wine

Life advice from Jillian Michaels


I’m a big fan of Jillian Michaels’ 30 day shred. Not only is it a great workout, but her tough love style can be applied to all walks of life. After a few reps she always says, “Don’t quit! When it gets tough that’s when the real change starts.” So simple but so true. I find myself saying that over and over again when starting my small business.

Yesterday I bought the domain name, set up the web hosting, had a 2 hour meeting with my accountant, and got the paperwork ready for filing the LLC. I had a big fat headache and felt way overwhelmed. But Jillian’s voice repeated in my head: When it gets tough that’s when the real change starts.

All of life’s big challenges are like strength training. You start with a weight you can manage  and you keep going until it hurts like hell. If you work through the struggle, the next time you go to lift weights you can manage much more. If you never work until it hurts you’ll never get stronger. And you can’t skip any steps. You can’t just start off lifting the largest weights in the gym. You’ll end up pulling a muscle and never going back. You have go through all the stages, and all the aches and pains that go with it. Eventually you will lift 200 pounds and by that point you’ll be ready.

If you didn’t like my extended metaphor here’s something that should make you laugh. I don’t have 2 pound weights in my apartment so what do think a logical substitution would be? That’s right, I did my chest presses with two wine bottles.

I’m a liar

OK just a few posts ago I went on on about the advantages of being alone. How it hightens the senses, builds character, pushes you out of your comfort zone. Well Mother Nature must have read my post and thought to herself, “oh really, Tracy? You love being alone? Alright then I´ll put a hurricane in New York of all places so that your boyfriend won´t be able to meet you on time, and you´ll get lots of extra time alone.”

First off, I hope everyone is safe in New York and New Jersey (yes, I care about New Jersians too) and that there isn´t extreme damage. I know people are getting effected far worse then I am, but this is my blog and if I can´t be self-absorbed here, where can I be? Just when I was starting to think I would go crazy being alone for another day, and the only thing that was cheering me up was thinking I would see Mike soon, I find out that no planes are leaving the northeast coast. I go out to dinner and I´m surrounded by loving couples spoon feeding each other and I just want to smack them. I´m remembering what it was like to be single.

I left Salamanca yesterday and arrived in Madrid around 5. It´s a great city, but I don´t think I´m giving it much of a chance because I´m walking aroung with a cloud over my head. I was supposed to meet Mike Sunday morning and then we would go to San Sebastian together. Since he won´t be arriving until the day we were supposed to leave San Sebastian, I guess that´s off. I could go alone, but I´m tired of doing romantic things alone. Drinking a bottle of wine is romantic when your with your boyfriend, but it´s just sad when you´re by yourself. I want to be angry at someone. It be so much easier to curse someone off, but it´s just nature, and you can´t get angry about that. Or at least it´s pointless. Damn you wind and rain!

That said, at least I learned something about myself. As much as I love traveling, I prefer being with people I love. If a genie said, ¨I´ll give you $10,000 so you can travel around Asia by yourself right now, or I´ll let you have one night to snuggle up watching Dexter with Mike.¨ I think I´d have to take the latter.

Well I´m sure I´ll be in a better mood soon. Sorry for whining.

I´m staying at the Cat´s Hostel which is the quintessential hostel. My room has 14 other people. Everyone´s here to party and get laid. I don´t know where they´re expecting to get laid when there´s only bunk beds and your neighbors are about 6 inches away from you, but perhaps they´re more creative than I am. The hostel is a converted arabic style mansion from the 1800s, so there´s an amazing central area (I´m forgetting my architectural terms) with a fountain and original tile. Right now I´m typing in the dungeon. I assume it´s an old wine cellar but the walls are painted black and there´s a low vaulted ceiling.

Yesterday I went to the Prado. It was amazing to see Las Meninas and Garden of Earthly Delights in person. Also Caravaggio´s The Decension was there on loan. I think it´s really strange how people look at paintings from a distance. I´m always standing as close as possible to see the brush strokes and what colors the artists used, and the different techniques. I´m the person the guard is always yelling at to step away from the painting. But you can´t see all those details in a textbook. In one the paintings of a bunch of saints, one of the saints looked exactly like Robert Downey Jr. It makes me think that he was indeed a Saint, and he sold his soul to the devil to be a famous actor for all of eternity. Think about it, Iron Man would have ruined any thesbian´s career, and yet, he pulled it off somehow. He´s had more comebacks than, well, I don´t know. hmmm.

Well this gave me a story idea, so afterward I went to a cafe and wrote 20 pages of the outline. Yes, I was drinking red wine, yes, the streets were coblestone, and yes, there were people next to me smoking and philosophizing, so I guess I had a pretty European evening.

Getting over fear

A wise man once said, (I´m paraphrasing here) ¨If you´re afraid of being poor, walk around for a day in threadbare clothes and only drink water and eat a crust of bread. At the end, say to yourself, is this what I´ve been so afraid of?¨

How many times have you done something that you were really afraid of and then laughed at yourself because it really wasn´t hard at all? It´s insane how much we let fear control our lives. If you think of all the things you´ve ever wanted to do, and then asked yourself why you didn´t do it the answer is probably fear.

Here are the three fears that have inhibited me the most:

Fear of poverty

Fear of criticism

Fear of being alone

In the past, I have prioritzed avoiding these fears over fully embracing life . For instance, I didn´t like my last job, but I worked there for three years because I made lots of money, and I wouldn´t have to face the fear of being poor. I have kept my mouth shut when I had something important to say, because I was afraid that I would sound stupid. I didn´t even want to have a blog because I was so afraid of exposing my terrible spelling and grammar to the world. Gasp what would they say! Since I´ve been in Spain, the computer I´ve been using doesn´t have spell check set up for English, so I have certainly had to get over my fear of criticism to write these posts. In High School and College I befriended people  who I didn´t like or respect because I didn´t want to sit alone.

Before coming here I decided to face the fear of being alone head on. First of all I came here alone. Besides for the first day, I have had every lunch and dinner by myself. Don´t worry I´m making friends, but I made a conscious decision to grow comfortable with being alone. Before, even just the thought of eating alone in a restaurant  would have made my skin crawl. In the past if I went to a restaurant with a friend and they got up to go to the bathroom, I would immediately feel like everyone was looking at me, and thinking oh poor girl, she has no friends.

A funny thing starts to happen when you´re alone for so long.  Instead of feeling like everyone´s looking at you, you start to look at everyone else. I have become more observant. I noticed how the old men here have made an art out of stirring their coffee. They slip their spoons in and out of the cup very slowly, and they do this for 20 minutes or so. It´s almost like a meditation. I noticed how people touch their wine glasses differently when they´re talking to someone they like. I can predict if a couple´s going to have sex or a fight after dinner just by the way they drink their wine!

To be perfectly honest I don´t like being alone. I miss talking to my boyfriend/friends/family. I miss having common references and inside jokes. But I have met interesting people who I probably never would have met if I was with a friend. And I´ve had time to get lost in the streets and do exactly what I want to do. At the end of every meal I´ve made of point of saying, ¨Is this what I´ve been afraid of?¨

The point is as soon as you face your fears they can no longer control you.  If you´re in a relationship with someone who isn´t right for you maybe you should spend the day alone and then ask yourself, ¨Is this what I´ve been afraid of?¨ Sometimes when we face what we fear the most it´s better than what we´ve been accepting in the past.

So as a challenge, I ask you to do what scares you the most. Don´t go skydiving today. I´m talking about emotional fears. Face your emotional fears and then ask yourself, ¨Is this what I´ve been afraid of?¨If you can laugh after asking yourself that question then it´s time to start changing.

My wounded HeSo

Yep. Not so pretty. This picture sums up how I´m feeling right now. I studied verb tenses for six hours yesterday. When I came home to my host family I tried to use what I learned and I  went blank.  I just had four hours of grammar class. I kind of understood the first hour. The last last three hours were just kicking a dead horse. A very tired, dead horse. A tired, stupid, dead horse.

Sometimes I think what´s the point. I´ll never learn Spanish. It´s too complicated. I can barely speak English. But I will prevail. As my friend from Turkey told me when he saw me coming out of class looking like I just ran a marathon, ¨Pena es antes de divertido.¨ (pain is before fun)

Maybe my headache has nothing to do with grammar. Maybe it´s because this is what´s considered a ¨glass¨of wine here:Anyways, I feel bad complaining about my time here. And since I don´t want that horrible picture of me to haunt you, I´ll leave you with a much nicer one:

That´s what I see when I walk home every night. Can´t complain.