Face Value is Destroying Us

Social media has become our society's arch nemesis. It's the thing most of us love to hate but also refuse to live without. 

We see white picket fences, the kiss after the argument, the corner of the house that's not messy, the angle of the face that meets society's standards of beauty, the filter that smooths out wrinkles and wipes away blemishes, the sucked in bellies, the flexed muscles, and the splurge masking the debt. 

We see the filtered and intellectually (most of us) know that it's there, yet turn a blind eye and are adamant and convinced that what we see is reality. We laugh and joke over the superficial and then turn around judge others or ourselves based on the face value we perceive. The result is spectrum with rage and disdain on one end, and envy and lust on the other. 

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We're conditioned to view flawless as desirable and beautiful yet we, as humans, are inherently flawed.

Even more ironic, is that perfection, flawless, and sameness is often considered boring, stodgy, uptight, and uninteresting. A double-edged sword. 

We choose the media we want to see and get a curated selection within that choice, and as a result, glean a skewed outlook of reality. 

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We see memes, images, videos, and stories conjured up portraying someone or a group of people as someone they may not be based on one characteristic. 

We see slivers of people's lives and personalities and assume we know what their all about. 

Don't assume that I'm anti-hunting because I drive a Subaru. 
Don't assume that I haven't shot a gun because I do yoga.
Don't assume that I don't support our president  because I drink green juice.
Don't assume that I'm Godless because I believe in the healing powers of crystals. 
Don't assume that I'm uneducated because I love country music. 
Don't assume that I had everything handed to me on silver platter because I'm well-traveled.
Don't assume I haven't experienced hardships because I am a white female with blue eyes, and (dyed) blonde hair. 
Don't assume I am against homosexuality because I believe in the right to bear arms.
Don't assume that my boyfriend and I never disagree because I post happy pictures of us. 
Don't assume I'm positive and calm all of the time because I meditate.

These face value assumptions don't just happen in media. They happen walking down the street, driving down the highway, passing through the neighborhood, attending a gathering, shopping at the grocery store, they happen anywhere, and everywhere. They happen in our everyday lives, in and outside of our online lives, and they are destroying our relationships with one another and with ourselves. 

With love, 

-AEB

I Am Alive - My Eating Disorders are Too

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

I've written numerous posts on eating disorders  and specifically my eating disorders. And I've been debating about whether or not I should write this one. 

I'm not sure why exactly except for the fact that it's very painful for me and I have been in continuous recovery now for nearly two years. This is something I am not sure I ever thought was possible. And quite honestly, there was a time that I didn't want it to be possible. I was afraid of who I would be without my eating disorders and I was afraid of what I would look like. And most of all, I was afraid of the lack of control I would have over my eating - and my life if I didn't have my eating disorders. 

For those of you that don't know, the eating disorders I struggle with are: Orthorexia and Anorexia Nervosa. In short, orthorexia is a lesser known but increasingly prevalent eating disorder in which the person is so fixated on being healthy and eating healthy that it becomes unhealthy. 

To give you a tiny glimpse: I was in my mid-20s (5'4") and weighed a whopping 95 lbs. Mind you, prior to my eating disorders I was very healthy all around with a strong frame and weighed about 118 lbs. In the depths of eating disorders, I landed myself in the hospital twice with agonizing stomach pains and long story short - my pain was due to the fact that I wasn't eating enough food for my digestive system to function properly. I was so severely depleted of nutrients and under my "set" weight for so long that it took my body four years to regain my menstrual cycle. 

This post isn't to mull over everything that my eating disorders are and everything that they are not - I have done that several times over and you may read them in links posted above if you choose.

This post is to honor my past struggles with my eating disorders, celebrate the leaps and bounds I have made in my recovery, and stay humble in knowing that my demon may rear it's head at anytime. 

I recently did an interview with a women's health magazine on Orthorexia and was asked if I am "fully recovered." No, I am not and don't believe that I ever will be. I have not acted on my eating disorder thoughts. Those thoughts are not as strong as they once were but they are still within me. It's still something I face every day, with every meal, and I have made a commitment to myself to not allow my eating disorders to control me. 

I have eating disorder thoughts now and for the most part, I am able to see those thoughts for what they are and say "hey, I hear you, and I'm not going to listen."

I have finally come to a place in my life were intuitive eating is something that comes naturally to me. I never knew this to be possible. I was so reliant on other people's concepts and viewpoints that I lost the connection with my own body and hunger. At some point, I will write more about the how in intuitive eating because I think it's essential for me to live a peaceful life with food and I think others could benefit from more of that story - but I want to keep this post about my celebration and raise awareness about the types of eating disorders, dangers, and offer hope to those struggling.  

This week (February 26th-March 4th) is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. It's always a time where I reflect deeply about the long battle I have had since 2010. Over the course of those eight years, there were times that I was in complete denial about my eating disorders, other times were I was acutely aware yet succumbed to the panic, and other times I tore through walls I never knew I had the strength to bust apart. And, it was not a linear journey - at all. I had many relapses in both my thinking and behavior. And, while thoughts may not be visible - they can be just as destructive - trapped in your mind, consumed by obsession. 

 Left: my Dad and I, winter 2012 (95 lbs) ; right: my nephew and I, summer 2017  (? lbs I don't weigh myself)

Left: my Dad and I, winter 2012 (95 lbs) ; right: my nephew and I, summer 2017  (? lbs I don't weigh myself)

Over the years, I found myself in various parts across the country and I cannot even begin to express my gratitude for the people who helped me along the way.

My dearest family and friends, I would not be where I am today without you. Thank you.

And, to my loving boyfriend who helps to keep me so grounded - you amaze me each day. You are my rock. I love cooking for you - for us and reminding myself of "oh yes, this what a wholesome meal looks like." I love you so much my darling, my sweet. Thank you for your grace. Thank you for your support. 

A diet will never be able to tell you how to eat like your body can. Once you trust your body, it will teach you everything you need to know. 

With love & gratitude,

-AEB

Who Are You? Who Am I?

"But, that's what you have always done."

"But, you always use to like to do that."

"But, you have always liked that kind of music."

"But, you always eat those kind of cookies."

"But, you have always done [ FILL IN THE BLANK ] "

Have you ever had someone say something along those lines to you? Or, have you ever said them to someone else? 

I would be shocked if you said no to either of those questions. 

We preach that we need to grow and change yet... when it comes down to it, most people are uncomfortable when someone around them grows and changes. Particularly those that are closest to them such a spouse, parent, best friend or sibling. 

Despite the intense (and often obsessive) desire we have to change our ways, get out of our element, out of comfort zone, and live our lives just a little bit... different.. maybe a little bit... better, we are change adverse creatures. And not only that, we are often 'change blockers.' 

I am not a psychologist so bare with me as I run through my thoughts. 

We become accustom to knowing someone in one way that we have a difficult time accepting when they mature, grow, and change. When they take steps to 'better themselves,' or when they simply start to like new things,  take up a different hobbies, drop other hobbies or habits, and explore other ways of living life, we (the other person) has a difficult time accepting that change. 

Some, straight up refuse to accept the change... have you ever gone back to a place where you grew up or spent time as an adolescent and inevitably the people there still believe that you love the things that you loved and participate in the same activities as you did when you were... oh say... about 12 years-old? 

Though perhaps more dispiriting and often more damaging than those moments are the day-to-day moments when someone feels unable or not allowed, or unsafe to change because of the response they receive from the people around them. And not just acquaintances - these are typically the people who are closest to them. That is where the real dagger strikes - this is where the open-space of love and acceptance from a place of truth and respect turns into a closed-space of suffocation and dismissal usually from a place of denial, misunderstanding, or even jealousy. The person trying or seeking change will likely feel boxed in and unworthy, and often, unfortunately, begin to second guess and doubt themselves. 

"Well, I guess I'll just do what I have always done...Stick to status quo," they may think..."this is how I am loved and accepted right now. What would it be like if I were different?" What they (we) are not usually thinking is that when they change ourselves for the better they are embraced even more fully than we were before - yet there is that period of time that is messy... scary... disorienting... and disheartening. Sometimes, we are forced to let go of those that don't fit our new lifestyle or who won't accept our changed ways. 

I'll take diet as a relatively easy and common example of change.  

"So hun, I think I'm going to switch to low-carb diet. I really think I'm going to cut out refined sugar for a while too. And, I don't think I'll drink alcohol for some time either. I just feel I need to clean up my diet a bit. Eat more lean protein, less sugary snacks, and more veggies." 

One would think that the other would be delighted. And surely not for 'Keeping up with Joneses,' but rather because their partner is choosing to honor their body and are making an effort to give themselves a bit of self-love and feel better. They are respecting themselves. 

Yet, this is not always the response that occurs. They think to themselves... "well I do eat cookies. I do eat carbs. I frickin' love white potatoes. And beer. And thick juicy steak!"

They mistakenly think... "given their change, what will I have to change?"  What is not recognized (usually) is that the other person doesn't have to change a damn thing! The other person was simply voicing their proposed change most likely because voicing change/action makes it feel more real. That, and perhaps most importantly,  they are seeking support.

Mind you, these are not always strikingly positive or negative changes... they are simply.. change. 

"I don't really feel I want to crochet any more ... I really think that I may then take up photography. I've been thinking about taking a coarse in it." This coming from someone who has crocheted for over half of their life may come as a shock to the people that are closest to them. 

Instead of support, the other person may think, 'how will this effect me? how will our schedule change... how will I change? How will we change?' Or, 'where is this stemming from? What has happened for them to want suddenly change their ways?' And often, 'is something wrong with them?' 

 Photo by Daniel Bowman,  Unsplash

Photo by Daniel Bowman, Unsplash

On that note... 

We (people) become so deeply tied to the things we do that we identify ourselves with that 'thing' rather than being who we are separate from things that we do - who we are becomes the things that we do. 

I am a yogi. 

I am a hiker. 

I am a runner. 

I am a cook. 

I am a writer. 

What happens to a yogi when they for some reason cannot or decide to not do yoga? They decide to start kick-boxing or they injure their back. Who are they without yoga? Or a runner who has ran consistently their entire adult life has to slow their role and switch to walking because their knees cannot handle the force of the runners stride. Who are they if they are not a runner? A writer who cannot write due to a stroke... who are they now? 

Suddenly, there is an identity crisis. 

This happens many times throughout our lives. A scholar of History whose entire career thus far has been studies, enters the workforce as a sales associate at a software company. An owner of a Bed & Breakfast of 30 years, sells their property. A dentist of 40 years, retires. A horse rider of 20 years, decides to stop riding to travel and explore their growing interest in cultural studies.  

The reasons are not always clear. Sometimes, we don't even know the reason(s) for a significant life change. Sometimes, it is simply a want or desire to feed another passion. Or, the former passion no longer 'feeds our soul.' Other times, the reason(s) are more concise. Retirement. Physical conditions. Environmental surroundings such as a skier moving to Florida. 

At times, we may even devalue ourselves when we don't do the things that we use to do - because of the high value we once placed on them. 

My point, is that when we tie ourselves to what we do with such conviction that it becomes who we are, we risk an identity crisis. 

I am not a yogi.

Currently, I do yoga. 

Embracing who we are without the things that we do and knowing who we are without the things that we do has the ability to bring grounding despite the changes in and around us.

 Photo by Morgan McBride,  Unsplash  

Photo by Morgan McBride, Unsplash 

As tree (yes, I am anthropomorphizing) who weathers a storm, and has core that stands unwavering when it's branches are shaking, bending, and even breaking. And endure seasons of change, even changing of colors, and sometimes, stranding bare with no leaves and awaiting the sun of the next season where they will begin to bud and blossom once again. 

Title Unknown - That is the Title

It has been a long while since my last post. At least to me, nearly four months is a loooong time to not be writing - or rather  publishing something that is not work related (but isn't it all? More on that later...)

My life is radically different than it was six months ago.

In less than a year, I have fallen madly in love with the a humble, sexy, and strong man. And I do not mean strong merely in the physical sense. The man I have fallen in love one with is strong intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. I have moved across the country (again, making this my 6th cross-country move in three years). Not only have I moved across the country, but I have moved in with this man that I have the honor of calling my boyfriend.

 This is him.  

This is him.  

For the first time in over 6 years, I am sharing my life with someone. But perhaps more beautiful, more significant, more juicy than that - for the first time in my life, I am openly and peacefully sharing my life with another person - something that I was not sure I would be able to do (or would want to for that matter). I quite liked being single. Though something I have come to learn is that while there are inevitably sacrifices in a relationship, I still live my life the way that I choose to live my life. I still do all of things that I enjoy doing - the things that make me ... me. Things like yoga, jogging, walking, hiking, farmers markets, cooking, writing, and meditation.

I have come to learn that in a relationship - perhaps one of the most paramount things that we need to remember is that what attracted the other person to us is who we are. As soon as we lose sight of the things that make us - us - OUR passions, OUR dreams, OUR goals, we begin to morph into something that neither person can recognize or genuinely and whole heartily love.

Something that I have come to learn in my thirty years here on Earth, is that in a healthy relationship, we add to one another's happiness. We do not solely create it. We are not responsible for the other person's happiness - and they are not responsible for ours. In a healthy relationship, we build more passions, more dreams, more goals - we don't let go of our own. This isn't to say that when something is not serving us well anymore - say an adolescent passion or an unreasonably lofty goal, that we shouldn't let that go. Goals that we have outgrown or evolved beyond most certainly need to be adjusted or completely eliminated. But that is an individual decision. Happiness is an individual choice. One of the things that attracted me to the man that I am with - is that, like me, he had made a distinct decision to choose happiness in his life.

As if falling in love, cohabiting, and moving across the country wasn't enough of a change, I have also started work with a new company. A SaaS technology company that is doing some seriously awesome things in the Digital Asset Management space. 

Most of us wish we could be "retired." We want to tromp around in the woods, frolic in open fields, lounge alongside open seas, and travel to our hearts to content - we talk about these idyllic circumstances with our significant others and friends. We dream of days with no plans, no schedules, no commitments, no deadlines. We celebrate "hump day," carry smiles on "it's almost Friday Thursday's," and act like kindergarteners headed out for recess on Friday's. We fantasize about afternoon siestas and exploring foreign lands and not.... working.

Yet paradoxically, most of us actually enjoy working. Not rudimentary or mundane work - actual work. Work that helps to create balance in our lives and fulfill an element of our health that nothing else can fulfill. Work that is challenging - mentally and often times also physically. Work that allows us to use our brains and our bodies. Work that at the end of the day, we feel we made a difference. Work that makes us feel that what we did all day mattered - that we are valued and provide value. 

Whether you are drilling for oil or you are taking the redeye flight after a week of international meetings, both are taxing on your body. Both require mental and physical exertion. To be meaningfully rewarded financially, emotionally, progressively - time, energy, and dedication need to be put it - with a sense of purpose and pride. Time away from families. Time away from our other passions. Time away from days with no plans.

Whether an owner of a coffee shop or an architect - a logger or a software engineer - a fishing guide or a CEO - a ski instructor or a chef, there is real opportunity to love the shit out of what they do. Each profession so wildly different yet each one has the potential to bring great satisfaction. Similar to a relationship, work that you are passionate about adds to your happiness. It does not define it.

Can you develop passion for something? I believe that passion can be developed over time through a process of self-discovery, finding your strengths, weaknesses, interests, and confusions -  and continuing to build upon knowledge and skills. I believe some things that we are passionate about come to us innately and others we have the ability to create, build, and excel in. 

I heard a quote once, that I'll end with: 

"Discover what it is that you desire to do. Listen to your body and mind as you stress it in different ways. Distill that to its essence." 
-Author Unknown

Here's to the next six months. 

With love,

AEBailey

Living in New York City is like Golf

I have come to the conclusion that living in NYC is like golf. 

Admittedly, I am not an avid golfer, yet this analogy has been spinning around in my head for the past few weeks so I decided to entertain it. 

I say that I am not an avid golfer, and this is true, but I have played the game. And that's exactly what I see NYC as - a game. 

Bear with me here. 

My Dad (an actual avid golfer) once told me a long time ago that playing golf is one of the most unnatural sports in terms of the physical positioning of your body and particularly, the swing itself. 

When the analogy of 'NYC is like golf' kept playing in my head, I Google'd to see if there were any facts or quotes about golf being unnatural.

I found a couple, which was enough for me to know my Dad is not the only one who has had this sentiment about the golf swing being an unnatural motion.   

Brad Faxon, an American professional golfer, and an eight-time PGA Tour winner, said "The golf swing is among the most stressful and unnatural acts in sports, (short of cheering for the Yankees)."

And Cindy Reid, author of, Get Yourself in Golf Shape: Exercise Drills to Build a Strong Swing...stated: "A good golf swing is not a 'natural' athletic move, like throwing a ball, or stroking a tennis forehand. In fact, a golf swing is one of the most unnatural motions in sports."

Like golf, NYC is one of the most unnatural ways to live that I have ever experienced. Actually, it is the most unnatural way that I have ever lived. And like golf, NYC is a complex beast, though may look simple - or even effortless to an onlooker.

 Photo Credit:  Edewaa Foster , Unsplash

Photo Credit: Edewaa Foster, Unsplash

Below I will make an effort to articulate the ways in which I believe golf is unnatural. 

  1. You're in an outdoor setting (that is usually quite beautiful), yet you are getting from point A to point B via a golf cart rather than walking
  2. You have everything you need in a large bag, and proper shoes are essential 
  3. In a straightforward definition of golf on Wikipedia, "In golf, players use clubs to hit balls into a series of holes on a course in as few strokes as possible" 
  4. Players are attempting to have the lowest score - that is get the ball in the hole in the lowest amount of strokes possible 
  5. Most golf courses have 18 holes, yet some have 9 and can be played twice-through in order to have a full round of golf 
  6. The stance. You're bowed at the waist, yet your back is straight and your shoulders are tall. Your feet are shoulder width apart yet your knees are slightly bent and the majority of your weight is on the balls of your feet and your left hip is slightly higher than your right. In what other life circumstance are you standing this way? 
  7. The swing. You have to train your body to be able to properly set up for the swing. Which is actually a simple motion. However, that is not to say that it's easy. For anyone who has played the game, this unnatural way of standing and swinging, is quite challenging. And the stance is, of course, much more complex than I described - now add in positioning of your chin, feet, and gripping your hands around a titanium/steel/graphite club (aka iron or wood). 
  8.  While there is a long list of mechanics to the game golf, one is taking this club/rod and attempting to hit a small spherical (usually white) aerodynamic ball into a small hole off a tee (a tiny stationary support for the first stroke from each hole)

The Physics of the Golf Swing: The figure above shows a strobe picture taken of Bobby Jones golf swing, in the 1940s (source: http://www.clubmaker-online.com/bj003.gif)

Cindy Reid goes on to say about setting up for the swing: 

"Does anything about that sound 'easy?' Of course not. Everything about the golf swing fights your natural instincts. You hit down on the ball in order for it to go up. You swing the club right of the target in order for the ball to curve left. You must remove tension from your hands and arms in order to strike the ball harder and hit it farther. Pros stand tall while hitting a stationary object sitting on the ground, and they rotate their shoulders around a reasonably straight spine...But accomplished golfers have trained their bodies to create these unnatural motions...The golf swing is simple, but golf is the hardest game in the world at which to excel - much less, dare I say, master." 

This quote beautifully sums up how I feel about living in New York City.   

Photo Credit: Brook Cagle, Unsplash

Let's break it down. 

Nothing about living in New York City is easy. Everything about NYC fights your natural instincts. You ride the subway down in order to go up. You walk to the right of the person in order for the other person to move left in an ongoing game of move-out-of-the-fucking-way. You must remove tension from your hands and arms in order to work harder and go farther. Pros stand tall while hitting their keyboards riding on the subway, and they rotate their eyes around to watch for shady activity...But accomplished New Yorkers have trained their bodies  (and minds) to create these unnatural acts...Living in NYC is simple, but NYC is the hardest city in the world at which to excel - much less, dare I say, master.

So to parallel the points I made about golf, below I will make an effort to articulate the ways in which I believe living in NYC is unnatural. 

  1. You are in a city setting, yet you are getting from point A to point B via a subway, taxi, or bus rather than walking or driving your own car. Yes, New Yorkers do walk a lot but the 'daily commute' is typically via public transportation. To go 6 miles takes around 45 minutes - and that's if the trains are running on time. 
  2. You carry everything you need in one or two large bags, and proper shoes for walking and getting disgusting are essential (and your other shoes are packed in one of your bags)
  3.  New Yorkers take the least amount of trains with the least amount of stops possible. It's never a mere 'let's go get some groceries.' No, it's an entire event. Getting groceries depends upon the weather, which train station you'll hop on, if there are any transfers, and how many bags you can possibly carry on your person. 
  4. New Yorkers attempt to live in the most idyllic numbers and boroughs as quickly and seamlessly as possible - that is get into the best borough in the least amount of moves possible 
  5. Most boroughs have your own neighborhood cafe, market, and park, yet some have 2 or 3 and can be frequented all in the same day in order to have a full day of quintessential NY
  6. You walk half of a block to pick up your coffee, then go down some stairs to wait for a subway that will take you to another part of the city. If your in rush hour, then you are standing there with your life on your shoulder (or back), coffee in hand, headphones plugged in blasting your most zen music, and trying to read your book, twitter feed, or local paper. On the pole that is keeping you upright, your hand is crammed up against another person's that you don't know and let's face it - probably don't want to know. And your trying to not think about how your leg is crammed up against someone's knee. In what other life circumstance are you standing this way? 
  7. You have to train your body and your mind to be able to properly set up for the swing of the NYC lifestyle. Which is actually simple. However, that is not to say that it's easy. For anyone who has played the game of NY, this unnatural way of living and not breathing, is quite challenging. And the life is, of course, much more complex than I described - now add in trying to breath in fresh air, make friends, and get to any sort of nature that is not contaminated by destruction or pollution.
  8.  While there is a long list of the ins-and-outs to New York life,  one is taking their body and mind and attempting to 'make it' amongst all of the others that have the same goal with a slightly different purpose. Trying to get their very own and uniquely shaped ball off a tee and into a corner office - in the least amount of years - with their favorite market down below and park in view so that they can get a glimpse of the natural world while they work incessantly in the unnatural.

Photo Credit: Björn Simon, Unsplash

Perhaps there is a reason why I am not an avid golfer or a 'true' New Yorker. But, I am grateful to have tried them both so that I can feel that much more belonging in my natural state - and in the natural world. 

-AeBailey
Not a New Yorker, tee'ing off for the next fairway

Humans are Naturally Insane

Insanity. 

Below is what the definition is not: 

"Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results," loosely quoted by the great theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein. 

Although, I do believe that the notion of doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results is also a quality that is intrinsic to humans. Just think of children getting into shenanigans, or your habits that you incessantly try to break. Or the goals you continuously attempt to achieve and come to similar roadblocks every single time. 

But what I am referring to is the 'true' definition of insanity. 

Important note: I am not referring to the criminally insane, so for the sake of the sanity of this post let's leave the criminals locked up. 

So let's take a look at some of the definitions of insanity - or rather the root word insane

  • Immoderate; wild
  • Very foolish; absurd
  • Mentally deranged; crazy; of unsound mind
  • Utterly senseless; irrational
  • In a state of mind that prevents normal perception, behavior, or social interaction
  • (Of an action or policy) extremely foolish; irrational or illogical

(From The Free Dictionary and Oxford Dictionaries )

Some synonymous of insane: 

Mad, bananas, bonkers, crazy, ridiculous, irrational, nuts, off your rocker, bizarre, wild, nonsensical, lunatic, unbalanced, loco, silly, batshit crazy (probably my favorite)

What then is is the opposite? Or, the antonyms? 

Sane, rational, logical, normal, sensible

Are we all born rational, sane, and logical? Are we all born... normal? Is this what we are striving for? Is this what we wish to teach our children? To not be but to conform? 

Normal is a learned state of being. Normal is learned way or living. Normal is not... natural

How often are we not afraid to get to know another human, but rather to let them get to know us? Let them in to see the dusty nooks and crannies of our own minds. Revealing to them all of the things about us that make us ... us. And yet, they would not be drawn to us in the first place if we weren't who we are as an individual. If we did not embody our quirkiness. I have seen this time and time again in romantic relationships. People start losing themselves and begin to let go of who they are to blend more into the other person's life and then they begin to bump heads - they begin to question what they ever saw in the person. They have both changed so much and let go of who they really are that they fall out of love or lose attraction for one another. 

The most uneasy I have felt around another person is when I can't pick up on who they are - as if they are not comfortable with who they are - they can't be alone with themselves and they haven't yet relaxed into their-self enough to be content with everything that makes them ... them. 

I can't help but think about some of the most influential people in history - and of course this is just a tiny fraction but I think of people like Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Martin Luther King Jr., Elvis, Madonna, Oprah Winfrey, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Anne Frank, Rosa Parks, Lao Tsu, Steve Jobs, Michael Jackson, Babe Ruth, Sigmund Freud,  Leonardo da Vinci, Amadeus Mozart, Aristotle, Shakespeare, Albert Einstein, and Gandhi.

No, I did not personally know any of these people (although I do think I knew Janis Joplin in another life but that is another post entirely), but I don't think normal or even sane are words that we would use to describe any of them. 

Brilliant, eccentric, bold, unconventional, extraordinary, profound, provocative. 

 These are some of the words I would use to describe many of our great influencers. 

Jim Morrison, The Lizard King

So perhaps some of us more than others - or more accurately, some of us show it more than others, but I believe that we all have a little madness. That we are all a bit insane. That we are all just a little... batshit crazy. 

Here's to insanity,

Relish in yours, and allow me to relish in mine.  

-AeBailey 

 

Adaptability

I have moved five times in the last three years and have had a handful of different jobs. So far in my life, I have lived in eleven different towns ranging from very small villages - nearly off the grid to large cities, and sometimes relocated several different times within the same city. In addition, I have had extended stays for weeks and sometimes months at other people's homes or hotels along the way. Not to mention the 14 months of my youth that I spent at a lockdown behavioral correctional facility (Meet 'Desperately Seeking The 60s Flower Child' - ahem, Yours Truly, in the early 2000s). 

Through this, I have discovered that I seem to have an innate ability to adapt to my environment. Like a chameleon, I can change my color depending on where I am in the world. But what I have found to be critical in navigating adaptability is walking my truth regardless of whether I am walking on a dirt road or a city sidewalk. Staying true to myself, my core, my roots - staying grounded in who I am whether I am wearing my flannel, jeans, and Sperry boat-shoes or my black slacks, silk blouse, and Gucci heels. 

After-all, a chameleon doesn't change it's insides , characteristics, or behavior - the change is reflected externally. In fact, I just learned while writing this that the chameleon doesn't change color due to surroundings per se but rather as a means of communicating it's emotions

Not to say that it isn't HARD (sometimes it is massively difficult!) to uproot and change environments, or that that there isn't an adjustment period or a moment(s) of complete shock. The key for me is knowing that I am right where I need to be in the world and trusting that the decisions I have made have been exactly what I need at any given time. The times where I have felt the most uncertain and chaotic are times when I have lost trust in myself and doubted my judgement. 

It doesn't matter where I am in the world, there are still things that I include in my daily life that make me feel... more me. Yoga, writing, walking, meditation, nature, nutrition dense foods, music... without these rituals and elements, I slowly become more detached from my higher-self and higher-power. 

From a palm-tree filled back yard in West Palm Beach to a building rooftop in Philadelphia, to a wide open deck in Bar Harbor to my (cozy) shoebox bedroom in Brooklyn, I lay my mat down and all is well in the world. 

My point - is that I may have different experiences and surrounded by vastly different environments, but the way that I live my life (with some tweaks along the way) remain the same. I still lay around for hours on the weekends listening to music and writing - coffee by my side - followed by long walks, farmers markets, meeting friends, yoga... No matter where I am, I love to 'see what I see, and do what I do.' And regardless of whether I am in a 9-5 or setting my own hours, on the weekday mornings I sip lemon water, get some exercise or journaling and reading in (depending on the day) and then begin my work for the day, usually followed by yoga and ending with meditation. Put me in the woods or above the subway - I am still ME. 

I'll end with song by Eddie Vedder, possibly one of my favorite soloists of all time. It's beautifully thought-provoking and humbling - and helps to keep me sane on my commute from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Even while jam packed into the train like a sardine - there is still a calm in my heart. 

 

"Society"
(originally by Jerry Hannan)

It's a mystery to me
We have a greed with which we have agreed
And you think you have to want more than you need
Until you have it all, you won't be free

Society, you're a crazy breed
I hope you're not lonely without me

When you want more than you have, you think you need
And when you think more than you want, your thoughts begin to bleed
I think I need to find a bigger place
Cause when you have more than you think, you need more space

Society, you're a crazy breed
I hope you're not lonely without me
Society, crazy indeed
Hope you're not lonely without me

There's those thinking more or less, less is more
But if less is more, how you keepin score?
Means for every point you make your level drops
Kinda like you're startin' from the top
And you can't do that

Society, you're a crazy breed
I hope you're not lonely without me
Society, crazy indeed
I hope you're not lonely without me
Society, have mercy on me
I hope you're not angry if I disagree
Society, you're crazy indeed
I hope you're not lonely without me

The times in my life where I have felt the most fulfilled, grateful, and that abundance is all around me, is when I have less - when my life is completely downsized - and even when my income has shrank (or diminished). 

When just about everything you own is packed into a car or a room and you realize you still have more than you need - it's at that moment you feel truly blessed. 

So go ahead and walk about. Feed your rat (an expression I picked up in Australia, meaning "feed your adventure"). 

Carry peace with you amid the chaos but don't ever fear the chaos for it will rip through you no matter where you are in the world. Just keep standing your ground. 

- AeBailey