Decisions.

You have a right to experiment with your life.

You will make mistakes.

And they are right too.

– Anaïs Nin

It’s a Wednesday afternoon in Burbank, California, and I’m lying flat on my back on a massage table. But I’m not getting a massage. Instead, I’m doing something I’ve never done before, a theme for me lately. I’m seeing an intuitive healer. I’m not sure what to expect, only that I’ve been feeling stuck and directionless, and that the healer – a woman named Alicia – was recommended by a close friend. And so, I go.

Alicia begins by using a pendulum device to scan my chakras. As she suspends it over my body, it spins clockwise, emitting a soft hum. When she gets to the area above my heart, the pendulum’s spin slows down. Above my head, it stops altogether, and then begins to spin backwards.

“You’re feeling indecisive,” she says.

“Yes,” I admit.

“Doubting yourself?”

“Yes.”

When I get up from the table and check my phone, I’m stunned to discover that nearly two hours have passed. Despite our pre-session consultation, during which Alicia advised me that I could feel any number of things during the healing (sadness, pain, anger – to name a few), I remained calm and relaxed throughout. As she placed her hands on my ankles, my shoulders, the crease in my elbow, the crown of my head – anywhere that needed healing – she asked me questions, described images she saw, and we talked. That was it. I didn’t cry, not once. When I left her house, I felt tired, but also, at peace.

A few days later, at a creative writing workshop with WriteGirl, a mentoring organization I volunteer for, I spent several hours working with two teenage girls whom I’d never met before. They were both beginning the college application process and were both feeling overwhelmed by it all. As we talked about schools, AP classes, personal essays and the pressure to choose a major, I heard myself giving them advice I wish I’d received when I was seventeen:

“If you choose a college and you don’t like it, you can always transfer.

If you pick a major that’s not right for you, you can always change it.

I know it feels like the decisions you make now will determine the rest of your life,

but I promise you, they won’t.

You can always change your mind. About everything.”

In my life, I’ve spent a whole lot of time talking about all the big things I’m going to do, and only a little bit of time doing them. The “talk” is safe, because a plan that hasn’t been put into action yet hasn’t had the chance to fail. The decision is a different thing altogether. The decision is scary. The decision means that you stop thinking, stop weighing your options. It means you go for it, and you don’t look back.

I talked about going to New York for a long time before I decided to do it. And now that I’ve decided, I feel a bit like a snowball rolling down a hill, rapidly gathering speed. I gave up my apartment and all my furniture. I’m paring down my belongings, getting rid of clothes and books and personal effects I used to cherish. I’m preparing to sell my car, and several pieces of my mother’s jewelry. And even though I don’t leave for three more weeks, this weekend I’m hosting a going away party at which I’ll see many of my L.A. friends for the last time. At least, for a while.

Thinking about those teenage girls, their futures uncertain, their whole lives stretched out before them like a promise, I found myself wondering: how many evolutions do we get in a life? And I think the answer is: as many as we chose. We can always change. We can always grow. But we must be willing to say no to the old way of doing things, and yes to the uncertain and the unknown. We must be willing to be vulnerable. To screw up. To learn. And to begin again.

Until next time, friends.

Ten thousand.

Last week, I reached an incredible milestone on this blog: 10,000 email subscribers. I can scarcely believe it.

When I first started Extra Dry Martini 3 ½ years ago, I had no idea what the hell I was doing. I only knew that I had a lot of ideas and opinions and I wanted to carve out my own little corner of the Internet on which to share them. I named this blog after my favorite cocktail, while the tagline, Straight up, with a twist, was a nod to my often blunt (sometimes foot-in-the-mouth!) Sagittarian nature, and my rather edgy, sarcastic sense of humor. Away I went.

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I couldn’t have anticipated that only a few short months later, life as I knew it would fall apart. Or maybe I could have. Maybe I did. Maybe I intuited, in some strange, cosmic, sixth sense-ical way – the way animals can sense an impending natural disaster – that creating this platform to express myself would be the very thing to save me during the darkest nights of the soul I have ever experienced.

When it all came down, I didn’t write for a year. One whole year. To this day, I have only a vague, foggy idea of where that time went. I call that period of my life “the vortex,” a black hole of funerals and whiskey and airports and late night phone calls and never ending to-do lists and sleeping with one eye open.

But when I did come up for air, my writing was different. I wrote with a sort of raw honesty that would previously have been unthinkable to the me that started this blog. I wrote and I wrote, without a goal or a clear direction other than to simply keep going. And through the process of turning Extra Dry Martini into a sort of public journal to air my very private feelings, I changed. No, strike that. I didn’t change. Writing through pain, trying desperately to find meaning where there was none, the real me started to shine through the cracks in the old, broken me, the one I’d unwittingly hidden for years under layers of self-doubt and insecurity. It’s as Steven Pressfield says in his brilliant, essential, book The War of Art: “Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves to some idea we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.”

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Thank you to everyone who has read this blog. The sheer volume of kind-hearted, compassionate, thoughtful comments that I receive from readers never ceases to astound me. While I don’t always have time to respond to all of them – particularly on the posts that WordPress has chosen to feature on Freshly Pressed­ – I do read every single one, and they mean the world to me. Thank you.

Speaking of thank you’s, thank you to WordPress.com, without whom and all of their generous shares of my blog posts, reaching the 10K milestone never would have been possible. In just over a year, Extra Dry Martini has been featured on Freshly Pressed a whopping SEVEN times, including just last week. If you haven’t yet had a chance to read these posts, or if you’d simply like to revisit them, I’ve linked them below at the bottom of this page.

People sometimes call me “brave” for writing about some of the things I do, and for sharing intimate details of my life on the Internet. I’m not brave. I simply write to survive. I write to remind myself of who I am. And I write for all of the people who respond to one of my posts with the comment: “I thought I was the only one.” Let me tell you, with one hundred percent certainty:  you are not the only one. If there’s a single lesson I take away from writing this blog, it’s that despite all of our differences – geographic location, family background, age, gender, ethnicity, religious faith or lack thereof – we are far more alike than we are different. We share the same hopes, the same heartbreaks, the same struggles and the same joys. We are united by the same powerful experience of being human and in this experience no one – not one of us – is alone.

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Ten thousand is an impressive number. It’s a humbling number. But I’m not resting on my laurels. As I prepare to head off for a few days of creative recharge at Write Doe Bay, I’ll be thinking about how to make this blog bigger, better, and somehow more. Among the things I’m considering: spinning off Extra Dry Martini into some other iteration like a book, a play, a film, or possibly all of the above. I have no idea how that will look, or what the next steps will be. All I know is that anything that I create will be undertaken with the same commitment to honesty, to cutting to the core of the human experience, and will always, always be served straight up, with a twist.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for sharing my journey. And – fingers crossed – here’s to the next ten thousand.

Until next time, friends.

P.S. – If you would like to read the posts that WordPress featured in their Freshly Pressed section, here they are:

Ice Water

Time Out

Things My Mother Never Did

Putting off Tomorrow

Little Steps. Big Steps. First Steps.

Moments

Three Years

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