32 flavors and then some…

For better or for worse, this gluten-free diet is achieving it’s purpose (i.e., making me feel better). My skin and joints are less tender and I find I am less fatigued. I don’t have my scale here to verify, but I am also certain I’ve dropped another few pounds.

Curses!

Actually, all kidding aside, I’ll take it. I am at the point in my life where if feeling better and feeling better about myself  means cutting out warm sourdough bread and buttery pastries and chocolatey cookies and creamy pasta and (sorry, I got distracted there for a moment) ahem…and other delicious, gluten-filled items: I say, bring it on.

Bring. It.

Luckily for me, I am in currently in a town that caters to people with fidgety dietary needs, so the adjustment period has started off as relatively easy. The only really annoying modification is having to make sure to prepare ahead of time for all meals; checking menus on the internet before I plan to go to a restaurant, bringing snacks when I am heading into a long rehearsal. Spending so much time “planning” my meals is probably not an ideal situation for someone as neurotic about food as I am, but I have a hunch that after doing it long enough, it’ll become second nature. I’ve decided to extend my two-week trial run to a full month, to test out this theory around my menstrual migraines. I visited my healer again yesterday and she said the longer you go without gluten, the more health benefits you may notice. She said she was still noticing positive, life-changing effects even a year into her new eating habits. Again, I hesitate to go full throttle, but we’ll see what happens in a month. For those of you who may be considering this move yourself, she also warned that in the beginning, you may go through withdrawl-like symptoms- anything from headaches to digestive to nervous system issues. Knock on wood, I haven’t felt anything but great.

The rolfing is still affecting my body in positive ways as well, though I do take back what I said about it not being either painful or pleasant. In certain moments it can be very, very (I am not overstating here people and I’m going to throw in one more for good measure) very painful. I had to focus on some deep breathing exercises at my last appointment to even get through the session without crying out, “STOP! OH MY GOD, PLEASE STOP PULLING MY LEG OFF OF THE REST OF MY BODY!!”. But, as in life, after a few seconds of incredibly intense pain, she would move on to another part of the tissue that would feel absolutely phenomenal and released because of the previous stretching.

After the first appointment, I felt like I was standing a little taller. After the second one, I feel like my walk is more balanced. My stride has always been someone irregular, due to my left side being shorter than my right. Through whatever method of TORTURE (kidding) she inflicted on me yesterday, I feel like my legs are covering equal amounts of ground and my torso has been elongated because of it. It is a weird, wonderful, and welcome feeling.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In other news, I am acclimating myself back to the hectic pace of life that is required by this city, and remembering the things that made it so hard to leave the first time around. My friends here are just….beautiful. So many beautiful people, all nestled among an overpopulated mass of assholes, pricks, Negative Nancy’s, douchebags, WAY too many cars and not near enough parking spaces. 

This past weekend, I spent my 32nd birthday doing something for someone else. And I gotta say, without hesitation, it was the best birthday I have on record. Actually, one of the best nights of my life, period.

Jarvis was my religion professor in college. I had him for two classes; Global Studies (sort of a religion/theatre hybrid course) and Modern Christianity. To call him a professor is an understatement. This man changed my life. He was one of the first voices to tell me it was okay to go with my gut; to question everything I learned in school, in church, in life and to toss it all out the window if it didn’t set well with whatever was in my own heart. A Christian pastor, who told me it was okay to question everything I had ever been told about Christianity! It was okay to think for myself! This was a HUGE revelation for someone as fragile and conflicted as I was at that age. I learned more about religion (and myself) in those three semesters then I did in an entire eighteen years of going to The Free Will Baptist Church in Corcoran, CA.

Of course, even this over-simplifies all Jarvis is to me. He also was President of Kingsmen Shakespeare when I was working for the company. Him and his wife, Susan, were (ARE) there nearly every show, in a picnic box dead front and center. When you aren’t in a show, they invite you to sit with them. He and Susan are two of the biggest cheerleaders of not only the company as a whole, but all of us individual artists as well. I can’t even tell of all the conversations at the Festival and the after-parties that we’ve had where, without even trying, he imparted some major much-needed wisdom on me. As my friend Barry put it, “sometimes it was just a little thing, but in the long run, the little things are the big things.”

Susan and I have grown really close over the years, too, and she has also been one of my biggest supporters in….well, life in general, I guess. I could really gush on and on about both of them, but for brevities sake, I’ll just say they are two of my all-time favorite people. And though I’ve always suspected as much, I learned this past weekend that I am not the only one who feels that way.

You see, Jarvis is sick. Really sick. And I can’t go into too much detail about it without having to stop and cry for a good hour or two, so let’s just leave it at that, as I feel like I’ve been weeping on and off for the past four days straight.

Susan and I, along with a handful of other people, worked to throw him a surprise party- to celebrate his life and let him know how much he is appreciated. I should mention here that Susan’s birthday was also this past weekend, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she numbers this as one of her best ones, too. Not only did we completely and totally surprise Jarvis (with way over 100 people! How is that even possible in this day and age?!), but there also was so. much. love. in that backyard that one could not help but feel it creep into their veins at the party.  I think we were all the best versions of ourselves that night, and I am just humbled and blessed to know so many good, beautiful, gorgeous people and share in the love that was omnipresent at that party.

Of course no evening could go by without my negative voices creeping in, trying to ruin anything good. When I got up to speak about Jarvis, I was already in tears before I started. And as I was speaking off the cuff, I said two (just two!) stupid things that in hindsight, I wish I could have taken back. So, my voices arrived instantly at the front of my brain (before I even stepped away from the microphone) to remind me what a worthless, stupid, selfish, egotistical, bad,ugly person I really, truly am.

I spent a while teetering between embarrassment and all the other emotions I was feeling, before telling myself, “Enough!”  and reminding those terrible voices “This isn’t about YOU!”

I refuse, I REFUSE,  to let my negative voices ruin anymore memories by telling me lies. When it comes down to it, that’s what they are: lies. We are, all of us, imperfect. Why have I demanded such perfection from myself for so long? It’s fucking exhausting. If I demanded the same amount of perfection of my friends and family that I do from myself, I wouldn’t have anyone left in my life! It’s high time I exercise the same amount of forgiveness and patience with myself.

So, first day of age 32, and I already learned a new lesson: namely, not to be so hard on myself when I do something stupid, and to keep in mind that I am pretty damn awesome in a host of other ways.

I really, really am. 

I have a feeling it’s going to be a good year. There is love everywhere, and I’m really starting to take some of it with open, accepting (and completely proportionate!) arms. Which reminds me, have you told someone you love how you feel about them lately? Try it. It feels awesome.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Here are my most favorite pictures from the party. They are each worth a thousand words, as they say.

5 responses to “32 flavors and then some…

  1. Susan

    I don’t know what you regretted saying, but it doesn’t matter. You were wonderful. I have never had anyone say so many kind things about me at one time! 🙂 So thank you for that — but also a far greater ‘thank you’ for helping make it all happen. Your scrapbook is especially amazing and is a treasure. While my ‘voices’ keep pointing out the things that I would do differently, I try to remember things people have said about it including Eric, the husband of a friend of MINE, saying that it was the best party he had ever been to. Wow! At any rate, many thanks for many things, dear one!

  2. Jarvis

    Those were such beautiful words, Haley, that I really don’t have words to describe how humbled I am by them and what a wonderful gift you’ve given me through them. You are, and have always been, the greatest gift of all, and I am so happy you’ve been in my life all these years. For one who loves as freely as you do, the future can only be bright, and you will be loved by so many people before you die that death will lose much of its sting for you, as it has for me. Rock on, dear friend! Let life fill you up! Jarvis

  3. haleytheconqueror

    Jarvis, I believe I’m quoting Marc Silver’s entry in the scrapbook when I say, “I wanna be you when I grow up.” As ever, much gratitude and love to you both.

  4. miles

    My mother in law has celiacs so if you need gluten free recommendations while in valley let me know

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