What If…

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I have spoken in the past about themes that show up in our lives.  Another one has arisen for me that I think needs to be shared.  

On Saturday I attended a World Peace Chant, it is a Buddhist gathering that takes place once a month at a local sangha (community) where they chant for world peace. Hence the name, World Peace Chant…Hee hee.  Anyways, as part of the program they had different speakers come up and share their experience since becoming Buddhist and incorporating chanting in their lives. One of the speakers talked about a Buddhist teacher of Nichiren Buddhism who says, in a nutshell (The nutshell) that we choose our path in life before we are born. Including all of the challenges and suffering and triumphs and setbacks and joys.  All of it. 

The choices we made, regardless of how great our suffering feels, was chosen by us. When I first heard that, I was having a pretty good day and so I thought “Yea, I can get behind that. I feel pretty ok, I can tolerate that thought.” Until the shit hit the fan and I was thrown into confusion, sadness and the feeling that things are completely out of control. THEN, I said “Fuck that noise. I would never choose this shit. And no one else I know would CHOOSE their suffering.” 

Super enlightened, right? 

Upon deeper reflection and actually trying to understand the teachings meaning; I learned that the reason we chose our paths, suffering and joy included, is because our true nature, our spirit, our essence, KNEW, really truly KNEW that we could do this. That we are strong enough to withstand the pain and the happiness and to GROW. 

Imagine your true essence, in heaven or the ether or wherever you believe, and picture yourself walking through the grocery store of life choices. Knowing that whatever you put in the basket was going to teach you something essential to your growth and enlightenment. I see myself, being the overachiever that I am, tossing stuff in the cart willy nilly saying “I got this!” And then I think “She was an idiot and really overestimated our abilities.”  

All kidding aside, what if that were true? What if we could hold onto the knowledge that some other, higher, more enlightened part of ourselves knew to the very core, that we could DO this. That we could handle these challenges and learn and grow. And even if we don’t manage to do it gracefully, we are still doing it and we are ok….We are ok. 

What comfort that thought has brought me over the last few days. I am certainly not perfect, life has its challenges and damn painful heartaches and so I am going to hold onto this. This belief that says I knew what I was doing when I chose this, that I was not willy nilly. That I was thoughtful and conscious in the choices I made for myself with the plan that I would learn and grow.

Looking back on my life thus far, I feel pretty certain this is true. I have survived every obstacle and triumph and grown from all of them. Not always making the best choices, but definitely learning from every choice I have made. And that offers me comfort and faith that I am ok and I am safe and I am capable. 

I hope this also can offer you comfort during times of pain and confusion. One thing I would like to say, in life, take the parts that feel true and right to you and apply them to your life. If it does not feel true and right to you, let it go. 

Thankful for life themes,

Gabbi

Acceptance

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This is my mantra right now. 

When things in life change so unexpectedly, as they will do, this is what I cling to. 

Sometimes life feels upended and chaotic and during those times it is hard to stand still amidst the chaos. It is hard to resist the urge to orchestrate…manipulate. 

Today, even though I feel things flying and swirling around me, I can be firm in my acceptance of what is. I can check my motives objectively and be kind. Be kind to those around me, but especially ESPECIALLY be kind to myself. I will seek out radical self care. I will drink water, stretch, dress well, wear make up (if you don’t feel good, might as well look good). I will also acknowledge my progress, that when things shifted and change began its  process, my first thought was not to hate myself or blame myself or anyone else.  My first thought was “how can I take care of myself?”

I made a long overdue hair appointment. I got up early, had coffee with a friend made plans to have dinner. I am writing. My self soothing is on point right now. It has not always been that way. Not that long ago, I would have plunged head first down the rabbit hole of self loathing, ‘not good enough’ would have been my mantra. 

Today I will practice acceptance. Today I will sit in the knowledge that ‘this is ok and I am ok’. That is my truth.

I went back and looked over my Inspiration post from yesterday and I pulled out my books, cranked up Spotify and am ready for whatever today brings me.

Radically Accepting,

Gabbi

Looking for Inspiration

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Lately, I have been struck by how much inspirational good stuff is out there! I want to pass on a few of my favorite places to get inspired, activated as a feminist, woman, friend, mom…whatever!

Books

Brene Brown: I love any book by Brene Brown, but especially the audio books she reads herself. 

Sarah Ban Breathnach: She has a book, Simple Abundance:as Daybook of Comfort and Joy. Also, her book Something More.  Both books are go-to books whenever I am needing guidance, inspiration, validation…anything! 

Note: if you go to Goodwill you can always find these two books!! I love them and I have no idea how anyone could have them and then live without them?!? 

   
 
Pinterest: search, feminist, Amy Poehler, Audre Lorde, Frida or follow me at:

Gabbi’s Pinterest
I suggest the following boards:

Happy Girl

Moxie

Words of Wisdom

I Love MY Body

Brene Brown (yep, she gets a whole board!)

Music

This may be a GIMME… But SPOTIFY!!!!

The playlists are great! 

Mood Booster

PMS Playlist

Oh yea, I love it!!!

Stitcher 

Really any podcast platform will work, I just really like  Stitcher.

Some of my favorite shows are

Kamau Right Now

Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me

This American Life

The Moth Podcast

If you have any other podcast suggestions, hit me in the comments!!

Facebook

Um, me! In Spite of My Crazy Self

Ok, that is what I have for today. I know there is so much more out there, so please leave a comment and let me know where you get inspired!

Inspirational Quote Here,

Gabbi

Dark Night of the Soul

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Lately, I have been struggling with a lot of anxiety and panic attacks.  Things are changing in my life much swifter than I ever anticipated.

6 weeks ago, my day to day life had been content and happy and so many times I would be sitting or driving or working and think “I love my life.”  I was so content and at peace with my choices and the direction my life was going.

Unfortunately, one conversation, 15 short minutes, shook me to my absolute core.  From that moment on, nothing has been the same.  6 weeks in, I am down 20 pounds, I can barely eat.  I have thoughts of self harm (which I would never act on), but just having the thoughts are so painful and frightening.  I wake up during the night shaking and crying, in uncontrollable panic attacks.  Even with medication from my doctor, they still over take me and rush me out into a frenzied swirl of overwhelm and terror.  Mt mind says mean things to me and it is hard to get past those voices to the ones that are true and loving.  Some nights, I can’t get there and I have to rely on sheer will power and faith to make it through.

I know I am doing all the right things, seeing my therapist twice a week, going to my doctor regularly.  I am working on reaching out for support. Even more recently, branching out to more people because I know it is overwhelming,  If I am feeling so lost and unsure, I know that for people who know me it can be a shock and difficult to reconcile who I am in this moment (raw and hurting) with my authentic self.

Struggling to accept that even this person who is hurting so deeply, is still my authentic self, just another aspect….is painful.

It feels like a betrayal to wake up gasping for air, body on fire, chest burning, body shaking.  When did I become the woman who is unable to cope, unable to manage all things and do it happily?  I am angry, I feel robbed of that person and I have no idea how to get back to her.

My friends tell me that I am doing it.  That I am walking through a “dark night of the soul”.  I wish I could see it as this growth journey.  But I feel like I am shrinking, literally and figuratively.  My personality feels so dulled that I don’t recognize myself.  I hear people telling me all the comforting things I say to others, that I believe wholeheartedly.  But right now, I feel undeserving, un-loveable and all around un-tolerable to be around.

I am aware this will pass, and that I am safe even with destructive thoughts, I am self-aware enough to NEVER act on them.  But I feel like this is an important conversation to have.  to share our pain and struggle is to maybe comfort another who is going through the same, or went through the same.

You are not alone.  All the strong ones go through a Dark Night of the Soul.  For some of us, it is a night, for others months.  But either way, we absolutely MUST be exactly where we are supposed to me.  I am clinging to that truth.  This is exactly the right thing in this moment even though it hurts so much.

In Just the Right Moment,

Gabbi

Random Shit

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Today I was listening to the podcast Insights at the Edge with Tami Simon, her guest was Brene Brown.  You can listen by clicking HERE. As I was listening, I was reminded of not so many years ago when asked the question “what do you like to do?” my mind would go blank, panic would creep in and deep down inside I knew this was a terrible state to be in.  To not know ones own self, not even to be able to definitively say I like “BLAH”.  It was very frightening for me.

Many years of my life were pure survival, just getting through.  Instead of telling you the things I WANTED, I could only see the things I did not want, but were coming through loud and clear.  Fear, Loss, Worry, Grief.  Those were the standard emotions in my life.  Or at least, the ones I was so desperately trying to avoid, that they were the only ones showing up. 

As I listened to Brene talk about vulnerability, “showing up” and being willing to “get in the arena” I thought back to those times when I couldn’t even tell you what I liked.  Much less where I was supposed to  show up or even which arena I was supposed to be in.  Those were scary times, even thinking back on those times can feel frightening. 

Today, I am all in.  I am in the ring, I am in the arena, I am showing up and allowing myself to be vulnerable. I know what I like, and even better: I have NO IDEA what I like; so I will try lots of things.  While I am busy trying lots of things I am learning about myself.  Figuring out where my comfort zone is and then blowing that thing up.  I live on the edge of terror and elation. If you aren’t at least a little bit scared, don’t bother.  :) 

Because I am willing to try things and be afraid and am willing to fail,  I have been able to:

*Stand up in front of strangers, and even worse, people I love and admire and talk about my weight and loving my body just as it is
*At 260 pounds, I completed a triathalon….dead freaking last, they were literally packing up when I finished, but I fucking finished. 
*write workshops on body acceptance (even though I have ZERO formal training)
*I participated in a Native American Sweat. (You can read about that HERE.)
*Write this blog for anyone who cares to peek inside
*get up and live my life even though I gained back all the weight I had lost (which can be really shameful) and the fact that I just shared that…whoa.

But the key to finding all of that out, being brave and finding out what you like and do not like was put into sharp focus for me this weekend. 

I was having breakfast with a friend who has known me my whole entire life, and we were discussing my new scarf.  The one I had arm knitted the day before.  I had never arm knitted before, but I got the idea in my head (Thank you Pinterest) that this was something I could do and rope a few friends into doing with me.  Truthfully, I did not do such a great job.  But seriously, since it was the first time, and I totally winged the ending and since I just basically knotted the ends together to make it an infinity scarf, I say “Well Done” and I am wearing the heck out of it loose strands and all.  And then a magical thing happened…while discussing the scarf, my friend looks at me and he says “Yeah, I thought you made it, you are always doing some random shit.”

RANDOM SHIT

OMG!

The light bulb flashed on! 

Doing RANDOM SHIT is the key to everything! 

How do you know what you like unless you have tried it?  How do you know something is amazing and exactly your thing, unless you have experienced it?  How do you know what you should never, ever do again unless you have done it?

Random shit is the key to life, people. 

It helps that whilst doing random shit, you are genuinely curious and are ferociously kind to yourself, because for goodness sake, this is your FIRST TIME. 

You cannot muck up anything so much that a huge smile and a good belly laugh cannot fix. Oh, and a nice long string of swears. 

I cannot wait to see what RANDOM SHIT I do this next year.  I promise to tell you all about it and I hope hope hope, you tell me all your RANDOM SHIT TOO!

Smiling, swearing and belly laughing the whole time,

Gabbi

Does your life have a theme?

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My life goes through themes.  Times when I hear or see something and it becomes THE THEME of my life.

Currently, my theme is:
“Food does NOT have a moral value.”
I have no idea when that sunk into my brain, but its been popping up constantly. How many times have I said out loud and in my head, something to the effect of:
“I have to be good today:
I can’t have dessert
better pack my lunch
need to eat a salad
diet soda only
I shouldn’t have creamer in my coffee”
Then depending on my actual choice, I feel good or bad about myself.
Once you become aware of this ‘food makes me good or bad’ occurrence in your own mind, you will start to notice it everywhere!  TV shows, commercials, at lunch with pretty much any woman, every recipe that allows comments, in how we describe food.  Oh man, how we describe food….think about that for a second.  Desserts are sinful, naughty, over indulgent…etc.
FOOD does not make me good or bad.  Being FAT does not make me good or bad.  Eating food does not make me good or bad.  NOT eating food does not make me good or bad.
Know what makes me good: being alive, being kind to myself, being me. 
That is pretty much it.
Know what would make me bad:  being dead.  
That is pretty much it.  
Same for you.  So don’t be dead.
Also, take notice of when you or people around you attribute a moral value to food.  Speak up, say “food doesn’t have a moral value, it’s just food.” 
Delicious delicious food.
Eat up,
Gabbi

The Real Life Exhibit on Monroe Street

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I call my home “The Real Life Exhibit on Monroe Street”.  These are snippets of conversations that took place last night:

Aunti Suz to Grace while discussing dating: “Do as we say, not as we did.”

Suz and I: “That was so fun.”

Sam in regards to dinner:  “I hate spaghetti.”  Me: “Damn liar.”

Me to Sam after hearing a strange beeping sound during a conversation I was having  with Grace: “What are you doing Sam?”  No answer.  Me: “Stop recording this conversation right now.”  Sam: “Oh fine.”  Me to Grace:  “Holy crap, we are going to have to be WAY more careful when we talk now that Sir Spies A Lot is here.”

Me to Grace:  “Did you know Grandma used to call Suzi and I Lucy and Ethel?”

Grace:  “Why is school so hard?”  Me:  “I don’t know, I never cared as much as you do.”

Sam: “That fart sounded like a machine gun!”

Text from my niece Ari who lives in Arizona: “Your kids seem to be getting along tonight via snap chat.”  Me: “I snuck upstairs when I heard them talking nicely to each other, I didn’t want to accidentally break the spell.” Ari: “One of the videos you are in the background and it says “Sam’s farting noises ft. Mom”. “

Welcome to the Real Life Exhibit on Monroe Street Bitches,

Gabbi

The Struggle

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The last two weeks have been a mixed bag of the blues, eating ice cream for dinner, going to bed early and general malaise. 


And then a day or two ago I saw a Facebook post by Jes Baker of  The Militant Baker that said


Depression for four weeks straight really hinders productivity.
Yknow what I mean?



Know what is super crazy?  I DO know what you mean.  For the last two weeks I have been unsuccessfully trying to ignore  a small spat of depression.  In the ignoring, I just keep tripping over it.  Like the cat that wants to be fed or loved, it weaves between your feet as you walk until you finally succumb and acknowledge your kitty and feed or love her. 


Well, depression, I acknowledge you, I love you and I will feed you acceptance and curiosity as to why you are hanging around my feet.  I will get to the bottom of your desire to be in my life at this time and I will be just fine. 


I will stop staring at my tummy roll thinking  “Gross”  or “Ew”* and then flopping onto my side in bed and watching Harry Potter movies with the tv sleep timer on until I fall asleep without having made the kids lunches for school tomorrow or even bothering with picking up the house or brushing my teeth after eating ice cream for dinner straight from the container, with a fork because none of our spoons are clean and I am to lazy to wash one.


To much? 


To bad! Because this shit and MUCH WORSE can happen during bouts of depression.  I find that it is when I ignore or JUDGE myself harshly for having a feeling that isn’t perky goodness, kindness, helpfulness or presenting the fully capable image of a woman who does it all; that I start to fall apart. 


When I read the FB post by Jes Baker, I had an “A-HA!” moment.  I thought…”OMG, I am depressed!  Hallelujah!” 


First, I identified that I was feeling depressed, which had not occurred to me. I thought I was just lazy and pitiful.    


Second, I was excited to see someone who I admire admit to feeling depressed and yet I still see her doing amazing things everyday.  (For those who do not know; Jes Baker organizes and creates The Body Love Conference, this is it’s second year and she is in the midst of meetings and planning and prepping for the big to-do and posts it on FB).  I felt so hopeful in that moment, and so NOT ALONE.  Which is depressions go-to emotion (for me).  So, what I found, is that I can be depressed and still be amazing.  Just because I FEEL like a big lump on a log, I am NOT a big lump on a log. 


Through therapy, I have realized that when things do not go as I THINK they should, that I have a tendency to berate myself.  For example, I like to pack my kids lunches the night before.  When I do not pack my kids lunches the night before, I just pack them in the morning. Same lunch, nothing different except the time that I prepare them. And yet, I judge myself harshly for not having done it the night before.  When I go to bed at night without the lunches made, I say mean things to myself for not packing their lunches. 


Stupid, yes.  My reality, yes.  But, when I realize that is how I operate: things not just so, oh well, let’s talk to mean to myself (because that ALWAYS makes it better). Knowing that is how I work, then I am able notice it faster and can stop myself from saying the mean things.  Instead of laying in bed thinking “I suck.” “Good God I am LAZY.”    I can lay in bed and say “Hey, I heard what you just said about me. Cram it. I made it through today, and that is pretty darn good.” 


For me, once I acknowledged my small bit of depression** it really helped alleviate some of it.  I acknowledged its presence in my life, I identified the feeling and it was liberating.  It did not make it go away, but it had a name and I am able to say it and work through it and still be awesome. 


Last night, I packed the kids lunches before I went to bed and it felt like a victory.


Lunch Lady,


Gabbi 


*Because Jimmy Fallon really needs to happen in your life right now.  EW!

**Please know, depression is not something to be trifled with, it is scary and powerful and can convince of us of all sorts of not-true things.  This phase I am in, it is depression, but a mild case and I am not suggesting that it can easily be removed by just acknowledging it and “getting over it.”  I personally take medication and see a therapist on a regular basis to assist in managing my life, emotions and to work through my CRAP.  And OH, do I have crap.  So, reach out, talk to friends and professionals and find the way that is right for you.







What Am I Doing?

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Sometimes, I have to just shake my head and think to myself “Gabbi Joy, what in the world are you doing?”  Gabbi Joy is the name my mom used to call me when I was in some sort of trouble.  I heard it often. 

I have been single for awhile now, and really, really enjoy it.  Which, seems so wrong because as a single woman if I am not actively seeking a man, well, then WHAT KIND OF SUBVERSIVE CRAZY PERSON AM I??? 

Apparently, I am the subversive crazy person who loves to read books and not be bothered, (except by my children, and let’s be honest, if the book is good, even that is iffy) I like to eat ice cream straight from the container (why dirty a dish?), I like to throw my clothes around and be kind of slobby in my own bedroom, I like to wear sweats to bed with no judgment, I like to do exactly as I please, even if that means binge watching Netflix once in awhile (ok, at least once a week), playing pickleball on Monday nights, having a quick coffee with a friend which turns into 3 hours, but whatever, I like doing EXACTLY AS I PLEASE. 

I have zero desire to date with zero fucks given.

Except I must give some kind of fuck, because I have the (what feels) obligatory online dating profile. 

Let me tell you, if you really have no desire to date, a dating website is like the ugly underbelly of dating world and is really not the place you should be lurking.

Here is the rundown:

White Guy who looks like Dave Chappelle:  No, I do not want to “ram” you with anything, stop messaging me.

Dude who keeps messaging me even though I NEVER EVER ANSWER:  Stop. Just, stop.

Man who likes to talk about his foot fetish, could I wear nylons to our coffee date:  Nope, and coffee date was cancelled.  Not because I judge a foot fetish, but because we are just having coffee, I have no idea if you are pantyhose worthy or not.  Seriously, slow down Tiger.

Guy who continuously uses “Fun” as a euphemism for “just sex”:  Yuck.  Double Yuck.

Super young guy:  Just, no.

That was just in the last two days. 

It might be a sign that I need to remove the “obligatory” profile so I don’t look at every man and think, “Are you the weirdo who messaged me? Given anonymity what would you say to a woman?”  and then cringe a little. 

I need to restore my faith in men, by abstaining from men on dating sites. 

On a positive note:  I have ice cream in the freezer, sweats and Bob’s Burgers premieres on Sunday. 

Life is sweet.

Tina is my Patronus,

Gabbi


Things that make me SOOO Happy

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1. I got a text that right now, in my mailbox, awaits an Ipsy bag.  Just dying for me to come home, rip it open and TRY ALL THE THINGS!  Ok, 5 things, but still it is GREAT!

2. My black nails with my cool ring that I look at as I type.  SQUEEEE

3. My niece reminded me that it is now FALL and so I pulled out my knee high boots and wore those bad boys with some leggings.  yep, I did.

4. It is FALL.  Friday night is the Homecoming game, which I never went to as an actual high schooler, but sure go now. 

5. A free Blow out from the Aveda Spa.

6. This Saturday is Festival Palomino and I get to see my super secret boyfriends Trampled by Turtles. Shhh, they don’t know they are all my boyfriend yet.

7. Watched my first 1.5 episodes of Dr. Who with my little man, Samtastic.  He loved it, but got to sleepy to stay up for the whole second episode.  To be continued…

8. I am excited for book club which I host at my house the 4th Thursday of the month. 

9. Henna Art! 

10. Fun science-y museum-y stuff!  Social Science at Science Museum of Minnesota, grown up fun!

11. Apple Fests, cool weather, new recipes….

Happy girl,

Gabbi