The Big PVGs

Or: a response to “30 Behaviors That Will Make You Unstoppable” by Benjamin Hardy.

When I spoke to my therapist in early April, he suggested reading Hardy’s article to help me get some ideas for “what works,” you know, that post I procrastinated writing until a few days ago.

Likewise, even though I opened Hardy’s article while I was still on the phone with my therapist, and I kept it open for the next two weeks, I didn’t actually sit down to read it until two days before my next appointment–what happens, I thought, if he asks about it? (Spoiler: he didn’t.)

As I read through these 30 things that promise to make me unstoppable, I felt a plethora of feelings: some of it reminded me of what I read in The Four Desires; some of it sounded too prescriptive, like the “shoulds” that instill shame which Brene Brown warns us against; and some it made me wish for something more, like inspiration and imagination.

But part of me also realized, as I read Hardy, that it’s been a long time since I actually evaluated the big PVGs in my life: my priorities, my values, my goals.

I figured this all out, once, so I’d figured it would end there. But it never does.

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What would it mean?

I was on the phone with my therapist today, discussing the possibility of an ADHD diagnosis. About forty minutes in, he started asking, “It sounds like you’re…” and my brain finished for him, “hoping to be diagnosed with ADHD.” Part of me feared, for a split second, that he thought I was being selective with what I shared, painting a picture of what I want to see, not what’s really in front of me, but instead he said, “It sounds like you’re looking for a medical treatment,” so I just answered, “The thought I could take something to fix just things is very hopeful.”

And then, because I know rushing to medication immediately isn’t always the best answer (I was in counseling for depression two years before I began any prescriptions), when he asked if I would be open to continuing psychotherapy or adjusting the medications I’m already taking, I told him, of course, I’d be willing to give it all a shot. I am. In fact, waiting for a new medication is probably wiser, whether or not I feel impatient waiting for things to finally change.

When the call ended, he hadn’t given any diagnosis, but in addition to scheduling a second meeting, he also scheduled me with a psychiatrist in his practice whom he feels is especially good at teasing out what’s depression and what might be ADHD. That sounds a lot like what I need, and I’m hopeful for what’s to come, but now, hours later, that first impulse in my brain still lingers: What if he thinks I was being selective? Why do I feel such desire to be diagnosed?

What would it mean for him to say I actually have ADHD?

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I Will or I Won’t

In an age of primetime scandals and uncertain politics, there are four things I like to watch: fun TV shows like Steven Universe and the Punisher, fun YouTube videos from creators like Lockstin & Gnoggin or Bird Keeper Toby, satirical news commentary from personalities such as Seth Meyers (if only he were single) and John Oliver, and TED Talks.

TED Talks, as it happens, also form the basis of the mindfulness elective I’m currently teaching. Inspired by the works of Kelly McGonigal and Brene Brown especially (my self-help gurus), this course strives to provide my students with a stress mindset intervention as well as strategies they can employ to conquer stress and shame and boost willpower.

Rather than a large number of quizzes and exams, most of the course is driven by self-reflective journals, and throughout this month, I’m committing myself to reflecting on each of these journals alongside my kids. Practice what you preach, right?

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Stillness Between Breaths

Yesterday I began reflecting on some recent challenges in my relationship with Harel, and it’s a topic I’d like to return to. I feel it’s worth mentioning that although I can’t describe exactly what’s going on without breaching Harel’s trust and confidence in me (he has not said if I may share what’s going on), the general motion is that the circumstances within which our lives are suspended have shifted, and despite no change in our love for each other, it’s unclear if a long-distance relationship can be sustained in the way these new situations would require.

It is, ultimately, an ongoing process we’re both trying to figure out.

So while this post won’t, and can’t, address the details of what we’re going through (and ultimately, I’m not sure I’ll discuss those details publicly, even with Harel’s consent), what I wish to return to is a discussion the strategies I’m using to get through it all.

Because after two years of being engaged, news like this isn’t easy to digest.

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Onward, Odysseus, I am with you

My goal when the year began was to live this year with love. To live in love, to live with every action imbued with love, to draw my intentions all in line with love.

It’s an ambitious goal. It requires reflection, introspection, and mindfulness. How else will we uncover our deepest motivations? Our deepest passions? Our deepest...fears?

When I turned my compass toward love, I had no idea what sea I was sailing into.

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Satisfaction/Distraction

ZoloftBlack clouds. Rain clouds. Grey clouds. Large black dogs with floppy ears and wobbly feet. Shadowy hands holding you back. Globs of dark fur, drenched in the rain, peering at you through an alleyway as deep as dreadful. All these things, and I’m sure many more, have been ways that people have tried to visualize depression.

For me, I’ve always considered it a bit more comically, more commercially even. Do you remember that little guy from the Zoloft commercials? It’s so cute, but so sad, so small yet so poignant, altogether insignificant.

It’s a frown, a sigh, an expression of anguish or uncertainty as the weather darkens, but you look outside and it’s still sunny and warm.

Perhaps it helps to visualize depression. Perhaps it helps to make it human. Or perhaps putting a face to these feelings isn’t at all what we need.

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A Return to Happiness

Polarity is an interesting animal. We think we know opposites–day and night, sun and moon, light and shadow–but then we’re faced with nuanced categories that defy perfect dualism–male and female, black and white, good and bad. Here there isn’t so much a binary system as much as a continuum, and it’s easy to get lost in the grey matter.

So lately I’ve been longing, lingering, languishing…and I’ve been fighting against it, feeling frothy and shameful, and it hasn’t gotten me anywhere. So I’ve been perusing TED Talks, because they’re awesome, and sometimes a little awesome makes you awesome, too.

And in a way, somewhere in this mess of chaos, a new story began.

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From Bliss, to Bliss

Three days ago I stood at security in the Mexico City airport. I hugged my hub-to-be and he held me more tightly than he ever has before. I felt the tears touching the back of my eyes, I felt the oceans rising beneath the moon, the highest tide willing and waiting to crash. I felt sheets of ice threaten to crush my heart, felt waves of magma pulse through my veins. I felt his arms tracing the contours of my body. I felt mine clenched around his body, tight enough to crack his ribcage and break through this hardened exterior.

I felt in love.

And three days ago, as we parted, kissed one last time, hugged again–because one can never be enough–our met eyes, smiled, assured each other (as we always do) that we’ll make it through this, that soon we’ll be together, that soon we’ll never have to say goodbye again. Then we waved, blew kisses, mouthed “I love you” until we passed from each other’s sight. My heart trembled like tectonic plates. My body shook like the earth wobbling on its axis, drawn around the sun in a cosmic whirlwind of gravity and dark energy.

I felt in love.

And three nights ago I crawled into my bed. I shivered beneath the sheets. So cold. I clutched my comforter, but there was no comfort: it could only remind me how empty my arms were, how his body was not sewn to mine. I awoke wondering where he was; I hit the snooze button again and again, because that’s what we do, because every time I turn off the alarm, we have another moment with each other–we have another moment free from the world, another moment to share for ourselves, to love and be loved.

I felt in love.

And the night before last, as the seconds ticked away on New Year’s Eve, I wrote to him: I am kissing you in my heart right now. And I wondered, what’s so big about the New Year? Why do we glorify January first? Why do we say this is the time to make life right? To make resolutions? To make goals? Why only now–why only now?

I am in love.

It permeates my cells like a virus, a disease–it fills my mind with fever as I lay beside him each night. One night I discovered why he burns against my skin: whereas my average body temperature is below average, his is above. Whereas I tend to feel warm easily, he is easily freezing. So when nothing separates our bodies, his furnace fuels my flood, and though I hate the heat, he has made me cold-blooded: without him to bring me to life, without his sunshine on my cold scales, I remain lethargic, lifeless, incomplete.

I am in love.

It is a state of being. It is the awareness that my heart beats for two. That as I yearn for him, he yearns for me. It’s the awareness that I need nothing else in my life than his presence. It is the grandeur of knowing we are true partners: that we’ll be here for each other no matter how far apart we are, that our greatest happiness is witnessing the other’s happiness, that our futures are one and the same.

I am love.

And it made me question the glory of New Year’s. This past year I have reevaluated my goals every month, and why should I change things now? Why should I close this chapter? What says I must start anew? To live every day like I’m dying–what does that mean? Living is dying. I want to live like I’m living–but what does that mean? What does that mean when living is loving?

I am love.

I want to love. I want to erupt with passion, overflow and blow like a hurricane in fury–the fury of mesmerization, disillusionment, realization and actualization. I want to be the best person I can be. I want to change the world, change the world, change the world. And what is the world? My world or yours–ours? And who are we? My personal circle of friends? My university, my city, my country? The world? Whose world?

Love.

That is my goal this year: to pursue what I love. To worship my body: to offer it nourishment through good food and pleasing activities, to express myself on the page, to indulge myself in guilty pleasures–late night reading and deep, dreamless sleep. To love: to write, to wonder, to realize. To share. To act. To do. To be.

Love.

Love.

Love.

My future is uncertain–and that’s scary. That’s fear. And love is the antithesis of fear. But the secret is understanding the distinction that love and fear are not feelings, but verbs: we can fear, or we can love–but we must do so actively, intensely, and absolutely: we must control, we must choose, we must believe.

I do not know if I will be accepted into either the master’s program I’ve applied for or Teach for America–if neither option comes through, by the end of May I will have no idea what I’m doing in life. I do not know if this will be the year I marry my fiance: we still must secure a sponsor, our visa petition may be denied, and other unexpected delays may arise. I do not even know when I will see him next–because for all of the above.

I could choose fear. I could collapse under the pressure of the world waiting on my shoulders, crumble and split apart like the beads of light that wander too close to a black hole, information preserved but forever indecipherable. Or I can choose to love. I can accept whatever stress and consequence fills the next 365 days. I can let go of blind terror; I can throw myself headfirst into every endeavor. I can love. I can open my heart, my soul, and let the world ravish me with all its wonderment–both the good and the bad.

I can love.

I am love.

Love.

This is my goal. This is my destiny. This is the fabric of my body.

Ten Weeks

Have you ever felt happiness so raw your cheeks hurt from smiling? Have you ever felt such joy your eyes are forced to squinting because it’s too overwhelming to see how beautiful even the most mundane corners of the world have become? Have you ever felt longing so intense every cell seems polarized, pointing in unison toward that point on the horizon where all your hopes and dreams stand in wait, longing equally for you?

I’ve been keeping a secret from you, dear reader, and I’m too excited not to tell.

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Around the Block

Plans are made to be broken and clichés are meant to be forgotten, but when the sun rises, even if the blade is blunt, it hurts all the same. I’m making no sense, and doesn’t that leave me without change?

Cut the homonyms, they don’t work as well in writing.

Where to begin? It’s been an adventure–and every step unexpected.

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