving enough for Lulu? Should there be more time between the time she left me and when a new puppy arrived? Had I failed with her? Was there something else I should have done? I had so many questions, so much guilt, so much sadness, and also anger because she should have never been sold to me. For better or worse, my heart is simply too big and too fragile to be in this kind of a situation. I was mad.
When I took Lulu to the ER, I left Baxter at home in a rush so I was also worried about him. He’s s champ and was totally fine and I contacted my amazing dog walker (after the sun came up) and she took care of him. But I still felt bad. In hindsight, I think Baxter knew Lulu was sick the minute I brought her home. He wasn’t thrilled about her but he was VERY concerned. I’m sure about me too. Dogs just know. He was up with me and at my side every minute of the 48 hours we had her in our home. And this is a dog who loves his sleep and growls when I move him in bed if it’s during his sleeping hours. He’s an incredible little guy with a heart as big as the world.
After spending hours crying on my friend’s couch, questioning myself and my decisions, and talking to several close friends, I decided to get another puppy instead of a refund. I also decided that I wouldn’t share her publicly until I knew, and my vet certified, that she was healthy. This decision was very bittersweet. But I know in my heart it was the right one. I’m just embarrassed that I was over-excited about Lulu and shared her too soon. I guess that’s the world we live in these days.
Lucy North is five-month-old, nine pound, apricot-colored Zuchon (also called Teddy Bear) puppy. And she is mine. I brought her home, introduced her to Baxter, sighed and cheered when she ate and drank, worried when she wouldn’t pee, read way too many articles on the interwebs again, celebrated when she finally did, and then sat on my couch and bawled my eyes out. For Lulu and for my grandma.
I realized at that moment I hadn’t actually had time to mourn my grandma because I was so stressed about and so focused on Lulu. The sadness that overcame me as I sat on my couch with this ridiculously adorable little puppy staring up at me with giant eyes and a playful soul was overwhelming. Teddy Bears, a mix of Shih-Tzu and Bichon Frisé, were bred to be therapy dogs and have incredible dispositions. So I knew she was the right dog for me and for Baxter (eventually for Baxter anyway; he’s being his usual serious, grumpy self and is living off of treats and love… he’ll come around).
Yesterday my vet certified that I have a healthy puppy and gave me a health certificate saying as much. I’ve never been more excited to hold a piece of paper in my hands. Lucy is playful and hilarious and sweet and caring and lovable. She’s also incredibly smart. She fetches (it’s so funny to watch). She peed once on the floor in a corner and I put pads there and she hasn’t had a single accident since. Though I wouldn’t care if she did. She pees and poos on the pads and if I don’t catch her right after to praise her, she drags the pad to me. It’s adorable. She’s eating and drinking and learning to (clumsily) walk on a leash. She’s sniffing everything in my place over and over. She’s so curious. She sleeps through the night, in her (pink!) crate, and she goes into her crate without argument. And she loves to play. With me and by herself. In a word, she’s perfect.
Baxter has been curious and reserved. But that’s who he is, always. He’s coming around and I think by the weekend he’ll be a Lucy fan. Or at least way closer to one than he is now. He’s been a little more needy, but that’s to be expected. He’s a funny little guy. He has a huge personality and is fiercely protective of me. It’s just been the two of us for his entire life (he’ll be five in January) so, all things considered, he’s handling the introduction of Lucy just fine. They’re opposite in many ways and I think that’s what makes the combination of the two of them so wonderful. One day they’ll be best buds. I just know it.
So back to one of the first things I said: I’m also happy and have realized a lot about life in the last four days. Life is so fragile. We can only do what we can do. We can’t prevent people from dying and we can’t fix things that we can’t fix. Stuff doesn’t matter. People do. Pets do (if you’re a pet person). Life does. I’ve learned this same lesson over and over in the last 10 years but, for some reason, this time it’s different. I think because of the craziness of situation: the end of life (my grandma) and the beginning of life (my Lulu) all converging into one very crappy weekend.
But then along came Lucy. And while I’m still quite sad about my grandma and Lulu, Lucy has brought a lightness to the situation that I can’t explain. And I am so very thankful that she’s in my life.
p.s. I also want to send a huge note of thanks to my dear friends who were there with me, whether physically or virtually, over the last few days. I’m also hugely appreciative of all the support from everyone. Friends near and far, old and new. My colleagues who, wow, are just ridiculously supportive in any situation. And to little Bax Man, who occupies the biggest part of my heart and is truly my little godsend.
Tomorrow marks nine years since my brother Lanny unexpectedly left this planet. It blows my mind. Every year I think it’ll get easier. Some years that’s true. For some reason, this year is really a struggle. For those of you who knew me then — you know who you are — I thank you yet again for getting me through it. That was arguably the worst time of my life.
Tomorrow is also my brother Jamie’s 33rd birthday. Every year I feel terrible that he will always have this hanging over his special day. But then I try to think of it in this way: Lanny will always be with him in spirit — no matter what, no matter where — on this special day. For those of you who know Jamie, send him a virtual birthday kick in the ass tomorrow from Lanny. I’m totally sure that’s what Lanny would want. (Love you, Jamie.)
Tomorrow I’m disconnecting from the world. I’m going to find a quiet place and celebrate life. Life that is crazy, mysterious, beautiful, tragic and amazing. Life that is long. Life that is short. But always, life that is completely unpredictable. I’m going to think about both brothers and how much of an impact they’ve had on my life. And I’m going to smile. Because life is really too short not to.
And that, my dear friends, that is tomorrow. xoxo
OK, that might be an extreme reaction to almond butter. I’ll admit that. But it sounds better than what I’m really thinking, which is f*ck you world. I mean, seriously. What kind of a world do I live in when I honestly feel bad about eating almond butter. ALMOND BUTTER. Armchair psychologists, go nuts. (Pun intended.)
I’ve been doing the Whole30 program and one of the key rules is no sugar. In anything. Ever. For 30 days. That includes anything that resembles sugar or is sugary in nature. Like molasses.
Since starting the program, I have been infatuated with reading labels and preaching the anti-sugar gospel to anyone who will listen. I even ordered eight pounds of bacon from a pig farmer in the middle of the country. Because: no sugar. (I had NO idea, before Whole30, that most grocery store bacon is processed using some form of sugar.)
In a moment of sheer exhaustion while rushing through my shopping list, my usual market was out of my Whole30 compliant almond butter and I grabbed another jar of organic created by God himself almond butter. It’s beyond delicious. Like stop you dead in your tracks and make you get down on your knees screaming hallelujah delicious. This morning, as I was packing my lunch, because now I take my lunch to work (who am I?), I read the label.
EVAPORATED CANE SUGAR.
No wonder it’s delicious. IT’S WHOLE30 ILLEGAL.
Let’s be honest here for a second. I haven’t been 100% strict. I’ve been 99% strict. Because: life. But I honestly felt really bad that I didn’t read the label in the market. And then I started thinking what kind of a jerk feels bad about eating something that’s actually clean (no preservatives, nothing I can’t pronounce, all-natural, yadda yadda). I mean, there are people who can’t afford to eat clean because it’s actually quite expensive (depending on where you live). There are people who don’t have clean water. There are people without homes. Without families. Without ALMOND BUTTER FOR ALL THAT IS HOLY.
And then it hit me. I am that jerk. And then I wanted to hit myself. But instead I just said f*ck you almond butter and then grabbed a giant glob of it and spread it on an apple and enjoyed every second. I mean, it does have flaxseed in it. There’s that, right?
So, if you’re wondering what the Whole30 is really like, there you have it. It’s an insane roller coaster of epic proportions. But I wouldn’t change a thing about it. Or about the almond butter I now love to hate.
A few weeks ago I had a quiet weekend. I wasn’t feeling great, had just returned from a work trip and felt a bit worn down by life (as well as a looming cold/flu). The weather – we’ve had a brutal winter in New York this year! – certainly didn’t help. So I became a hermit and hung out in my apartment all weekend, tucked away from the rest of the world. It was magical.
Out of that weekend came a plan to start what I’d soon call my life cleanse. It began with a purge. I cleaned out all of my closets and dressers and found two massive bags of things I haven’t worn and likely won’t wear. Someone somewhere will put this stuff to good use. That was just the beginning.
I decided to take a good look at my life and how I spend my time. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while but haven’t addressed. Why? Because that’s some scary shit. To have to acknowledge there are areas of your life that aren’t perfect when you’re a die-hard perfectionist? The stuff nightmares are made of. Really.
Let me start by saying do not feel bad for me. Not for one second. The choices I’ve made in life are mine and mine alone. I’ve made them knowingly and willingly. And I have no regrets. That said, I knew it was definitely time for a change. As I started down this path, I quickly realized a few things.
My life revolves around work. I’ve done this to myself. There are zero expectations from any of my colleagues – or my amazing co-founder – that I do what I do. I am working on finding that ever-elusive balance. This is getting better. Way better. It just means making hard decisions and knowing when to say no. Or yes.
Wine makes me happy. Really happy. And I love it. But. Those. Calories. O. M. G. Since turning 40, those glasses of wine I love so much? Not so much loving my waistline back. I’ve been working out with a trainer three to four days a week and realized I was self-destructing. Work out hard for 60-90 minutes in the morning, glass of wine in the evening? Doesn’t work. At least not right now. So the first thing I decided was to cut all booze for 90 days. Yikes.
I love pizza. I know, some of you are saying “so?” But when I say I love pizza I mean I could eat pizza every day. If I’m honest, when I say pizza I mean all carbs. Especially the bad ones. No bueno. I realized that my diet (that is, my eating habits, not food restriction) was all over the place. So I added pizza and all the other *junk* I sometimes eat to the list. No more yum for me. See you in 91 days, pizza bagel.
I also realized I was obsessed with dating apps. I have an unhealthy obsession with dating and I also have unrealistic expectations. Issues much? I want to be in a relationship but it also scares me. And I get bored easily. Apps like Tinder and OKC make it so easy to come and go. So, on day one of my 90-day life cleanse, I made a conscious decision to remove myself from the dating world. On day two I realized how often I was checking all those apps. Yikes again. So I’m taking this time to really think about what I want in a relationship. It’s really only then that I’ll be able to find the right guy for me. Lucky bastard, that guy.
And shopping. I love to shop. Love love love love love. I shop for myself. I buy things for other people. I give stuff to strangers. Maybe it’s not shopping as much as giving or doing. But it’s gotten a little out of control. Recently I ordered not one but two – two! – pairs of moto boots. I mean, really? I don’t even own a moto. So, yeah, that all went out the window too. Shopping hiatus, party of one? Hi, I’m Erin.
And, finally, I realized I’m living a bit large. When I moved to NYC two years ago I landed in a one bedroom place in Brooklyn. It had a tiny kitchen and a giant bedroom and very little storage. So when I moved to Jersey City in September I moved to a two bedroom, two bathroom gorgeous place with a massive kitchen and tons of closet space (that I soon filled). In hindsight, so very dumb.
I know that some of these things don’t sound like real problems. I have friends who are struggling with far more serious things. Health issues. Financial issues. Work issues. Relationship issues. Issues with their children. You name it. This is why I said don’t feel bad for me. I know these aren’t serious problems. But the first step in fixing any problem is admitting you have a problem, right? Right.
So here I am, 10 days in. No shopping. No dating. No drinking. No pizza. For 90 days. Ten down, 80 to go. This probably sounds like not much fun, right? Have I lost my mind? Perhaps. On the upside, I’ve already made a lot of great progress and I’m excited about this process.
When it comes to work, I’ve been (slowly) reading (aka listening to the audio book version) The One Thing. It’s life-changing.
When it comes to food and wine, I recently started the Whole30 Program. I mean, I already cut booze and good food out of my life for 90 days so might as well do this, too! It also means I’m cooking more, which I love. Yay.
Killing my dating apps? It’s all good. I honestly believe you need to be able to live happily on your own before you’re able to be happy in a relationship. I’ve been living happily on my own for years. What’s another 90 days? As a side bonus, after deleting all those apps, something amazing happened: I stopped being as obsessed with my phone. Go me. (Side note: I’m still obsessed of course but it doesn’t feel as all-consuming at this point.)
My new app obsession? Acorns. Whenever I get the urge to shop, I drop that cash into my Acorns account. It’s awesome. I’ve also made some other major changes here and there but it’s not cool to talk about financial stuff unless you’re a financial person. So I’ll just leave you with a few things that I’ve grown to love over the years and now am loving even more: Mint, Mr. Money Mustache, DailyWorth, this book, and this book. Along with a new financial advisor and a new accountant.
Moving on to my too-big apartment. Fortunately I live in a forgiving building. I’m moving in a few months to a one bedroom that’s absolutely perfect. Before you feel bad that my amazing view is going away… my new pad has wrap-around floor-to-ceiling windows and a balcony (!!) with views of the Statue of Liberty. I can’t wait.
Moving (which I love to do, by the way) also means I’ll get to purge some more stuff (which I also love). Anyone need a sleeper sofa? Two comfy chairs? Bookshelf? Sigh. Sigh. Sigh.
With the free time I’ve found, I’ve managed to read a few (fiction) books and I’m adding yoga to my workout mix. I’m looking into classes. Cooking. Bartending. Painting. I haven’t taken any yet but there are a few on the horizon. All in all, life is good. And it’ll be even better in 80 days. I’m so looking forward to that glass of wine. And a slice.
Be good to yourselves, homechickens. xoxo
Let me start this off by saying I do not represent any of the companies or products below. I mean, I totally *would* and definitely *could*… but I don’t. Also, I totally 100% truly believe with the words in the image* above. But, yeah, even though true beauty comes from within, a little help never hurts. So I put together a completely random collection of beauty related stuff I’ve found and used and that has impressed me so much that I decided to share all of my secret finds with you! Heyyyyy lucky.
FOR THE HAIR
This shampoo. I’ve only been using it for a week but I can already tell the difference. Thanks, Anne.
This blow dryer. For years I’ve used cheap-o hair dryers. Because: short hair don’t care. But I’m telling you, I’m a huge fan of fancy hair dryers now. Thanks, Stacey.
This dusting powder. I don’t know how it works. I don’t really care. It’s awesome. Even though it’s a little weird. Also: believe it when the directions say use sparingly. Thanks, Rachael, my new favorite stylist.
FOR THE FACE
This eyeshadow insurance will give your make-up remover a run for its money. But your eyes will look dope. All. Day. Long. Thanks, Sephora.
FOR THE HANDS
These mittens. OMGOMGOMG life changing. Thanks, Zappos.
FOR THE BODY
This body soap. It’s tingly. And smells awesome. Get it, girl. Thanks, Anne.
This exfoliator thing. I’ve been staring at it in my shower for months. I finally used it. Love. Thanks, Stacey.
This lotion. Spray and go? Yes, please. Truth be told, you gotta work a little bit but it’s oh-so-easy to moisturize now. Thanks, TV commercial.
And now, go forth and be beautiful. Inside and out.