Maybe it’s the longer days, or the fact that it’s officially Aries season and us fellow fire signs are feeling extra spicy as a result, but I’m in a really good mood!

It could also be that for the first time in years, a man laid hands on my naked body and it felt amazing.

Sure, he was a massage therapist at a spa…but…still!

Anyway, for an hour, I was the only woman that mattered, and we briefly bonded over the tattoo on my lower back because he was Japanese and knew what it meant. Both translation-wise, and also that I was absolutely game to have all the pressure and hot stone action he was gonna bring to my hella tense neck and shoulder area. This, in addition to the Kundalini yoga session I began the day with taught by a Jamaican goddess, was my gift to my body after spending the previous day tackling laundry and getting my apartment cleaned and smudged to welcome the newness of the season.

All jokes aside…I do enjoy a good wash and (re)set.

My love of keeping things clean and orderly has reached the borderline of obsession compulsion over the years and I’m at peace with that. Mainly because when all else fails in my personal and professional spaces, at least I can sweep, mop, wipe and scrub away some of the angst I’m experiencing in the process in my home. Something about it soothes me. It’s also been my main form of exercise over the past two years as I’ve stayed mostly indoors, and along with my Trader Joe’s and Target runs, can be attributed for the gun show on display on my arms. So there’s that.

But while my relationship with Mrs. Meyers and Murphy’s Oil has been pretty well established for a minute to take on the outward messes, my relationship with my damn self and the inner messiness is where the real cleanup was necessary.

Enter the pandemic; a time that “encouraged” me to look inward in ways I’d only just begun exploring when I started therapy nearly six years ago. (Note: Anyone thinking a couple of sessions will solve all your woes is 1. Wrong 2. Dead Wrong and 3. Not fully ready to do the work and wasting a fuckton of money and time trying to convince others you’re in a good place for optics. Full stop.) Being involuntarily motivated to sit in silence and listen to and journal my own thoughts was the biggest blessing of my life — aside from the added bonus of being able to have deep, meaningful conversations about those thoughts with many of my friends and family who were going through similar things and found strengthened connections and understanding in the process.

Alas, this is a marathon, not a sprint, so the work continues. And in the last few weeks, that’s meant purging things that didn’t fit in trash bags.

I’ve deleted numbers I’ve had for decades. Removed connections on social media that were toxic. Established very necessary boundaries with friends who’ve known me since my teens, and push back —HARD — when someone isn’t respecting them.

I realized later than I would’ve liked that a lot of what’s been keeping me from having what I want in this life has been me, but in my defense, I legitimately didn’t think I’d live long enough to actually want anything other than peace of mind. Now I want money. And a fulfilling career I enjoy in a place where I’m valued and respected and compensated accordingly (even if I have to continue creating it at home). And great sex on the regular with someone who also values me and respects in the present (and not wait months and years to express appreciation after I’ve given up craving it). And more travel.

…And meditative yoga followed by hourlong massages.

You see where I’m going with this.

The point is, the same way I’d spend every week before the New Year rolled in tossing things that either don’t fit or were of no used to me when it came to clothing and random inanimate objects, so too I must apply to mindsets and/or relationships both personal and professional that don’t feel healthy or support or foster growth and becoming the best version of me.

Because, in a perfect world, none of us are the people we used to be. We learned new things. We listened to and gained more perspectives. We embraced both our imperfections and those of others with grace and compassion. We learned to laugh at ourselves and be okay with crying too. We turned mistakes into teachable moments. We evolved.

At least… that’s the ideal scenario.

I understand that there are going to be folks afraid of change. Who feel a sense of security in a lifetime of routine in thought and practice, and believe that the world around them should fall in line to meet their needs and expectations. There are gonna be folks who will only always see the version of you that feels comfortable for them and fits their narrative for their own benefit and ego. And those folks are going to feel personally affronted, resistant and downright combative to anything that challenges them to shift their long-held beliefs.

And those are the people you’ll have to walk away from for your own peace and protection.

It’s not always easy. The urge to try and convince them to see things your way and embrace a new story for the sake of your relationship can be so great. The hope of finally being seen and accepted by a person or group that has all but written you off (in whatever way that looks like), is akin to holding on to a frayed garment longer than you should because you’ve gotten used to it and still like the way it looks and feels in some areas, even when you know it’s coming dangerously close to betraying you and exposing your privates to the world in its last act of defiance.

Letting go of shit is hard…unless it hurts more to hold on. But only you can decide when that time comes. And you’ll feel so much better when it does.

As for me…I’m feeling exponentially lighter these days. And not just because some dude put his elbows in my shoulder blades.

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