“So . . . we all die.”

-Bobbi Lu –

-Susie Q. –

I keep thinking this thought over and over as I go about my day . . . “We all die.” It’s not an epiphany. It’s not thought morbidly, or with some profound secret insight. It is thought . . . just as is – but it won’t go away. And I keep looking back at it and wondering why this simple, obvious, everyone-knows-it, no-life-altering-info-here thought is dogging my heels.

We.  All. Die.  And that “all” part – that is what is really sticking out. I mean, the “die” thing is just obtusely present and so I might as well skip that part. But I notice in particular that it happens to all of us – so, what the heck? I guess, I mean, why do I even waste, or why have I wasted, any time trying to . . . I don’t know . . . not live?! And by that, I think maybe I mean all the head-space moments I’ve spent worrying, and all the rat-race time we all spend keeping up with the “Jones’s” (ironically, this is one of our family names).

So . . . we all die . . . but I better take some god-damned time to live then! Gesh – it’s not as if Mel Gibson’s ever-awesome William Wallace didn’t already tell us this, right?! “Every man dies. Not every man . . .” You get the point (and if you can’t finish this quote – perhaps you either need to utilize that ever present search engine sitting by you in the guise of a phone, or stop reading this blog as you and I are not compatible).

Time to be living, man!

At some point this realization hits us. Sometimes that happens after the loss of a friend or family member. Sometimes this just creeps up and smacks you between the eyes. You’re driving down the road and all of the sudden, you realize you could die.

Life is short, our time is limited.

Perhaps the thing to do when you experience momento mori is consider how to live. That’s what I have been doing anyway. I’ve asked myself what ways I have been postponing living. Where am I applying the brakes? Is that necessary? Then, I started to tune into what excuses I use to justify saying “no.” Which brings me to the question, am I saying yes to the right things? I go through phases, I say yes to everything, get exhausted and then say no to everything. I find the balance and then get out of whack. I am learning my habitual responses. Generally, I say no when I’m scared of the emotional commitment or when I can see failure or success as flashy outcomes. I also go with the standby excuse of no money or no time. What is with that? Did I forget that life is precious? That I have to get out and live it? That life could literally be up at anytime?

Now, am I going to turn around tomorrow and get reckless? No. But I am going to pay attention and see where I am applying the brakes. I am considering what is making me uncomfortable and resistant and I am leaning in. I am going to make an effort to embrace those challenges. I want to live a life that feels full and that starts with embracing new things, people, opportunities. I am afraid that time will pass and I will have spent so much of it bottled up that I failed to ever brush against my real potential. I’m also scared of all that that could bring, but I recognize that living life in some weird existential fear cyclone is not going to help me honor the life that I am living.

Other questions I am using to spur change in my attitude toward living life (and, that I am too lazy to write on at this moment):

Can I turn thinking about death into a catalyst for living life?

Can I shift my perspective?

Am I living with urgency?

Am I living with purpose?

Am I prioritizing the things that make me feel like I am thriving?

A fear of the holistic!? Check that s#!t at the door!

-Susie Q –

-Bobbi Lu –

My struggle with writing this blog was figuring out how to be brief about the thing that shook my life to pieces and forced me into a new path. How do I condense 22 years that led up to the moment when a viral infection brought on the cascading onslaught of autoimmune disease which changed the food I ate, the way I approached my life, and how I came to understand health? The thing is, I can’t share the full story and be brief. This story is really a dissertation and I know you don’t have time to read that. Settle for this, I am OK now. It took months to get me to stop losing weight, to be able to eat food without feeling like I needed to go to the hospital. It took blood tests, exams, poking, prodding, a cardiologist that looked confused, and multiple urgent care and hospital visits. It took months for someone to tell me something so fucking simple as don’t eat *that*. And yeah, that is a gross oversimplification of the issues I had going on, but it was the first step toward feeling alive.

After months of misery I received a phone call with a diagnosis and the suggestion that I google it. I did, then I cried, and then I bucked up and did what I needed to do. I went at it on my own for a year. I wasn’t feeling better though, so I took my first step into the world of alternative medicine. I saw a naturopath. There were things I loved and then things I didn’t love, but I made several changes that made a seriously positive impact. I was tuning in and learning to listen to my body.

Let’s fast forward 7 years; skip grad school, living and working in 2 different countries, relationships and friendships, thousands of miles logged on the trails, assorted illnesses that popped up and had something to do with something…. and my appendectomy. Skip the naturopaths, the blood tests, stool samples, spit test, breath tests, the chiropractor, the lady parts doctor, the nutritionists, the therapist, the functional medicine doctor. They all helped to paint the picture of what was going on inside but I found one ongoing treatment that balances me out.

I now routinely see an acupuncturist who can take my pulse and know when I haven’t been sleeping, she knows when I feel off by looking at my tongue. She has worked on my gut health, my emotional health, my liver, my kidneys, my heart, and my lungs. She once gave me a treatment that gave me the best cry of my life. She fills me up with needles and leaves me alone with my thoughts. And, I fucking love it.

So far in my health journey, Eastern Medicine has taken the gluten and dairy free cake. Eastern medicine and other “alternative” approaches (naturopaths, chiropractor, and a functional medicine doctor) have been what has given me a new perspective on health and wellbeing.

Ok, this year has been one for the books. I’ll skip through the list of events that you really don’t need and get to the part about stress, though I should include the adoption of a new puppy! I’ll explain. I’m allergic to everything. Seriously – life sets me a sneezing. But, my family also really wanted a dog – c’est la vive.

So, this accumulation of serious stress and allergies contributed to a serious outbreak of adult acne. I mean, c’mon! Acne at my age!? No. No, sir. I’m past those year, right! Right?! Right?? Apparently not. Naturally, I call my doctor. Change soap, change washcloths every day, silk pillow sheets . . . Nadda. Back to the doc.

Ohh, a prescription – that is easy. *Warning! Warning!* “Easy,” should have been my first clue to the storm on the horizon. There hasn’t been an “easy button” in my life for, ohh, forever!

Two months on this and I’m clear! It’s great! Except, I might be getting a UTI. Call up, you guessed it, the doc. Antibiotics. OK, seems ok, still a bit off but . . . nope,nope, something is really wrong. More antibiotics – I seem to remember something about how this is not good for all the healthy biotics running around my gut? Ohh, just eat some yogurt and I’ll be fine? OK. NOT! Off to visit the Urologist.

You think it’s what?! I can’t even pronounce that. Did you just make that up? You’ve only been here 5 minutes. Options please. Take this to lower your inflammation. OK. I can come in 2 times a week and hook up to a catheter as you pump what into and out of me!? That’s a joke right? No, seriously?! Well, I’ll take a hard pass, thanks.

So, I proceed with the over counter pills for inflammation. No guidance or instructions. Two weeks later, I’m Googling this crap with a hot pad on my gut and I’m moaning in pain. Ohhhhh, don’t take longer than . . . can cause . . . where the hell was this warning from my supposed doctor!?!?

That’s it. I know a person who does acupuncture, and I’m at my wits end. Now, understand, it’s not like I’m against acupuncture or herbal remedies per se, but remember the beginning of this blog. I’m allergic to all life. And, ohh yea, I have a phobia about needles. Get light headed, woozy, pass out – the whole gambit. To be clear, it’s not about the pain – pain is something I can manage, but apparently my brain doesn’t process the psychological aspect of a needle very well. I gave birth with no epidural, that’s how phobic I am – p.s., I would recommend the spinal tapping if you can because damn! That pain when to eleven! But, I can push though it when I need/want to, or at least lie down with orange juice at the ready. I have tattoos for goodness sakes!

Back on track – I get an appointment at the shop of stabbings. After a nice thorough discussion, a few vital checks, and a look at my tongue – huh, it’s universal, who knew!? It’s time to get down to business. It won’t be a quick fix, she says, you need multiple sessions and self care at home. You basically unked your guts, being on antibiotics for 3 months – the doctors should have known better. Errgh!

So, I survive the needles (it was not easy, but not painful either) and here is some herbal soap to try from a colleague who makes all this. “Gesh,” I think. “Remember, I’m allergic to all living things, so herbal soap, hmm.”

One month in. Well, hell. I feel better. My face feels so much better. Redness reducing, acne clearing – not at a rapid fire pace, but enough that I know it’s working. Stress is easing as I practice managing my health in a holistic way. Ohh, the body is all connected? Well, shoot-dang!

*This rant was brought to you by a girl who always followed “Western” medicine and was apathetic towards “alternative” medicine. I’ve been won over – let the stabbings continue!*

Embrace your Inner “Millennial”

-BobbiLu –

-Sussie Q –

I am struggling with writing this – mayhap because when I hear “Millennial,” I cring – a programmed response due to the continual bashing of this generation and their perceived behaviors the other generations have decided is acceptable – a great scapegoat, as it were. A very strong part of me rebels against admitting that I am part of this generation. However, that is probably due to all the “bashing” mentioned above. I always tend to point out that really, I am a cusper.

If I’m being truthful – I can’t even adequately describe what it means to be a Millennial – so again, it’s pretty unfair of me to balk against the term. If I’m going to embrace anything about this “generation” I think I should first start with their desire to be happy in their work and willingness to move around jobs to achieve that. I say this because it is in contrast to what I was taught – which was more of, “get a job, work hard, stay with that job to accumulate security and wealth, then retire.” I struggle to reconcile these two concepts of how to live life.

Right now, I am exploring the “finding joy in a new job.” I need a new path, a new adventure – but the generation before me would look askance at this. Why would one leave a secure, well paying job that could lead to a nice retirement? It is just madness.

But maybe that is something I love about these Millennials (us Millennials) – they don’t let “security” stand in the way of living their lives.

I hate to be just another snow-flakey millennial, but I’m going to go ahead and be one as I give you a bunch of unsolicited information and preach about how my lifestyle is the right one; while slowly proving to you that we millennials aren’t actually that awful and that it was the previous generations that fucked this world up.

Okay? We good? You ready? Great!!! If you read this whole thing, you get an award.

The fact is that we Millennials aren’t all snobby brats who expect everything to be given to us and to get a fancy award for wiping our butts! Who made those awards in the first place? Sure wasn’t me; I was out being a kid, playing in the yard with my dog, and minding my own business. I never wanted a rainbow colored 21st place ribbon! That just added insult to injury, so really, whoever made that ribbon into a thing gave me a complex about my own inadequacy. As a kid, I just wanted to put my head down and get through school, swim practice, and growing up, because I knew I was always going to be great at being in my 30’s.

Part two of this rant is a favorite bashing point on Millennials, living at your parent’s house beyond high school. Guess what? I live with my dad. And living at my Dad’s house is actually a really sound financial decision, I can make an effort to save the 20% of my measly income that is recommended. This way, I can retire one day and squawk at the younger generations for ruining our perfect society… Thanks a bundle for your judgement on my social abilities, work ethic, and moral compass.

You might have laughed. You might have rolled your eyes. You might have considered that broad generalizations that characterize groups of similarly aged people might, possibly, just maybe lack nauce and actual human consideration. I mean, The Greatest Generation, all of them?! There were some real assholes in that generation and there are in mine too. So maybe lay off the Millennials. Let’s just go for personal attacks and degrade people at an individual level instead of using a sweeping brush to destroy the egos of all of us snowflakes.

All of this self-righteous angst has me really wanting to prove to you that I am special and going to change the world. I’ll consider my options over pricey coffee and avocado toast.

“Off the cuff”

Neither of us are the type to really write “off the cuff” unless forced to, and neither do we just “go with the flow,” per se. So, we thought we would challenge ourselves and make this blog something we wrote in the moment and then posted. Our topic? How do you feel about the phrase “go with the flow”? This will be interview style – so enjoy!

So Q, how do you feel about ‘going with the flow’?

*holds a finger to her mouth and mimics a vomiting motion.

Hi Lu.

“Sweaty and, like vomiting. My organized brain does not like that, but I have been actively trying to be more present, which sometimes means I am forced to go with the flow. “

“This is going to be painful.”

Q, you are a pretty “earthy girl” and one would almost say, hippy-ish, if you don’t mind the phrasing. It seems that “going with the flow” would be a natural way for you to live.

Do you feel that as a mother you are better at going with the flow?

“There are times I can really go with the flow – say when interacting with people I don’t know. Actually, I think that is a lie. We both know that in new interactions I barely speak until the wine has been consumed or I am forced to interact through constant pestering. I can deal well with a crisis at work, if need be. However, in my personal life, that mantra induces sweaty vomit.

“Ok, on one hand I would like to say yes. Because, hell if you can predict what happens when you have a child… On the other hand, I have to say no, because I try to control everything that happens with my child. Because, I guess, you know, that it feels like I am failing as a parent if I am not in control. Which is bogus, my brain knows this, but it doesn’t matter.

There are circumstances where I can go with the flow, but I don’t actively seek those out because I prefer to just be in control.”

What areas do you go with the flow?

Ok. So how’s that working out for you – the always trying to be in control thing working out for you?

“Hawaii. I think, this gets into weirdness because it is in two parts. On vacations after they have started I am good at going with the flow. Before them, I am a planning fiend. And I am better at work, too, when the unexpected happens, which is all the time, so you kinda have to get good at that. “

“Oh, it’s awesome.”

How is trying to control all of the outcomes working for you?

Do you care to elaborate on that?

“Fabulous, obviously. I, unlike everyone else in the world, have been able to master the universe and control everything in my sphere. Or, it is possible that my answer might slightly resemble yours.”

“Oh sure. Nothing goes as planned. It’s kind of like someone is hucking a bomb into my carefully outline day planner. Thank god I use pencil.”

So you’re in great company. Do you have any, I guess for lack of a better term at the moment, goals around chilling the fuck out?

So, your philosophy is really panning out for you, then.

“Mmm hmm!” (through nachos). “I probably need to chill the fuck out about chilling the fuck out and then I guess I’ll just be me.”

“I’m well aware that it’s not working for me. But in all the ways that it is gloriously fucked up, it’s adding interesting fun. And . . . as I said, I’m a workin’ on it. And . . . this doesn’t have to be a run on sentence. Stop typing everything I say. You’re killing me. I really want to control this situation.

I do feel that as I get older and deal with different situations, I am much better at going with the flow.

And now it’s my turn – hand over the computer Lu.”

So the premise of our blog is about us being us, having big conversations, and being big ole nerds. So, is this us going with the flow or controlling things?

“I think this is us trying to control the flow.”

We have both had things happen in our lives lately, both good and bad, that have made us rethink our controlling nature. Perhaps we are learning to go with the flow after all.

“That’s good, why aren’t you writing that down, Q?”

And now a random Haiku:

Hell no we won’t go

I need a margarita

to give up control

“Um, thats a pretty terrible Haiku. We should write a Haiku about our bad Haiku.”

“Or we should just sign off for the night.

“Yeah. That.”

“What do you do?”

-Susie Q –

-Bobbi Lu –

Each morning, I enjoy a cup of coffee, some quiet meditation, and the company of my two amazing dogs. I cook food that makes me feel good and try new recipes. I feel on purpose when I am looking after my mental and physical health. I run up and down mountains because it gives me joy. I read voraciously because I love feeling immersed in the world. When I can sit one-on-one with someone, making eye contact and discussing things that are deep, I feel connected. When I can connect the movements I make with the breaths I take, I feel alive. When I go outside and feel the sun shining on my face I feel hopeful. I talk to my family often and enjoy that connection.

I go slow and am quiet. My health is my priority. Checking in, expanding my world, and exploring the stories I tell myself are some of the most important things that I do. The possibilities that I see in my life excite me. Each day I look for a moment of joy because life is too damn serious and I want to bask in lightness when it’s available.

And to make money, I hustle. I shuffle between different jobs. I get other people organized and I help to make big ideas come to life. I light a fire under people’s asses to move, breathe, and be mindful. But how I make money doesn’t give me purpose.

When you meet people, one of the first things they will ask is,“What do you do?”

Right now, this question (“What do you do?”) haunts me – it stalks my steps on a daily. It used to be easy – rolled off the tongue with conviction and pride . . . “I’m a teacher. Middle School.” I’d grin in a knowing way as their memories flashed back to the horrors of that age and they’d look at me like I was either a saint, or a crazy person. It’s both really. So then I’d usually launch into the obligatory chit chat about grade level, subject, the broken system, the lack of funding . . . you get the point. I had it down. I could talk about it in my sleep.

Now.

Now . . .

“What do you do?”

“Uhh . . . I’m a, I was a . . . I’m in a transition . . . I’m searching . . . I’m . . .”  

I’m lost is what. And to top it off – I’m trying to be lost. I’m putting myself in the “between” – or adrift if you prefer the ocean metaphor. Why? Good f*ing question.  Obviously to make myself actually crazy – which seems like a real possibility as each day passes. But really? Truely? It’s to make me uncomfortable – to force me to to grow. I’ve been stagnant for a while – searching – casting my eyes out into the world to see what there is . . . what else? It’s not that I don’t still think teaching is great as a profession – hell, it’s one of the most important jobs out there. It’s just . . . I’ve done it. What’s next? I’m 38 – hitting my stride – it’s a good time to evaluate and chart new courses to explore. It’s actually what I told my students all the time – that it’s in the uncomfortable, or the unknown, that the most growth, discovery, adventure . . . you name it . . . happens.

So why the hell am I struggling so much? It comes back to that damn question – “What do you do?”

I wonder, and I AM lost, dammit – but it’s by design. This is where the adventure is – this is where I become . . .  something . . . where I learn . . . something. So, the answer is no longer straight forward, succinct, or easy to explain – but this is my answer, and it is where I am at.

The Yin and the Yang.

-Bobbi Lu –

-Susie Q –

We decided to look around and write about the juxtapositions in our lives. The Yin/Yang, the crazy we feel when we feel both sides of something. I bet we are not the only ones.

How about the Yin/Yang of health/exercise, etc. For example, I want to be healthy – fit – strong. I also want to lay on my couch and watch the clouds, or a movie – with cheetos. It is often so difficult to motivate myself – even though I know all the reasons to go work out, eat right, etc. So, I have to find ways to kick my butt into gear! Bleh.

Somedays I feel as though I have conquered a mountain. I am a warrior. The next – I can do nothing and I am lost . . . again – in between somewhere and nowhere.

McKay vs. Ronin Dex – so there is the part of me that really is draw to the Jason Mamoa, Ronan, Drago, AquaMan type of scruffy bad ass – but there is also a part of me that really likes the nerdy, frantic, science McKay (If you don’t know these names – you should probably not read any of this). It’s the same with the Iron Man vs. Captain America deal. On the one hand, I agree with Iron Man’s reasons for wanting to have a governing body overseeing the actions of the Avengers. However, can any regular human really understand what the Avengers face and have to do? Captain is right in that the best hands are their own. They know what they face, they know the best path – though it is not a clean or clear one. If there is to be a governing body, it should be made by their own – by the Avengers.

I think I need to work and “do a job” and yet I very much enjoy part of this non-scheduled life I am exploring right now – so how do I have this freedom but yet make a routine and accomplish a “job” – air quotes because I am not sure about that term at this moment.

The push and the pull, the up and the down, the light and the dark . . . it’s all a part of us and our world . . .and sometimes I just want to set it all on fire!

Movement matters to me. Progress matters to me. Completing things efficiently matters to me. The call to keep going, keep moving, carry on and don’t stop. But what happens when I do stop? When am I allowed to soften, ease up, find stillness? Not just pertaining to actual movement of my body, but is there a way to find some stillness in my life? Can I root? Can I stay? I learn there is a part of me that counters the quick decision making part of who I am. I can be still, I can stay in one place, I can commit to things in life. I’ve learned this yin side is the forgiving side of me, the side that allows me to own a mistake, and not be so serious.

Traditionally, yin represents the feminine, moon, darkness, and an easy heaviness- I have found that it is in this dark and heavy place where I can reignite the spark and find some joy and lightness in my life. This balance has allowed me to feel authentic in my understanding of who I am at this moment. It has brought me an ease to being myself and a gentler kindness.

What do I value?

-Susie Q. –

-Bobbi Lu –

My time. My freedom. Quiet.

In my life, I want to call the shots on how my time is spent. I want my work to give me the freedom to enjoy living my life. I value my time and not wasting others.

The value themes that make me feel like I am living authentically are: nature, curiosity, gratitude, connection, and integrity.

Nature makes me feel rejuvenated and calm. It is the inhale in my life, filling me with endless possibilities, challenges, and excitement.

Curiosity drives me to understand, learn, and be open to connection. It is a tug, an urge, and it’s satisfying to dive deep.

Gratitude gives me a love for the simple things, an openness to people, joy, and warmth.

Connection feels courageous and as though I am fully accepting of myself. It gives my quiet life balance.

Integrity is being brave enough to be who I am, to stand on my own two feet, be quiet, strong, proud, and healthy.

In a regular day, I feel as though I am living authentically when I can involve my values. Whether that be by running or hiking and walking my hound dog, by getting lost in a new discovery, a good book, or writing to untangle a thought. If I am able to take a moment, take a breathe, and say thank you over my cup of coffee or to a friend or to my dogs. If I can have a conversation that has no time limit, to make eye contact (not the creepy kind), to take the time to understand someone. And finally, I am living with integrity when I am able to standing up for who I am and have boundaries and non-negotiables around my health and wellbeing.

For this writing session, we decided to define our values. I picked my top values and made my own definitions, which lead to an overarching value that I then expanded on.

  • Independance:  the ability to chart my own course and discover the world.
  • Possibility: the hope of what I could make/do/explore/discover.
  • Adventure: seeking into the unknown, charting a course of my own.
  • Connection: the exchange of personal energies and the chance to learn.
  • Purpose:
    • Though I wrote it last, I can tell that “purpose” has been on my mind a lot lately – as in, do I have one? Am I living with purpose? So I guess I should define it. But how? I can try the method of “what it is not.” It is not living for a paycheck. It is not fulfilling other people’s dreams. It is not my daily chores around the house. Perhaps I find purpose in the “why?” – our favorite topic at our blogging sessions. Not so trite as “why are we here?” but more of a “why I proceed . . . .” “why I continue.”
    • Hmmm – that makes me think about the other words and how they actually help define my purpose: the seeking of adventure, the connection to other people, the possibility that awaits, and the independance all this pursuing brings. In all this, I find . . . purpose.