Feeling your way to fabulosity


I came across a couple of items recently about Jay Leno, which I particularly noted because (a) he’s a person who doesn’t typically blip across my news radar field, so twice in one week was a sit-up-and-take-notice red flag for this pattern-seeking monkey; and (b), one resonated with me rather deeply.

The first item was embedded in a conversation on the excellent Adam Carolla podcast, and confirmed what many before have said: like him or not, comedically-speaking, Jay Leno is a nice guy with his (gigantic) head screwed on right.

The second (whose source I cannot recall, but may also have been the Adam Carolla podcast, as I’m seriously obsessed with it these days) was something I’d not heard before but was not particularly surprising, either: that Jay Leno views his body primarily as a vehicle for carting around his brain. Which is to say he does not take exquisite care of of his body beyond the bare minimum of caloric intake and sleep, ergo (and this is my extrapolation/dialectic):

  1. Having been hit with the psychic whammy of being kinda-sorta shoved to the sidelines of the only game he’s ever wanted to play…
  2. at a stage in his chronological life when the physical plant under the best of circumstances is already breaking down…
  3. he experienced some health issues which landed him in the hospital

It should be noted here that Leno himself has shrugged off the health issues as mere exhaustion, but the timing is interesting and frankly, there’s nothing mere about exhaustion, especially when it causes you to cancel stuff and head to the hospital in a highly uncharacteristic fashion.

Here’s the thing: I get it.

I mean, I’m nowhere near the level of a Jay Leno in terms of weight of the world on my back, or of work schedule, or of anything else (although my chin comes damned close). But I get the exhaustion thing and I get the body-being-a-brain-hod thing and I get the bifurcation of thinking and feeling. I am the person who cried for two years when she started doing the Relaxation Exercise in Method class, because, hello, you cannot start really moving a body you’ve been bottling stuff up in for 40 years without having some of the stuff leak out. Leaking happens under extraordinary circumstances, and for body-is-a-brain-hod types, moving the physical plant in certain specific ways is extraordinary. I also cried regularly and copiously during my initial six months of shiatsu bodywork therapy, and that wasn’t even me doing the actual moving.

I am the person who got by because she learned to tune things out, which probably had a lot to do with being raised by two people who also got by because they learned to tune things out. The longer I live, the more I think most of us get by most of the time by tuning things out, which is not always a bad thing, I don’t want pilots and firefighters and cops doing a lot of feeling at critical moments, and I think (haha) that they probably feel (haha) the same way. And that’s fine.

What’s not is me letting thinking become my default mode for dealing with everything. Just like FAST is not the only speed to do things at, THINK IT OUT, BITCH is not the only way to slog through a problem.

At a recent workshop I attended, I met many wonderful people and heard many inspiring stories and was treated to a few big surprises, but the greatest tool/takeaway/net-net I got was that maybe, just maybe, there was another way to get at that meaty nugget of Who I Am and What I’m Here For than making and executing another goddamn list. Maybe I could feel my way through it. Maybe I could look around at my environment and me moving through other environments and start taking note of what I was feeling when I felt the best. Danielle, the woman who led the workshop, shared the four feelings she’d identified for herself as ones that felt like True North, affluent (in all its various meanings), sexy, communion, playful, and suggested that we just start taking note of how we felt when we felt good: in various rooms of our homes, at various times of the day, with various people.

I’m sure there are a slew of exercises like this in all kinds of books that sit on my shelves right now, some of which I’ve likely read. Somehow, though, that was the evening when the message got through my thick skull: because I was ready, because the language she used was one I understood, because I’d paid to hear it.

But also, o, Irony Syrup on Obvious Pancakes, because I was exhausted. Sometimes, those of us prone to overthink need to be tuckered out enough to let things in.

I’ve started my list. I started it that night, in fact. There are feelings on it like “joy” and “safe” and “free”. It’s just a beginning, but I’m okay with that, too.

I will feel my way through this, I think…


Image by anvilon via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.


  1. I don’t have much to add but thank you, this post effected me greatly and I will change because of this. I made me consider my body and it’s needs. I’m sitting on the toilet sick and still working, checking RSS and e-mail, am I really respecting myself this way? Thank you. (Edit: BB browser won’t let me post comment :()

  2. Love the Adam Carolla podcast as well. There’s a guy who isn’t afraid to let his freak flag fly.

    Even if change is welcome, change is change. Sometimes our bodies will upset the apple cart when our brains think we have everything under control.

  3. There are reasons I read your blog and phrases such as “Irony Syrup on Obvious Pancakes” are a big one. I will definitely check out Adam Carolla – it’s down to you that I’m now such a devoted Dan Savage fan, because you mentioned him in a newsletter.

  4. “There’s nothing mere about exhaustion”

    I liked all of this post, but I *loved* that line. It says a lot about how we tend to downplay our bodies’ needs, even when the body is just about ready to shut down to get our attention.

  5. Boy, from one “overthinker” to another, this post really hit home. Thinking it out is definitely different from letting the emotions out. Growing up, I was taught to “get over it” and get on with my life. I love the thought of just tracking where and when you feel good and what caused it. Simple but profound.

    Thanks for sharing from the heart.

  6. Thank you, all!

    This is a crazy-ass leg of the journey, and oddly hard to write about. Or maybe it’s this incipient cold/whatever.

    Maybe it’s time to crawl back into bed with headphones and listen to some Adam Carolla.

  7. Thanks for sharing, Colleen! I’ve never seen someone approach filters from quite this angle–what you’re talking about as *worth reacting to* and *worth letting slide by* are fairly similar to the types of decisions we make in what information we take in, how we let people contact us, etc. But your practical application to feeling vs thinking is an interesting one.

    And on the topic of taking note of the happy moments…I think that can only be a good thing–both for identifying patterns and holding onto memories. Stay safe, joyful, and free, my friend!

Comments are closed.