Girl vs. Reflection

Hello there.

Happy 2011. Happy Year of the Rabbit. Happy.

Confession: I empathize with the Groundhog. Like our squidgy little friend, from about Thanksgiving through to February, I tend to want to withdraw. Of course the cold, grey, depressing skies don’t help, the fact that I usually put on 5-10 pounds on warm, gooey Christmas goodness, and the tradition in my family as I’m sure in many of yours that no holiday can pass without some level of heightened drama sees me retreating to the comfort of my favorite armchair under piles of blankets for days at a time. I tend to spend my afternoons with Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha, and my evenings with Joey, Chandler, Ross, Phoebe, Rachel and Monica. I think any logical psychiatrist would diagnose me with Seasonal Affective Disorder (or ironically enough, SAD), however I just think I empathize with the Groundhog. And by February, I’m back to my bunny-like self.

The holiday hysteria (or the hysteria it invokes in me) is finally starting to seep from my veins. Little by little the affect of the season is dissipating and I’m starting to feel more like myself.

And I’ve found myself quite recently looking at my Reflection.  Both figuratively and literally. Not just merely out of vanity, but because I have something to celebrate. In 5 months.

November 30th, 2010 was the Eve of my 28th birthday. So to celebrate I practiced 27 rounds of Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations) with the intention set that each round would represent a year of my life. I wouldn’t be who I am today at 28 had it not been for all the experiences I’d had in the years past. And as I exhaled through the rhythmic repetitions, I truly tried to focus on the year I was Reflecting upon and send gratitude to the lessons I learned that year. I can honestly say 27 was my best year yet…. although I’m guessing I had a pretty good year at 5 too…

December 1st, 2010 I proposed to my best friend. And she said yes. (I’m sure the tone of this submission would be a bit different had she not.) So within the week we found ourselves planning a wedding. Up until then, even though we knew we’d be partnered up forever, we hadn’t really committed to the whole idea of a wedding (Internet contests aside!).  Mostly because there are so many other adventures we wanted to pursue, that a wedding just seemed a bit unnecessary. So with a slight change of heart we visualized a small, intimate ceremony that Reflected who we are as a couple.

Yeah, well all that sounds very Hallmark Cardy and peaches and cream, but within days our vision began to slip away. I’d love to say I’m to blame, but what fun would that be? However, I will say that the American Wedding Conglomerates are at least 85% responsible. All other parties will remain nameless as making enemies is not my style (even if it ends up happening on a less-than-desirable basis).

Did you know a “wedding checklist” has been created and published that has over 500 To-Do items on it? As in 5-0-0? If you did know that, it’s because you’re married. And you had the big, princess, fairytale shebang. And you lived through it! So I say, “Go You. You are a better woman than I.”

In a moment of weakness and my penchant for theatrical events, I was swept right up into the Wedding Planning Tornado and I’m still recovering from her tossing me like Dorothy into a bizarre land of favors and place-cards and Save the Dates, Oh My! Soon our small, intimate ceremony was taking forms of tents being erected and $3000 cakes and I was spending way too much time talking about color themes.

Then while going over the venue contract which was written in French, my Québécois Beauty Translator mentioned how a friend of hers and her fiance discovered how much it would cost to throw a big wedding, scrapped the whole idea, eloped to a dreamy, white beach, and spent the money on a really cool vacation. They felt it was more of a Reflection of who they are as a couple.

Huh.

How ’bout that?

So you mean the way you express your love in vows toward each other has nothing to do with cohesive table linens and centerpieces? You mean the ungodly anxiety that it seemed no amount of yoga could combat is really unnecessary? You mean spending $ 20 or 30 or 100, 000 isn’t going to make our marriage a success?

When you look at your Reflection, do you like what you see? I don’t mean your literal, physical Reflection. What you see inside yourself when you look at you… that’s the Reflection I’m talking about.

I believe you can decide to reinvent yourself at any moment. And I don’t think you should apologize for that. The Buddha said “Everything changes, nothing remains without change.”

So we reevaluated what our wedding was Reflecting about us. We didn’t like it. So we changed it.

2 days ago I took a yoga class at the gym below our London flat. I love saying “flat”. It makes me feel oh-so-British. Spot of tea, anyone?… I really appreciated the way Alex, an Ashtanga yogi, taught in a very workshop sort of way. Her knowledge of anatomy was spot on. The way she broke each posture down was enlightening, and I’m a fan of any yoga teacher who can comfortably say “ass” in front of 15 people with a Zen smile on her face. The class was a practice in Arm Balances, Bakasana (Crane pose), Tittibhasana (Firefly pose), Tolasana (Scale pose). Fun. So as I found myself stepping into Crane pose, trying to find the delicate balance between my head and my Christmas-Victim bum and place all of my weight evenly onto my “Peter-Pan” hands (I’ve been told I have the hands of a 12-year-old boy.), Alex came over to stand at the top of my mat. I had just the tip of my big toe still working as a crutch, preventing me from crashing down onto my face when Alex said “Go. GO! I know you have the skill, what you need is the confidence.” Don’t you just hate it when your yoga teacher is right?! After class I lingered back to thank Alex for her guidance when she asked me what I was afraid of in practicing Arm Balances. “What is the worst possible thing that could happen?”

Nose-diving into the mat in front of 15 people! Explaining to my fiancée that my broken nose was from the strenuous practice of yoga! Never being able to get over the humiliation of that fatal fall so as never to practice a Sun Salutation again!

You could pick any one of those, I guess. So she said “May I suggest that you visualize yourself in the posture far before you even physically attempt it? You know how dancers “mark” their choreography before doing it, or climbers visualize the sequence of their climb before they head up? If you are visualizing yourself falling, your muscle memory will Reflect that.” God. I. Love. Yoga.

Now I find myself looking at my Reflection in a wedding gown. I look more like my Mother everyday.

And the Reflection I’m looking forward to the most is the one I see in *A’s eyes 149 days from now. Who needs monogrammed napkins after all?

Girl: 1

Reflection: 1

Girl vs. Distraction

How is it possible that a month has suddenly slipped away without my notice? The last four weeks have passed me by so quickly…I mean, did you know “Toy Story 3″ is already out on DVD? When did that happen?!

I’m not trying to pass the buck, but I have to place partial blame on this entertaining, seductive, overwhelming girl who goes by the name of Amsterdam. I could sit here for hours pouring over how wonderful she is, but I’d rather not fill you with envy imagining her gorgeous canals, mind-blowing museums, generous availability of… everything, or her citizens that harbor no judgement whatsoever. But please, I’m sure you can see how it’s easy to lose track of time here. If anything, this lady specializes in hour upon hour of Distraction. Only the sharpest of minds can maintain focus here.

I have to be honest, this is the third time I’ve sat down to write to you. Again, it’s not that I don’t have much to say… you know I do. But the Distraction is completely overwhelming. I seem to have the attention span of a Jack Russell terrier… look! Something shiny! And I truly have the best of intentions. “Today I will get all the things done on my list. I’ll go for a run and have a nice long yoga practice.” Three hours later I’m still sitting in the same chair talking to Monkey or ‘A’ about everything and nothing.

Amsterdam, while the epitome of everything I could wish for in a city, really makes you earn your fun here. What I remember from my last trip to The Netherlands is that when it rained, it rained directly into you. The flat landscape and powerful winds make you the perfect target for a 15 minute thunderstorm. She’s moody. And that’s okay. I know how she feels. But that just adds one more reason to jump up and hit the canals the second the sun is shining.

Look, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking the reason for my Distraction is due to the readily available supply of Amsterdam “coffee”. Well, Smarty Pants… you’re partly right. Hey, when in Rome…

But seriously, the weeks come crashing into me one after another. She’s a social city and I can’t help but feel like I want to take advantage of what she brings out in us. Every little circus freak I call my family seems to be happier, friendlier, more willing to go hard or go home. We frequently remind ourselves that in a few short months we’ll be in Charlotte, NC and will pine away for these weeks of constant entertainment.

Is it wrong that my Amsterdam playlist consists of mostly Usher, Ke$ha and Katy Perry? Or is it entirely appropriate?

I’m not even kidding, a yellow balloon just floated past my window. The entire city is conspiring to keep my attention. It’s amazing.

So what have I gathered from all this Distraction? The bonds that I have with my touring friends, or as I refer to them, my extended family have grown stronger. Everyone is bouncing along on the same vibration of positive energy. As I approach my 28th year of life I feel more loved and the ability to love more than any other moment in my life.

So I bring it back to the mat. When I was first learning how to meditate, my teacher told me “You’ll have distracting thoughts, something to pull your focus. And that is okay. Just let them pass over you like clouds floating through the sky.” I reflect on that. One of my very favorite concepts of yoga is non-judgement. She looks to me and says “Yes. You’re allowed to be distracted. But don’t hold onto it. Let it float by. You’ll return to your focus when you’re ready.” If only the rest of the world could be as non-judgmental as her.

So if you don’t hear from me in the next month in a half, you’ll know why. I’m floating along on the cloud entitled “Amsterdam.” And she’s just lovely…

Girl: 0

Distraction: 1

Girl vs. Procrastination

Okay. Glasses smudge-free? Check! Well-lit area? Check! Take-away coffee within reach? Check.

Let’s do this.

Hello again. It’s been a while, I know. And I’m not placing blame on you, of course. It seems my ridiculous schedule of Wedding Contest Promoting, Little-Sister Birthday Party Planning, and Traversing 11,583 Kilometers from Montreal to Vegas to Dublin to Amsterdam had become quite the distraction from this beautiful thing we’ve got going here…. but all that is in the past. My apologies for keeping you hanging. I’m back now, and ready to fully commit to this relationship. Promise.

There. Now that’s done. Moving on….

Holy Ganesha has this past month been a doozy! (Kind of like trying to master a full Scorpion pose the first time you attend a casual yoga class. Hello! Pretty overwhelming!) Not only was I not able to even begin to sit down and gather my thoughts long enough to record them because of my time constraints, but also so much seems to have happened in such a short amount of time, the sheer idea of trying to communicate all the craziness of these four short weeks has been too daunting a task for me to face. It’s not even a question of whether I was lacking Inspiration or not, it’s that Inspiration was suffocating me! When the whole world is screaming at me to write about it, and all I have the energy to do is take a 20 minute power nap, chug a sugar-free Rockstar and get back to my To Do list, it’s almost more than I can take. However, while working at *trendy yoga/running gear company in Vancouver the first half of this year, one mantra (subtly scribbled alongside the recyclable bags from the store) that actually stuck with me was “Do it now.”

*Name of said trendy yoga/running gear company has been retracted to protect the cult-member-like ambassadors of the brand. :)

Confession: I have a tendency to Procrastinate. I’ve been like this my whole life. As in, “Well, I can’t really see the floor of my bedroom through all the clutter, clean and/or dirty clothes, magazines, empty hair-spray bottles, Playbills, and the like. I guess I’ll pick up a little. Just as soon as I finish this page…”

Once I actually started listening to my Recyclable Bag Mantra, I found myself doing the dishes as soon as we were finished with dinner, or starting my day with asana practice rather than telling myself I’d do it later. Things would get done, my space became clutter free, and I actually feel more at ease with life in general since there doesn’t seem to be too much hanging over my head to get done anymore. So. What does that have to do with this? Good question, I knew I liked you for a reason. Well, I’ve been putting off and putting off and putting……. off……. catching up on our communication that the list of things I have to journal has just become overbearing. Since my college degree is actually in Theatre (Performance), I feel it only suitable at a time like this to give you the CliffsNotes version of September so that we can move readily ahead into my second delicious European Adventure. That’s right Professor Brewer, I never read Death of a Salesman. I was 19 and far too concerned with alternating my Juicy Couture sweat-suits to pay attention to literary genius. Sue me.

Whoever invented bullet points, I commend you.

  • On my way back to Vegas from Montreal, after careful observation at each airport, I thought it only fair that I share a piece of travel advice with you. When you go to the airport, relax. Meaning, don’t be that girl in line who starts to freak out the second someone cuts the queue. Don’t be that guy that heaves a massive sigh of disgust when you have to take your laptop out of your carry-on to send it through security. Don’t be that person that treats the airline staff like rubbish when they tell you your bags have been delayed. It’s the airport. This drama has been going on since the beginning of time (or air-travel) and people still have such high expectations of what their airport experience should be like.  It’s shocking to me what a negative energy you literally feel the second you walk through the doors of the place. People just look stressed. Dirty looks left and right, strained eyes, frustrated couples, kids crying. It sounds like a pretty crappy way to start off any vacation or trip home to your family. Try breathing. Remind yourself that your plane will get there when it gets there, your luggage will too. I truly believe you’ll add years to your life if you’re able to relax at the airport. Breathing helps. I had to repeat this to myself several times as I unpacked half of our “over-weight” luggage into an Air Canada box in front of half the airport before they’d put our bags on to get to Vegas. Yes sir, it’s a box of tampons, please stopping staring.
  • Some things will never change. This became more and more obvious to me when 4 of my friends from high school came to Vegas for the weekend. These are people I’ve been friends with since I was about 9 years old. After going off to Vegas for college, it was usually several years between the times I’d see these girls. The first of our group of 7 was married this summer and all of us attended the wedding. It was just like old times, both the good and the bad. Now we seem to be making more of an effort to be involved in each other’s lives. Jobs, travel, boyfriends, girlfriends, life… can very easily get in the way. But what is amazing to me is that the moment I’m with these girls again, I’m not the Girl who has made such massive transformations in her life in the past 2 years; I’m 15, in my best friend’s basement, listening to Master P and the Spice Girls, talking about boys and cheerleading, not realizing how quickly these moments would fly past. We’re not The Lawyer, The Teacher, The Sales-Rep, The Yoga Instructor, The Hair-Stylist, The Medical Professional, The School Administrator. We’re just kids. Nothing has changed. If you have a relationship in your life that can make you feel 15 again, cherish it.
  • Be careful what you wish for. In my last submission, I wrote about the amazing impact the Freedom2Wed wedding competition was having on my life. The feeling of connection and support was unsurpassed by any other experience I’ve had. It was just as one of my teachers said, the air that you breathe right now has traveled all over the earth to reach you. The love we were cultivating with our participation in the contest was reaching from all sides to support us. I was humbled by it. BUT…. I’d like to call on Newton’s Law of Motion to continue: To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction. The actual process of campaigning to obtain enough votes to win the wedding was exhausting. Training for the half-marathon and p90x were only two of the casualties of this plight. I never thought I’d actually be able to say the words “Today I’m speaking at the Nevada Gay Rodeo Association Annual Brunch”. But I did. In the end, we didn’t win the contest. It was incredibly poetic that the couple that actually testified to the Supreme Court in DC in order to legalize gay marriage there in the first place, took the grand prize. We’re very happy for them. We’re also very happy it’s over… Which leads me to my next point:
  • Sometimes you have to spread the Awesome around. My life, my path, has been incredibly blessed. Littered with exceptional people, the gift of travel, unconditional love, luck and amazing circumstance. In no way can I cross my arms and pout about not winning a contest. Or anything else in life that doesn’t go my way. Sometimes it’s okay to let someone else have a little bit of Awesome. And to genuinely be happy for them rather than begrudge their good fortune.
  • Spring for the Cotton-Candy Machine. Due to the nature of my lifestyle, I’ve missed a lot of important days. Birthdays, Christmas days, school play days. So this year, LJ decided to reorganize her Sweet 16 birthday party around my visit home. I was going to be there for an important one. So, we went all out. Now the presents are forgotten and added to the mess of her bedroom, the 4 foot poster-board lollipops and peppermints we made to add to the “Sweet” 16 theme have been discarded, the cupcakes are long gone. And while I didn’t really have the intention of staying up ’til 2am to make a massive welcome banner, or of making the cream-cheese (YUM! God, help my thighs!) cupcake frosting for her “Cupcake Bar” from scratch, I did. It was a complete labor of love. I got to be there. It was important to her, but also to me. I sprang for the cotton-candy machine, even though we only used it for about 10 minutes. Life’s too short. Make it count when you can.
  • Have a conversation with a person over the age of 65.  This was my favorite part about our trip to Dublin. While the Hop-On Hop-Off bus ride, the tour of the Jameson Distillery and Guinness Storehouse, the day trip to the Cliffs of Moher (where parts of Harry Potter 6 was filmed!) were all delightful, our last night in Dublin we traveled 25 minutes outside of the city to enjoy traditional irish music, food and dance at “The Merry Ploughboy”. The cab driver that picked us up had to be 72. He actually was the uncle of two of the musicians who ran the pub, and was called on for transport when his nephews got in a bind. His name was Dez. Instead of ignoring that he was there and taking the ride like any other customer, I actually conversed with him the entire swervey ride to and from the pub. ‘A’ was busy trying not to succumb to her motion-sickness. Dez told me all about his life, Dublin, his wife who had recently passed, his one-time trip to the States where he and his wife found themselves staying at the same hotel in San Francisco that was hosting a Transvestite Convention… the Irish truly are story tellers. Perhaps that’s where I get it from. An hours worth of conversation didn’t necessarily change my life, but when he dropped us off back at the Hilton and got out to say goodnight, he held my hand and said “Girl, I feel as though I’ve known you my whole life.” And he hugged me. If you’re not willing to get to know the people of a place you’re visiting, you might as well not take the trip at all.

And that brings me back to Amsterdam. Ah….. Amsterdam. It’s like coming home. I am so very thrilled to be back here again. I don’t suppose much has changed about the city since our stay in 2008. But everything about me has changed. And if I loved this city as much as I did when I didn’t necessarily love myself, I can only imagine how magical it will be for me this time, when I’m the most balanced I’ve ever been.

Okay, there. That does it. You’re all caught up, and we can steadily move on. I’ll report back shortly… over plenty of those european carbs I hold so dearly to my heart. It’s good to be back.

Girl: 1

Procrastination: 0

Girl vs. Expectation

Tomorrow we’re back on a plane to Vegas. I absolutely could not part with Quebec City without writing of expectation.

If you’re keeping up with my travels, (which let’s face it, you may not be… you have your own life after all! ) you’d know that six weeks ago we were living in sumptuous Montreal. The food, the culture, the summer festivals, the food, the yoga, the food,the shopping, the food!… I loved everything about it and I’m really looking forward to returning next summer when we stop there again. Now, let me explain to you, looking at a “Tour Plan” (the term used to map out the dates and locations where the show will perform over the next several years), it’s pretty difficult not to have expectations. “London? Yaaay! Charlotte? Boooo! San Fran? Yaaay! Pittsburgh? Hmmm…” You’re literally trying to figure out what the next five locations you’ll call “home” will have in store for you.

Back to Expectation. I was told as a pigtailed, Barbie-connoisseur and again as an acne-ridden, whiny pre-teen and again as an overly sensitive, overly dramatic high school cheerleader not to have expectations and therefore I’d never end up disappointed. I’ve found this is an excellent piece of advice to give to someone when you know the likelihood of them “ending up disappointed” is about as probable as me having to pay excess baggage fees tomorrow (ps. That’s pretty bloody likely!). However, I was never told about the plus side of not having expectations…. and that would be the Pleasant Surprise.

This brings me back to Quebec City. I’m not exactly sure why, but when my eyes scanned over the Tour Plan to see Quebec City I thought “That will be a great city to really focus on my half-marathon training… I mean, what’s there to do in Quebec City?” I had no expectations. Not of shopping, sights, activities, even food! None. And what did Quebec City do in response to my less-than-enthused outlook? She threw me one hell of a surprise party, fireworks and all.

We arrived here and instantly were magically whisked away to a cross between the film set of Harry Potter and the year 1820.  The city is one of the oldest in North America and surrounded by “fortification walls”  which instantly made me feel oh-so Damsel in Distress as I gazed out of my 19th floor window to what literally looks like castle walls below (with cannons to boot, fired every night between 9 & 11pm!). I believe A said it best when observing an old school military bomber plane gliding past our window, “It’s like we live in the 1800s here.”

Not only did I not have any expectations of the city itself, I didn’t really have any expectations of what my life would entail during these 5 little weeks. Teaching yoga, running, writing, wifely duties… all par for the course. And then The Contest came up.

Sidebar: The previous tour we were on, I was surrounded by a group of the most diverse, beautiful, witty, supportive, loving women who came to be known as The Wives Club. As touring “wives” we leaned on each other for support, the occasional babysitter, yoga classes, drinking buddies, crocheting lessons… it was truly a sisterhood. Now that we’ve all gone our separate ways, I knew there would be a bit of a void going on here in this new tour experience. Those women… they will never be replaced.

So still being new to this particular tour, and with the lack of my Wives Club around to keep me company, I figured it would be natural to feel lonely from time to time. However, the second The Contest came to fruition, loneliness became the absolute least of my concerns because all of a sudden my “family” from all over the world, they showed up. More about The Contest in later posts… back to QC. Everyday became jam-packed with a To-Do list long enough to make a girl crawl back into her king-sized, delicious Hilton down-feather bed My Best* and I referred to as “The Cloud” and hide.

*My Best refers to one kick-ass Lady in my life. I do not know what I’d do without her. She is my friend, motivation, confidant and sister. A mirror of who I am and a reflection of who I aspire to be. She loves salty chocolate, bread, feather earrings and dancing non-stop. You’ll read a lot about her here.

Between teaching my classes, stuffing my face with maple-chunk muffins, networking my maple-chunk-muffin-bum off for votes, planning our rendezvous with Ireland, upholding my commitment to Mr. Tony Horton and p90x, upping my running schedule to include an extra run a week for half-marathon preparation and making sweet love to this beautiful city, 5 weeks flew by in the bat of a Dior-mascara’d eyelash. Highlights included kayaking to the Montmorency Falls, which are often compared to the famous Niagara Falls, to watch the finale of the International Fireworks Competition over a bottle of iced-cider; hitting up the one gay bar in all of Quebec City, “Le Drague”, too many times to count to beg for votes (not to mention a karaoke performance by none other than Moi of “Like a Prayer”. My gays love a lil retro-Madonna.), achieving my longest distance, fastest paced runs to date, consuming way too many maple-infused baked-goods, and to top it all off, being offered a PAID freelance online writing gig! Quebec City not only rapidly became one of my favorite cities thus far, I also believe these 5 weeks are some of the happiest weeks of my short life.

I’m off to dream. Thoughts are becoming too random for even me to follow. 6am will be whispering my name in no time telling me it’s time to fly again. So I’ll bid you a sweet goodnight with this:

“The best things in life are unexpected because there were no expectations.”

Girl: 1

Expectation: 0

(And let’s not forget one more shameless plug: If you haven’t voted for us to win the wedding of our dreams, please visit Freedom2Wed.com and PLEASE VOTE! LOVE FREELY!  A million warm chocolate-chip cookie hugs to you.)

Girl vs. Shameless Self-Promotion

Part 1

I’ve neglected you, my friends. Of late my life has consisted of nothing but yoga both self-practice and teaching (of course), p90x, and The Contest.

Ah, The Contest. For those of you who haven’t been following my daily (albeit, annoying) status updates on Facebook, allow me to catch you up. In the last few weeks our lives have been consumed by an online contest to win our “dream wedding” (or at least a $100,000 dream, if one were able to actually put a dollar value on dreams). So let me take you back to how this all began…

After leaving glorious Vancouver, where I was living earlier this year before deciding to rejoin A on tour, I found myself in Montreal, wondering what to do with my time and how to organize my new life. Granted I’ve been on tour for over five years now, but this is a new tour, new people, (some) new cities… all in all, a new life. I went from working each day at a trendy yoga/running clothing company and teaching both in the store and privately AND still training to run the marathon… to “Well, here I am. A housewife. In a city where I know no one, on a tour where I know…8? people. This should be interesting.”

But I’m all about adjustment. Like I’ve said before, I’m a Sagittarius in every sense of the word which basically means I’m incredibly RESTLESS. Can’t stay in the same place for too long or every fiber of my being begins to itch with boredom. So there I was, in Montreal. A city that by no means would leave one bored, but when A got up to go to work everyday, and my practice was done, and my chores completed, I began a deep and meaningful relationship with… TLC. Yes, TLC. The Learning Channel. The home of reality gems such as “Kate Plus 8″, “What Not to Wear” and “Toddlers in Tiaras”. I know… completely rotten. But I suppose it was better than “16 and Pregnant”, no? Anyway, at the core of this relationship was a little show known as “Say Yes to the Dress”. A reality show all about the Kleinfeld Bridal Salon in New York City and their customers…. brides-to-be. Now let me tell you right off the bat, I despise shopping. Honestly. I’m one of those girls that has a list, checks it off as I go and then needs to get the hell out of there before the flourescent lights (which have the lovely ability to highlight each inch of hard-earned cellulite on my thighs) and Top 40 music eats away at my soul. (Shopping on vacation is a whole other story…but I digress). However, I could watch these women shop for wedding gowns for hours. Literally, hours. So one day there was an episode on and the bride they were following had won a contest on the radio which awarded her a “dream wedding” with rings and catering and all that other ridiculously expensive stuff included. I say “stuff” because a lot more than I ever thought goes into planning a wedding. Which is one of the many reasons The Wedding itself kinda fell to the bottom of our list of things we’d like to do with our money in the next few years. So this particular bride made me think “Wow, that’s genius. A contest. What a shame there isn’t something like that for same-sex couples…wait a minute….” So I turned to my trusty friend, Google, and typed “same-sex wedding contest” into the magical little box. Google thought for a few seconds and then replied to me, “freedom2wed”. And just like that, everything changed.

Freedom2Wed is a group of top wedding vendors in Washington DC who decided to celebrate the recent legalization of same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia by organizing a contest, awarding one couple with a “dream wedding” valued at $100,000 (Say that three times fast!). All they required you to do to enter was fill out a form telling the story of how your couple got together, why you want the wedding, etc. etc. And then attach a picture. “Writing? This is something I can sink my teeth into.”

So I began pattering away at the keys, telling the story of how A and I found each other, and what a day in the life of two circus nomads is like. I’ve told and retold the story so many times. It’s pretty cute, if I do say so myself, and I’ve even considered turning into a screenplay someday. Perhaps I’ll share it with you at one point… but that’s for another day.

So for about an hour I pounded away at the keyboard, smiling as I recalled the early days of our relationship, and silently thanking myself that some of those days have passed. As a couple, like wine, we’ve definitely gotten sweeter as we’ve aged. After finishing another day at the circus, A walked through the apartment door (always with a smile) and asked what I was writing.

“Baby, I’m going to win us a wedding.”

She is a master at humoring me. I truly believe that is one of the reasons we work so well. “Oh. Okay! And how exactly are you going to do that?”

So I explained the contest to her and together we picked out a photo for our submission and with a final click!, we sent our entry on its way. Out into the universe… possibly never to return. But for the rest of the evening I fed off the high of retelling our story. Such warm, yummy, fresh from the oven chocolate chip cookie type memories. Like every single moment in my life up until that point led me directly to her.

And then, as it does, life went on. We transferred to Quebec City and began to make a new home, as we do… every. six. weeks. Then, out of nowhere, Fate decided to send me an email. And this is what Fate said:

“Hi Girl, I’m not sure how else to get in contact with you but I wanted to let you know that your couple has been selected as one of the finalists in the freedom2wed contest to win a dream wedding. Please contact me as soon as possible so you can participate.”

Sidebar: One of the most valuable elements that yoga has brought into my life is the relationship I’ve developed with my physical body. My teacher told me that yoga is the ability to diagnose your own sensations. Well, the “sensations” I had at that particular moment were definitely something to be observed.

My hands began to shake uncontrollably. My chest felt as though Thumper himself had taken up residency there. It was one of those feelings that before had only been brought on moments prior to stepping on stage, or those seconds at the top of the hill on my favorite roller-coaster right before the plummet to the earth below. It. Was. Awesome.

So I made the necessary phone call, found out the details of what we were required to do next, and discovered that we had three days, that’s three days to put together a video explaining to all the world why they should vote for us to win this once in a lifetime event. Of course this came at one of the most critical times of A’s working schedule. Setting up the circus. Bringing each show to life is something every single employee takes part in, hard-hats, steal-toed boots and all. And long days. The first day she had off would have to be the day we memorized, recorded, edited and submitted our video. With the help of another circus comrade known to you as Technology Guy-Extraordinaire, we did all that was required and submitted our video at 1:30AM, the day of the deadline. And then… we waited.

One week later the 6 finalist’s videos were posted on the freedom2wed website and the hurricane of voting began. As did my Shameless Self-Promotion. Every avenue I could think of was jammed with emails and messages asking people to support us in this contest. And most importantly, to support Marriage Equality. To allow to us finally not feel like third-class citizens. Never, in all my wildest wonderment did I think the reaction would snowball into what it has.

We have been flooded with messages of support, pride, love. Friends from past lifetimes have reached out to us, showing signs of assistance. People from all corners of the globe have rallied around us to help us win this contest. And instantly, it stopped being about The Contest. The very first night the voting was open, I lied awake, feet twitching with anxiety into the early hours of the morning. But after that initial day of worry all of that fell to the wayside. I never felt the effects of Six Degrees of Separation as I do right now.

During my teacher training, one of my teachers would always say “I am you, you are me, we are One.” He would mesmerize us with the idea that the very air we were currently breathing had traveled thousands of miles across the jungle, the oceans the desert to nourish our bodies. The prana (life force) we were sipping had also breathed life into the trees, the animals, and friends on the other side of the globe.

What a beautiful sentiment. And now, I actually get to experience that to the utmost degree. The web of people we have around us from Chile to Australia, Germany to Vegas, Singapore to good old Youngstown, Ohio is overwhelming. And it is the most evident example that we are all connected. It’s remarkable. And not only is it logistically impressive, it reminds me that no matter what, I am never alone. Which in turn means you are never alone.

We still have eight weeks left to go before they announce the winner. However, like I mentioned before, it’s not about The Contest anymore. When I went into this I simply thought that it was about love. The love A and I have for each other. The rights we should have to celebrate that love freely. I was both right and wrong. It’s no longer just about the love we have for each other, but the intense love we have from our community. You. The love you have for us. And we can only hope as this comes to fruition that you know the love and pure gratitude we have for you.

So as the journey continues, I’ll document it here. Another avenue of Shameless Self-Promotion, I suppose. And in one more plea for support I ask you, my friends and readers to share the link below with every single person you love. And help me marry my best friend. In the country that prides itself on the promotion of freedom.

Girl: TBD

Shameless Self-Promotion: TBD

And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

Love Freely.

Freedom2Wed.com

Girl vs. Tomorrow

People love a good countdown. I love a good countdown! The build up of excitement, the anticipation of things to come… it’s all so delicious. The ball dropping in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, Facebook statuses announcing “Two weeks ’til I’m in Cabo San Lucas!”, “Only 6 essays left of the Bar Exam!”, “19 days until our wedding!” and on and on and on…. I’m a sucker for a good countdown.

This morning after a little p90x Kenpo Cardio, (I’m currently in the middle of a torrid love affair with Tony Horton, which on most days is less love and more “If this is how P!nk got her rockin’ body, Tony must be doing something right.”) our little friend, Monkey, came to our room for help booking a hotel in Vegas. A and I have become somewhat the Go-To-Girls for all things Vegas. No one really takes into consideration that we haven’t lived there in over 5 years and that menagerie changes faster than my favorite head-lining drag queen on a Sunday night between a Cher montage and Whitney’s “Greatest Love of All”. But we help when we can. I digress… After booking Monkey’s stay in Vegas I had a moment to think about the next 6 months of my life…which includes but is not limited to:

5 more weeks in Quebec City, 1 month home in Las Vegas which will include visits from my favorite gay Aussie couple, 4/6 of my best friends from high school (including myself, known as The Super 7…wasn’t high school fun?!), 4 days of Monkey, plenty of time with my little sister, LJ (who is way cooler at 15 than I could ever be at 27), a trip to Disneyland to run the “Fabulous 5K” with A and Mommy and THEN

4 days in Ireland, 3 months in Amsterdam where I will run my first (eek!) Half-Marathon, and 6 weeks in delectable London where I’ll get to catch up with my darling Zo, spend Christmas on the same streets as Harry Potter (my boyfriend) and ring in 2011 watching the fireworks amidst a Big Ben backdrop.

Fun! (and exhausting)

The  eagerness for all that fun-having is a bit overwhelming. And it came to me, the more I think about how great tomorrow will be, the less I have the time (or attention span) to think about how great today is. “Aye, there’s the rub…”

And in comes yoga. (You knew it was coming, friends. All things are yoga.) In my practice, especially over the last year, I have truly tried to inhabit the concept of remaining present. Meditation has brought me closer than ever to feeling Now. When you think about it, sitting still, in silence for just 10 minutes and completely observing what is going on in the present moment… how often do you get the opportunity to do that? Sure you have plenty of time to stop and think, on the bus to work, waiting in line at the grocery store, at airport security while they look through your jacket, shoes, watch, carry-on, water bottle, underwear… but these are times we’re forced to stop. If you don’t have a regular meditation practice, how often do you choose to sit with yourself and just observe? Just be? My guess is not too often. And I’m no expert. I’ve had to give myself a “Meditation Challenge” of at least 10 minutes a day which on many days I’m lucky to complete. When I first came to my teacher training and was asked to meditate, wow, let me tell you how many show-tunes got me through the moments of silence on the beach. It’s a practice though. You’re not supposed to be good at it the first time. I may have a bad-ass Vasisthasana (Side-Plank Pose), but quieting my mind? Practice, practice, practice.

Running has been another tool that is capable of snapping me into the present moment. It’s too challenging to think about my To-Do List or having a picnic in the park next Monday when “I’m going to die, I’m not going to die, I’m going to die, I’m not going to die, I can do this, No I can’t, Yes I can, No, Yes, No, Yes….” is on constant loop in my head. It also causes me to come into my body (shhh…just like yoga!) when I am forced to take my awareness to the pain in my left knee, or how quickly my legs are moving today. It’s a beautiful thing.

After I completed my teacher training on that magical beach in Mexico (plenty of material for later posts), I decided to stay a few days longer and relax (such a grueling month at yoga school! Ha!) before heading back to the chaos of Mexico City and my “normal” existence with the circus. During my training I befriended a supernatural girl from BC, The Surfer, who was also hanging around for a few days. One of those days we found ourselves in the back of a pickup truck, speeding down the highway to Los Cardones, a surfing lodge where we’d be camping for the next few nights, escorted there by the owner. Cacti whipping past us, salty, damp wind in our hair, scratchy sand still caked to our toes… For no apparent reason, The Surfer looked at me and said something to the effect of “It’s so easy to look down the road to see what’s coming at you, where you’re going. The challenge is looking out the window and seeing where you are right now.”  Uh, YEAH!

“So what’s the point, GirlSeekingBliss?”, you ask. The point, my friends is if you’re too focused on what’s to come, how can you possibly enjoy or even befriend what is? You can’t. My father, the voice of all that is practical and fact in this life, always says “Failing to plan, is planning to fail.” ( I may get him a t-shirt with that printed on it.) Basically, he’s saying that if I want to have a successful and happy future, I need to plan for it now. And while that’s all well and good I’d like to pay more attention to where I am, rather than where I’m going…because who knows if I’ll ever get there…wherever “there” is. And what about a successful and happy present? I refuse to be one of those people who is told their entire life how amazing my life is, but I don’t realize that until it’s past.

So, I’m all about looking forward to tomorrow, but I’m focusing on today. The alternative is waking up one morning and (after my p90x, of course) wondering where the hell all my yesterdays went.

“No day but today.”

Girl:1

Tomorrow: 0

Girl vs. Location

Touring, as most things in life, has its ups and downs. The good days and the bad. Every six to eight weeks we are required to make a brand new place our home.

Home.

An incredibly powerful word. But I’ve found more recently, it’s an even more powerful state of mind.

When I think of home, several things come to mind. These can be anything from the breakfast casserole my Mother makes every Christmas morning to my favorite salon where I can always count on getting that perfect haircut to spending time playing “Taboo” and “Balderdash” at my best friend’s house to listening to a  little Dave Matthews Band. All evoking those warm yummy feelings in the pit of my belly. Feelings of love, familiarity, safety, nostalgia. Unfortunately, with the exception of the DMB on my iPod, these wonderful things that cause those beautiful feelings aren’t readily available when you literally move up to nine times a year. Now look, I’m not complaining. Touring scratches the travel itch I haven’t been able to reach before. I’m a true Sagittarius; freedom-loving and restless. But I think it’s imperative to feel home, come home… especially on those days of imbalance.

The first few years of touring I was resistant to the idea that anywhere could be home. There was always something wrong with this place or that. I was constantly comparing everywhere and anywhere to home. However, I failed to remind myself that there was a reason I left home in the first place. And perhaps, it’s impossible to take your journey, to follow your path, if you never leave home.

So rather than knock every place I go because “the pizza isn’t as good here”, “it’s expensive”, “hardly anyone speaks english” or “it rains too much”, I try to focus on the treasures of each location that cause people to want to call it their home. Going outside the Top 10 list that TripAdvisor.com tells the average tourist to do has allowed me to look deeper into what makes each city tick. It’s this way that I have fallen in love with places like Portland, Vancouver, Melbourne and Brugge. Finding out what locals are proud of truly is the key to every adventure, even if it’s as simple as where to get the best poutine*.

*You’ll have to excuse me, I’ve been living in Quebec for the last two months so I’ve got this Québécois staple  of french fries topped with fresh cheese curd and gravy on the brain. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it…. but don’t make it a habit.

Anyway, not only has this attitude improved my experiences in each place, it has also allowed me to become more aware of the Buddhist notion of impermanence. Like I was saying before, touring has its ups and downs. And occasionally we do end up in a place that feels less-than-desirable (Concord, North Carolina, anyone?). Or perhaps in a situation that can be, for lack of a better term, annoying. For instance, living in Montreal we had a spacious apartment with a full kitchen, but in Quebec City we’re staying in a hotel with only a mini-bar fridge that is “not recommended for food conservation” as it only gets as cold as 10° C. Two years ago had I been faced with this situation I would have adamantly griped about it daily. However today, I embrace it as I remind myself that in six weeks it won’t be an issue anymore and I’m sure I’ll be presented with a whole new challenge to work around. In short, am I really going to let a refrigerator ruin my Quebec City experience? No. This too shall pass…

My mother always says “Geography doesn’t change your problems.” Usually she would tell me this in reference to my impulse to run the second things would get a bit tough for me. In this case, a fridge wouldn’t solve my problems… and honestly, if that’s the only problem I have, what a blessed existence I live.

Reminding myself that nothing is permanent can really ease my cluttered mind. It can prevent suffering. If whatever I’m facing today is temporary am I going to give that problem the kind of power to affect me so deeply that it clouds over everything else that is good and beautiful in my life?

All these things have caused me to redefine Home. I refuse to be a modern-day Goldilocks, only willing to accept what is “Just right” for me to feel home. So I take the advice of my teacher and immediately upon arriving in a new place I “make a space”. For me it’s always an alter with my little golden Ganesha (the Hindu diety commonly referred to as the “Remover of Obstacles” or “Lord of Beginnings and Lord of Obstacles”), stones given to me from the beach in Mexico where I completed my yoga teacher training by  one of those life-changing people I’m sure I’ll write about later, a Mayan stone gifted to me by A symbolizing well-being and inner happiness and a yellow glass incense burner I received via an amazing lady who for right now will just be known to you as “Zo”.  It may not sound like much, but it instantly evokes those warm yummy feelings I was talking about before. And simply it’s due to love. My space is arranged with gifts given to me out of love. It becomes more apparent each day, the more and more I travel, that “home” and “love” have identical definitions.

So here I am, starting out again in a brand new place for what seems like the hundredth time, believing that anywhere actually can be my home. As long as love is there. And Dorothy is right, “There’s no place like home.”

Girl: 1

Location: 0

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