Detox

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“Sometimes you just need to detox the body.”

I’ve heard this countless times before, as if toxins stake territory and the only way to get them out is by drinking some terrible potion.  As if we don’t have working respiratory, circulatory, and endocrine systems.

The grapefruit juice cleanse.  The lemon water and cayenne pepper cleanse.  Liquid diets as a way of clearing the body.  It’s everywhere in the pseudo-New-Age world.

I’ve wanted to say, “If you want to detox, eat healthy and stay away from the things that are bad for you.  If the body can’t cleanse itself then, you’ll be needing far more than a jar of juice and spicy water.”

All sardonic commentary aside, at the end of the day, it really is as simple as that.  You don’t need any special concoction.  You don’t need to fast.

Stop doing the toxic thing, and the body will detox itself.

Eventually.

Sometimes the detox is unnoticeable.  Sometimes it’s as innocent as removing pasta from your diet and feeling like the world has started revolving carbohydrates.

And sometimes it’s a less-than-innocent reminder of how entrenched you were with what was toxic to you.

The caffeine headaches I got when I switched to decaf were otherworldly.  For two solid weeks, the pain behind my eyes and around my temples made me wonder if a migraine was approaching.  It made me wonder if scaling back on my caffeine consumption was even a smart move in the first place.  But I knew I was drinking far too much coffee, and needing more and more caffeine to get the same results.  I knew it was not helping my innate restlessness and unease and anxiousness.  I knew it wasn’t solving my general feeling of weariness.  I knew I wasn’t doing myself any favors in the long run, and I needed a change.

My body detoxed from those caffeine levels in loud and painful and disruptive ways.  In ways that made me wonder if this was the new normal.

And then the headaches dissipated.  The switch was complete.

Stop doing the toxic thing, and the body will detox itself.

Even though sometimes the detox will be loud and painful and disruptive.

But sometimes the detox — like the toxin itself — will be subtle and nuanced and intangible.  Sometimes it’s detoxing from an old way of thinking, an antiquated belief system, a trusted reactionary measure or coping device.

Sometimes it’s detox through distance.  Sometimes it’s detox from a toxic individual.   Sometimes it’s detox from a one-sided relationship, an imbalanced dynamic.  Detox from an unhealthy situation, a place that did you no favors.

The detox can come in the form of feeling like the work is too much and the sacrifice is too great and the change it too little.  It can come in the form of wanting to return to old habits, in the form of not really believing that the toxin was toxic in the first place.  It can come in the form of pointing out every time the toxic thing had done you right and made you feel good.  It can come in an ache in the head or the heart and in knowing nothing but time can remedy that.

But it’s still as simple as this: stop doing the toxic thing, and the body will detox itself.  In whatever ways it needs to.

And sometimes the detox is the opposite of innocent or subtle.  Sometimes it’s bold and explicit.  Sometimes it’s unabashedly blunt.

Sometimes it’s lethal.

For all its ubiquity, alcohol is a menacing force.  Depending on your level of addiction, it will scorch the earth when you try to leave it.

Alcohol detox is one of the few fatal withdrawals.  Ironically, opioid withdrawal might make you wish you were dead, but alcohol will actually go through with the deed.  It’s something I learned all too well, when my father was rushed to the ER three days after Thanksgiving in 2014, for what initially appeared to be a stroke.  Forty-eight hours in a hospital bed and away from the liquor cabinet, and the seizures were so severe he was rushed to the ICU.  The doctors did not mince words when talking about why he was there and what exactly it was they were monitoring.

It was a lesson in knowing what happens when things go too far.  A lesson in understanding that it only gets tougher with time.  A cautionary tale in what happens if you let it go on for too long.  An understanding that, at some point, the hole gets dug too deep and you’ll need a rescue crew to get you out in one piece.

But it isn’t always a crew of EMTs and ER nurses and IVs.  Sometimes the rescue crew comes in the form of support groups.  Sometimes in the form of therapy.  Sometimes in the form of turning to your cherished friends and going, “I don’t know how I got here, how it got this bad.”

Sometimes it’s yourself who mans the helm of the rescue crew, searching for yourself and repeating the mantra over, and over, and over again:

Stop doing the toxic thing, and the body will detox itself.

Stop doing the toxic thing, and the soul will cleanse itself.

Remove the toxic, and you will detox.

And the cleanse will always feel elusive at first.  You won’t wake up one morning and pull back the curtains and suddenly feel like you’ve stepped into a new body.  A body free of the toxic dependency, whether it was chemical, biological, or psychological.  You won’t be reenacting any of those pharmaceutical commercials, the world suddenly coloring itself in with vibrant new shades simply because you decided to step out of the trenches.  It will be slow and frustrating and nonlinear and filled with doubt.

But the body will detox itself.  Eventually.  And you will be grateful you got out yourself of the hole when you did.

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Lights Out

The power went out in my town last night.

Even with the electricity flowing, this area gets wondrously dark at night. The town serves as a buffer between civilization and the mountainous boondocks of New Hampshire. My neighborhood rests literally on the border of this buffer. There are no street lights. You have to drive a few miles before you come across one.

But last night, we were reminded of how bright we are, even in the supposed small towns. The lights go out in my house, all my neighbors’ houses, as far as the eyes can see.

Pitch black.

As we get up from our spots in front of the TV — as we fumble for our phones and look for proper flashlights — my eyes eventually adjust. Outside, there’s a slick stream of light hitting the sides of wood panels and bouncing off the gravel pathway of our backyard. It’s so bright that I’m convinced someone is trudging through our backyard with a lamp.

At the risk of losing whatever remaining heat is still in the house, I throw on my jacket and step outside. Greeting me in the backyard is nothing more than the chill of November air, the muffled squawk of the chickens, and a bright, luminescent moon, blazing down on me as if to compete with its super moon predecessor.

Of in the distance, sirens echo. Some calamity has caused the town to go dark. A car accident. Maybe a fire. Multiple sirens let me know that this wasn’t a small incident. That it might be a while until power is restored.

But in that moment, there is stillness. There is a peace and a solace and a sense of wonderment. The stars are aggressively bright and the clouds are illuminated. The sky opposite the moon is the faintest shade of blue, giving its best impersonation of daylight. With my eyes increasingly adapting to the dark, the moon’s rays spill onto the driveway like a floodlight.

In this moment, there is beauty.

The electricity doesn’t come back, even as we settle for bed. We wrap our guinea pig’s cage in blankets and bring her upstairs with us. The tiny animal is sensitive to temperature and keeping her warm is the biggest priority. Phones are placed by the nightstand, replacing our traditional alarm clocks. A single flashlight is propped to face the ceiling and it gives the room a homey, cozy glow.

The world is so quiet that I can hear the planes taking off and landing in the nearby airport. I can hear the guinea pig digging through her bedding. I lay in bed, my legs burning from being outside in a flimsy set of leggings. The next day will be one of my busiest, but for now I round out my day with a book. Eventually one of the cats joins us in bed, kneading at the throw blanket I have on my side, his purrs loud and pure and joyful. The other circles the insulated guinea pig cage, wondering what to make of this new addition to the room.

In this moment, there is quiet. There is stillness. There is beauty and wonderment and solace and peace. And all it took was a calamity to create it.

The Colors and the Super Moon

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The super moon makes its appearance above the tree tops, giving the illusion of magnitude and proximity, making it feel close enough to actually touch.  The world around us is defined by the hazy pink sunset and the authoritative glow from the moon.  We’re on a drive back home, snaking through the busy highways around Boston, deep in conversation.

“…it’s like trying to describe a color, if you think about it,” my husband concludes, and I agree.

After a few moments of silence, my eyes drooping with delirious exhaustion, the tunnel lights of the O’Neill painting the world orange and yellow, my husband adds:

“Do you feel like playing a game?”

“Sure,” I say. “What’s the game.”

“Let’s try actually describing colors.”

I’m in.  These little brain teasers — these chances to play around with words and vocabulary and syntax — are what I live for.  It’s a chance to go abstract and get away from the context of the world.

“Pick a color, and I’ll try to describe it,” he says.

“Okay, then.  Red.”

He pauses.

“Red is intensity.  Red is passion,” he says. “Red is that first moment after realizing you’ve been betrayed.”

He continues on, discussing red in experiences and sensations.  There are no similes.  Nothing is discussed in relation to things that can be painted that color.  It’s poetry and an observation on the human condition.

“I like that,” I say after he finishes.

“Let me give you an easy one: Blue.”

Now it’s my turn to pause.

“Blue is cold,” I reply. “Blue is chilled.  Blue is loneliness and solitude — but not malicious or aggressive loneliness.  Simply the natural disconnect and quiet that is inherent in human existence.  Blue is the calmness that comes from being alone.”

The rest of the car ride is spent describing colors based on how they make us feel, or what story they convey.  Lavender is the soothing feeling after the storm has past.  Mint green is coy, and would rather be speculated on as a secret than ever be revealed for what it really is, lest it be seen as average.  Gray is the monotonous drudgery, the minimal dirty work it takes to survive.

Yellow is the warmth that is never warm enough.  Purple is our darkest desires wrapped in velvet and indulged upon.  Chartreuse is nausea and malicious noise.  Pink is false innocence; pink is everything red is, but packaged in a cute and palatable box.  Maroon is what it feels like to exact revenge and have it be as satisfying as you hoped it would be.

My inner ear spins as if I’ve had too much to drink.  I’m drunk on my exhaustion and wariness.  I’m drunk on the esoteric conversation.  I’m drunk on the Boston skyline and the hypnotic rocking of the car.  I’m drunk on the poetry of it all.  Even in the dark, with nothing but highway lamps and headlights to illuminate, everything is prismatic.

This oddly perfect little moment.  Floating down the highway, imagining colors and just letting the words come out.  It’s a moment I gladly dive into, a moment that makes me wish I’d never have to come up for air.  I want to stay in these moments, the ones that exist outside of context, that exist without overthinking or analyzing, that echo nothing but the present moment.  I’ve gone abstract and I have no interest in going concrete again.

Green is freedom.  Green is stepping outside to a breath of fresh air after being stuck indoors.  Green is the feeling of being unshackled.

It’s a moment I want to take with me as the drive home eventually ends, as we get into our driveway, as we leave the car and abandon our colors and eventually call it a night. By now, the moon is high, away from any buildings or treetops that can make it look gargantuan.  And we leave our colors — the ones with newfound stories and nuanced personas — for the light of the full moon, left behind in the abstract and the poetic, a time outside of context.

A Link, A Plan, A President

*cue the, “typically I don’t do this”*

But, for real: typically I don’t do this.

Most already know I write for various websites — although the frequency has been steadily dwindling, due to a slew of factors (some sites went in a different direction than the things I write about, some sites went out of business, I started writing my most recent novel and had less bandwidth to come up with article ideas, I started writing for clients and had less time to pitch for websites — and some sites, well, don’t pay, and I got sick of writing for free).

Regardless as to how often I write for them, I usually never link anything direction onto the blog (although you can always find these in my publishing creds section.  Hint hint, nudge nudge).

Today, though, I invite you to read something I wrote for Huffington Post, titled “Yoga & Namaste in the Time of Trump“.

As an avid (and still fervent) Bernie supporter, I don’t think I have to really dive deeply into my feelings on the presidential election.  It has pointed a lot of things out — for both sides of the aisle — and only time will tell what the future brings.

But I will say this: if those running on a platform of hate were to go through with exploiting anger to gain power, they would fail if we actually band together.  Their platform of hate will fall on deaf ears if we’re too busy listening to everyone else’s story and background.

And for those who are burned out and don’t want to look at yet another stupid post: “Namaste” literally translates into “I bow to you”, but has transformed to mean, simply put, recognition.  I recognize the light in you.  The good within me recognizes the good with in you.  But it can also be used in times of suffering.  The hurt within me recognizes the hurt within you.  The frustrated, angry, dark aspects of me acknowledge the frustrated, angry, dark aspects of you.

(And — guess what honeys — we all have that.)

I’m nervous about those who were told, “Your hatred is valid.”  But I’m hopeful for those who heard that message and went, “I’ll fight twice as hard to protect those who are marginalized.”

And — again — only time will tell.  I’m cautiously optimistic.