Sweet Release

There’s that saying about the freshman fifteen, and perhaps due to the fact that I didn’t live on campus my freshman year, I never experienced it. Even when I did move on campus the start of my junior year, I began working out more at the gym and made healthy food choices at the dining halls, so if anything, I lost weight.

The first-year-teacher fifteen, though? Now that’s a real thing.

Continue reading

You Mean What?

The year 2016 is my big Year of Re-creation, and the magnanimity of this statement only grows with the realization that I won’t be recreating myself as a husband, but as a single man again. And that’s okay. Perhaps painful at the outset, but all change can be.

In any case, it’s been a while since my last shot of stress, when I took that first step from Kelly McGonigal’s book The Upside of Stress to finally make stress my friend.

It should be obvious–as a three-year relationship ends and I set out to begin my summer teaching training–that stress is paramount right now. So it’s time to go on.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Reflections on Rippling Water

Chaos is not disorder. Chaos is order so precise and sensitive that the slightest misstep at the start sends us far from where we intended to be.

Water is, as it tumbles over rocks and flows between our fingers, a creature of chaos. And so is life.

We drift along, pulled between rapids and brief moments of pause, seconds of tranquility that split time into austere fractions that enclose us and confine us. Solutions (and the problems they supposedly solve) seem suddenly clear, and then the water draws us away, and once more we are left without recourse and direction.

This is, I am afraid, one of those times.

Continue reading

Born to Burn?

I’ve been watching a lot of lectures about education lately, and there’s a common theme to answer a common question: How can I keep myself from burning out?

The answer is always a variation of “work harder” or “work smarter.”

This, I’m afraid, is simply insufficient. There is no amount of working harder or working smarter that can make the work we’re doing any less exhausting–and this applies to all areas, whether you’re a student, a teacher, healthcare provider, or something else.

So what can we do?

Continue reading

A Shot of Stress

As part of my Year of Re-creation, I’m embarking on a journey to reclaim stress and change how I respond to it at a physiological level. This sounds like a daunting task–I mean, seriously, changing physiology?–but it’s actually an application of the age-old adage “mind over matter”: By adopting a new stress mindset, my body will learn to react to stress in a new, more empowering manner.

So if this isn’t alchemy, I don’t know what is.

But magic or not, the first step begins now.

Continue reading

My Year of Recreation

By which I mean, re-creation.

I realized recently that I’ve allowed myself to stagnate. I felt somehow I had finished developing as a person–I knew I would never stop growing, but I assumed there were things I had figured out, things that were finally fixed.

Like perhaps I’m a paint by numbers, and while there were still a lot of spaces waiting to be filled in, I had the core of the picture complete. I knew who I was.

That is, at least, until I didn’t.

Continue reading

The November Novelist

National Novel Writing Month. If I’ve written about it once, I’ve written about it a hundred times (or at least annually since I began blogging). It’s the one time each year I allow my writing to take center stage (how’s that for mixing metaphors?)–often, though reluctantly, at the expense of my other obligations. So far, I’ve won NaNoWriMo every year.

And this year will make ten consecutive wins. If I manage to make it.

Continue reading

Mental Malfunctioning

The dog days of summer are upon me, but instead of howling at the moon, I’m lying curled up in my bed without the energy or motivation to get to all these things I want to do. I’m making steady yet slow progress, but I can’t seem to get into what’s most important.

I watched a brief video the other day by Josh Davis, talking about “When to Skip Something On Your To-Do List,” and his advice is simple: If your mental energy doesn’t match the task, then stop. Put that energy where it’ll be most effective and come back to the other tasks when you’re mentally prepared to efficiently work on them.

But, see, this is where my mind starts to malfunction.

Continue reading

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.