Who is This Person Before Me?

There were a number of things that I was expecting to happen during my Sober October.  I expected to have more time to work on side projects, extra energy from eating healthier and resting more, and weight loss from not drinking and increased physical activity.  As expected, all of my expectations came to fruition.  Oddly enough, the most difficult to measure was the weight loss.  This could have been the easiest to measure if I owned a scale or had taken measurements of my body, but I did not.

I wouldn’t say that I have body image issues, but I have found myself in the past becoming obsessed with the scale.   If the scale said I gained 1.5 lbs, or heaven forbid 5 lbs, losing it became my primary focus.  I wouldn’t feel pretty or desired until I could get the number back to where I wanted it.  This pressure and obsession added so much stress and was completely unnecessary.  Once I realized that the scale was doing me more harm than good, I ditched the scale and tried to maintain my weight (or lose weight) based off of how my clothes fit, how I felt and how I looked naked standing in front of the mirror.

It’s been almost two years since my last serious weight loss attempt.  Generally I don’t wear very much makeup or spend too much time doing my hair, so I really don’t spend a lot of time in front of the mirror. The week we started Sober October, I took a nice long look at my body to see where I was starting and decided to do weekly mirror checkups in order to track my progress.  By the start of week two, I could already see that my stomach was flatter.  I was expecting even more progress by the start of week three.  So there I was, standing naked in front of the bathroom mirror two Sundays ago, eyeing my body for progress, and it looked the same.  Frustrated, I twisted and turned, sucked in my stomach and flexed my muscles – no apparent weight loss.  But then I noticed something.  I pulled my face closer to the mirror and there they were: wrinkles.

I had seen them before, but never paid them much attention.  I stared and gazed.  I winked, smiled, frowned, feigned shock and watched the lines move with my face – and watched some stay. Curiously, I looked back over the rest of my naked body and analyzed it with new eyes.  Nothing drastically different, but somewhere along the line my body became that of a woman.  I have always had a curvy, feminine figure, but I no longer looked like a girl.  I looked like a woman.  You would not see my body and mistake me for a girl.

This was not what I was expecting to happen this month.

Obviously I am aware that I am not a young girl anymore – I am 29 years old and will turn 30 in March.  I am an extremely self-sufficient adult, motivated and independent.  How is it just now hitting me that I am a woman and no longer a girl?  Maybe it is because I am single and without children.  Maybe if I were married with kids, I would have recognized the change earlier.  Not that there even was so much of a change, but more of a progression.

I have been so wrapped up in “finding myself” and learning to find peace, compassion and patience.  So much time spent healing issues from my past and learning to manage stress and everyday living.  It has taken me a long time to learn how to be present and live fully within the moment.   The one thing I forgot to do was to look at myself with a fresh set of eyes.  To ask myself:  Who is this person before me?  Tell me about her.  What do you think about her?

I answered very honestly.

Strangely, I have a new found respect for myself and my body.  There is no doubt that I have high self-esteem, that I love and appreciate who I am,  but this month I found respect for myself.

It’s  interesting when we have our Aha moments;  you never quite know what will trigger them or what you will discover.

Yours truly,

Erin Terese

P.S.  What Aha moments have you had?  How did it happen and what did you realize?

Once Upon a Plane

We embraced.  I held her in my arms, gave one last squeeze and released.  The cab driver grabbed my luggage, tossed it in the trunk and gave me a glare that seemed to say “Hurry up, Miss. I haven’t got all day”. Sadly, I slunk in the back of the cab and waved goodbye to my best friend.  We had just spent an amazing week together exploring the boroughs of New York and it was time for me to return to the land of perpetual sunshine and surfboards. As the cab pulled away, I watched her fade into the distance. There she was, standing in front of a beaten and bruised brick building in Brooklyn, adorn in a brightly patterned dress and about to walk back in to a room filled with artists and life enthusiasts.  And there I sat, about to head home to a place I couldn’t have been more disconnected from.  My bright eyes dulled by a city of people wanting nothing more than to conform to the norms of society.

Tears filled my eyes as we pulled on the freeway.  Slowly, the city started to escape me.  I could feel my friend growing farther away from me and the city fading away, as if it were only a dream.  My heart and soul screamed inside me, begging my mouth to speak.  Wanting my hands to pull at the door handle and for my legs to sprint back to the city that felt more like home, but all I could do was try and stifle the tears. My fear of the unknown kept me from charging after the life I so badly wanted and kept me paralyzed in the stale smelling cab heading to JFK.  Brimming with tears and not wanting to cry in front of the cab driver, I tried to think of happier thoughts.  Then the rain began to fall.  With each drop that landed on the window, it became more difficult to contain them.  The rain grew in its intensity and with it, my emotions.  Finally I gave in, and slowly and quietly I let the tears roll down my cheeks, matching in rhythm the rain drops that were washing away the dirt and grime on the streets of Manhattan.  By the time we arrived at the airport, I barely had the strength to thank the driver, grab my bags and head inside.  It was as if my heart had become filled with lead in an attempt to anchor me there.

I checked my bags, made my way through security and melted in to a worn chair in the terminal.  Secretly I hoped that the rain would become a storm and that the flight would be canceled. To my dismay, the woman over the loudspeaker assured me not to worry, that the flight would depart as scheduled.  When my section was called, I gathered my things and made my way to the plane.  Typically I would scan the aisle intently, searching for the most handsome man or most interesting person to sit next to.  This time, all I could manage was to look for an empty seat.  Front, back, aisle, window, I could have cared less.  As soon as I was situated, buckled and strapped in for the long flight back to San Diego, the speaker announced that we would remain on the tarmac for another 30 minutes while we waited for the rain to lift.  What a tease!  Torture.  The city was holding me in her grip.  A half answered prayer, I was allowed 30 more minutes to dream, yearn and reminisce on my week there.  I drifted out of the moment and in to a vision of museums, parks, Broadway Shows, night clubs, lost purse adventures, exotic men, oysters at Grand Central Oyster Bar and laughter and dancing with my best friend and partner in crime. Damnit. Leaving her and leaving the city was harder than I expected.

Achoo!  The guy sitting next to me sneezed.  Without thought, I responded “God bless you”.  A few minutes later, he asked if he could borrow my phone to make a quick phone call.  Extremely embarrassed, I told him I didn’t have my cell phone with me and explained that I left my purse in a cab the first night I was in New York, basically gifting my iPhone to the cab driver.  He smirked, gave his sincerest condolences for my loss, and thus began our flight long conversation.  From take off to touch down, we spoke on nearly every topic imaginable.  We talked about our childhood, discussed our education and what was lacking in it, complained and shared hopes for our careers.  When it came to our shared passion for music, I think we babbled on for two hours, maybe more.  He, a song writer, guitarist and cello player.  Me, a singer and lover of most genres.  Album names, specific songs, feelings evoked, memories attached – all of this explored as if it were part of a very serious social experiment and study.  We continued on.  We shared our stories of falling in love and tales of heartbreak.  We both had experienced betrayal in our heartbreak, and we shared the dirty details.  Details that may not have been shared with more than a few close people in our lives.  We unleashed ourselves. For nearly seven hours, we shared our stories and were completely vulnerable knowing we most likely would never meet again.

When the wheels touched down, I felt renewed.  I had found someone that understood every word I spoke and I was confident that I would find more like minded souls to join me on my journey. Somewhere in the sky, I had found peace.  Maybe it was over the Rockies or during the rant about our shared disdain for laundry; but somewhere along the way, I became calm and comforted.  This was the first time I was able to pinpoint in the exact moment why someone was sent to me. I knew it then, and I know it now.  When our conversation began, I was sad and discouraged.  By the time we hugged and waved goodbye at baggage claim, I felt like a brand new person. My worries and doubts were gone.  Any sadness that lingered in my heart was over powered by the beauty of our connection.  It was a first glimpse at the simplicity and power within our connection as humans.  That moment captured me and stays neatly tucked in the corner of my heart.

Life is a series of moments.  Some fated.  Some serendipitous. Some happenstance.  In each of these moments, there is an opportunity to learn a life lesson and more about yourself.  That rainy April day, I learned a lot.

Yours truly,

Erin Terese

P.S.  My airplane friend and I remain friends to this very day.  In fact, I awoke this morning to a message regarding a new album recommendation.  Thank you, my friend!

 

Sober October – Personal Quest

Alcohol is part of life in Wisconsin, where I grew up.  Like many states, countries, cities and cultures throughout the world, it is part of most social engagements.  Wine on a romantic dinner date or ladies night.   Beer during the football game or on a boat on the lake.  Champagne to celebrate an anniversary or promotion. Cocktails at a concert, at a ski resort or on a lonely Friday night.  There is always an excuse to drink.  It is no wonder I started at the age of 15, which was actually not as early as some of my friends that started at 12.  No one thought it was odd; it was almost expected.  My parents would have been disappointed to know this, but I knew kids in my High school whose parents bought them liquor and let them have friends over to drink illegally.  Who were they to judge since they had a six pack or more a few days a week, children to care for, and drove?  This set the stage for my relationship with alcohol.

 

I didn’t start out drinking in moderation – I binge drank.  Drank until I puked.  Drank until I blacked out.  Made out with boys I never in a million years would have kissed sober.  Very classy and respectable, you can imagine. Ugh.  Once I had a boyfriend, I slowed (a bit).  Clearly it is not attractive to be that sloppy in front of the man you love, so I tried my best to contain myself.  Sometimes I succeeded!  Sometimes I failed, which resulted in a much dreaded talk about my drinking and behavior – all with red eyes, a fuzzy head and nauseous stomach the next morning. Oh joy.  I have had more than enough shining moments that should have caused me to stop completely, but instead I have tried to find a balance so that I can keep it in my life. I love it!

 

When I maintain the balance, which I am much better at now, it is really wonderful.  The warm sensation and robust flavors in red wine seduce me and please me in so many ways.  Wine is my vice. There are so many varietals of wine, so many flavors to unlock and secrets to taste in every sip.  Adventure and exploration roll over my tongue as I try to uncover the distinct flavors and subtleties within the glass. I could definitely abandon the tequila, vodka and gin, but oh, I would hate to abandon my red wine!  She and I are besties.  We have been through thick and thin together. But just like any friend, we have our ups and downs.  Sometimes I see her daily, weekly, for hours on end or not for weeks at a time.  Every once in a while, we spend way too much time together and I need a break from her.  She tires me and makes me need some time alone.  Time to reset and remember who I am without her – that as much as she enriches the moments in my life, I exist without her.  I thrive fully on my own and she just makes my days brighter.  She is not a necessity – she is a bonus.

 

I disagree with the notion that you cannot live without someone.  Attaching yourself that much to any person or thing is not healthy.  When you tie your happiness to someone/something else you limit your potential happiness and open yourself up to horrible disappointment and grief.  Happiness lies within – I know this now. I have learned this from my mistakes and I do not want to make the same mistakes again. I do not want to feel dependent on any person, any one thing or any bottle of red wine. I can be happy on my own, without it, and it is important I remember that. Plus, my wine habit is hard on my liver, my wallet, my productivity and on my waist line. For these reasons, I have given up drinking for the month of October.

Giving up alcohol for the month directly coincides with my goal for 2012: to make better choices in my life.  This is no small task and I keep tripping and stumbling along the way, but I am trying.  I am finally at a place in my life where I am truly happy with who I am and am fully aware that my circumstances are a direct result of my thoughts and actions.  I have no one to blame.  No one that can act as my scapegoat – there is just me.  If I want something to change, if I want something to be different, it is up to me to make it happen. And as we know, it all starts with the power of that first thought.  Then we take that thought and dream about it, envision it, and we make it grow into our action and our future. 

I started a business this year.  I recorded a song with a friend.  I had a poem and article published. I have met some amazing new friends, strengthened existing relationships and let some friendships take a backseat during this process. My dating life has been a bit all over the map, but I have tried to be open, honest and much more patient that I normally would be.  I feel confident, capable and worthy of the good things in my life.  But I want more good.  I want to write more, sing more and really grow my business.  I want to have more energy and lose the 5lbs I gained over summer.  How do I plan to do this? Sober October!  My bestie (Red Bottle of Malbec) and I have been hanging out too much again, so this month she is taking a backseat. 

I put up a simple post on Facebook and from that post I started a Facebook Group Page with over 40 members and about 20 of us that are really taking this Sober October seriously. Together, we have committed to a month of healthy habits.  We are eating healthy, working out, focusing on our work and side project, and not drinking.  So far, we all feel great!  We are sharing recipes, workout trends and success stories.  Taking a month off is not as difficult as I expected and it certainly helps to have cheerleaders along the way.  Together we are moving toward the future we want for ourselves.  Together we are sharing our ambition and helping one another to succeed.  Together we grow in our strength, our motivation and in our personal quests.

A simple thought. Envisioned. Shared. Action. = Future!

Yours truly,

Erin Terese

She Thinks Too Much

She thinks too much.  Time and time again she has been told this.  Yet time and time again, she doesn’t care.  It is as much a part of her as an olive in her martini.  Without it there would be no point.  She would have it no other way.

To her, the sun shines brighter.  Some days it dances in her eyes.  Some days it seduces her, beckons her and slowly guides her out in to the world.  Other days, it is cruel to her, bearing down on her without apology or remorse.  But she would rather the seduction or the cruelty, than the abandonment when the sun finds shelter in the clouds and hides itself from her.

True, she could have her martini dry or lemon flavored with a sugar rim – but to her there is no other way than with her trusty friend, the green olive.  A little bitter with a touch of salt and burst of flavor, it complements the clear and straightforward gulp that follows.

She thinks too much.

Yours truly,
Erin Terese

Grieve It and Let It Go.

After receiving some very heartfelt comments on my last post and reflecting on my personal experience with grief, I would like to discuss the importance of grieving loss.  It took me twenty years to let go of a sorrow I had not dealt with properly. While trying to heal my broken heart from a failed relationship, I discovered I had not properly dealt with the death of my grandfather.  Here are a few words on what I learned:

Grieving loss is extremely vital in the healing process.  In order to move past the loss and approach life with passion, zest and a solid sense of self, we must address the loss we experience.  Whether the loss is the death of a loved one, the death of a marriage (AKA divorce) or a life altering illness (death of a planned future), we must face and acknowledge the loss and deal with all of the emotions that come with it.

Mourning and grieving affect people differently.  Some people cry. Some people argue.  Some people drink. Some people have sex. Some people shout from the Facebook Mountain Top!  While all of these things may help release tension in the moment, what is most effective long-term is taking time to think.  Time to reflect.  You need to uncover why you are so sad and lost.  Are you lonely?  Do you feel abandoned?  Are you afraid you will never be loved again?  Do you feel unworthy of love?  What do you really want out of life?  What would truly make you happy?  As you address these questions, you may need to dig back, way back, through your life to get to the root of the answers.  This is one of the reasons people often feel as if they are moving backward in the healing process; the feeling of being more lost and more lonely than before the healing process began.  This is totally normal. Really, it is!

Here is what is happening:  as you uncover why you feel a certain way about something, you are able to see how that has affected your life.  These deep seeded issues affect how we treat others, how we treat ourselves and how we view the world.  It is common to feel guilty that you didn’t recognize and address this earlier. If you find yourself holding on to guilt, you need to let it go.  Holding on to it benefits no one.  You need to forgive yourself.  Part of this process is apologizing to those you have wronged.  People may be receptive to your apology or they may not; and that is okay.  The point is that you are taking ownership over your choices. You are taking control over the direction of your life.

Now, if the person you have wronged is yourself, then issue a heartfelt apology to yourself.  Vow to make a change.  Promise yourself you will treat yourself better.  Forgive yourself and move forward.  Continue on the healing path and allow yourself as much time as you need.  Each person heals in their own time; there is no standard time frame.  The important thing is that you keep going until you are able to release all of the things that have been weighing you down and holding you back.

Reading this, hell, knowing this, will obviously not change things overnight.  The change starts with you.  You have to want more for yourself.  You have to be willing to take a hard look at your life and your choices.  But honestly, you are amazing.  You are.  If the world hasn’t acknowledged you for it, it’s only because you are still holding back.  You are amazing and you need to get comfortable with that fact.  Be your authentic self and tackle your issues.  I promise that if you move forward with the intent of living a life filled with love, passion and purpose, peace will find you.  Just keep moving.  Do not be discouraged by the length of time it takes.  This process will yield one of the greatest gifts you will ever receive: inner peace and a deep love for yourself.

Yours truly,

Erin Terese

So here it goes…

As I sit here and try to think of a clever Mission Statement, Statement of Purpose or Grand Master Plan for this ErinTerese site, my mind draws a blank.  I would love to tell you that I have a clear plan. Oh crap, who am I kidding?  I’d love to tell me I have a clear plan!  The plain and simple truth is that there is no Master Plan. No finite Mission Statement for my intent. But I have a longing in my soul. An energy and drive that pulses from the tips of my toes, through my fingers, circling around my eyes and ears and flowing through my mind.

I feel the desire to share my thoughts and feelings with you, my reader. Even though I don’t know who you are yet, I want to know you.  I want to hear your stories and learn from you.  I want you to hear my stories and tell me what you’ve learned.  Life, for me, is all about stories.  Life stories.  Stories from your childhood.  Stories from yesterday.  Stories you’d like to write for yourself.  Hearing other people speak, reading other people’s words and watching people from afar, is what gives me passion and purpose.  I know myself better, when I know others better. I understand the world more clearly, when I understand others more clearly.  The more I can relate to you, dear reader, the more I can relate to the world and the closer I am to finding “it” – whatever “it” may be.

I have no idea where this journey will take me…  Where this journey will take us.  But please come with me.  I would like you to read my work and comment, share and give me your feedback.  Send me your favorite blogs, links and videos. Let’s go on this journey together and try and find the “it” we have been looking for – assuming you haven’t found “it” yet.  If you have, that is awesome!  Please share.

Yours truly,

Erin Terese