Blogging, Dating, PSAs

Why I’m Never Dating Again

DISCLAIMER: Names changed because it’s fun to rename people you’ve never met.

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“I don’t have a lot of experience with girls. I mean, like, verrry little.”

Looking back, I probably should have dropped my fork and run. But he was so funny. And had great hair.

It was late March 2015, and Adam was the ninth person I’d met during my 10 first dates in 10 weeks online dating phase. I never made it to the tenth. Our first date lasted nearly six hours, over dinner and drinks at a local gastro pub. (And by gastro pub I mean restaurant that features 117 kinds of beer, dramatically mustachioed waiters and duck confit sliders.)

At 35, Adam was a few years older than I was, animated and full of fun stories. When a position in the arts failed to cover the bills, he settled for manual labor alongside his father, work he described with hilarious disdain. If I had had to guess, I’d have said he’d probably just moved out of his parents’ basement within the past year.

“Next time we’re going to have to go to [the notoriously cheap local Mexican restaurant],” he said after I ordered my third drink (I did mention we were there for six hours, right?).

“Why?”

“I won’t be able to afford your hollow leg!”

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Well I need SOMETHING to drown out the memory of first dates #1-8.

At the end of the night, I insisted on paying, knowing I’d racked up an impressive tab with my multiple martinis and tuna tartare compared to his two beers and burger. As with most first dates, I left feeling both energized and drained, and still very much on the fence.

We texted incessantly, and by the end of our second date, I found myself saying, “I reallllly like you” before kissing him. He had been so nervous, I was surprised by how naturally he reacted.

On our third date, we got lost in the subway.

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Sign you don’t want to see when you’re supposed to be IN Manhattan.

Still, I wrestled with my resolve to keep dating. Meeting strangers and immediately auditioning them for Future Life Partner, or at the very least, Tonsil Hockey Teammate, seemed…WEIRD to me. Maybe because my dating life didn’t begin in earnest until 31 – after my divorce. I had married my first real boyfriend, someone I’d known through work for almost two years before we’d started dating, and we had been together for over ten years.

Nevertheless, in early 2014, newly single, I dove headfirst into two back-to-back relationships via eHarmony, eventually burned and defeated by both. “Gotta get back in the game!” was the conventional wisdom, and since I’d yet to become the baller, independent thinker you see before you today, I went with it. “10 First Dates in 10 Weeks,” I called it.

Big mistake.

Really big.

Just…no.

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I cannot believe how many pictures I have from this phase that never before made it on this blog.

After that, I entered one more relationship courtesy Match.com that was nice, but not right for me. It was mid-2017 by then and I realized I needed a break. I needed to finish grad school and focus on my passions. I dove headfirst into my thesis, met amazing new people, and lined up an exciting array of adventures for 2019 (heh, stay tuned).

Is that the reason I’m glad I’m single this Valentine’s Day? …Kind of. Have I noticed that I haven’t gone on a date in almost two years? …Sorta. Am I EVER going to date again?

…No.

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And not just because I want to mainline leftover french fries in peace.

That’s right. You heard me. At some point in 2018 it occurred to me that I wasn’t getting the results I wanted because I was following someone else’s rules. No wonder I was burnt out, frustrated, confused. I thought I just hadn’t found the right app, or tried hard enough, when in fact I was simply looking in all the wrong places. It was so obvious I couldn’t believe I’d missed it:

The only men I’d ever loved were friends first. Including my ex-husband.

Real friends. Friends for the sake of being friends. We weren’t trying each other on to see if we fit. We weren’t grilling each other over craft beer with sweaty palms and sky-high stakes.

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Or to get a blog post out of it. (…Who, me?)

We connected over shared laughs, common interests and similar goals. Our paths crossed naturally, and over time, we confided in each other, deepened our trust and developed genuine love. Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about.

So did Adam become a real friend? No. But he certainly was the closest to one I found during my 10 9 First Dates in 10 Weeks, and he reminded me of what I really wanted. He reminded me that I need to see someone’s heart and soul before I feel comfortable sharing my most vulnerable self.

I admire those who can bare it all sooner, who can meet new people and embrace the uncertainty. I have girlfriends who relish getting to a new city and firing up Bumble. To them, it’s fun and exciting. For me, it’s a fate worse than death a chipmunk-less world.

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Wait, what?

The choice to never date again probably sounds dramatic and sad to those folks. When I made the decision last year? I’d never felt more relieved.

Go-Jules-Go_Redbox_Valentines-Day
Meet my Valentine’s Day plans.

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How do you feel about dating? About being single (or not) this Valentine’s Day?

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Blogging, Dating

I Love You, But I’m Not In Love With You

DISCLAIMER: Names changed to protect the innocent guilty.

Go Jules Go title graphic I love you but I'm not in love with you_6FEB2019

I was 18 years old when my life began.

One balmy summer day, after all the Y2K dust had finally settled, a young, auburn-haired woman walked into the local bookstore where I worked. Meg. The new hire. Her sundress flapped against ivory legs as she took the new hardcovers to the front of the shop.

We were fast friends, chatting in between placing orders and ringing up customers.

“You were maaaade for retail,” she teased, quoting one of our most recent patrons while I rolled my eyes.

I’d gotten the full-time job the same year I’d earned my GED. By the time I met Meg, I was taking classes at the local community college, my sights set on screenwriting. Bullied for glasses, braces and a few spare chins, I had eventually been homeschooled. I sometimes wondered if old soul really meant late bloomer.

Jenn-bday-Jules-Amelia-Bedelia
Just because I CHOSE to spend Date Night at our store’s Friday night book signings doesn’t mean I…never mind.

Meg regaled me with sordid tales of her past: running away from home, men calling in the middle of the night begging for forgiveness, operatic dreams dashed, sex, drugs and rock and roll.

“You need a little fun in your life,” she said one night as we sipped Sangria at a local bar. She was five years older than I and seemed to know all the places with lenient carding policies.

In March, one month before my 19th birthday, Meg and I took our shoes off in the mud room of her parents’ colonial and walked into the small, dated kitchen, just like we’d done countless times before. Blue painted cabinets and faded wallpaper enveloped us. Despite its age, everything in the house was spotless.

And there he was.

“Gem,” he greeted. (“Meg” spelled backward.) His deep voice rumbled with affection.

The figure sitting at the small round table, munching away on carrot and celery sticks, shared Meg’s fair skin and smile, but had much darker brown hair and eyes. Goodbye Justin Timberlake, hello…

“Ben, this is Jules. Jules, Ben.”

Meg’s twin brother. The apple of her eye. He grinned widely, eyes sparkling.

In addition to sharing physical similarities with his twin, Ben also shared Meg’s intelligence, musical ability and sense of humor. He’d graduated college two years earlier with a degree in psychology, but his true passion was film, giving us plenty in common. He had a serious girlfriend, but she didn’t like his friends, which meant every time I saw him, he was alone.

And suddenly he was everywhere.

The next time we met, we talked for over an hour. The third time, he sprung up and gave me a giant bear hug. His solid frame pressed against me and I lost my breath. I’d never been held like that.

That same night he stopped me from leaving by saying, “That Train CD you gave Meg is really awesome.”

Train_Drops_of_Jupiter
YES, MY BEST STORIES INVOLVE A TIME WHEN WE STILL LISTENED TO ACTUAL COMPACT DISCS. F*#%.

We stood in the laundry room of a friend’s house, in a holding pattern between the door out, for me, and the door back in, for him. We chatted for a few minutes about music.

“Well…goodnight,” I said eventually.

He stepped forward and this time I was ready for it. I lifted my arms so his were forced to circle my waist.

“You give good hugs,” I murmured.

He gave a throaty chuckle and squeezed me even more tightly.

Over the following months, the conversations and hugs grew longer. And longer. But he never made a pass, and I was sure I was imagining things.

Finally, in November, buoyed by quitting a toxic babysitting job, I emailed Ben. “I think there’s something between us,” I wrote, heart racing. “You’re completely amazing, and I wish you all the best life has to offer,” I went on. “I’m just afraid -and my ultimate point lies here- that you won’t realize when it’s being offered to you.”

Pepper-festival-Jules-bite
The face I make every time I remember this email.

That was Thursday. On Sunday, Ben replied. It was the longest three days of my life. He explained that his lack of response indicated “slight discomfort” because, while he enjoyed my company just as much, it was in “a different way.” He ended by saying he hoped that we could “continue to chill.”

I was devastated. Humiliated. Yet some part of me wasn’t willing to accept his words. And because of that, our friendship deepened. I was sure if I waited long enough, and tried hard enough, I’d get the thing I wanted most.

Six months later, at 3:00am one May, standing outside his parents’ house, Ben kissed me.

“I thought it was all in my head,” I breathed.

“It’s not,” he replied, brown eyes blazing. He held me and stared deep into my eyes, like he always did.

“I tried to figure out if I just wasn’t pretty enough or smart enough or funny enough,” I gushed. The words were out before I could censor them. I didn’t care.

“That’s ridiculous,” he reassured me.

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Right?

The following year was speckled with a few more kisses, a couple of midnight confessions, and an endless series of marathon hugs. He loved me, and said I was one of his best friends, but he was never ready to leave his girlfriend and accept all I was willing to give.

Before I knew it, I was 21, tipsy, and begging Ben not to leave a party. He did.

And that was the moment.

The moment I decided to let myself fall in love with someone else. Someone I’d known a long time. Someone who, as it turns out, loved me back.

Meg once told me, when I finally confessed how I felt about her brother, “Your loving Ben has a purpose, if only to make you see how much you deserve in love.”

And she was right. Without Ben, I never would have known how to appreciate that love that’s meant for you is easy. Simple. Happy.

Any time someone talks about “Most Embarrassing Moments,” I think of that email I sent to Ben 17 years ago. I cringe. I blush. I bury my head in my hands. But actually, I love that girl. She put it all out there, fear be damned.

And guess what?

I’m still the same girl.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Blogging, tiny living

Tiny Living vs. Living Small

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It’s eight steps from my living room loveseat to the bathroom.

Seven steps from the bathroom to my bed.

Twenty-four steps -two flights down- from my kitchenette to the front door.

Over the past fourteen years, since graduating college, I’ve moved five times, had eight jobs, four broken hearts, one marriage, one divorce, run two marathons, lost and gained several hundred pounds, said goodbye to five loved ones (including one dog), written two books and 407 blog posts, gotten two advanced degrees, and traveled to three different continents.

Sometimes when things feel stale or stagnant, I review that list and remember: life is always changing. A notion that used to send me into the fetal position now puts a skip in my step. Thank god things are always changing.

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Otherwise I’d still be dressed like this.

No matter how many things we try to track and count, or how many boxes we tick on the Checklist of Life, we’ll never be able to control that one constant – change. Nor will we ever arrive at some magic moment, proclaiming, “Ah, okay, done now!”

When I moved to my 350-square foot apartment in November 2017, the only thing I was sure of was that one chapter was ending and another was beginning.

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Also, that I’d save a butt-ton of these.

I was terrified, but determined. After all, if I wanted a different sort of life, I was going to need to do things, well, differently. Of course, I still placated myself with thoughts like, “If you hate it, Jules, you can leave whenever you want and go back to living with an actual oven.”

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Totally overrated. Photo credit

I needed to tell myself things like that because I still didn’t trust The Grand Unknown. I still didn’t really believe the old adage, “The path will appear when you take the first step.” I always wanted a Plan B, a back-up, something I could measure and rely on. So often we look for sure things and guarantees, favoring our logical, expensively-educated brains, while missing what I’m starting to believe is the entire reason we’re inhabiting these funny flesh sacks in the first place: to follow our hearts.

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Right, Darren Criss?

Who says our hearts are unreliable, anyway? Have you ever tried tackling a tough question by getting still, taking a few deep breaths, and sinking down into that space within your chest? That space that says: You are enough. You can do anything. Your dreams matter. You are loved.

Isn’t that the voice who should always dictate our next steps?

There are still many days where I straddle the line between my heart and my head. Not sure if that’s you, too? In my experience, it feels a little something like this: Hope vs. desperation. Giddiness vs. dread. Authenticity vs. fraud. Ease vs. restlessness. A life of seeming forward momentum and social media-worthy accomplishment vs. that huge part of you that just wants to scream:

“STOP!”

Do you ever imagine standing up in the middle of a busy day and doing just that?

Then you could walk five steps to the fridge, fill three water bottles, and take your one dog two flights of stairs down to your one car. You could drive hundreds of miles until you reached the infinite woods.

There, you could hike countless miles and relish innumerable sights and sounds. You could consider your endless blessings, remember your boundless spirit, and realize your limitless potential.

Because counting only matters when you’re living small.

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On second thought, the hike might have to wait.

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How do you deal with The Grand Unknown? (Hey, come out of that corner, you. It’s safe over here. I have bean dip!)

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Blogging, tiny living

The In Between

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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.

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Or is it the “paws” 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.

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Still so much love on my daily walks with UJ.

So in this time of unknowns, limitless possibility and quiet, I thought I’d share something ‘in between’ nothing and my normal blog posts.

Flaw-less

I watched a video last night of an artist sculpting

A face from clay.

She measured down the middle first

and pointed out

where the eyes should go.

Then she measured side to side

and explained the placement of

the nose

Depending on gender.

 

Now I’m watching a film

and

I’m seeing the angles

that should be invisible.

“I must be so smart

to see this,”

I think, patting myself on the back.

I feel my ego stroked

as I touch this back that can be measured

In inches and vertebrae

without ever truly knowing

The space in between.

February 26, 2018

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Blogging

2019? Let’s get DEEP.

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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.

Go Jules Go Georgia OKeefe museum Babs in frame Oct 2018
It’s all about how we frame things, right, Babs? (Georgia O’Keefe Museum, Santa Fe, NM, October 2018)

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?

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Oh dear god, this is going to involve a lot of sweat, isn’t it?

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?

buh-bye-SNL

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.

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Life is like a menu: all the options can be vegan if that’s what you choose to see!

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

Go Jules Go The Future sunset Santa Fe Oct 2018
Santa Fe, NM (October 2018)

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Happy New Year, my cherished Chipmunks! I can say with the confidence of Jessica Biel after Justin Timberlake proposed: 2019 is gonna be MAGIC!

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Blogging

The Love Letter We All Should Write

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Happy Halloween, Chipmunks!! Do you like my costume? I’m dressed up as a serious writer today.

Terrifying, I know.

And all because I bumped into a certain someone last weekend and suddenly felt 19 again, reeling from that…

…crazy, head-over-heels first love.

…can’t-stop-wondering-what-they’re-doing-right-now-and-how-about-now-and-how-about-now first love.

…overwhelming, exhilarating, exhausting first love.

Almost as exhausting as carving a custom jack-o-lantern seemed to me this year.

When an experience kicks up those old emotions -in my case, heartache, rejection and unworthiness- there’s so much I wish I could tell my younger self.

So I did.

Dear Younger Me,

Your first love has a sacred place in your unfolding. These wounds will heal, though the phantom pain will be, at times, very convincing. What an amazing gift to feel so much for another. Tap into this heartbreak and transmute those tears into the stuff that will fortify your soul. You are full and bright and beautiful.

You have this person to thank for showing you what you need from another: Someone who will be there for you in every moment and honor you as an equal. Someone who will strive to build you up as they build themselves up, too.

This person is an important part in strengthening your spirit, for the love you seek requires a heart that knows itself.

How else will you recognize its reflection?

Love,

Wiser Older Me

~*~*~*~*~*~

What did your first love teach you? What do you wish you could tell your younger self about it? (If this question makes you uncomfortable, please feel free to post pictures of dogs in costume instead.)

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Blogging, Family Ties, I'm Going To Chop My Ear Off Any Day Now

What I’ve Learned from My Past Lives (yes, I did just say that)

Often when time passes, feelings fade, memories go fuzzy, and lessons learned take a backseat to everyday demands. One of the many curious things about undergoing a “past life regression” hypnosis session last month (yup, that’s totally a thing!) was finding that the very opposite occurred. The thoughts, smells, sights and sounds that I experienced during hypnosis have become hyperreal, and I’ve spent many long walks trying to squeeze every ounce of insight that I can from them.

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Wanna hear what I’ve got so far? Oh good. I knew I had a blog for a reason.

Go-Jules-Go-title-graphic_What I've Learned from My Past Lives

LESSON 1 (of 3): It’s Okay to Want Less

In many ways, the two past lives I witnessed couldn’t have been more different. In one life, I was a woman, the other, a man. In one I was wealthy, the other poor. I hated my job one time, enjoyed it the next.

None of this mattered.

As both a wealthy Victorian woman visiting her grandmother in the English countryside and a poor-as-dirt laborer in rural Maine in the mid-20th century, the only thing that mattered to me was this: Being with my family, surrounded by nature. I longed for nothing more than the sight of those rolling hills and the water – except maybe a cup of tea and some James Joyce! No part of me was vying for a 4.0 GPA or learning yoga or reading self-help books. And I felt zero guilt about it. The pursuit of peace and pleasure was enough.

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Ahhhhh, that’s better.

This was a powerful lesson. All I truly desire today is exactly the same – except now it feels devilishly indulgent. A simple life with fewer responsibilities? How dare I! This experience was a much-needed reminder to take a breath and remember that all of the accomplishments in the world are meaningless if I can’t enjoy what matters most. I don’t need to adorn this life with the trappings of success to have a successful life.

LESSON 2 (of 3): Why I REALLY Struggle with My Weight

I thought, between decades of dieting and multiple therapists, that I’d covered every possible reason I struggled with weight.

It wasn’t until I heard my “Higher Self” speak during hypnosis that a new idea took form: My weight was the physical manifestation of carrying others’ burdens. I had never allowed this theory to surface because I thought it made me sound like a self-righteous martyr.

“She tries to be like a mussel. Clean the water. It doesn’t work,” my higher self had said, speaking in third person. “She just wants everyone to be happy. She doesn’t have to be responsible for anyone [else’s happiness].”

How might I approach my relationship with food if I looked at it through this new lens? Would I speak up, set boundaries, and share more of my authentic self? The short answer? YES. It’s already happening! But I’ll confess: I haven’t changed overnight. The road ahead still looks pretty curvy (pun soooo intended). Nevertheless, I’m more optimistic than ever before that I’m dissolving a toxic pattern.

MORE VEGAN FOOD HACKS
It’s especially tough when you crush it in the kitchen like I do.

LESSON 3 (of 3): “If You’re Happy, You Will Save the World”

This is something else my higher self relayed midway through the session, and it strikes me as almost heartbreaking in its innocence. Wasn’t there some wise old (wo)man somewhere who said we can recognize the truth by its simplicity?

I’ve often heard people say that we’re on this earth to experience joy, and despite how things may appear on this blog, I often do a sh*tty job of it. Which links back perfectly to #1 on this list: It doesn’t take much to be happy (and THAT’S OKAY)!

Perhaps instead of living life like one giant checklist, I’d make a bigger, brighter impact on the planet I love so much by doing things daily that delight me (like using alliteration…check!).

Go-Jules-Go-2018-dream-birthday-Darren-Criss-1
And photoshopping myself next to Darren Criss, of course.

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Do these lessons resonate with you? Do you struggle with them like I do?

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