How I Transformed In 365 Days of Taking Habit Out and Letting Life In

A Year has passed.

This morning, I woke happy. I brushed my teeth with my homemade toothpaste; it dribbled from my mouth when I noticed sunlight speckling in through the window and smiled too wide in response. Mitra and I took to the streets and I let her lead us on an unfamiliar route. I snuggled dogs I’d never met before and complimented a stranger’s shirt. We lazily wound our way home. It’s my hood’s composting day, so I pulled the bin of scraps from my freezer. To it, I added coffee grounds. I blended and pressed the almonds I’ve had soaking for two days into milk, then added their sticky pulp, too. We headed out again, dropped off the bag, I returned to my desk, and I started editing audio for a new client.

This morning was completely unrecognizable from June 20th one Year ago today.

My Year of Abstinence has ended.

A Year of studying habit removal. Of saying “no”. Of taking out to see what comes in.

Continue reading


Articulating Christmas, and the No Gifting Challenge Complete

I’m having a hard time being a human right now.

I sit at my desk back in New York City, and various body parts hurt: hip joints, neck, head, entire digestive track. Things burn and throb and cramp. The entire sack of flesh and spirit that makes “me” is tired.

She has been for days. I do not know exactly why. I do not know why I wake thinking, “Today is going to be better”, and then symptoms get worse. I know this string will pass–it always does. But as I’ve attempted to wrap my brain around what Christmas has meant in my head and heart, all I land upon is, Why am I not a better “sick person” by now? Continue reading

Hard Candy Christmas Eve (Eve)

December 23rd: I love this evening, every year. 

New York city softens. She quiets down. Except for when laughter ripples through my building, welcoming whichever new family rolls their suitcases in to stay, the air is emptier.

I spent much of the day playing with images and quotes and rereading passages and smiling at god knows what, then buckled down for hours of focused work, forcing myself to sit until a large task was through. Chinese delivery for dinner, laundry, fifteen-minute clips of cheesy Christmas movies, cleaning for my short trip home in the morning, and here I am: tipsy and tired, with all clean and quiet around me, muted orange light outside my window and the pale glow of colors within. I am happy. Content. With nothing to give tomorrow other than my time, and me. Continue reading

Absence of holiday loot, absence of sugar, absence of concern…

Yesterday morning, I walked Mitra and pondered how something feels missing this Christmas.

I’m listening to the music, watching the movies. The apartment has been cheerfully decorated since just after Thanksgiving. I hosted the dinner party, my table bedecked in red and green and gold. Hell, I even had a fire going while the snow fell Thursday and I was working at the family office in Connecticut.

But I haven’t yet made a single Christmas cookie, and I don’t think I will at all this year. There’s the obvious lack of gift giving because of the current challenge. And there’s a self-imposed Dickensian period ahead, best summed up in one of my favorite of holiday flicks, A Muppet Christmas Carol (don’t mock, it’s brilliant):

“I was often alone. More time for reading and study. The Christmas holiday was a chance to get some extra work done. A time for solitude.”

Continue reading

Winter, Christmas, and What I Want from Life Beyond 2016

It’s cold and gray this morning.

That kind of December day in New York City where you wake to dripping outside, and I can feel the temperature by how the cold is resonating from the exterior wall of my apartment. But at the same time, the steam radiator is making it deliciously overheated in my bedroom, so I burrow in bed with Mitra and a too-thick down comforter, on the verge of being too hot.

It’s just right, right now. Were there another body in here with me, I’d be steaming and sweating and my bones would be on fire and in pain. But this morning, I’m blissfully cozy, and only rise to write. Continue reading

Pondering presence versus presents…

This season is, to me, about love, sacrifice, compassion, joy, and giving from the heart. But I’m at the age where my parents are looking to retire, my grandparents are dealing with decades of retirement and medical expenses, my friends and siblings are handling new jobs and mortgages and expanding families, and lil ol’ me is here, still dealing with this expensive body and this (lovely) low-paying artist’s life.

When we all don’t have money to spend, why can’t we find another way to give?

That’s what this challenge is supposed to be. I’m running into a few problems, though. Continue reading

The Next Challenge – No Holiday Gifting – Comes A WEEK EARLY!

It’s midnight and I can’t sleep and since Black Friday has technically passed by already I figure I should probably set up parameters for the next challenge. Admittedly I didn’t plan this part of the Year too well. I’ve still got SEVEN DAYS of no sugar to go, and when I almost fell off of a wagon I hadn’t quite fully stepped up onto yet I realized there’s gonna be some overlap. So here it is (self and five people who read this), the next Challenge of my year:

I will neither give nor receive a holiday gift this season. Nor will I willfully buy any holiday anything.   Continue reading

Not Buying Christmas Presents… And I’m Gonna Be Alright…

I making a pie for Thanksgiving and, in taking a break and watching television, saw two magical commercials in a row. In the first, a friend I worked with at the Cincinnati Playhouse plays an adorable Christmas elf. I come to learn it’s recurring series so yay for her! The second is the classic Hershey Kiss Christmas commercial– it’s the first time I’ve seen it this year, and my heart melts.

And it gets me thinking: I have so many holiday traditions that I cherish. There are a lot of things I look forward to, and a lot of actions I hold dear. So completely aside from things I would be preparing to buy for myself and others this season, I have plenty to do, and to celebrate. I’m gonna be fine.

Later: Flip side, just realized ’tis also the season for engagement ring and happy couple holiday commercials too. Yay. 
PS: Isn’t that bunny CUTE?! It’s autumn in New England!!