I believe that God created bikinis to give women good old-fashioned reality checks, even if we didn’t request one.
I mean really, is there anything more humbling than standing in front of a fitting room mirror that’s very close and covered in fingerprints from small children and trying to figure out if the bikini bottoms are giving you love handles, or if the underwear that you have scrunched up underneath the bikini bottoms are creating the love handles, or if there’s no help and the love handles would be there whether you were bottomless or not?
A good old-fashioned, humbling, reality check.
Reminding me of lesson number 3,678 I learned this year:
There is no escaping reality, even in paradise.
Moving to a tropical place and reading self-help books help, but they don’t fix everything. There’s always work to be doing. Always.
See, the thing about moving to Hawaii is that I fell into a trap where I thought everything would be perfection.
Pineapple-flavored, sea breezy, easy, beautiful, Cover-girl skin-looking, coconut-smelling perfection.
The thing that still catches me by surprise every time I expect this perfection though, is that Hawaii is actually a real place.
Like, it’s on a map. And it’s part of a country that requires it’s residents to pay taxes and use turn signals.
People still have to work to make the money to buy groceries and sometimes…it even rains.
And so, maybe, I ignored all of the real stuff, and instead imagined my highlighted hair blowing behind me on my motorcycle while on my way to the black sand beach where I would read a book that has nothing to do with compulsive eating and coat myself in coconut oil for a perfect tan.
But the reality is, is that back-ne and taxes are not just things for the mainland to deal with.
We have them here, too.
Along with really steep hills not condusive to walking, laws stating that you have to have a permit to drive any moped over 125 cc’s, and believe it or not, really expensive health food.
It’s like, in New York City, we accept these laws and these prices and blame it on NYC for being a shitty, expensive city.
But raw cacao and hemp seeds are expensive anywhere, not just NYC. And people have to pay taxes and get motorcycle permits everywhere, not just NYC.
And the lesson to be learned is, you can run from the hard stuff, and you can leave NYC, but you can’t hide.
The constant sunshine and the salty air definitely help matters.
But again, the reality is, whether you live in Montana or Honolulu, when your landlord lives above you and is completely renovating her deck for a week over the Christmas holiday, the noise is bound to drive anyone a little bonkers.
Even if you live in paradise.
It’s almost as if (gasp) I have to live real life, here, in Hawaii, just like the rest of my friends and family.
For some reason, this was a really hard concept for me to grasp.
Since leaving the yoga retreat and moving to the other side of the Big Island, I haven’t done a single yoga pose.
I no longer eat vegetables with every meal. When given a choice between cooking dinner or eating chips and salsa for dinner when my boyfriend, Johnny, is at work, I choose the chips and pineapple salsa about 80% of the time.
Going from living on a yoga retreat where everything – and I mean everything, from the coffee in the morning to the toilet paper all day long – was provided for me, to living in an apartment stocked with food to binge eat and a television to binge watch, has been a lot more complicated than it first sounded.
And after two weeks of moping over my lack of moped skills, crying over the weight I’ve gained, complaining about the landlord’s hammering and sanding, and snapping at Johnny for every single joke he’s made, I had to get myself together. I just had to. I was literally a weeping, snotty, hormonally-imbalanced wreck of a woman.
After taking the time to wash my hair and two week’s worth of laundry that I had simply strewn all over my closet, I started evaluating shit.
First and foremost, binging on shredded cheese and chocolate chips no longer holds the allure it once did. But trying to find solace in it once again while watching an NCIS marathon in my pajamas for the third day in a row was a great reminder of why I’m here. What I’ve done. What I’ve learned. What is next. All that stuff any therapist would tell me to journal about.
Secondly, after Pinterest-ing and Etsy-ing and Upworthy-ing and YouTube-ing Gregory Hines videos until my coffee buzz made me so shaky I had to get up and walk around, I ventured outside to attempt walking the 90 fucking degree hills steeper than a Six Flags roller coaster that make up our neighborhood. I nearly passed out, and my chest hurt so bad I felt as though I ran the Brooklyn Marathon sans training all over again, but it got my heart rate pumping. And thank God for that.
Next, I got back on the saddle – of my moped that is. In Hawaii, everyone rides mopeds, but they normally don’t go above 35mph and they are driven on the side of the road, instead of in traffic. Because my moped is closer to being a motorcycle in power, build, and speed, learning to ride it has proved more serious than I thought it would be. I have to actually be careful. And get a permit. And use turn signals. After a scary incident with a dog crossing my path very suddenly (no one tell my mother, seriously), I totally freaked and wouldn’t go out on it again, confining myself to the apartment without transportation for days. But enough was enough, and I picked up the motorcycle book to study for my permit, started practicing my U-turns again, and drove off through the neighborhood – much to Johnny’s surprise – who nearly had a heart attack when I went past the stop sign for once and disappeared for a full five minutes of almost 35mph driving.
After that, I made a smoothie.
And then, I finally started writing things down that I could be doing with my time outside of NCIS marathons that would actually benefit my well-being.
Dancing, even if in my living room.
Reading. Anything. Not just self-help. Sometimes fiction is the best thing ever.
Researching smoothie recipes.
Learning to play the guitar I bought myself.
Basically I made a vision board.
I cut pics from mags and I wrote down goals, practices, and dreams – even the ones that feel a little out of reach financially (i.e. nutrition school and a trip to Italy) – and I glue-sticked that shit to the brightest posterboard I could find.
This, is my vision for 2014.
And I’m a week early.
Ain’t nobody got time to wait for the first of a year to start living out dreams.
There’s not enough NCIS to cover the hours until January 1st arrives.
So I just, started now.
I am continuously reminded by those I love that I don’t have to finish it all right now.
My mother always says, it didn’t take me two months to binge, so how can I expect it to take me two months to stop binging. Now, she said that like, four months ago, but, the sentiment still applies.
My vision board is now a constant reminder of what I could be doing with my time instead of moping.
Like, I don’t have to walk twelve miles today. I could just walk twelve minutes. And it might not be the recommended dose of cardiovascular activity that my body needs today, but it certainly isn’t going to harm me to walk for twelve minutes.
I don’t have to learn about every superfood today, but learning about one today, is good enough to start me off towards a healthier diet this afternoon when I make my first smoothie with raw cacao.
Six months ago I laughed at my friend Freddie who tried to explain to me how to use raw cacao.
I said, “That overwhelms me, excuse me while I finish this Reese’s.”
Look at me now, comparing raw cacao prices in the health food store.
The final lesson that I am taking with me every time I look at my vision board is about my writing.
My goal is to write something every day.
And I have to accept that all of the “somethings” that I write are not going to be blog-worthy, elephant journal worthy, or viral-sensation worthy.
Writing, just like everything else, is a practice.
And when I find myself checking the stats on my blog or taking it personally when my most avid readers stop sharing each post on Facebook, I have to come back to the basis of why I started all this in the first place.
This is my safe place. This is my therapy, too. And each week, as long as one person reads the post and relates, then my job is done.
Because not only have I helped myself by expressing what’s up, but I’ve helped one other person know that they aren’t alone.
And that is exactly what it’s all about.
So I just wanted to say that whatever our resolutions are for the new year, whether they be writing, using raw cacao, or laughing more, may they be full of hope and purpose for our better well-being.
I won’t preach about how none of us should set diet goals. And I won’t preach about making massive to-do lists for 2014 because honestly, I’ve thought about it.
I’m not completely healed of the whole losing weight thing. I mean, people, I tried on bikinis yesterday. That’s enough to make anyone want to go gluten-sugar-dairy-meat-alcohol-calorie free come January 1st.
But I will just say this.
Whatever it is that you want to accomplish in 2014, just remember to also give yourself a pat on the back for surviving 2013.
My friend Brooke – 22-year old guitar playing Brooke from blog post 10, not sisterfriend Brooke from NYC – inspired all of us at the yoga retreat in her final week by telling us her personal story of finding Hawaii for healing. The thing that stuck with me the most was her final message.
She said that for as long as she can remember, the goal was always to survive.
But now, after learning and healing and living in Hawaii for two months, she no longer wants to survive.
She wants to live.
There’s a difference.
So if you lived your dreams in 2013, then cheers, and here’s to a beautiful 2014 for you and yours.
If you spent some of 2013 in my shoes, just trying to survive, and barely enjoying the moments where you could surface and breathe in the fresh, non-depressed, non-anxious air, then join me in making one more resolution for the new year.
Fuck this “just surviving” shit.
Surviving is for the birds in the winter.
Live, live, live, live,live!
Whatever it takes – whether it’s a vision board or it’s a move to a new state or it’s reading a new Geneen Roth book – give yourself ample time to figure out what you need to surpass survival mode, and live.
Happy New Year, my beautiful people.
See you on the flip side – living, learning, and roaring in 2014!