DAY THIRTEEN


value of a moment

When I began my cleanse and committed to blogging about it every day, I had no idea how difficult it would be to not seem redundant and mundane each day. Despite what seems like a roller coaster ride, my life has not changed all that dramatically in the past two weeks and my days are actually quite normal and kinda boring. Trying to connect dots and find meaningful ways to share my experience has been one of the more challenging aspects. I suspect, from the outside, reading each blog post may be just a recitation of what I ate, if I worked out and how much angst I could drive to the surface and neurotically analyze. I often wonder why we share these experiences the way we do and why others decide to voyeuristically join us for the ride. But, alas, we are all here so let’s see how today went….

What I consumed:

  • Cleanse Shake with strawberries, pineapple and banana
  • Salmon sashimi with sesame oil, ginger and lemongrass
  • Steamed cauliflower
  • Chicken with lemon, olive oil and shallots
  • Sauteed spinach
  • Steamed brussel sprouts
  • Quinoa
  • 19 gigantic supplement capsules
  • 64 oz water

It feels like the world has opened up to me now that protein is a part of the plan. Lots of wonderful options and delicious flavors tantalizing my taste buds

How I felt:

I felt great today. I woke up before my alarm at 5:30 this morning and I suspect my sleep patterns have shifted. Definitely feeling the difference in my body. There is no debating it at this point.

Physical Activity:

No gym for me today because I had meetings starting at 7:30am.

Today presented some new challenges and, ultimately, some wonderful opportunities to try on my new skills. I had my first lunch in a restaurant today. Being committed to sticking with my plan, I looked online at menus to see which places might have options for me. I am not afraid to ask for special preparation of my meals when I go out but I knew today would present a variety of challenges. Fortunately, a local restaurant had a great option of salmon sashimi that turned out to be incredibly delicious and completely on the plan. I was very pleased with myself because I was laser focused on staying true to my cleanse and did not even think about wandering off course. There was bread on the table throughout the meal and, even though it looked delicious, it never tempted me.

The second challenge came late in the afternoon when I dropped by a friend’s for a happy hour jewelry party. I knew there would be lots of yummy treats along with wine. Having not had a drink in weeks, the wine was the riskiest threat for me. Yet, I went to the party and stood in the dining room as food was passed and everyone was drinking and eating. Again, not once did I even think about the food and I even got some of the other guests excited about doing the cleanse when I shared my experience and told them of my results. The energy that came from sharing my story was so intoxicating that even a bottle of wine could not have made me feel better.

One of the things that I have found noteworthy in the past few weeks is how I have used my blog and my own writing as a support mechanism. Not being on Facebook and feeling somewhat isolated because of the lack of the social interaction that Facebook fabricates for me, I decided to turn to myself as a friend. As I sometimes do, I sought out advice from myself by reading my old blogs and seeing what wisdom was transmitted. I’m fascinated when I read my old writings because it is a living documentary of my evolution. I can typically place myself back in the head space I was in at the time of the writing and sometimes I feel a little embarrassed at how foolish I sound or how trite some of my thought processes are. And, sometimes, I am amazed as the level of insight I possess and how powerfully my own words still resonate with me. I love to archive anything I can for later viewing. As a child, I kept journals. Sometimes they were sheets and sheets of loose leaf paper with my most personal thoughts – my crushes, my hopes and dreams, my disappointments. Sometimes they were cute spiral bound notebooks with pictures of kittens and puppy dogs and the pages were filled with fictional stories that depicted the life I wish I had. Year after year I would fill my notebooks and then go back and read to visit with myself from an earlier time. I found it comforting then and still do today. It’s like the scratch marks you put in the doorway as you measure your children’s height year after year. In order to truly appreciate their growth you need to look at how far they have come.

Today, I decided to find solace in another document I have archived. Last year my phone ran out of storage space and I went about the task of deleting apps and photos in order to make room for new content. In the process, I noticed that my text messages were taking up a huge chunk of inventory on my phone. Upon further investigation, I found that I had saved over 19,000 text messages that were exchanged between me and my best friend in the past 2 years. No, I am not a teenager and yes, my friend and I text A LOT. In June, I shared the story about my experience of trying to let go of the text messages in my blog. I knew that I could not just let them go for there had to be some reason why I had saved them for so long. My friend and I were going through a rough patch at the time so I was not able to see clearly enough what the texts represented and why I needed to preserve them. So, I found a compromise for myself and was able to download them into an app and save them into a PDF. An 1800-page PDF! Earlier this week I was thinking about the text messages and felt the need to glimpse back into those days to see if they would reveal anything to me. In the height of the emotional turmoil that resulted from the intensity of my detox, I was seeking out any messages that would help to shed light on my path. And, because my friend has been out of town and out of touch, I thought it might be a nice way to visit with him as I took a walk down memory lane.

On Monday I looked around my office for the thumb drive that stored the PDF. I couldn’t locate it. I thought, perhaps, that I did not actually store it on a thumb drive and, instead, kept it saved on my hard drive. Then I remembered that I had gotten a new desktop computer in my office and had erased the hard drive on my old computer and gave it to my husband. My heart sunk when it seemed apparent that my memories were lost. I thought to text my friend on his vacation and ask him if he had saved the thumb drive I gave him with the text messages (he is less nostalgic than me and generously humored me by taking a copy at my request) but then chose not to bother him with such a minor matter. I would wait for him to return and hope that he still had a copy of the file. This weighed heavy on my mind all week because I felt like I had lost an important piece of my history – a critical component of our story. Like the boxes that my husband and I each have of letter and mementos from our early days of dating and the crates that I have filled with pregnancy tests, ultrasound photos, baby clothes and special memories from each of my children’s early days, this PDF was a marker of the beginning of something important. As each day progressed without me finding the file, I felt heartbroken. It reminded of me of the time I flew to Florida when I was 8 years old and left my photo album on the airplane, never to be recovered. I lost memories that could never be replaced.

Then today, I was on a conference call and was digging through my laptop bag sitting next to me, in search of a pen. I felt something in one of the pockets and dug up a thumb drive tucked deep inside. My heart raced as I pulled it out and shoved the drive into the USB port on my laptop. I could no longer hear what anyone was saying on the phone because all I could hear was my heart beating in my chest as I pulled up the drive and looked to see the contents.

And there it was!

After dinner, when I had some quiet time, I opened up the PDF and decided to read through some of the exchanges. I have done this before and it makes me smile to see the silliness of our chatter. It comforts me to revisit so many important experiences that we shared via text message. As I shared last week in my blog, because of the geographic distance between us, our friendship is heavily centered around texts. It is how we do so much of our communication which is both good and sometimes really not so good. Today, I was warmed once again and found myself smiling as I read through them but I also had a different reaction. This time, I was reading the exchanges a little differently. I was trying to feel the tenor of my comments. Memories flashed through my head as I remembered experiences and had visions of where I was as I typed many of these messages. Even though the correspondence transpired over the past three years, many of the messages seemed like I was reading something from twenty years ago. Despite believing that I was in tune with myself, my dialogue clearly indicated how much I was hiding from the truth about myself. The clarity today was about how much I have changed – and how much the relationship with my friend has evolved. While fun and silly and absolutely adorable, our texts lacked dimension and depth. On the surface, there were revelatory conversations with me acknowledging issues that I struggle with (some that still ring true today like my challenge to ask others for help), yet I was dancing around the deeper matters that were the roots of my difficulties. And, as I was able to recall the experiences that were not captured in the texts but surrounded the discussions, I was able to make out the foundations of behaviors and expectations that were being established. When I fast forward the tape and look at how my friend and I communicate today and the depth and veracity of the conversations, I can really see the complexity and volume that the years have provided. And, I can also see how I got to where I am today as a result of some of the things I said and did all those years ago.

After a short while, I had to stop reading because I felt like I was watching an accident about to occur – like watching a movie and you know exactly when the villain is going to jump out and grab the victim. While I cherish those memories, I also am disturbed to see how much pain I was in and how destructive my behavior was, despite the subtlety of it. I can see, by reading my own words, the patterns of my own behavior that resulted in turmoil for me. Although, at the same time, I am buoyed by the fact that my relationship with my friend is so incredibly strong and powerful that it miraculously withstood my own annihilative tendencies. Back then, my demons were well masked, dressed beautifully, decorated with makeup and jewelry and hiding the sadness and pain that I was not prepared to reveal. I do believe that one of the remarkable aspects of my relationship with my friend is that he helped to create a safe space for me to let my darkness out. And, I know that some of our difficulties resulted from my inability to continue to camouflage my agony. So, once again, those messages take on a new meaning for me and my relentless memorialization proves immeasurably valuable.

I end this day feeling proud on so many levels. I look at my three-years-ago-self and know that I was just beginning to take the first steps on what has become a tiresome journey towards peace. Perhaps what has felt like disruptions during this cleanse process were actually the new realities settling in. I no longer hide from what is uncomfortable and, sometimes, my truth is a bitter pill to swallow. I think this intense self-reflection has actually resulted in a moment of getting adjusted to a new way of being that I hadn’t fully acknowledged. Whatever the case, I feel certain that I have come a long way and, while I clearly still am fighting old battles, I have a much deeper understanding of how to win this war. And that feels really good.

WEATHERING THE STORM


storm“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”
― Haruki Murakami

Earlier this week I was trying to download an app to my iPhone and I received the dreaded message that my phone was out of storage. It is my practice to keep as much data off my phone as possible by downloading and deleting photos and removing unnecessary emails and apps fairly regularly. However, when I saw the message, it really was no mystery to me what was clogging up my system. I knew what was incapacitating my phone. And I knew it was time to free up some space.

Metaphorically speaking, I had a blockage in my heart. I had been hanging on to text messages from my friend. From my best friend. There were quite a few. In fact, a whole lot.

19,901 to be exact.

Over 790 days.

And, if you’re doing the math, that is approximately 25 texts per day.  I had given my teenage son a run for his money by this magnitude of texting and that reflected only the past two years of our relationship. Knowing that the volume was mounting, I had many moments over those 790 days where I was tempted to just swipe my finger across the most recent text and watch them all disappear. Sometimes because I felt foolish for holding on to them. Sometimes because I was angry when my feelings had been hurt about something. Sometimes because I simply wanted to free up some space – both on my phone and in my head. But, each time the urge came over me, I resisted. I feared that deleting these messages would negate so much of our relationship. The messages, which spanned an array of time in our lives and also reflected a broad range of emotions and experiences, felt like the connective tissue that affirmed the reality of my relationship. You see, my friend and I have a unique, challenging and, mostly, extraordinary relationship. We live 1100 miles apart so seeing each other regularly is rarely possible. We have to maintain our connection while operating at a distance. We also own a company together and have to navigate the associated challenges of not always seeing eye-to-eye, power struggles, disagreements, hurt feelings and trying to balance the personal and professional. Plus, we have the added bonus of having a third partner who needs to manage through all of our muck while introducing his own. Overall, it is complicated. Ironically, the text messages (which only represent a smaller portion of the time we have been friends) chronicle our relationship from the time we started our company. And, for some reason, that seems symbolic to me. It does not seem coincidental that I started saving them right around the time we began our adventures in this business. It seems so incredibly appropriate that I would have, as he would say, “memorialized” this journey through the text exchanges that have been a defining element of our relationship. Like love letters, they embody the highs and lows, the depths of our story. And I have simply not been ready to let that go.

I found myself at a crossroads that day earlier this week. I looked at the congestion caused by the text messages and recognized that I had to make a choice. I was not prepared to go out and invest in a phone with a bigger capacity for memory and I was not prepared to delete my history. I paused for a bit to think about my conundrum. Why couldn’t I let them go? Why did I need to keep them? Was it simply to have a record of this period of time? Or, was it something more. It did not take a lot of digging to locate my truth.

The text messages are a lifeline of sorts for me. My fear is born in the notion that deleting them might annihilate the relationship. In reality, I never look back and read them. It’s not like I spend lazy afternoons reminiscing over the laughter and tears, the adoration and the anger. But I just love knowing that they are right there, should I need them. I appreciate the concretization of a relationship that, otherwise, seems distant and whose image slowly evaporates in my mind when we go for long stretches without seeing each other or having time to talk. These words provide evidence of a component of my life that has always seemed so far out of reach yet incredibly pervasive and magnificent. Because our relationship has been put to the test over the past year with the challenges of building the business while trying to maintain the integrity of our personal relationship, the texts hold even more weight to me. They are a reminder of how deeply committed we have been to preserving our strong bond even as we struggled to set boundaries and define new rules of engagement. There are many texts that begin with “Hey friend” indicating that we were switching into personal mode. I have worried, over the course of the past year, that we would become a statistic reinforcing the notion that you should never go into business with friends or family. Despite the thousands (literally, thousands!) of messages declaring our love and adoration for one another, it appeared that we might not be able to survive the surging tide that was destined to wash away all the foundations we had built in our special relationship. Our symbiosis that people marveled at, wondering if we did, indeed, share one brain, felt, to me, like it was dividing. Where we once exchanged dozens of texts daily, it had become the new normal to go weeks without talking and even longer without texting anything but banal business matters like “what number should I call you on?” or “did you get a chance to look at that email I sent?” Long gone were the morning greetings, checking to see how things were going. It seemed like months has passed since I had sent a silly photo or had engaged him in my mayhem after having too much to drink with my friends. It no longer felt necessary to include him in my activities in order to bridge the divide that regularly kept us apart. My efforts to keep him close at hand in replacement for the wishful impromptu coffees or drinks that never were a part of our lives diminished and I began to envision a new world without him playing a central role. It felt off and disorienting but I pushed through because it seemed like a foregone conclusion.

I have endured dismantled relationships throughout my life, including those with my closest family members. And, I know how to manage the aftermath of the break. In this case, however, I did not have the luxury of stepping away because he was still my business partner and continued to be a regular part of my life. And, this is perhaps the most difficult aspect of it all and the part for which I am most grateful. I have had to employ a new set of skills to navigate, ensuring that my personal feelings and emotions did not interfere with the need to work together productively. And, while I have not managed this without challenges, I have evolved to a place where I can meaningfully compartmentalize. And, thankfully, where I would have normally bailed out, I have had to find a way to hang on and weather the storm.

The process of doing this has liberated me. I have had no choice but to change my behavior and my thinking. In fact, I have had to stop thinking and just move forward, trusting that the universe would guide me. I went from stubbornly trying to squeeze myself into an outfit that no longer fit to standing naked while I searched for a more appropriate new wardrobe.

So, this week when I confronted the decision that I could no longer put off, realizing that the technology Gods had forced my hand, I decided to opt for Plan B. Just as I managed my feelings and behavior, I could have a compromise where my phone would be liberated and my memories would be preserved. I scoured the web, found a tool and got to the task of downloading the 19,901 messages and free up some space on my phone. And, in doing so, the real reason of why I saved them revealed itself to me.

Well, actually, I already knew this but my thinking was confirmed.

After I downloaded the messages, I started scrolling through the 1800-page PDF document housing the last two years of my relationship with my friend. I steered clear of the emotionally charged drama and focused on the sweetest and most poignant exchanges.  As I read them, I had a surreal experience. I was transported back, remembering, in vivid color, the experiences surrounding the messages, physically feeling the emotional intensity. And, at times, it felt like I was watching a movie with two characters that were vaguely familiar. My friend and I often joke that we have invested so much time and energy into our relationship and that it has been so intense and so powerful that it feels like dog years. And, as I read the texts, I suddenly felt like those two chronicled years were more like 14. Some of the memories seemed like a lifetime ago. So much had changed.

And then, to my surprise, I wept. Like a flash flood, the tears burst from my eyes and I held my head in my hands just letting the emotions wash over me. I wasn’t sure what I was feeling – sadness and loss or simply nostalgia. And, naturally, this was a clear indication that the exercise of doing this was important and necessary.

As I sat at my desk, unburdening my phone of the excess baggage and, simultaneously, breaking down from the emotions at play, I did what felt absolutely natural – I shared it all with my friend. And, of course, I sent him a text. I candidly, summoning up all the vulnerability I could muster, shared my experience. I told him about the messages (knowing full well that he had long ago deleted his collection and secretly thinking that he did so with the confidence that I had saved them for both of us) and conveyed my reaction to seeing them and sorting through them. He fell right in step with me and knew, without me having to explain, how powerful this was. He might have even felt some of the emotion himself. He wouldn’t reveal that me but that is no surprise as he is far more private than I am and processes his feelings far differently than I do.  The whole exchange felt appropriate and familiar but disjointed from our current state and I simply stepped away to let it marinate.  This would sort itself out. It didn’t require any intervention from me.

This week, after two long months of not seeing my friend, we were drawn together for work. We have been settling into this undeclared new state of being so seeing him was different. He looked different – thinner, tanner, well-rested. And, I had to wonder if he was still the same friend I loved and cherished or if we had really shifted into a completely new gear. Would he still throw his head back and let out his loud guffaw so earnestly and brilliantly when I did something so absurdly stupid that seemed so genuinely hilarious to him? Would he still hug me and give me the patented arm squeeze that informed me that all was ok in a gesture to let me know that he loved me in a way that only he and I could understand? Would I look at him from across the room and, in a simple glance, give him a message as long as the Gettysburg Address and get a wink or a smirk in return, assuring me that he got it and was in sync with me? Would we be us? Two friends who stumbled upon each other one late winter morning in a meeting in NYC. On that day, we met and chatted like old friends, me magnetically drawn to him and him working his charm. Unbeknownst to me, I was also working my charm which actually drew him to me in ways that even surprised him. Was that uncanny connection, that bond that neither of could understand or describe all that well, still there or had the storm weathered us so badly that the energy that so tangibly coursed through us when were together, fizzled out and we were now just two colleagues on a job, respectfully and cordially working together?

I had no answers and, while I would normally seek them out, I simply waited to see what transpired. And, on the second day, with so many different thoughts and feelings in my mind, I found myself sitting next to my colleague and looked over at him and saw my friend. My mind was suddenly blank and my heart was open. It didn’t matter how much we had struggled and how many hurtful things we had said or done to one another in the course of our journey to find our way. Nothing was in focus except that my friend was sitting next me and, rather than wait for him to give me a sign, I gave him one, assuring him that we may have drifted off in the ocean current but we were only an arm’s length away and we simply just needed to reach out and extend a hand.

I have tucked away the document with the text messages and joked with my friend that one day I will probably write a book telling the story of this special friendship. The story is nowhere near over and I have no idea what the next chapter looks like. What I do know is this: when you are brave enough to stand up through the wind and rain and weather the storm, you will emerge stronger and bolder. I never let go but I also consciously surrendered, allowing the winds to pull me wherever I needed to go.  And, because the Wizard of Oz is always my metaphor for life, I recognize that, like Dorothy, who got tossed around in the twister, I have always had the power to click my heels and find my way home and that is where I am headed, continuing to memorialize my journey, every step of the way.