Dinners I’ve Been Eating Lately & Lessons from a Hard Day

Oh friends, yesterday was a doozy. It’s a long story, but I’ll try to give you the short version:

So, last year I didn’t change my license or license plates, even though I was in a new city. Because it was unclear if I’d be here for more than a year, and because I didn’t have to deal with parking permits in my old place (I had an off-street parking spot), I got away with it. I’m not totally sure it was legal, but I got away with it.

This year, I can no longer claim that my being in Boston is only a one-year stint. Additionally, I no longer have parking at my new apartment. If you’re not familiar with Boston—or most larger cities—know that if you don’t have off-street parking, life is  significantly more difficult because everywhere you go is permit parking. In order to get a parking permit, I needed new plates, new license, etc.

In a perfect world, getting the aforementioned list checked off would be a pretty easy thing. But it is not a perfect world and this permit nonsense has created an entire month of stress. At least one day a week (usually more) since I’ve been back, I’ve spent hours upon hours dealing with Social Security offices; multiple days and trips to the RMV; horrible, triggering phone calls with insurance companies (“Hi, I’m your insurance agent, let me take a full 20 minutes to tell you, a person with severe driving anxiety who has had nearly every family member in major auto accidents, about all the horrible things that might happen to you (or someone you hit!), so you know what you’ll be covered for”); and yesterday, on my third trip to the RMV, I discovered that I had yet another form I had to fill out because I have a different last name than my mom. (Meaning, I was basically being punished for having a single mom. Thanks bureaucracy). The new form meant driving around all over the place trying to collect what I needed to complete it. This last day of parking permit madness involved so many things going wrong that it finally pushed me over the edge of my ability to cope with it all.

Doing all of these “errands” (that seems like such an innocuous word for what I’ve been doing) involved spending tons of time and money, and also involved a lot of driving. And if you hadn’t figured it out by now: I loathe driving. Unfortunately, I have no way of getting to my job without a car. Also, the greater Boston area is incredibly difficult to get around in general (whether you’re biking, public transit-ing, driving, or walking), but, in the affordable parts, it also sometimes feels impossible without a car. I am not nearly wealthy enough to live close to a train line (without roommates, which just never came into fruition, despite a couple attempts). I am near a bus stop, but the buses wouldn’t have gotten me to the RMV (nor the resulting running around I had to do in order to fax my mom a paper at a random Fed Ex in Ohio).  This is probably the number one reason that I have every intention of moving away from this city as soon as possible. I was spoiled in Chicago and Minneapolis—public transit was amazing and I barely ever drove. I know now that living in a place where I don’t have to drive much (if at all!) is a huge priority for me.

Whew, that’s a lot of complaining, right? Not usually the tone I try to set on the blog. Well, fortunately, the story doesn’t end there. Unsurprisingly, once I got through the sort of peak of terribleness (which would be, undeniably, when I had a full-blown panic attack while driving), I started calming down in a way that granted me a lot of perspective. Here are some lessons I learned:

Lesson #1: Everything is temporary

Oh, this lesson. It’s like the lesson. But it’s so so hard to remember it, until, like, the moment after the peak of suffering has hit. As I write this, I am really sitting with and consciously observing the difference in my body compared to what it experienced not so many hours ago.

The best news and the worst news in life (depending on where you’re at) is that nothing lasts forever.

Lesson #2: You are stronger than you think

I was literally sobbing the words, “I can’t do this, I can’t do this,” over and over again while driving all around, but guess what I was doing while saying that? I was doing it. I can do it, and I did do it. There have been so many times this past, oh about 14 months, that I truly felt like I was not capable of getting through some of the challenges I’ve faced. But here I am, living to tell about it.

Lesson #3: It’s okay to be vulnerable

I cried all over the place yesterday. As an Aquarius, I have all the feelings, but I also have all the walls, alongside a commitment to a semblance of strength and stoicism. So I knew it was a really bad day when I started crying in public. But guess how people responded? With all the kindness.

When the day was finally over, I felt moved to post a status update on Facebook about how upset I was feeling. This is a very rare occurrence for me. A variety of factors—(including being trained as an academic to be extra-mindful of what we put online; fear of judgement from others; and, obvs, a resistance to vulnerability)—have led me to not post much personal stuff on Facebook. And if it is personal, I try to keep it about good stuff, lest I be accused of trying to garner undue sympathy. But despite all those reasons, I decided to admit, “I had a really hard day, so good vibes would be appreciated.”

I was amazed at the response. Not so much amazed that the awesome people I have in my life would react warmly, but more so at how powerful it was to receive that kindness. I let myself be open to love in the form of texts, calls, and fb posts, and I literally felt myself healing with each message.

Lesson #4: Gratitude 

There is always a moment when you are in the midst of the muckiest mud pit that you realize it could actually be a whole lot muckier. And that realization leads to the surprising sensation of gratitude (smack dab in the middle of what feels like the worst day of your life). The fact that I was having a meltdown about the perils of car ownership meant that I had a shit-ton going for me already. I own a car; the fact that I hate it doesn’t negate the fact that I’m lucky to have it. The reason I need a car is for a job that I fucking love. The reason I’m living in a city I don’t like is for that same job that I love. COOL.

And you know what else I’m grateful for? The delicious dinners I’ve enjoyed the past week. Here are a few:

kale + sweet potato + sprouts + avocado + tahini + lemon.

kale + sweet potato + sprouts + avocado + tahini + lemon.

kale

spinach + broccoli + sprouts + nooch + millet

stuffed acorn squash that i shared with two great dudes over the weekend.

stuffed acorn squash that i shared with two great dudes over the weekend.

Thanks for listening to my rant. I’m obviously grateful for all of you, too. (And for this space allowing me more practice being vulnerable). <3

That’s all for now! See you Friday!

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28 thoughts on “Dinners I’ve Been Eating Lately & Lessons from a Hard Day

  1. Kibby@Kibby's Blended Life says:

    Oh Raechel! I understand my dear! It is so cool that you went through all that shit and came out on the other end with such perspective, awareness and growth. Not all do that. My thoughts and love sent your way. Thanks for sharing. It is incredibly healing to open yourself and let it out. And remember, YOU CAN DO IT! Love you girl.

  2. Kimberly says:

    I’m so glad you’ve made it through! Sending you good vibes. Reading your analysis of the situation really helps to place my own challenges into a new perspective. It looks like you’ve been eating some wonderful food too, that always helps!

  3. The Vegan 8 says:

    Such a wonderful post! Thank you so much for sharing and you have the right attitude. Some days I feel like I can’t get through, but of course I do. Prayer and wonderful people around me always help me. I loved your listed lessons you learned!

  4. lacy j. davis says:

    oh my goodness I also HATE driving. It is just about the scariest thing I do, and I am so happy that I mostly get to opt out. I SO feel for you girl. I am going through a similar bureaucracy trying to get foodstamps. (thoughts on it: I APPLIED ON AUGUST 18TH. WHERE ARE MY FOOD STAMPS. THEY WERE APPROVED SEPTEMBER 10. WHERE ARE MY FOOD STAMPS. WHY AM I BEING PUNISHED FOR BEING POOR!?) and also obamacare (which has been too horrible to even map out my thoughts around. I hate hate hate these things we have to do just to like, be a person in the world but yeah, all your lessons. So incredibly spot on. LOVE TO YOU

  5. Gabby @ the veggie nook says:

    I’m so sorry it’s been such a hard week for you! But you are super amazing for seeing the lesson in it and managing to keep a good perspective. Just keep breathing and even though the worst seems to be over, I will send you more positive vibes :)

  6. onesonicbite says:

    I am sorry to hear all your car problems. But I am glad to hear I am not the only person who hates cars. I recently bought a second car with my husband and I have been getting so many “congrats!” Sadly I am already missing my walks to work, but I keep running late and needing to use my car. It is really a catch-22. I have to say I love my husband since he does all the bureaucratic stuff. I honestly try and end up handing him paperwork asking “what the heck does this EVEN MEAN?!” His father also works for the government so that helps with interpreting paperwork. So that is my ultimate dating advice. Date a man who doesn’t mine filling out paperwork and driving. XD

  7. FoodFeud says:

    Hope you are feeling better now. I know how hard it is to stay level headed in the midst of it all, even when you know it will pass. I ALSO am very aware how hard it can be to ask for help, or to open yrself up to it! So kudos to you. You deserve it. Strength and best vibes for it to get better.

    • raechel says:

      Thank you, friend. Yeah, it is super hard, but the pay off is so worth it. Even this blog post felt kind of too personal, but I am feeling so great connecting to people through all these comments!

  8. Shannon says:

    I’m so glad you shared your experience, and continue to be in awe of your strength and grace. I’m sorry that Boston has been such a shit to you- it really needs to change some things for the better ASAP! Also, I’m jealous of your dinners as I can’t find kale for the life of me here! xo

    • raechel says:

      YOU HAVE A BLOG! HOW DID I NOT KNOW?! Oh, I’m so glad to get to keep up with you more through that! : )

      Thanks for the kind words, friend. Miss you! <3

      PS: If kale would last in the mail, I'd ship you some! :(

  9. angela says:

    Ugh, I feel for you! Driving can be the worst, especially on unfamiliar streets with lots of traffic. And I hate anything surrounding paperwork for cars, insurance, etc. I can see myself reacting in exactly the same way.
    Thanks for sharing <3 I will try to keep your lessons in mind the next time I feel a meltdown coming on.

  10. Erin says:

    Thank you for this post, Raechel. I can relate to much of it, particularly embracing vulnerability, slowing down when something difficult arises, and, first and foremost, remembering the people and things that I’m grateful for.

    It wasn’t too long ago that I was also telling myself, in the midst of what then seemed to be a crisis (also over car/finance issues), that, “I can’t do this.” It’s a daily struggle to recognize and internalize those lessons you listed above, but your words will definitely stay with me.

  11. justmeactually says:

    I hate that you had to feel all the feelings BUT it also makes others (like me) feel less alone when they have to feel all the feelings too! I repeatedly am being retaught those exact same lessons by this amazing universe. We are stronger than we think and it’s okay to experience difficult emotions but most of all that nothing, not one thing, lasts forever. And yes, no matter what is happening we can find our way to gratitude.

  12. lysette says:

    Government or arts administration, bureaucracy is inherently disconnected. Sorry to hear it suck you through the rabbit hole. Your perspective on gratitude and the temporal nature of hardship resonated with me. Thanks for talking frankly about it :)

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