Wednesday, February 24, 2016

paleo t*ts

Picture it. Chicagoland. Early 2016. A nearly 40-year-old woman heads to her doctor's office to help her get some supervised direction on living healthier as she enters that territory otherwise known as 'over the hill.'

Doctor recommends something similar to a Paleo diet -- and after six weeks' worth of drinking, eating like a sloth, and growing out of clothes around the holidays -- said nearly 40 year old somewhat begrudgingly hops on the Paleo Train.

I am that (now) 40 year old, and the Paleo Train has led to a case of Paleo T*ts, for which I'll forever be grateful.

Carb Flu and the Halo Effect

The first week on Paleo was the hardest. I'm a woman of extremes, so I didn't do cheat days; I cut out all alcohol, soda, and anything that resembled a carb, dairy, cheese, etc. I existed on eggs, grilled chicken, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers, vinegar and oil dressing, and mixed berries.

I dealt with my Carb Flu like any single, Midwestern-Winterliving woman would: with a robust Netflix queue and the fantasy that I would drop 20 pounds instantly. I photojournaled like a pre-teen so that I could see how my body changed.

Once the first week passed, Paleo became a game. I started to write about it on Facebook (dubbing it the #paleochronicles), and about how I'd successfully navigated a week's worth of social events without a drop of alcohol or carb passing my lips. Restaurants became my new Halo and I hunted out grilled chicken salads with vinaigrette dressing like MasterChief hunted down targets.

Houston, we have muscle definition. 
After my first 30 days, I revisited my doctor. 15 pounds and 3 inches lost, I'd picked up a happy, healthy glow. My hips were smaller, my waist was trimmer, and for the sake of metabolism and definition, it was suggested I start to step up my workouts even more in month 2.

Paleo T*ts
The week of my 40th birthday I started working out with an awesome trainer who specialized in martial arts training. Coincidentally, my FitBit suddenly started talking back to me with exciting new achievements. You've acieved this! You've eaten that! You drank this! Good job Erin!!!!! The FitBit gave me progress reports before, but suddenly it's like I was playing in a new league.

Three days after my 40th birthday, I also found my very first bona fide breast lump. At first, I thought I'd bruised something at Karate, but the more I felt it, the more concerned I was. My family tree has an entire section dedicated to breast cancer, with everyone except my mother getting it in their 30s (mom was in her 50)s. The tree, the math, the 'oh shit' moment sent me straight to my electronic medical portal and within 10 days, I was set up to see my OBGYN.

Hourglass and obliques on fleek
(but no boob for you).
I was petrified. I was befuddled.

Here I was losing weight, getting healthier, and NOW I get breast cancer? Like 'What the actual FKCU' God? With almost 2 months of no alcohol, no carbs, no cheat days Paleo, I'd convinced myself that if it was cancer, I was downing a beer and a pizza and saying sayonora to the Paleo diet.

The last few days have been a whirlwind. My OBGYN agreed that there was a definite lump. She fast tracked me to radiology, where I spent 3 1/2 hours being smooshed and scanned in diagnostic mammograms and ultrasounds. The radiologist wasn't overly concerned, but he did see some concerning spots. One referral to a breast health surgeon and an appointment later, this is what I know:

Turns out, the lump is probably just a benign mass of crud that was probably hanging around for a while, but only 'popped' out once I lost weight. The lump that scared me and got me into mammograms also uncovered a few other things that I'm getting an MRI to learn more about. I managed to hit a trifecta of good insurance, perfect time in my cycle, and a Friday morning opening....I'm going in for my MRI the day after tomorrow.

From here on out, I'm calling them my Paleo T*ts. Because had I not started Paleo, I wouldn't have lost weight, the lump wouldn't have popped out, and I would have probably just kept ingesting alcohol and other not-so-healthy stuff.

The Paleo Train, which I'd tried desperately for a long time not to hop on, wound up being a saving grace. The number of coping mechanisms and vices which I used the crap formerly known as food and cocktails for is astounding. Now, when life hands me lemons, I simply cut them up and put them in a large pitcher with water. It's been freeing to tell the doctors' offices that I don't smoke, don't drink, and oh yeah, you're right, my weight has gone down from my last visit.

When I look the mirror now, I can see a few more wrinkles on my face and neck, but I also see a svelte hourglass figure, kick-ass obliques, a smaller waist, sweet muscular arms, and a butt that makes leggings look hot.

So, thanks Paleo. You win.





Thursday, February 4, 2016

#thisis40

Don Curry Photography, Aug. 2015

This is me.

Single. Active. Almost 40.
  • Black belt in Karate.
  • Training to be a Pole Dancing instructor.
  • Burlesque performer. 
  • Sr. Digital Strategist for a media company.
  • Board member of large local networking group.
  • Trivia Night champion.
I feel amazing.

Lessons Learned

I didn't always feel that way though. For most of my 30s I wondered if, or how, I'd ever leave my mark on the world. When childbirth and marriage didn't work out, I was convinced I'd blown my shot at being something to someone.

When I think of the highlight reel of my life, it's things that happened in my late 30s that made me the woman I am right now. Some of what I figured out was:
  • Forgive. Perhaps the hardest lesson to do, and to actually mean it. I have plenty of reasons to have hate in my heart, but I choose forgiveness instead. I'd rather practice having a good heart than hate on people. 
  • Don Curry photography, Aug. 2015
  • Love yourself. No, I mean, really. From the time I was a child, through grade school, high school, and much later into my life, I heard plenty of things that would make me hate myself. I wasn't pretty enough. I wasn't thin enough. I wasn't smart enough, etc. It was head-spinning. Then 2015 happened. I was completely on my own. The only men in my life were a few great friends, my stepdad, and my brother. I put a hold on dating, I bought my own car, I did a big solo road-trip, I got a black belt in Karate, I posed for pictures that showed the real me. I did all of things by myself and for myself. Suddenly, I was in love with myself. 
  • Live in the moment. I rarely think ahead past 2 days. I've stopped the 'what-if's' and the 'I wish I would haves...' There are so many things I could have done differently in my life. I could have treated people differently, I could have taken a different path with my education, etc. I could have done many things, but I didn't. There's no use beating myself up over it, just learn from it and move on. 
  • Stop being a victim.  I've unsubscribed from more sites because of this mentality. From websites to online groups, the support systems that are meant to boost women up can become rife with 'poor me'isms. Don't get me wrong, there are legitimate problems in the world and sometimes the only place a person can go to to 'talk' is online. Hell, I ran a blog and a website based on this sort of support. However, there's a huge difference between I need to talk about this to get advice and I want to complain about this because I want someone else to confirm I'm right. Shit happens....to everyone. It's how you deal with it that separates the girls from the ladies, the men from the boys. As my favorite saying goes: "Put on your big girl panties, your sexiest boots and kick some ass." 
  • Take care of yourself first.  I live by myself, so 'me' is the only person I need to take care of anyway. Even with that, I've started to push aside the feeling 'oh I should do this because it would hurt people's feelings if I didn't." For most of my life, I'd bend over backwards so people would like me. I was afraid of pissing people off or rocking the boat. Now? I rarely give a fkcu. It took 40 years to realize that the only person really, genuinely looking out for me is me. So if I want to eat like a cavewoman while not responding to someone's passive-aggressive text rants after I slept for 9 hours next to a man who isn't my husband, I will. No apologies. 

Don Curry Photography, Aug. 2015

#thisis40

A friend of mine is hosting a party for me this weekend. Ninety of my closest friends and family will be celebrating the milestone of turning 40.

90 people.

A couple of years ago, I remember bawling on my therapist's couch because I felt like if I died, no one would remember me or come to my funeral. I felt like a failure and that I'd made no impact in the world. As I watch the RSVPs for the party come in, I can't help but feel like the sad, lonely woman of a couple years ago has been kicked to the curb. She's been replaced with a newer, healthier, and happier model.

40 year old Erin makes no apologies for keeping it real, for taking care of her own needs first, and for living life on her own terms.

Here's to 40 and all of the love and wisdom that comes with the next 40 years.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Dear Young One.....

I saw you this weekend. I don't know if you saw me or even knew I was there. I didn't know you were there until I saw your mom walk into the stadium.

Once I knew you were there, I searched high and low throughout masses of high schoolers in your marching band to see if I could spot you. It's been more than two years since I saw you. I didn't know how much you'd grown or if you'd changed a lot. All I knew is that my heart started pounding at the thought that I might get to say one final hi to you. 

My friends -- their children are in the band with you -- and I were just preparing to leave when I saw you with your mom. Dear, sweet young one.... I cried when I saw you. 

I cried over not having the courage to walk over and say hi to you at that moment. 
I cried over not knowing if you still remember me.
I cried over not knowing if you know how much I still miss you and your sister.
I cried over remember that your birthday was last week and that it was always a fun time figuring out how to celebrate for the years we were together.

Dear Young One, I cried because my heart still hurts over losing a child that was never mine to begin with. Please know of all of the people that love you, that I still love and miss you from afar. You may never know and may go on the rest of your life with barely a memory of me, but know that I will always remember you. 

xoxo,
me

Friday, August 7, 2015

August, Retrograde, and Carpe-ing the f*ck out of the Diem

In my adult life, most of my major life changes have happened in Augusts.
  • I met my (now ex) husband
  • I went out on my first date with said ex
  • I got married (two years after that first date)
  • I found out I was pregnant in August
  • I found out I'd miscarried that same August
  • I closed on the house I sold last year (in August)
August also marks my half-birthday. I'm not super astrological, but lately, I've started to wonder if these major life shifts were a cosmic sign of some sort. Almost like divine intervention to remind me to Carpe the f*ck out of the Diem.

I'm turning 40 in February 2016 and, as luck would have it, a few things I'd always wanted to try were happening in August 2015. I'm excited to say, I'm taking life by the horns and trying out a few new experiences:
  • I'm going to adult summer camp. I leave next week to attend a 4-day event in Ohio where I'll be sipping mai-tai's, beers, and bloody marys while arts-and-crafting, trivia-ing, hangover yoga with 99 of my closest new co-ed friends. I never went to sleepover camp as a kid and the blogger who launched this event is amazeballs covered in awesomesauce, so it was hard to not go. 
  • I'm having sexy photographs taken. Not quite boudoir, but not exactly senior-picture-head-on-hands either. The studio where I take pole dancing and burlesque classes has a photographer coming in to do aerial, pole and other photography done. I've heard a sh*t-ton of negative talk about my body throughout the years -- not only from myself, but from others -- so stripping down to sequin panties and a bra and some 6-inch heels while having black and white photos taken just sort of screams I'M AWESOME AND STRONG AND I LOVE MYSELF BADASS POLENINJA SELF DAMNIT!!!!!!
  • And, finally but perhaps most exciting to me, I'm testing for my black belt in Karate. After 6 years of classes, workshops, bruised bones, sprained ligaments and tendons, physical therapy, a concussion or two, tears, sweat and blood, I'll be testing for my Sho-Dan rank in Isshin-Ryu karate at the end of the month. I'm equal parts excited and nervous. 
If I've learned anything in my 30s, it's that life is what you make of it. I'm giving 40 the same look I give my sparring opponents or people whom I don't trust or like: Don't mess with me.

I've spent way too many hours beating myself up because of what I hadn't done, or what I'd lost, or what I wasn't able to see to completion.

Something shifted this year. I'd had enough of saying yes when I meant no. I've often hid my real, ladylike raunchy personality behind a veil of concern of what-if-people-don't-like-me and that stopped this year. I'm someone you either adore or loathe. There's not a lot of in between with me.

I see 40 as a great reason to stop giving a f*ck about the nay-sayers, the haters, and the douchebags of the world. I leave everyone with this gem of a poem/video post that sums up how I'm looking at 40 and the rest of my life.....

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Dear Suitors of Past, Present and Future....

Yes, I'm a unicorn.

I am that rare breed of woman that loves to wear dresses and act like a lady, yet loathes drama, long relationship talks.

No, I'm not secretly a dude.

Yes, I am a burlesque dancer. I also was a belly dancer for a brief time and took pole dance fitness classes.

No, that doesn't mean I want to be a stripper or that I want to strip for you in the middle of a park (restaurant, bar, your place on our first date, etc.).

No, I won't wear my 6-inch heels out to meet you for beers.

Yes, you'll probably get to experience some of the dance moves I've learned, but it's not a given.

No, I'm not going to jump into bed with you just because I shimmy and shake in sport bra and shorts.

Yes, I'm a martial artist. I've been in Karate for 6 years and I'll be testing for my black belt in the next month.

No, I won't kick your ass. That is, unless you want me to, in which case, I'll ask that you just stand still because my martial arts aren't something I do just to get to beat up guys. Karate is almost like a religion to me. I pray at the altar that is my dojo at least 6+ hours a week, and I get into a meditative trance when I'm doing it.

Yes, I do actually consider myself a badass.

Yes, I'm a busy person. I pursue my passions the way politicians pursue power.

Yes, that is pink in my hair.

No, it's not permanent. It's a fun phase I'm going through this summer.

Yes, those are tattoos. I have 6 of them right now and plan to go for my 7th this fall.

Yes, they have meaning to me. Yes I've checked the Chinese characters. and Yes, they did hurt, except for the ones on my feet (see badass comment above)

Yes, I'm divorced.

No, I don't have kids.

Yes, I wanted kids.

No, I don't see having any of my own, biologically, in my future.

Yes, I do think I'm sexy....even with my ample hips and a belly.

No, I won't send you nudes.

Yes, I have a great rack.

Again, no, I won't send you pictures of it.

Yes, I am a nerd, a geek and a dork.

No, I don't think those are insults. Saying I'm too sexy to be a nerd feels far more insulting.

Yes, I love what I do for a living and yes, I also run my own business in addition to the dancing, the martial arts and the daytime jobbing.

No, I'm not secretly evaluating your grammar and punctuation. Unless it's horrible, in which case, there's not a lot of hope for us.

Yes, I'm strong. Mentally, physically, spiritually. I'm resilient as fuck and have a really low bullshit tolerance.

Yes, I swear. Not a lot, but enough to let out some emotion when the situation calls.

Yes, I'm interested in having relationships. I've learned to love myself and respect myself and have absolutely no problems being alone.

No, I won't chase your love in order to wear you down until you feel like you have no choice but to put a ring on it to shut me up.

Yes, I have a life of my own. And yes, I absolutely love my life. I love to nurture my soul doing things that make me a better person, be that dancing, karate-chopping, etc.

Yes, I believe in men being men and women being women. I believe in masculinity and femininity.

No, being an asshole alpha male will not making me like you more.

Yes, I love flowers, romantic gestures and actions that match your words.

No, I won't play games with you, your heart or your mind.

I hope we've cleared up a few lingering questions you may have had....
xoxo,
me

Monday, June 1, 2015

Lessons in masterdating

Ladies and gentlemen....My name is Erin and I am a masterdater. 

I heard the term 'masterdating' on Facebook and I nearly choked on my kombucha when I realized that's what I'd been doing lately. Depending on which source you check, masterdating is the fine art of dating -- including going on dates with -- yourself.

I'm not talking about grabbing a quick Starbucks on a rainy day or sitting by yourself with a burrito bowl at Chipotle. Masterdating is practicing some full-on self-loving without the heaping spoonful of self-loathing.

How I became a Masterdater

I'm not self-confident enough to have made this decision completely on my own and without provocation. I arrived at Masterdationland after a series of go-nowhere fast relationships that left me with more questions than answers. I decided to calm the fukc down when it came to dating the fellas and spend far more significant time dating the most important, special, wonderful person I know....meeeeeee!

I'm not sure if I'm what you'd call a serial dater, but one way or another, every few weeks, I'd meet a guy, chat with him for a bit via text, phone, etc. Go out on a date or two, and then never hear from him again. Or I'd hear from him, but it was only to establish a relationship of the Fukc Buddy variety.

I'm not going to lie or fib and say that I never took up any of these guys on their F*ckBuddy invites, but there are only so many late night booty calls a girl can do before she begins to crave intimacy and a connection beyond insert p*nis into this hole.

So I decided to stop pursuing relationships. I stopped asking friends to set me up; I stopped flirting with bartenders (my weakness) and pretty much anyone else that I thought might be fun to go out with. Instead, I decided to settle in for some good old fashion self-gratification.

Wait, are you telling us your Masterabting?

Before anyone gets their panties in a bunch wondering if I'm going on record as a hard-cord masterbtaer, let me assure, that's not the case. Masterdating is not -- I REPEAT - not masterbtaing (not that there's anything wrong with that). While there may be the occasional brush of my own thigh while I'm wearing a sundress, what I'm not doing is sitting at home with a s*x toy all hours of the night and day pleasuring myself.

What I am doing is deciding that anything coupled people can do, I can do (better).

How to Masterdate

It's something of a dating/relationship cliche, but the oft-dispensed advice of being in love with yourself first is what has driven me to become a master masterdater.

Regardless of the cliche or how often it is given as advice, it's true -- you have to learn to love being around yourself, which is the essence of masterdating. I try, almost every day, to find something new to love about myself. Where I used to hate things about my body or my self, I now figure out how to embrace and fall in love with (although my body and I are at a serious impasse about pizza and beer). I'm taking my relationship with myself and treating it far better than I've ever treated anyone else in my life.

My masterdater status has made me feel more at ease because I'm not trying to impress anyone. I'm the singleton among many of my friends and it's almost an honor now to wear that badge. I used to hate it. I used to apologize for groups having to accommodate my lack of a date. Only after I'd started looking back at group outings, dinners, parties, etc. where I'd had a date, did I realize how on edge I was, that it all clicked with me.

I'm at my most comfortable when I'm with people who I can feel authentic with. Groups, Tribes, Friends -- anyone that can laugh at my humor, hold my hand when I'm sad, hold my hair back when I vomit, or just sit and chat about absolutely nothing -- and everything. That's who I want to be around.

In an upcoming post, I'll spill the beans on where I've been going -- and where I'm still going -- when I'm masterdating :-)

Monday, February 2, 2015

Q&A with Erin: February 2015 edition

If you've come to this blog after reading my article in StepMom Magazine, welcome!!!! If you've followed this blog for a while and are curious how things have been going...welcome to you!!!

I've decided the 'lab experiment' post style wasn't working for me, so I'm going back to just blogging in whatever format feels comfortable. 

I realize when looking at the sparseness of posts that, unless we're Facebook friends, there's little to no update on how I've been, what I've been up to, etc. Using my reappearance in StepMom magazine as a catalyst, I decided to put my journalism degree to good use and conduct my own little self-interview (and keep anyone who still follows) up to date on things. 

So here it goes..... 

Q. So, Erin, what have you been up to? 

Me: A little bit of this, a little bit of that. I've taken up new hobbies, launched a business, am dating and loving life. 

Q. Hobbies? What new hobbies are you doing? 

Me: One of my new loves is belly dancing. I take classes at the studio where I've gone for pole dance classes and burlesque classes for the last seven years. The dancing is very feminine and graceful, and best of all, it's all about having curves and a little bit of roundness. It's also been a great workout and a nice complement to the martial arts training I've been doing for the last 5 years. Hobby-wise, I'm also diving a bit into holistic and Eastern medicine. In my martial arts training, we do a lot with energy, qi, pressure points, 5-element cycle, etc. I turn 39 later this week and am making balance and efficiency a priority for the next half of my life. 

Q. Your martial arts. How's that coming along? 

Me: At present, I'm a second degree brown belt, with hopes to test for my third degree soon. I'd sustained an injury last fall, which set me back a few months on my progress, but I'm rehabbed, stronger and motivated. 

Q. Second degree brown belt and Belly Dancer. Does that scare, or impress, guys that you meet and/or date? 

Me: I usually keep the fighter part quiet unless the guy is being a jerk. In my dating life, I'm all about my femininity. I will happily tell suitors about my belly dancing and I have a signature move is apparently quite impressive to even those in the belly dance world. 

Q. How is the dating life going? 

Me: I'm a lady, so I won't reveal too many details, but it's going well. I've met a guy that I enjoy spending time with and who appreciates the yin and yang sides of my athletic endeavors. I'm also enjoying being a girly girl again. For a long time, I think I over-compensated for being a 'chick' and became too harsh and cold as a way to cover up what I perceived as my 'weak' side. Now I full enjoy my feminine side. 

Q. Anything else going on in your life? 

Me: My upcoming birthday (I turn 39 this Saturday) has prompted me to think a lot about the next half of my life, and how to achieve balance. I've built up resentment over the years for one reason or another and I can feel its impact in the way I think, feel, communicate at times. I'm working hard to bust out of that resentment cycle. 

I ran across an article on Huffington Post recently about what advice the elderly had for the younger set(s) and it really hit a chord with me. Part of why I want to return to blogging is listed in the last item on the article, about crafting the story of your life and knowing that you were meaningful in some way. 
Source: HuffingtonPost

One of the things I loved most about my stepmom blog was that it seemed to offer a bright, shining light to those who felt a little lost in the dark of stepmomdom. It felt good to give the advice, even if the advice was just an anecdote from my own life. 

I'm not a stepmom any longer, but I am nearing 40, I am a female martial artist, a belly dancer, a single woman who is dating and finding love, and who is enjoying life. I'm fairly certain there's a little something for everyone. 

xoxo <3

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Experiment 4.0 Launch a business

One of the reasons I haven't been blogging on here very often is because I recently launched my own business.

After years of helping family, friends, local business and website owners with their digital marketing, I decided to turn my passion into something more substantial.

Once I unpacked the moving boxes and got the new home office set up exactly how I liked it, I bought myself a domain and started building the site. Because I have a day job (doing a similar kind of digital marketing, but for a different audience and with different clients), it took a few nights and weekends to get everything ready.

Around September 1, once my new business cards were bought and paid for; home computer upgraded and the site had enough content on it to go public, I unveiled her on Facebook.

The reaction has been extremely positive. I've had a few clients reach out and my creative juices are flowing for sure. My blog posts have been picked up and retweeted by people at some huge agencies and well known social networks.

Suffice it to say, I've finally found my happy place.


http://www.276-media.com
If you or someone you know needs help with their digital branding, check out the site. I work with online businesses/websites as well as local businesses.

xoxo!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Experiment 2.01: Soul Collage

I have a friend, S, who I've known since 8th grade. S is one of those people who knew me even before I knew myself; she's one of the few people that have seen me through AquaNet bangs, great outfits and bad breakups. She was someone who I knew I could count on during the great 'Reinvention of 2014.'

About a month ago, S invited me to a "Soul Collage" night. The idea sounded kind of cool and heaven knows I needed all the nourishment to my soul I could get, so I agreed to attend.

For those who have never heard of SoulCollage (and I'd imagine it's a lot of people), it's a creative way to tap in to parts of your personality to help reveal what's going on in your head. Given all of the shit I was trying to sort out, it seemed like a win-win to at least sit down and try it.

I'm glad I tried it. You can read about SoulCollage on its website, but in its simplest terms, you find pictures that jump out at you for whatever reasons imaginable. The 'collage' is built on a 5 x 7 piece of heavy card stock, which is glued and laminated for your eternal referring pleasure.

Once you've put your pictures together, you make like a grade school student and cut and glue stick your way to a collage. In the next step, you put everything together to make sense of what prompted you to choose those images for that collage. It seems like a labor-intensive next step, but it's actually pretty helpful in tapping into your own mind and sorting through the clutter. Through a worksheet, you answer a few seemingly simple questions, the first one being, I am one who... 
I came. I saw. I Soul Collaged

I am one who...

The image above is actually two soul collage cards I did after I came home that night. At first glance, it would seem like I wanted a kid, a house, a family, a dog and desk. That's not actually true and it scared me at first when I started putting the pictures together.

When I look at these cards and apply the statement, what I realize is I am one who... craves comfort, companionship and warmth. (i.e., log cabin, the dog, the blankets). I am also one who seeks love, laughter, stability and balance. (i.e., the hearts, Tina Fey, the laughing woman, the people eating around a table). No need for me to get out, find a man and a baby daddy. (whew!)

Lessons Learned

The Soul Collage experience  -- or at least the visualization and the root causes of what emotions the pictures stirred up in me -- has been pretty helpful when I'm feeling in a rut about a life choice. Be it a date gone wrong or whether or not to pursue a new opportunity, remembering that my heart and head both agree that I want stability, warmth and companionship makes decisions a little easier.


Friday, September 5, 2014

Experiment 1.01: Reinvent Self

Blogger Note:  
If you're a long-time reader of this blog: Heeeeeeeey!!! Welcome back and thanks for sticking with me through the roller coaster that has been this blog. I'm going to try this one more time, but with a slightly different posting method. 
If you're a new reader to the blog: Howdy. Feel free to poke around, check things out and help me see if that handy contact me form works over there on the right. 
Now.... back to our regularly scheduled blog post...


A New Life

I'd been reading Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth, when my lightbulb moment happened. There is a passage early on in the book about how some people who have suffered profound loss are able to move past that which has been taken away and enter into a place of "deep peace and serenity and complete freedom from fear."

In the grand scheme of things, my loss wasn't huge, but it was a loss, and it felt profound and painful.

My divorce prompted my loss. The biggest casualty of it was not my loss of a tax bracket or travel perks, but instead, losing the very things I found rewarding: being a wife and a parent. Though I stumbled a lot, I thought I did 'wife' and 'stepmom' well. Casual observers and onlookers validated my theory and I continued to play the role.

Turns out, I'd wrapped so much of my identity into what I was for 10 years that I forgot who I was.

I struggled for months after the divorce had happened to figure out who I wanted to be if 'wife' or 'parent' were no longer in play. I knew a few things for sure: At 38 years old, I felt heartbroken, mentally battered, and unlovable.  I also knew that I didn't want to be a victim of things that had happened to me. I downplayed my sadness to nearly everyone except a select few.

You can only sustain that kind of cheerful demeanor for so long before the crushing weight of it knocks you to the ground. And it's from the bottom where you really figure out what you're made of.

The Struggle

My rock bottom occurred in the spring/summer of 2014. After a lengthy process of selling my house on top of trying to prove myself at work, I'd depleted any energy I had left. I'd become angry at the world while my ego seemed to have become my worst enemy.

Rather than tell me to get out, enjoy life, count my blessings, etc. my therapist told me to be kinder to myself. Apparently when you take years of external negativity -- be it from strangers, friends or loved ones -- that becomes the soundtrack your mind listens to.

The Reward

It sounds like a cliche, but Robin Williams' suicide is what became my turning point. I'd felt like a shell of a person up to that point and I wondered if I died, would I be missed? I mean, what had I given to the world, other than blood, sweat and tears?

I read. And I read some more. I soul-collaged (more on that in a later post), I meditated. I dated. I went out with friends and saw my family as often as I could.

And then I read Eckhart Tolle and it started to all make sense. Once I told my ego we'd be okay if we didn't have an awesome job title, a husband, a house, or a few kids running around, the sadness I'd been carrying around for so long started to lift.

What Tolle is talking about is what most people lack the patience to realize: Once you've lost nearly everything you thought made up you, you are gifted with the ability to look back and say: I just survived my greatest fear....

I've survived Olympic-scale mind-fucks and I've lost what felt like nearly everything that meant anything. In losing, I gained that peaceful clarity and freedom of fear that Tolle is talking about.

The New Erin, or the 'Reinvented Erin'

So, what did I learn after all of this?
  • I'm resilient as fuck; I posses an inner strength that defies logic sometimes
  • I'm a funny, friendly, wise, old soul
  • I love to teach and I love to help people
  • Life is not measured by how many kids you've had or parented
  • Nothing is permanent. Neither fear, nor grief, or even love 
  • Bullies are assholes. 
  • I'm not as ugly, fat, undesirable or unlovable as some had led me to believe 
  • I'm someone who is in awe of the beauty in the world; Wants a place to call home in between bouts of wanderlust; Cherishes herself enough to be on my own rather than settle to be part of a 'we' and who swears, because sometimes 'darn' or 'fudge' just aren't enough to convey the passion of a feeling.
These may seem like insignificant bullet points to some, but for me, they became the foundation from which I've reinvented myself and figured who exactly I am. If you've been a longtime follower of my blog or my life, you'll know how profound these are. 


The Reinvented Erin Experiment

I'd never been able to put my finger on how to play off of the 'Experiment' part of the blog's name until a recent light-bulb moment prompted me to think of the fun and funky things I like to as experiments. So Erin Experiment 2.0 (or is it 3.0?) will now be a collection of those experiences. From things like going to a Soul Collage night or a Tinder date, to my (in)ability to find the perfect lipstick and foundation, I'll try hit on little bits of everything. Feel free to come along and enjoy the ride.

xoxo