The Best Advice I’ve Ever Received: “Be the Light”

Lately my spiritual journey has involved a lot of “Why am I here?”-ness.

Not the classic question of “Why am I here?” like, on the planet, though. Mine has been the other classic question of “Why am I here, ‘stuck’ in this place in life when I feel like I have a higher purpose and no matter how much action I take to try and fulfill that purpose NOTHING SEEMS TO BE HAPPENING, AND SO WHAT THE FUCK, UNIVERSE?

And then last week two of my awesome #SpiritJunkie friends and I had the honor of meeting the wonderful author/spiritual teacher/sassy guru Gabrielle Bernstein, whose new book Miracles Now is (a) like a big ol’ cup of chai tea for your soul, and (b) available here.

The energy in the theater during Gabby’s lecture was, in and of itself, a miracle. It was loving and open and just good and yes, I’m being sappy and trite right now because I can.

When the topic of feeling stuck in one’s current place in life came up, Gabby’s advice changed the game for me. She simply said, “Your job is not to be a [fill in the blank with your professional title]. Your job is to be the light.”

Be. The. Light.

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Girlfriend is walking the walk.

I didn’t realize it until that moment, but this has been my mission statement in my writing (where I ultimately feel a higher calling) since day one. Whether it’s by sharing a funny story, opening up about something that really sucked for me, or simply making a weird/corny pun – the goal is always to inspire/heal/entertain/make someone’s day a little less shitty. In other words, the goal is to be the light.

While Gabby spoke, I realized that I’ve been saving so much of my light for some future moment that involves the title of “Published Author” that I’ve been missing out on opportunities to be the light in the present moment of my day-to-day professional life – because at some point I had declared the corporate/media world I work in to be totally void of meaning (which it kind of is, but that’s a whole other Oprah) and therefore decided that I didn’t need to show up with my best self every day.

But the problem there is that by sitting around thinking, Ugh. I’m destined for something greater than this, I was doing a few sabotage-y things to myself and those around me:

  1. Getting lost in anxiety over the future rather than cultivating gratitude for the present moment.
  2. Focusing on where I’m not rather than accepting where I am.
  3. Forgetting that every second is an opportunity to spread love.

In fewer words, I was basically an asshole.

I’ve learned that being discontented with the present moment is a sure sign that the ego is in control. Rather than setting aside personal concerns and doing whatever you can to enhance the lives of those around you (in other words, creating ripples of good energy, in other words, being the light), you’re focused on your own self-importance (in other words, creating ripples of crappy energy, in other words, being the darkness… and not the good kind).

So. I’ve been putting this whole “be the light” thing into practice since I heard Gabby speak, and I have to say that the change in my energy since has indeed been a miracle. Yes, I’m still working toward my long-term writing goals, but I’m also not tripping over the future anymore.

Instead I’m doing whatever I can to be a source of love and positivity for those around me right now. If that means addressing a work situation that I find to be ultimately purposeless in the grand scheme of life, I do it anyway purely because (a) it’s my job, and (b) not doing it would really make someone else’s day shittier – and do I want to be involved with making someone else’s day shitty? No. That’s not very light-y.

(Side note: I feel like normal people probably just stop at (a), which is a valid enough reason to do one’s job, really, but I’m obviously not normal. And if you’re reading my blog, chances are you aren’t, either. Which is a fantastically wonderful thing.)

In conclusion: BE THE LIGHT, NIC. BE THE DAMN LIGHT.

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Gab + Nic = #Light.

 

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And Here’s the Douchiest OkCupid Profile EVER

In case you missed it, I recently wrote about how I advertise the fact that I’m a fast pedestrian on OkCupid because it seems like the least douche-y option for my “I’m Really Good At” section. But then just for ha-ha’s I went on this whole tangent about what I’d put in that section if I were a total douche canoe, and it was kind of the best thing ever.

I mean, this:

Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 8.24.16 PMBecame this:Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 9.04.04 PM

I don’t know what this says about me as a person, but coming up with that second one was actually the most fun I’ve had in about a fortnight. And so with that in mind, I thought it’d be awesome and probably a little revelatory to sarcastically remake my entire profile in the voice of the Biggest Dick Ever* as part of an imaginary game show I just made up in my head called If I Were a Douche.

Douche

Shit. I just realized I got so carried away with all the O’s that I forgot the U in “Douche.” I’d fix it, but lately I’ve been trying to do this thing where I embrace my imperfections. (Thank you, ekgo.)

So here we go.

Me:Screen shot 2014-03-16 at 11.57.34 AMMe as the Biggest Dick Ever*:

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Me: Screen shot 2014-03-16 at 12.00.54 PMMe as the Biggest Dick Ever*:

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Shit. Did I just learn something new about myself?

Me:Screen shot 2014-03-16 at 12.03.44 PMMe as the Biggest Dick Ever*:

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Me:Screen shot 2014-03-16 at 12.05.03 PMMe as the Biggest Dick Ever*:

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Wow. I’m never starting a sentence with the word “also” in a dating profile ever again.

Me:Screen shot 2014-03-16 at 12.06.54 PMMe as the Biggest Dick Ever*:

Screen shot 2014-03-16 at 12.07.55 PM

Okay, Me as the Biggest Dick Ever* is getting kind of annoying – and also a little nonsensical. Chimneys? WTF?

Me:Screen shot 2014-03-16 at 12.08.47 PM

Me as the Biggest Dick Ever*:Screen shot 2014-03-16 at 12.09.02 PM

Me:Screen shot 2014-03-16 at 12.09.28 PMMe as the Biggest Dick Ever*:

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Me:Screen shot 2014-03-16 at 12.11.01 PMMe as the Biggest Dick Ever*:

Screen shot 2014-03-16 at 12.13.49 PMListen, Me as the Biggest Dick Ever,* you can stop filling out this profile at any time. No one is forcing you to carry this task out to completion. Also, did you just ridicule my entire career as a blogger?

Me:Screen shot 2014-03-16 at 12.16.54 PMMe as the Biggest Dick Ever*:

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OMG but seriously, remember the AOL-butt?

*I realize that, if taken out of context, the name “Biggest Dick Ever” takes on a whole other meaning. So I thought that I should asterisk it every single time it came up in this post. Just so you know that I know.

 

This is What Happens When I Best Man a Wedding

Yes, I just used “Best Man” as a verb in the title of this post. It’s a thing now, and you’re welcome.

So. After throwing an epic three-night, thirteen-man bachelor party at a rented house in Vermont last fall (the details of which I can’t get into for legal reasons), getting fitted for a tux while awkwardly asking the salesman, “So, what’s your perspiration policy?” (he just looked at me weird and said, “We clean them”), and sneaking my way into my now-sister’s bachelorette party in December by flashing everyone with my GC (Giant Co.. Gay Card) – my brother got married a few weeks ago. And! It was the best day.

Like, ever.

The fun started the night before at the rehearsal, where this conversation took place between two bridesmaids (whom I will refer to as Hilary and Amy) and myself:

  • Nic: Hey Hilary, wanna hear something hilarious? My aunt told my stepmom earlier that she thought I “had eyes for you.”
  • Hilary: Ha! Wait. Your aunt doesn’t know you’re gay?
  • Nic: I mean, it’s not like I hide it. I just don’t think she realizes that gay people exist in real, everyday life. Like, she’ll probably find out about me when we’re at my wedding.
  • Amy (joining the conversation): Oh hey, you have one too?!
  • Nic: What? No. I don’t. I’m not getting married. [Laughs uncomfortably.] I mean, I am getting married. I hope. Eventually. Just not any time soon. Gotta find the right guy first. All the ones I meet seem to fall short in one way or another, and I’m at the point where’s it’s like, I’m not in a rush to meet The One anymore, because where’s the fun in that? Plus I don’t wanna settle for less, y’know?
  • Amy (pointing to my left ear): I was talking about your cartilage piercing.

So that was awesome.

The ceremony the next day was also awesome, although there was a minor debacle when I went to deliver flowers to the bride in her dressing room and was cornered by the photographer, who asked to borrow the rings – allegedly for the purposes of taking artful pictures, but probably more so because she gets some kind of twisted joy out of making other people anxious – and then disappeared.

After five minutes passed, I started slightly freaking out at the realization that it was twenty minutes to showtime and my brother was waiting for me. So I bid adieu to the bridal party and luckily was able to find the photographer in a hallway, regain possession of the rings, and step outside to get back to the main church.

Except now it was raining and I didn’t have an umbrella, so I was like, “SHIT.” I went back inside and asked the photographer if there was an indoor route to the church that I didn’t know about and she was all, “I dunno.” So then I was like, “SHIT,” again, and just decided to run the few steps there.

And then, as I was approaching the entrance to the church, I slipped.

AND I PLUMMETED.

I was clearly touched by an angel, though, because I managed to make my hands hit the ground first. So it mostly just looked like I was doing a spontaneous and highly awkward military pushup (on a rainy church sidewalk, in a tuxedo) for a second. I also managed to quickly retrieve the rings (which, by the way, had also plummeted and were dangerously close to a sewer… I know. Can you IMAGINE?) and put them safely in my pocket.

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One would never know I had just almost ruined the entire wedding (and my ruggedly handsome face) with a single plunge.

And after that, everything went smoothly.

I pranced into the reception to En Vogue’s “Free Your Mind” while the Maid of Honor whipped me (literally), I rocked the Best Man speech (by “rocked,” I mean I got up in front of everyone and went on a long-winded verbal tangent about how my brother is a guy who exemplifies love and I am a guy who spent most of the nineties making Mariah Carey-themed scrapbooks), and I made sure everyone got really, really drunk – which, given our network of friends and family, didn’t actually require too much effort on my part, but still.

The whole thing was one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences that make you stand back, look at your life, and say, “Holy shit. This is it. This is what matters.” It’s like, we can get so caught up in our daily routines – coffee, soul-sucking jobs, petty arguments, super important life-or-fucking-death (just kidding, I mean petty again) arguments, social media, Mariah Carey’s mental health (okay, maybe that’s just me?), the fucking weather, etc. – that it’s easy to start believing that the stuff that doesn’t matter, matters. But then something reminds you that it doesn’t.

Over time, I’ve found that meditation and books and — frankly — wine are good at helping me get to that place of transcending the bullshit. Celebration and love and family are even better.

And Best Man-ing is, of course, the best.

 

Three Things I’ve Decided About the Search for Love

I recently came across a half-serious/half-bitchy article on Esquire‘s blog that addressed the myriad ways in which my soul sister, Carrie Bradshaw of Sex and the City, has allegedly corrupted the belief systems of modern women. Within, the author kind of says — no big deal — that my entire life’s work is bullshit. Also, the reason I’m single.

Specifically:

7. Portraying Yourself as Someone Who Can’t Find Love Will [Not] Find You Love. Publicly crafting yourself as a person who can’t find love will not encourage anyone to love you. You should resist every urge to make your dating horrors into a cottage industry. Do not blog about them, do not indicate them in your status updates, and don’t you dare read your personal essays at even one open mic night.

This makes scary sense, doesn’t it? Like, when I first read it, I was all, “Shit, my Internet writing! My blog! I have destroyed ALL chances of ever finding a husband. Should I purchase an impregnated cat now? Or?”

But then I breathed deeply, closed my eyes, and thought to myself, You know what? No.

Because for me – someone who has been healed and inspired by the writings of many a confessional memoirist – writing is all about transparency. And with that, honesty. And so yeah, I’ve written quite a bit about being unable to find a decent man over the past three years (interestingly, just about the amount of time that has elapsed since my last serious relationship… Coincidence? No? Holy shit, it’s not! That article is totally on point and I’m steadfastly getting closer and closer to dying-alone-with-nothing-to-show-for-my-life-but-a-Netflix-account-and-a-freezer-full-of-ice-cream status with every word I type, huh? Wait. NO. I am going to stand in my truth on this one! I’m also going to finish my thought, as I’m pretty sure this parenthetical tangent happens to be in the middle of what should have been a cohesive sentence but has now just become a long schizophrenic ramble about nothing) but at least I’ve never tried to pretend I’m perfect.

With the above in mind, here is my list of three things I have learned about the search for love this year:

1. You don’t have to be perfect to be loved (or to love yourself).

I used to bitch a lot about the concept of self-love being a cliché crock of shit perpetuated by assholes who were already married and therefore never had to put their money where their smug, supposedly self-loving mouths were. But then I devoted this year to my inner journey and realized that maybe I was a little full of shit, too. I read up on spiritual principles, developed a relentless zeal for Oprah’s brilliant series-for-seekers Super Soul Sunday, and adopted a meditation practice. And I realized that I, like everyone else, had some healing to do. So I started reflecting, forgiving, visualizing, and meditating even more. I was doing pretty well. But then I developed a mindset that was all, “Okay, so after enough hours of meditation I’m just going to be perfect and completely healed and self-loving and awesome one hundred percent of the time, and then I’ll be able to allow love into my life. Right?”

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Sorry, Nic of a few months ago, but no. The path to self-actualization never ends. The only thing that really matters is that we’re making progress and loving ourselves through the process. I’m choosing to believe that my romantic match will agree with me on this. He won’t be perfect himself, and he won’t expect me to be perfect in return. And if he does? He’s not for me. (And furthermore, he’s probably a total douche canoe.)

2. Trying to control outcomes is exhausting and – oh! – pointless.

At the end of the day, Life (capital L, y’all) is gonna do what it do. So I’m going to say that Oprah has it right when she says that love, as with everything else, is all about a) setting an intention (i.e. “I want to meet a quality man who is basically a thirty-year-old version of Nick Jonas except gay and willing to get married and shower me with affection on the regular”); b) taking intuition-led action on that intention (i.e. “I totally just meditated on a love-affirmative mantra, updated my OkCupid profile, and went to a gay bar!”); and then c) surrendering the intention to the universe (i.e. “Okay God, so this isn’t my problem anymore. I’m trusting you to hook me up with my future husband, mmmkay? Thanks!”).

Needless to say, that last step is the hardest part, and yes, I’m still working on it. (Clearly. Or else I wouldn’t be blogging right now, as I’d kind of be busy giving my gay thirty-year-old Nick Jonas husband an epic blowjob.)

2a. Was that last parenthetical TMI?

Probably. But again, writing is all about honesty, right? On that note…

3. Portraying yourself as anything other than someone who can’t find love – when you, in fact, are looking for love and haven’t found it yet – is pretty fucking dishonest.

So, okay. I’m a firm believer that every word we put out there is an energy-carrying affirmation that is likely to manifest itself in our lives in one way or another, so on that level, I’m all about not being whiny and woe-is-me towards love. But I’m also a firm believer that I would be a total asshole if I tried to downplay my struggle over the past few years and cover it up with affirmations like, “Quality men flock to me and love is easy and I’m just, like, flawless! Yay!” (I’d also have absolutely no material, but that’s neither here nor there.)

At the same time, though, I’m not trying to repeat history. And so here is the affirmation I plan to take with me into 2014: “I am grateful for the many valuable lessons I’ve learned from my past romantic misfortunes, and I now know that I am deserving of a healthy partnership with a like-minded man. I trust Life to know when to bring us together. (And until then, I will fucking rock the single life.)”

3a. So now that my inspirational/uplifting moment is over, can we just talk about my gay thirty-year-old Nick Jonas husband character for a second?

I mean, honestly. How perfect would that be? We would be Nic and Nick!

NIC. AND. NICK.

 

I Accidentally Made Out with a Closeted Married Man, and Now I’m a Hot Mess

First and foremost, I feel the need to assure you that the events I’m about to recount actually took place. Like, in real life. Which you’ll soon realize is insane because one) I have already written extensively on the subject of falling in love with hot suited strangers during my daily commute on the Metro-North train, two) I once even blogged about a fantasy sequence in which I made out with one of them but he ended up being married, and three) that is somehow EXACTLY what happened to me last Friday night, in real life. IR-fucking-L.

There’s a lot to discuss here, so let’s just start from the beginning.

It was the end of a long week, so naturally I went out for post-work Sangria in the city with one of my best girlfriends. One pitcher turned into two, and before I knew it I was a little tipsy on a late-night train back to Connecticut. The train was delightfully empty, so I got cozy in a four-seater all by myself and prepared for the fifty-minute ride home.

Then he showed up. Hot businessman guy. He was wearing a grey pinstripe suit, fancy watch, and (according to my tipsy-goggles, at least) was ruggedly handsome – kind of like Brandon Walsh from 90210. Except manlier. And thirty-something. And, again, in a suit.

I took about five seconds to observe and appreciate his hotness, texted my friend something like “OMG, this man on the train is my everything,” glanced his way again, and then went back to staring at my phone (lest he catch me looking at him and interpret my stalkerish gazes as reason to desert me and switch to another train car that wasn’t crawling with predatory gay bloggers).

As we pulled out of Grand Central, the conductor came on the intercom and was all, “Please make all seats available,” and then the hot businessman opened up a roadie Coors Light, took a swig, and responded (to everyone and no one), “Uh, the train is empty!”

In my mind: He totally just opened the floor for conversation!!! Should I respond? I should definitely respond. No. That’d be weird. Wait, but he was weird first to even make the empty train remark to begin with. OK I’m doing it! No. YES. NO. Yes.

Out loud: “I know, right? The train is so empty!”

To my surprise, he looked my way and smiled warmly as I mentally congratulated myself for being capable of putting words together quickly enough to respond to his declaration. (Even though, let’s be honest, all I did was say exactly what he said except with a “so” in front of it.)

From there, we engaged in a bout of small talk about our commutes (we live in the same town, turns out!) and jobs (we work in the same part of the city, turns out!) and interests (we both watch football, turns out!).

While all of this was going on, I started developing the hopeful feeling that this guy was maybe gay, maybe into me, and maybe meant to be my husband. I mean, why else would he be so friendly? But then I told myself, “No. Calm yourself down, Nic. This dude probably thinks he’s just having a man-to-man discussion about Eli Manning and meanwhile you’ve let your mind go to that ‘ohmiGod is he gay and in love with me?!’ place in not even five minutes. GET A GRIP.”

After a few moments, we reached a lull in conversation. And then some random ass creepy guy in a black trench coat showed up out of nowhere and took one of the seats directly in front of me in my four-seater, despite the fact that there was a whole train car of empty seats available to him! James (the hot businessman guy — fake name, FYI) and I immediately exchanged glances to acknowledge how bizarre this was.

The creepy guy must have realized that James and I were telepathically discussing his weirdness (or maybe he just had to pee), because he abruptly got up and went to the bathroom, leaving me alone to wait for him to return and maim me take his seat back.

But then.

Like a knight in SHINING fucking ARMOR, James got up, swooped over into my four-seater and asked, “Would you like me to sit here instead?”

And so of course I said, “Yes!” and officially moved on from the “ohmiGod is he gay and in love with me?!” place into the more confident “My life is a romantic comedy and James and I SHALL BE MARRIED AND THIS SHALL BE THE STORY WE TELL OUR ADOPTED CHILDREN’S CHILDREN!” place.

For the remainder of the ride home, James and I talked. About our educations, occupations, hometowns, hobbies, and dreams. At one point I told him how I was working toward becoming a full-time writer and he responded with, “That makes sense; you give off a crazy-creative vibe,” and I had to pinch myself to ensure that I wasn’t just train-hallucinating this whole situation.

When we got to our stop, we walked off the train together.

“Alright,” I said as we approached the escalator, “I guess I should get on my way. Got a bit of a walk home.”

Then James was like, “Do you want a ride?” and I was like, “Yes!” (Because an exclamation-pointed “Yes!” had clearly become my go-to answer to any and all of James’ questions that night.)

I know what you may be thinking: Nic just accepted a ride from a stranger? Is he fucking nuts?!

Yes, I did. And yes, I am. And this is why hot people are dangerous. Because had this dude been gross looking or even just average, there’s no way I’d have said anything other than, “No, thanks.”

Still, as we walked to his car, there was a small voice inside of me that was like, “Uh, Christian Bale in American Psycho, Nic. He was hot. He wore a suit. And he killed bitches!” But I was able to quiet it down by asking James flat-out, “You’re not a crazy American psycho, are you?”

He just laughed adorably and said, “No! Trust me, you’re in good hands. I never do this. At all. Is this weird? This is weird. But I feel comfortable with you.”

And so we hopped into the car and continued talking for the duration of the ride to my apartment while our hands almost touched on the center armrest and I realized that I still didn’t have any conclusive evidence of his gay or straightness. There was a part of me that truly wondered if James was just a really nice straight man doing me a favor… but then there was another part of me that wanted to believe we had been flirting all night long.

Either way, when we finally got to the front of my building, I didn’t want to say goodnight. I considered inviting him up to my apartment, but then I was like, “WHO ARE YOU?” (to myself, not him) and instead settled for exchanging cell phone numbers with the intention of hanging out on purpose sometime soon.

And then.

I thanked him for the ride and reached out to shake his hand goodbye.

AND THEN.

He leaned over and went in for a kiss!

And so before I knew it, I was living in a dream and we were making out. And y’all — it was good. This man clearly knew what he was doing. Which is why it was so jarring to me when he abruptly stopped mid-make-out, said, “I don’t know what I’m doing!” and freaked the fuck out.

“What?” I asked, acting as if everything about this whole situation wasn’t bizarre enough to begin with.

“I don’t do stuff like this,” he nervously responded. “I’m married.”

So then my heart kind of casually just stopped, no big deal, and I said, “Wait. You’re married?” [Dramatic pause.] “To a human?”

“A human, Nic?” he replied. “Yes. I’m married to a woman.”

Jaaames!!!” I whined. “WHY?”

And then I punched him. (Playfully and on the chest, but still.)

He proceeded to apologize for not telling me about his wife before kissing me, and then he got this really sad look on his face, and for a second my heart felt incredibly heavy for him. Because I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to be trapped in a straight life and married to a woman and have to deal with inner demons and family pressures and tempting little hot pieces of ass like me just occupying four-seaters on trains on Friday nights.

But then I felt more bad for his wife, because I’m friends with quite a few women and I know for a fact that none of them want their husbands to be repressed gay men.

But then (and maybe I should be ashamed of this?) I felt mostly bad for me. Because seriously, WTF? I meet this perfect-in-every-way man — the old-fashioned, technology-free, just-like-in-the-movies way, even! — and we hit it off tremendously, and he’s the most passionate kisser in the history of the world, and then he’s somebody’s husband? How did I forget to check his left hand for a ring? How did he think it was okay to pursue me in the first place? Do any quality, available men even exist anymore? WHERE HAVE ALL THE COWBOYS GONE?

After about thirty awkwardly silent seconds of sitting in James’ car post-wife-confession, I decided to just start making out with him again. This was desperate and not okay, I know. But again: his kiss. It was delicious. Delicious and forbidden and sexual and hot. And I knew that he was a very dangerous person to even think about getting involved with, but I wanted to pretend for just the shortest moment that he was good and genuine and mine.

And so we kept making out in his car for about ten more blissful seconds, but then — and I think this may have been my conscience resurrecting itself from the low-self-esteem-y grave I’d just dug for it — I started wondering what his wife’s name was and what she must be doing and what she might think he was doing and what her Pinterest might look like. And so I finally mustered up the strength to say, “Dude. This is fucked up. We can’t do this.”

“You’re right,” he replied, not fighting me at all. “I understand if you want to just lose my number. I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine,” I sighed. “It’s fine.”

Then I got out of his car, walked up to my apartment, and aggressively slammed my bag against the floor in a fit of rage. I ran to my window to see if his car was still on my street, but he had already driven off. Regardless of all the reasons not to, I wanted to call him right then and there to ask him to come back so we could try and recapture whatever the hell it was we had both just discovered and lost, all within the past hour.

But then I walked into my bathroom, looked at myself in the mirror, and realized that I really, really needed to take his advice — and just lose his number.

2014 UPDATE: We ran into each other at Dunkin’ Donuts and it was weird.

 

I Wore My Pedometer to the Club and Took 10,000 Steps in the Name of Love

My company participates in this program where we get paid little mini-bonuses for wearing work-sponsored pedometers and taking steps. Something about having healthy, active employees and saving on insurance costs? IDK, but I love free money – so I have of course been wearing it on the regular and taking all kinds of superfluous steps whenever possible because in the back of my mind I’m always like, Dude, you can wait for a parking spot that’s twenty feet closer to the Cheesecake Factory Vitamin Shoppe, or you can take the crappy space, burn some calories, and make a extra buck while you’re at it. WHAT’S IT GONNA BE, FATTY?

(Then I cancel that last thought out because calling myself fat is a result of fear-based thinking, and I’m so over fear-based thinking, and have I mentioned that I’m super fit?)

Anyway. This past Saturday, I strapped on my pedometer along with my favorite pair of Banana Republic khakis and attended a charity event at my alma mater thrown by my one of my best friends.

It was freakin’ awesome for three reasons.

  1. I love supporting good causes – especially when supporting a good cause involves going back to the school where I lost my virginity, thereby leading me into a whole self-reflective, forgiving, aware-of-my-incredible-growth-over-the-past-seven-years space. (So basically I love supporting good causes when I get to remove the cause itself from the equation and make the experience all about me… This could be the mark of a horrible person, but I’m not going to go down that road.)
  2. There was a MASHED PO-TINI BAR. This involves martini glasses, mashed potatoes, and a heart-unhealthy selection of toppings (sour cream, bacon, cheese, chili, shame, etc.) – like a salad bar only more delicious and with a corny pun. Mashed po-tinis are amazing, and can we make them a thing like, immediately? #mashedpotini.
  3. It was a loving, healing, and just plain ol’ fun time. I saw old college friends, danced to big band music, and witnessed an a cappella group sing the best song ever – “Always Be My Baby” by Mariah Carey, obviously – which was cosmically perfect because it just so happens that we’re about to have a cicada season in Connecticut.

If you don’t know about cicadas, then (one) I envy you, and (two) they are loud, gross-looking bugs that only emerge every 17 years and wreak havoc for two weeks until they die again.

The last time we had cicadas, I was eight years old. It was 1996 and I was obsessed with Mariah’s Daydream album. I distinctly remember watching the video for “Always Be My Baby” and wondering where all the cicadas were in the woodsy, marshy area she seemed to be so comfortably frolicking in. (I was pretty much an eight-year-old version of the Wendy’s “Wheeere’s the beef?” lady, except I was all “Wheeere’re the cicadas?!”)

So for the past week, in anticipation of the locust-like creatures, I’ve been going on nightly after-dinner walks reflecting on my early years and listening to “Always Be My Baby” while paying honor to my inner child. So when the a cappella group randomly chose to sing that song of ALL songs on Saturday, it was one of those incredible moments that would seem like no big deal to most people but to me was most definitely God being all like, “Whassup Nic?

In short, this event made me feel all kinds of love. And I’ve been feeling all kinds of love all the time lately. And when I’m feeling all kinds of love, I kind of just want to dance. So I did something crazy on my way home that night – I stopped at a gay club.

Alone.

I sat in the parking lot for two minutes before going in, telling myself that I was there for one reason only: to shake my groove thang. No expectations, no need to seek validation from anyone, no irrational ego-based fears of being judged – just me standing – make that dancing – in my truth.

And I did it! I held it down on the floor song after song, having my very own self-loving private party – except totally in public. It was kind of the best thing ever.

Interestingly enough, it seemed that my whole loving energy field actually drew people to me, most of whom I shared only a brief moment or two with until deciding that I wanted to keep rocking out on my own.

Then there was this one handsome gentleman who kept making his way back to me despite my noncommittal demeanor towards dance floor location. I finally just embraced his energy and we communicated in this crazy, wordless way that I kind of knew was probably only sexual on his part. Still, I was willing to overlook it in an effort to view him as the innocent child that he once was (this is a fun game I’ve been playing with everyone I meet lately… it’s especially effective with mean people). My mind wandered, and I found myself wondering where he was during the 1996 cicada invasion.

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, he tried to kiss me. While the old Nic would have probably been like “Scooore! Maybe we can get married?” I decided to be the new Nic in this moment. [KEY CHANGE ALERT!]

I politely turned my head, coughed laughed, and yelled to him that I was “just here to dance, but you’re really cute!”

It was the truth. I wasn’t there to make out with random dudes; I was just there to dance – and, in a broader sense, to love myself.

And so that’s what I did – step by step, one step at a time, 10,000 pedometer-counted times. (Cha-ching!)

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*This is a photo I found on a bar’s website from many years ago. Look at baby Nic being all intense and dance-y! Also, the year was 2010. Do you love how warped my sense of time is?

No Fear, Lots of Love, and Maybe a Tunic

Here’s an instant message conversation that took place between my work-wife Mila and me the other day:

  • Mila: I’m wearing sunglasses today because I feel like a rock star for once.
  • Nic: You are a rock star always! Speaking of sun and glasses, I see the light of God in you.
  • Mila: I just want you to know that lately I’ve been picturing you wearing a white tunic when you say all of these positive things to me.
  • Nic: LOL.
  • Mila: Seriously dude. A white tunic.

She has a point. A white tunic would really compliment my holistic demeanor as of late. I’ve been all about positivity. Which means I’ve been all about my spiritual journey. Which means I’ve been all about love. Which means I’ve been thinking things like, Damn. It’s such a shame that the word “love” is as abused as it is these days.

In addition to abused: overused, diluted, undervalued, demeaned, clichéd, misunderstood.

I’ve misunderstood the concept of love for, I don’t know, about 25 of my 25 years here on Earth. But the other day I was listening to an India.Arie song called “The Wings of Forgiveness,” and thought to myself, Wow, she gets it.

Then I was all, OMG does that mean I get it?

I don’t know if I’m totally there yet, but I’m amazed at just how much perspective I’ve gained over the past few months. I’m well on my way.

I owe much of this to the fact that I’ve been reading Marianne Williamson’s seminal New Age-y masterpiece, A Return to Love every night during American Idol commercial breaks while sipping on herbal tea and donning a peaceful and enlightened half-smile. (You’re picturing me in that tunic right now, aren’t you?)

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…But for real, though.

There’s no way I could characterize the power of this book (which is based on the insanely long yet insanely the-answer-to-everything-ever-ish spiritual textbook A Course In Miracles) in a little ol’ Keychanges blog post, but if there’s one principle I’d say has resonated strongly with me it’s that love is the exact opposite of fear. Love is a thing, and fear is so not a thing, but fear is the root of pretty much all negative things, and negative things aren’t actually things at all in the first place, because love is THE ONLY THING.

Have I lost you yet?

…THING!

What I mean to say here is that love is real and everything else is an illusion based on fear. Our egos are nothing more than fear, blocking us from getting to the love that we often don’t allow ourselves to step into.

So the road to happiness and honestly loving ourselves and others involves recognizing and letting go of these fears.

(Now think about THAT for a second.)

(…Deep, huh?)

More often than not, letting go of fear means truly, truly forgiving people – including our parents, ideal-shattering ex-boyfriends, those who’ve called us fat, ourselves, etc. It’s not easy, but it’s powerful.

I’ve already started stopping myself in the midst of my every day situations to close my eyes and say, “Hold the phone, brother Nic. [Yes, I’m referring to myself as my own brother. IDK, it kinda works?] Are you reacting with fear or love right now? FEAR OR LOVE? YOU CAN’T HAVE BOTH!”

And then I breathe. And then I forgive someone.

And then I choose love.

 

I Think This is Called Growth

So, I have missed blogging. And Keychanges. And y’all. And Debelah Morgan, singer of the infectiously feel-good 2000 pop hit, “Dance With Me,” but that’s for another post.

Despite my blog-homesickness, my recent month-long sojourn has been crazy productive, and I’m as excited as a Leprechaun in a pot o’ gold (…I don’t even know) to write about what’s been happening in my life. Remember how at the beginning of the year I went all No Fool, No More (shout-out En Vogue!) on the Internet and wrote about how I’d be officially giving up unavailable men? Well, I’m currently four months strong. As my mom would say, Holla!

I’ve been in a very self-loving, self-improving, self-awesome space lately – which actually led to me inadvertently giving up all men – yet another reason for my blogging absence. Writing about desperation, food addiction, and general inadequacy? That’s so 2012!

So far this year I’ve realized that a) I’m pretty much amazing, b) I’m not fat, and c) I may not want a relationship right now after all. And I certainly don’t need one.

Talk about some freakin’ key changes – am I right?

After all of the absurdity I’ve documented here on my tumultuous search for post-grad-school love, I’ve finally started to look within – something I used to vehemently avoid, as I found the concept of self-love to be impossible and stupid and only for self-important, self-absorbed douchebags.

Like most good things, my journey toward self-love began with Oprah. Her Super Soul Sunday series will really make you think about shit. As a result of watching it, I’ve identified elements of society, my past, etc. that have all resulted in thought and action patterns that weren’t doing me any damn favors on my search for fulfillment. I recognized that a lot of my issues were with other gay folk – so rather than continue to cast myself in the role of “outcast” in our sometimes tragically anti-community community, I decided to write another piece for the Advocate that addresses how we can all use self-love and vulnerability to grow stronger together.

Read it HERE! But be sure to come back home to momma Oprah my blog when you’re done.

With my proclamation came lots of anti-Oprah vitriol from people who didn’t even bother to read the piece – lest they get a strong dose of truth and consequently melt or something – which pretty much hilariously proved my point in the article about how we need to stop being assholes and just start transmitting vibrations of love rather than superiority.

But thankfully, the piece also proved that there are some really, really great gay dudes out there who totally “get it.”

Like this guy Stephen (ignore Karl, he was having a bad day):

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Or like the many others who took the time to e-mail, message, or tweet me with anecdotes about how the article resonated with them. It was inspiring, and felt great to have feedback that was more along the lines of “Wow – powerful message. Thank you for that!” rather than my usual supportive feedback which tends to be more of an admittedly baited, “You’re not fat!” (But I mean, please don’t stop with those – that phrase is music to my slightly obese — kidding! — ears and I obviously can’t hear it enough.)

Speaking of fatness – while I inadvertently gave up men, I also inadvertently lost ten pounds! Well, not totally inadvertently – I did start going to the gym five days a week and eating healthier, but it was more so because I realized that endorphins make me happy and less so because some guy struggling with his own myriad body and emotional issues told me to.

So, yeah. Things are going pretty well these days. And I guess that’s all I’m trying to say with this post – life is good, I love you all, and I’m still wholly devoted to and grateful for blogging and this blog and your blogs and, really, the word “blog” in general. Blog.

Blog!

 

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