Meal Ticket? I’ve Already Eaten. (+Giveaway: Jillian Lauren’s Books & Signed Weezer CD)

“I have already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be.” –Joan Didion

“Everything not saved will be lost.” –Nintendo Quit Screen Message

I am still caught off guard by the first-world nature of the questions I encounter in this “less hood but only marginally more good” life I now live. A few weeks ago, someone asked me if I believed in perfection as an attainable goal. My first thought was What the fuck kind of question is this at 6:30 in the morning inside a strip club? Can I live? My second thought was to weigh which answer might invite less debate.

“Yes,” I said. And then I went back to sleeping but not with my head down. That’s how my friend Andro got kicked out of the same strip club last year. Instead, I propped my elbow on an armrest and cradled the right half of my face in my palm, because my head bobs a lot when I’m forced to sit upright and look conscious as I succumb to the heavy sleep that feels both inconvenient and inescapable yet delicious.

If we changed a few minor factors like the time, location, ambience, level of rapport with question-asker, and my general affability, which is inversely proportional to the number of hours since my last meal/large snack, I would have answered the question differently.

It seems unfair to give blanket meaning to a concept that shifts a little with each person, but to keep things simple, let’s define “perfection” as: whole, free from flaw and defect, exactly right.

So, is perfection an attainable goal? No. Maybe. Actually, I don’t really care. I’m no longer shackled to the ideal because it’s kept me from writing for months and months. Before, when I was rooting around in the filth of my imperfections, I was so submerged in darkness that I didn’t know that I…didn’t know. When I gained a little clarity, it suddenly seemed wrong and troubling to write without having the perspective that hindsight affords.

I’ve been thinking a lot about writing and whether or not I should continue. I thought that if I walked away from writing, I would feel free and happy. Those commodities have been fleeting and scarce. For a short time last year, I felt some relief when I decided to wake up every day and just do the thing I really, really wanted to do that day. (This involved a trip to Target most days. You guys, I fucking forrealz did a Target Tour of Southern California.)

I believe that everything happens for a reason. But sometimes things happen because you’re stupid and you make bad choices. You choose blindly and poorly because you don’t know.

I also believe that you don’t know until you know. Once a little piece of “know” gets lodged inside of you, you can choose then to understand it. Knowing and understanding aren’t the same thing. Then when you finally understand, you come to a place of possibilities, choices that mean something because you aren’t feeling around in the dark and pushing through whichever opening you find first, unaware of the other exits.

What happened is this: I approached the healing process with the mindset that I was so broken and so imperfect that I had to fix myself before I could proceed into higher level pursuits like writing, especially writing about my brokenness. I kept waiting to become perfect, because being perfect and whole and free from defect would be my meal ticket to…well, life. How I came to this conclusion is mystifying since I’ve never been perfect, yet here I am, like, you know, living. Here I am living and writing this motherfucking sentence, and I am not perfect.

So I guess I don’t need that meal ticket. I’ve already eaten.

I decided that I was already enough. I made the choice to view myself as whole. And I realized that I can create gravity by continuing an endeavor that really speaks to me, and pursuing it in the way I want to do it. That gravity attracts the right people at the right time in the right place.

When I met Jillian Lauren this spring, the first words she said were, “I heard your name twice today before coming here. It’s nice to meet you!” and then she laughed casually as we shook hands. I immediately liked her because she didn’t give a shit about an unspoken and pervasive L.A. rule: Slight apathy at all times.

I enjoyed Jillian’s writing before meeting her, and it was such a treat to find out that her rare blend of delicate and dope as fuck exists not only on the pages, but in person as well. Some people are controlled and caged by their past, but as Jillian and I exchanged emails, I got the sense that she transcended who she was to become who she is because she understands that the only way out isn’t always back in. Sometimes, it’s about moving forward. Exploring outside the bounds of the known.

It seemed important to share her words and her heart with you, so I wanted to do a giveaway. She offered not only her latest book, Everything You Ever Wanted, but also her other two books, Some Girls and Pretty. She also included a signed Weezer CD (Jillian’s husband, Scott Shriner, is Weezer’s bassist. I took some time to educate myself about Weezer because I wasn’t super familiar with that genre of music. Tbh, I think the only rock band that came to mind before this is….Nickelback. And it’s only because someone asked in a Reddit AMA with 50 Cent if a theoretical tour with Nickelback would be called Forty Five Cents. My husband said it’s not okay to reference both Weezer and Nickelback in the same paragraph for any reason, but sometimes bad groupings happen to good artists.)

When I decided to start writing again, I wasn’t quite sure how to do it anymore. Or what I would write about. Then I met Jillian and ended up at a strip club (wait, those two things aren’t related btw), and I decided to let go. Not everything is worth keeping.


P.S. BIG THINGS POPPIN’: Major changes and transitions for our family this summer. Can’t wait to share with you what’s on the other side. When it’s quiet here on the blog, stay close through the Flourish in Progress Facebook page and on Instagram (@flourishinprogress)


DOPE GIVEAWAY: All 3 of Jillian Lauren’s Books + Signed Weezer CD


TO ENTER: Leave a comment below sharing a valuable shift in perspective / important life lesson / noteworthy advice / a goal or a hope or a dream. Basically, if you find it shareworthy, I’m listening. You fascinate me.

Only comments left on this post qualify. Giveaway entry period ends Sunday, June 21, 2015 at 11:59 pm PT. Winner will be contacted via email. It’s not necessary to create a Disqus account or comment with a social media profile, but please make sure your email address is correct if you choose the “I’d rather post as guest” comment option.

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  • Jennifer Morris

    It was recently revealed to me that I can get nice stuff for myself once rather than shitty stuff all the time. Quality is better than quantity sometimes. My husband dropped that one on me after discovering that I was blowing money on cheap, uncomfortable sandals every summer. That man is a golden genius.

  • Jennifer Peters-Ahnberg

    I stopped obsessing about being correct, about being “good.” I’ve spent years chained by my religious upbringing and recently realized that even though I don’t believe in any of the dogma anymore, I’ve been living my life according to those rules. So I cut my hair short. I got a tattoo. I started dressing in a way that pleased me. I wear spandex shorts when I run. And I have’t been struck down by lightning yet.

    I feel so damn free.

    • Jo Shu

      Love this! :)

  • Jennifer

    Sometimes an answer to a question comes through intuition, rather than logic. Unfortunately, I haven’t always listened to my inner voice, but that has made my life all the more interesting I suppose….

  • Gayle Kolodny Cole

    Growing up with parents who could be, at times, completely shameless, I used to hide in a coat closet armed with a pen and a (hideously-striped, ’70s-stenciled) diary and write furiously about how I would be a much better parent, as I would be sure to teach my own offspring SHAME. Yes, that’s right. I thought SHAME was what my family needed. Ha! Now, my kids are about the age I was when I wrote my sage parenting manifesto behind the windbreakers and under the light bulb with the pull-string. Epiphany: If you can believe this, nobody actually needs SHAME. It would not have cured my father’s addictions or earned my parents any PTA awards. What we all needed was PRIDE. The members of our family needed to know we were good at things other than inspiring the Roseanne show. I found that truth on my own, and made a life, one more like the show Parenthood (how irresistible is Dax Sheppard?), and now I have some kids. Guess what? I’m still sometimes feel ashamed of myself. But I teach my kids my truth: find something to do that makes you proud of yourself. Try, learn, love, and respect. Hard, but shame-free.

  • Christy L. Brown

    Recently I realized I view my Heavenly Father the same way I view my earthly father…always trying to seek approval. Feeling like I’m going to be punished for thinking a certain way or doing something wrong. I’m learning that’s not true…God is a Father of Grace, Mercy and Love. It’s a process.

  • Hip-Baby Mama

    I gave up on perfection a while ago and it’s been amazing. Some days I’m at my best and some at my good-enough-est. Some days suck but I know it’s not permanent. Some days are horrible and that’s when I realize I forgot to take my meds and I need a nap.

  • Amy Housman

    For the past I don’t even know anymore years, I’ve been living a life I didn’t really love in a place that physically made me incredibly sick. And I felt like I deserved this life. That some because of my choice of majors and employment that I only ever would live in a place I only sometimes marginally liked and for most of the summer down right hated. And I worked in a job that broke my heart and made me wonder what stupid idea made me not get just one but TWO degrees that meant this was my career option. All of this is caught up in the fact that my boyfriend decided to dump me when I decided to stay in this shit hole and get degree #2 and the fact that I had 5 miserable years of social isolation and one meth addict stalker while getting said degree. I had to stay in this shitty ass job in a place that made me sick to make this life choice make sense. It sounds crazy right? But I didn’t know it was crazy until I got so sick I couldn’t get out of bed (because I lived in a polluted shit hole town) and at one point I said to my doctor I feel like a 5th lactation dairy cow and if this is what life is I just don’t want to get up anymore. And I was for real. I wasn’t thinking about offing myself, but I’d been sick off and one for 6 years. I gave up. I just wanted to not get up anymore and stop trying. One look at her face and I said you’re sending me to counseling huh? Getting sick was the best thing that happened to me becuase I got to go to counseling. And here’s what I learned. I am not obligated to do anything. I am not obligated to do a job I hate for a man who belittles me in a place I hate for people I don’t respect. Even if I gave up a lot of life and comfort so I could get to this place. One day I was walking through a cow pen looking at all the things that pissed me off and I thought maybe all this school stuff brought you hear not so you could do this job but so you could do this and have this realization that you hate this and you need to be apart of this. Maybe it’s ok to just let go of the life you think you should live. So this is where I’m at you have no set path. You only have the path you make. Starting last October I saved my money, sold my stuff, moved into 300 square feet and then in May I left my job. For the past month, I did what I wanted. I went on a road trip with my sister, went to science conferences, rode my horse, trained baby racehorses, swam in the pool, read books and went and saw people who did cool things. People I’d never met, people that someone I knew knew someone who knew. I just called and said I think what you do is cool can you tell me about it? And people welcomed me with open arms and sent me on to more people who do incredibly cool things I didn’t know existed. Last week I moved back to my parents house. And I thought maybe my pride couldn’t take it and I should be ashamed, but I’m not. My parents are getting older and I grew up in a beautiful place. Last week I drove through town and I thought you are SO LUCKY. It kind of took my breath away. I have 6 months of money and I’m going to stop holding myself back. I have 2 months of people to visit that I think do really cool things and the list is growing by the day. The opportunities that have come from this are astounding. A former customer called me 2 weeks ago and said I think we should start a business together. It won’t be full time, but it’s damn near my dream job. The biggest lesson here is if you ask the world for what you want you can have it. No one will give it to you. You have to stop asking for what you want and stand up and take it. And if you don’t know what you want you’d damn well better start looking for it. The only thing holding you back is you. I thought when I did this I was crazy. Right now its the best choice and the only choice I could have and should have made. Maybe in 6 months I’ll feel different but I am humbled, I am grateful and I am FREE.

  • shuggilippo

    I’ve come to the point in my life where I’m finally content with being the life of the party but not letting everyone into it. Or rather that it’s not important to have so many bodies in my space that the cops show up to end the night early. That it’s okay to have a handful of homies over for wine and cheese and shit and that it’s okay for people watching through the front window, formerly able to come in and keg stand, to be pissed that they’re not a part of it anymore. That giving all of me to everyone who asks of it leaves me with nothing. And nothingness is lonely as fuck. Thanks for always being a light of imperfect perfection EJL. Excited to see your adventures to come. Whatever parts you decide to share with us.

  • Melissa Burton

    More than fabulous to see your words on the page again!

    I love this evolution of you and your writing. I’m looking forward to seeing your announcement soon.

    PS – Since you acknowledged a respect for Duran Duran in the past, I’ll let the Nickelback reference go. Weezer, on the other hand, rocks.

  • Sheriji

    I think the quest for “perfection” is great as long as it’s from the mindful place of a) this is what I (or whoever I love) needs more than anything right now, while also being aware of b) this is what I (or whoever I love) might need more than anything eventually. And if that seems too hard, then forget it, and just eat a sandwich.

  • alexandra

    I hope you never stop writing.

  • Lori

    My goal is to write a book. I have no idea what it will be about, but I know that it is somewhere inside me to do it.

  • Reticula

    Late Friday night I was sitting in my kitchen with my daughter-in-law, who is a paramedic. She told me she’d treated a patient the day before who was her height and half her weight. In other words, 5′ 6″ tall and 67 pounds. Somehow the patient had lived into her 50’s. I flashed in my mind to the times I too have struggled with anorexia nervosa, and how much better I felt the thinner I got, and yet I always thought I was too fat. I never reached the perfect weight …. Today I was sitting on my front porch with a friend, and we were talking about how we’d both gained weight — 40 for me and 60 for her — and how we were both avoiding social opportunities because we felt so self-conscious about our weight. And again I had this epiphany that I seem to need to bang my head against over and over and over, and that is that my body does everything for me. Every. Thing. And yet I continue to berate it instead of appreciating it for the precious gift it gives me of living on this planet and exploring this thing we call life. Looking at my friend this afternoon, and thinking how little I care about her weight, and how much I like her for everything else she offers the world, I hope I came just a little closer to giving up the idea that my weight defines my worth in this world. I am not gold. I am a woman whose worth is measured in hearts, not on a scale.

  • Rosie Zeno

    This is what I’m meditating on right now: “Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” ~Pema Chodron

  • Amy Askin – Beloved Atmosphere

    Two quotations I’m doing my best to bring into my life through meditation, mantra and daily practice…
    “…if one advances confidently in the direction of [her] dreams, and endeavors to live the life which [s]he has imagined, [s]he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. . . . In proportion as [s]he simplifies [her] life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness.”
    – Henry David Thoreau from Walden
    “No person has the right to rain on your dreams.”
    – Marian Wright Edelman

    Although many try to shit on my parade (via judgement, shaming, etc.) I work on.the.fucking.daily to ignore, and in some cases, “smile-and-wave” away these fear-based reactions.
    These are MY dreams and aspirations.
    This is MY life.
    I won’t allow others to rain on my dreams.
    As I follow my life dreams, I’m refusing to engage with people who share their negative thoughts on what I’m doing. I’m no longer allowing others’ value judgements to suck me back down into a shame spiral of depressive thoughts and inaction.
    No way.
    Not this time, muthafuckas.

    Thank you for sharing this piece, EJL. Your gift with words is legendary. You inspire me and motivate me to live honestly, freely, better. Your words give me hope and free me from the bonds I have formerly allowed to shackle me.
    You ROCK, yo.

  • Diane

    My first therapist told me “Do what you love and everything else falls into place”, which sounds hokey and idealistic, but I have never forgotten those words, and I can’t deny that when I am writing daily and actively pursuing my writing goals, the rest of my life does seem so much easier to manage.

  • steph

    I am moving to New Mexico at the end of the week. It’s been a dream of mine for a long time and I finally had the courage to just make it happen.

  • Lindsey

    I am glad you are writing again. Your posts are always so insightful and fun and thug.

  • Brittany Olson

    Have gratitude in every day and you will start to see the up side in everything.
    And Weezer,whoa. They have been my all time favorite band since I was 14 so almost 20 years. Whoop whoop!
    I will have to check out the books fo sho :-)
    Have missed your posts greatly and I don’t do any other social media :-(

  • Jen Obrien

    I have obsessed for years about the perfect time for this and the perfect time for that. Probably the reason we dont have kids yet because I’m an over planner. But last year on a whim I started baking things for people and kinda started a fly by night catering hustle on the side. Was the timing perfect? Hell no. I am up at 330 and 4am making stuff then working my day job but the way I feel when I’m creating things for people IS perfect. So screw having EVERYTHING perfect and grab the moments of life that ARE. Now excuse me my beer is getting warm….and I’m going to enjoy a lot of them before I have to have a bun in the oven.

  • JodyStover

    We moved from my home city almost two years ago, to a city I’d sort of lived in before (about 1.5 hours away from where I went to university). Back in the day I hated it. HATED IT. Climate, cost of living, the whole 9. So I dug my heels in and dreaded it and packed up my family and belongings and DID IT (begrudgingly). I thought – I knew – that I would hate it. But also I knew this was for life and that there was nothing I could do about it but choose to do it well. And you know what? For someone who hates change and who spent all kinds of time/days/hours/years dreading what was to come, I opted instead (once we got here) to try. To try and be positive, to try and show my family that you can DO HARD THINGS and to try and show my husband that I’d… try. And now, almost 2 years later, I’m happy I did. As hard as it was and as scary as it was – I’m able to say that change can be good if you let it be. It can be really, really good. It can lead to peace. Huh.

  • Elena Gutierrez

    Sometimes, when you try to rig a game fate/God laughs at you. I attempted to have my nephew (6) “fairly” be picked first to help fix a bed while my girls (both 4) had to wait their turn. I asked a simple math problem 1+2=? and closed my eyes to hear who shouted it out first. Surprisingly my daughter, who has never attended a day care or school, beat her cousin, who was showing off his mathematical prowess all day, in getting it right first.

    So much for that plan.

  • Chelsea

    Last month, I woke up one morning after another suicide attempt the night before, and my friends said, “It’s time to go to the hospital.” I pleaded with them to not make me go. Now I’m back in the big world and practicing just being me. The big scary things have happened and I’m still right here. Nothing to lose.

  • mwheatcraft

    So I’m pretty sure I’ve lived a life devoid of major epiphanies, but one of the most valuable I’ve ever found useful to myself is the act of forgiveness.

    I had for years and years had a difficult relationship with my mother. She wrenched me away from my father shortly before I became a surely and difficult teen, and we’ve been at loggerheads ever since. She wasn’t warm and cuddly with me (although super-close to my sister), and she sure wasn’t warm and cuddly with her adorable and dear grandchildren. We lived in the same State 30 minutes from each other and saw each other maybe twice/year. Finally, after I had moved away, she had moved away, and now she was considering moving to my new State, I decided that all the hard feelings, the turmoil and angst was only hurting me.

    I just told her I wasn’t looking for anything from her other than the chance to just make our relationship what we wanted it to be NOW. We talked, we cried a little, and we are now friendly if not exactly friends. I still hurt her – I can’t be like her, and she can be pretty judgey about things like that – and she still hurts me, but we find family in each other. I find great value in this ability to move past the past. It helps me today with my marriage and other family relationships. It’s freeing.

  • mychell

    I’m an avid rock climber. I recently went to a talk by Tommy Caldwell, a professional rock climber, whose most recent climb got a ton of press (including NY Times e.g., because he did an epic climb on one of the hardest, blankest walls of the Dawn Wall in Yosemite — 3,000 feet of climbing! This climb has previously been dubbed “the impossible climb.” He’s been working on (and failing at) this climbing for the past 7 years.

    This dude’s story of rock climbing is incredibly inspiring: on one of his first sponsored climbing trips, he got captured by Islamic militants for nearly a week. He later got into a carpentry accident which resulted in him losing his index finger — which is pretty key for climbing. But the most inspiring part of his talk was when he described why this attempt to climb the Dawn Wall was different from the previous climbs in the past 7 years. This time, he had SELF-BELIEF! He truly believed that he could do this “impossible” climb.

    Self-believe, or the lack of it is something that I constantly struggle with in many facets of my life, and I suspect others do as well. I start to doubt myself, or I don’t truly believe that I can do something/worthy of achieving some accomplishment, etc. That lingering shred of doubt ends up being a self-fulfilling prophesy. And it’s a nasty spiral too!

    Since then, I’ve been working on trying to believe in myself more. It’s still hard, and I have to actively block out the little voice of doubt, but I”m taking baby steps. Recently, I’ve even started saying little “I believe I can do this” mantras to myself before doing scary, hard stuff.

    But damn, that man did the impossible by believing he could. Imagine what we can all do if we believed in ourselves :)

  • Shelbey

    My mom has some sort of early onset dementia and it really sucks. I’m jealous of everyone who has their mom to help them with their new babies, when I can’t have my mom come to my house by herself because she always gets lost on the way. But, I’m trying to learn to stop dwelling on it. It is what it is and I need to accept it as it is. So, not a great lesson, but I’m learning it.

  • Jenni Chiu

    I wonder if perhaps we are moving in parallel directions…
    I am excited to learn what is next for you.

  • Mona

    I had really wanted to do olympic weight lifting for awhile but thought it was only for men, or really strong, badass ladies and that I would suck and not be able to lift anything and everyone at the gym would laugh… and in the beginning I did suck, and I couldn’t lift much, but no one laughed… a lot of the gym people would approach me and say it’s cool I was starting to lift, and offered me advice, spotted me when I needed it, and have become a wonderful, supportive family that I look forward to seeing. But I remember that it took me over 2 years of wanting to try and being so afraid to and that’s just dumb. That’s just wasted time. I’m still not perfect, I still can’t lift as much as some of even the other women at my gym, but that DOESN’T MATTER – what matters is I enjoy doing it. Sometimes you realize that the person holding you back the most is yourself, and that’s some tough bullshit to swallow.

  • Denise Salinas

    I told someone once that Weezer is a lot like the city of Memphis. You sort of accidentally trip and fall in love with them before you realize it enough to stop it. I am doing the same thing with myself and my current life situation right now. In no small part because of blogs like Flourish in Progress. So whatever happens, know that you are entirely like Weezer and Memphis. And that is a very good thing. ❤

  • Rosa Diaz

    Hello, My name is Rosa and I feel that at 42 I am finally getting the hang of life. Didn’t have great a childhood and think the word child-HOOD aptly describes my upbringing. Abuse, poverty, and mind games were the norm. My imagination both helped and fucked me up to get me through the times. Dancing and music also filled my voids and included all night raves, punk shows, and hip hop. I wasn’t very good at anything and at 15 realized that if I didn’t runaway from home, I was going to end up just like my parents. So I packed a box with a weeks worth of underwear, my cassette tapes, and my ID and ran away. I didn’t have any money, but I did have a boyfriend who let me sleep in his overhead cupboard. I do not regret running away. I’ve made so many mistakes, A LOT of mistakes, just when I think I am in the clear, I fall flat on my face. Sometimes laying face first on the ground there will be a glimpse of what the next move I need to make is. Other times there is just fucking dirt and gritty tears. What never fails me, even if something is broken, bruised, or popped out, is the desire to get back up. It’s a fuck you to my parents who pushed me to the ground, would then step on me, while telling me that is where I belonged. I rose above by traveling around the world doing footwear production, became a shop owner, and now work with women and families during the birth of their children as a Doula. My own children are well loved and know that when mama puts on the ‘Ruff Ryders: Ride or Die Vol 1’ I’ve had rough day and that it equals me dancing and rapping along. Those rough days aren’t around as much and are probably due to finding “Gente como uno” = people like oneself. People like oneself have been through something, yet still persevere, don’t judge, and my personal favorite, tell you the truth. This world has so much to offer and I am grateful to be a part of it, regardless if it got off to HOOD start. Thanks for reading.

  • Benny Crocker

    “My first thought was What the fuck kind of question is this at 6:30 in the morning inside a strip club? Can I live?” – #canILive! Great post Liz! Can’t wait to see what is coming up!

  • Ronalee Duncan

    I have learned this and repeated it over the years: Sometimes we have to give up something in our lives to find ourselves.

  • Tabitha Woodall

    I have been feeling very stuck. Stuck in my life and job. Doing the same old things. I used to be so much busier with life only stopping to breath when I was sleeping. Now I am feeling sluggish and resentful. After a particularly bad “woe is me day” an image showed up on my instagram feed. It said “If you don’t like where things are, MOVE! You are NOT a tree”. Since that day I have been moving – not making big drastic changes but making small moments to regain my sense of wholeness. its working…

  • Brandy

    I believe that I’ve reached perfection, though my definition of perfection may be slightly off kilter. Its not the flawless version, but the “what works right for me” version. I’m in a great place in my life. On the balance of good people vs. idiots I have to deal with on a daily basis, good people are tipping the scales and coming out the victors. I feel that I’m marginally more mature than I was during my shameful (teenage) years and I’m content and the majority of the time happy. Hence, my definition of perfection.

  • J H D

    I’m waiting for YOU to write a book gurl. Also, I’m in L.A. on the 2nd of Jan for two days. Let’s make this shiz happen. xo

    J H D

  • Jon Best

    1) There are no such things as “races” We’re all part of the same human race.
    2) If someone cannot forgive others, why should that person expect others to forgive him or her?
    3) Insults tend to say more about the person giving them than the person receiving them.
    4) Whoops… I just realized I was a year late for the contest. Hope you don’t mind me adding this anyways.

  • -blessed holy socks

    Coming to my BIG-ol,
    John Belushi, party-hardy
    in illustrious Seventh-Heaven??

    Yes, earthling, Im an NDE,
    I know now s’up… literally.
    God bless your indelible soul.