A Life Less Bullshit

I’m Nicole Antoinette: writer, runner, and real-talk advocate. 

If you stick around, you'll find a community of kind, fierce, and refreshingly imperfect people who are committed to the idea that we're all just doing the best we can, and that no matter what we're in this together.

Less Bullshit, More Playtime

Remember kindergarten?

We learned stuff and played outside and took naps and ate yummy snacks and did arts and crafts projects and, best of all, we used our imaginations together and we believed in magic.

This is the opposite of what our adult lives are like.

Now that we’re adults, everything is about being productive and responsible. Clearly we don’t have time to do arts and crafts projects because, hello, we’re much too busy for that.

Everything we do these days has to have a purpose, a justification. In order to be worthwhile, each activity needs to move us closer to our goals, and what’s the tangible ROI of eating chocolate chip banana bread and playing hide and seek in the park?

Remember hide and seek? Remember flashlight tag? Remember summer afternoons spent rolling down a grassy hill, over and over again until you were dizzy and light-headed, all while laughing hysterically with your friends? And in the winter, remember sprawling on the ground and making snow angels until your fingers were numb, and then coming inside to drink hot cocoa and curl up in front of the fireplace?

I’m pretty sure that those experiences – the ones we’re “way too busy for” these days – are the experiences that make us feel most alive. And sure, we have responsibilities and bills to pay, but how did we let the pendulum swing so far in that direction that we’ve forgotten all about the necessity of play? Because that’s what play is: a necessity.

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You Don’t Have To Be Excited To Stay Committed

So we’re standing in the kitchen, Paul and I, and all of the sudden I look over at him and I’m like, “Okay, so, I don’t need to talk about this in detail and I don’t need advice yet, but I want to tell you something so that I’ve acknowledged it out loud and made it more real, okay?”

He nods, curious.

I take a deep breath.

“For the past month, I have not enjoyed running at all. It feels like a torturous slog, and I seriously don’t want to do it.”

He starts to say something comforting, but I interrupt. “No, it’s okay, I’m fine, I promise. I don’t want to make a big thing out of this because I’m assuming it’s just a phase, but I wanted to share how I’m feeling so that if I’m still feeling this way in a month or two we’ll know that it’s been going on for a while and that maybe it’s worth looking into.”

And that was that. He’s back to his day, and I’m back to mine, and the first thing I notice is how much better I feel for having gotten that nagging truth off my chest. Because sometimes we do want advice, and sometimes it’s helpful to talk things out in detail, but other times all we need is to just be heard. To know that someone else has made space in their hearts for our fears and troubles, which means that we don’t have to handle them all on our own anymore.

Paul had done exactly that for me, and a few minutes later I laced up my shoes and slipped out for a mid-day run.

And here’s where I share the deepest belief I have about pursuing goals: You don’t have to be excited about something in order to remain committed to it.

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4 Years Later

Today is my four-year sober-versary.

Four years ago today, alone in a studio apartment in downtown San Francisco, I stood in the bathroom, faced the mirror, looked myself straight in the eye, and said, “That’s it, you’re done.” I put both hands over my heart, took a deep breath, and promised myself that I would do whatever it took to never drink again.

Looking back now, I see that as a defining moment. Dramatic, pivotal – the ultimate plot-twist of my life without which everything would be different. Which is why it’s so odd that at the time, it didn’t feel like a big deal.

Here’s the truest thing I can tell you about how I felt when I first quit drinking: I wanted to change my life without actually changing my life.

I was serious about giving up alcohol, but I was desperate for everything else to stay exactly the same. I had built my entire life around drinking, and I clung to the possibility that I could somehow quit drinking and keep the rest of my life intact. I imagined drinking to be like that one leftover screw that remains after you’ve spent two hours assembling your new bookshelf.  How important could that little screw really be? The bookshelf is complete, isn’t it? So you shrug, stack your books on the shelf, toss the screw in the junk drawer, and hope for the best.

That’s how getting sober was for me.

And at first, it worked. I went with my boyfriend to a champagne lounge and drank sparkling water. I met my friends for happy hour and had a club soda with lime. I showed up for the theme parties, festive costume and glittery headband securely in place, and I let drunk strangers slur their apologies for spilling beer on my shoes. When my friends went to the club, I went to the club. When it was time to start drinking at 7am on the morning of an all-day drinking parade in San Francisco, I was there bright and early and smiling. Everything I did at that time, every choice I made, screamed, “SEE? I HAVE NOT CHANGED! I AM STILL FUN!”

My biggest fear was that I’d stop being fun.

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The Frustration of Being a Beginner

So, I signed up for a 50k trail race.

50k-map

Shit, you guys.

The race is on July 25, which isn’t all that far away, and the excitement I felt when I registered has steadily morphed into paralyzing anxiety.

This will be my first ultramarathon, my first trail race, my first time having to hike large sections of a course, and my first time doing an event at altitude. This is the first time I’m truly afraid that I’ll get pulled off a course for not meeting one of the time cut-offs along the way. This is the first time I’ll be doing a race that even has multiple time cut-offs.

There are other things I’m worried about, too. Like how the hell my sensitive stomach is going to handle the food and water I’ll need in order to fuel a 7+ hour run. I’ll have to practice wearing some kind of backpack/water pouch combo (me, the girl who hates carrying even a small purse). What will happen to my feet? Will I wind up with terrible blisters? Will it be crazy hot in Southern Oregon at the end of July? Do I need to take salt tablets?

In short: WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO?!!?

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