Oh, Chipmunks. There are going to be some epic adventures to share this year; I can scarcely wait. For starters, I can pretty much guarantee nudity.
Right now, though, as I nurse my 8,000th cold in the past two months, I have that strange feeling… I bet you know the one. I call it “the in-betweens.” Nestled under blankets and a heating pad, with Uncle Jesse curled by my knee, it’s as though some invisible hand has pressed the pause button.
Scared, exhilarated, exhausted and excited after an epic year of goal-crushing, travel, mind-blowing metaphysical exploration, closure, new and rekindled friendships, I’m sipping lukewarm coffee that I know should be tea, trying to just breathe and be. To see the beauty and blessing in this time out. Not every moment is meant to be go-Jules-go-go. There’s a gift within these gray January months, when signs of spring seem unforgivably absent.
Things are always moving, shifting, growing. Even when we can’t see it.
So in this time of unknowns, limitless possibility and quiet, I thought I’d share something ‘in between’ nothing and my normal blog posts.
I watched a video last night of an artist sculpting
The tail end of 2018 saw a slew of surprises, leading me to believe that 2019 is bound to bring in more of The Unexpected. AND I EXPECT IT TO BE AWESOME.
To celebrate this, I thought it would be fun to relive December’s unexpected events and my surprising takeaway from each:
I got my friend Janeen a “1-hour medicine healing ceremony” session for her birthday because she’s even kookier than I am. On a lovely Saturday in mid-December, we headed into New York City to get our crystal-woo-woo on. The shop was located on the 5th floor of a building in Greenwich Village.
We spent the first five minutes ringing the bell and asking the construction workers next door how to get in. Eventually, they pointed to a creepy stairwell and we ascended 8,000 flights to our destination.
Once inside a small, fragrant room, an attractive woman began ‘reading the collective energy’ of the 12 ladies forming a circle around her. (“Ma’am, I think you’re picking up ‘sweat’ and ‘confusion.'”) We then laid down on heated mats, nestled under blankets, while she chanted and waved incense, carefully stepping between our legs. Just as I was starting to relax, eyes closed and breathing deeply, she whacked my chest with a large, dried palm leaf.
Surprise Takeaway: Never assume you understand the definition of the word “healing.”
The following weekend, my sister drove me over to Babs’ (mom’s), anticipating our “surprise early Christmas present” from Babs.
“What do you think it’ll be?” my sister asked.
“It’s either strippers or a vegan cooking class,” I replied. “Not that I’ve given this any thought. And you know what I just realized yesterday?” I paused before blurting, “Mom and Pop didn’t really do anything to celebrate me just getting the Masters. I feel like a jerk saying this, but I would have thought they’d want to go out to dinner or something...”
My sister and I were still talking about this as I opened my parents’ front door.
I was suddenly surrounded by friends and family, champagne, and gobs of gifts.
Surprise Takeway: You are always loved so much more than you think you are.
I wasn’t going to blog about this since the idea is to stay anonymous, but this was so much fun that I feel like I have to tell you to try it, too (especially if you can rope in some kiddos)…
To round out the end of 2018, I actually won money from one of the scratch-offs that my family loves to give each Christmas. Chyeahhh!
I took my big, fat $50 winnings, got a bunch of $5 bills, and then my nephew and I wrote encouraging note cards and left each $5 bill and a card all around town for people to find [in Ziploc bags lest Mother Nature not cooperate].
We’re definitely going to make it a new tradition. Here’s one of my 15-year-old nephew’s cards – can you see why I couldn’t keep this to myself?!
Surprise Takeway: It’s really, really fun to give away money, even when you’re worried about never having enough of it.
In his most recent blog post, David Cain at Raptitude wrote about his year-long exercise of ‘going deep.’ Instead of creating new resolutions for 2018, he urged readers (and himself) to pick up abandoned projects and passions, to not buy anything new, or even necessarily seek new friendships, and instead revisit all of the resources already present in their lives. The results surprised him in ways he couldn’t have predicted at the onset.
Not only did Cain discover that fulfillment isn’t something ‘out there,’ he also resolved long-standing personal issues because of the “particular demand the pursuit of depth makes on us: we can’t go deeper in a given area without coming to terms with why we were never able to before.”
Reading his words, I couldn’t help but think about how we’ve all grown so accustomed to looking outside of ourselves for answers, to “treating ourselves” to something new and shiny when what we really need is a hug or a nap or a cry. Because of this, most of the time we don’t even realize we’re robbing the world of the best and brightest version of ourselves. As the brilliant Mrs. Frugalwoods put it, “I think the concept of ‘treat yourself’ underlies the belief –or insecurity– that we’ll never realize our deeply held dreams.” We know we’re unhappy, and the cure must be more stuff –new things, people, and resolutions– all of which allow us to avoid the fear inherent in chasing our heart’s deepest desires.
“We live in great danger of inadvertently keeping our most cherished pursuits, the ones that promise the most fulfillment,” Cain writes, “buried down there in the realm of ‘potential,’ where they’re safe from the real world and its limitations. In the meantime, we find other things to do –things that offer less meaning, but more assured outcomes– and we just get older.
We don’t want to put our hearts on the line if we don’t have to, and all the important things involve our hearts.”
Cain really struck a chord as I round the bend on another year filled with exciting, transformational, game-upping goals. I’ve spent the past couple of years making friends with my demons, figuring out how to transmute negative patterns, and deeply considering the kind of life I want to create – because in the end, everything that surrounds us is a result of what we’ve created: the thoughts, the actions, and the stories we tell ourselves.
Who do I want to be, and what does her life look like? Who are her closest friends? How does she think, see, and feel? What are her daily habits?
Envisioning this ideal life has made it easier to set goals, yes, but also to set boundaries. If someone or something feels constricting and out of alignment with my dreams, guess what?
It hasn’t been easy. There have been tears, sleepless nights, and relentless self-doubt. But also miracles, deeper friendships, and a wellspring of hope I never knew existed before. As Cain put it:
“Going deeper means finally seeing what’s really going to come of [pursuing your dreams]. And that’s damn scary. Existentially scary. It is our one life, after all.”
I love this reminder that living a heart-centered life is scary A.F. the only way to fulfillment.
As a tribute to Cain’s advice, I thought I’d kick off Go Jules Go: 2019 Edition by plumbing the depths of the existential lessons I’ve begun to internalize over the past two years –ones I know I’ll come back to over and over again to truly appreciate their profundity– and briefly share them here.
“Life happens through you, not to you.” -Derek Rydall, Law of Emergence
“You cannot act in love and act in fear at the same time. You must choose between them.” -Gary Zukov
“Everyone’s opinion is right.” -Seth Godin
“That’s all anyone really needs. To know with sure conviction that the world is limitless, abundant, and strangely accommodating.” -Pam Grout, E-Squared
“Just BE happy! It’s easy. You don’t have to save the world. You just have to be happy. If you’re happy, then you will save the world.” -Go Jules Go, woo-woo hypnosis session
Happy New Year, my cherished Chipmunks! I can say with the confidence of Jessica Biel after Justin Timberlake proposed: 2019 is gonna be MAGIC!
The friend I’m about to feature is one of my nearest and dearest. Jenn and I met many moons ago, at my first “real” job at a little local book shop, and I recently realized we’ve been friends for more than half my life.
Jenn has the kind of talent that makes me feel like Will Ferrell in Elf when he realizes Santa is coming to Gimbel’s.
On Monday, my manager, Karla, and I enjoyed lunch during one of our biweekly check-ins. After covering business, we dug into fun stories from our personal lives. We laughed, I finished my tray of warm, delicious bhindi masala, and left her office with, as usual, a skip in my step. Life is grand!
When I returned to her office later that afternoon, I noticed something strange on her desk.
“Did I do that?” I asked, horrified, picturing my steaming, fragrant lunch resting on the gleaming, elegant wood in that exact same spot just hours earlier.
Karla burst out laughing. “I wasn’t going to say anything…”
I immediately started Googling replacement desks.
Now That’s What I Call Commitment (2 of 3)
Okay. I can’t take credit for this, but I just love it.
This is a sign around the corner from my house. You know when it looked fantastic? Halloween.
Do you know when I took this picture? Yesterday.
At least they’re ready for 2019. This project manager approves.
I Just Wanted an Excuse to Post this Picture (3 of 3)
Did you know I went to Dubai in 2016? …That’s okay. Most people missed it. Even people in Dubai. A fairly last-minute meeting brought my boss and I there for a whirlwind 36-hour trip.
A fellow project manager was our tour guide and he crammed in lots of exciting stops for us. My boss was especially tickled when he took us to a restaurant called The Meat House.
At one point, he brought us to The Dubai Mall and led us towards a little kiosk. Before we knew what was happening, people were handing us shiny things, saying, “Put this on. Now hold this.”
My boss and I glanced at each other warily, but it was too late. There was no getting out of this.
Anything you’re apologizing to your coworkers for?
“I have two tickets to an acapella Christmas show at at NJPAC on Dec 1 @ 8pm. Any chance you’d go?”
Longtime readers know “anything”+ “acapella” elicits the following response from me:
Based on all of the times Babs and I had been to college acapella performances, I figured an NJPAC-worthy show would be Glee meets Pitch Perfect. I hoped they’d cover Mariah Carey, maybe a little Jackson 5, and my all-time favorite, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
“This is going to be so fun!” we squealed over Sangria on Saturday night, the show now only an hour away. As the clock neared 8pm, we scooted past two blue-haired ladies, took our seats and opened the program.
“You said you’ve heard them before?” I whispered to Babs.
“I think so,” she replied. “On the radio.”
I looked at the song list and back at Babs, eyes as wide as Christmas saucers.
Suddenly, the lights dimmed, a hush fell over the crowd, and twelve men in full-on penguin suits (not the fun kind) solemnly formed a semi-circle, singing at an octave they probably could have heard in whatever country the decidedly-NOT-Mariah-Carey song originated.
Tears of laughter streamed down my face and my shoulders shook as I tried not to make a sound.
“I’M SO SORRY,” Babs whispered, and I snorted audibly.
Trapped in our aisle until intermission, we counted down the somber, unrecognizable songs one by one, each featuring a soloist who, while talented, sang higher than seemed safe.
As soon as the last la Navidad was warbled, we ran out of there faster than my mascara. Did I mention Stephen Colbert was interviewing Meryl Streep on the stage next door?
“Shut Your Neck, I Mean, Face Right Now” (Exhibit 2 of 3)
This next story really needs no introduction. Here’s the message I received from my manager last Friday:
“I Manne-CAN’T Believe It” (Exhibit 3 of 3)
Last Wednesday morning, I stepped into the elevator at work and secretly played my favorite “I Wonder What Floor S/He’s Getting Off On” game. As usual, I correctly predicted another “8th floor.” (When the purse matches the shoes, or the dress socks are festively patterned, it’s definitely an 8th floor.)
This time, though, when the elevator doors opened, I spotted something…unusual. A woman, sitting in a chair near the coffee machine, frozen in place. Her hair had a strange, dull luster and she stared blankly into the distance.
Is that a…is she a…?
Yes. It was a mannequin. (Excuse me, “pulse-challenged,” as we’ve been coached to say by our Diversity & Inclusion team.) Enjoying Starbucks and playing Candy Crush like any normal employee at 8am on a Wednesday. She and I proceeded to have a lengthy conversation about “the 7th floors,” and when I returned to my own floor, I asked everyone I could find:
“Did you know the robots have already taken over?”
“I think it’s a decoy,” Karla replied, scratching her new neck tattoo. “Like the fake dog cut-outs they put in fields to keep geese away. They want to stop us from going to the 8th floor and stealing the good coffee.”
That’s a solid theory, Karla. But if I need to start updating my resume, you’ll let me know, right? …Right?
“‘Cause I don’t wanna lose you now, I’m looking right at the other half of me...”
I groaned, cursing my alarm. Wednesday. I quickly swiped my phone to silent. Even Justin Timberlake couldn’t convince me 6:15am looked good on a Wednesday.
Bleary-eyed, I got into the shower, wondering what work-appropriate pants might actually be clean and still fit. As the clock neared 7:00am, I started preparing my Commuter’s Survival Kit.
I opened the fridge and reached for the half and half, suddenly pausing.
I stood there for what felt like days, vivid scenes rushing to mind, clawing for air, demanding to know how I could have been so naive. Maybe I could just go back in time and pretend everything was “normal.” What was normal? Who was I, and why did that person suddenly feel like a stranger to the woman standing in the middle of the kitchen with a twisted expression on her face?
Just hours earlier, I had watched a documentary on Netflix about healthy eating. Or so I’d thought when I’d hit play.
Instead, I’d gotten the awakening of a lifetime. My entire worldview was upended, as if learning that everyone and everything I’d ever known had been in disguise.
Puzzle pieces I’d never known I’d failed to connect suddenly formed a gruesome picture. And I was part of causing that gore.
I poured a few tablespoons of creamer into my travel mug, throwing the remainder into the garbage.
That’s it. Never again.
At lunchtime I eyed the salad bar as though I’d never seen it before. My heart was racing. I felt scared. Alone. So if I don’t have the chicken, or the eggs, or the cheese…are those grains cooked with stock? Are there any non-dairy dressings?
I loaded a plate with greens, tofu, beans, and, Ooh! Nuts! That could work…
My internet browser exploded with new tabs. Vegan Recipes. Beginner Vegan. Why No Honey? Is Wool Vegan? Can I keep my leather hiking boots?
I felt like I was in The Matrix. Except instead of staring dreamily at Keanu Reeves, I was looking at everyone around me, wondering if I’d lost my mind. “They’re eating babies!” my new, red pill-swallowing brain shouted. “BABIES!”
It was so profoundly disconcerting that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to function normally. (As if I was playing with a full deck to begin with!)
I spent the next month combating this dis-ease by learning everything I could about veganism, wondering how long it would take until someone caught on that I was ordering avocado rolls instead of my normal salmon sashimi. I had adopted the notion that no one liked vegans, and this latest epiphany triggered teenage Jules. What if no one wants to hang out with me anymore? What if everyone thinks I’m a judge-y a*shole?
I had been a vegetarian for all of my teen years, but by 19, had succumbed to latent peer pressure and returned to the Standard American Diet. At 34, I was terrified that I’d let that happen again.
The Institute for Humane Education gave me everything I’d hoped it would and more. Because two and a half years later, I’m happy to report: My vegan flag flies loud and proud. And I promise – I’m not here to convert you.
But I am here for this:
I cannot overstate the impact going vegan has had on my life, nor the lightness of heart I feel at every meal, knowing that my decisions align with my values. The real epiphany, though? Realizing my choices matter. I matter.
And we get the opportunity to express our true, loving, compassionate selves every day, through every action we take.