Sit In Your Shit

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Lately, I’ve been in this interesting emotional place. A lot of stuff from my past has been resurfacing. Stuff I believed, I had long ago put to rest. 

It's not that I'm in a dark emotional place, however. It is more like things are coming up so that I can finally shed them and release them. 

Lately, I've been waking in the middle of the night, shooting out of bed from a dream of a person from long ago I hadn’t thought of in years and the feelings it brings up linger for days. I know it’s not about the person. The person is just the messenger. It’s about the feelings.

In the past, I got really good at stuffing and dusted these feelings under the rug. I'd think I was acknowledging them with some spiritual jargon as if the words were magic and would erase the past. This is called spiritual bypassing and something I’ll talk more about soon.

I’ve conceded, however, that this stuff will never go away unless I really look at it face on.  I am being asked to finally and truly feel my feelings.

I am being called to sit in my shit so to speak. And honestly, who really wants to sit in their shit? 

I am also feeling called to take full responsibility for my part in all of the shit because even as I perceive things happening to me (hello victim mode), I know well enough that my perception, my attitude, they are all mine and at any moment, I can choose to see things differently.

Growth isn't necessarily easy, but I do know it's worth it. 

I also happen to be in an interesting place with my spiritual growth. Teetering on the line of wanting to dive deeper and deeper and finding safety in staying just where I am. Where I am is like a warm blanket wrapped perfectly around my naked body. Just enough warmth but not too much to suffocate me.  I’m scared if I commit to the call I feel deep inside, I’ll lose the grip of that warm blanket, exposing me in the most uncomfortable of ways.

I have no idea if that makes sense but put more simply, I’m scared of the vulnerability that comes with truly knowing and trusting in God’s plan.

But I don’t think I can stay where I am anymore.

And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hold back from sharing more of this growth here, in this space, out of fear that you will leave. I know for a lot of people, the mention of spirituality or God or anything in that realm can evoke a lot of negative feelings. That is not my intention.

But it is what I’m feeling inspired to talk more about.

And I wonder, instead of potentially leaving, what would happen if you stayed? I’ve been applying this myself to all areas of my life as well. As someone who habitually runs at the sign of any discomfort, in many areas of my life I'm exploring patience and curiosity instead of be-lining for the nearest exit at the first sign of struggle.

What if you play with the curiosity yourself?  What if you are being asked to sit with your shit too? Maybe the uncomfortable feelings that come up aren’t a bad thing but really, leading you to something you never knew was possible?

I understand very well, the feelings that may come up when talk of spirituality and God comes up. I’ve wrestled for years with these ideas and concepts myself and have said, many times, that I just don’t need God in my life. And I, by no means, am trying to push God on you. So please know that.

I know very well that if you are going to get down with the G.O.D, you gotta come to that on your own. 

It also doesn’t help that there is a lot of religious and spiritual contradictions out there that make you question things.

There are also some really big and justifiable questions that cause a lot of us to be confused. Like; why do really good people die? And why do bad people get away with doing bad things? Why is there starvation and horrific deaths and illness and so much suffering?

I’m not sure we will ever have those answers until we come face to face with the creator ourselves.

All I know for me is that for a really long time, I’ve felt a deep void in the middle of my chest. And I filled it with drama and shopping and food and sex and TV and drugs and alcohol and gossip and anger and selfish motives...all because for a brief moment, those things provided the relief I was desperate for.

Lately, however, I’ve been called to sit in the shit rather than numb. And in those moments when I am desperate to numb I resist and feel it instead.

And in full transparency, it 100%, without a doubt, most of the time absolutely sucks. Honestly. It does. Emotional pain is by far worse than any physical pain I’ve ever felt and I’ve been in some pretty excruciating physical pain. Try having a major pelvic and abdominal infection right after having two feet of your colon removed. It was like stabbing a dull butter knife over and over into my pelvis and slowly removing it each time.

And the emotional pain, at times, has felt worse.

But what's been happening when I sit in my shit is interesting. It’s really painful but then the shit shifts (say that five times fast!) and starts to loosen its grip and I start looking at the pain in a different light. I don’t feel it as intensely but rather, feel it leaving my body, just a little bit at a time.

The actual practices I’ve been turning to have been getting still and quiet, journaling and just being quite uncomfortable. I’ll literally feel it coming on and sit in the middle of my bed, close my eyes and feel into the area that hurts.

And then I pray but not in the way I use to.

I used to only talk to God when something bad was happening and it usually amounted to me desperately begging for some kind of salvation. Or, I’d just curse God altogether for said situation.

I didn't realize at the time that God is seeking to know me deeper too. And how do you know someone? It takes time, good communication and opening up in a vulnerable way. 

I also didn't ever think God really wanted to hear me talk about my dating life or my money problems or something I deem less important because well, doesn't God have bigger things to worry about? 

But that is not the case and has become very clear. 

Lately, prayer has been more of a question and answer series or just a conversation. If someone was watching me, they might think I was crazy because I literally walk around my house talking to God as if He's just sitting on my couch having coffee with me. 

But those are the kinds of relationships I love. When I sit around with friends and family and just hang and chat for hours over tea or coffee and I thought to myself, maybe this is the kind of relationship God is asking of me too?

So my conversations with God have been more of me asking a lot of questions and listening for the subtle ways in which God responds. Sometimes it’s just a knowing inside. Other times it’s a song lyric or book that falls into my lap. The other day I was walking Rocky and came across a box of free books. I perused what was being offered and a couple jumped out and I knew this was one of the ways in which God was gonna shed some light on a few of my questions.

If you are curious, the books were When God Writes Your Love Story (because let's be honest, I should NOT be left to my own devices in the area of my love life. I always muck it up on my own) and Blue Like Jazz.  I’ve already read Blue Like Jazz a few times but Donald Miller is hands down one of my most favorite writers on faith and God and this book has so much to offer. I'm constantly in a state of "AH-HA!" when I read his work. 

And then God often talks to me through seeing the same random quote multiple times in the space of 24 hours or a Hummingbird flies right in front of my face and just sits there flapping it's wings staring at me for a good long while. As if to say, "I'm right here with you Amanda."

It's always a feeling, a deep knowing, that God is answering. 

Lately, I’ve been praying that God helps me deepen my relationship with Him (or Her) in ways that only I will understand. Not that my relationship with God is any more special than yours. I just know I can be incredibly stubborn and that I’ll only hear him if he talks to me in ways in which I can see, hear and feel. And then I ask that I be open to all that I discover.

A Course in Miracles, which is a spiritual text I’ve been reading lately, teaches a prayer I use often, “I am willing to see things differently.” I’ve written about this before but I’ve never felt it working more in my life than right now.

You see, A Course In Miracles states that God is waiting for the slightest invitation to help us heal and return to a place of love. We just have to ask and then surrender and let God do His work. And know that it may not come in the way we think it should, but it will come.  

So this is what I’ve been practicing.

Sitting in my shit, surrendering and chit-chatting with God in my kitchen while I make coffee. Oh if these walls could talk!

And let me tell you, it’s uncomfortable. Sometimes I feel a little crazy but mostly I feel a new sense of peace and like I'm shedding extra weight I've been holding onto for years.

I’ve been known to be a little neurotic when parts of my life feel out of control but what’s really interesting, is ever since I’ve started this practice, I’ve felt more peace and a deeper sense of trust that everything will work out and even better than I could craft up myself.

And that my friends, is how miracles work. They are not some big, self serving boom in your life. Miracles are a willingness and openness to finally change. Miracles are a willingness to see things differently. 

And God works in mysterious ways. Like nudging me to finally sit in my shit. 

The Great Lesson I Learned From My Dog

“Dogs teach us a very important lesson in life: The mail man is not to be trusted”  -Sian Ford

Somewhere between the 421st and 422nd sniff and leg lift I lost my cool on Rocky.

“Oh for the love of God Rocky! Come on bud, stay focused. We are on a walk so please, JUST. STAY. FOCUSED! You have literally smelled every shrub, fire hydrant, bush, electrical box and fence post within a one-mile radius of home. And you smelled them ALL yesterday! Come on already!” I cried out. 

Rocky starred back at me as if I had just told him he was actually born a cat. He lowered his head and preceded to walk on, tail tucked between his legs.

My shoulders sunk and so did my heart. I just lost it on my seventy-pound Pit bull who can literally make even the surliest of people smile. What has my world come to?

As we pressed on, I did my very best to gain his forgiveness and make up for my most imperfect quality. I let him happily smell and saturate every single thing he fancied until his big, beautiful heart was content. As we walked on, I thought about how if I couldn’t find joy while on a peaceful morning walk with my dog, what else was I not enjoying in my life either?

I'm always rushing everything; relationships, experiences, moments, TIME! Nothing ever moves quick enough for me. What in the world am I in such a hurry for? To die? 

Later that morning as I washed some dishes in the sink I thought about my ridiculous outburst and started to cry because I knew that one day when Rocky was long gone I’d really miss our long morning walks where he not only stopped to smell the roses, but every single thing that crossed our path.

I dried my eyes looking out the back window as the sweet hummingbird that visits each morning sat on my clothes line to have his morning think. "I bet the hummingbird enjoys just sitting there on the clothes line." I said to myself. Right then and there, as I watched the hummingbird quickly flutter away, I promised myself that not only was I going to take more time to stop and smell the rose, but like Rocky, I was going to smell every damn thing along the way.

And I sure hope you do too.   

photo credit: Stephanie Cristalli Photography

The Struggle is Real - Thoughts On Aging Gracefully with saggy boobs

"there is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. when you learn to tap into this source, you will truly have defeated age."

- sophia loren

For a really long time I thought I was never going to age. Seriously. I thought that I was going to be the one person that skipped the inevitable, and remain the youthful version of myself forever. I am not kidding here. 

I'm fortunate to have genes that grace me with a somewhat youthful look and leave me looking at least six years my junior. However, they led me down a road that confused me into believing I would be saved from the inevitable truth; that we all will grow old. Five months shy of thirty-six, I often get met with the wide-eyed looks of surprise and confusion when I correct someone who thinks I'm in my mid to late twenties. Flattered I am, but I often wonder if that has more to do with my, at times, introverted and immature nature, rather then actually looking younger. 

As I see it when looking in the mirror, the years are written all over my face. Battle scars from a life well lived, hard lessons learned and years of running "wild and free" in the sun, slathered not in sunscreen but baby oil, as I told myself, "I'll just deal with it when I'm older. Ha ha ha" I guess the joke is on the older version of me now. 

 I have aches and pains in places I use to roll my eyes at when my mom would complain of similar ailments and I find myself typing in "anti-aging night cream" in the Amazon search bar more often then I care to admit. My boobs, once perky and youthful, are slowly working their way south and I have images of them swaying closer to my belly button then my actual chest, sometime in the near future. And I've now taken to smoothing out the "ruffness" on my face with the more then occasional plucking of dark, course rouge stray hairs. I can't believe I just admitted that to you. The struggle is real. 

And then, there is dating which I think I'll reserve for an entire post of its own, however after being married and thinking my life was going down a certain path and now, navigating the dark waters of dating in an online dating world, where there is something more shiny and youthful and new around every corner, I find myself drifting off into thoughts of my fifties living in a little cottage by the sea with my litter of fur children and shelves of books to keep me company. All with the occasional visit from my niece and nephews. Someone has to look out for me when I'm older and they love their TT, no matter what I look like. 

This my friends, is aging gracefully. 

The funny thing is, I really do love aging. I was always wanting to hang with the adults when I was younger. I preferred real conversation over superficial talks of clothes and trends. I preferred curling up in my bed on weekends hanging out with characters in books to raging parties where everyone tried to act older then they really were.I mean, I secretly played with barbies until I was at least twelve. That doesn't mean I didn't succumb to the pressurel, I was, after all, an insecure and impressionable youth. 

However, I was young and did things because I desperately wanted to feel,"normal." Whatever that means. I wouldn't however,  want to go back to that time for anything. Sure, I wouldn't mind if the girls would solute me in the mirror rather then warm my waste line, but all jokes aside, I really love the person I am becoming as I step into this new chapter of my life. 

I find myself shedding old stories of what my life is supposed to look like and taking more risks as I become more aligned with the life I actually want.

I want to feel good from the inside out. 

What is most alluring about aging gracefully is this unusual newness of starting to not giving a f$%K what others think. That is a newness that I find intriguing. That is something I've never experienced before. 

This isn't to say that I don't want to feel my best or I'm just throwing in the towel. I think as we work on our insides, our outsides should match. As I grow into the adult I want to be, I want an outer shell that can support her. And so its give and take. Its balance. It's accepting that I can't change my past but I can shape my future however I want it to look. 

An old friend (no pun intended. We've literally been friends since age 20) and I were talking on the phone yesterday when the topic of aging came up. I mentioned how strange it was, the day I realized I was no longer that youthful twenty-something, and was actually closer to forty then thirty. We started laughing as she confessed that occasionally she walks by a mirror and sees her mother and how it sends her into fits of panic. "Man, where did the time go?" we laugh. And then we laugh even harder because we just said, "Man, where did the time go?" as we confess how we promised ourselves we'd never say that and start talking about all the other things we promised we'd never say, yet now find ourselves saying all the time. 

Aging is an interesting and extremely humbling experience. When I was living with my brother and sister-in-law, Henry, my five year old nephew would often ask me, "TT, when am I going to be a grown up?" and I'd always respond by saying, "Henry, you have plenty of time to be a grown up. Just be a little kid right now." 

But it got me thinking, we spend so much time when we are younger rushing to grow up and yet, here I am, "All grown up" and I can't help but wish that time would slow down, just a little bit, so I can catch my breath and really take it all in. 

As that cliche saying goes, "Life is short." 

And then all of this got me thinking that; man, life IS short so why do I waste so much time on things that don't matter? Like my sagging boobs and reading reviews on anti-aging cream on Amazon. And caring what others think. And being afraid of trying new things. And the list goes on. 

You can't erase your past and maybe that is what I'm trying to do with slathering on creams and lotions that tout gimmicks of restoring you to your youthfulness? There is no going back so you might as well buckle up and enjoy the ride going forward, saggy boobs and all. 

Aging gracefully, to me, is more about accepting your past and focusing on the here and now. Yes, another cliche but you gotta think that all these cliches have something to them, right? I mean, when they were originally quoted, you have to believe that who ever came up with said cliche actually, truly believed that what they were saying was one of their biggest "ah ha" moments in their life and they were just trying to spare us all and help pave the long and at times, tumultuous path. 

 I guess what I'm trying to say is I want to spend more time living, like, really living and less time worrying about aging because as I've come to realize, its inevitable. As my dad always said, 'we are all dying a little more every single day." Depressing, yes, but true nonetheless. We wake up thinking we'll get to it later, all those things we want to do, and then we realize twenty-years has gone by and we are left wondering, "Man, where did the time go?"

My friends, lets all let go of the should of's, the could of's and the would of's of our past and just cut to living. Truly living. 

As I embrace the sagging, the crows feet and the crinkles in my butt, I'm stepping forward into my second half of my thirties with a new fierceness and commitment to living well. I'm committed to taking care of my body, my mind and my spirit, not for vanity, but because I realize I deserve to feel my best. I deserve to feel that freedom within that only comes with truly living a life on purpose. 

Will you join me? 

I'll leave you with a song that has been circulating in my head ever since I started writing this post, one my mom used to sing to me as a young child that would send me into fits of giggles but has recently taken on a whole new meaning...

"Dooooo yourrrr...boobs hang low, do the wobble to and fro, can you tie them in a knot, can you tie them in a bow, can you throw them over shoulder like a continental solider, do your boobs, hang low?

And my friends, to that I say fucking celebrate your sagging boobs. 

Broken-heart, closed heart, open heart, full heart

"She made broken look beautiful and strong look invincible.
She walked with the Universe on her shoulders and made it look like a pair of wings."

- Ariana Dancu

The title of this post actually came to me back in August of 2015 while I was on a cool, early morning run on the beach. True to form, out of seemingly nowhere, these four words echoed in my head and I couldn't shake them. I felt this overwhelming urge to stop and sit on one of the cold, sand-covered rocks and gaze out at the ocean when suddenly warm tears began to slide down my cold, wind-kissed cheeks, and these words came to me: broken-heart, closed-heart, open-heart, full-heart.

I sat there in a bit of confusion because I knew well enough that my heart was not full and it was barely even open. However, it no longer felt broken and I could feel the light slowly start to creep back in as I continued to process not only the events of the following two years but more importantly, what lead me down that path to begin with. So, to feel such a connection to these four words left me a little dumbfounded. 

However, there was an unexplainable deep knowing that this was something I was supposed to write about and when I got home I sat down at my computer and typed out the title thinking the words that needed to be shared would immediately follow. Nothing came and I grew more frustrated. Most of the time when this happens words to accompany the title follow shortly there after. But month after month nothing came. But something inside told me to be patient and nine months later they finally came and it all made sense.

The other day, as I was cleaning out my room, purging myself and my life of anything that I no longer felt belonged , I stumbled upon my wedding dress. Something I thought I had gotten rid of months ago. It was tucked under some clothes that were stuffed in a garment bag I kept under my bed. I pulled out the short dingy white Nicole Miller dress we purchased four years early at Nordstrom and stared at it, waiting for the inevitable sadness to come but the strangest thing happened. It didn't. I paused and scanned the room, feeling as if some kind of joke was being pulled on me. Where was that familiar heaviness? Where was the deep sadness? The tears?

A smile slowly cracked from my lips as I cocked my head to one side.

"Huh?" I said out loud to my four-legged companion who was curled up in a ball on the floor by my bedroom door. He looked back at me with his usual indifferent blank stare. "So this is it." I said. 

I pulled the dingy white dress off the hanger that accompanied it in the garment bag under my bed. "I wonder if it'll be different if I put the dress on?" I asked Oliver. He cracked a single eye open and gave me a look that said, "shh, can't you see I'm sleeping?" I smiled back at him with a look that said, "Yes, but I don't care."  I slide out of my tattered jean shorts and mint green 'The Moon Made Me Do It' crop tank top, throwing them in a pile on the floor. I stood there, naked, clutching on to my past with both my hands.

Nothing.

I unzipped the back of the dress and slowly, one foot at a time, stepped in. beginning to work the dress up to my hips. 

Still, nothing.

I gently worked the dress up and over my freshly tan hips, being extra careful as I pulled the dress over my rear. All those squats have added a little extra junk in my truck and with one gentle tug, I had the dress up and was sliding one arm at a time into the arm holes and carefully zipping up the back. 

 Nothing.

I hesitated as I lifted my gaze, waiting for my past to finally catch up and for the flood of tears to come rushing out.

Nothing. 

It was like staring at a long lost friend in the mirror. Someone who I thought I knew so well yet today, is only a distant memory. If I could only go back and tell her what I know now. If I could tell her how brave and courageous she really was. If I could tell her that she needn't do anything she truly didnt't want to do. That love, real love, didn't look or feel that way. I wonder if she would have ever gone through with it? I wonder if she would have ever said yes? 

A smile broke loose and spread across my face, as coincidently, the sounds of Sia's 'Wild One' echoed in the background and I stared my past down in the mirror. Laughter broke free, quietly at first until a thunderous fit of wild giggles erupted from deep within and suddenly I was dancing with my past, wildly across the living room floor as Oliver looked on in a mix of pure confusion and terror. 

So this is what it really means to be wild and free. And for the first time, the title of this post had words. After months of waiting, her transformation was clear:

Broken heart, closed heart, open heart, full heart. 

 

 

Fit and Free Weekly Playlist - Hip Hop Throwback

I have so many posts I'm in the middle of working on. I'm hoping that I'll feel rejuvenated and inspired to write more in Mexico, or at least when I return. I leave on Tuesday from LAX for one of my dear friend's wedding in Yelapa. This will be my first international trip in two years. As someone who was constantly jet setting for about a five year period, this is incredibly exciting and also bringing up some interesting feelings. Excitement, nervous, happy, uncertain. You name it, I'm feeling it.  

It's the first time I've traveled internationally by myself in a long time. But its time. It is so time. 

So cheers to being wild and free! This is what I've been striving for ever since I stepped into this new life of mine and I'm excited that it's finally starting to happen again. 

I'll be sharing more for sure. 

And now for what I'm sure you've all been waiting for...



I feel like this week's playlist needs a little explanation. So, here's a little secret about me not many know: I have always been a huge hip hop fan. I'm not sure anything else gets me quite as worked up as Biggie bustin' his Biggie Smalls rhymes. Except for maybe Nelly riding dirty. 

But be warned, there are definitely some explicit and inappropriate lyrics on this playlist. If you are sensitive to that, maybe check out last weeks playlist or wait for next weeks. I'll make it more user friendly.

Oh, and no laughing at the last song. I stand by my man. Team Joey forever.  

Time of Our Lives - Pitbull, Ne-Yo
Stay - Rihanna, Mikky Ekko
Ride Wit Me - Nelly , City Spud
Country Grammar - Nelly
Air Force Ones - Nelly, Murphy Lee
Right Thurr - Chingy
One Call Away - Chingy
Smack That - Akon, Eminem
So Sick - Ne-Yo
Because of You - Ne-Yo
Closer - Ne-Yo
Cupid - 112
Anywhere -112
Dance With Me - 112
Only You (Bad Boy Remix) - 112, The Notorious B.I.G
Let's Get Married -Jagged Edge
Old Thing Back - Matoma, The Notorious B.I.G
Juicy - The Notorious B.I.G
Notorious Things - The Notorious B.I.G
In Da Club - 50 Cent
21 Questions - 50 Cent, Nate Dogg
Wanna Get To Know You - G-Unit, Joe
Poppin' Them Thangs - G-Unit
Don't Cha - The Pussycat Dolls
Still Not a Player - Big Pun, Joe
I'm Not a Player - Big Pun, Joe
The Seed (2.0) - The Roots
Vivrant Thing - Q-Tip
If I Ruled The World - Mas, Ms. Layryn Hill
Lose Yourself - Eminem
The Monster - Eminem, Rihanna
Love The Way You Life - Eminem, Rihana
Without Me - Eminem
Please Don't Go Girl - New Kids On The Block


You say you want to feel good again.
You say the time is now.
You say you want a good relationship with food. 
You say something just has to change. 
You say you want to feel good in your skin again. 
You say you really want it bad. 

So what's stopping you? 

I use to say all these things until I realized it was really all up to me. That all the little things I did every single day added up to big things in my life. These things either lead me closer to or further from my goals. 

And in some areas, things needed to change. (It's a process) 

And I needed help. 

I was stubborn though and hated admitting that. I hated asking for help. But it was the only way. 

And you know what? It's actually very brave to say, "hey, I need some help. I don't think I can do this alone." So it's not complicated but it does have to be your choice and you do have to be the one to say yes.

 I'll take it from there.


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