The Year of Letting My Hair Loose

Last year, one of my favorite people in the world walked up to me mid-party, tapped me on the head, and said, “Este es el año del despeluque!” (“This year, you learn to let your hair loose!”)

I can’t tell if it happened because that stayed with me or if she simply just saw it coming, but it was the year that I truly let it all go. It was a year of chaos. A year full of questions that surfaced with no intention of being answered.

I felt lost most of the time. I felt deranged in moments, but I felt alone more than anything. When you take a long, suspicious look into the mirror and you have 2 inches of hair (all around) staring back at you, things look intense. I got lucky. I was the only thing that fit in the frame, and so out of sheer circumstance, I began to focus on myself.

I don’t know how, but something withered away—some top enamel coat. With the gradual fading of this coat, I started feeling different. I learned to say the things I was thinking, to wear the hair that I was given, to write whatever was there, and to go for what I wanted. I stopped explaining why I wanted to be an artist and instead I started being one. I explored the ins and outs of everything, unfiltered.

I was speaking to an old friend this weekend about the shame and discomfort that came along with this unleashing. I made so many mistakes, so many things outside of the things I wanted, but it all helped me figure out with certainty the list of things that I didn’t want.

In the unleashing of one’s self, you start to see new corners. You start to notice the things that you do to keep from getting hurt, from being judged… the things we do to be liked. And when you see them for the first time, I have to admit it’s exhausting. It’s exhausting to think how hard we try to not be ourselves, and how much hope goes into every move we make. You also become aware of how slim the odds are that you will always get the approval you are so desperately pining over.

Funnily enough, when the new year hit I asked my fairy Godmother what this year’s theme was and she said, “Curiosity.” At first, what she said didn’t seem to make a lot of sense to me. What do you mean? I’ve been curious all year! 

But as I stopped to think about it, I realized that that wasn’t entirely true. The last year was about awareness: the awareness that I was wrong about a lot of things, the awareness of anger when things don’t go as planned. I ran into the dark, hair flowing behind me, drumbeats banging at my chest, and eyes wide-opened. I jumped. I braced myself for the scars I knew I’d get. I cringed ahead of time for the rules I knew I’d break, and all the while, despite the fear of getting caught, I learned to let the music play for the adventures that I knew I’d find.

But now that I knew who I was, it was time to focus on what I needed. Wait a second…needed? What did I need? Is it different?

Curiosity makes sense now. After you run frantically into the night, wailing at the moon, letting feelings float about you, there will come a time to settle down and listen. Discovering what one feels requires that one overlooks the rules one believes to be true, fears one believes to be fact, and agreements one made a long time ago that don’t make sense anymore. And now that I have the answer to that, it’s time to refocus on a new one: “What do I need?”

I don’t know if that makes sense to you, but this year, I began to see some clarity and light. With each month that this year has offered, I have moved forward, always stumbling a bit here and there, but also completely owning my way. I get frustrated sometimes because it’s a process, not a switch that flicks on or off. I wish I knew better, but in so many ways I am gradually getting to that version of myself that really knows better, and is constantly doing better. As the year comes to an end, I look back and realize that I don’t have to brace myself half as much. I’ve learned when to slow down and enjoy or when to pivot quickly and get out of the way.

The curiosity of “What do I need?” led me this year. My friend was right.

And though I still don’t know where I’m headed with this clearer sense of self, I stick to Bowie who said, “I don’t know where I’m going, but I promise it won’t be boring.”

Twenty Three Reasons Why You Can’t Go Back To Your Ex

You can feel it in your stomach as you look at yourself getting ready to head out. You’re heading to a new place. It’s a new custom in this new life. You don’t crave the past the way you used to, but it’s still there. At times, the nostalgia tempts you to name all the things you’d give up just to have them back.

But you sense an elated shift, a change of heart. And just as the temptation to glamorize the past begins, it doesn’t catch as much speed as it used it, and you feel something new surface…

You can’t go back because you finally got that song back.

Because you stopped scanning for a familiar face. Hey, who’s the new guy?

Because you blanked on one of those final phone numbers the last time you thought up an excuse to contact your ex. Was it a 7 or an 8?

Because you finally got to a place where you stopped nit-picking at the relationships around you.

Because it turns out you never really liked that place you guys used to eat at together.

Because you’re not sure you want to give back that side of the bed.

Because you’re waiting to bump into that crush again.

Because the last place you expect to see your ex is on your phone screen.

Because you’re falling in love with your friends…the way you used to fall for your ex.

Because you have other things to discuss with your friends now.

Because the urge to bring this up has faded when others come to you for romantic advice.

Because when you watch love stories, you think ahead.

Because as it turns out, this single business is kind of fun, like freshman in college kind of fun! Who knew you’d get to live that out again?

Because, somehow, it doesn’t matter why they were wrong anymore.

Because when things get bad and things get lonely, it’s still better than the feeling in your gut when the end was near.

Because it ended in a lot of things, but it didn’t end in love.

Because you don’t get nervous on their street anymore. And it eventually stops being their street altogether.

Because it turns out, what made them a little more interesting…was you.

Because after the breakup, you finally got to really know them and they weren’t who you thought they were. But then again neither were you.

Because the last time you saw your ex, for whatever reason, things were the same, but things were different. Gazing at them carefully, you tried to picture yourself by their side. You thought about all those months or years of self-reflection and survival.

​You can’t go back because, for the first time, ‘by their side’ doesn’t seem like the place where you need to be. ​You look down at the shirt you bought that time you were angry and alone. It’s now your favorite. You check the time and it’s almost time for your catch up dinner with new friends you made. You look around at this new life you built with your bare heart.

Because you are now noticing that there is distance between the you of the past and this one.

Because that very distance is proof of a journey and you’ve just now realized that you didn’t leave the crumbs to find your way back.

Life is Messy and Timing is Perfect

“It’s all messy. The hair. The bed. The words. The heart. Life.” – William Leal

I have always carried an innate desire to control people, time and of events unfolding around me. I’m pretty good at it too. This, of course, doesn’t always work and it has been in this failure to control that I often faced great pain, feelings of rejection and impotence. In attempting to control things, I often perceived my inability to succeed as a negative thing and took it personally. This made me impatient. This made me suffer. This made me think too much. This meant headaches, drama and emotional fidgeting.

The first time I gave myself permission to be messy was in regards to my hair. This was my friend Pili’s doing. She was the first person who introduced any kind of ‘mess’ into my life. More than that, she invited me to welcome ‘mess’ without guilt or judgement. I stared at my lion’s mane that afternoon, and asked, “Like that?” And she said, “Just like that. Let it be.”

It didn’t take long before I fell in love with my hair. It didn’t take long before I began to love my lady locks the way she had this whole time.

You see, I had always seen my hair as a problem. It had lacked discipline, order and sophistication. I’d stare at girls with long, behaved hair and think, “What a mess I am! If I had their hair…” This thought was so toxic and I cringe when I say it now because at the very root of it, I was focused on what I felt I was lacking. When I’d look at my hair, all I would think about was all the things that it wasn’t. It had never occurred to me to think of all the things it was.

I’m just using my hair as an example, but this self-criticism habit was one that I exercised through all pillars of my life. I was always lacking. Always labeling things as a mess. Frustrated by my inability to not be a ‘non-mess.’

Since then, it’s been mess–lesson after lesson. Some I have let happen and some I have resisted.
The big take from all this? Regardless of how I dealt with each situation, things worked their way out. Each issue took the time it needed to take, unfolding how it was meant to. Everything figured itself out at its own pace with or without my consent.

After reading Oprah Winfrey’s What I Know For Sure, I made my list of things that I could claim as my own truths. The list was short, to say the least.

What I Know For Sure
1. It all looks messy. It takes most of us a lot of time to figure out that this is the way things are: things move around us and may look messy because we don’t understand them, but they are actually perfectly choreographed.

What I know for sure is that sometimes some of us get lucky. Sometimes, things take a long time. Sometimes, the most basic of things go really wrong and hearts get broken or dreams get shattered.The bubbles bursts. And this is usually when you realize that you don’t run the show. And yeah, this hurts. By all means eat a bag of cookies or drink yourself a beer to soften the blow. No ‘adulting’ is required that day. Brat away.

But once you’ve done your sulking, get on your knees and ask for patience and faith, get back up and use that faith. It’s all a mess. It’s all confusing and it cannot be controlled. You’ll be relieved to know that no one is excluded. But the universe can give you the patience and faith you need to brave it out. And the cool thing is that someone will definitely always be there to hug you.

2. Timing is perfect. As I’ve moved away from focusing on what I felt I was lacking and began gravitating towards embracing myself, I started to notice all the opportunities awaiting me. I began to exercise the freedom to move around and to explore. This has allowed me to catch up with so many people who I’ve loved over the years. To sit with them wholeheartedly and talk for hours about yesterday, today and tomorrow. Each catch up has been enchanting and sobering, proving that time is good to us, even when it doesn’t seem so.

So why crave another time, another stage, another life? Why even crave another kind of hair? If these obstacles, this timing, this life all lead to bliss – why wish for anything other than what is? The more embracing you do, the more flow you let flow.

Love Is Buying The Ticket Without Knowing How You’re Going To Take The Days Off

As I sat down, I realized that I heard a faint introduction of a piano. The somber video began to play in my head, the tune filling the air around me as I set up the computer.

“Come up to meet you. Tell you I’m sorry…”

I have spent a lot of time speaking to people about heartbreak, about letting go, and getting back to faith.

“…you don’t know how lovely you are. I had to find you, tell you I need you…”

I’ve spent countless hours and words on mending and letting others know that there is in fact happiness on the other side of heartbreak. That despite many fears and feelings, life does go on. I wanted everyone going through it to know, because I had come to doubt it myself for so long.

There is in fact a great deal of growth in the breaking of parts, and more than that, the breaking of parts that are not destined to be.

As the tune played, I remembered something that I had forgotten to write about altogether, forgotten to admit, forgotten to…even think about.

“…Tell you I set you apart.”

To be honest with you, I can’t easily remember what it feels to be in love. It’s a vague and distant idea that I have in my head. I’ve spent so much time focusing on independence, self-love, and boundaries, that I find myself fidgeting at the idea of love. Of love sonnets, of movie genres, of anniversaries.

So to the someone who asked me the other night, to that person that has never felt it before, I found myself lost in how to begin to explain it; how to begin to remember it, how to stop doubting its existence, even for just a moment, and admit that somewhere in the air, in some time, I knew exactly what it was. To me.

But I do remember one thing. When you’re in love, despite your efforts to hide it, despite your fear of it, despite what others have to say, you know it’s happening.

There are ways to fabricate this feeling. Especially, if you don’t know what it is. If you want to fool someone, if you want to fool yourself, you can. But it won’t last long. To all those inquiring, love feels like the truth. Not your truth. Not someone else’s truth. It just feels like the truth.

If you’ve never been in love, you wouldn’t imagine how tenderly simple love can be.

“Tell me your secrets and ask me your questions…”

To me, love is buying the ticket without really knowing how you’re going to take the days off or how to pay for it. It’s the last five minutes before you have to go, only to wish you had five more. To me, love is fighting about things that someone else can write off as complicated and useless. But when you care about something, it’s not useless at all.

Love is in confessing things to someone not with the intention of looking good, but rather, with the intention of having someone see you in a light that you never thought you could actually show someone else.

To me, love was dancing to jazz music in the kitchen, knowing that it wasn’t his thing. To me, it was the first time I heard, “We’ll figure this out,” and wanting to say it back. It had something to do with not wanting to be with anyone else, feeling a little like you found your seat on the train. To me, it was wanting to discover someone, it was being fascinated by someone, it was being…so eager to see more of him for all that he was and all that he could be.

To me, love is sticking around for the fight, where ever you have to park on the side of the road to have it. The talking, the frustration, the explaining. The unveiling of two worlds as they try to understand each other. To me, that’s where love always proved me wrong. Because at times it’s loving someone despite not wanting to. Wanting to be done with it, but knowing in your core that you wouldn’t do anything to destroy it. Despite knowing that you are both broken, you can still love each other that way, and you can still teach other things. And in the end, it’ll give you the courage you need to head in that direction.

Love is knowing someone will eventually show up. Whether it’s late or pissed, they’ll get there. It’s knowing that they will show up because you will show up. Despite the errs and unpredictability of the world, you can count on that.

So, what is it like to be in love? Five more minutes, please. One more kiss.

Being in love can be unearthing, in all its mess and all its glory, but it can lead to one of the most comfortable moments of your life. Because you get to be yourself. And here is the thing that’ll completely surprise you, the thing that will completely turn you into a romantic—it’s when you show your raw, dampy parts and the response is someone gazing back at you in awe.

It must be said that being in love was and has never been a choice. It just happens. Like the weather, it catches you out in the open and rains on you.

“Nobody said it was easy. Nobody said it would be this hard.”

The last thing I remember is that it’s hard. It was one of the hardest things that I ever did, but it was the hardest thing I ever wanted to do. So, maybe it’s more like lightening. And we are just struck, broken in half by someone, taking us on this wild journey where we come face to face with the best versions of ourselves. And in this quick glimpse of what we can be, we realize, that someone can love us and we can love ourselves. And that despite all our flaws and all our humanity, we’re captivating.

A New Light on Sadness

“Life is difficult. That is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult–once we truly understand and accept it–then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.” -M. Scott Peck, M.D. in The Road Less Traveled

There are a few things I want to say of sadness. Firstly, there is no shame in feeling sad. We all feel sad. I felt it just yesterday and I chose to just let it be. I didn’t shame it. I didn’t attack it. I didn’t distract myself from it, ignore it, or analyze it. I told a friend about it before heading off to bed, accepted it, and just let it be. When I woke up this morning, it was gone.

I’ve often been told that I write about sad things. This confused me for a while. I even stopped writing for a few weeks to figure it out, but after much thought, I felt comfortable disagreeing. Sadness is only perceived as something sad, when in reality once it is addressed and accepted in a loving manner, one can feel a great deal of peace because of it. When I say that out loud, it makes sadness seem lighter.

We all feel sadness. But some people are so scared of it that they reject it, terrified of what it might mean. It’s normal. Sometimes, feeling sad is there for a reason. It demands presence and self-awareness. As John Green wrote, “pain demands to be felt.” It does, and when it is felt, something comes of it.

We have to accept that we feel sad, which requires self-love and an awareness of the present moment. After discovering some sadness and resentments years ago, I began to understand some ‘out of character’ habits that were causing confusion in my life. Connecting the dots, I was able to see where it was all coming from, but I had prolonged this simple task by distracting myself from and avoiding sadness.

For some people, accepting they feel sad is a battle in itself. There is so much ego and shame tied to the feeling of sadness that they get stuck there, unable to accept and move forward. But there is no shame in feeling sad.

After accepting sadness, what usually follows is understanding why, which requires reflection and honesty. This is where most people stop because they put the sadness aside and invite another feeling to distract them. It’s so much easier to avoid the question: “Why am I sad?”

Many times sadness is just a temporary feeling and if you treat yourself as compassionately as you would a friend, you can take something from that awareness. Half the time, you might even discover that it’s just boredom, lack of sleep, or hunger disguising itself. Sometimes, though, it’s not as easily dismissed. Sometimes it’s not gone in the morning, and it may be time to tell someone.

But in all cases, sadness is there to teach us something. It’s a vehicle of growth. If only we’d be less terrified of it, we might allow it to instruct us. My advice will always be to talk about it. With no conclusion in mind, speak of your sadness.

For All Those in Doubt, You’re the One

I had a very special date this Monday. I had an alone day. It didn’t happen by chance. Like most dates, I prepped and planned.

Naturally, I spent a portion of the day reading. While breezing through piles of content I had gathered, I came across a quote by June Jordan: “We are the ones we have been waiting for.”

We are the ones that we have been waiting for. It dawned on me that some time after my first kiss, I, like most people, became intoxicated with the idea of finding someone special. I have to admit that I don’t think that ever really faded entirely.

For most of my adult life, I had been waiting for someone to come in and sweep me off my feet. This intensity over the years fluctuated, of course, but the idea was always there. It’s subconscious. It’s an understanding that we picked up somewhere. It’s not our fault.

In the last four years, I have been pushed and tested in every way possible: professionally, romantically, spiritually—humanly. Against my efforts and fidgeting, I went through this alone. All of it–gulp by gulp, cringe by cringe.

After all that, I realized that there was really one person that I needed to be okay with, to be extremely loving to, and thankful for, to get everything else in line. That person was me.  I am the one I have been waiting to discover, comfort, unleash, and love.  I am the one I have been waiting for.

Don’t get me wrong, I look forward to finding that special person that is going to support me in my spiritual and human journey, but I realize now that there are so many things that I cannot ask for. There are so many things that only I provide and most of those things are what make life so special. We’re all in this to exercise our potential. We’re actually just here to be ourselves and it always amazes me how much effort we put into resisting that. 

So, for all those in doubt, it’s you. You have all you need already. You’re the one.