Caffeine Free Living

When I decided to give up coffee for the month, the mere thought of it overwhelmed me. It sent me into a bit of a panic. But looking back, I think that just might’ve been all the caffeine in my bloodstream. 

The first day was tough. I didn’t know what to do in the morning. I reluctantly got out of bed. I begrudgingly boiled water and squeezed some lemon juice into it. I sat and sipped, wrapping my hands around my mug, hoping that the warm liquid would satisfy my digestive system.

This would be temporary.

I moved through the day with a dull throbbing headache behind my eyes. My energy level was low and my mood was lower. I took a nap. I never take naps! 

This went on for three days. Dull headache, dull mood, and the overwhelming desire to nap. Around Day 4 or 5 I decided there was no reason to wake up. No reason to get out of bed. No reason to do anything. What was the point without coffee? Coffee had become my reason for waking. 

I did eventually rise, of course. I had my cup of warm lemon water, and I moved through my day. Somewhere around noon (when I normally would have been on my 6th or 7th cup), I realized that I was feeling depressed. Not so much in my mind, but in my entire body. Everything was slightly depressed. Coffee was my anti-depressant! 

I had been medicating this bodily depression with copious amounts of coffee for 35 years. I convinced myself that it was necessary to get back on it! I need the stimulant. I’m a better person with coffee! I would definitely go back to coffee next month.

This would certainly be temporary.

Repeatedly reminding myself that this experiment was short lived seemed to lift the fog of depression. It made things a little bit easier. 

On Day 7 I realized the headache was completely gone and my energy was coming back.

On Night 8 I realized I hadn’t thought about coffee all day! I was full of energy and I had no desire to nap. This was the day I decided that I had it beat. I got this beat! I don’t need coffee! I’m good without it. Perfectly fine.

Days 10-12 were easy because I was away at Kripalu for a weekend of yoga, lectures and healthy food. I didn’t want or need coffee at all for those three days. When I came home, I was sure that I was done. No more struggle. 

By Day 13 I was ready to proclaim it to the world. 

I can live without coffee!  
I can live without anything! 
I am a freaking superhero!

No more coffee for me!

On Day 15 I realized that I hadn’t blogged in a while. Then I realized I hadn’t been writing much of anything for the past two weeks. I haven’t been sitting and reading for long stretches of time either. I haven’t been focusing. 
I always focused when I was caffeinated. I need it to concentrate! I haven’t been concentrating! Coffee is necessary!

This is definitely going to be temporary.

Today I decided to sit still and write. Be still. Focus. Concentrate. Find your flow. Get inspired. Then I realized that coffee is my muse! It seems I can’t write without it, so I’ll write about my lack of it! Does that count?

I think I might have to go back to coffee. I can’t give it up forever.

This is just temporary. 

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To B or not to B

I’ve spent the last two hours scrolling through photos of naked breasts. It’s not nearly as exciting as it sounds. 

I found out the other day that I’ll be needing a double mastectomy. The long process of getting to the bottom of things has led us here, to the bottom of things.

I’ve processed the information, and I’m doing fine with it. As of now it seems that once I have the surgery I’ll be clear. I shouldn’t need chemotherapy or radiation. So, there’s the good news! 

Now I have to make a few decisions about how I will live my life after surgery. To reconstruct or not to reconstruct? To B-cup or not to B-cup?

I imagine a life with perky little boobs. Saline implants that stay in place so well that I don’t even need to wear a bra unless I’m running. There are of course, possible complications, and the implants may need to be replaced more than once in my lifetime. 

I imagine a flat chested life. No bras at all, skipping through the streets, jumping on trampolines with reckless abandon. Perhaps I’ll get one of those awesome tattoos across my chest, empowered by the ownership of my decision. There may be, of course, moments of disgust and terror when I look in the mirror.

But what do I need breasts for anyway? They did their job. They attracted a few fine partners. They fed two children. Their work here is done.  

My identity as a person is not bound to any one body part. I could lose fingers, toes, arms, legs. I would still be me. Remove my kidney, my appendix, my gall bladder, half a lung, I’m still me. 

Take away my boobs. Am I still me? Of course. 

I’ve been deconstructing my life for years now, peeling away the layers. I’ve been letting go of all things unhealthy, of all things unkind, of all things ego. 

I will simply continue along this path, this obstacle/challenge ridden path. I will continue releasing everything I can, tearing it all down. And I will reconstruct if necessary. 

But it may not be necessary. 

I can’t really ask other women for advice because ultimately, I know this is very personal decision. I am, however open to listening to all of their stories, reading as much as I can, and trying to process it all.

If you have a deconstruction/reconsruction story to share, please do.


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A Year Without a Beer!

365 days without a drink. 

What has changed? 

All of the reasons to drink are still there. It tastes good. It goes well with food. It helps me relax a little. It relieves stress. Anxiety. Worry. It makes socializing easier. It allows me to escape for a while.

Sigh. All still there. In fact, over the past 12 months a few new reasons were added to the list. 

But none of those reasons seem to make sense any more. Something happened in my head over the past year and those reasons no longer make sense. 

It was as if I had been spinning numbers on a bike lock trying to find the right combination, and I finally heard the click. I cracked the code. Things lined up. 

Completely sober, my actions were finally lining up with my intentions. 

My intention is mindful, compassionate, healthy living. My path was riddled with challenges. I was spinning my wheels.

We all do it. We get stuck spinning the numbers, trying to find the right combination. We change one number at a time. One action at a time. Forgetting about our underlying intentions.

So I started to question everything. I looked at everything and asked WHY?  
We can all ask ourselves questions like these.

I want to be healthy, why am I eating so much processed food? 

I profess inner beauty, why am I dying my grays and buying beauty products?

I care about the planet, why do I drink out of plastic bottles? 

I want all beings to be happy and free, why do I eat meat?

I want a world of peace and compassion, why do I stir up arguments on social media?

I seek mindfulness through yoga and meditation, why do I get buzzed every Saturday night?

Things don’t line up when our intentions and our actions don’t line up. This type of cognitive dissonance can eat away at us. Bit by bit. It manifests in so many ways. In stress. Anxiety. Worry. Illness. Depression. Guilt. Shame. It manifests as all of the things that lead us right back to the bad behavior. 

It’s a vicious cycle. Spinning numbers. Trying to find the right combination. 

Lining up with your own intentions is the key. Are you out of line? 

What are your intentions? 

(Tomorrow I’m giving up caffeine. For 28 days. To see what clicks.)


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I March For You Anyway

You might think a bunch of people marching in pink hats is a silly, useless waste of time.
S’all good. I’ll get on the bus anyway.

You might think this is all about the party line pendulum, simply swinging back again.
S’all right I’ll shuffle along anyway.

You may have a great job, awesome healthcare, and money in the bank,
I’m happy for you. I’mma go walk with a few friends anyway.

You can call me a man-hater, sore loser, cry baby, left winger.
No worries, keep talkin’. I’m just gonna take a li’l walk anyway.

You may never need birth control, STD screenings, antibiotics, a rape kit.
That’s okay my friend, I’ll march for you anyway.

You might want to build a wall, create a registry, deport my neighbors, govern my choice,
I might beg to differ, but I march for you anyway.

You may not believe that my rights are your rights and our rights are everyone’s rights.
I hope your heart turns, and I march for you anyway.

Maybe you agree with me in theory but for whatever reason, can’t say it out loud.
I got you covered. I will march for you anyway.

But if you think I should get over it, get on with it, just deal with it, then try to understand-
I will get over it. By marching.
I will deal with it. By marching.
I will get on with it. Marching.
And I’m marching for you. Anyway.


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The Weight of the World

Once I realized how small the world was
It didn’t weigh as heavily on me.
It’s so much smaller than it used to be.
And my time here is getting shorter.
I ground myself in the present moment
to keep from drifting away 
in a sea of hopelessness.

I watch my children. Sitting.
Staring into screens.
They look up occasionally to say something to me.
My thirteen year old says ‘I love Justin Trudeau.’
I ask her why?

…They have the whole world in their hands.

They know how small it is.
The other side of the globe is a thumb tap away.
They don’t know a world without this amazing technology.

They don’t know a world where the knowledge of every single thing that ever happened isn’t right there at their disposal.
They are so much more aware than I ever was.

About everything.

They know about everything.
Science. Literature. Music. Entertainment. Sex.
They know about 9/11, Columbine, Aleppo.
They know about Boko Haram, ISIS, Hitler, Westboro.
They know about Treyvon Martin, Eric Garner, Kalief Browder.
They know about Matthew Shepard, Tyler Clementi, Omar Mateen.
They know about the tyranny.
They know about the destruction.
They know about the discrimination.
They know about the hatred.
They know about the injustice.
They know about the darkness,

so they seek out the light.
They find a world that comes together after tragedy.
They find a world where people lift each other up
They find a world where people stand up for the helpless
build homes for the homeless
speak up for the voiceless
and use their privilege to empower the powerless.

My children find a world where possibilities are limitless
A world where the glass ceiling has been shattered and the closets are all door-less.
A world where a black man can be president and a woman can aspire to any office.

My children know about equality and they celebrate diversity.
My children know about compassion, and they require justice.
They see inconsistency and instead insist on fairness.
Their energy is infectious and their hopefulness is boundless.
They are coming up behind me and they are coming with correctness.
They are armed with information
and they are righteous. They are righteous.

They cut my world right down to size,
so I no longer feel the heaviness.

They raise me up. I float.
I am weightless. I am weightless.


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Wind and Weather 

John’s pick-up truck has a crack in the windshield. It happened while I was driving, last year, on a highway somewhere in The Carolinas. He put a mark on it with lipstick right when it happened. It has creeped a couple of inches since then. 

If we don’t address the problem, one day it will break for good. And that won’t be good.  We can’t be surprised or upset when it finally breaks. We know it’s probably going to happen. But for now, it’s just a slowly creeping crack. We’re just ‘keeping an eye on it’.

What will finally break it? The cold, the wind, the ice, the NJ winter?  The heat of the summer? A random rock on another highway? Or will it stay just like that, imperfect, fragile, always on the verge of cracking more…

When I was 19, my Dad was 38. That was the year his health unexplainedly declined, and he was ultimately diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkins lymphoma. 

I immediately went to the library at my school and began researching lymphomas. The prognosis was not good. 

Book after book, journal after journal indicated that he had a less than a 10% chance of surviving the illness. Every word, a tiny crack in my heart.  

I remember walking into my house after hours of poring through medical books, my mom sitting at the kitchen table, looking up at me. ‘What did you find out?’

As I read the words out loud from Xeroxed paper, I could feel the cracks getting deeper.

For months I walked around like a shattered windshield; cracked to tiny bits, but somehow being held together by the tension of its frame.

I moved through my days broken on the inside. I withdrew from the classes I was failing, and practically quarantined myself in the college Radio Station. Shattered glass, being held together on the outside by music, friends, obsessive poetry writing, and beer. 

By some miracle of medicine my father’s story went on for another 18 years. He continued living his own shattered existence, holding it together in the frame of my mother’s deep devotion. With help from family and laughter and Jack Daniels.

Every one you meet is a piece of broken glass being held together by a frame. 

Everyone has the potential to slowly break more, to be repaired, or to carry on, lipstick stained, against the wind and weather. 


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