I’m On a Self-Self Help Plan

This is my year of abstinence. The rules are bendable. I can adapt them as I go.

I’m reminding myself of this fact because I need to do that right now.

My body hurts. In a moment of awareness, yesterday I broke down and accepted that I’m ill in a way that’s far from my baseline of “chronic illness.” It’s applicable to my current study of Zero Waste in that it’s just too hard to get enough food into my home right now by the rules I set for myself two weeks ago. So, I’m adjusting them.

Gently, in a way that feels genuine and true to the ethos of my study and the health of my body. In a way that’s not a cheat. In a manner I can live with. In a way that will help me sleep better tonight, knowing that tomorrow I won’t be putting my body in further harm by asking it to do what I know it should not.

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Practicing Zero Waste… In a Body With Zero

On an alternative plane of time and space, I see myself:

I hand wash delicate handkerchiefs inherited from my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. I can see the sun through them where they hang, and I smile. It doesn’t hurt the muscles and joints in my arms and back to wring or lift them to dry.

I blend almonds and water into milk; my face erect, my movements quick and determined. The sound and dim stove light don’t threaten a migraine I’ve been tempering for days.

I spend an afternoon easefully popping into one store and another, stocking up on meat, and produce, and coffee, exploring cheerily with energy and gusto. I don’t spend day after day timidly moving from bed and then falling back.

I see her — that other me — clearly. Continue reading


Zero Waste – Week One

So far, so good!

I’ve decided already that thirty days is too short a Challenge to truly study removing excess waste from my life and space, so I’m extending this to a sixty-day Challenge! Because here’s the thing about this first week: throwing out plasticky-things without using them is wasteful and against the purpose of this Challenge. This is not about going to Zero in a day–it’s about assessing for lasting change. So I’m not going to not finish the frozen meat in my freezer, the pasta in my cabinet, and the products in my pantry and closet for no good reason. Instead, I’ll spend some time observing my packaging habits as I finish things, and then replace them with Zero Waste options as I go… or nothing at all. Continue reading


Challenge Number Six: Thirty Days of Zero Waste

Today’s the day! I’m very excited about this Challenge.

I’m constantly shedding items that I don’t need, and not replacing them with new things. This started a year ago when the Goldilocks Movement‘s “Happy Starts at Home” cleanse worked wonders for reconfiguring my emotional ties to with material objects. The No Shopping experience then had more stuff making its way out of my space. And now I’m here, reworking my relationship with stuff on an even deeper level. Yay.
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You’ve Gotta Really Want to Change

Today, I’m functioning from bed; nursing a migraine that made itself known as soon as I opened my eyes. I’m planning the next Challenge, which starts Monday, and I am so excited for it. It’s gonna be hard. Technically, it’s gonna be the hardest one I’ve done so far. It means giving up one habit that breaks into a thousand small habits. It takes research and planning. I’m nervous. But I really want to do it, and I’m itching to start.

That’s what every Challenge needs to be.

Removing television… wasn’t. Continue reading


Everything Bagel Days #1-2

It’s 8:30 pm on a Friday evening, and I’m just about done working, because sometimes that happens. But my week was satisfying and my laundry is clean and the light outside my window is that cool misty grayish brown color that makes me love love love working at home in New York City on a solitary Friday evening. Across the street, some apartment windows are dark, some glow orange, and some eerily blue. The branches of the tree and the iron railings of the porch flanking the house directly next to me tonight seem more vividly defined against the light from my window than usual, their shadows deep and ominous.

It’s a Raymond Chandler kind of New York City evening.


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How a Month of Wonder Woman Power Poses and Television Abstinence Brought Me Focus

“January will focus on increasing my confidence by catching negative thoughts and refocusing them onto Queens.”

That’s how I wrapped up the focus of this Challenge when it began a month ago. I had a two-pronged plan that, admittedly, sounds strange: I’d cut my television consumption down to one episode or movie per evening, and I’d capture every negative thought and flip it into a positive arena through Amy Cuddy’s power poses. The idea hit this Year’s requirements: the removal of negative habits I want to change that will affect my social interactions, health, and sense of self.

And yet recently someone looked at my “one hour of television” and asked: Is that enough to count as abstinence? The question/judgment irked me for a while. Then I realized it’s not that person’s fault — it means I haven’t articulated the true, intimate, lasting, THIS IS DIFFERENT THAN EVERYTHING ELSE significance. So here I go: Continue reading


Cultivating Confidence So That I Can Write Today

I want to be writing, but am battling waves of ennui and self-doubt.

This is a big problem at present for many who work within my sphere, and for those without, too; so much of major importance distracts us. And then intimate realities linger as well, pulling my mind away; a funeral I’m missing, projects unsold, loved ones in pain, bank accounts tenuous, relationships strained.

I don’t want to challenge myself, today. I want to fall back upon what I know and feel the comfort of checking things off a list.

Instead, I take Mitra for a walk, make some tea, set a two-minute timer, and stand to Wonder Woman. I breathe. I ponder the feelings in my body, my lack of confidence in the world and my own life. And I conclude once again that the only way I can move forward… is by moving forward.

When my two minutes end, I take my tea. I go to my desk. And I sit. And I try. And I write.


Everything Bagel Days = Every Challenge All At Once!

Today is January 28th, and life is insane.

There’s the Meatball, which is what I’m currently calling a certain POTUS–I won’t explain further. There’s everything I’ve detailed here and here and here. And then there are oddly beautiful moments where all of that scary noise just…. stops….

….and I’m drinking coffee and petting my dog and looking at trees. Or I’m doing my #CityMouseCountryHouse thing and filling up the Lil Blue Subaru and see the tiniest bird hopping by the tire with a twig in its beak and am enthralled by the pattern of its feathers. Or I’m watching my grandmother as she sleeps and the thinness of her skin just astounds me. Or I’m on the subway and my breath catches at the idea of just how complicated the lives are of every single one of the sixty people around me and my heart bursts with love for all of them.

Life. Continue reading


How Power Poses Shape My Morning

I wake some mornings and intentionally TeleWonderWoman before I sit to work.

If it’s a normal human time for a chronically ill person to wake –  between 8:30 and eleven – I set the coffee to perk and walk Mitra first.

I leave the phone, and we make our short little “Pan Am” loop. Did you ever see that charming but short-lived television show a few years back? They shot a few scenes on my block during a string of years where everyone shot a few scenes on my block. In one Berlin-based scene, the team circles my hood in a way that doesn’t make sense in real life but looks good on film. Oh, look: my building is bashfully covered by trees behind them.


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Cheating (but only a little)

Confession: The television abstinence has stretched a bit. This week, there have been nights I’ve watched 2-3 shows when I felt like it.

I justified the choice by a) the world is ending b) MY BODY HATES LIFE and c) there were nights in the last week or two when I hadn’t watched any television at all. On Monday (I think it was) I watched three very short shows. But here’s the thing: last night I started steaming Supergirl, which I’m way into because right now I just need to watch good gals kick ass. I was so damned tired after two episodes and wanted to watch a third. But I didn’t. I shut the television off and went to sleep.

And that’s the point of all this. Recognizing the habit, and choosing to change it.

So I did cheat. But only a little.


The Self-Saboteur 

Years ago, I read a NY Times article about the Imposter Syndrome, and found comfort in knowing that even the prolific Maya Angelou lived in fear of being “discovered” as, well, an imposter of her own accomplished self. 

Now I stand here, on the subway platform. Running dangerously late for a lunch date with a work friend I admire. Having launched a campaign that combines chronic illness advocacy and the Women’s March on Washington (#MarchingWithMe). Just having received an email from my agent delaying her notes on a draft I sent her. Preparing to stop by one of my clients’ offices after lunch to say a quick hello to my editors there. And I’m overwhelmed by wave after wave of, “Am I tough enough for all of this?”  Continue reading