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DONE

the blog.

Author

jennifergalardi

I write to navigate this messy world of feelings, emotions, and being human.

Lost

Nature has always been my go to for when I’m feeling lost with no direction. Or bored and aimless. It gives me someplace to go. Something to do. I have a hard time sticking to well marked trails. I want to prolong my hike, see parts of the land others haven’t seen. I’ll venture off just to the left or right or to some unmarked territory.

I like to get lost. My head empties seemingly making space for ideas and inspiration. I have so many random ideas and musings in the notes section of my phone I should compile a book. I would title it Random Thoughts Inspired By Hikes That Have Nothing To Do With Each Other. Often times, some great lesson will reveal itself to me. As if She has been trying to tell me something all along and all I needed to do was come to Her to receive the message.

I hear Her when I’m wandering around Her land. Her voice filling my head. This is what happened the other day when I got lost in Malibu. On my way into the trail, I took note of a creek. So when I lost reception and access to my trail map and came upon the creek, I figured I’d simply follow it and it would lead me back home. It was at this moment I heard Her. You go above and beyond the path laid out by others. You wind and twist and take routes unestablished. It may take you longer to get home , but just think of everything you got to see that others didn’t.

I was happy to be lost until I came to a part in the creek where I wasn’t able to pass. My only option was to go back up the hill in hopes of finding a trail again. I literally clawed my way up the mountain where I would slide back down about every tenth step. The fires had left little vegetation for anything to hold onto – including my feet. One second a burned branch would be my lifeline as I would grab it with my hands to pull myself up. The next moment it would taunt me as it’s charred pointed end would catch my shirt, insisting I stay right where I was if not fall back. What began so beautifully ended up somewhat treacherous. Eventually, I made my way up and stumbled upon a ranch with some lovely horses. I pet the horses muzzle and immediately felt relieved knowing I’d be okay. I was on private property but no one saw me as I crept through the ranch eventually finding a gate with a passable door that led to a paved road. I was exhausted and dirty and ready to follow the well established route home.

I learned so much from Mother Nature that day. She can destroy as easily as she regenerates but destruction happens so quickly and regeneration takes much more time. Things can turn on a dime. You never know what may be just around the bend. So keep walking. Keep falling. Keep showing up.

You were never lost. You were always on the path. It just didn’t look like everyone else’s. You likely got a bit dirtier, tripped and stumbled more than the others. But all of this is preparation for a sweet reward that awaits you at the end. The reward may look the same as anyone else’s, but to you it will taste so much sweeter and what you’ve gained along the way is rare. Like heaven right here on Earth. Indulge in the reward. Savor it. It is yours.

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EMPTY

Sometimes I do it on purpose. Play the sad song. Because I can feel it  sitting in my throat. The big old lump that just won’t seem to budge on its own.

So I open Spotify, search for Sarah McLachlan and hit play. Usually the first song that plays is Angel. Fool proof. The tears stream and energy seems to move, albeit slowly. But the lump is not gone by the end of the song. So I find another song. Gravity by Sara Bareilles. Another good choice. The tears run.

And I let them. With every waterworks, every big old messy fucking yawn, every stretch and crack and pop of my joints – I can breathe a little easier.

These are messy moments. The salt water mixed with mascara. My shorter hair doesn’t completely pull back into a ponytail so it falls alternately in my face and then gets pushed back, wet with tears. These are not the dainty Awwww, she’s sad kind of cries. These are ugly fucking cries.

Maybe I’m just tired. I know I’m tired of trying to figure this out. Who knows. It could be some deep ancestral trauma or an ex-boyfriend or a couple times of sex that I wished was a boyfriend or the last episode of Transparent I just watched.

If I close my eyes and let it continue to flow, eventually . . . eventually, I feel empty. Empty and exhausted. And that’s a good place to start.

And now, Rocket Man.

Fitness, Food, Faith.

For years, I tried to change the outside. I believed my happiness and my joy was contingent upon what my body looked liked. I worked out like a fiend. I starved myself. When the starvation thing became unsustainable, I turned to raw food only. When raw food had my digestive system in complete distress I decide to go to holistic nutrition school in NYC.

It was one of the happiest years of my life, not because I learned exactly what to eat, but because I was living in a new city with new friends, surrounded by a community of like-minded people I loved. I was thriving. But when school was over, my friends gone, I once again found myself sad, lonely, wishing life was different. I was still working out – and working – like a fiend.

When all of the coping mechanisms I had employed in the past broke down, I turned to yoga. But unlike the yoga I had been practicing to this point, I sensed there was something beneath the down dogs and chattarungas. While many people prefer to skip the spiritual nature of the yoga tradition altogether, I was starving for it. I had exhausted all other resources to heal myself. Faith was my new fix and something that continues to grow and blossom every day.

Eventually however, I realized the answer isn’t in any of these things and it’s in all of them at the same time. Sometimes a good sweat is the answer. Sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes a crazy cleanse is just what you need – sometimes it’s the last thing you need. Sometimes more meditation or 200 rounds of mala beads saves you. Other times not so much. Sometimes all you need is a cocktail. Other times, it’s poison.

However, I’ve never found a situation that a good hug and belly laugh can’t cure.

It’s not that I’ve stopped practicing everything I’ve learned along the way regarding self- care – body, mind and spirit. It’s just that I’ve stopped relying on these tools to make things different. All of the trainings and teachings are leading me (notice the use of the continuous tense) to a place of radical acceptance. Can I accept myself in this moment, just as I am? Can I accept my pain, hurt, failure, flab, sadness, grief, anxiety, uncertainty, and insecurity knowing everything is temporal and, at some point, it will shift? To be replaced by joy, laughter, freedom, ease, liberation, success, confidence, and a stunning ass and abs you can count. (Maybe not six, but at least one or two.)

Life is flux. Life is change. Accepting it all – not trying to heal or change anything – has been the greatest lesson of all.

I have not stopped learning altogether, either. I’m still a sucker for a good self-help book and a weekend workshop or two. But I no longer take what I learn as gospel or a fix to heal whatever is broken within me. I now take it for what it is: learning. Expanding my mind and my toolbox.

All of this is why I have never been able to create a ‘system’ or program for anything – fitness, dance, yoga, etc. As soon as an idea would come and I’d get it down on paper, I’d change my mind. I’d think of a million and one reasons people shouldn’t be doing barre or  yoga or doing a cleanse or cutting carbs completely. I’d be on to lifting weights or self-massage or nothing at all. And I’d eat whatever the hell I wanted to. I never wanted to pigeon hole myself as the ‘barre gal’ or ‘dance gal’. Like many women, I am ‘all gals’ – and how I choose to express any one gal in particular changes from day to day.

I am attempting to embrace the fact that there are no answers. So I can stop looking. I can stop trying to figure out the un-figurable. My brain, which has been in overdrive for forty some years, can take a break. Quite frankly, the way mine runs, I was sure it would have quit by now. Wishful thinking.

This is a new practice for me, this radical acceptance. I’ve been conditioned to resist relaxation because you never know what catastrophe is lurking around the corner. Doing is easy for me. Being is harder. I’m now on high alert to bring awareness to those moments when I project into the future. When I find myself resisting the letting go, I breathe. I exhale. I dip into the wellspring of wisdom I’ve accumulated over my twenty years of study in the wellness space. After all what good is the thousands of dollars I threw into my studies if they couldn’t help me when I needed them most?

I confirm that there is nothing else but this moment and, in fact, I. AM. OKAY. I turn whatever tricks I need to change the tide of the momentum of my mind. And I do it over, and over, and over, and over again. Until it becomes my new normal.

Selling Shit

I don’t want to sell you anything. I don’t have a course or a program or a product or an image or a system to sell you. Wait. Yes, I do. I have workouts and videos and tutorials you can purchase and watch. However, I don’t do much to tell you that I have these things or spread the word. In this day and age, it requires too much time to wave you down, screaming “HEY LOOK AT ME!” And I don’t have the stamina for that.

I try every now and then – to post something on Instagram or Facebook that will direct you to my shit for sale. Or to amass a big enough following so that no matter what shit I sell, you buy it. From what I understand social media marketing requires constant, carefully crafted messages and images to be successful. That means ME ME ME all the time. I can do me a lot of the time, but eventually, I lose steam. Even if I think what ME is offering is valuable.

Truth be told, I have many fabulous friends on social media, but if they are selling something, I get sick of seeing their shit, too.

So I now find myself in conundrum. I could produce more content and pump out more information, but that would require me promoting that content and trying to make you look at ME in a sea of other yoga and nutrition and wellness people. I hesitate to use the word ‘expert’ because some of the shit that people are listening to, watching and following the most, are from those under 30 years old with a 200 hour training under their belt and few years lived. I’m not saying you have to be old to have something to offer this world, but when it comes to the category of personal growth, time, trials and tribulations are a pre-requisite for significant change. Sure there are exceptions to this rule, but I don’t see many.

It’s already so LOUD out there. I hesitate to add to the noise.

I don’t really want to manage you either. Although, I’ve done that, too. Managing a team or even one person always felt like adult babysitting. Maybe I’m just lazy. I don’t really want to be responsible for anyone else. Their successes or their failures. I think everyone has to do that on his or her own. Although I’m glad there are people that do enjoy managing others and people that like being managed. Or else everyone would be running around aimlessly with no direction. Kind of like me. Makes sense because I don’t particularly care for being managed either. This knocks out a whole other category of employment for me. Quite a large one at that.

I could continue to be a teacher. I enjoy it. I even love teaching on camera. I do from time to time feel like I have something to offer. But I’m too old and frankly tired to get on top of the mountain and shout about it. I don’t enjoy what it takes these days to tell people about what I teach or to earn a living at it. I get thrown back into the social media pickle. (However, if someone would like to hire me to tell people about your amazing product, I’d be happy to do so. If it really is an amazing product.)

I’ve come to the conclusion that I should be doing what, in my heart, I’ve always wanted to do. Create and share stories. I have a wicked imagination. Before any of the dramas of my own life have concluded, I’ve already schemed up twenty different endings.

I can share stories via my body with dance. I can share stories via word – both spoken and written. I can act out other people’s stories via, well, acting. I am an artist. It took me 45 years to figure this out, but here I am.

Now I just have to figure out how to not be a starving one.

Involuntary Detox

You don’t believe in Mercury Retrograde you say? Ha.

A tree knocked down a power line by our house Friday. We were the only property without electricity. Or internet. Seriously. My neighbors all had power. Every. Single. One. Of them. Just us. Because of this, as you can imagine, the power company was in no particular rush to fix one power line providing power to one house in the middle of a canyon, CA . Luckily, for all my bitching and moaning, my landlord is the guy you want around in a situation like this. The same man that refused to evacuate during the Malibu fires this past Fall. He lived on a generator for almost a week. He’s pretty handy like that.

So electricity was not a concern. At least between the hours of 7am and 11pm or so at which time he’d turn off the generator. Luckily, I don’t keep meat in the fridge nor did I have any cheese in there. All other food would survive intermittent temperature drops. And on the off chance I’d happen to be awake after 11pm and wanted to read, it would be candle city for me. Just like the old days.

That leaves the internet, which even though my phone and computer both insist I have full connectivity, doesn’t seem to work. Which means I have no connection to the outer world. If you’ve ever tried to have a phone conversation with me while I’m at home, you know what a futile attempt that is. I have no reception here on the mountain. Without WiFi, I’m no better than that guy on a deserted island with Wilson the volleyball. At least I have Zeus.

Here’s the real punch line: Frontier, our cable provider, can’t come out to fix this mess until March 14th. That’s five days from now. (And I’ve already been without for this whole weekend.) No communication. Once my car makes that last curve around the bend up to my house, I’m cut off.

No trolling Facebook because I’m bored. No scrolling Instagram for the high of seeing who hearted my most recent photo. No posting the fabulous things I’m cooking up or drinking at home. No scenic sunsets from my deck in my stories (that one’s kind of a shame) or cute cat photos of Prince Zeus (how will you live?!?!?)  What’s a gal to do?

I’m considering the rest of this week as a forced vacation. A staycation if you will. I will read (please pass along to die for book recommendations). I will write – this being the first in what may turn out to be daily blogs. Maybe without so much fucking distraction my mind will find the space to offer some clarity around what the hell I should be doing with my life.

After turning down a pretty great job last week, I’ve already experienced extreme discomfort concerning the big gaps in my calendar. I’m talking DAYS of nothing in that little square box except a friend’s birthday. So. Much. Time. I’m squirming. Without my beloved internet – shit’s about to get real as the kids say. Not to mention QUIET. No internet for me means no Netflix. And virtually no MUSIC. If you don’t hear from me in the next 48 hours, send the authorities. I may have died from a broken heart. 

Free Falling

As seems to be my theme for 2019, last week requested I, yet again, be flexible – demanded I let go of plans, even as I’m making them. I was all set to begin my new job with Square Organics, an amazing company making its mark not only in the health and wellness space but also exemplifying the generosity and heart of a company doing the right thing in the world – the kind of company I’ve been craving to work with for a long time. In today’s day and age, it’s been challenging for me to find the right fit, especially given my aversion to the nine to five gigs.

When the opportunity to sign on as their Field Marketing Director came my way, I jumped on it. I received everything I wanted – freedom to work from wherever I chose. Opportunity to contribute to the creative direction of the company. A nice salary. Health benefits.

Despite all the pros of the job, the one con is that I was not particularly enthusiastic about the actual work I would be doing. Could I manage a team of brand ambassadors in Whole Foods across the country? Yes. Could I pimp the product in stores? Yes. Is this what my soul is crying out to do? No.

This is the year life is demanding I start walking my talk. The year I make the seemingly crazy decisions that will drop me deep into the unknown. The year I say no to the opportunities that I pro/con to death until I justify saying yes, even if that decision doesn’t move me forward along my path or towards fulfilling my purpose in life.

If it’s not a fuck yes, it’s a no.

Trust your gut.

Just because you’re good at something doesn’t means you have to do it.

Say no to the imperfect opportunities so the perfect ones have room to appear. (This one I made up myself. I think. Maybe not.)

I’ve espoused all these catchphrases and paradigms at some point in my life. However, I wonder how much have I lived them? What kind of teacher would I be if couldn’t serve as my own example?

Yet again (and again and again), I am being asked to trust, to surrender, to just let go. To risk safety for growth and expansion. I’m recognizing this is easier said than done.

When the founder of Square Organics and myself came to the mutual conclusion that turning down the role would be best for everyone, we began devising a new role that would better align with my passions and talents. I am not sure if that will come to fruition or not. I feel like I should be more anxious, more worried than I am. Some days the fear of the unknown wins and I find myself spiraling in a vortex of Oh Shit. What did I do? Other days I have full faith that by saying no to a job that would keep me small, I’m saying yes to an opportunity that will demand I be as big as I know myself to be.

In the meantime, I’m writing through the discomfort.

Intimacy

Usually, when something in my life needs to be healed or resolved, it hits me from all angles. Everything around me becomes a reflection of living life under the influence of the particular wound or deficiency. The people in my life, the conversations, the shows or movies or books I’m drawn to – even what pops up in my web browser from the black hole of Google searches. Eventually I see it. Someone is not so gently nudging me. Hey you. Yeah, you. You need to look at this. If I don’t get the picture, then a little bit of pain, a tad of heartache will usually be invoked.

Recently, everything in my field of awareness is leading me to one of my most challenging obstacles – Intimacy.

I’m not sure whether intimacy is an innate or learned skill. Are we born with this ability to connect to another sentient being in the most vulnerable way? Or is intimacy something taught to us (or not) by our parents and our environment? I imagine in utero, we get our first taste of intimacy. We rely on another human for our very life. We have no choice. It’s either stay connected or die. I think the fact that women have the ability to physically tether themselves to another life may explain why we seem to crave intimacy more than men.

I also believe that if this inherent quality isn’t nurtured and reinforced through behaviors and surroundings from the day we are born, then we easily forget how to use it. Life sweeps in and hurts us. People break our hearts. We begin to erect barriers that thwart intimacy.

I can not speak definitively on this topic because it is an area in which I am blaringly flawed, especially when it comes to relationships with the opposite sex. Sex is not the equivalent of intimacy. Just because you’re naked it does not mean you’re vulnerable. I should know. I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced sex and intimacy at the same time. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve cried after having sex with a man. Something gets touched, busted open – but I quickly shut it down. While I’m comfortable with men seeing my body, I’m not comfortable with men seeing ME.

The three most intimate words in the English language are not “I love you.” They are “I see you.”

I see you. You with your flaws and your fuck ups and your haven’t-quite-nailed-it yet. You with your wounds and your scars and your dis-ease that may never go away or be healed. You with your insecurities and your ugliness and your beauty and your light. All of it. I see you. AND I love you.

That scares the shit out of me. Intimacy doesn’t have room for judgment or blame. It doesn’t tolerate guilt or shame. It looks these in the eye and says “PFFFFT!” Swats them away like a fly.

I think when I’m able to look at myself without judgment or guilt or shame, then I’ll find someone who will do the same. And I’ll know what true intimacy is.

Until then, I practice. I practice with friends I trust. I practice with my kitty. (This one is easy!) I practice with dance. I practice with strangers now and again.

This is the good stuff. This is where it’s at. It scares me, but only because, like anything else scary, it’s unknown. Once I know it I imagine it will be sublime. And I’ll wonder why I waited so long to be anything but intimate.

 

 

My Staycation

As of Friday December 21st, I gave myself permission to take a two week stay-cation. I decided due to the expense of travel during the holiday coupled with a deep desire to go nowhere and do no-thing, to stay put in Los Angeles. I was looking forward to sticking around while everyone else left. L.A. is best when half the town leaves. You can get from the west side to the middle of Hollywood in less than 40 minutes. That’s unheard of on even the best of days here in the City Of Angels. I actually enjoy driving as long as I can move unobstructed by other cars. I love driving fast even more. (It’s particularly satisfying driving north on PCH with a stick shift.) I roll the windows down, crank the music, sing loud and feel free. Other times, I just listen to the wind in complete silence. Either way, it’s a meditative experience for me.

I told myself I wasn’t going to work for two weeks. That I would take time for personal projects and self care. To be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to the last two weeks of 2018. The two weeks prior had been a bit of an emotional roller coaster. I had been feeling tired, lost and sad. I assumed my heavy mood would extend into the holidays and maybe even intensify given the particular amount of loneliness one can tend to feel this time of year.

I experienced just the opposite. The past two weeks has been fulfilling and inspiring in ways I couldn’t imagine. I binge watched my now favorite episodic – Californication. And while for many the show may have confirmed that L.A. is nothing but a cesspool of vapid wanna be artists, it made me fall in love with my town all over again – its landscapes, its debauchery and its ability to continually inspire (and simultaneously ass kick) any who have aspirations for a creative life.

I began writing again. Not in the long form ways (like this blog) that I feel compelled to share with the world, but just musings and short poems and random thoughts – streams of consciousness that may or may not have a public life somewhere down the road. I wrote in ways that were personally satisfying.

I began dreaming again – allowing my imagination to open avenues of creativity for me. Thinking of all the possibilities this town holds, excited for what’s to come and the ride that 2019 will take me on.

And while I told myself I wasn’t going to work – I did here and there. Which proved to me, that no matter what, I know I will always be motivated to move ahead. I suppose I needed that confirmation.

Somewhere in the past two weeks, I began to trust myself more. Trust what I’m feeling called to do. Where I’m guided to go. I let go of the should’s and shouldn’t’s and gleaned what I was doing out of necessity and what I was doing from sheer love.

I drank (quite) a bit, I moved a bit, and I expressed a lot in all forms. By golly, I had FUN. I found pleasure in life in so many ways. I found what has been missing for so many years.

Given how not busy my life was, I had plenty of time for social media and other distractions. However, I had no desire to post much of anything. I had nothing to say. I was too busy LIVING my life rather than pontificating about it. A whole day would go by and somehow, I just couldn’t find the time for Instagram.

While I know my life will ramp up as the New Year moves forward and that I am never completely free of the darkness that sometimes distinguishes my light, I am going to try my darndest to carry these past two weeks with me. The ease. The joy. The disinterest for what I thought my life was supposed to be or look like. Because I’m too busy enjoying what it is.

Insignificant

Sometimes the level of insignificance I feel is staggering.
Like it wouldn’t matter if I drove my car
Straight through this red light into the ocean
Instead of south on PCH.
I dream of it often.
Instead, I turn left, like I’m supposed to.
Like I’m always supposed to.
And just drive really fast.
As fast as I can without hurting someone else.
Driving really fucking fast makes me feel better.
I get an inch closer to knowing death.
It’s nights like these
I’m glad a drive a manual.

 

 

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