Hi there! I’m here.

Hi-ya! (insert waving emoji here) It’s me! I’m here! I could start off by apologizing for not posting on here in a year, but I’m not going to. Do I feel better when I’m writing? Yes. BUT I’m also highly aware that my creativity takes on many forms, and though I’m absolutely delighted when it manifests itself in the form of writing, I’m equally fulfilled when it take a jaunt in the form of planning out a garden, making pickles, trying new recipes, sequencing a new yoga class, cultivating a playlist for my yoga choreography, writing letters, dancing around the living room… My creativity isn’t limited to my writing, and thus, I tend to indulge the inevitable ebbs and flows.

It is very reassuring to know that when I’m in it, I have a supportive writing group and this outlet… and even when I’m not physically sitting down and typing things out there is a pretty constant narrative running in my head. I keep a notebook full of one-sentence antidotes and a list of topics I’m waiting to explore… Have I over-indulged in this particular blogging ebb? Perhaps. BUT I’m checking in now, and it feels like it is time to show up for my writing, and show up here. Hi! Thanks for being patient.

I’m feeling a rather tangible sprinkling of magic dust lately… (anyone else?) and I’m embracing it. And this magic dust is inspiring and invigorating and it’s lighting all sorts of creative sparks (yay!) So I just wanted to let you know, I have plans (writing plans, travel plans, yoga plans, life plans…) Firstly, the blog is getting a little makeover… because it is time! Stay tuned in the upcoming weeks and months. I’m also working on keeping myself accountable with my writing, which mean, posting at least twice a month through the end of 2018 (Maybe more, but no less!) and I plan on ramping up in January with a themed series I’ve got marinating.

As I’m here behind the scenes working on this transformation, I’m really trying to identify and nurture my goals as a writer and what I want Awkwardolive.com to be. I have some ideas I’m working on, but in the meantime I’d love some feedback from you. What would you like to hear more of? Is there a niche you’d like to see filled? What are your favorite types of posts? I know I can’t please everyone, but I’m embracing the collaborative spirit, and I’d like to know what sorts of things are resonating with you.

Okay, GTG, Today is my bestie’s 34th birthday, and I’m signed up to bring cupcakes to the party this weekend. Running out to the store to stock up on ingredients… (I might be baking a second cake for us to eat after the party because BROWN BUTTER CREAM CHEESE FROSTING!)

Untitled Poem, Since it is #nationalpoetryday

Everyday we have a choice

To approach things with grace, understanding…

the expectation of hope…

I often invite my students to either rest their palms up

A sign of receptivity… of openness

(To what? That is up to them.)

or with their palms facing down,

a sign of letting go.

I ask them to focus

to breathe…

and then we move onto what is next.

 

I’m beginning to wonder

if perhaps,

it is time for me to look at our relationship

and let my palms rest downward

letting go of expectations

and settling into where we are now

(which is where exactly?

I can’t quite find it on a map,

but it is starting to feel like a place I know called contempt)

 

And how did we get here

This awkward unknown that is hovering

–palpable in the air like pollen or humidity–

Generic answers where there used to be genuine interest

Self-absorption where there used to be curiosity

 

I look over at you

standing next to me, and I realize

I’d rather be here with anyone else.

Resting my palms down

and wondering

​​what is next?

I’m not quite sure what to do, but I’m choosing to be a citizen of the world. 

The World is on fire. Literally. The air is full of smoke and several devastating fires are ripping through some of the most beautiful parts of Oregon. Elsewhere in the Nation, hurricanes and tropical storms are flooding homes and destroying lives. And these devastating events just seem to be rising to the occasion of setting the ambiance for the rest of the Country in its current state.

I try not to get too political on here. (ok, yes, I haven’t posted anything on here in a RATHER long time) but lately my heart is feeling so heavy. I’ve always embraced the idea that being an American comes with a certain responsibility: First and foremost we must be Citizens of the World. Because we can be. We have that freedom. And because we can, we MUST. We need to ask BIG questions, we have to be curious, embrace new ideas, collaborate, explore, look at the big picture, create, be open to a new way of doing things, be respectful and learn as much as we can. We need to show up and be engaged in life every single day, and work hard and learn and grow. Because we can. It is our responsibility. 

And yet, I’m confronted daily by people, populations and “leaders” who seem to think that being American only comes with a sense of entitlement and with very little of that responsibility. Rather than embracing the idea of community and collaboration it is feeling more and more like putting a select group of our population first is way more important than anything else. Since when has an “America first” mentality gotten us anywhere? I can tell you this much, as things stand right now, I’m not exactly proud to be an American. Don’t get me wrong… I understand that I am privileged, and there are a lot of things I take for granted, but I also know that I’m extremely disappointed by a lot of the decisions being made by the leadership of our Country. 

It’s not the “Dreamers” and foreign militaries and extremists that worry me. It’s the idiot kids lighting off fireworks in the forest, and born and bred Americans driving trucks into crowds of peaceful protesters that keep me up at night. How can our political narrative be so focused on building a wall and keeping the “other” out, when we are doing nothing to address the issues of deep rooted hatred and ignorance that are just a part of our “good old American” ways?    
I know there is good in the world, that there are intelligent, gracious, determined leaders out there in our communities and on a larger scale. I know that there are many people out there who are just as confused and disheartened as I am. And I know that a lot of us are feeling hopeless. I don’t have solution… but I do know that I have hope. (just a tiny glimmer) Because I know in the following weeks and months I’m going to make a commitment to my community. I’m going to do what I can to support others with small gestures and acts of kindness. I’m going to write letters, and talk about what is frustrating, because I think it is so important to NAME the thing that is weighing you down and to vocalize it. I’m not going to dwell on it but I will talk about it and facilitate conversations about it, and be a sounding board for others. I’m going to find little joys in every day moments. I’m going to keep an open mind. I’m going to listen, and encourage and support people in the ways that I can. I’m going to focus more on sustainability, on supporting local economies, on being an advocate for people who need it. And I know that when I wake up in the morning I am by default an American, but each and every day, I’m going to choose to live up to my responsibility of being a Citizen of the World.  

I’m the girl in the dinosaur leggings

 

““Opening your heart and being courageous and telling people that you care about them or like them or that you think they’re special only makes you a better, bigger, kinder, softer, more loving person, and only attracts more love into your life.” Amy Poehler.

 

This afternoon I was running errands in these obnoxious bright green dinosaur print leggings. I’m actually a little bit obsessed with them (fun yoga tights in general) and I had just finished taking a killer barre class and was at Trader Joe’s stocking up on snacks and cheap wine. I wasn’t necessarily trying to make a statement, but as an introvert, I do find crazy pants are a sure fire way to get people to interact with you (for better or for worse.) No fewer than six people stopped me in the aisles to comment on the leggings, and as I was waiting in line one of the checker’s yelled “Hey Dinosaur, I can help you over here!”

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I wore these leggings on a first date once. We met up in a Portland coffee shop at 8:30 on a Sunday morning, me before heading to a barre class, him before heading to an all day seminar on Social Justice. Both of us yoga teachers… he ordered a macchiato, and we talked a bit about yoga and to make the date even more Portlandia, I discovered that he didn’t have a car, and though he did have a “Real” job he wasn’t that into it and would rather teach yoga and focus on his Social Justice book club. I wasn’t sure what his reaction to the dino leggings would be, but he didn’t even bat an eye at them. I subconsciously wore them, thinking at all else they would be a conversation starter. Lord knows meeting someone for the first time at 8:30 on a Sunday, before you’ve even consumed coffee is a risky first date scenario, so it couldn’t hurt to have a built in conversation buffer. The pants were never mentioned… he drank his tiny tiny coffee and we went our separate ways.

When I was a Junior in college my roommate and I made up a song we would sing to each other as we were getting ready for bed/ hungover on the weekend mornings called “Wasteland of love.” Looking back on this, it might have been somewhat of a clue as to why we were both single at the time, but you cannot live in the past like that. I was coming off of this epic crush from the previous year, and making up a show tunes style ballad seemed like a pretty good life choice. I met the guy in a Religion class of all places, and the second he walked in the door it was one of those “I’ve got to get to know this guy” moments. He was ridiculously handsome (at least to me) and a complete nerd all wrapped into one, and by some miracle we ended up in the same small discussion group. The weeks went by, we talked about the Old Testament, and our friendship developed outside of class. We spent the weekends watching Raiders of the Lost Ark and eating pomegranate seeds, talking about Post Season Baseball, and chatting in dorm entryways until 2 in the morning. We nerded out about Star Wars, and went to a few parties, and talked politics, and finally towards the end of the school year I got the courage to send him a note through campus mail that told him how I felt about him. I mean, after two semesters of hanging out, of Instant Message conversations of constant weekend hang-outs he had to kind of already know, right? And he got the card… (which, I wish I still had it, because it was this perfectly witty thing, and I don’t entirely remember what it said on the front, but it was this whole monologue about ketchup and jiggling a toilet handle, and it was of course this really round about way of saying how much I liked him etc. etc.) So we decided we should talk in person to figure out what this all meant, and when we were finally sitting in my dorm room and I’m like trying to keep my shit together, he looks at me and says “Internet. Internet. Internet. Internet.” And then kind of flopped over in this epic way like cats sometimes do , (and he had this amazing long-ish hair that that kind of flopped over this glasses) and that was basically our entire conversation about my year long crush on him… Twelve years later, and I’m still not entirely sure what to make of it, but whenever I find myself in a state of dating confusion, I often flash back to that conversation. And honestly, when people ask me why I’m not dating anyone, this is often the answer that pops into my head. “Internet. Internet. Internet. Internet. “

I’ve tried the whole swiping thing, and though a lot of my friends swear by it, I just cannot seem to get on board. My Freshman year of college I got a letter from my grandmother and at the end it said “look out for all the jerks and weirdos out there!” and my friends and I laughed about it at the time, but flash forward to the current dating scene, and let me tell you, there are a lot of jerks and weirdos out there! Yes, there are also nice ones, and funny ones, and I get that I should probably keep trying, but let me just set the scene of the last guy I met online. Picture it. Sicily, 1937… kidding…  We were out at a wine-bar and he spent a good seven minutes telling me this anecdotes about how he recently watched the best of Chris Farley episodes of SNL, and how funny they were, and how emotional he got because he grew up on that kind of comedy. I interjected how I could totally relate because I had recently listened to Amy Poehler’s book on a road trip, and started to get a little teary when she was talking about her last season and how it really resonated with me during that time since it was an election year and her portrayal of Katie Couric really resonated with me. And he turned to me and said “um… I don’t know who that is” and I said “Amy Poehler?!?!?!” and he got SUPER defensive and said “Hey I don’t really know authors that well ok!”

I’ve been on two “blind dates ” in my life.  Granted, this last one, the guy didn’t know it was supposed to be a set up, and I ended up spending the evening with my best friend and MY PARENTS at a dive bar in Salem, listening to a bunch of Doctors cover rock songs, and my BFF used the “countdown to St. Patrick’s Day” clock as a timer to when we could leave. The other guy got my name and phone number while he was under the influence of Anesthesia… (hashtag welcome to my life)

Then there was the guy I met speed dating. He was nice enough, well spoken, had two master’s degrees, super involved in his community, and seemed kind of like a catch. Then I get a 3 minute long voice mail at 2PM on a Friday, and he’s curious why I’m not answering my phone, and talking about how he’s going golfing but he just had some dental work done, and it had been about 10 years since he had a cavity, and how his mouth is numb and how weird it is, and he literally said “you know like when your foot goes to sleep, only its your mouth!!!” and I’m sitting there wondering why he thought I wouldn’t be at work at 2PM on a Friday, and who leaves 3 minute long voice mails rambling about dental work… and then the next day he told me he didn’t want to see me again because I was TOO rooted in my community and he thought we had different communication styles. Fact: we do.

And I get it, I think there are still some good eggs out there (which is in no way a veiled reference to my biological clock, because I do not want to have children…) and lord knows I keep putting myself out there, but it just doesn’t seem to be happening. Thankfully, people don’t seems to ask as much as they used to as to why I’m not dating anyone… When you are in your 20’s it seems as though people feel entitled to ask, and once you reach your 30s that line of questioning seems to mostly fizzle out, though occasionally it pops up, and once my brain stops screaming “Internet. Internet. Internet. Internet” my second impulse is to give out the phone numbers of all the men I’ve asked out who have said no, and say “ask these gentlemen, because I don’t know!” (disclaimer, if any of them are reading this… I’m not actually that crazy or that jaded, your numbers are safe) I live in a small town, I work in a women’s clothing boutique, so let’s be honest, most of the men I meet on a daily basis are shopping for their wives. I’m putting myself out there, I’m trying to stay open, but I honestly don’t have an answer to the question “Why aren’t you dating anyone?”

I did have a bit of a flirtation with one of the fill in UPS delivery men. It was always kind of exciting because I never knew when he would be on our route, and then randomly he would show up, all smiles and flirty banter, and it got to the point where my heart would kind of flutter anytime I heard a handtruck outside. My friend, who works at another boutique, started to text me when he was out on delivery so I could compose myself or put on lipstick before he arrived. Once I awkwardly dropped the signature thing and was thinking “pull it together Brisbin.” So finally, after a Summer of this, I get the text alert that he is out and about on delivery, and I calmly get a to-go cup, write my name and number on it, and make him a latte (of course it had a little foam heart on top, because that is the only latte art I can actually do, and also just because.) and I waited. I waited and waited and waited, and then I finally saw him walk by the shop, and realized that we didn’t have any deliveries that day, so he didn’t come in! Of course, I had a store full of customers so I couldn’t chase down hot UPS guy and give him the coffee/ my phone number, but had he actually come in that day, I still believe this would have been the COOLEST THING I’VE EVER DONE! But alas, I just had to sit there and somewhat pathetically drink the coffee with my own name and number on it.   (follow up… the next time he came in, I did give him my contact card, and he was totally sweet, and told me he just started seeing someone, and I said “can’t blame a girl for trying.” And then he was our UPS guy for the next 10 days in a row and I somehow managed to not be a spaz that entire time. And now he comes in sporadically and I’m mostly a spaz, but hey, at least he has my number.)

Fast Forward to now. (sitting at my kitchen table, drinking wine, still rocking the dino leggings, listening to jazz) This month for Bookclub we are reading Quiet by Susan Cain… and I’m not going to lie, I’m having a little bit of a hard time getting into it. And though we haven’t discussed the book yet, I’m kind of thinking that most of us in the group are going to say “It was interesting… but I already identify as an introvert, It was basically like reading a book about myself… and I already know that I’m like this. “ At least this has been my response to the book. There is part of me that feels like it should be required reading for extroverts, or maybe for anyone that I date (doesn’t dating me sound fun?!? I have hand outs and recommended reading about how to best get to know me and deal with my quirks… LOL) But honestly, I don’t need a book to tell me that I’m a careful thinker, that I think before I act, that I take longer to digest information and that if left to my own devices I “tend to sit around wondering about things, imaging things, recalling events from my past, and making plans for the future.” ( Quiet, pg 168)

Granted, I haven’t finished reading the book yet, but thus far the part that has resonated the most with me is a section that is talking about small talk “ In most settings, people use small talk as a way of relaxing into a new relationship, and only once they’re comfortable, do they connect more seriously. Sensitive people seem to do the reverse. They “enjoy” small talk only after they’ve gone deep”… When sensitive people are in environments that nurture their authenticity, they laugh and chitchat just as much as anyone else. “ (Quiet, pg 152.)   This I get, this is my jam, this is the section that I’m going to highlight and put on my nametag at speed dating. This is the flyer that I’m going to hand out to all my potential suitors, this is my new mantra, This is the key to the decoder ring of my life.

I recently got blindsided by having feelings for someone… and though I’m totally in life recovery mode right now, because things didn’t work out the way I hoped they would, I have to say, that the things you don’t see coming are often times the most exciting. Anyway, I’m still kind of in the middle of it, and figuring out the day to day, but basically the blindsiding thing happened, and I decided to act on it, even though I knew it was complicated, because in this day and age, dating is complicated (per an e-mail I recently received from a dating site, the Dating Apocalypse is here… just so you know… ) life is complicated, so why not just go for it and see what happens, and pick up the pieces of your ego and self esteem later? (kidding) But really, I’m a firm believer in embracing vulnerability, and most of the time it’s scary and kind of sucky, but also awesome, and so, once again, I found myself dropping a note in the mail saying, “I’m interested” (side note… I didn’t really realize until just now that this is apparently my MO. I’m boycotting technology based dating, but damn it, Jane Austen would be proud of my snail mail declarations of love… at least I’m consistent?) and maybe putting a letter in the post wasn’t quite as cool as writing my number on a cup of coffee, but it still felt like this amazing force of forward motion.

And here is one other observation I have about being an introvert… you have to be your own advocate.I feel a little conflicted with this one, because generally speaking, as a woman, as a human, as a person, looking for love, you shouldn’t have to convince the other person that they should have feelings for you, am I right? If they don’t get why you are the cat’s pajamas (where are these antiquated sayings even coming from? I’m just rolling with is) then they are NOT your person. You shouldn’t have to explain why your quirks are charming, why your awkwardness is endearing, if they don’t get you, then onward and upward…. ONLY! I’m an introvert. And I’m slow to warm up, and it takes me a long time to process things, and establish this comfort zone, so mostly I listen and observe and think, and process, and then I end up totally surprising everyone when I just put it all out there. And then everyone is like “Her?” (Oh my God, am I Anne Veal?) because it goes against everyone’s preconceived ideas of me. I think I would have thrived at the Milford School where Children should neither be seen nor heard. ( if you aren’t getting the Arrested Development references, I can’t really help you.) And so, yes, I shouldn’t have to advocate for myself as to why I’m awesome… but sometimes it feels like maybe I actually need to. And it goes kind of goes back to that big talk vs. small talk thing… It seems so much more natural to just tell someone you have feelings for them and approach things from a larger angle before getting into the smaller and more trivial things. At least it does for me… then again, I’m kind of realizing I’m in the minority here, and basically it feels like maybe my approach to dating is kind of like living in The Upside Down. Everything is vaguely familiar, but it’s different, and you can’t get through to the people on the other side, and its maybe slightly scary. But why bother with the small stuff when the big stuff is so much more interesting?

Anyway… its been a challenging few weeks to be a single gal in McMinnville. Then, add in the fact that I had a huge fight with my father over politics, and I’m basically feeling a little lost as a single.   I mean, I should have known better than to ask him point blank if he was voting for Trump, and when his answer was “probably” I literally burst into tears. My mom immediately asked me if there was anything else going on in my life… and well yes, I’m feeling a little vulnerable, and not necessarily trusting my gut right now, but also his answer really devastated me. As a little girl you are supposed to look up to your father as this ideal, this larger than life representation of how all the men in your life should treat you. And I realize that I’m exceptionally lucky, because my dad is, without a doubt, a keeper. But finding out that he was most likely supporting a candidate that boasts about sexual assault, who degrades women, and who I view as an all around terrible human kind of destroyed me. What is that supposed to say to me as a single woman, that my father is willing to support that sort of behavior from the man who could run the country? What is that supposed to say to me, that my father is willing to support someone who could speak that way to his daughter, to his granddaughter? And how can I look at him the same way? (and then, as I was having this meltdown, my mom backed her car into my car… I can’t even make this up.)

Anyway… round back to the story at hand… it didn’t work out. (Lol, you know that scene in Dirty Dancing Havana Nights? No? Just me? “I liked this guy once… it didn’t work out. He didn’t even know I existed.” Go watch that movie immediately, if not sooner). My dad might vote for Donald Trump, and I’m just trying to wrap my head around it all.

But here is what I know for sure. I’m an introvert. And I’m witty. I’m well read, and I’m a little awkward at times. I drink Whiskey. I like to listen to jazz when I make dinner. I sing Sinatra songs to my dog a lot. I’m quirky, I probably know more about Star Wars than you do, I teach yoga, I love to hike, I don’t like IPA, but I understand if you do. When I’m stressed out I like to watch The Golden Girls, my books are color coordinated, and I hate folding laundry. I’m not a morning person, but I’m really trying to be, I don’t like mustard, but I do like pickled mustard seeds. I like to cook, I love The Red Sox, but I tolerate most sports pretty well. My idea of the perfect first date is going to the batting cages. I like action movies, and I tell it like it is. I’m a good listener and I’ll probably remember random little details about the first time we met. I’m sentimental, I hate drama, and I value authenticity. I love gardening, and pickling, and my favorite place on the planet is Tintern Abbey (Fenway Park is a close second) I like real conversations, and binge watching things on Netflix. I’m snarky and cynical and also a hopeless romantic. I hate sappy novels, I love to cook, and being creative. I quote Arrested Development at least 3 times a day, and a good Meme makes me surprisingly happy. I’m quiet, and reflective, and dorky and driven. I like to dance in kitchen, and I can’t do a cartwheel, but I do make a damn good Manhattan. And I’m in the girl in the dinosaur leggings.

 

 

“No, that is NOT a baby bump” AKA sometimes people are the worst.

Over the last few months I feel like I’ve seen quite a few stories online about body shaming, and a myriad of positive responses about how women are supposed to love their bodies, be comfortable in their own skin, and just live their best lives without having to worry about the weirdo trolls who make asinine comments about weight, looks etc. And I totally agree! And I kept thinking how blessed I was to be in such a supportive community, full of strong and vibrant women who are positive and uplifting, and quirky and wonderful… and how glad I was to be in my 30s, and to not have to deal with the middle school/ high school drama, and how great I was feeling in my body, and how I was at such a great place in my life… And then a random woman asked me if I was pregnant…

Let me set the scene: It was a Monday, and I had just finished teaching a barre class, I was pretty sweaty and  I was wearing the brightest neon purple yoga pants in all the land. I wasn’t looking glamorous by any means, but considering that I had just finished teaching, and was going to be taking another class in a few hours, I wasn’t concerned with my overall appearance. No make-up/ yoga pants is a pretty common look for me on days that I’m teaching and running errands. I did have to stop by my work for a second to bring lunch for my roommate/ co-worker, so I ran in and dropped off her salad, told her I added some tomatoes from the garden, flipped through the mail, and was getting ready to leave when the woman at the counter out of nowhere said “Oh is that a baby bump you are sporting?” UM. WHAT?   I know that I’ve never been super great at controlling my facial expressions and I’m sure the look of confusion, shock and “I want to punch you in the face” probably came across, as I somewhat stammered “um… no… No it isn’t.” And I was kind of expecting a look of embarrassment to come over her as she apologized, but she just looked at me and simply said “Oh. Well you were kind of gesturing towards your stomach, and it looks like you definitely could be pregnant, so I just assumed by your body language that you were.” No apology, no embarrassment, no remorse.

This was the part that really killed me, because sure, it’s bad enough for someone to ask you if you are Pregnant on a Monday morning right after you finish working out, but for her to then try to justify why she even said something, and pretty much stand by her ridiculous faux pas was something I wasn’t really ready for. And everything about her facial expression and her tone made it very clear that she felt entitled to make a comment like that, and it almost inferred that rather than her being embarrassed for making a mistake, I should be embarrassed about my body because how was she to know? Clearly it wasn’t her fault for opening her mouth, it was my fault for looking the way that I did.

Now, I was brought up in the generation of “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Which is fascinating to me, because the older I get, the more I find that the mother’s who were preaching this sort of behavior to us, are the ones who feel entitled to tell us exactly what they think with this unfiltered bluntness, and seem to have no concept of what is rude and what is socially acceptable. It’s like they think they are doing you this huge favor. HOW IS THIS A THING?

I left the shop feeling baffled, and chubby, and oh so irritated. Let me just say, that I don’t have issues with my body. As a woman, I’m quite aware of what areas I could work on, I know that I have a genetic disposition for German hips, I know how quickly my metabolism is working (or not working) and what I put into my body. I know all of these things, and I exercise regularly, and I drink a lot of water, and I eat pretty healthy… but I also eat cheese. I eat cheese, and I drink beer, and I choose all of my choices. I take 3-4 barre classes a week, I teach yoga, I walk, I run occasionally, and I am 100% comfortable in my own skin. Yes, I could work out more, I could eat less, I could cut out alcohol, I could do a LOT of things, but I am not currently, nor have I ever been bogged down by issues of my weight and low self-esteem. I’m very self aware of my own body, I dress appropriately, I love my sense of style, I don’t get hung up on things like sizes, and I embrace the fact that I have a few curves.  Overall, I think I have a pretty healthy outlook… and then something like this happens, and though it is mostly just irritating, and rude, it still put a microscopic crack in my positive body image.

Me, being sassy, living my best life.

Me, being sassy, living my best life.

And here I where I go on a little side tangent… I am 30, and I’ve recently started getting back into the dating scene. Every man I’ve dated in my adult life has at some point in conversation made a comment like “I don’t understand why you are still single!” Which I understand, is supposed to be this flattering, read between the lines, because I think you are awesome kind of compliment, but I also find it frustrating because what am I supposed to say to that? “Well… if I knew, I probably wouldn’t be single…” which just seems to confuse them even more, and really the simple answer is. Well, no one asks me out, and all the guys I ask out say no… so what is a girl supposed to do? And then it’s like “Well are they fishing for something? Are try wondering if I’m secretly crazy?” I mean, is being single SUCH a weird thing? Do I actually need to say “ I just haven’t met the right person yet, and lucky for you, because now we are on this date, and we get to try and figure out if you are the right person.” Overall, it’s not a question that keeps me up at night, I don’t lie awake and ask the universe “WHY AM I SINGLE? I JUST DON’T GET IT!” Because I’ve always been under the impression that it would happen when it happened and I have bigger things to worry about that finding a soul mate. ANYWAY… So I’m sitting in the shop and this woman has just looked at me and asked about my non-existent baby bump, and is kind of giving me this knowing look of like “isn’t this the best time of your life?” And her smugness is just pissing me off even more, because actually no, it is not my dream in life to be a mother, and yes it is the best time of my life, and it has nothing to do with the apparent burrito belly I’m currently sporting… and I’m not self conscious about my body, and I don’t care what other people think, and then with this one fleeting comment, suddenly the only thought running through my head is “Oh my god. This is why I’m single… all the men out there think I’m pregnant. This is why no one wants to date me.”

And I hate that my brain went there, even if it was for just a second. Microscopic chip, and in comes the self doubt.

Of course, I called all the friends who I knew would be offended, I vented, they consoled and told me things like “A) you don’t, and B) its your body, and it is highly inappropriate for her to make comments about it. Even if you were 9 months pregnant, if she doesn’t know you, it is NOT ok to assume and make comments, and she is insane, and people are dumb. Its never ok to say something like that.” I was consoled by their kindness, by the fact that we all agreed that people are crazy, and just tried to brush it off.

And I did. I opted not to take it personally, I opted not to dwell (I opted to do a few more core exercises) and rather than letting the situation bring me down, I decided to laugh about it. I wasn’t about to let what some stranger said about my stomach get inside my head. Flash forward a week and a half, I was back teaching barre, and I decided to tell the anecdote to my class. One of my favorite teaching tactics is to tell personal stories when we are right in the midst of doing something hard. It takes everyone’s mind off of what we are doing, it lightens the mood, and it’s a great way to bring a little authenticity to the class. I’m sharing about my life, I’m making myself vulnerable, we are on this journey together kind of stuff. I wasn’t looking for them to say “oh no, you don’t look pregnant” I was more hoping to distract them and then encourage them to keep their cores activated by saying “now everyone engage your core. Your faux baby bump, if you will.”   Everyone laughed, we made it through the hard part of class, the mood was light, and things were going great.

As we were cleaning up the mats and putting the props away most of my students were making comments about “I can’t believe someone said that to you! People can be so rude!” and I was appreciative, and thrilled to be in a group of women who seemed to understand that there are things that you just don’t say out loud to people. And then one of my students pulled me aside and said “Well… don’t be offended by this, but I HAVE noticed that you’ve gained quite a bit of weight, and it’s all kind of right around your waist and hips, and quite frankly, I think that woman kind of had a point. You do look like you could be pregnant.”

One of my students actually said this to me… I couldn’t move, I couldn’t blink, I couldn’t breath. Finally, I forced an awkward smile and continued cleaning up the studio, and hoped that I didn’t start crying before everyone left. I mean, I understand that I strive to have all of my classes be a safe environment for sharing… But really? I have never once in my life taken a class and afterwards  felt like “ You know what? That was a great class, and I’m feeling awesome, but my teacher is looking a little chubby, I should probably just let her know. Just in case she is under the impression that she is super fit…” WHO SAYS STUFF LIKE THAT? I mean, apparently I know who says stuff like that… this student of mine apparently says stuff like that… but I was so taken aback. I wasn’t telling that story so the whole class would tell me how good I looked, I wasn’t looking for them to compliment me, I was trying to open up and be vulnerable and show that I was human, and rather than a “thanks for class.” I got a “well you DID gain weight.” Again, it was this accusatory tone of “well if you didn’t look this way, people wouldn’t make comments.” I took several deep breaths. And then I took several more deep breaths. AND THEN SHE CAME BACK OVER TO ME AND RE-ITERATED HER POINT. You guys, I can’t make this stuff up. She actually came back over and said “I really hope you weren’t offended.   I know that you are really very strong… but you’ve definitely put on some weight, and I can see why that woman said that to you. You look like you could be pregnant! She had a point!” And then she walked out the door. (because when you pre-empt an offensive comment with I hope you weren’t offended, that totally lets you off the hook, right? )

And how am I even supposed to react to that? IS THIS REAL LIFE? (Yes, yes it is.) I sat on the floor of the studio and took a few moments somewhat wondering “Did that really just happen?” and I just couldn’t figure it out. (I still can’t…) I mean… really, in what universe is it ok to just casually tell someone you’ve noticed they’ve gotten chubby and maybe look pregnant? Is this a thing? Is the whole world assuming that I’m just not aware of my own body, and that suddenly it needs to be pointed out to me how I look? You know, just in case I didn’t know?  WHO ARE THESE WOMEN?

I am still baffled by the situation… I mean, how else am I supposed to react? Was it hurtful? Sure. Was I offended? Absolutely. But also… I suppose that in some weird way I am grateful… I’m grateful that I can see this type of behavior, and know that as I age, I don’t want to be the type of woman who doesn’t have a filter. I don’t’ want to be the type of woman who feels entitled to speak her mind at the expense of other’s feelings. I don’t want to be the woman who is brazen enough to tell her yoga teacher that she’s put on a few pounds, I don’t want to be rude.

I’m not saying that I’m perfect, I’m not saying that I haven’t inadvertently said hurtful things to people in the past… and I’m sure I’ll say plenty of stupid things, and continue to screw up, and be flawed… but at the very least, I’m going to try and stick with the motto from my childhood about only saying nice things… (unless you make comments about my weight… and then I’ll just write about it on my blog.)

The return of salad season: white beans and tuna over greens.

Radish and herbs

Hello salad season, so glad you are back with us. My garden is literally exploding with lettuce and kale at the moment, so I’m trying my best to find creative ways to incorporate more greens into every meal. I love salads in pretty much every shape, and form, but this time of year when its still a little cool in the evenings, I find myself craving dishes that are a little more hardy. Something warm and robust, while still being healthy and simple. Insert, the perfect dish: white beans and tuna over greens. It’s ridiculously simple, you probably have all the ingredients already hiding in your pantry, it takes roughly 10 minutes to prep and assemble, and it’s super healthy.

I’ve been challenging myself to eat healthier, and I’m also attempting to be a bit more economical by packing my lunch every day. I joined #the100dayproject with the intention of creating and packing beautiful and healthy lunches every day for 100 days. They aren’t always beautiful, and sometimes creativity succumbs to the likes of PB&J, but for the most part, I’m having a good time with it, and have made some really delicious packed lunches. One thing that I love about this white bean and tuna dish, is that if I make it as a “dinner for one” I always have left-overs to take for lunch during the week, and this is pretty much the perfect meal to power you through a work day. It has protein and fiber to keep you full, nutrient rich greens, and a little air of “it’s more than just a salad, it’s a meal.”

white beans and tuna over greens

white beans and tuna over greens

What you need:

  • A variety of herbs (preferably fresh, but dried will do just fine.)
  • 1 can of Tuna
  • 1 can of Cannellini Beans
  • Good olive oil
  • Kosher Salt
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Greens*
  • Fresh radishes for garnish *(optional)
herb garden

herb garden

I usually just head out to my herb garden and harvest a small handful of whatever looks and sounds good. In this particular dish I used Rosemary, Sage, Winter Savory, Thyme, and Chives. If you don’t have an herb garden, a medley of herbs from the store or the farmers market will do, or just dig around your spice cabinet. Though, I will say, that if you have any space at all to plant herbs, even if it is just in a few pots on the windowsill or back porch, they are the plants that get the most traffic in my garden. I love using them for garnishes, to flavor water, to season dishes, and when I’m in a pinch for a hostess gift, I usually will bring a bundle of fresh herbs wrapped in bakers twine. It’s useful, charming, and simple to put together. You will look like a domestic goddess, people will be impressed by the gesture, and all will be right with your dinner party world.

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bundled and ready to take as a hostess gift

bundled and ready to take as a hostess gift

herbs

herbs

Another great thing to add to the mix a little later in the season is edible flowers. Chives are the only edible blossoms I’ve got up right now, but I’m looking forward to utilizing more edible blooms this summer. Thus far, I have Nasturtiums, Borage, Bee Balm, and Calendula planted around my tomatoes, and I’m excited to be adding them to everything from salads to cocktails.

fresh radish

fresh radish

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Instructions:

  • Drain the white beans and the tuna and set aside. (  Note here… I’m a single girl on a budget, so I just pulled a can of tuna out of the pantry. If you wanted to class things up a bit, I would recommend using the tuna from Jacobsen Salt Co. ) Chop the herbs or add a blend of dried herbs to a bowl. Mix the beans and tuna with the herbs, a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkling of kosher salt and red pepper flakes.   Heat the tuna mixture in a pan over the stove until warm (about 5 minutes on medium)
  • Meanwhile place greens on a plate. Thinly slice a few radishes and set aside.
  • Once the tuna mixture is warm, dish it over the prepared greens, top with radishes, and drizzle with some good olive oil. Serve warm.

drizzle

Best enjoyed alfresco style with a glass of crisp white wine, or maybe some iced tea.

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*Since the tuna will be warm, kale, spinach and other robust greens are a wonderful base for this dish. I ended up using kale and red leafed lettuce.

*I have a plethora of radishes in my garden, and I loved the texture and color that they added to this dish. You might also add or substitute avocado, cucumbers, a poached egg? The possibilities are endless.

because it’s April, and springtime, and a Wednesday… and don’t we all just need a poem today?

I got a text message from a good friend yesterday asking me about my blog… Every excuse about why I’m not writing more sounds a little contrived, a bit shallow… because everyone is busy, everyone has meetings and book clubs, and piles of laundry, gardens to tend, plans to make, people to see. And the only real answer I can give is that sometimes, when you are out living life, it’s challenging to slow down enough to write about it. But, that doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about it… there is pretty much a constant dialog in my head, ideas, recipes, snippets of life, anecdotes about the dog, photos from countless restaurants. This, like everything else, is a work in progress.

And because it is Poetry Month, and because it is yoga day, and just because… here is this.
~~~~~~~~

This morning as I was heading to the shower I started to think about what sort of conversation I wanted to have today in my yoga class. I like to think of my classes as conversations more than anything else… because no matter what I plan in advance, I always come in and ask my students how they are feeling, what they want to work on, and we start the conversation there, and what develops each week is a little different. As I spent the first few moments in the shower trying to wake up and embrace the day, I was thinking a lot about feeling grounded, and as I let the ideas of balance and rootedness marinate in my pre-coffee brain I couldn’t help but think about Vrksasana. (tree pose)  In that moment I started mentally reciting a few lines from a poem I wrote several years ago when I was applying to graduate school, and then re-wrote a few years later when I re-applied to graduate school… And there is was, my class, my conversation.

Of course, I was almost late to class, because when I went to find the poem I realized it was saved on my external hard drive, and as I pulled up to the studio there was a gathering of students waiting outside the door.  And these amazing students of mine, were chatting in the sunshine, waiting patiently as I frantically waved at them as I circled the block trying to find a parking spot, and as I ran up to the door I told them this was all part of my class plan, spending a little time in nature, embracing the springtime, finding our breath. They all laughed as we filed into the studio, and I made a full confession… “I’m running late because of a poem… but it’s for you, because it’s April, and springtime, and a Wednesday… and don’t we all just need a poem today?” and really, I think all of them did.

And so we settled into class, talking about being grounded, about finding balance in our lives, in our bodies. We talked of trees and how their toes dig deep into the earth, how they stay grounded through so much change, season after season. We laid on our backs and felt the support of the mat beneath our spines and we visited our first tree pose of the day. I watched as they firmly flexed their feet, pressing them into nothingness, watched as their shoulders slid into alignment, encouraged them to engage every muscle, activate their core strength, and from this very supported place, to create a muscle memory. To feel the length in the spine, the support, and to grow from there.

We moved towards standing, played with balance, played with strength… then we warmed up our feet, talked about our roots and tried it all again… this time with a little more confidence, a little more stability, feet feeling alive, bodies feeling warm… I asked them to turn to face the wall, so they could shut out distractions, and we settled back into tree. “Listen to your bodies here” I said, “remember how this felt  when we were on the mat, engage that muscle memory.”.  And then I had them turn around, because in life there are always going to be distractions dancing in your peripheral vision. Because that is how life works, and the challenge is being able to stay rooted enough through it all. And you know what? We wobbled a little bit more this way… but we were just being authentic… because even the tallest and strongest trees sway in the breeze. And what more can we ask from ourselves than to be authentic?

From here, we gathered in the center of the room, for the pose we had been building towards… standing in a circle, touching hands, relying on our neighbors for strength and for support we traveled through our final version of tree pose. Allowing our arms to reach up over head, hands pressed into our neighbors, branches growing toward the sky, our own little oak grove.  And I loved standing in that circle, watching the students laugh, watching them come out of their comfort zones, leaving behind fear, and blossoming into a cohesive group. Supporting each other, growing together… And they all got it… THIS is what our conversation is about today. This right here…

And as they settled into Savasana, as they began to embrace a different kind of groundedness, as they surrendered all of their thoughts and hang ups, as they gave themselves a few precious moments to let it all go, and to absorb all the benefits of our class, as they let our conversation resonate, I finally read for them my poem. The poem that started our conversation.
~~~~~~~~

 

I knew that I liked the earth–dark brown and rich with life–

but I didn’t know that I loved it

until I bit into a carrot, freshly harvested,

the taste of soil still lingering

This is the flavor of life.

 

I knew that I liked falling asleep next to you

feeling your chest rise and fall with the rhythm of your breath

listening to your heart as I drifted off…

But I didn’t know I loved waking up in your arms

until our first night apart… the bitter sweetness of solitude.

 

I used to be impartial to the wind,

until I heard it whispering through the aspen trees

and suddenly I was home.

 

I always knew I loved trees and their quiet strength,

but I didn’t understand it until I started practicing Vrksasana,

and the strength of the tree, the rootedness,

became my own.

 

I just remembered the rain

walking with you, hand in hand down the busy street

the darkened asphalt peaking out beneath the bright

fallen leaves. Flashes of crimson and saffron, the wildest orange

the wet slick grey… we were happiest then,

in the autumn, falling in love on our way to the grocery store.

 

I knew I loved the sun, being solstice born,

we are kindred, forever…

but I forgot I loved the moon,

I didn’t appreciate its constant pull on my heartstrings

until the first night in the new house, I saw the moon rise over the garden,

her beams reaching around my curtains

and flooding into my bedroom in translucent waves…

how can anyone not be inspired by a moonrise over the garden?

My nocturnal muse.

 

I knew I liked the color red

and then I saw the wild bergamot

reaching its crimson petaled fingers towards the blue sky

and I fell in love

with the color

and the moment…

sitting under the olive tree sucking the nectar from the flowery digits.

 

And stillness… how could I not love it?

though I never gave it much thought

the utter content in the quiet

being left alone with nothing but breath

the inhales and the exhales.

 

I knew that I loved lists

tangible or mental

a glimpse of organization

in my ever-chaotic existence.

Perhaps –if I sit here with my thoughts–

this list of loves will become the world.

 

 

 

Bergamot