Remember the joy of Christmas morning as a kid? You know no different, a single focus of energy and attention.
That feeling is near impossible to replicate as an adult, replaced by things like love, loss, gratitude, fear. Often at the same time. Much more complex emotions than the purity of a child.
Today is one of those days. Only a few of my friends really know about it. It’s closing day on the sale of the house I owned with my ex husband. I feel relieved, scared, melancholy, hopeful.
As I realized months ago on the day my divorce was final, this is the type of thing where there is no winner, there is no celebratory party in order. It’s just sad. Sad that a marriage failed, sad that we both lost a lot of money, and sad that everyone involved felt a lot of pain. But now I look forward, unencumbered by my past. I was able to let go of heavy emotions and events form my past, even further back than this last decade. I learned how to be more aware, accepting, and not view myself as the victim in every scenario.
Through it all I focused my attention on positive gratitude. I’m grateful for my friends and family who held my hands and gave me advice. I’m grateful for lite moments that made me laugh while I cried. I journal morning and night about the things I am grateful for, and it turns out the things appearing most often are some of the most basic things in life, and things that can be so easy to take for granted.
The last two months have been such a fulfilling (and busy!) experience. I’ve completed eight weeks of yoga teacher training (just 10 more classes until I receive my RYT 200-hour certificate!), where I turned my self-study (Svādhyāya) into a practice, challenged myself and made new yoga family friends. While I loved learning the class sequence and what it takes to be a good teacher, I really enjoyed learning the philosophy behind yoga. The eight limbs, yamas, niyamas, and the 7 chakras put names to the pieces of the journey I’ve been on over the last year. I had already learned so much about myself and about using a challenge to thrive, and diving into this near familiar world was another sign that I am on the right path. Being able to turn my attention outward has been a great part of my growth as well. Not only have I set this goal to teach others, but I’ve shared with my Omies and in turn helped them open up, too.
To cap the training, I booked a trip back to LA where I am right now typing away on a coffee shop patio. It’s been amazing to have so much open time (that would usually scare the shit out of me), even if I did spend a couple days of it sick and dealing with the challenge of plans not working out. I’ve been able to get a ton of restful and healing sleep, spend quality time with my boyfriend and hit the mat for fun. His place is a block over from a CorePower studio, which he swears he didn’t choose for me, but hey, lucky either way. And today I finally made it out to Y7 to try out their “sweat dripping, beat bumping, candlelit yoga.” Twas fun.
Yoga has become an important part of my life over the last few years and even more through the last few months as I’ve healed and grown post-marriage. I went on a “radical” yoga retreat in Mexico last month that was truly transformative. My new path led me to enroll in Teacher Training at CorePower which coincidentally began the night before the Summer Solstice and International Yoga Day. We were assigned to write an introductory essay which I was excited to share with my class, and now here.
What is Yoga and Why Do I Practice Yoga?
I found yoga because of back pain. I began to love yoga when I noticed it reduced my anxiety and brought my mind into sharp focus during class. I felt accomplished and stronger, especially in the beginning when my body wasn’t accustomed to the poses and breathing and just getting through class felt like a slog. I’d be sore for days, but I kept coming back for more. My desire to party faded because I wanted to feel the benefits of a morning class rather than blow off steam through late nights and booze.
Then came new strength, new accomplishments. I stood straighter. I felt more confident. There were days that I would suddenly nail a pose that I had been slowly working towards, sometimes without even realizing I was. I might not get it every time after that, but more consistently still. Core work and chaturangas got easier, believe it or not. Yoga began to fuel me, and not just physically. It also fueled my heart and my mind.
That mental and spiritual strength would eventually help me as my marriage crumbled and I found yoga and exercise to be my solace. Surrounding myself with positivity and a different language were key. It led me to a transformative CorePower retreat in Mexico and ultimately brought me here to TT to share with others.
I’ve heard that yoga is meant to clear the mind and prepare the body for long seated meditation. In our busy and cluttered western lifestyle however, it provides a necessary break from the outside world and allows us control of our minds to keep calm and centered amid what life brings our way. One of my favorite quotes that I learned years ago from my therapist encapsulates this idea, and it has morphed in meaning for me over the years as I have grown and matured:
“Peace – It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”
I have come to the conclusion that I don’t like dating. I like going on dates. With one person. I don’t know how people date more than one person at a time. I guess I understand going on multiple first or second dates just to weed the field, to see what’s out there what you’re not missing out on. But what happens when you have feelings for more than one person at a time?
I’m still kinda new to dating again, and I’ve gone out with a few guys, getting back out there as they say. I’m currently “dating” one guy that lives 1,700 miles away that I’ve never met in person. It’s bonkers. We “met” on tinder while I was in LA for a concert. (And yes, I was initially only looking for a hookup and/or restaurant recommendations since I was only in town for 36 hours.)
If someone told me this 10, even 5 years ago, I’d be like girl, wth are you doing? Do you think this guy is even a real human? But here we are a month in and a month away from actually meeting in real life. We have phone dates and FaceTime dates, some of which are just us smiling stupidly at each others faces and others where we uh, do other things.
The forced distance has also forced intimacy, so instead of banging and crashing and burning, we actually talk about books and music and family and stuff (I’m even reading dude’s books!) and have actually gotten to know each other better. For better or worse. Fortunately it’s intensified our attraction (as I suppose it’s supposed to work), but it’s also complicating my feelings for other people if I had them.
The world of dating has CHANGED. Not that I was all that adept in it ten years ago the last time I was single, but I do not remember shit being this complicated. Or maybe it was MORE complicated without the simplicity and efficiency of apps like Tinder and Bumble. Technology has changed the world in more ways than just dating, plus I’m a decade older, peeking over the hill at 40 instead of reveling in my mid-late twenties. So we’re talking differences in life stage as well as digital age.
I mean, did we even have smartphones yet in 2008? I certainly didn’t. I might have been pining for an iPhone though while waiting for my two-year AT&T contract to end so I could get a new phone for free.
Anyway, meeting someone online was JUST becoming a socially acceptable notion with sites like Match and eHarmony, much less apps that you could use to go home with someone within x number of miles of you that very night. I thought it was crazy enough that I met my future ex-husband on the internet while applying to write for a reputable website (RIP Chicagoist). Now it’s swipe right, swipe left, yes, no, yes, no; it’s like a Hot or Not game on steroids. With real people. And real interactions.
I did a short Match subscription once when I was 26. I went on a bunch of dates because I was 26 and had nothing to lose and who knows, even though I’m not really clicking with someone via text, that doesn’t mean he’s not unknowingly the man of my dreams. Right?
Most of the guys were short. Really short. Which I have no issue with, just an observation. Maybe back then in the analog days shorter dudes had a harder time picking up women in the real world, so they resorted to the internet. It’s especially interesting to me now since almost every dude’s profile that I see on Tinder mentions their height, like they’re bragging that they aced the ACTs. Or won the genetic lottery.
It’s also made writing pickup lines a new art form. It’s almost like a tit for tat – write a profile that’s just luring enough to give someone a nugget of info to use in their opening line. Here’s just a sampling of some of the initial messages I’ve received in the month that I’ve been on dating apps:
“Hey Michelle – going thru your IG pics and it reminded me that I have a whole in my life, and I needed it filled. Sorry, did I say “life”? I meant fridge. It needs Oberon.”
This one is good because he took the initiative to look at my “IG” pics and talk about something relevant to me. And who doesn’t like a guy who’s funny? But then he misspelled hole.
“Good morning beautiful, interesting lady. Hopefully I can be the first to compliment you today”
Flattery will get you everywhere. Except the inside of my apartment.
“Oooh girl we matched!” (accompanied by a gif of John Mulaney shaking his shoulders)
This one is good because it’s cheeky, and shows me that he knows who John Mulaney is, and communicating with gifs > words sometimes.
“I love st Vincent! You’re so lucky to get to see them”
This one is good because he references the artist and concert I mention in my profile. I even let it slide that St Vincent is a her and not a them because I liked that he talked about social activism and books in his profile, and we had mutual friends on Facebook. And because he was cute. Is cute. I’m still talking to this one. He’s 6’5”, not that that kind of thing matters to me…
Something else about app dating is being a target. Whoops did I say target because I meant woman. My first week on the app, I get this Tinder notification:
“Wow, you had quite a week! 2470 new people liked you! 😍 Keep swiping!”
Now, I’m not trying to brag here. That is just downright terrifying. Granted I was in three big cities that week, and I was new meat in the app, and I don’t know how these algorithms use that information, but I could swipe all day every day for another week and not get through two thousand profiles. Going from being in a long term relationship to having thousands of guys “liking” you is scary. (Okay, I’ll admit there’s a teensy bit of ego boosting going on, especially after leaving a marriage and feeling so crappy for so long.)
There are also some swiping “rules” that I implemented along the way. I admittedly jumped into these apps too quickly, but the swiping is just so much fun. But then there are all these matches and messages, and for someone just entering the dating world following a rough divorce, it was a little too much. Especially with Bumble’s 24 hour rule. I don’t need that kind of pressure when I just swiped right on like 10 guys.
So I had to “like” less often. Here are some of my automatic “nopes”:
No written profile.
Shirtless photo. Save it for after we exchange numbers. And not unsolicited.
Photo with another woman that’s obviously not your mom. I don’t care if it’s your sister, cousin, ex, whatever. You have one goal here and it’s not to show women what you look like with other women. Seriously, of all the photos you could choose for a dating profile?
While we’re at it, group photos only. I shouldn’t have to compare every photo to figure out which one is you.
DJs. Or any type of nightlife professional.
I’m sure I could write another whole post about how this form of connecting brings us back to our most basic, barbaric selves when selecting a mate (whether for long term or for the night). It’s mostly based on looks, height, race (come on), photo choice and composition. I suppose at its base, meeting in person is like that too. We judge with our eyes initially in most cases, whether we want to admit it or not. But I’m not a sociologist. I’m just a woman trying to navigate the new weird world of being single.
Here’s a pro-tip: If you’re gonna be bold enough to bring psychedelics to the ballet*, wait until intermission to eat them if you’re seeing Alexander Ekman’s latest work. The Joffrey Ballet is presenting the North American premiere his full-length piece, Midsummer Night’s Dream, now through May 6, and let’s just say shit gets weird in the second act.
I’ve seen a couple of Ekman’s shorter works with the Joffrey, and they always bring the unexpected, removing rules and preconceptions, and sometimes parts of the stage–literally. Midsummer is really more theater than it is dance, taking that chutzpah and expanding on it, with a little bit of industrial rock concert woven in. The “trailblazing” Swedish choreographer worked with composer Mikael Karlsson for the commissioned score that features indie rock vocalist Anna von Hausswolff. She joins the corp on stage as part of the performance with a bellowing voice that sweetly charms before it haunts.
In short, the feature follows an uproarious festival celebration of the summer solstice into a dream sequence that verges on a trippy nightmare. Imagine one of the wilder parties you’ve been to in your life. Things start off fun and free like a hipster summer bbq, and the next thing you know you’re spinning in a wallpapered room wondering what happened to your pants. The partygoers approach, beckoning you to join their cult/ceremony/ritual thing (as the corp actually comes to the edge of the stage at the end of act one), and you’re all, I’m cool, I’m just gonna go to sleep over here.
And then the dreams come.
A bed floats in the air, tables are levitating, dancers out of form on pointe look more like the creepy girl from The Ring…It’s like a glitchy ballet straight out of the Twilight Zone. A couple of messed up fish turn up for some reason, straw creatures and headless men bound around and by the end it’s a room full of nearly naked bodies thrashing on the floor**. It kinda resembles the party you were just at, if it was on acid.
It’s weird, wild and exhilarating, and totally my kind of party.