I’m grateful for :
I’m grateful for :
I’ve been back from vacation almost a week and finally feeling like I’m getting back into a normal routine. I went for a long run today, finally cleaned out the fridge, cooked myself a real meal… all things I’ve pretty much been avoiding all week long. Not really on purpose, but sometimes life gets in the way, and even when you tell yourself when you run out the door in the morning that you are going to skip Wine Wednesday because you have too much cleaning to do, somehow you still end up going out and all the tasks that are lingering on your to-do list go mysteriously undone. (Because really who wants to skip Wine Wednesday? Right?) And usually I’m ok living in my own clutter for a period of time. Don’t get me wrong, I vacuum and clean every week… But I’m not the type of person who cannot go to sleep if there is one dirty dish left in the kitchen sink… However, there always comes a moment in which I absolutely cannot take it anymore and feel as though if everything isn’t magically deep cleaned that very instant my head is going to explode. Naturally, this moment usually happens sometime on my “Friday” morning when I’m running a tad bit late and have approximately nine-thousand other things that actually have to get accomplished before I walk out the door. Welcome to my life.
The alarm goes off, and you push snooze, because it’s early, and technically the weekend and while everyone else is sleeping in you are awake, because, life, and work, and you have to go let your brother’s dog out and you are really hoping that he hasn’t destroyed the house because its his first night staying home alone ever, and even though you let him out at like eleven-o-clock you are still worried that he is kind of a spaz and god only knows how many trash cans he broke into. The alarm goes off again, but you hit snooze for a second time, because you are just not quite ready. Only then you remember that your fridge is exploding with produce from the garden and things like leftover jars of maraschino cherries from your weekend of cocktail making and vacation, and if you don’t get up and try clean it out really really really bad things are going to happen in your life. Really. Bad. Things. So you get up, and try to decide if you really need to wake your dog up before going to go let out the other dog, but he is snoring pretty loudly, so you just leave him, and throw on a hoodie because your hair looks like an electrocuted rat terrier, and jump in the car and think about how its way too early to be out doing responsible things.
Your brother’s house is surprisingly intact and the dog only slightly pounces on you when you finally unlock the door… you contemplate why you haven’t purchased coffee in several weeks, and then remember, that, oh yeah, you also need to go and water your parents flowers since the whole family is on vacation together and you are at home care-taking all the things. This is fine though, because they have a fancy espresso machine, and all you can think about is the foamy latte you are going to be drinking as you water the plants in the back yard.
The latte is delicious, the plants are surprisingly not dead, and you are feeling pretty ok about your morning until you look at the clock and realize that you need to leave for work in a little over an hour… back home to the bulldog… who you can’t find right away, but you notice that your favorite sandal is lying in the middle of the living room looking slightly chewed on… you are 98% sure you didn’t leave it there, but the coffee hasn’t really kicked in yet, so everything is a little unclear. The dog comes trundling out of some unknown place and you scold him for the shoe and then he thinks it is kind of funny and just starts grumbling at you and does downward facing dog and then prances about the living room. You make him go outside and “think about what he has done” while you head for the shower. This is when it all starts to come back to you… you really need to do laundry, the bathroom counter needs a wipedown, and oh yeah, the thought of the fridge is making you a little twitchy… maybe that is just the coffee. Lathering up your hair you try to assess the wardrobe situation, do you need to shave your legs? Can you make it one more day? How much time do you have left anyway… not a ton since you are planning on walking to work… better shave the legs then. Damn it, a few more minutes gone.
You step out of the shower and decide that since you are walking to work you don’t need to dry your hair… it will magically dry in a cute effortless summer look on the way… this is of course very far from the truth, but you sometimes have to tell yourself lies to get out the door on time. Around this moment you realize that you are supposed to leave in about 15 minutes and you haven’t even packed yourself a lunch. Wait a minute, you haven’t even had breakfast. Shit. Because you are working by yourself today, and its probably going to be busy, and the only key to success here is to have lots of healthy snacks! And of course you are 100% out of almonds… shit. So you run to the kitchen and fling open the refrigerator only to realize that, oh yeah, the refrigerator… and then you sort of have this downward spiral moment and try to think if you maybe secretly have enough time to clean it, and then you remember that the trashcan is full, and oh yeah the dishwasher is broken and now you are supposed to leave in 13 minutes and you still aren’t wearing makeup. Ok, rally time. But not really because the fridge is the fridge, and so as you open it up to try and gain some sort of lunch time inspiration you get so defeated that you just shut the door and keep repeating to yourself “you are a grown up, you can do this.” So you open the fridge again, throw some salad greens into a tupperware, and then discover that the roasted beet that was going to be the rockstar of this salad is actually molding, and you can’t find the jar of capers, and in that moment it really is just TOO much, so you throw an apple and a diet coke into your bag and pray to everything that is pure an holy that you have some leftovers in the fridge at work. You then remember that you still haven’t eaten breakfast. Shit. One look towards the fridge and you reach for the secret stash of Lucky Charms, and all you can think in that moment is a sarcastic “winning.” You know within the first bite that you are going to have a sugar crash when you are approximately half of the way to work, but that still seems better than leaving the house without having anything but coffee. Breakfast. Of. Champions. You then run around like a madwoman, scrounging for foot-ware, hurriedly applying mascara.
And then in a brief moment of bliss and clarity you remember that you have all the ingredients to make an Old Fashioned tonight for your deep cleaning adventures. There is a teeny-tiny flask with one shot of whiskey left in your suitcase from the weekend, and everything else starts coming together. Victory. Only if you make one old fashioned you surely want to have the option for making more after that, even if making more will probably not help the evening of productivity you have planned. But really, one cocktail? (because if you give a mouse a cookie, or give a moose a muffin, or give a dog a doughnut… they will all want cocktails and you can’t make them any because you are out of whiskey) But you don’t have other whiskey and you are walking to work, so by the time you would walk home in the evening there will not be enough time to make it to the liquor store before they close, because its Small Town Oregon. You could always walk directly to the liquor store, but you don’t really want to be the girl who is walking through town with a fifth of whiskey, because again small town Oregon. And then you think “well if I drive to work instead I would have about 20 extra minutes here to take out the trash and get my life organized and then I could make it to the liquor store on time!” and then you remember that you are running a half marathon in 3 weeks that you are no-where near ready for, and you can’t run after work because you have nine million things to accomplish and your head will explode if you don’t get them done, and the very least you can do is walk the .8 miles to work in a slight attempt to move your person. And also you are pretty sure that every season of The Biggest Looser starts out with someone saying “oh I could have walked to work but I drove to the liquor store instead and now I weigh 500 pounds.”
You throw an apple in your bag for good measure, scratch the dogs ears on your way by and run out the door. Naturally, you cannot stop thinking about the fridge, so you call your mom for a pep-talk about staying motivated to do all the things, because for some reason, in your mind, your mom is always good at pep talks… she doesn’t answer the phone, and then the more you think about it, the more you can hear her voice saying things like “well if you just cleaned up a little bit every day, it wouldn’t get to this point” and then it starts to stress you out, and you are maybe glad she didn’t answer the phone, and then you vow right then and there (for maybe the millionth time) that you are going to clean your kitchen until it sparkles and it is going to stay that way and how you are going to turn into one of the anal people who cannot sleep unless all the dishes are put away. Yes. Just wait, it’s going to happen. Now that that is settled you feel less distracted by the idea of cleaning the fridge and start to focus more on what the work day has in store for you… only now you are realizing that you are half way to work and wearing a skirt and your thighs are starting to chafe from the walk and you wonder how the hell you are supposed to run 13.1 miles if you can’t even walk .8 miles without your thighs rubbing together. Then you are very glad that you didn’t drive to work, because you know, getting healthy and getting fit… oh wait, you actually packed a cucumber and a diet coke for lunch, ok scratch that… getting healthy when the fridge is cleaned out and your aren’t feeling like such a hot mess. Ugh, in a perfect world you would’ve had time to make a vat of kale juice before walking out the door… damn it… why didn’t you pack pickles for lunch? The hot farmer practically fed them to you with a chopstick at the farmer’s market this week, and pickles are your favorite food, and why the hell didn’t you just leave the jar of pickles at work for emergencies? (because pickle emergencies are a REAL thing.) Oh wait… actually there might be a tub of cottage cheese in the fridge at work. Sweet Jesus, at least you will have some protein…
Tayler is a blogger, boutique manager and yoga teacher thriving on awkward situations in McMinnville, Ore.
Backstory. I’ve been on a healthy snack kick lately. Mostly because I seem to have completely blown my monthly budget on awesome things like trips to the dentist, and a sparkly bag, so I’ve been trying to be frugal (and healthy) in other areas of my life. I’m two days away from a five day vacation, so I’ve been pinching my pennies, skipping my morning lattes and being extra good about packing lunch. Almost every day my snack includes almonds… they are easy, nutritious, packed with fiber, protein, and good fats, they keep me full (especially when paired with a big old glass of water) and they are readily accessible. The ladies that I work with bring almonds quite a bit as well, and you will find us behind the counter at various points throughout the day munching on a handful of them.
A few days ago I shared some of my snacks with my boss and she turned to me and said “why do your almonds taste so much better than my almonds?!?!” the answer is all in the roast. I take an extra 15 minutes at the start of my week to toast my almonds to perfection. Its not really something I thought very much of, just something I always did. Raw almonds are fine, but roasted almonds are better, and growing up it seemed like there was always a bowl full of oven roasted almonds sitting on our kitchen counter. My boss then said “but wait! You can’t just talk about these things and then not explain how to do it!” she then went on a rant about how she didn’t know how to make mojitos, and didn’t know the proper way to roast almonds, and how I needed to start taking my basic kitchen intuition and writing it down. And at first all I could think was “ no one wants to read a blog post about how to roast almonds” and then about an hour later I got a text message from my other boss saying “ how long and what temperature do you roast your almonds? They are so delicious.” Ok, so maybe people do want to read about this. So here I am, taking my little bit of kitchen intuition and sharing it with you… it might not be mind-blowing or life changing… but I promise you, your snacks are going to taste so much better!
Easy oven roasted almonds:
(note: I keep my bulk almonds in the freezer. If your almonds are room temperature you might need to adjust the roasting time)
Turn oven to 350 degrees and start to pre-heat.
Remove almonds from freezer and spread out the desired amount on a small roasting pan or cookie sheet. (I usually roast about 1.5-2 cups. )
Place pan of almonds in the oven (even if it isn’t quite pre-heated) and turn on a timer for 10 minutes.
You will need to check on/ stir your almonds about twice in that 10 minutes.
After the ten minutes is up, evaluate the almonds (Use your senses, appraise the color and how they smell… you can tell when they are done, trust me.) If they are still on the lighter side leave them in for 2-3 more minutes, and then shut off the oven. I usually let the almonds sit in the cooling oven for about 5 more minutes before removing the pan and letting them cool on top of the stove. Once they have cooled completely transfer them to a bowl, or mason jar and enjoy throughout the week!
Voila, roasted nuts.
Here’s the other thing I find a little irksome…. that my computer cannot transcribe the first drafts of blogs that I write in my head (usually while doing something lame like Cleaning the kitchen.) I swear, I sit there being the multi-tasking queen and think of topics, anecdotes and experiences, and in my mind everything is witty and fabulous and the stories are funny, and the moments are memorable, and I think “writing this post is so effortless and fun” and then somehow by the time I finally get to my laptop what I actually write as a first draft ends up being something like “Its Summer, and Magical and I don’t have time for this.” (which is true… but not exactly inspiring by any means.) And the writer in me really struggles with this because I want to do each moment justice and take the time and really figure out exactly what it is I want to say about each experience, and tweak it and edit it and finally then push publish and have it be this epically beautiful and perfectly crafted post. But the thing about life is that it keeps happening around you, and then before you know it these incredibly great experiences are fading into the background and A) you haven’t been able to carve out the hours it takes to write something that does it justice, and B) you keep going out and living even more epic moments that deserve your attention, and just as much blog time, and so in the end sometimes you just put it all out there in the inevitable mess and jumble that fell out of your brain and onto the keyboard and hit publish anyway. Sometimes you just have to!
This past week has been filled with some pretty dreamy moments… beach adventures, river swims, wine tastings, seeing The Princess Bride in the movie theater… And I would love to be able to sit down and write and write and write about each little moment, how I felt, the texture of the light, the memories, the smells… but life keeps moving, and moments keep happening, and tonight I’m just going to embrace these moments in their entirety. I can’t wait to pour myself a glass of wine and get my hands in the garden soil. I’m ready to fling open the kitchen doors and make myself a lovely dinner, and grumble about having to clean the kitchen yet again….
But in the meantime, here are a few short glimpses into this past week. This is the good life folks!
And this is where gratitude comes into play. Because how can you possibly expect to be living your life in forward motion without taking some moments to really stop and be grateful for the things in life that you already have? I just finished reading “The Tools” (I would highly recommend it) and one of the major themes throughout the book is combating your negative internal voice with little nuggets of gratitude. Because it’s amazingly difficult to live under a cloud of doom and negativity when you are constantly reminding yourself to be grateful for the weird, tiny, everyday things. Yes, it might feel a little “first world” to sit down and think “I’m so grateful for this cappuccino.” but in reality, if you can’t find joy in the everyday stuff, life is going to get boring. I say, embrace the joy, even if its coming from something trivial… And here is the thing about gratitude: it’s contagious. Even if you aren’t sharing out loud what small things you are grateful for, it radiates out of you and fills the space around you, it has an energy all its own… and I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be the type of person who has an aura of positivity than a Debbi Downer cloud of doom! (and trust me, I’ve been that girl… we all have… sometimes it happens. Sometimes negativity is just there, and frustrations abound, and misery loves company, and for whatever reason it is just easier to complain and be an ass-hole or pout and bitch and moan … sometimes. And sometimes people don’t want to be around you… and sometimes that is ok, because a lot of times you don’t want to be around people anyway… BUT in the long run as my mother or grandfather would say “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” )
Since real summer starts tomorrow, let me just give a quick shout out to this fake summer we’ve been having in Oregon. I’m still a little confused by what month it actually is, and why there has been this golden sphere hanging in the sky over the past few weeks producing 80-degree, but I will take it! We’ve had a few “typical” June-ish days this month and on one of them my mom was like “OH MY GOD IT FEELS LIKE WINTER!!!!” I stopped and said “no, actually, it feels like June.” Maybe just because the last few springs have felt a little extra long, or because as Oregonians we really are not used to any sort of consistent sunshine until after July…but either way, I’m not complaining! My tomato plants are happy, I have something resembling a tan, and I have been pretty much eating my body weight in watermelon. Tonight’s pre-dinner consisted of me leaning over the kitchen sink as I took a huge bite of melon and slurped the juice to keep it from running down my face and arms. It was pretty glorious. Thank you fake summer… you are kind of ok.
Back in October when I was researching which juicer I should buy, I was focused mainly on leafy greens. I had visions of juicing kale and spinach, and chard, and beets, and pretty much everything earthy (which I did.) but it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I started to think about the summer juicing potential. Really, I wasn’t being narrow minded when I purchased my juicer, more ,I was living in the moment and trying to embrace the whole seasonal eating thing. =) (at least that is what I’m telling myself.) So last week when it finally dawned on me that watermelon + juicer= happiness and summer bliss, I was pretty stoked. And really, why had I not thought of it before? I know one of the dangers with at home juicing is sugar… you juice all the sugary fruits in all the land and then chug them, (because they are delicious) So I do appreciate that fruit juice should be consumed in moderation… but just stop for a minute and think about all the cocktail potential.
Even if cocktails aren’t your thing, Agua Fresca has already established itself as a seasonal staple on my back patio. Sort of…. Upon looking up Agua Fresca recipes I’ve found essentially ALL of them include super sweet fruits, sugar, and water… This is where I’m going to rant about sugar a little bit. No, I’m not one of those crazy no sugar in anything ever, people. In fact, I had a raspberry brownie for lunch today, I put sugar in my coffee every morning, and I think that there is a time and a place for sugar (like gumdrops, hello.) That being said, just about every time I try to bake something sweet I have to run to the store, because for some reason I never seem to have sugar in my pantry… I just don’t use it that often (Sugar scrub, mojitos, lemon curd… these are the only thing that I make on a semi-regular basis that actually require sugar.) I do try to read labels and make a conscious effort to try and cut back on sugar in processed foods… it just seems unnecessary a lot of the time, but I try not to get all nutty about it…BUT it absolutely boggles my mind as to why you need to add additional sugar to a refreshing summer fruit drink! When was the last time you sprinkled sugar over a slice of watermelon? The answer is never. (salt on the other hand… is there anything better at a picnic than I giant wedge of watermelon lightly sprinkled with Jacobsen Sea Salt? No, there isn’t. Seriously, try it with the pinot blanc salt… game changer!) Don’t even get me started with honeydew melon… I mean for reals… you add sugar to that? It makes my teeth hurt just thinking about it.
SO I guess technically what I’ve been drinking on the patio is not Agua Fresca… it’s better. (I’m not about to call this here concoction sugar free agua fresca… doesn’t that just sound like an aspartame filled powdery diet drink mix or something? … Ok I’ll hop off the snarky train now… BUT really, if you even think about putting more sugar with your honeydew melon, just know that I am judging you.)
Lately I’ve been making a strawberry/watermelon “spritzer” sometimes there is vodka in it… sometimes not. (for example, when I take it to work… NO vodka. ) It’s not very often that Oregon strawberry season overlaps with watermelon season, and it’s a shame because this combo is fantastic. Throw some mint, lime, strawberries and 1/4 of a watermelon in your juicer or blender and out comes this sweet nectar of the gods. You can drink it straight, add some sparkling water, or one of my favorite things to do is mix it with a Cucumber Dry Soda (scrumptious.)
Other ideas/ variations
It’s June! And surprisingly enough, warm weather has hit Oregon the last couple of weeks, meaning the garden is thriving, spirits are high, and we are all walking around with a premature inkling that summer has arrived (or is at least right around the corner) Evenings are spent wandering around the strawberry patch, sipping beverages on the patio, kicking my shoes off and basking in the lingering light. Yes and please.
Apparently Mercury is heading into retrograde in the next few days and that means chaos is supposed to ensue in the following weeks, interpersonal communication will crumble, technology will fail, (wait all of my work technology already failed this week, please don’t let it get worse!) transportation will be horrid, and overall I will feel misinterpreted… should I just take the month off from blogging? Ha, I’m not that into astrology and only find it mildly curious, but here are a few things that I am REALLY into for the summer.
1) Sassy haircuts: I will immediately start off with a tangent about how when I was in high school my brother told me that boys didn’t like girls with short hair, and I would never find a boyfriend if I cut all my hair off… obviously I cut all my hair off to prove a point, and also I wanted short sassy hair! Ok, at the age of 17 I might not have been “cool” enough to pull off the short look, and sure enough my shaggy bob was less Mandy Moore, and more Oprah in nature, BUT, I’ve always had a tendency to be a little more adventurous when it comes to getting my hair cut. I mean, it’s only hair, it will grow back… or so I tell myself. Because every now and again I see the girls with the beautiful flowing locks, and I start to think about fishtail braids and sock buns and all the amazingly cool things I’m missing out on by having shorter hair, so I start to go through the painfully awkward grow out period, (and somewhere in the back of my head I still hear my brother’s voice telling me I’m never going to find a guy if have short hair… isn’t that terrible?) and a year later I’m just feeling frumpy and not like myself, and still somewhat wistfully dreaming of sock buns, but mostly just feeling so blasé…. The girls with the beautifully long hair don’t tell you about the awful grow out, because lets be honest, they’ve had long beautiful hair their entire lives… and I tend to think of myself as a “keep your eyes on the prize” kind of gal, But I also know when to cut my loses… and quite frankly, a summer of short and sassy hair is EXACTLY what I need. Goodbye frumpy grow out, goodbye dreams of braids, Hello sass factor 2000. (side note. I’ve been looking at pinterest this week trying to find some hair cut inspiration… apparently pinterest and I have quite different definitions of “sassy hair cuts” But I guess whatever floats your boat… Also I was supposed to get a haircut today, but it got canceled… SO no sassy haircut yet, but I’m sure pictures will follow eventually)
2) Country Music: Growing up in rural Montana, we didn’t have MTV… we did however get CMT… It didn’t matter, I still hated country music for the most part. Ok, Ok, the first concert I ever went to was Lonestar, and I went to a Toby Keith concert once (and no, my bulldog is not named after Toby Keith. For the record) … but for the most part, I rebelled against the country. I was too busy listening to movie soundtracks and 98 degrees… (Um yeah, nerd alert. But the One Fine Day soundtrack is damn good! In retrospect this probably had a lot more to do with my single status than my Oprah hair…) But Thankfully, I grew up, pop culture no longer intimidates me (well ok, it does a little) and I don’t know if its me going back to my country roots, or just the nostalgia of opening up Red Hills Market on Saturday mornings with country music blasting, but there is something undeniable about the summertime and country music. They go together like tomatoes and basil. If I still had my Toyota I would be cruising around with the sunroof open blasting Keith Urban all the live long day… and you should be do. Because summer is country music time. It’s just so happy, and all about drinking beer, and going to the fishing hole, and getting tan, and having manly men say things like how their eyes are the only thing they don’t want to take off of you and how you make them feel like they want to roll the windows down and cruise, and there is something about listening to it in the summer time that just feels right. (disclaimer… I actually don’t like country music by ladies very much… that might be a little sexist… but its just not as good….)
3) When it comes to makeup, less is more: Don’t you hate it when at the end of a hot summer day you look in the mirror and all of your makeup has melted off your face? And it seems totally unfair, because when I come home at the end of the day and wash my face, I always think about how bright and vibrant I look… why is it that no makeup sometimes looks so much better than makeup at the end of the day? Really the only solution for the summer is to take it down to the basics and go for a more natural look. This time of year I make my own tinted moisturizer with coconut oil and powder foundation. It is like a magic serum. Trust me. Touch up as needed with concealer, sweep on a little bronzer, nude eyeliner (it is the best thing of all time) , and brown mascara and you are pretty much done. Maybe add a little neutral shimmery eye shadow here and there, and of course leave your options open for lip color. Let me just say a few things about nude eyeliner. It is a game changer. Unlike darker eye liner you don’t have to spend a lot of time applying it trying to make sure the line is going where it is supposed to, and that you haven’t missed any spots. Sweep it on, no touching up, no fussing and it gives your eyes some definition without being over done. I’m obsessed.
4) A red lip:I know I know, I just got done preaching that less is more… but when your face is a natural looking summer glow, it opens up the opportunity for wearing bold color on the lips without looking like you are on your way to the Red Carpet. I think every woman can rock a red lip and summer is the perfect time. The only essentials are lip liner and confidence. (also the jury is still out, but apparently Men also don’t really like lipstick that much? In other words, I’m setting myself up for romantic success by cutting off my hair and rocking a red lip this season. )
5) Summer scarves: So you know when you have an adorable summer dress, and then you totally destroy the look by putting a weird cardigan over it that doesn’t really go with anything, but you do it anyway because you don’t want to get cold, and then you just look like you don’t quite know how to dress yourself? I do, because I’m guilty of this constantly… Because my fear of being cold far outweighs my fear of being fashionable… Mostly… Only this summer I actually am working in fashion, so I’m kind of on the search for suitable alternatives. Insert, the summer scarf, preferably a blend of cashmere and silk in a solid or ombre color. This week one of my bosses said it perfectly with “a scarf does all the things but you still look cute!” (we had just been having the cardigan conversation) I’m sure I have cardigans that will still make cameos this season, but I’m declaring the summer scarf as my go to for 2014. ‘
6) Water:As a yoga teacher, I preach the importance of drinking water. And every single day I get up and think “today is the day that I will be a rockstar at drinking water!” and then most days go by, and at about 4:30 I realize I’ve only had 3 sips out of my water bottle. Ugh. But the good news is that yesterday is in the past, and tomorrow is a new day, and there is always the potential for making a change. And I can tell such a difference in my body when I’m well hydrated vs. not. Especially in the summer months. So it’s a constant work in progress, but for now, I’m hopping on my drink water soap box, and preaching the importance of staying hydrated. Throw some mint or berries in your water bottle, freeze some edible flowers in your ice, jazz up your water (or just drink it plain).
7) One Piece Swimming Suits: Is anyone else as ecstatic as I am that one piece bathing suits have made a come back? Ok, I know this kind of happened last summer, but I was still in denial about needing a new bathing suit back then. Now I am fully embracing the trend.
Lets just take a moment to talk about body image… Because it’s something that resonates with everyone… Even if it’s not something that you personally struggle with, you probably know someone who does… These days there are movements and initiatives, foundations and the works all about building self-esteem in young girls and empowering the next generation. There is constant controversy about how the media is portraying beauty ideals and promoting a warped view to young girls… And whether we went through a chubby stage in middle school (check), gained the freshman 15 (check), or have watched our bodies change with age (check) its a topic that dances in and out of conversation, and has lingering effects. Full disclosure, I gained about 12 pounds last year, and I could write several excuses about how I was working in a restaurant, how a broken toe f’ed up my running routine, how I have no self control when it comes to things like Chantilly cream and full fat dairy, but the truth of the matter is, I made the choices that I made, and I’m in the body that I’m in, and I’m totally ok with that. Was I more comfortable in my body 12 pounds ago? Probably. Am I spending countless moments throughout my day fretting about my size and how my clothes fit and how I look? No. Because 12 pounds isn’t worth the negativity. I simply think “this is where I am today, and I’m going to make choices accordingly.” When I look in the mirror every morning I see myself, just the way I am, and sure, I have those fleeting thoughts of “I should go for a run” or “I need to move my person a little bit more” because everyone has those thoughts from time to time, but I think the important thing is to recognize them without dwelling on them.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that having a positive body image is something that I’ve struggled with for years and years, because really, I haven’t. I’ve always been comfortable with who I am, and how I look… and yes I have fat days, and bad hair days just like everyone else. I have days where I wish I had less cellulite and better abs. I have moments of being unhappy with my body, but they are just that, moments. They aren’t something that hinder my self-esteem, they don’t affect how I live my life, how I see myself… and I realize that I am incredibly lucky in this regard. ( I have other hang ups, its ok).
I DID go through a pudgy phase when I was younger… (didn’t everyone?) I don’t remember ever feeling like a fat kid, though I do remember my mother encouraging me to go outside more and maybe jump on the trampoline… And I vividly remember a few years later when my pediatrician came up to my mom and said “wow, Tayler was so beautiful in the recital! I remember her being kind of chunky!” I of course also gained some weight when I went to college, and have this somewhat horrific memory of coming home for Christmas and one of my “friends” actually pinched my cheeks and loudly announced “Look at these! I’m so glad you are getting fat like the rest of us!” Can I just say that sometimes girls are the worst? I mean the worst. And the older I’m getting the more I’m realizing that there seem to be two types of insecure women… the type that put others down because they are insecure, or the type that put themselves down. And really, both make me so sad. Now that I’m in my late 20’s I can look back on adolescence and of course recognize the mean girl mentality, the bullies who were constantly spewing negativity about other people because they were struggling to feel good about themselves… But when you are in the thick of it, when the negativity is coming your way, and you are 14 its almost impossible to be objective and say “well really, she is just insecure, so she is trying to make me feel bad.”
But, what I have discovered recently, is that women of a certain age are almost as bad as middle-schoolers, only they take all that negativity and insecurity and turn it right back on themselves. I can’t even tell you how many women I come across who are a size 4 and have hangups about their arms, or think they look too fat in something and then turn to me and say “you don’t have these problems, you are tiny.” and I’m thinking “Well thank you, but I’m actually 3 sizes larger than you, and my arms are like 6 of yours put together…” And then you have the mothers who are looking in the mirror who are verbally berating themselves, saying how fat they look, how they hate their legs or whatever, as their daughters sit there observing their behavior. And it’s interesting because it seems like these days there are so many movement about building self esteem in young girls, programs that are trying to teach you that uniqueness is beautiful, that individuality should be celebrated, that curves are ok, and I think that these programs are great, but there is a part of me that wonders if maybe we also need these types of programs for our Mother’s generation. Maybe we need to be helping the women who have been dealing with years and years of negative body image see themselves in a different light.
So now I have to tell a story that is going to horrify my mother… (its ok, she has been warned… Also, she is my mom, and we love each other, so there is that. ) Last week she was in shopping at the boutique and one of my bosses was there, as was my best friend. My mom was asking an opinion about a shirt she was trying on, and we started to tell her how we had just been talking about body image, and how we really thought that women should be celebrating their curves and dressing the bodies that they have, and not the bodies that they wish they had, or the bodies that they think they have… working in a clothing boutique this is something that we see everyday… and my mom was like “Really?” and we told her “Well, we want you to be wearing something that you feel good in, and that also looks good on you, so if it’s something that just doesn’t work, we will tell you.” And then we were talking about curves and body shapes and dressing them, and I said in passing “yes, I have curves, and I’m not self-conscious about them, I kind of have a belly and its fine! ” and then I stuck out my stomach for full emphasis… and without missing a beat my mother was like “Yeah I KNOW you do, I see it all over the place.” … OK MOM!
The moment was a little shocking, my boss was totally taken aback, and my mom did follow up with something about how I think she doesn’t have a filter… (case in point… I’m at a fairly new job, and she just made a comment about my belly fat in front of my boss and my best friend while I’m working… yeah, there is NO filter) And the thing is, I wasn’t upset, I wasn’t mad, I wasn’t embarrassed… I was sad. Not because of the offhanded comment, but because I was sitting there witnessing my mother subconsciously succumb to the mean girl mentality. I could feel her trying on this top and not feeling 100% great in her body and there was a group of us, and without meaning to and without being aware of it she took all that insecurity and directed it at me. She put me down around my peers. We talked about it later and I totally called her out on it, and we had a good conversation, she felt terrible, she wasn’t trying to be mean, and legitimately we are fine… I’m not telling this story to embarrass my mom, or to make her out to be a bad mother, she isn’t. She is human, and she has her hang ups just like everyone else. And though it would be nice if those hang-ups didn’t manifest at my place of work, I did also realize that, as a mother, she was feeling insecure and in an back-handed way she was trying to be helpful. Like when she corrects my posture… because she wants me to learn from her mistakes… She sees things in herself that she doesn’t like, and so she points them out in me, not to be hurtful or a pain in the ass, but because she wants what is best for me. She wants me to happy and healthy… and sometimes it comes out completely wrong. Sometimes it drives me absolutely crazy, but I do know that it comes from a place of love… And at the end of the day, I’m very familiar with intentions being lost in translation…
If anything, the whole situation made me appreciate my mom, and my upbringing. I can only imagine how her life was 60 years ago.. growing up I was told I could be whatever I wanted to be (ok, ok I was told once that I probably shouldn’t be an artist… in retrospect, that was probably very good advice.) I was allowed to do activities that I liked, I was allowed to develop my own interests, I was uplifted and supported and loved… not to say that my mother wasn’t, but our upbringings were VERY different. Being in Generation Y my entire childhood was pretty much a self-esteem building exercise, I was allowed to make my own choices, make my own mistakes, and become my own person without any preconceived notions. And as a result, I don’t seem to have any of my mother’s hang-ups (as I said, I have plenty of my own!)
I guess in a way, this blog post is a Thank You to my Mom. She has her moments, for sure, but overall, I think I turned out the way that I did because of her, and not despite of her… Thank you for raising me to be comfortable in my own skin. Thank you for not passing along any of your hang ups, and for wanting what is best for me always, and Thank you for putting up with me and letting me tell stories about you on my blog.
And to all you ladies out there who ARE struggling with body image, I hope you can take a moment to just settle into your own skin, even if it’s just a moment. Celebrate your curves (or lack of them) appreciate where you are right now, and give yourself permission to not dwell on your flaws.
So I came home and started a juice cleanse. I know I know, you are probably tired of hearing about juice cleanses, so I won’t overly go into detail, but after 4 days of beer, and Goldfish crackers, my body was ready for some pure unadulterated raw juicy goodness. Typically, I’m all about everything in moderation. I exercise and eat healthy so I can drink wine, and eat full fat dairy when I want to, and not really think about it… however the closer I get to 30, the more my body is telling me that I really need to start thinking about it. I know when I eat blue cheese dressing that I’m going to feel it, and that gluten makes me more sluggish, and that eating a giant burrito at 10PM is probably not the wisest choice… and yet I still make these choices occasionally. But the more often I make them, the more I’m aware that for a lot of people out there, feeling terrible is normal. So many people don’t even consider what they are putting into their bodies and how it makes them feel, nor do they have the correlation that food could make them feel this way… and it makes me really sad. I can’t really get on a soap box, because I know that my diet and exercise regime isn’t perfect. I know that I could be making healthier choices every day, But I’m also so thankful that I at least have the awareness that when I eat A I feel B, and its a choice that I’m making in this moment, but not one I’m going to make every day. And I totally give myself permission to indulge once in a while, because we all need to go on brewery tours and eat an obscene amount of junk food from time to time. But I’m also choosing to listen to my body this week, and make every effort to bring everything back into balance.
I had an amazing time away with my girlfriends… but as an introvert by nature, after 4 days I was ready for a few moments of solitude. We had a lot of great adventures, great meals, great conversations, but the older I get, the more I realize how much I need to honor the introverted part of myself… Thankfully, I don’t need epically long stretches of solitude and silence, but I was definitely ready to come home, put my feet up and spend some time by myself…. I try not to play the “introvert card” too often, as I know quite a few introverted people who tend to use this as an excuse to cancel plans at the last minute, who can never follow through, and who tend to cling to their introvertedness as a crutch. They over-commit, get overwhelmed and then out of no-where the introvert card gets played like a get out of jail free card of “oh I have to cancel, I I’m an introvert, this is just what I need… you understand!” And there is part of me that gets it, I mean really gets it… but there is still a little part of me that is endlessly frustrated by it…BUT after 4 days away with 6 other ladies, shared rooms, car-pooling, dinners, brewery tours, bachelorette parties and more there was a huge part of me that was telling me that I needed to take a moment to honor introverted tendencies, at least for a day or two. So here I am, juicing up a storm and spending my evenings soaking up some alone time. And it feels pretty good both mentally and physically.
I’ve been mentally blogging a lot over the past few weeks… so much so that I kind of almost forgot that I haven’t actually typed anything out and sent it into the world… As a result, I’m ending up with one giant blog post, that really could be multiple little nuggets of bloggity goodness, but instead I’m going to do my best to roll them all into one epic post… the topics are varied, new jobs, dressing for success, body image, dating… But I’m pretty sure my brain has tied them all together in a fairly cohesive way… either that or I’m fooling myself and am desperately in need of an editor… I’m going to go with cohesive.
Whoever coined the idea of dressing for the job that you want vs. the job that you have clearly never worked in a restaurant… For the past year my daily work wardrobe has consisted of jeans, basic tees and kind of grungy Danskos that I’ve been rocking since high school. I tried to make it a point of wearing my “real person clothes” on my days off, but after a while my days off started filling up with yoga classes and exercise and eventually the idea of doing 3 costumes changes in a day just so I wasn’t caught wearing yoga pants to the grocery store seemed a little excessive. Plus, I’ve never really been that self-conscious. I absolutely believe in taking pride in how you present yourself, but I also believe that your confidence and self work shouldn’t come from how you look…..
Tangent alert! Once a few years ago, one of my acquaintances went off about how she thinks that women need to wear “real” clothes all the time and take pride in how they look because if we don’t we are communicating to men that we don’t value ourselves and therefore they shouldn’t value us either. I’m of course paraphrasing here, but this is something that has really stuck with me over the years… mostly because it irritated the hell out of me, and also I think she had a point. (to some degree) It goes with the whole dress for success mantra. In theory you take pride in how you look, you make an effort and along with that comes poise and confidence and professionalism etc etc…. But I just keep thinking that if my poise and charisma and overall energy doesn’t translate to a stranger in a grocery store because I’m wearing yoga pants and a hoodie… then I’m pretty sure he wasn’t my soul mate anyway. Am I right? Someone who isn’t willing to look past the superficial shell is probably not someone who is worth my time in the first place. But I get it, first impressions, snap judgments, we all do it. But my self worth isn’t tied up in what I’m wearing or how much makeup I have on, and just because I occasionally run errands or maybe even grab brunch with my girlfriends after a barre class when I’m sweaty and wearing workout gear doesn’t mean that I don’t value myself.
I’ve never been the woman who puts on mascara before going to the gym, or eyeliner before a yoga class. That just isn’t the authentic me, and as a yoga teacher I feel like authenticity is extremely important. Of course I have the students who always feel the need to comment about how tired I look, or how large the bags under my eyes are, or make a huge deal on the day I actually come to class with my hair somewhat styled… and each and every time a comment is made it totally boggles my mind. Maybe I am just wired differently, but when did it become the social norm to tell someone how terrible they look, even if it is in an offhand way? I would never in a million years tell one of my students that they were looking ragged or worn down, or tired, or out of it, nor would I ever call them out on days when they are wearing more makeup than normal… But customers at the restaurant would do this to me all the time as well… I think people are searching for ways to make conversation and so they say asinine things like “gosh you look exhausted today!” Since when is this an acceptable conversation starter for anyone, let alone people you barely know? Anyway, I’m getting off track… but overall I understand the importance of poise, of grace, and of somehow conveying to the world that you value yourself… and yes, this can be done with how you style your person, but overall I think it more has to do with how you carry yourself and your confidence.
Anyway, all this to say that I firmly believe your overall essence shouldn’t be tied up in material things like how you dress and how much makeup you wear. I like getting dressed up, and I like looking nice, but I’m not going to be hung up on how I look every moment of the day.
That being said… after years and years of buying outfits with no real place to wear them to, this week I started a job in fashion. Before your imagination gets rolling I’m not working for a designer or magazine or anything like that, I’m working for a small locally owned boutique that I’ve been shopping at for about 10 years… and it is absolutely lovely. It is owned by two lovely sisters, it is in a lovely part of the town that I live in, and it has lovely things. And though I still advocate for not letting your appearance dictate your confidence, I am definitely a little more concerned with how I look when I walk out the door in the morning (at least when I’m heading to work.) a big part of my job is helping people pick out clothing for specific occasions, and just like wearing a ball gown to the restaurant would have been highly inappropriate, showing up for work looking like a disheveled yoga clown is not going to fly… I still maintain that I’m not going to wear makeup to the gym, and I’ll probably still run to the grocery store in yoga pants when its convenient, but I am much more aware of how in this particular setting my appearance and what I’m wearing matters.
Thankfully I’ve been stockpiling some classic pieces from this shop for years, and opening up my closet I would say at least 1/3rd of my wardrobe is probably from this boutique… I have always been able to justify purchases from there saying “well this is a timeless piece, its high quality, I’ll have it forever.” And its mostly true! Granted, after a year of working a few feet away from a deli case full of coconut macaroons, Chantilly cream, daily access to full fat dairy hot chocolate/chai/lattes, and all the gluten free pizza of my dreams, I’m a little bit rounder than I used to be. Not everything I’ve stockpiled fits me quite as well as I’d like, but what can you do? (go running… that’s what, and not dwell on it. Cause I’m 28, and my metabolism is slowing down, and I really like to eat, and I really like gumdrops and I really really like full fat dairy… but I’m not going to let body image and vanity get in my way, I’m going to work hard, and hope that eventually my pencil skirts aren’t quite as tight… I digress.) Literally my first purchase out of college was a black tulle Nicole Miller dress I saw in the shop window. Looking at that dress I just knew that in it I would feel put together, I would feel polished, and accomplished. (looking back, of course I still feel all of those things when I’m not in the dress… but sometimes you just need a little black dress.)
So I guess after all of that, I have actually been dressing for the job I wanted and not the job I had… I just didn’t realize it, and it was of course in my down time… Though I know there are going to be days when I really miss easiness of jeans and clogs, I’m really excited to be able to dig into my wardrobe and finally be able to wear some of the pieces I’ve been holding onto.
I’m also quite excited about this job because I will be working “normal” hours. I guess normal is a relative term, but I’m thrilled to be able to spend at least one weekend day with my friends, and I will be home in time to feed the dog every night. Ya and hoo. My somewhat normal retail hours will also mean that I’ll have more time to have a life. IE evenings free. Lord only knows if that will actually translate into things like dating, but one can only hope. I’m realizing that for the last one million years or so (ok, for the last 6 years) I have been married to my job. And now suddenly having a little bit more freedom, and less stress is a little bit terrifying. I’m not going to be working until 11PM every Saturday night… and at long last, I’m out of excuses. It was pretty easy to hide behind things like “well I work 70 hours a week, and mostly evenings, I don’t really have time to date anyone.” And it was true… but it was also a really really convenient excuse for anytime anyone would look at me with his/her head a little tilted to the side and ask “well why aren’t you dating anyone?” (Again, how is this really an appropriate conversation starter? Its not like there is really a good answer… the only thing I can really say is “because everyone I ask says no, and no one asks me” But the way in which people ask it with this befuddled and somewhat offended tone with that underlying hint of “what is wrong with you?” Um… I don’t know, do you know any single guys? No? Well then why is it so dumbfounding that I don’t’ really either? The end. I think everyone is hoping for something more dramatic. People want me to secretly be a lesbian or something… but really its just that I live in a town with not a lot of dateable people, and for reals, no one is asking me out, and everyone I’ve asked has said no… what more can I say?)
Anyway… flashback to two weeks ago, I’m out car shopping because my vehicle was totaled, and I get this amazing job offer. I take it , and as I’m trying to wrap my head around giving two weeks notice, life transitions, and am living through the ever trying debate of Mini-Cooper vs. Honda Civic, and trying to figure out buying my own health insurance. My mother turns to me literally 30 minutes after accepting the job and says “This is great. Now you will have time to do on-line dating!” Me “um…. No thank you?” Her “I swear, every other day I hear about another great couple who has met online… you just need to do it, its how everyone dates now. You will never meet someone in real life.”… yes, this was a real life conversation. (side note. My mom is going to read this, and probably freak out, and get mad that I take her comments/ conversations out of context and then write about them, and then everyone thinks she is weird. She isn’t weird, she is my mom, and I think we have a pretty typical mother daughter relationship. But she does actually say these things to me, and I do actually roll my eyes and sometimes get really mad, but mostly I know that she is acting out of love, and she just wants me to be happy, and sometimes rather than just saying that directly it comes out as “you should join an online dating site, you will never meet someone in real life” Its fine, I understand her motives.. but in the meantime, I continue to operate on the premise of “I blog about my life, and sometimes you say things to me that are awkward and therefore I will blog about them… if you don’t want me to blog about them maybe think it through before you say it out loud.” I think it’s learning and growing experience for us both. P.S. I love you Claudia Jean.)
Anyway, needless to say, with everything else that was going on, dating in general was pretty much the last thing I was thinking about. (I mean I was secretly a little worried that she had already set up a profile for me somewhere because suddenly she seemed to know A LOT about online dating,… ) And the week goes on, I buy a car, I give notice, I try to get my immediate future somewhat organized, and as I’m driving to work one day last week I heard an interview with Judy Greer on Q with Jian Ghomeshi. I’m always pretty captivated by the interviews on the show, and I really like Judy Greer anyway, but something that she said really resonated with me. She was talking about how she put things out there with intention, and how one day she decided that she was ready to be married, so she started acting like a wife. This kind of stopped me in my tracks, because I realized that as much as I was mentally saying “I’m ready to build a life with someone” my actions were pretty much sending the opposite message. Pretty much my house is in a constant state of functioning chaos. Which works for me… really. I live alone, I’m young, and its not like my house is dirty, I’m good a keeping up with the physical cleanliness of things (thank you disinfecting wipes and my fancy vacuum) but really my house is a bit cluttered. I’m not awesome about picking up after myself, putting away my laundry, and organizing my office. And I’m terrible about getting rid of things… And I know that I make a lot of excuses for this… It is what it is, but as I was sitting there driving to work, listening to this radio program it started to sink in that no matter how emotionally ready I think I am for a relationship, I am certainly not acting like a wife. And let me just clarify… I’m not actually looking to get married anytime soon, I actually don’t know if I want to be married ever, at least maybe not in the conventional sense of the word, and I certainly don’t have any preconceived ideas about how wives should act, or certain things that wives should be doing. But I do want to be someone’s person, and I do want to start building a meaningful life with someone other than my dog. And do to that, maybe I need to start taking a little more responsibility for my home life. Maybe I need to start making an effort to keep things a little more orderly. Maybe I need to start making my home a place that feels a little less chaotic, and a little more inviting. Maybe I need to make some more room in my life for the unexpected, and maybe need to start building a home and not just filling the space up. Maybe I need to start spending a little more time outfitting my day to day for the life that I want, and not the life that I have.
Maybe I need to start approaching my life like I have my wardrobe… I’ve been stockpiling some key pieces for a while, maybe its time to dust them off and start putting things together. I need to start “dressing” for the life I want, and not for the life I have.