Léna is also a Regional Manager for Writopia Lab whose mission is to foster joy, literacy, and critical thinking in kids and teens from all backgrounds through creative writing.

"Well, the question is, what do you want to believe? Do you want to live in a world where things are possible, or in one where they aren't?" Cin, Edges.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Balance, Writing and Dairy Dreams

Everyone is looking for balance in their lives, for all of the pieces of the pie to have enough  . . . girth. But sometimes trying to balance everything stresses us out so much that we fall off kilter and lose our way.

I have been perfectly happy just balancing my work, family and health these past couple of months, but I had to drop my writing in order to stay steady. I've lost 15+ pounds since March 15th. YAY!

Now I'm ready to add novel writing back, but I don't want the other parts to teeter totter. (It's amazing how much we need to do to take care of ourselves, isn't it?)  I have to regroup and get back to my novel, get back to writing essays, even if it's small.  I just gave myself a music prompt and posted what I wrote, going to many places in my heart. That was fun. (Two posts in one day - whoa now!)

I need to write an outline. I have the setting and primal character arc - I've already written 25k or so, but I don't know where it's going!!!! Thus the refusal to get butt-in-chair AND since I have gone dairy-free . . . I can't hang out at Starbucks anymore. I might as well be going to a bar.

In fact, I had a dairy dream the other night. Like a drunk dream, you know? (Well, for those who don't, a drunk dream, important to those in recovery, is a dream where you think you've messed up and slipped but you really haven't. You wake up either a) grateful, or b) with a new understanding that you really need to stay away from that substance.)

I dreamed that I had cup after cup of coffee with half and half and sugar. You see, since I've taken the dairy away, I don't drink as much coffee. Maybe I'll have a small cup once in a while with some almond milk. It's the coffee that I miss the most. It's working in Starbucks. But green tea just ain't the same. (I love green tea, but Starbucks is for strong coffee damnit!) I miss coffee with half and half more than I miss ice cream.

So instead of going to Starbucks this morning, I came back home after spin class and stuck in my ear phones and went back to 1986 to write the previous essay about a certain night at The Palladium, dancing to Art of Noise. Then I put on some Daft Punk and decided to write this and come up with a semi-public game plan. My readers, will you keep me accountable?

1) outline novel
2) 300 words a day - start out small. Can always write more! But something every day to keep characters in head.
3) one personal essay a week, based on a song from the 70's or 80's

Thank you for your support y'all!

Moments in Love

Late June at the Palladium, summer of 1986, 3 in the morning. I have just turned eighteen. Almost empty dance floor. Combat boots, vintage dress, flattop hair. No more high school, college looming, life looming.
Michelle and I are dancing to There ain't nothin' goin' on but the rent. Gwen Guthrie.

Gotta have a J-O-B if you wanna be with me.

We're singing along, this anthem. My last boyfriend was a dick. He treated me like crap and I ended up hating him. But he wouldn't let me break up with him, and senior year of high school there were no adults around to help me. (Okay yes, my beloved Drama and English teachers, but I didn't talk to older gay male authority figures about my love life.) Imagine my joy when he broke up with me right before I graduated from high school! Fly girl like me, needs security.

I was going to freaking Barnard College after all. I was valedictorian of my class.

Freedom. I got a job at The Palladium, the new nightclub on 14th street between 2nd and 3rd avenues, and I was back with my people. Kids. Yes, we were freaky. I loved night clubs. I loved the dressing up, the gender non-conforming, the boys who found acceptance in their outlandishness and the girls who loved them. (Imagine my shock at the sordidness that happened ten years later: Michael Alig was just another outrageous kid and hadn't yet descended deep into his addictions and insanity. And no, I was not friends with him, so he may or may not have been there that night.)

Then Ricky,  the gorgeous aloof DJ who was said to be dating Cindy Crawford, puts on Art of Noise, Moments in Love. I am transported back to the summer I was fifteen, so innocent, a mere three years ago. So much has happened, and I find I am floating in space, in love with this moment, with being eighteen, with finishing high school, with not having to worry about where I am going to college, or abusive boyfriends who think nobody "else" would ever go out with me because I am "too" plump. Always too much and yet not enough.

But for now I am. I am in that sweet spot of "just right". After a night of working, a night of sweating. I have friends I can dance with. Friends who think I am perfect the way I am, in the moment.

Moments in love with life.

Monday, May 6, 2013

WILLingness and GRACE

I've been quiet on the interwebs. Perhaps that's because I am writing? Not exactly . . .

I have been hanging out in the world of willingness and grace. Mostly because I don't know how I get out of personal ruts and change for the better. How I let go of self destructive behaviors.

But I get out of them.

However, even though I've let go of a lot in my life, there always seems to be a lot more to release.

How does one become willing to change for the better? Change is scary, even when (especially when?) it's for our own good. Our flawed thinking has served us in some way.

I have struggled with some form of anxiety for most of my life, which is why I am so grateful that I have the practice of writing as the cornerstone of my Life Survival Kit. I have been writing, but I haven't been sharing, as I have been exploring the vicissitudes of life in regards to . . . my body and self-love.

Nothing earth-shattering to the outside world, but to me - oh yes. Another layer of the onion has been peeled, a new awareness has been birthed: the food industry has hijacked my taste buds and turned me into a zombie.

And I KNOW you feel me. Who doesn't have food issues? (Okay, some of you don't.)  The battle starts early.

I had beat myself up for as long as I can remember, and had supported the diet industry for just as long. I had become addicted to "diet" foods: sugar substitutes, low-fat this, no-fat that and wonder why I gain weight. I lost weight on Weight Watchers, but only if I was willing to be obsessed with food. I could never keep it up. I gained weight back, and more weight.

I need to make peace with my body. I need to practice mindFUL eating and break the cycle of filling my body with addictive foods. I need to look at a shift in lifestyle that helps me love and feel good about myself.

So back to willingness and grace.

I have never tried cutting out gluten, dairy and sugar (and sugar substitutes) before - in fact, that always felt too deprivational and extreme to me. But seven weeks ago, I did just that. And yes the first few weeks were rough, but now I feel TERRIFIC.

I found the willingness, the open-ness to try something new, and I'm so grateful. I hope that I continue to have the willingness to sustain this huge lifestyle shift, but for now I am grateful to be free from anxiety around FOOD.

Now to take this energy I've used to focus on my health and reflection and put it back on my writing . . .