Coming Out of the Dark
February in New York. Is there anything more depressing? (Actually, yes, it’s January in New York, but I was traveling for work last week and didn’t get this post up in time so here we are)
This winter has been especially hard on me. My mission to find joy floundered under the weight of painful emotions and the relentlessly gray January sky. But surrender is not an option - fall down seven times, stand up eight - so I’ve returned to fight another day and I’ve brought some wisdom back from the dark side.
And then when we’re done talking about all this real shit we’re totally going to eat ice cream and drink bourbon because you guys, January was hard.
After the big truth post, I did some backsliding (growth is never linear) and once again found myself weakened by own personal kryptonite: prioritizing everyone else’s needs so that I never had to think about my own.
Surprisingly, this is not a formula for happiness.
But it is a familiar story for many. So many of us carry the loads for people we love; usually to their detriment as well as our own.
Because we can never just have nice things, along with the freedom and relief of honoring my truth inevitably came fear and doubt; they’ll use any excuse to join the conversation. What they told me was that I didn’t have the right to be happy; I was hurting people needlessly; wanting more than I had was selfish; I was looking at what I didn’t have instead of what I did.
I’ll spare you the rest; I’ll bet you’ve been there, too.
For too many of us, the inner monologue which plays incessantly in our heads doesn’t originate from our true selves; we’re completely disconnected from our real wisdom. Instead we are ruled by obligations, fear, the needs or wants of others, past trauma, or feelings of unworthiness. We listen to the voice that says, “No, you can’t” and call it Practicality, Reason, Responsibility, Rationality, and then let it be our guiding light, when in fact, it nearly always leads us into darkness. Underneath your Greek chorus of obligation and fear lives your true inner voice. The trick is learning to listen.
Be Still and Listen
Meditation was a key ingredient for me; learning how to quiet my extremely busy mind. The next step was noticing the little things that brought me joy - because it turns out that they aren’t little at all; they are the road signs that will lead you home. My formula for reconnecting with myself looks like this:
Notice the moments when you are happy.
Notice everything that feels good - all of it, from your first sip of coffee every morning to how it feels to climb between fresh, clean sheets.
Notice when something feels not quite right – or when your gut tells you it is dead wrong. Accepting things that feel wrong is NOT - I repeat, NOT - the cost of doing business. Those feelings are warning signs. Heed them.
Pay attention to which people feel like sunshine to you, and which ones drain your energy. Listen when your inner voice tells you to draw nearer to that one and pull away from this one - even when your logical mind tells you this doesn’t make sense, or that you can’t.
Notice what piques your interest. Pay attention to your curiosity. These are cues to who you are, and what you need.
Whether it’s a nap or yoga or quitting the PTA or going to bed early and leaving the socks to fold themselves (someday it’s going to work, I know it), you begin to change your life simply by listening for the little voice that says, “Do this thing, please”.
It may not sound like much but there is a revolutionary idea here, and it’s that your joy matters.
You are allowed to do what is best for you, regardless of whether other people like it. You are allowed to do what is best for you even when it is not what is best for someone else.
Read that again.
If it made you feel scared or uncomfortable, then you have some work to do. I do, too. Don’t worry; we still get to have ice cream. In fact, we get two scoops.
Like I said when this adventure began, using the good dishes doesn’t require a dramatic shift in what you do; it’s about creating a dramatic shift in how you think.
Tiny steps. Start where you are.
All the wisdom you’ll ever need is already inside you. You need only be still and listen.
And a little ice cream always helps.
See? We Did It! And Now We Get Ice Cream
Back in November when the world was still full of color and I was still full of joy and hope and optimism, I invented this recipe which may just help you survive the brutal cold of February, the soul sucking gray of March, and the endless betrayal of April (why do I live in a place where snow falls on Easter Sunday? What am I doing?)
The Pumpkin Pie Milkshake.
I’d seen pie milkshakes all over social media but they just seemed too decadent, too indulgent. Throw an entire piece of pie into the blender? With ice cream? And drink it? Too much! What kind of person does that?
The best kind, bitch.
Finding myself with ¾ of a leftover pumpkin pie this past Thanksgiving, I enlisted the help of two of my favorite, always hungry humans to help me finally give this recipe a go.
Also, yes, I did briefly consider “Survival of the Fattest” as a title for this post.
If you really want to get crazy, this pairs beautifully with a shot of bourbon on the side or as a floater. If you’re over 40 and don’t have the robust metabolism of, say, a professional rugby player or a 25 year old Army ranger, follow my lead and just take a sip. It’ll be enough.
Pumpkin Pie Milkshakes
1 slice of pumpkin pie with crust – about 3” across at the crust
2 scoops of vanilla ice cream (approximately ¾ -1 cup)
1/3 cup of milk
1 oz bourbon, if desired (I am partial to Woodford Reserve)
Mix and blend to your desired smoothness.
There is still a lot of winter left to endure - literally and metaphorically for me, I suspect. But Spring is coming. Until then, notice the good stuff, and when you can’t find any good stuff, there will always be another milkshake recipe to enjoy.
You deserve it.