Author Archives: Theodora Blanchfield

On Expectations and Timelines

Married at 25. 
Kids by 30. 
Move back to the suburbs or maybe Hoboken after a bunch of years in the city and buy a house. 
Have a job as a magazine editor and leave it to stay at home with kids and work on my book. 

That’s what I thought my life plan was.

Not single at 36. 
With a dead mom. 
Giving my sweet dog up two years ago just before my mom died. 
Renting a one-bedroom apartment. 
Two suicide attempts. 
Six weeks at a residential mental health treatment facility. 
Being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and having to take three daily psych meds just to achieve some level of baseline. 

But I also didn’t think I’d ever live in California (though I’d always dreamed of it.) I didn’t think I’d travel to all of the continents but three, stamping my passport ~10 times in the past twoish years. I didn’t think I’d ever have enough work to have a steady freelance income. I didn’t think I’d pick up three fitness certifications along the way.

For so, so long, I tried my best to be the Theodora I thought people wanted me to be. Family. Friends. The internets. Society. Man…even the person I thought therapists wanted me to be.

Uh, that turned out well… (a note on the therapist part: I can now see I was so embarrassed by my feelings that I was afraid to share those deepest ones—the ones, of course, that most need to be shared. This was never a conscious thing—I had no idea how to even access them until a few months ago.)

I didn’t think I deserved to travel. Deserved to live my dream of living by the beach in California. I was supposed to just stick on that traditional life path with the two kids and white picket fence.

I’m not at all slamming anyone who is on that “traditional” life path. As long as that’s what you want, not what you think you should do. Life is WAY too short for shoulds. I wasted 36 years should-ing.

I was not put on this earth to live a life that can be put in a box. (Hi, I’m an Aquarius.) I have stepped away from that timeline and into my own life.

It involves writing.

Sharing my story—all of it, even/ESPECIALLY the messy parts. Because I am messy as fuck, but I live and love with all of my heart. I want the best for myself. For those I love.

Seeing the world.

Connecting with others deeply and building community.

Being the weirdass goofball that I am and not giving a fuck what anyone else thinks.

Opening up my heart.

I’m done playing small and playing on someone else’s timeline. I’m not saying I don’t want those things—honestly, I have no idea right now if I do or not—but I’m also going to enjoy the fuck out of where I am right now, too. And I don’t just mean being by the beach, although it is absolutely fucking amazing to be living that part of my dream.

More Reading/Listening

There’s a few things I’ve been reading to or listening to lately that ignited the thoughts in this post.

Grace wrote an amazing post on living at your own pace.

Danny J had a really thought-provoking podcast episode on “the mind fuck of aging.” She and her podcast host/bestie Jill both got divorced in their 30s, changing what they thought their paths would be—they are amazingly unapologetic about embracing the fuck out of the lives they’re living right now.

Ali had a recent podcast episode with Sarah MacKay Robinson of Oiselle, where they talked a ton about expectations. It’s more about motherhood, but so much unhappiness comes from when reality doesn’t measure up to our expectations—and we miss the amazing that’s around us.

Jordan wrote a post that slayed me. She writes about how her therapist called her a performer. “There is a difference between openness and authenticity. You speak about your emotions, but I’ve never seen you actually feel them. You perform them. And then you smile and put them away.

Hi, that’s what I’ve been doing over here for 10 years. I can tell you the story of what happened and how I “feel,” but that’s long been the extent of my real processing. It now blows my mind that for a big portion of my adult life, I processed my feelings (in the limited way I knew how) on the internet, in real time. You’ve probably noticed that I have been pulling back more on writing about my emotions and what’s happening. I’m learning, at 36, how to feel my feelings offline and actually feel them and not blog them away, eat them away, exercise them away, drink them away…

Maybe this post doesn’t make sense either, but as much as I want to be an amazing writer—and a lot of the time I think I am a pretty damn good writer—I’m learning to let go of some of that wanting to be perfect, too.

It’s really tiring in my head.

A Very Honest Race Recap: Palisades 5K

I ran a 5K this morning, the Palisades 5K.

I have run marathons that have felt shorter.

Comebacks are TOUGH, man! I have an email chain with a group of friends I met through running and the Internet, and we talk about looking for upcoming SoCal races. (Honest question: do real Californians spell it like that? Or even call it that? Please advise.)

Everyone said that the Palisades 5K/10K in Pacific Palisades was a great small-town feel race, so I signed up for it even though it was dumb expensive. $70 for a 5K, wtf? My coach thought it would also be a good excuse for a time trial to assess my current fitness level to plan other workouts and told me to push but not go all out. (I think tempo effort, basically.)

Before I go into anything related to the actual running, I just need to tell you that one of the (very smart) sponsors had boxes of Sidecar Doughnuts, and I fell in love.

This was the 42nd running of this race, and I was just so spoiled by NYRR races. This race had signs for your paces for corrals, and clearly most people don’t line up by their actual paces. There were also strollers and dogs in this race, and I got stuck in the back with them and couldn’t move up so I started the race feeling squished and frustrated, but I’d moved past them about half a mile in.

It’s the two-year anniversary of my mom’s death next Monday, so I’ve just felt a little extra sad and heavy this week and felt that this morning as I lined up. Oh and why not also throw some PMS in?

My goal for this race was just to work on being gentle with myself…and I had a hard time with that. I started out way too fast for my current fitness level (8:30), but the first mile had tons of downhills and it was hard for me not to get swept up by, well, gravity. At one point, the course rounded down a hill, and I caught a glimpse of the ocean, and I felt so incredibly grateful that I’m living in California and casually seeing glimpses of the ocean during races. I really hope that feeling never, ever gets old. (As I write this, I can also see the ocean out my bedroom window.)

(Oh, but I did run with a dinosaur and Elvis impersonators, so there’s that.)

The second and third miles just fucking sucked, though. My legs already felt really fatigued, and I didn’t want to continue. I tried to tell myself not to take walk breaks, so of course that just made me want to take walk breaks even more. I took a handful of them over the course of those last two miles, and I wish I could tell you more about the course, but I was not at all present and was entirely in my head, missing the days when running felt easier. Thinking I’d never get back there. Wondering how the eff I’ll run 26.2 in November. If I’ll even run 26.2 in November. (It is my goal to and I am going to train like fuck, but I’m also nervous I just won’t be ready.)

The only other things I can tell you about the race are that there were some gorgeous homes along the course, and one of the miles had an uphill. (I was contemplating the 10K, but I heard the course was a beast. And also let’s be real, if a 5K feels so hard right now?!)

I’m working so hard on my running mindset, and while overall I can see payoff, today was just not my day. I tried to pull out every trick in the book: telling myself I’m a good runner, reminding myself that it’s great even just to be out there (my therapist reminds me of this one all the time), that I can do hard stuff. But I just wasn’t buying my own lines today, and tomorrow is another day.

I know what I need to continue to work on: not going out too fast and not sabotaging myself with my mindset.

I came home, honestly, feeling super down. From already feeling sad to then getting all up in my own head, I was just feeling really lonely, ashamed of my current fitness level, and sad. The beach is very clearly my happy place, so I immediately went to sit on the beach and listen to the ocean. I laid down in attempt to be present and feel the sand under me, feel the breeze on my skin, hear the waves…and I fell asleep. I woke up feeling like a new woman. (Did I get a brain transplant while asleep?!)

And then I watched the parade on Santa Monica’s Main Street with my friend Daria, who also just moved here from NYC and lives around the corner from me. We are both currently obsessed with where we live: proximity to the beach, this adorable walkable area and an amazing community feel. Santa Monica feels like a small town to us coming from NYC, but apparently its population is around 90K!

Comebacks are fucking terrible, but I’m going to just keep fighting, even if my brain tells me otherwise. If you have any comeback words of advice, I’m all ears.