Dear Alcohol—

“Two words. Three vowels. Four consonants. Seven letters. It can either cut you open to the core and leave you in ungodly pain or it can free your soul and lift a tremendous weight off you shoulders. The phrase is: It's over.”    ― Maggi Richard

To My (ex)Love,

"Goodbye, my looooooooooove........"
How do I begin? I'm sure you've noticed I've been avoiding you for a few weeks. It's true, I ignore you in social settings. I haven't brought you home with me. I haven't even touched you in days. The air between us has been wrought with tension, unfulfilled longing, unearthed wrongs, and unspoken broken promises. I know you deserve an explanation, and so I will do my best here and now to give it to you.

The time has come. I'm making it official: we are over.

This may come as a shock since less than a month ago we were spending nearly every day together. We were side by side on top of mountains, in rivers and hot springs, at various restaurants and bars. You accompanied me to family gatherings, and you were definitely at my goodbye party before I flew back to Korea. You've been with me during the good times and the bad. If I was sad, angry, lonely, bored—you were there to put a bandaid on my discomfort. I understand you might be reeling from the news. So let me explain.

First off, you drain my bank account like a booby-licious gold-digger. Money I need for other things somehow gets spent on you. I'm the sailor and you're the Siren—I am defenseless against your call. It stops now. I am not your sugar momma, and I refuse to keep spending money on you. Because you make me poor, we are over.

Something you may not realize is that no matter how good you make me feel when you're around, as soon as you leave, I feel like crap. You take my energy and good moods with you like some sort of a good-vibes-debt-collector. Sure, we have fantastic times, occasionally. But the bottom line is — it's not worth the price I pay. Because you make me lazy and "bleh", we are over.

I know it's common in relationships for habits to shift. You're comfortable together; you enjoy eating delicious meals and yummy desserts; you watch a few more movies and exercise a bit less. However, your influence on my habits is over the line. Somehow you convince me to skip the gym, to watch a bit more tv, to order a pizza or buy another ice cream. Your presence is laced with salt/fat/sugar cravings. Around you, my self-discipline is depleted. More junk food and less lifting-heavy-stuff makes me bummed out, broken out, and chubbed out. Because you mess up my healthy routines, we are over.

We are over, but that doesn't mean I don't miss you. I think about you a lot. Sometimes daily. When I'm out with friends, I'm longing to feel you in my hand, to taste you on my lips. If we weren't broken up, I could almost guarantee you'd be getting drunk texts from me, asking you if you want to come over and "talk".

But, here's the thing. As time goes on, I'm thinking of you less and less. I'm realizing that life isn't as hard without you as it seemed a few weeks ago. I'm sure I'll still think about you and the good times we had. Even so, I know I'm better off without you, at least for now. Maybe in the future, if I've grown a little and you can be less needy, we could try this thing again. Until then, my boozy babe, be well.

Love From,


Dry Korea: The Clean Year Part II

"That's the problem with drinking, I thought, as I poured myself a drink. If something bad happens you drink in attempt to forget; if something good happens you drink in order to celebrate; and if nothing happens you drink to make something happen." —Charles Bukowski, Women

It's been a quick minute, my friends. Three years, in fact! I've spent them in South Korea, working at a job I love dearly, befriending incredible people, and traveling all over Asia experiencing the most amazing sh%* a gal could dream up. I owe all that to this blog and the journey that started it. I believe, without a doubt, that had I not done The Clean Year Part I in 2011-12 (no alcohol, sugar, caffeine for a year), I would not have had the clarity of mind, healthy habits, and energy to have attained an international teaching position and moved half way around the world.

My friend, Meredith, and I in MONGOLIA!
Many people have asked if I kept my clean habits after the year was up. I guess my best answer is this—sort of. It changed me mentally; it showed me what I was capable of; and it proved that I didn't need all those substances to manage stress. However, moving to South Korea meant a experiencing crap-ton of different stress, entirely changing my life, and meeting all new people in a land where the trifecta (alcohol/sugar/caffeine) appeared at every social event. So yeah, I didn't maintain as well as I'd expected. Here's a little excerpt of my journal from November 2012 (my first year in Korea) that speaks to my life-transition in relation to my substance trifecta:

 Life here is not all bubbles and sunshine.  Changing your life completely is very stressful.  I did not weather it well.  But, I weathered it.  The Clean Year prepared me/showed me that I am most whole/content/healthy, living clean.  But, when stress and loneliness and what-have-you get me down, old, bad habits arise.  And so they have.  The vices came back into play.  Luckily, a friend-pact minimized my consumption of alcohol in these first few months, but sugar and caffeine quickly became my best frenemies again.  Oh, and did I mention that people party harder here than we did in college?  So, yeah...there's that.
This may or may not have happened in the back
of a Korean bus en route to Seoraksan National
Park for a weekend of hiking.

I definitely have had my ups and downs here, struggling primarily with putting healthy routines into place when I'm all over the place. Heh. (That works literally and figuratively.) Which brings me to the purpose of this post.

This year is (probably-definitely) my final one in Korea before a new chapter begins. During the summer months in Colorado, I felt the familiar inner nudging towards some "clean-up on aisle three". I'm heading into another massive year of transition. And we all know, transition is EFFING HARD. Even positive, happy changes can be taxing. Transition takes so much energy. It is stressful and emotional. The complexity of choosing a new path can be extremely challenging.

This year, I need a clear head and heart, healthy stress-management, and a ton of energy as I—once again—leap into the great abyss. For this reason, I've made the decision to spend this school year in Korea: dry. As in alcohol-free. As in sans brew/bubbly/vino. (Is it a bad sign that my innards just did a backflip as I wrote that?)

For anyone who has been here, "Dry Korea" may sound like an oxymoron. Soju, Cass, Hite, and an ever-growing selection of wine and craft beers permeate the streets and social events like one-word emails do your online dating inbox. It is everywhere. All the time. So how's this dry year going to go? Probably a bit rocky. Luckily, I learned a lot the first time around about how to get through the tough few weeks/months till my social, mental, and emotional reliance on it fades away. And even more importantly, I have some amazing friends here who are sure to support me on my quest.

It boils down to this: clean living brings out the best version of me. I am committing to a year of self-improvement and discovery by leaving out something that clouds my vision, depletes my energy, and clutters my path with very little in return.

So, here we go—another clean year is underway (as of August 1st). I'm excited to undergo another challenge and record my experiences blog-style. Here's to another year of "life without crutches".



The Year of Answers

"When we are no longer able to change a situation - we are challenged to change ourselves."         -Viktor E. Frankl

Someone once told me, "Tiff, there are years of questions and there are years of answers."  At that difficult moment in my life, that concept provided me with some comfort.  As the years have passed, I've found it to be true.  There are years during which I am so damn unhappy with where I'm at, with no idea of which direction to turn. There are years that I feel little to no connection to myself and feel as though I'm going through the motions behind this Tiffany mask I think people want to see.  These are years of questions.  Uncertainty and discomfort abound and things fall to pieces.

But here's the deal: discomfort leads to action.  And action is often followed by years of answers.  Years that frolic, instead of plod, when I feel comfycozy in my "Tiffany-ity" and from that, am able to connect and be and act on a level distinctly more solid and sure than during question years.  The Clean Year has most definitely been a year of answers.

I've reconnected to who I am on a level that hasn't been possible in the past few years.  I've discovered new parts of myself and developed different skills.  I've learned a little bit more about what makes me, not happy, but deeply content and satisfied.  Flow, some people call it.  This is a year that has been rife with new doors opening...far too many to go through in fact.

At the close of The Clean Year, I can truly say that I, and my life path, have been forever changed. Now that, my friends, is what I will deem...a success.

Here's to the knowledge that there are endless paths before us, and an infinite amount of opportunities to make the world a better place. Keep adventuring, keep working hard, keep loving deep.


Announcement: A Big One

"Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it.  Boldness has genius and power and magic in it."  -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Remember that Top Secret #3 from my last post?  Well, I'm ready to reveal it to the world.  I'm fulfilling one of my long-time "life goals" of living and working abroad.  I am moving to Seoul, South Korea at the end of next July to spend two years teaching at an international school!  AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!  So crazy, and weird, and awesome, and amazing, and scary, and YAY!

I found it fitting to use the same quote on this post as I did my very first one last August.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that without The Clean Year, I wouldn't be moving overseas and accomplishing something I've always wanted but never been quite "ready" to pursue.

I began this journey in pursuit of better physical health and with the desire to deal with stress in less destructive ways.  What has come about in my imperfect, but impactful Clean Journey is a subtle but powerful shift in how I process things and how I react to both negative and positive stimuli.  In the past few years (really, my teaching years), levels of stress reached so high that I would use anything to escape and avoid it.  In other words, I got really great at sticking my head in the sand and simply surviving until things felt easier.  This year has been much more uncomfortable for me...but as time goes on, I'm discovering that I see and feel everything much more clearly, I'm braver, I face what's coming head on instead of avoiding it.  I'm no longer content to simply survive, I want to thrive!  All these small shifts, I'm certain, contributed to my being courageous enough to say "why not now?", spend lots of money I didn't have, fly to San Francisco and go all out for the job of my dreams...which I'm pretty sure I got.

After I signed my two year contract in a Marriott suite with my new bosses, they asked me to join them in the lobby for a drink to cheers the upcoming school year and living overseas.  To that point, no drop of alcohol had touched my lips for six months.  And I thought to myself, if ever there was a time to sit down and toast with a dirty vodka martini, this is the time!  So, I sipped the celebratory cocktail until I realized I was about to be drunk in front of my new bosses and left the second half in the glass.  (For the record, this is the first delicious martini to ever have been left unfinished by me.)  I was floating on air as I got on my plane back to Denver.  Other than the massive stomachache and headache the vodka gave me, I was the surest type of jubilant a gal could be.

So that's it, Top Secret #3 revealed.  My yoga teacher said yesterday, "Most anything we want to create is outside of our comfort zone."  With that in mind, I encourage you to immediately and boldly begin whatever it is you dare to dream.   Till next time, be well.


Don't Be Perfect...Be Brave!

"Nothing that is complete breathes."  ~Antonio Porchia, Voces

If you don't go to my gym or my work, you may have thought I'd given up and am wallowing in a sea of donuts and coffee and tequila.  I know.  It's been that long.

Well, my absence has been due to three beautiful reasons: 

#1...I stabbed a steak knife basically through my hand while pitting an avocado in the world's worst way.  Ouch.  Yeah, stupid.  But, a blessing in disguise, believe it or not!  
I think this looks sharper than the one I plunged through my hand.
#2...Anusara yoga.  It's been taking up my weekends and filling my brain with so much AWESOME it led me to spend my time in different ways than my usual deal.
Life-changing stuff.  Eff yeah.

#3...is a big ol' honkin' secret.  For now.  And it is a huge time-sucker...you'll just have to trust me on that one.
We all got 'em.

It's around the six month mark of the Clean Year and I've been finding myself in a mode of uber reflection recently.  Even though I have by no means been exactly perfect (except in the area of alcohol), I look at my brain and my life now and realize that habits/ideas/processes ARE changing.  I get so excited about my fancy waters at the bar and have stopped gazing longingly at bubbly beers and tannintastic reds.  I no longer get flustered when people ask why I'm doing this.  I am clear-headed and feeling the ups and downs of my life in an intense, less-cluttered, laser-precise, so-clear-you-can-literally-see-to-the-bottom-of-the-lake kind of way.  Is this good?  Yeah.  Is this super uncomfortable?  F*$& yeah.  But that's the point.  I feel like I'm getting so much better at facing things head on, being open to sucking at life sometimes, not burying my head in the sand and "crutching" till the yuck goes away, and being really honest and accepting of myself at all points.  Not just when I'm awesome.  It's so easy to like yourself when you're awesome.  It's so hard to like yourself when you suck.

I could bore you with a bunch of details, but I'll try to boil it down to the essence of what's on my brain right now.

Steak Knife Lesson:  Freakin' let go for once.  Slow down.  Stop thinking.  Stop doing.  Skip work for a few days and be high on percocet.  Sleep 18 hours a day and don't feel guilty.  Read a sh*% ton of young adult novels because it makes you happy.  Love your body.  Start to notice the wonder of every miraculous movement it makes.  Thank the stars/the lord above/the Skidmore genes for a marvelous, functioning and able body and brain.  Realize the school/the students/the family/the friends/the world will all survive without you.  Disappear for awhile, but not because you don't feel good enough...just because.  Be grateful for people who support you unconditionally.  Just be.

Anusara Yoga Lesson:  My yoga instructor, Buffy Barfoot, is truly a source of inspiration.  The title of this post is straight from her mouth this morning.  "Don't be perfect...be brave," she urges and then tells us to do an arm stand that seems impossible.  Until I just GO, and find myself balancing my body sideways on two hands.  "Press into your edges, because that is where you find the treasures of learning," she says, as I grunt and shake and grimace and sweat on my mat.  "Shaking is your body carving new pathways.  Just breathe."  I shake and breathe and listen to the battle in my mind.  "We do hard things with our bodies, so we are prepared to do hard things in our lives."  Word.  I realize that's why I love CrossFit.  And why I love these Anusara classes with this instructor.  My knees and my heart and my soul are finding solace and relief in this practice, within a compassionate and loving community that is united under a genuinely beautiful leader with profoundly impactful words. 

From a person who tries to prevent "the bad" in life by being as perfect as possible and having an illusion of control in her life, I'm taking on that statement as my new motto:  "Don't be perfect...be brave."  And from the steak knife: "let go and just be."

Can it really be that simple?


New Year's Resolutions: Uses and Excuses

"You'll fail at a 100% of the goals you don't set". - Mark Victor Hansen

Christmas is around the corner, and it blindsided me as it always does.  How is this possible when I haven't worked since Wednesday?  That I don't know.  I did spend a lot of time catching up on appointments, reading, working on this year's handmade presents and watching documentaries on my one month free Netflix account (the world is scandalous, yo!).

 Christmas is, well, Christmas.  Usually it's wonderful and sometimes it's a stress-filled nightmare.  But what I'm really excited for is the week after Christmas.  There's this beautiful lull in my world in between Christmas and the New Year: no work and a lot of time to think.  And to what end does all this thinking lead?  (<--Please read in uppity, nasaly voice in your head...yes, friends, this sentence I DID revamp in order to not end in a preposition...although really we do it all the time, and it's really not a bad thing, but grammar nazis would notice, as they will surely notice this run on sentence.  I <3 linguistics.  And grammar nazis.  <-That phrase dressed as a sentence is for you, from me, with love.  Mmmmk, let's get back on track.)  Where does all this thinking lead?  To New Year's resolutions, of course!

I used to dismiss New Year's resolutions as a waste of time, citing what I'd heard others say...if you want to make a change, you should do it at any time of the year.  I concluded, before ever trying, that resolving to do something at the New Year would ultimately end in failure.  (And by failure, I mean giving up and going back to the old ways.)  Why?  Because that's what I observed happening with my friends, in the media, with the mass numbers of people crowding into my 24 Hour Fitness all of January...only to be back to normal sized herds in a month or two.

Well, that all changed for me about five or six years ago, when I was dating a fellow who was smart, driven, quirky, and who annually sat down, reflected on the last year and wrote New Year's resolutions for the upcoming year.


Sunday Revelation

"Don't think about your food.  Feel your food.  Let your body be the expert." -Krista Scott-Dixon

Krista Scott-Dixon, author of e-book, Fuck Calories and Other Dietary Heresies, just blew my mind!  Please, please, please check out her e-book here, I guarantee you will be inspired, learn something new, or at the very least have a great giggle at her delightfully crass yet compassionate writing style.  

Her call to action is hard to ignore.  Do your body a favor and spend twenty minutes reading it.

That is all, lovies...have a wonderful Sunday afternoon.  Go Broncos!!!