I am 37 and Shiva Dances on Fools

by Elisabeth

Seb took this photo.

Me getting my first lap dance and taking it like a fool.

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of having nothing to do but wake up, socialize with my brother, and get dolled up. I made my way over to my friend Seb’s house where a party to celebrate my birthday was getting underway. There was all kinds of alcohol, a bunch of my friends, a long-lost cousin, and Sandy- the cutest dog in the world. There was also a stripper who started out as a “cop” investigating a noise complaint. It was a pretty substantial and magical birthday party. I ended up drinking too much, and then spent most of Sunday recovering with a lazy brunch and nap. There had been a blizzard overnight, so it only made sense to kick it up lazy-Montreal style.


On April 1st, my actual birthday, I took the day off and planned to have just a dinner with friends. Nick and I went shopping to buy him a suit at Simons. We had coffee, then a fabulous lunch at Mesa 14. On the way home, I got a phone call from work. It was my assistant.


“Eli, I called you because it turned out that there was a fraudulent order..”


He started this way and then regaled me of the tale of what had happened. My company was out a significant amount of money from the fraudulent order I processed. At first it didn’t bother me, but then, like a virus, the anxiousness set in. Will I be blamed? How will this affect my commissions? Will I look bad?


Shortly after that, the candidate we had found for our apartment let Nick know that our landlord had told her he had somebody else. I got more stressed even though Nick kept telling me that it let us off the hook for getting someone. It was if my stress was looking for more things to be stressed about.


I took off April 2nd too, with dreams of writing more posts about all the awesome things that I was going to do in April. I was unable to write, or do much besides stew in my own dread. Plus I didn’t want to write yet another post about how I was full of anxiety. But there I was, simply coping, being crazy and watching shows.


My week hit these intense notes while I entered my 37th year. Over March as my stress increased, my healthy food intake decreased. My posts decreased. My wine intake shot up. I stopped juicing. I started missing some gym days. But the really weird thing is: I stopped planning.


I haven’t thought about my core desired feelings, or my meal plan, or anything like that in quite a while. I’ve been swimming through the fog of stress, unable to commit to a plan. Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a big nerd for my agenda. I absolutely LOVE planning, almost as much as I love writing, and it brings me extreme pleasure to schedule things, or reschedule things or use a highlighter and post-it notes inside. I don’t plan my life so that nothing can be spontaneous; I plan my life to allow for ANYTHING to happen. There’s room for everything, and everyone who is important to me.


I haven’t looked in my agenda in a good month. I haven’t been filling it with gym days or or lucky days or period days or anything.


So what came first? The uneasiness or the lack of planning? Are they interconnected?


Yesterday, my friend Sho took me to a yoga with Bram Levinson, who teaches kick-ass yoga classes. Each class is vigorous, but what is really remarkable are his talks. He doesn’t get all “yogi” in them and really gives you practical real-world meditations. We were learning about Hindu deities and myths and their corresponding poses. A big theme was the feminine and masculine dualities, and how both are always present in the hindu myths. Then we went into the yoga- trying poses that arose from the different myths we had just studied. Sho and I were both respectively on edge after our week. When he displayed the picture of Shiva dancing, it was especially meaningful to us. Shiva is depicted as dancing on top of a dwarf. The dwarf is supposed to symbolize the trivial things in life.


We talked at great length about this afterward. Both of us suffer from angst that grabs a hold of us so tight it feels like we are being dragged behind a car.


“Have you ever heard of the belly-brain?” Sho asked me.


“I think so, somewhere, but maybe not.” I sort-of answered.


You see, I’ve got cursory knowledge of the tummy and how it is the seat of emotion. In acting we were always taught to find our emotions in our stomach. Also, I’m highly interested in Ayurveda and have done some chakra work. But I’d never really heard of the belly brain.


“They’ve scientifically proven that there are neurons in your stomach that not only get messages from your brain, but that they send them too.”


Your stomach is the seat of the emotions, or the “feminine” energy. Your mind is the masculine. Extreme anxiety is felt there in the belly brain. But maybe instead of conquering anxiety, or band-aiding it with binge watching TV shows- maybe we should be listening to it.


There was nothing I could do about the fraud-call I got, but maybe I did the wrong thing by trying to forget about it, or obliterate the anxious feeling. Maybe the anxiety was my body saying:


“Pay attention to this. Get right with it. Stop and take care of yourself.”


I did quite the opposite when the anxiety started coming, about a month and half ago. I wanted the anxiety gone, and tried to cure it with action, wine, herbs, and food.


I’m turning the corner on this uncertainty. After some moments of petrified inaction, I’m ready to move forward. So ready that I bought my plane ticket today. I’m ready to spend a couple of hours planning. My dance card is already filling up for June and I’ve got stuff to do every weekend- in BC.


As I work my way out of this teeth-grinding, jaw-tightened, scared-shitless state, the one thing I’ve decided to decide is that I’m not going to act like the disquiet doesn’t need to be there. I am going to thank my anxiety, and pretend she is my worry-wart mother, just making sure that I’m ok. I will even thank her.


So we are back to planning, perhaps not so much and not so rigidly for now, seeing as I am moving across the country and all. We are back to seeking impeccability with our words, book clubs, 3 days at the gym, and taking better care. I’m 37 now. Practically a grown up.