Why?

September 02, 2016

Why what?

Why anything. Why do I do what I do? What is the driving force behind each action and each decision I make?

Why am I choosing to compete? The simple answer which is an ego based lie is, “To push my body to the limits and see what I am capable of.”

The truth: I’m empty. I’m broken. I crave fulfillment. I crave purpose. I am burdened with the constant sense of inadequacy. I have never been enough.

Have I preached self love? Yes. Do I practice it? I do my fucking best. Do I fail? Yes. Every day is a struggle, and simply ignoring my subconscious thoughts about myself isn’t gonna cut it any longer.

Why do I carry this sense of inadequacy wherever I go? Let’s dig….

Some of you know, I was adopted at age 7. My mom was a meth addict who abused alcohol while she was pregnant with me. She gave birth to me at age 16 and my Dad was 26. They didn’t stay together, they took turns trying to co parent and raise me, and I was cycled through countless foster homes, and sexually and mentally abused at a young age. I have vivid memories of being locked in closets, waking up to naked people passed out in my living room, salvaging for food in cupboards while my mom was getting nailed by multiple guys in her room, not having my diaper changed for days, foster families that would beat their own children in front of me, and sexual abuse that kills me to think about to this day because I’m convinced it was somehow MY fault.

My family didn’t want me. Hell, every foster family I lived with didn’t want me. You would think my day of salvation was the day I was adopted, but it wasn’t. It was a new chapter of pain and turmoil. Yes, I was adopted by a Christian family that showed me conditional love, gave me shelter, fed me, clothed me, but I endured a new form of mental abuse. Every day this idea of God was presented to me, if I ever lied, stole candy without asking, or sinned, he was watching me. I was ostracized from the family whether or not they realized it. I was always treated differently. They didn’t look at me the same way. They made me believe I had “attachment issues” and “abandonment issues.” All the church parents would gather round and talk about how fucked up their adopted kids were compared to their biological kids. I wasn’t allowed the same privileges as my older brothers. At a very young age I distinctly remember sitting in church as the pastor read a passage about the sheep in God’s right hand and the goats in God’s left hand. I pictured myself as the only goat in God’s left hand and the rest of the family as sheep in God’s right hand. No matter how hard they might have tried, I never in the 9 years that I lived with them felt like I was a part of their family.

One comment my adopted mom made regarding my weight that will stick with me forever, “Out of everyone in this family, you have the most fat potential.” What the fuck does that mean? She said it with a negative connotation and the word “fat” was in there, so it must not have been good. I learned what the word “potential” meant that day. Usually when you tell your kid they have potential for something, it’s for something good and positive. “You have the potential to change the world” or “You have the potential of a becoming a great artist, keep practicing!” Not, “You have the most potential to be fat.”

I already had a fucked up view of myself by the way they treated me, it quickly became worse with that comment and as I started going to school and socializing with other kids. In P.E. I was always the last kid picked on the team. No one passed me the ball and for good reason, I sucked. I believed I sucked, therefore I did. I always wore big baggy sweatshirts, hoods, and jeans. I hated shorts. I hated being in a swim suit. I hated being seen.

I had my first boyfriend during Freshman year. I remember the first time we held hands, the first time we kissed, the first time he physically abused me out of anger by choking me, and the second time… I wasn’t about to let it happen for a third time. The fucked up part was he had an image and reputation of being the “godly and pure” guy at school. He was a youth group leader and we played in our youth group band together. Everyone thought he was perfect. He wouldn’t have choked me if I didn’t deserve it, right?

High school was stupid. Everyone pretending to be one thing, doing another. Even I pretended to have a relationship with God. Maybe I actually did, but it was short-lived and the only time my family showed me “love” or approval. As a conflicted teen being told I had all these issues, hopping from therapist to therapist, getting diagnosed with this or that, being put on these drugs and those ….. I started to act out and say “This is bullshit.” My family invaded my privacy, read my journals, took away every privilege including friends, internet, leaving the house, and music! Music for Christ’s sake…

I attempted running away several times. April 20, 2008 was the day I left home with literally the clothes on my back and never went back. The only times I went back was when I was arrested for shoplifting and drinking in public. I had to drop out of school so the police wouldn’t pick me up and take me home again. I stayed off the grid and under the radar until I was 18 years old – over a year of hiding.

The greatest kindnesses I have ever been shown have been by complete strangers. People offered their couches, their homes, and the food on their table to me. Friends of Youth helped me obtain my birth certificate and SSN so I could start applying for jobs once I was 18. The true day of my salvation (so far) has been the day I decided I couldn’t live in a toxic environment any longer.

Over a year with no place to call home posed its own problems, along with internal struggle and self loathing. I was quickly introduced to the drug scene. I did cocaine before I had a beer, and I became heavily addicted to ecstasy, heroin, and meth. I recall one week long binge on ecstasy where I didn’t sleep, I didn’t eat, and I lost 15lbs. When I finally did sleep, I slept for two days straight and woke up so weak I almost blacked out in the shower. My ecstasy addiction got to the point where I didn’t have any serotonin left, and I would spend hours crying in bed, unable to move, and finding it difficult to breathe. Months later I was introduced to oxy, a drug that numbed your mind, interrupted the constant flow of thoughts, and allowed you to float on Cloud 9. Oxy’s were expensive though, so I turned to tar as a cheaper alternative. No matter how many times my friends tried to stop me, I refused to quit. Nothing they said mattered. Who were they to stop me from relieving the pain and suffering I endured? I got used to the nausea and vomit, all I wanted to do was turn off my brain. Whenever I would try to come off any drug, my weight would shoot up, and I developed an eating disorder. I fell into a vicious pattern of drug binges and bulimia. I still have journals saved from when I truly thought that my value and self worth depended on my self control to starve myself and control my weight.

Only one person’s words carried weight when I finally made the decision to quit everything. My ex husband and one of my best friends. When I met him I was tied up in heroin and meth, coming into work high and puking on my breaks. I couldn’t lie to him. He knew. He looked me straight in my eyes and told me, “I can’t be with you if you choose to continue doing these drugs.” That’s the day I quit cold turkey. Everything. Quitting heroin opened doors to a new life, a life I had the opportunity to share with Derek.

We fell in love hard, so hard it knocked the wind out of me. I didn’t need drugs. We created a love that was a new kind of high, not one you can buy from a dealer. A genuine love that lasted 6 years. In those 6 years we grew together, over came obstacles, we were each other’s rock, and we pushed each other to be great and do more. But like many things in life, after growing a part in different directions – it came to an end. I refuse to let the bad outweigh the good, but there are thoughts I can’t deny when I look at my failed marriage….

“You are inadequate” I tell myself. “You are not enough.”

“There is nothing you can do to make people stay. They will outgrow you. They will no longer need you. They will move on. Once you have served your purpose, they will discard you.”

Every guy that has friend zoned me, every person who leaves me, every B that could have been an A, every day I weigh myself and I’ve stalled out, every time I fail to reach a PR, every time I binge or fail to track accurately, every time I make a mistake at work, every time I disappoint someone ….

“You are not enough.” 

I have always considered myself blessed. I hate to believe that I have struggles because I know it could be worse. You turn on the news and you see the world crumbling to ashes, meanwhile I am warm, clothed, fed, and sheltered. But denying I have pain that I carry with me every day is counterproductive for my own healing and internal peace.

So why am I choosing to compete? The raw honest truth, not an ego based lie, “I am trying to fill an empty void. I am striving to be enough.”

This type of thinking is bound to create unhealthy habits and set me up for failure. So how can I change the thought process and dialogue to set me up for success?

“I AM enough. I am MORE than adequate. Everything is inside me and I am capable of achieving anything. I know what needs to be done, and I posses the strength to execute.”

I can only begin by believing that this is true, and that in and of itself is a journey.

Without smoke and mirrors,

Jess

 

 

2017 in Retrospect of 2016 Lessons

Don’t just go through the motions – Live fully and with purpose. The day to day tasks may seem mundane and ritual, often times we take the smallest things for granted. Absorb what the universe has to offer. Make real connections with real people. Make it your duty to live with an open mind and open heart, being humble and eager to learn as much as you can, and sharing the knowledge you have learned with others. Be present.

I started the year full of anxiety, my financial situation wasn’t in the best shape, I made many mistakes with money in 2016 and I constantly feared the future. If I had an emergency, would I be prepared for it? What if my landlord decided to increase rent or worse – sell the unit to another buyer leaving me to scramble for a new home? What if my vendor contract with Microsoft came to an abrupt end? What if, what if, what if….. All this worry over an un-promised future didn’t give me much time to be present. Through much reading, meditation, and journaling I have been practicing what it means to be present. I’m not perfect and I still have deep seeded existential worry and anxiety, but in retrospect I’ve made huge improvements from last year. I’m practicing balance – a lifelong journey.

“Tomorrow and plans for tomorrow can have no significance at all unless you are in full contact with the reality of the present, since it is in the present and only in the present that you live. There is no other reality than present reality, so that, even if one were to live for endless ages, to live for the future would be to miss the point everlastingly.” ― Alan W. Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety

Love hard – You can never have too much love to give. Allow yourself to be vulnerable, to love, and to love hard. Have love for your friends, family, significant other, yourself, the earth we live on, the solar system we are a part of and ultimately the entire universe in which we are interconnected. Love with no limits but without blindness. 

I was convinced that 2016 was my year of practicing self love when in all reality it was “treat yo self without responsibility.” Buying yourself stupid shit isn’t self love – 2016 was a year of insecurity. I fell in love and pined over a boy who wouldn’t love me back, I still hadn’t come to terms with my divorce even though I tried to convince myself that I had, and I silently suffered from an eating disorder. I didn’t understand what was wrong with me, I couldn’t learn to love myself. This year I started to heal. I spent more time with friends, read plenty of books about love, philosophy, and the intricacies of human emotion which gave me a new perspective. I traveled (responsibly), made new connections, spent time alone, and overcame my eating disorder. I allowed myself to feel pain instead of pushing it down. I also allowed myself to feel intimacy. I felt something other than a dull ache. I’m learning how to “love with awareness and relate without fear.”

Serve and give to others – If there’s anything I’ve learned this year, it’s that serving and giving to others is medicine. But do so without personal gain in mind. For example, do not serve and give to others if the expected outcome is to feel satisfaction for yourself. That is simply your Ego starving. Do so with the intent to genuinely help others and to share love and kindness.

This year I was in an unstable financial situation and did not give as much as I would have liked. I understand that serving and giving to others doesn’t always involve money; it can be your time, love, appreciation, friendship and small kind gestures. With 2018 on the rise, I would like to finesse the attitude of giving beyond monetary means.

Read more books – Read all kinds of books. Read ones that interest you. Give ones that don’t interest you a chance. Make a realistic book list for yourself and start checking them off. More important than reading books, soak up and absorb the information. Read to understand and expand your knowledge. 

Nailed this one. I should have been writing book reviews in 2017, perhaps I will in 2018. I read so many books. Amazing awe inspiring books. Books that made me laugh, made me cry, and challenged my beliefs and values. I read about love, Stoicism, Buddhism, Eastern philosophy, relationships, the human sexual experience, infidelity, and so much more. I want to thank Justin Boreta from the Glitch Mob for his amazing book recommendations throughout the years. I love immersing myself in the material that inspires my favorite musicians. I look forward to many more great reads this year, paired with journaling and book reviews.

Take care of your mind and body – Most years I’ve done quite well with taking care of my body, but neglecting the care of my mind. I began 2016 obsessed with my body and outwardly appearance, counting macros and working out 5-6 times a week with little regard to my mental health. I ended the year fat and happy with a winter roll named Murphy, stopped counting macros, and working out 3-4 times a week, but in the best state of mind possible. This following year I hope to achieve and maintain a healthy balance of care for both my mind and body.

After years of obsessive macro counting, calorie expenditure calculations, logging my workouts daily, measuring my body with a scale, tape, and calipers, suffering from an eating disorder, and measuring my self worth by the circumference of my waist and glutes – I have found peace and true confidence. I did what felt right in the gym and practiced mindful eating habits. I haven’t tracked in over 6 months and I have been a vegetarian for about the same amount of time. This year I picked up shuffling just for fun and actually became pretty decent at it. I have a new hobby in addition to pushing around some heavy weight. I’m not as strong as I used to be, but it’s a sacrifice I’m glad I made. Forever working towards balance and harmony.

Apologize less and say thank you more – I saw this one on Reddit or Tumblr, but it rings true. Instead of apologizing for being late, say, “Thank you for waiting for me.” Instead of saying, “Sorry I’m such a train wreck” say, “Thank you for loving me unconditionally.” This will create a positive relationship with others by expressing your gratitude instead of negativity.

I still suck at this one. But I no longer act as a door mat for people who treat me less than I deserve. I used to think I didn’t deserve respect, love, appreciation, or common decency. But I do. Hell, everyone does. I’m no longer afraid to drop people if they disrespect me. I’m turning 27 this year, I’m technically an adult as they say. Life is too chaotic to surround yourself with people who won’t aid you through your growth.

Forgive – Dwelling on negativity and hate is poison for only yourself. Everyone is human and will make mistakes, you will hurt, you will be let down, you will be disappointed over and over again, but as long as you can forgive, you are free and can move forward. 

2017 was full of acceptance, closure, and forgiveness. I started therapy and began to understand my divorce and how I felt about it. I learned how to talk about my “feelings” which is the hardest fucking thing I’ve ever done and I’m still no good at it. I forgave the people who hurt me over and over again with no true remorse or apology. I learned that you can’t control how other people feel about you or view you, but you can control your reactions and responses under uncontrollable circumstances. I learned to have compassion and empathy for people who don’t quite understand themselves. I still have plenty of work to do in 2018, but I have a solid head start.

Step outside your comfort zone – Do something new, something you usually wouldn’t do or puts you outside your comfort zone. In 2016 I spent the year single, learning to be comfortable and secure on my own, making new friends, treating myself well, pursuing new hobbies, spending time alone exploring the city, being vulnerable, and learning to trust.

Also nailed this one. Almost the entire year was filled with new situations that were outside my comfort zone. I donated my eggs for a second time this year which required me to travel while full of over sized eggs. It was physically and mentally uncomfortable – literally. I took this trip on my own while most of the gals in the waiting room were with another person to oversee them after surgery. I hate being a burden to anyone so I didn’t ask to have a travel companion even though it would have been paid in full.

I also did my first Global CIO Summit with Microsoft in September. As the event planner for this big event I managed the happenings in the Executive Briefing Center regarding everything ranging from security, building access, catering, furniture sets throughout the building, floral arrangements, digital signage, directing CIO’s to their workshops and meetings, billing, and of course the unforeseen last minute changes. The event went better than imagined and I enjoyed working with the vendor company who hosted with us.

I did my first nude shoot the first time I met a couple from Instagram! Derick and Lindsay are amazing people and I had such a great experience doing a nude Star Wars shoot with them. It felt like I knew them forever and we were just hanging out taking pictures. Not only did I get some dope photos, but I met genuine people I would love to hang out with more and consider friends. Shout out to you guys! Much love!

I could go on, but to make it short and sweet – the biggest thing I have done to step out of my comfort zone would be making the decision to go to therapy. I always thought therapy was kinda bullshit and would have rather taken anti depressants for a “quick fix.” But the older I get the more I realize that your mental health and overall well-being can’t thrive with a pill or a quick fix. You have to work hard at it every fucking day, and sometimes that means buckling down and doing the nitty gritty, like talking about your feelings, letting down your defenses, and allowing yourself to come to whatever terms you need to. I’ve been able to cry about my childhood in a safe space, talk about my divorce, and voice my worry about being alone and my fear of losing everything. Through therapy I’ve been able to change my internal dialogue into a more constructive one that doesn’t bend under the anxiety that wages war on me every day.

Create – Whether you are an artist who creates beautiful paintings, a photographer who creates amazing photographs, a writer who creates literature, an athlete who creates their own body through training and practice, or a man and woman creating a child to love and cherish …. create something. Start small. It may only begin with a line on a canvas or a word on a page, but it will become more and it will be a piece of you.

The best thing about being human is that we can express ourselves through so many different outlets of creation. I had the opportunity to create dope photos with talented photographers, I took on a new passion for shuffling, I did more writing in my personal journals and blogged less publicly, and I built a new physique through being a vegetarian and taking a new approach to my health and fitness. It seems as though life is falling into place. I look forward to creating more in 2018.

Travel – You can fly across the world and backpack third world countries, immersing yourself in the culture and experiencing another life. Or fly to a place you have never been, just close your eyes and place your finger on the map. If you don’t have the means to up and leave, whenever you feel that “itch” where you need to move and just go…. hop on a buss or a train and just GO. You can come back in a few hours, but go.

I had the opportunity to travel quite a bit in 2017. I went to Vancouver for Kat’s birthday, Coachella in April with Andy and Devin, traveled to Forth Worth Texas several times for my egg donation, and went to Las Vegas for Life is Beautiful and to visit former colleagues. I also took the train for the first time to Olympia for the nude Vader shoot and will be starting 2018 off with a bang in Cancun. I’m also looking forward to road tripping with Lady BAE this summer to visit our relatives in California. I will hug a redwood tree before I die…..

Learn from your mistakes and find the positive outcome – 2016 had it’s fair share of mistakes, heartache, and headache, but I’ve learned to dwell on the positive outcome of each challenge placed in front of me. I have many people to thank for helping build the resilience I have for life. For being there at the darkest moments, for encouraging me when I wanted quit, and for providing support, love, and wisdom. I am forever grateful for the lessons I’ve learned. 

If Stoicism and all the books I’ve read this past year has taught me anything, it’s to embrace challenges and obstacles with open arms because they will provide experience and knowledge for the hard road of life ahead. There are lessons to be learned through all the happenings around us. You just need to be receptive and open to receiving them. So here’s to a New Year! Huge thanks to the friends and family in my life who have been supportive of me through thick and thin. You guys are a God sent. May your year be full of love, lessons, and experiences to cherish for a life time.

Challenge What You Think You Know – Part 2

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I am happy to say that I have FINALLY finished the book ‘Sex at Dawn’. I’m not entirely sure why I put it down, ADD and restless energy perhaps. It was an amazing read and I highly recommend it for those who are interested in love, sex, relationships, and learning about the evolution of our Ancestors (or DE-volution as the book would have it) from an anthropological perspective. This book challenged what I had previously thought about intimate monogamous and polyamorous relationships and shed light on many topics that are rarely discussed in Western culture today.

Before finishing this book – I was convinced that I would never marry again. What’s the point? Marriage is an outdated social construct originated from a religion that has only brought me grief and hardship. By the end of the book I realized there is no single correct blue print for a successful happy marriage. A successful relationship or marriage is an open honest discussion between that couple – or multiple people if that’s the case.  There is no right or wrong way to conduct a relationship. When it comes to the vast spectrum of human emotion, our sexual nature and desires, and how we interact with each other – the opportunities to learn, grow, and evolve are endless. You can choose to repeat the same mistake and be equally shocked and hurt when the outcome remains the same, or you can learn from your mistake and change your approach, whatever that might be for each person and each situation.

Although I have no desire to marry again – I’m not vehemently against it like I formerly was. Was a monogamous relationship successful for me? No. There was cheating involved on BOTH sides. Yes, that’s right – BOTH sides. Some of you may know the details of my marriage and divorce, but only 2 or 3 people knew that I cheated too long before we were married – a secret I held onto for nearly 6 years. This might change your opinion of me but I believe in full disclosure and honesty, especially since this detail is important for what I’m about to say next.

I do NOT believe in monogamy. I think it’s unnatural and shameful to suppress our sexuality and to control the sexuality of others. Whether that is through discrimination of homosexual relations, psychological control through religion and abstinence, physical castration and hormone therapy, taking away women’s rights, healthcare and access to abortion, or a partner telling you that you are bound to them and only them sexually forever until death do you part.

“No group-living nonhuman primate is monogamous, and adultery has been documented in every human culture studied- including those in which fornicators are routinely stoned to death. In light of all of this bloody retribution, it’s hard to see how monogamy comes “naturally” to our species. Why would so many risk their reputations, families, careers- even presidential legacies- for something that runs against human nature? Were monogamy an ancient, evolved trait characteristic of our species, as the standard narrative insists, these ubiquitous transgressions would be infrequent and such horrible enforcement unnecessary. No creature needs to be threatened with death to act in accord with its own nature.” – Christopher Ryan

I have never been in a non-monogamous relationship – I may not be able to speak from experience, but I do know what didn’t work for me which opens the gate to try something new. A reoccurring message that I have been stumbling upon throughout the many books I have been reading simultaneously (once again, ADD and restless energy) is “By choosing to repeat the past, you are keeping life from renewing itself” – Deepak Chopra ‘The Book of Secrets’.

Or as Ryan Holiday might say, “It’s been said that the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result. Yet that’s exactly what most people do. They try the same routine and hope it will work this time. Hope is not a strategy! Failure is a part of life we have little choice over. Learning from failure, on the other hand, is optional. We have to choose to learn. We must consciously opt to do things differently – to tweak and change until we actually get the result we’re after. But that’s hard. Sticking with the same unsuccessful pattern is easy. It doesn’t take any thought or any additional effort, which is probably why most people do it.”

At the end of ‘Sex at Dawn’, Christopher Ryan points out several options people often opt for after a failed marriage or relationship due to infidelity:

  • Lie and try not to get caught
  • Give up on having sex with anyone other than your wife for the rest of your life. Maybe resort to porn and Prozac
  • Serial Monogamy: divorce and start over

Pretty shitty unsustainable options to choose from if you ask me. A vicious unhappy cycle of lies, hurt feelings, and insecurity on repeat. Therapists make thousands, no millions globally by selling couples therapy where they FIRMLY shut down any notion of an open or polyamorous relationship. A steady flow of income ….

Christopher Ryan doesn’t tell us what we should or shouldn’t do – he simply presents the facts and lets the reader ponder and decide for themselves. Along with obtaining new information, I also learned how to reason and think more logically. Once you remove your ego and rationalize as an observer, it’s much easier to see facts over feelings.

We are so much greater than our preconceived notions of ourselves. To quote myself from Challenge What You Think You Know, “… humans have a unique capacity for deeper understanding, this is exhibited through how we communicate using verbal language, how we express ourselves with body language, the arts, philosophy, and so much more. We are complex creatures. Limiting our magnitude to love is a disservice to our species.” Why should we limit our capacity to love? To express ourselves? To be happy?

I can honestly say I have loved two men at the same time. At first it confused me. Did I love one less than the other? Did one mean more or less to me? No. I loved them both equally in different ways. My experience with each of them was remarkable and beautiful. I learned and I grew from each one of them. They opened parts of me that no one else could have opened and they will forever remain special to me. Though time has passed and we are different people – I love them still and look back on memories of them with fondness.

People are constantly changing. I’m not the same person I was yesterday. I don’t expect the person I love to be the same every day – in fact I would encourage them to grow, expand, challenge themselves, and become a better person than they were the day before. Love is like the seasons – it comes and goes. The best thing you can do for the person you love is to grant them freedom.

“Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being “in love” which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away …” – Louis de Bernieres, Correlli’s Mandolin

Challenge what you think you know ….

~Jess

Less is Freedom

One year older and although I feel the same in most ways – I can feel change on the horizon …

I’ve spent the past few years lost, a discord waging between my mind and my soul. Throughout my life I’ve become accustomed to a nomadic lifestyle, growing and moving from place to place, from groups of people to the next, taking notes from my life experiences and counting each interaction as a blessing.

But the past few years I’ve become domesticated and comfortable, ultimately creating the restlessness and anxiety I suffer from day in and day out. I tell myself to be thankful, think positively, and take away the lessons from each obstacle I encounter. I AM thankful, but what am I thankful for? My position in life, my character, what I have? I could tell anyone my life’s story and they would say, “Wow, you’ve come so far! That’s incredible! Look at where you started and everything you’ve done and what you have now.” I wouldn’t disagree, but nothing I have earned has been achieved on my own, and although my life looks great from an outside perspective, I still hunger and crave for something more – or maybe something less.

Most of you have heard my story, but at age 16 I left home with just the clothes on my back. Of course there were challenges, but I took each day as it came – that’s all you can do. I also didn’t have “things”, bills, or responsibilities. Everything I owned fit in a single bag. If it didn’t fit, it didn’t come with me. Although responsibilities are inevitable, we do have control of our possessions before they begin to possess us. Sometimes less is more. Less is Freedom. If you haven’t seen Minimalism on Netflix – it’s a great documentary worth watching. It will change the way you think about your material possessions and perhaps inspire a new lifestyle.

Our Foraging Ancestors shared their resources, constantly moved from one location to the next, and took what they needed as they needed it – no more and no less. The development of agriculture, property, and capitalism have been disruptive events throughout our Human timeline.

“It is not the man who has little, but he who desires more, that is poor.” – Seneca

We live in an age where overconsumption is encouraged, we are hoarders of material possessions, we want the newest product on the market, we see what the next person has and we want it – hell we want something better. We are collectors of “things” instead of experiences.

I will admit, after my divorce I felt so empty and tried to fill the void by buying stuff. Half my house was empty, so naturally I “had to” buy a couch and TV for the living room. I was engaged at 19 years old and shared my money with another person for most of my adult life. Once I was free to spend my money how I wanted to – I went rogue. I bought mountains of clothing (some of which still have tags), so many pairs of Converse, a $900 camera I didn’t even use, so much weed without a weed budget, and I let people take advantage of me and my money. All I want in life is the freedom to travel – but I jeopardized that freedom spending my money on frivolous shit because I was convinced I “needed” it and it would make me happy.

Now that I’m a year older and hopefully wiser, I plan on making life changes that will enable me to travel, meet like minded people, and create unforgettable experiences.

In January I started downsizing my items, decluttering my house, and getting rid of clothing I no longer need or wear. Although I’m no where near where I would like to be on the scale of minimalist living; sustainable lifestyle changes begin with small steps. Over the course of the next several months I plan on doing the following:

  • Sell my TV
  • Get rid of duplicates (especially kitchen items)
  • Throw away most of my beauty products
  • Sell most of my clothing and shoes
  • Donate books I have read that other people may enjoy
  • Discard memorabilia, most of my memories worth keeping are in journals
  • Generate less waste
  • Make less material purchases and save money for travel, books, and education

Here’s to living a simpler happier life where less is more ….

~Jess

 

 

The Age of Instant & Self Gratification

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A reoccurring thought I’ve had over the past year or so has been the concept of instant and self gratification. We live in an age where we can upload a pic to The Gram and *BOOM* you’ve got 85 likes within the hour. Anyone can share a meme someone else made and get a dopamine high off the likes we get. We live proudly by the motto “treat yo self” and wonder why the fuck we’re broke all the time.

The rise of technology has sped up the process for EVERYTHING. How are we supposed to know how to think or what to feel when we live in fast forward? So we use social media outlets to fill the void, burn through our own dopamine and serotonin, and are left suffering from existential anxiety day in and day out. We scroll, swipe, like, share, repeat ….

The age of instant and self gratification has been detrimental towards our ability to form meaningful connections with other people as well. We judge people on dating apps based solely on appearances, fall in love with the façade another person wears, and change who we are to become what others expect us to be (even if they have zero expectations). We can hop on a dating app, swipe, message, and have dick delivered within 45 minutes. Easy right? Try hopping on those apps looking for someone you want to be friends with on a real ass level – your messages are met with one line responses and then what the kids call “ghosting.” In the age of instant gratification, we easily become angry, bitter, and resentful when we don’t receive a text within the time frame we deem appropriate, become petty and childish and ignore people for days, jump to conclusions, create our own negative narrative, and act a damn fool.

The decline of face to face contact and the rise of social media usage has created a barrier not only in our intimate relationships, but our friendships as well. We compare our worst to everyone else’s best. We become envious and spend more money on more bullshit (thank you Facebook ads) and wonder why we aren’t happy yet. Our newsfeeds are constantly flooded with engagement, wedding, baby and travel photos, relationship status updates, #mancrushmonday’s and  #womancrushwednesday’s, and any other kind of hashtag that gains more attention and more followers. Social media allows us to lurk in the shadows gathering information on our worst enemies and toxic crushes before giving someone a chance. Everyone is a private investigator. Nothing is secret, nothing is safe.

Can social media be a positive tool? Hell yes. But like with everything else, moderation is key. Western society is built on consumerism – and boy do we fucking love consuming and overindulging. Treat yo’ self after all!

Instead of refreshing your apps every millisecond – try picking up a book. Reading not your thing? Try audible or a podcast. Instead of finding a robot on Tinder – go meet someone at concert or ask a trustworthy respected friend to set you up. Instead of turning on the TV and getting lost in a black hole of streaming – journal more, write more, and create more! Are you a shitty cook? I am and probably will be forever, but pick out a recipe and make a dank meal. Learn more. Instead of reading the news and articles tailored to you on your FaceBook feed – expand your resources and broaden your perspective.

There’s so much out there and I think the biggest problem with my generation is either a) we are immobilized by the overwhelming amount of options and fear making the wrong choice, or b) we have become passive about our own lives and future and have no sense of personal development or purpose. Well newsflash, there is no right or wrong answer. You pick one thing up and if that doesn’t work, you move onto the next.

“If you obsess over whether you are making the right decision, you are basically assuming that the universe will reward you for one thing and punish you for another. The universe has no fixed agenda. Once you make any decision, it works around that decision. There is no right or wrong, only a series of possibilities that shift with each thought, feeling, and action you experience. ” ~Deepak Chopra

For those of us who are passive about life without any goals, ambitions, or desire to contribute to the betterment of all – let’s pull our heads out of our asses, unplug from the matrix, and take our first deep breathe of somewhat fresh air. Actually live a little, and not vicariously through the image people elude to on Social Media.

Treat yo’ self in body, mind & spirit ….

~Jess

So What Would I Want in a Relationship Anyways?

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I’ve been a proud member of “Team Single” for nearly two years. I have nothing against strong happy couples. This time of self discovery has been eye opening and thrilling, but I miss the connection and intimacy with another human being who understands me and aspires toward the same goals and shares the same values.

Although I haven’t been actively looking for a partner in crime, I haven’t really given thought to what I would like in a future relationship. How can you know if someone is the right one if you don’t know what you want? Everyone says “it will just happen” and to “stop looking for it” but there’s no shame in knowing what you want and what you don’t want. Be smart. Learn from past relationships and what you have observed

I had a very unstable childhood – bouncing in and out of foster care and experiencing sexual, mental, and physical abuse. I’ve been in relationships with drug addicts and people who have cheated on me and physically hurt me. I’ve been married, divorced, and burned more times than I can count. I certainly know what I DON’T want in future relationships, but do I know what I WANT? Do I know what I deserve? Well, here’s a start….

Trust – One of the most important aspects of a relationship is Trust. This one should speak for itself. This is also one of the biggest areas I struggle with. I have a big heart and I give people the benefit of the doubt. I would like to believe that humans are innately good, but taking a look back on my track record, it’s hard not to throw my hands up and laugh – people will always disappoint. People will always break your trust, but it’s up to you to forgive, learn, and continue to love. Who deserves that? Who’s worth the patience? Who’s worth learning to trust?

Respect – People will sacrifice their worth and self respect so they won’t have to sleep alone at night. They will tolerate the bullshit, none-sense, ignorance, superficiality, and lack luster because they are afraid to be alone. I will not stay in a relationship where I do not feel like I am an equal. I deserve respect. I will not reduce myself for another person, and I would not ask another person to reduce themselves for me. I consider myself an open minded person, and although I may not share the same values as some, I still have respect for everyone.

Communication – There is no relationship or friendship without communication. All of my closest friends keep open communication and that’s how our friendships work. If we want to know what the other person is thinking, we simply ask. If we want to know how the other person is feeling, we ask. If we are facing a problem that needs solving, we collectively work together using clear communication, respect, and trust to find a solution. This applies to an intimate relationship as well. A relationship is not one sided, you need to be open with the other person. If the other person does not feel comfortable in doing so – then there is a problem. Rather than becoming defensive, have empathy and practice being receptive.

Patience – Every relationship requires patience. I personally require a great amount. Although I am grateful for my childhood struggles because they have contributed to my character today; I combat anxiety, depression, and self doubt constantly. Some days are harder than others. Even though I can be a handful from time to time, I deserve someone who is patient and understanding, as well as nonjudgemental and supportive. I will also practice patience and be supportive of them, being open and creating a judgement free zone.

Unconditional Love – I grew up in a religious home that preached unconditional love but did not practice it. I do my best to be understanding of people and their situations and I don’t judge when it’s not my place to judge. People will make mistakes and will hurt you, and with so many factors out of our control, the only thing we CAN control is how we react, forgive, and continue to show unconditional love. Find someone who deserves your unconditional love and who will love you unconditionally in return.

Freedom – I am the type of person who values their independence and I never want to feel controlled. I want to be with someone who understands that. I don’t want to check in and ask permission to go somewhere, to spend time with my friends, or even spend time alone. A strong healthy relationship is built on trust, so whoever I am with needs to understand that. They need to trust me and they need to give me my freedom. I want the same for them as well – I want them to be free to be who they are.

“If you love something, let it go. If it returns, it’s yours; if it doesn’t, it wasn’t.
If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they’re yours; if they don’t they never were.” – Richard Bach

Goal Oriented – Ambitious but humble. Passionate for life and driven. So many people these days lack motivation and stop living. When I walk down a crowded street or ride the bus I always wonder, “How many of these people are actually living?” You don’t have to have a huge salary or even a degree, but what are you doing to contribute to the betterment of all? I still don’t know what my purpose in the world is, but I strive to become a better person every day, I try to do good, and I help people when I’m in the position to do so. I work hard in my career, I educate myself outside of school and inside of school, and I take care of my body, my home, my dog son, and my friends and family.

Healthy Mind, Body, and Spirit – Mental, physical, and spiritual health is important to me. It can be difficult to balance all three, but as long as you are trying, that’s all anyone could ask for. I’m not perfect and I don’t expect anyone else to be. Being aware of your mental health means you realize what your weaknesses are and actively work towards improving them. My biggest weakness is reacting before I rationally think things through. This has been a cause of many relationship issues, but in the past year and half, I have made huge strides in improvement and do my best to think before I react.

Physical health is taking care of your body, which can in turn improve your mental health. I don’t expect everyone to be a gym fanatic like myself, but everyone should be physically active in some way – taking your dog for a walk, yoga, going for a run, swimming, lifting, dancing, etc. Also fuel your body with proper nutrition – but always leave room for dessert.

Although I am not religious, I consider myself spiritual; spiritual in the way that I have a deep respect for the Universe, everything and everyone around me, and I understand that my actions effect more than just me. We should be good people and treat people well because we genuinely want to, not because we fear our actions will punish us. All this world needs is love.

It may seem like I’m asking for a lot and have high standards, but hell, I wouldn’t have it any other way and I’ll wait patiently for the person who deserves all my love.

~Jess

 

Love

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June 08, 2016

This year has been intense.

I have experienced so much in such little time, good and bad, and I’ve dealt with it all on my own. Of course I’ve had the love and support of friends and family members, but I’ve come to realize I’m capable of being alone. In fact, I enjoy the time I get to spend with myself.

At first the idea terrified me, creating a new life, a new identity, and finding happiness within myself. So much happening at once: finalizing a divorce, surgery involved with donating my eggs, taking a career leap and learning a new role, my client passing away, travelling alone for the first time, adopting a dog from another country, all the while keeping myself busy with online school, training, partying and anything to quiet the thoughts in my head to avoid addressing the real issue: I still wasn’t finding happiness. I still wasn’t at peace. I still struggled with insecurities from my failed marriage, seeking validation in all the wrong places, from all the wrong people, using all the wrong methods.

Throughout the hardships and the mistakes I’ve learned so much about myself, especially my weaknesses and character flaws. Weaknesses are that I’m reckless, impulsive, and emotional, leading me to speak before I think, do before I think, and become insensitive to other people’s feelings. I used people as a temporary band-aid and in return, I was used. I refused to love me first, instead I tried finding love and validation from others, leaving me even more empty, broken, and damaged.

Then something beautiful happened. An experience so raw, terrifying, and honest that shocked me into changing my life, my perspective, and my overall relationship with myself. I asked myself the questions I had been avoiding: Do I even like myself? Am I a good person? What is my purpose? What am I doing to improve my life? Am I happy? How am I going to achieve happiness? What IS happiness?

I decided I needed to change my life. I could no longer wallow in self pity and pain. I needed to pick myself up, dust off that shit, and move forward.

In doing so, I made peace with my ex husband. Derek has been a huge part of my life, I love him, always will, he will always be a best friend and confidante. I’m blessed to have spent the time I did with him, and I’m eternally grateful for our experiences together. I also made the decision to get a second job for many reasons: save up for vacation, pay off debt, and to socialize myself because I have a tendency to become a hermit. Creating healthy friendships with others is second to creating a healthy relationship with yourself. The people I work with are amazing, and I truly feel by making the decision to work where I’m working, I am much happier, mentally healthier, and it was in my cards. Everyone is uplifting, hilarious, there to laugh and have a good time and make some money.

The biggest decision I made was to start loving and appreciating myself. To no longer look outward, but to begin looking inward. To accept myself for all my flaws, my experiences good or bad, to forgive myself for everything I did in attempt to self medicate: the promiscuity, using people, substance abuse, and lack of self respect.

I started to heal.

I have more good days, I find reasons to smile, and I do my best to find the positive in every situation. I can sit in silence without becoming uncomfortable with my own thoughts. I enjoy my solitude, I find it peaceful. I’m no longer terrified of being alone. I can enjoy the company of others without searching for their affirmations. Every day I’m learning how to love myself more and more, and as I do, my outlook on life and my relationships with those around me begin to change as well.

I am learning how to become love.

The Power of Music

As much as I love discovering new music, I also love the power “old” music has to reawaken memories and emotions. Glitch Mob shared an article from the Smithsonian that refers to this experience as “frisson”, a sudden strong feeling of excitement or fear, a thrill. This causes a shudder throughout our body, causing our hair to stand on end. Quite frankly, I like to call this an “orgasm.” Have you ever bitten into something so sweet and decadent that it literally shocked your taste buds and sent a shudder up the back of your neck and head? I also call this a type of orgasm.

Often times when I’m listening to Glitch Mob’s first album, or even second album, or the old industrial Gothic bands I used to listen to such as Neurotic Fish, Ashbury Heights, Zeromancer, VNV Nation, and especially Assemblage 23…. I ask myself, “Why do I like to subject myself to emotional pain and nostalgia?” Many of these bands I listened to when I was in a dark place, or I shared with someone who is no longer a part of my life. Some are bittersweet and I listen to with fondness, being transported back in time becoming one with everyone around me, moving and dancing in sync with the music, feeling so humbled by the beauty the artists shared with us. Memories so vivid and real as if they happened yesterday.

Having such a strong emotional connection with my music and art makes it difficult to share with new people, but I can’t blame them, they weren’t there, and they don’t share the same memories or emotional connection. Instead of becoming impatient and upset with them, I have to take a step back realize: they aren’t being ignorant and disrespectful, they simply haven’t had the opportunity to experience the art in the same way I have.

Glitch Mob will always remain my favorite and most revered group. My most memorable music experience was attending their show at the ShowBox Market for their “Drink the Sea” tour in 2010. Derek and I worked for USC events and managed to make the guest list for my birthday, we fought our way to the very front where Ooah, Boreta, and Edit donned all black apparel, drawing the attention away from themselves and solely focusing on their art form. Their performance was the most magnificent I had seen. The way they moved together fluidly and the way they inspired the crowd was incredible. When they performed “Between Two Points” Derek and I knew that would be our song. Even when I listen to it today, I still consider it our song, even more so now that we’re no longer together, lyrically it’s a bittersweet goodbye. At the end when they performed “West Coast Rocks” I had never seen a crowd get so thug nasty together, it was dope as fuck! The crowd went wild, everyone was a fucking G. When they ended their performance they came out into the crowd to meet everyone, they shook everyone’s hand, took pictures, talked to us like they were one of us, and genuinely thanked us for attending their show. They were humbled by US. Their attitude and love for their art inspired and humbled me and continues to do so: Starve the Ego, Feed the Soul.

I want to share the below song, not because it is my “favorite” necessarily, but because no matter where I am or what I’m doing, if I listen to this song I am brought to tears and shivers crawl up my spine. Not sad tears or happy tears, but the tears of someone who has experienced an ego death and is overcome with new insight. I feel truly humbled, liberated, and grateful for my own existence, every experience, every opportunity to learn and grow, and should the time come today, tomorrow, or 50 years from now, I feel truly prepared for the next phase of life.

mobsters2

~Jess

If You Love Something, Set it Free

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I can officially say I’ve been single for an entire year. That’s the longest time I’ve spent by myself since I was 14 years old. The amount that I’ve learned about myself and about other people is incredible. Even with the repeated ego deaths and identity crisis, the past year has been a gift. That being said, of course there have been moments where I’ve missed having a companion, a partner in crime, a team mate; but I’ve found companionship in myself, my closest friends, and a spiritual connection with everything around me.

I’ve been observing relationships around me, asking people questions about their own relationships, the strengths, weaknesses, and foundation. “Do you love this person? HOW do you love them? WHY do you love them? WHAT do you love about them? How do you define love? How do you know you are IN love? Are you really IN love or ARE you love?” When you ask those questions and compare answers side by side, everyone seems to have a different definition of love, and their own ways of expressing that, or BEING that.

Sadly, I’ve noticed a trend with some people in relationships. Many of them are in a relationship with someone for the comfort factor. Everyone wants to be with someone. Everyone wants to feel loved. Everyone wants intimacy, someone who will make them feel safe, someone who can take care of them, or someone they can take care of. Everyone wants to be happy, and some people think that means falling in love. But waiting to “fall in love” means you are depending on another person for your happiness. Depending on another person to make you happy is selfish and unrealistic. Happiness begins with you, and you alone. Once you have achieved happiness and love for yourself, then you can share that with others, and no one can take it away from you.

The mentality of depending on another person for happiness and love creates dysfunctional relationships. People begin having expectations of their significant other, holding them to a high standard, expecting them to do this, or be that. People get in these predicaments because they fear being alone and they think they can change people. I’ve noticed with some relationships, one person will feel indebted to the other person for the security they provide. Some people never took the time to heal after one relationship and still have residual feelings when they enter a new relationship. Some people are so focused on starting a family, worry that time is running out, and settle for someone who’s “comfortable.” Do these people “love” each other? Perhaps they do, in their own way, to their own degree. But these relationships offer no freedom. These relationships are based on feeding each other’s ego and numbing each other’s insecurities.

No one should ever be in a relationship solely because they fear being alone. No one should ever be in a relationship thinking that “falling in love” will be the solution to their problems, bringing them happiness. No one should ever feel like they “owe” someone by staying in an unhealthy relationship. Love is free, it does not envy, it is not possessive, and it expects nothing in return. If you love something, set it free.

This year I’ve learned so much about loving myself and loving others. Love is a state of being.

A year ago I thought my world had ended and I would never trust or love again. But this year taught me that love is unconditional. The emotions that I felt a year ago, the depression and sorrow, they were merely a product of my pride and ego. I depended on Derek for my happiness, and when he failed like all humans do, I was lost and didn’t know how to find happiness again.

I loved Derek and I still do. Sometimes I think I love him more now than I did before because I’ve found love and happiness in myself and I’ve learned to forgive. Am I IN love? No. Am I love itself? Yes.

Rejection used to hurt, but now I know that if I truly love someone and myself, the rejection won’t hurt because I’m not depending on reassurance or reciprocated feelings to “be happy.” I’m already fucking happy, and that’s more liberating than any other feeling or state of being. I’m learning to love freely and unconditionally in all areas of my life.

Starve the Ego, Feed the Soul…

~Jess

Challenge What You Think You Know….

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I am beyond excited, I could hardly sleep last night. I’ve been diving deeper and deeper into the topic of love, human nature and our intense hyper sexuality, the flaws in the societal weave of marriage across cultures, and our suppression of free love. The more I study in school and leisurely read books on these topics, the more confident I am in the pursuit of knowledge in Human Sexual Psychology. If that becomes a career, dope. If not, also dope. The more you know.

Over the past year my definition of love has evolved just as much as I have. There have been many times where I thought I finally achieved self love. However, self love is a constant mindful effort, it’s a lifelong journey and relationship with yourself. Although some days are better than others, I can confidently say I have developed a healthy relationship with myself which hopefully emanates through my relationships with others. Having developed a rhythm of love for myself, I started assessing the love I have for others: friends, family, lovers, and everyone in between.

I stumbled upon a burning question as I assessed my love for each individual in my life. In regards to romantic intimate love, is it possible to love more than one person? I felt guilty for considering that perhaps I could. But wait a minute….. what kind of society creates a culture in which a person feels guilty for loving? Call me hippie dippy if you like, but humans have a unique capacity for deeper understanding, this is exhibited through how we communicate using verbal language, how we express ourselves with body language, the arts, philosophy, and so much more. We are complex creatures. Limiting our magnitude to love is a disservice to our species.

In the book I am currently reading, Sex at Dawn, Christopher Ryan argues that the development of agricultural practice is what debilitated humanity and created a less than ideal culture in which we no longer share our resources, but rather we have become possessive and materialistic in a capitalist society. We own things, we want more, we are envious of what the next person has, we OWN our partner, we are shackled by socioeconomic norms.

“What constitutes misuse of the universe? This question can be answered in one word: greed…. Greed constitutes the most grievous wrong.”

-LAURENTI MAGESA, African Religion: The Moral Traditions of Abundant Life

I refuse to believe that greed is an intrinsic human trait. Our ancestors used to live in forager gatherer communities in which all resources were shared: food, water, shelter, protection, and yes… that’s right…. sex. Our ancestors participated in sex with multiple partners to express friendship, to comfort, and to create strong bonds within their communities.

Does that make you feel uncomfortable? Do you argue, “Well that was sooooo long ago, times have changed.” If it weren’t for our ancestors ability to share resources, share responsibilities of raising young, and live in a harmonious protected community where men could trust their children would be cared for by their fellow brothers if they should encounter danger …. I can almost guarantee you we wouldn’t be here today.

So how did we get here? Along with the development of agricultural practice, religion has been no help in the situation either.

“Remember the Tenth Commandment: “Thou shalt not covert thy neighbors house, thou shalt not covert thy neighbors wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox,nor his ass, nor any thing that [is] thy neighbor’s.” Clearly, the biggest loser (aside from slaves, perhaps) in the agricultural revolution was the human female, who went from occupying a central respected role in foraging societies to becoming another possession for a man to earn and defend, along with his house, slaves, and livestock.”

― Cacilda Jethá, Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality

What the actual fuck?

In a world where we are rapidly evolving: creating new gadgets, discovering cures for diseases (mostly brought on by ourselves), and sending people into space; we are also creating a polluted world, encouraging egocentric societies and cultures, and ultimately reducing the quality of life. Although there is no turning back, those of us full of love and brave of heart have the opportunity to challenge the status quo. Love is free and limitless, it is not possessive, it does not envy, and it is not jealous.

So how can a person romantically and intimately love more than one person? What about jealousy? How does one prioritize their time?

Trust me, as a divorcee, these are burning questions in which I’ve had over a year to ponder. Jealousy, anger, pride, possessiveness…. these are all products of our ego. Who am I to measure the love a man might show towards me and the love he may show towards another woman (or man)? These two separate experiences are unique in and of themselves, I would never ask anyone to limit their love. I encourage free love. I encourage freedom and sexual liberation. Prioritizing time? I love my independence and feel happy and whole alone. Anyone I would be involved with should have the same independence and wholeness alone as well. Everyone should learn to love themselves first, no, it’s not selfish, it’s the first step to loving others.

“Despite how open, peaceful, and loving you attempt to be, people can only meet you, as deeply as they’ve met themselves.” – Matt Kahn

I realize most of you reading this now may be in monogamous relationships or may have never considered polygamous or open relationships and think I’m absolutely crazy. Why though? Why is this concept so abnormal and bizarre? Is it the fear of the unknown, are you imagining the worst that could happen? I’ll let you in on a little secret, no matter how much you plan for your future and have an ideal picture of what that looks like, life is gonna come crashing in full force and will challenge any predisposed notions you had about the universe and the complex spectrum of humans. I promise.

“What if economic security and guilt-free sexual friendships were easily available to almost all men and women, as they are in many of the societies we’ve discussed, as well as among our closest primate cousins? What if no woman had to worry that a ruptured relationship would leave her and her children destitute and vulnerable? What if average guys knew they’d never have to worry about finding someone to love? What if we didn’t all grow up hearing that true love is obsessive and possessive? What if, like the Mosuo, we revered the dignity and autonomy of those we loved? What if, in other words, sex, love, and economic security were as available to us as they were to our ancestors? If fear is removed from jealousy, what’s left?”

― Christopher Ryan, Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships

Challenge what you think you know.

~Jess