Somewhere on the cusp of Tuesday night and Wednesday morning after the longest 15 hour drive of my life, including a hellacious thunderstorm bordered by tornadoes to the south of where I was driving, Edie and I rolled up to the driveway of my folks’ house in the Swedish Meatball. Three weeks into a six – seven week road trip was cut short by my sobering realization I could not maintain the focus I needed on my final round of edits of my dissertation for my committee to approve and allow me to move on to my defense.

As much as I hate having to miss my niece’s first dance recital and one on one time with my best friend, most definitely not something to enjoy, this was a hard, but right, decision to make. I’ll look forward to getting to Connecticut later in the summer, and then maybe the water will even be warm enough for a swim! Amidst some disappointments, there’s still plenty I found this week to be beautiful.

Something to Enjoy

Something I’m Listening to…. Chris Cornell – Sunshower

Thursday’s news absolutely gutted me. As were many others rocked by the revelation of Chris Cornell’s unfortunate and untimely death. I feel like all of my idols are being taken away. I listened to this song – as is a frequent repeat on my playlists. If you’re at all feeling what I am, you’ve likely been hitting the Spotify Audioslave, Soundgarden, and his solo playlists all day. Er, weekend? He’s gone, but I can tribute the heck out of his art.

Something I’m Reading…. Modern Love

My obsession with the New York Times’s Modern Love podcast grew into reading the weekly column on the website. I wait, every week, for the indicator on my podcast app to inform me of the next episode. And I wait, every week, for the NYT site to update the newest digital draft to read. Two Modern Loves in any given week. And, when I’m planning a road trip, I’ll hold off on the podcast so I can binge listen to the stories. 

Something I’m Loving…. 

Feminista Jones‘s Twitter, in particular, her cheeky call out and “to piss a man off today” challenge. I feel hopeful more women are speaking up and calling out behaviors and ideologies that need to change. 

something to enjoy

Whatever you are looking ahead to with the rest of your weekend and heading into next week, make it beautiful! As for me, I’m enjoying the empty house while my folks are exploring the northeastern sea shore and riding out four straight days of thunderstorms and tornado watches. Welcome to Spring time in Kansas! There’s no place like “home.”

XO,

Jennifer

something to enjoy something to enjoy

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How to Deal During a Friendship Breakup

Romantic breakups… they suck. Socially, we are better prepared to cope with the loss of a lover. When we lose a friend, particularly a close friendship, that sting of a friendship breakup is especially potent and lingering.

What do you do when a friendship breakup goes without warning?

In addition to losing the friend, chances are there are mutual friends, too. Maneuvering through the painful emotions of the loss of the friend is particularly tricky, in this case. Navigate wrong and you may also lose friends who feel (intentionally or accidentally) pressured to choose allegiances. Your circle of support may end up even smaller. Having been caught in the middle of a friendship breakup, it’s painful and awkward as hell to be in the mutual circle. 

“Female friendships can make us feel healthier, happier, less stressed and feel more beautiful,” according to extensive research collected by founder of Girlfriendology, Debba Hauper. It’s no surprise, then, that you can feel especially isolated at the loss of a close friendship.

When I experienced a particularly distressing loss of a romantic relationship I had a friend’s shoulder I could cry on. The same shoulder I leaned on when I unexpectedly lost my father. This woman was also by my side through a betrayal by a partner which sent my entire world on its axis. So when our friendship was threatened, and abruptly ended in quite a volatile and fast fashion, the loss was… palpable.

The person I would’ve normally gone to and talked with about my sadness was gone. 

friendship breakup

Image credit Evan Kirby @EvanKirby2

To a point, yes, I faulted her for the demise of the friendship. I was heartbroken. More so, even, than I was the romantic relationship whose breakup she nursed me through. I was angry because logically the situation was so absurd. To me. I didn’t “deserve” the fault and blame coming at me. By my perspective. I never had the opportunity to learn from her what her perspective was. But I was out of my mind with grief.

A friendship goes two ways and you can’t control the agency and filter by which another person views the world any more than you can change patterns of behavior of a person other than yours. You are allowed to feel hurt and mourn that loss. But be cautious with how you act out in your pain. Your pain is not an excuse to act out in a bad way.

I also knew then, as I do now, at the time of the fracture between us, she was responding to a perceived threat to her safety and wellbeing in the best way she knew how with the coping strategies that have served her to that point in her life. I responded in the way I needed to advocate for myself, knowing full well the potential for the fallout that occurred. Knowing what my hard line and boundary was and what action I was obliged to take even knowing what the reaction would be. 

I typically am of the choose to be in the relationship over righteousness mentality. In this particular instance, whereas previously I could let go of issues that arose and gave her the space to be “right,” in this case I could not. How I wished I could…. If in the midst of a conflict with your friend, consider what is more important?

Gut checking my responses and actions, I tread as carefully as I could. But, it wasn’t all about me. This was something she was very much experiencing and participating in, as well. There was a pattern of behavior I previously witnessed, and now I was experiencing. While my heart was breaking I also knew there was a particular pathology going on that wasn’t about me. That awareness did not make my pain any less but was valuable for me to begin to process the loss.

I’ve since come to terms with and moved beyond the end of the friendship. Weathered awkward (and at times downright rude) greetings and path crossings. From a distance watched her life evolve and be blessed with joys she was worried would elude her. Silently celebrated the wins I would hear about in her life, and on several occassions debated if sending congratulations and well wishes would be welcomed. Ultimately, I chose silence.

We even evolved to civil and “safe” conversations about work and life. But we are at the point in our lives, now. I have no interest in trying to rebuild the friendship. Based on what I see, there is no interest on her part, too. And that’s ok. From afar, I wish her so much happiness and well being. We had a beautiful friendship and she was a damn good friend to me when we were friends. 

I owned my role, but I can’t – and nor should you – take ownership for the work another person needs to do or the actions another person chooses to make. Because it isn’t always about you. It’s entirely possible, during a friendship breakup, especially if it’s messy, your friend is feeling intense pain, too. And could be operating from a place of pain. 

friendship breakup

Image credit Evan Kirby @EvanKirby2

What you can do in these moments is respond in a way that is healthy and authentic for yourself. Own what is yours to own and do not take on what is not yours to claim.

Some strategies I employed to help me cope with the breakup

After what I thought was a reasonable, although recent, cooling off period I sent an email requesting for us to talk about the outburst. She declined. I accepted her experience and wishes as I accepted the finality of her choice. Closure is really more of a concept than an outcome. Let it be. If your friend doesn’t want to talk it out or try to reconcile, honor her experience and her preference. It’s not all about you.

Practice kindness and compassion to myself. I reflected on what were lessons I could take from this? In the end, after a lot of self reflection and honest – safe – dialogue with people who knew my tendencies and character faults, I realized I would have acted the same if given a chance for a do over. I put energy into my other friendships, my voluntarism, my PhD work, snuggles with Edie… I put my energy and focus into all of the positive and awesome things I have and have going on in my life. Dogs make pretty much any sad scenario brighter and lighter. Don’t have a dog? Volunteer at a local shelter. They nearly always need people to walk and play with the pups. Not a dog person? Shelters have kitties, too. 

friendship breakup

Image credit Evan Kirby @EvanKirby2

Create space. For me this meant unfriending on social media. It seems dramatic and harsh but I needed to focus on my healing. That meant giving myself as much space emotionally and not seeing mutual friends’ tags and updates on her life. Seeing the reminders of ways in which I was no longer part of her life hurt me. Unfriending was not an act of passive aggression or punishment. I knew our friendship was over in the real world so ending it in Facebook, to me, was a natural progression and step. 

I cried and wrote about it in my journal. The loss hurt because that emotional investment in the deep intimacy of our friendship was something worth losing. I wrote out things I wanted to say to her – but if you do this, please do not send those letters! Like Dr. Seuss wrote, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” But if you need to cry and you want to cry, cry. Then smile. Even though it’s gone, you had something beautiful. And probably have others, and you will have more beautiful babelicious friendships.

Okay, I could have been less petty. Even when I tried to own my emotions, if she came up in conversation, there were times I didn’t filter as well as I should have. And, wow, that created some awkward. Guess who looked like the petty, emotional fool? And, also, I wish I honored the past friendship and my former friend more. There are times when even if you’re not trying to be, petty can come out with realizing it. So watch yourself. 

My mom repeatedly told me as I was growing up a person’s perspective is their reality.

Never is that more observable when coping with conflict. Be as loving as you can be, to your friend and to you. Because, ultimately, you will serve your own experience best by acting with love. 

XO, Jennifer

friendship breakup

 

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Choosing Courage to Ride the Wave of Vulnerability

“Rather than deny our vulnerability, we lean into both the beauty and agony of our shared humanity. Choosing courage does not mean that we’re unafraid, it means that we are brave enough to love despite the fear and uncertainty.” ~Brene Brown

Years ago, a man I was dating could sense I was holding back and my block was preventing us from moving forward. He said to me, “you know, it’s okay for you to be vulnerable.” You would think Thor directed a lightening bolt at our clasped hands because I bolted. Tucked my tail and ran like a terrified puppy. By the mere thought of sharing with him my battered heart and letting him see my pain. Mind you, I literally did make a quick exit, and there’s no way to elegantly hoof it when still wearing a walking cast. The hobble is not dignified or efficient.

He became the first man I ghosted. *I know, I know….* And it was brutal! I was such a coward. He’s a good man, and he treated me remarkably well, and he deserved far better than what I gave him. And it was painful for him. Both of us were clumsily trying to navigate dating, both having experienced similar trauma of discovering our significant others were unfaithful to us. Years later, we reconnected.

Funnily enough, he reached out to me after seeing a young woman hobbling on crutches which reminded him of our first date. We are friends…. after he read me the riot act for disappearing. Which I accepted. He’s happily married to a wonderful woman and they share a healthy, beautiful, blended family.

And then the day came,

when the risk

to remain tight

in a bud

was more painful

than the risk

it took

to blossom.

Risk ~ Anaïs Nin

And I’m often still that clumsy, scared puppy when comes the terrifying thunderclap or being called upon to share my intimate parts of me with others. However, here in Oaxaca, that’s more likely to be fireworks exploding overhead than actual thunder…..

Costa Rica Surfing Nosara Vulnerability

I’m currently dealing with a lot of vulnerability and exposure in a way that I normally tend to work very hard to avoid. I’m absolutely, definitely, without a question the person who will cut and run and avoid authentic connection in almost every scenario in effort to avoid being emotionally eviscerated again. Even though, so far, I’ve proven that you will be able to recover from every loss, broken heart, abandonment, and betrayal. It doesn’t always feel like that is possible, but I have a 100% recovery rate.

Here’s a rub, though: there are times during which channeling massive courage for authenticity and vulnerability will not be rewarded by receipt of the outcome you put yourself out on the very ledge of exposure for…. and it sucks so hard! Aaaaah, that feeling is the worst when you’re emotionally naked, and the lights are on, and… and… and… no.

A few years ago, when I was nearly hysterical from what I was then experiencing as a vulnerability exposure fail, a friend said to me, “it’s scary and it’s hard to show people our ugly.” Yes. It’s scary. And it’s hard. It’s hard to constantly live in your truth. Because when you’re being truthful and authentic all of your time, you’re going to turn off some people because they don’t tune in to that vibration. But it’s not easy, and again, the fear factor, for me, is intense.

Also, trust. Can I trust my instincts regarding this person? Can I trust this person? If I open up my heart, is this person going to take that vulnerability to hurt me? Because… that’s what happened before.

I’ve held myself back. I lose out on the possibility of the kind of connection I want, and I also deny someone the opportunity to receive all the weird, wonderful, quirky, and beautiful parts of me that lie beneath the surface of fear and anxiety. But the part of me that craves that connection and depth doesn’t call to me as loud as the part of me that begs me to stay closed to protect myself.

I learned that fear through a traumatic abusive relationship. I came to accept I wasn’t worth more than what he told me I was worth, through his hurtful words and his injury afflicting actions. Then, another one, this time a true wolf in a friendly skin told me I hadn’t come as far in my recovery and ability to protect myself from a predator (when you learn your ex is a convicted felon as he goes back to prison… yeah that happened). Trusting myself, and trusting others… that’s hard. It’s scary.

Costa Rica Surfing Nosara Vulnerability

I keep coming back to this picture from when I went on a (divine) yoga retreat in Costa Rica a couple of years ago. When my friend snapped this picture of me, I had no idea she was even there. I had just been wacked in the back of my head by my longboard on what was one of my most awkward falls I ever made when surfing – and just believe me when I say I wipe out better than I ride.

But my smile is so real. There was nothing anticipated or commanded. This sunburned mug is radiant with sheer joy. If I had let my anxiety and self-conscious nervousness about how not-good I am at surfing get the better of my earnest desire to ride those perfect baby swells (I know my limits of my skill level), I wouldn’t have ever known how delicious and fun Costa Rica waves are for long boarding.

One of the things about surfing – especially at the beginning, is learning how to read the wave and determine which ones, and when, are good to ride. Because I don’t get to surf often, I miss quite a few, and in the split second of hesitation, that wave is gone. But there’s more. There’s always more!

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” ~Brene Brown

When you’re told repeatedly you’re not worthy of love and sincere affection without conditional approvals, your mind can hold onto those messages. Despite a hell of a lot of work I’ve done to reclaim myself and recover, I still have triggers. But those aren’t my truths – only as much as I want to allow myself to continue to subscribe to that story. I still have doubts. It’s like that song from Bob Dylan, Just Like a Woman.

Whether puppy or little girl, I have to willfully force myself to stand present in front of someone, whether a new friend – usually a man wanting to build an emotional connection – I have to resist and push down the initial reaction to run and choose to be courageous. I’m a good emotional runner. But a terrible physical runner. Too many ankle and foot fractures.

And so also goes with finding the courage to continue to take the exposure and painful anxiety of vulnerability. We get better at what we practice. Sometimes the ride will be good. Sometimes we get knocked in the head by a surfboard. Right now I’m feeling the knock in my heart. But I really don’t want to miss any more waves because I hesitated.

Vulnerability is not for anyone faint hearted! If you want to live authentically and with appropriate vulnerability, you have to be a warrior. A love warrior! And better yet, be ready for the ride.

XO,

Jennifer

Nosara Costa Rica Surfing Vulnerability .jpg
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Why I Can’t Get Hygge With It

Hygge here, hygge there, lots of ladies are hyggeing it up everywhere! Fun, if not a bit difficult, to pronounce, with the benefit of cozy socks and a full heart, Hygge is giving a lot of us all the lovely huggable hygge feels. But here’s a rather controversial and unpopular thing. I’m NOT comfortable. Not emotionally, mentally, and certainly not physically comfortable. Everything in my life is at complete odds with Hygge. And I don’t necessarily think that is a “bad” thing. For the record: I love Hygge! I want to get Hygge with it (yes, I know that is not how Hygge is pronounced but just roll with me, and roll your eyes if you must, it’s okay I do it to myself, too). So, to be clear, this is not a Hygge bash.

Hygge - why i can't get hygge

For those who don’t know, Hygge is a Danish concept: to live well. To take genuine pleasure and enjoyment in simplicities in life. In short, Hygge is pretty fantastic, and in better, nay different, circumstances, is in the realm of life goals in lifestyles that feel increasingly harried and rushed and so dang busy. I want to immerse into the comfort my fuzzy alpaca wool socks, a mug of hot Trader Joe’s peppermint tea, and yummy floral candles burning around my (no longer existing) condo. But, I just… can’t… get Hygge right now.

 Hygge - why i can't get hygge 

Right now, I’m profoundly uncomfortable.

To curl up and snuggle in soft textiles in this moment in time feels, to me, antipodal. Hygge is rooted in an absence of annoyances and emotional overwhelm. Well, my dissertation, alone, excludes me from falling cozying up to Hygge! Hygge, essentially, is against controversy, foreign ideals and values, and is gentle, calm, with a nod toward personal social censorship. And there’s nothing wrong with that, I’m saying. But that’s not where I’m at in my present, with my experience.

I’m politically uncomfortable.

Call me a snowflake because I’m still pissed Hillary lost the election. Heartbroken, actually. And tremendously worried for my country. Well, let’s add the world. Hygge doesn’t exactly jive with the kind of discomfort and frustration needed to be truly itchy enough to be civically engaged. Snowflake, here! I moved to Mexico. I marched. Even before the election I volunteered for Hillary’s campaign. And I don’t want to get comfortable. I want to act. As much as I’d love to snuggle in those fuzzy socks and a sweater and listen to Edith Piaf on Spotify I feel more obliged to move and act on the benefit for civil rights. I am deeply opposed to nearly everything our current administration promised and represents.

Hygge - why i can't get hygge

But let’s go beyond and let’s talk about awkward.

How about calling legislators from Mexican payphones? Oh, I can be stubborn as an ornery burro when my mind is to it.

Even more uncomfortable, we must, no matter how left, right, or “I just want to see kitties and puppies and babies on my Facebook feed again” we may lean, it is essential for us to openly listen to and receive the point of view and discussion from others who believe differently than us. Expanding our views, being willing to shatter our own comfort zones of beliefs and understanding, is the way we stand to make sustainable progress. For my fellow fair skinned, hetero lovelies, that means we, especially, need to gut check our views of feminism to insist on and represent advocacy for intersectional feminism.

I’m personally uncomfortable.

Well, on my best day, in my home town, I was socially awkward. INFJ MBTI type, here, folks. I’m not only a snowflake, I’m a weird, obsessive, overthinking and over feeling snowflake. We won’t even go into the nearly constant catastrophes that my oversensitive and analytical little ego embarks upon while dating.

I’m experiencing a different type of awkwardness. One anyone who is or has been an expat can relate to feeling.

I’m quickly learning and improving my Spanish by the day, but right now I’m also in that stage where I can hear, as I’m saying or immediately after saying, exactly what I’m doing wrong. Like the day I told my little old (conservative and Catholic) lady neighbor I’m pregnant instead of embarrassed. Talk about “embarrassing.”

I have no hot water, and that’s accounting for the days I have water. Bienvenidos a Oaxaca! I’m taking the quickest showers of my life! Whether the gecko in my courtyard, neighborhood dogs barking, the bells of the basilica, or my neighbors blowing up firecrackers at night (they love to blow things up), I’m not getting that much sleep. Crossing the street has become an extreme sport. I’m cold in the mornings and a hot, sweaty mess in the afternoon.

There’s a weird outsider isolation I feel. I’ve always been proud of my words and my ability to access language. The level of frustration I feel for my inability to express myself in my new language is infuriating. More than once per day I want to clam up and shut down in the middle of conversation. I miss my condo and my little balcony with twinkle lights shaded by a giant ficus tree and overlooking the Spanish style fountain. And I miss my quaint little neighborhood tucked into a mountain preserve. I miss my little pup. And my friends. I have thought – for maybe half a minute at a time – of moving back and immediately work to rebuild my savings. This could have been a massive mistake I will regret in time. But, no.

Hygge - why i can't get hygge

We grow in discomfort.

Think about the times you stepped out of your comfort zone. Even in failure, there is a lesson, that lesson itself is a win, and in that win is a growth opportunity. And what of the times we step outside our comfort zones and we succeed?!

If we stay in comfort, and stay doing what has always been done, we might keep what we have, but likely not to get any more. What is the biggest risk in asking for that promotion for which you have been working your butt so hard? Train for that Grand Canyon hike. The waterfalls, the stunning force and power of the Colorado River, the quiet… worth it. Striking up conversation with that cutie you see every Sunday at your coffee shop? Well, you never know….

What about saying “no” to the happy hour invitation you really don’t want to go on, anyway? There’s a ton of value to saying “yes,” and “leaning in.” We retain and generate so much positive power in saying “no.” There’s power in not apologizing for stuff that isn’t yours owing apology.

There’s warmth and comfort in seeking small pleasures, and by all means, we ought to celebrate them. We have a lot – a lot – of benefits to seeking safety and security. But, dangit, I think – right now – we have so much more to gain by seeking a bit more discomfort.

Hygge - why i can't get hygge

What do you think?

XO, Jennifer

Hygge - why i can't get hygge and marched on washington

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Errance
The French have a word we don’t possess in English. Errance. It means “to travel without any clear destination.” Isn’t that rather a lovely word?

 

Finca Austria Nosara Costa Rica Sunset Pacific
For most of my friends, I know my plan – to not have a plan – is physically discomforting. I understand. They care for me, and above wanting me to have happiness and a deeper fulfillment. They want my safety. I desire safety for myself, too. Which is part of the reason I’m not planning a PanAmerican drive from Nogales through Darien Gap. Although, I would -LOVE- to do that. I don’t have a death wish, and I’m not an adventure junkie. However, I am insistent that – as of right now – I cannot force a prescriptive process to what I am going to do next after having completely dismantled my life in Phoenix. Selling all of my possessions and accounting my belongings to 12 boxes that now reside in my mom and stepfather’s basement was not a decision – nor action – I took lightly. But… deconstruction to rebuild at a later time… IS… the very process.
Oh, and if I could afford to, I’d gladly set a clear destination back to this view atop a hill in Nosara, CR.
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