Food, humor, PSAs

Sleeping With the Frenemy

I graduated therapy recently.

What? You didn’t know that was a thing?

Go-Jules-Go-nerd
Hang on. Is it NOT a thing?

After about two and a half years on the couch, including a brief affair with hypnotherapy, I was released.

But Go Jules Go, you’re probably thinking. You? Therapy? How can this be? Is it the chipmunk thing? ‘Cause that’s been making me kind of uncomfortable for a long time now.

It’s true, friends. This hilarious, blonde bombshell you see before you has some clumps in her mascara.

GOGP_Chipmunk_SecondHusband_tree
Also the chipmunk thing.

At first I felt uneasy being set free. Who would I talk to? And then I remembered you!

GoJulesGo gets ready for BlogHer'12

The thing that made me realize my therapist was right, that I was indeed ready to stand on my own two, massive, massive, size 11 feet, was the fact that I had made friends with my demons. I’d invited them onto that couch with me, and instead of trying to suffocate them with one of my therapist’s oversized pillows, we started chatting.

eHarmony-Frank-Jules-Lady-and-the-Tramp
Once we got to know each other, we realized we had so much in common!

The one demon in particular who led me to therapy was an old friend frenemy. FOOD.

jules-impossible-burger
That basic b*tch.

When I’m stressed, angry, sad, wondering why Darren Criss still hasn’t returned my calls, you name it, I’ll let it build and build and then the sun will set and suddenly I’m surrounded by crumbs, salt and shame. Even positive things, like embracing an ethical vegan lifestyle, running a marathon, going back to grad school, and making the move to tiny living, brought monumental anxiety.

Every moment in my personal history, a history rich with love, laughter, beautiful sights and broken hearts, is colored by whatever I happened to weigh at that time. Give me any year back to 1991, when I was 9 years old, and I can probably provide an exact number – and exactly how I felt about that number.

During my first couple of years in therapy, I thought I could fix whatever the hell was wrong with me. I knew food was a merely symptom, but for goddsakes, I was in my mid-30s now, surely time to turn a corner here. Then I realized: My issues were never going away, least of all this one.

And that’s what has made all the difference.

My issues and I can sit side by side in this life, sometimes in companionable silence, other times in a raging battle, and everything is going to be O-KAY. It’s how I relate to them, how I deal with them moment to moment, that really matters. Why not pull my darkest parts into the light where I can admire and understand every ugly lovely inch of them? They are part of me, after all.

Besides, if I’m going to fret over anything, it should be the fact that Darren Criss STILL hasn’t called me back.

Blaine_gleewikia
My love has only had time to mature, Darren!

“I remember how panicked I was when I first came here,” I said to my therapist on our second to last visit, gazing between her cluttered desk and oversized necklace. “It’s not that my issues have gone away. It’s just that I feel so much differently about them. So much calmer.”

She nodded. “Does that feel like progress?” 

“If that’s not progress, I don’t know what is,” I replied.

So now that I’ve invited my favorite frenemy over to spend some quality time, I’ve decided (s)he needs a name.

I’m thinking Osama binge Laden. Yes? No?

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Any other frenemies out there you’d like to introduce?

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PSAs

5 Lessons Learned From Just 10 Minutes of Daily Meditation

I’ve been meditating for ten minutes a day for about three months. This makes me, and I’m shocked I have to explain this to you, an expert.

Why meditation? Why now? It seemed like I couldn’t turn on a podcast without hearing people sing meditation’s praises, and I was really curious to see if it would affect my overall outlook. Besides, it’s nice to mix things up once you realize most of your waking hours are spent dealing with unwanted hair.

Jules-meditation
That’s a lot of surface area.

I was pretty amazed to notice a difference in just one week, especially because most of the ten minutes were spent thinking, “Am I doing this right?” (Spoiler alert: You are.) I felt calmer, lighter, and happier, and all I’d really done was sit on the sofa, eyes closed, hands in my lap, listening to nature sounds on YouTube. Every time my mind would wander, I’d bring it back to my breath.

What was even more helpful than breathing deeply was doing a body scan, checking in with each part of my body. Most days, my shoulders and neck screamed once I paused to listen – a testament to my terrible posture and long hours in front of a computer. I also realized, on days when I felt most rushed, the anxiety seemed to pool in the middle of my stomach. After a few weeks, I began to understand that that was where my anxiety always lived.  It was startling to realize that I went almost 36 years without knowing that.

What really made me think these meditation evangelists might be onto something, though, was when I had a completely uncharacteristic reaction to someone saying something rude to me about a month into meditating. In the first instant, I had my normal response – horror, indignation, hurt. But just one second later, I burst out laughing. This bubble of pure joy erupted as I saw the absurdity of their behavior. This person’s comment (or more specifically, their tone), had nothing to do with me. A moment later, they were laughing with me.

That’s it, I thought. I’m sticking with this meditation sh*t for good.

DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you purchase the linked product, at no additional cost to you. I only ever link to products that I truly love. Like this.

5 Lessons Learned From Just 10 Minutes of Daily Meditation

1. You’ll Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable.

Ten minutes is a long time when you’ve got Twitter to check and Wheat Thins to eat. And once you get past those impulses, you might start (gasp) feeling even more things. Things you might not want to feel. You might relive moments you’d wish would stay buried somewhere in your parents’ basement along with those Koosh ball earrings. Like the results of this past election. Don’t stop. Don’t get up. Just keep breathing. You’re building a muscle that no CrossFit gym can ever provide.

2. This too shall pass.

If you’ve gotten past number one, a funny thought might occur to you: Everything is going to be okay. As you learn to live and breathe in the present moment, everything else becomes superfluous. You realize no matter how anxious or desperate you might feel in any one moment, it will change. Meditation helps you practice bridging that gap between feeling and action before you race to mask your emotions with the aforementioned Twitter and Wheat Thins.

3. Nothing is perfect.

Not even the dog who decides to loudly munch his kibble (probably to make sure you don’t get to it first) just when you start to meditate. Your inner critic will vie for your attention as soon as you even start to think about meditating. What’s the point? You’re doing it wrong. Ten minutes can’t possibly make a difference. You’re definitely doing this wrong. Just remember: The amount you resist meditation is a direct correlation to the amount it can help you.

And if 10 minutes a day sounds overwhelming? Try 5, or even 1. I picked 10 because it was the amount, for me, that I knew I couldn’t talk myself out of. Anything is better than nothing. Dan Harris, the ABC News guy behind 10% Happier, reminds me of that on his podcast [that I’m now addicted to] every week.

4. It’s all about me.

I probably should have warned you about this upfront, but something very disturbing will start to happen if you carve out ten (or five or one) minute(s) a day to just be. You will start to just be you. All that is gloriously and wonderfully you, without any distractions. As you let those thoughts and feelings come and go without judgment, you’ll start to feel an energy flow through you, and that energy feels a lot like love.

5. It has nothing to do with me.

The best and worst thing about loving yourself? Only you can do it.* And once you do, you’ll realize all of the negativity in the world can’t touch you, because it has nothing to do with you.

*That’s what she said.

Uncle-Jesse-Groomed-26Sep12
Go ahead. Just try to meditate.

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Have you tried meditating? What do you think?

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Kvetching, New Jersey is breathtaking, PSAs

WTF? You’ve Been SERVED.

citation note pads

Earlier this week I told you about THOSE G.D. CHURCH BELLS that go off at ALL HOURS one block from my new apartment.

Church-bells

After four months in this neighborhood, I’m starting to wonder what the ever-loving chipmunks is going on. The church bells are just the beginning. Odder still, this town is a mere two miles from where I grew up, and yet it’s as if I’ve stepped into The Upside Down. Nothing here makes sense, and it’s starting to scare me.

stranger-things-winona-rider
New Jersey: As confounding as Winona Ryder’s comeback.

Since everyone else seems to have accepted this lunacy as status quo, I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands.

That’s right.

Go Jules Go, keeper of peace, server of justice, lover of being alone and eating peanut butter straight from the jar without any interruptions thank you very much, HAS ARRIVED.

Jules-old-timey-sheriff
Helloooo, sweet, cinnamon-swirly justice!

First order of business? Handing out citations to the town’s most egregious offenders. Aside from His-Church-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, behold:

CITATION #1

Wile-e-coyote

A few weeks ago, someone left -I’m not making this up- a red package labeled “TNT” on top of a mailbox on my block. A passerby notified the police, and within moments, the bomb squad arrived. These cartoonish hijinx shut down my street and kept me from enjoying the eight cases of wine I’d just purchased from Trader Joe’s for an entire hour.

WTF-citation-coyote

CITATION #2

sad-dessert

Hi. Meet my dessert. She comes from a restaurant around the corner from my apartment, where they also consider Bachelorette tea parties the height of merriment. Don’t they know it’s not dessert unless you hate yourself afterwards?

WTF-citation-dessert

CITATION #3

citation-tree

The town center’s crowning Christmas jewel, and the view from my living room all December long.

WTF-citation-tree

CITATION #4

And last, but certainly not least…

Neighbor-note-doctored

I found this note in my mailbox on Tuesday, from someone I had only briefly met when I first moved in. “Phoebe” later revealed her question via text: “Hey, would you be interested in swapping apartments [from your studio to my much more expensive 1-bedroom]? My boyfriend and I just broke up :(.”

WTF-citation-neighbor

I’m sure this won’t be the last of the nefarious acts in my new topsy-turvy world. Stay tuned. Stay vigilant. Stay safe. Sheriff Jules, over and out.

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Any heinousness happening in your neighborhood?

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Kvetching, New Jersey is breathtaking, PSAs

For the Love of All That’s Holy

Church-bells

Dear Catholic Church One Block from My New Apartment,

Since moving to your neighborhood late last year, your house of worship has turned mine into one of horrors.

Today, a cold, rainy Saturday perfect for staying in bed, your bells rang out at 7:24AM, 8:00AM, 9:37AM, 10:32AM, 11:24AM, 12:00PM, 5:24PM, 6:29PM, 8:01PM and counting, each time lasting no less than one full minute.

Have you a gargoyle in training?

gargoyle
ALL THE BELLSSSSSSS!!! Photo credit

I wish I could say this event was extraordinary, but alas, your belligerent bells remind me daily that sleep is for sinners. Were I to understand the reasoning behind your inventive cadence, perhaps I could rest soundly.

Concerned Heathen Citizen,

Jules

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Can anyone explain this? Am I missing something (besides sleep)??

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

PSAs

What Is She Doing NOW?

When I was 7 years old, I asked my dad, “What am I?”

No, I wasn’t some sort of existential genius baby, I just wanted to know where I stood. We decorated a tree every December, but we’d stopped going to church and never said grace like our cousins. Were we Christian? Methodist? Protestant? Something cool like Catholic where you could unload all of your wrongdoings onto a man sitting in a box?

“You can be whatever you want to be,” my dad replied.

Oh great, I thought. No pressure!

I floated through the next decade asking myself, “What do I want to be?” But I could never decide. The question was too big for me.

In fact, the question never became anything less, but eventually I cobbled together a set of beliefs based on what seemed like the best of ABC’s Friday night line up the best.

Financial-independence-home-imrpovement
Photo credit

In May 2016, when I upset the earth’s balance by foregoing all things bacon and cheese, I never anticipated that my DIY belief system would experience another revelation as a result: Financial independence. Like most people, I assumed I would have to work until my liver gave out and nothing short of suing Quaker Oats for destroying the roof of my mouth would save me.

Financial-independence-capn-crunch

But over time, as I started finding ways to up my environmentalism game, I realized I was accidentally saving money.

financial-indepence-savings
Best accident ever.

By moving to a 300-square foot apartment in November, that suddenly became a lot more money.

The old plans didn’t make sense anymore.

GoJulesGo-PMbootcamp
And by that I mean working until you die.

I started poring over my accounts and listening to investing podcasts. I rejiggered my portfolio and took a hard look at every expense. I argued with Comcast for two hours to get the best deal. In the process, I asked weird questions like, “How many bottles of wine much money does a person really need?” and “Do I care who cuts my hair?” and “What the hell is in that UV nail gel anyway?”

The less stuff I had, the less I wanted. But then came the really scary part. If I actually achieved financial independence, I’d be responsible for creating a world that didn’t revolve around making money. Once again I’d have to ask: What did I want to be?

This is a very privileged question to ask, I realize. And I’ve got a ways to go. And I really like my job. And I’m not just saying that because my boss sometimes reads this blog. But in the meantime, I’d love to know:

If you never had to earn another dime, who would you be?

Uncle-Jesse-portrait-Jan-2018
Sorry, “Pet Portrait Professional” is already taken.

~*~*~*~*~*~

humor, PSAs

PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWERS…itty bitty living space.

You’re envisioning your new dream home. Images begin to spring to mind…

A small, cozy nook, under a flight of stairs, with plenty of space for your wand and pet owl.

Harry-Potter-staircase

No? Okay. How about this: a tiny house with a loft bed and ceiling hooks for your fixed-gear bicycle and kombucha tea jars.

tiny-house-bike-storage-6
Photo credit.

Still no?

All right. Perhaps this: a 300-square foot, 3rd floor walk-up with no oven, coin laundry, and street parking.

Kitchenette.jpg

Really? Not even if I told you you’d get to add an extra 10 minutes to your commute?

God, you’re difficult.

Starting November 1st, I’ll call the latter home.

TX-Jules-pregame
Who needs homemade cookies and clean sheets, anyway?

“A third floor walk-up? Are you that desperate to win the company Fitbit challenge?” you might be asking. Excellent guess. The truth is, about a year and a half ago, I started making some pretty big changes in the name of Mother Earth.

Babs Sheet Go Jules Go
The only mother as badass as Babs.

I even started composting, for crying out loud. And let’s not forget those recycled Christmas presents.

nailed-it-mason-jar-candles-blog

Obviously I have become an environmental hero and goddess to Portlandia fans everywhere.

Leo-planet
I’m just waiting for my proposal. From 2007 Leo, that is.

The Next Big Thing in my journey towards braided armpit hair is downsizing. Right now I live in a 1,200 square foot, 2-bedroom duplex, complete with a yard, sunroom, and plush carpeting thick enough to hide Trump’s tax returns.

ghost-cow
Also there are ghost cows.

When I moved to my current apartment from a 4-bedroom house, it offered plenty of space for my furniture and featured all of my must-haves.

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I mean just look at that flask nook.

As time passed, I realized I needed less room to feel content. I also needed less stuff.

Speaking of, the real reason I’m posting is because I’m trying to get rid of this. Any takers?

doodle-for-sale
I meant the curtains. Geesh.

Do you have any moving / downsizing advice?

P.S. – Don’t even think about it. I’m keeping that Aladdin VHS tape.

Aladdin-itty-bitty-living-space

~*~*~*~*~*~

Kvetching, New Jersey is breathtaking, PSAs

Tour de Fail

Tour-de-Fail-2
This is going to be the best day ever.

Because I thought this is what my therapist meant when she said “get a hobby,” every year I now train for a 100-mile bike ride in September. As part of the training plan this year, I signed up for a series of organized bike rides throughout the summer. These bike rides come with roadside support, fully-stocked rest stops, and an ugly t-shirt to commemorate the ride.

tour-de-fail-t-shirt
Is that brown or gray? Or both?

This past Saturday, the training ride was a 63-mile charity event for which I signed up namely because the registration fee was cheap. #foreshadowing.

My first second mistake was in thinking a “Stockton University charity bike ride” would leave from Stockton, New Jersey – about an hour southwest of my house. Nay. Stockton University is in Galloway Township, New Jersey (two things I’d never heard of!), a.k.a. exit 44 on the Garden State Parkway, a.k.a. Might As Well Be Cuba.

But, at least it was going to be a leisurely, social ride on a beautiful day – 75 degrees and sunny. “The best day of the weekend!” forecasters declared.

That morning, my alarm went off at 4:45am and as I headed out the door, a blast of cold air took my breath away. “Geesh!” I thought, “It’s June 3rd! Well, I’m sure it’ll warm up in a bit!” I grabbed my coat, picked up my sister, and we headed for the Parkway.

A few minutes in, raindrops hit the windshield.

“No matter!” I said. I checked my trusty weather app and it looked like it would be just fine by the time we arrived in Cuba Galloway Township.

When we parked at Stockton University (seriously, is this like Trump University? Have you ever heard of this place?), we realized we were going to have to wear our winter cycling gear because it was still 55 degrees.

tour-de-fail-trump-u
Where sunshine goes to covfefe die.

As the clock rounded 8:00am, the official start time, an overly cheerful man got on the microphone by the registration tent.

“We just have a few announcements to make…”

My sister shot me a look. We hopped from foot to foot trying to keep warm, and forty-seven announcements later, we finally took off with a huge pack of men going 21 MPH. In the rain. We got sand in our teeth and dirty water splashed in our faces as we pedaled at full race speed.

Fail-wet-cat
Mile 1.

By mile 30, we were starving, soaking wet, and one meltdown in (mine. I am not proud). That’s when our friend, Jen, got a flat tire. Despite being experienced tire-changers, we managed to use up all of our supplies without actually fixing the tire, and were forced to call the roadside support number given to us during registration.

A girl answered and said, “What? You’re where? Your bike has a flat tire? Hang on, let me see if I can find someone. …No, you have to call a different number. Do you have a pen and paper?”

tour-de-fail-scroll-quill
Oh, yes. Please do hold whilst I grab my trusty scroll from the back of my bi–NO I DON’T HAVE A F@#$^% PEN AND PAPER!

“At least the fully loaded rest stop is only two miles away!” we said a half an hour later when we were back on the road. “Mmm, what do you think they’ll have? Bagels? Peanut butter & jelly?? Cookies???”

By then, our mouths were watering more than the skies overhead. We pulled up to the rest stop and looked around. There were three port-a-potties and one square folding table holding water, four gel packs, and half a dozen green bananas.

aid-less-station-tour-de-fail
Oh thank god. I was afraid I’d have to ride another 31 miles in the rain without any food.

We shared the fig bar I had stuffed into my saddle bag and readied ourselves for another cocktail of gravel and tears (did I mention it was an out and back, all flat ride, meaning you never stopped pedaling, mostly into headwind?). Before we made it two blocks from the rest stop, we heard a hiss coming from my sister’s front tire.

As I turned to head back to her, I started tipping to the left. My left foot was clipped into my bike pedal, meaning there was only one thing that could happen next.

*splat*

Splayed on the road and hovering close to the double yellow line, I unclipped my foot, leaving my shoe dangling from the pedal.

“It’s not that I’m not helping you!” Jen shouted from a few feet away. “I’m just stopping traffic!”

I hobbled over to the curb, avoiding eye contact with the line of cars inching past us.

Four years later, we finally finished. Our prize?

A two and a half hour car ride home.

Tour-de-France-lies
We shoulda gone to Cuba.

 ~*~*~*~*~*~*~