Teach Me Tonight

It's not terribly surprising that I have worked most of my life in Education, as I am a person who absolutely LOVES learning. I am always trying to pick up something new (whether I've talent or aptitude for it at all), and I can't imagine a day without learning something. I have done yoga off and on for years, and I've decided that I would like to kick my yoga practice up a notch (and kick my fat arse in gear at the same time), so I'm thinking about embarking on my yoga teaching certification. I highly doubt that I will EVER use it professionally (I somehow doubt people will want to sign up for a class taught by someone as fluffy as me), but I think it would be fun, and good for my soul….and there ain't nothing wrong with that. 🙂

Something else that I want to learn is the art of lettering – like this:

Despite my mad love of all things art and artistic, I have next to no skills in this department, so this is stepping WAY outside of my comfort box! However, those are the things that make me feel most alive – when I am hanging on a ledge with no clue what I am doing, I feel like my heart is actually beating for a purpose…and I LOVE it. There is an introduction class currently available online from Brit+Co, and I am going to sign myself up for that one. It's safe to try something new in the privacy of your own home, where no one is around to catch the feeble early efforts. I'm excited! Who knows? Maybe I will have some wild inner talent for this and will soon be able to decorate my home (and yours!) with pretty projects??! Okay, I know it's not very likely, but…it sure is fun to dream. 🙂

What kinds of things are you learning, ,friends? If you happen to be mastering the fine art of cooking, please be sure to let me know…I promise to offer my taste-testing skills any time you want! 🙂

Xxx

Advertisements

If You Could Read My Mind

I’m a voracious reader, always have been. This summer alone, I’ve read about 20 books – only one of them pertained to work/educational matters…the rest were for pleasure. How delightful!! I read a lot of online publications as well, including New York magazine...which I find pretty great most of the time. I am, however, becoming more and more obsessed with The Strategist, their shopping/style/everything you need in your life guide – you must check it out!

Here’s a recent post of theirs on the Best Back-to-School stuff, and another on stuff that their editors are buying – I am constantly finding new products and new ideas at every price point. Love! Today, they posted some stuff that Lena Dunham can’t live without (I do enjoy how real her list is, bless her heart):
What Lena Dunham Can’t Live Without
By Lena Dunham

If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair, but the hand sanitizer and the electric toothbrush. We asked Lena Dunham about the Joe Boxer underpants and Glutino whole-wheat crackers she can’t live without, on the occasion of the August 1 release of Jenny Zhang’s Sour Heart, the first book from Dunham and Jenni Konner’s new Lenny imprint.

So the way I got into Joe Boxer underwear was that I was staying at a hotel — there was some construction happening at my house — and I needed to Postmates some underwear. I ended up ordering from Kmart, and I said, “Just bring me a six-pack of anything.” What arrived was a pack of Joe Boxers. I love a slightly baggy, but fun underpant, and that is what came to me. Joe Boxer was cool and hip when I was 12, and now it’s a Kmart property. Leaving aside the ethical implications of that, I fucking love the underwear. I now order the string bikini brief in a large, even though a medium might be more supportive of my butt, but this gives me a little tail. A six-pack of three solids and three patterns for me is the perfect balance.
BUY
Joe Boxer Women’s 6-Pack Low-rise String Bikini Panties — Assorted
$7, Kmart


I am not in a position, at the age of 31, to be limping around Manhattan in a French slide that is actually causing me massive blisters. I just can’t pretend anymore. These Cole Haan sneakers have taken over my life. I wear them basically every day. They look like a cute tennis shoe, but they have a very supportive insole. You can throw them in the washing machine. And they finish any outfit off in a fun country-club style. I have them in black; they’re kind of the equivalent of a little French child’s shoe, which is a look I’m always chasing. They don’t have ostentatious branding either; I don’t need that in my life right now.
BUY
Cole Haan Women’s GrandPrø Tennis Sneaker
$130, Cole Haan


This was sent to me as a celebrity freebie, and I went through a phase, it was so dark, where I would just eat things that could support this ghee: a hamburger with some ghee on it, rice with ghee in it. Because ghee is used in Ayurvedic medicine, it felt sort of healthy, and my boyfriend had to be like, “You know you’re eating straight butter.” I gained like ten ghee pounds, but it was so delicious, especially the Himalayan-salt-flavored one.
BUY
4th & Heart Himalayan Pink Salt Grass-fed Ghee Butter
$9, Amazon

I’m very into snacks. I need to eat while I write, and this is something I feel like I can eat throughout the day and feel a little less deranged about — as opposed to, say, if I were just eating Cheetos. Things I put on my Glutino crackers include Kite Hill dairy-free cheese, almond butter — sometimes I eat a Glutino cracker by itself and wash it down with ginger ale, which is just the most luxurious in-bed combination.
BUY
Glutino Gluten-Free Crackers, Multigrain, Pack of 6
$30, Amazon


I like anything that’s a shortcut to being clean. I don’t want to shower that much; I don’t want to wash my face. When I’m shooting, I can’t be expected to get home at 11 p.m. and do a full facial cleansing. But I can wipe the crap out of my face until it’s bright red with these delicious natural cleansing wipes. They come in a chic little black package, and I keep them in my purse. I love that it’s founded by this woman who has a really cute and sexy Instagram — it makes me feel like I’m part of a whole “I don’t want to wash my face” movement. I’ve also been known to use them in my armpits.
BUY
Lauren Napier Facial Wipes
$20, Revolve Clothing


I have endometriosis, which I am very vocal about, and this heating pad is my biggest pain-reduction tool. It’s more expensive than your average heating pad, but it has a real weight to it. I’ll wrap it around my whole torso, and since I’m cold all the time, sometimes I rest it under my feet, which is a real luxury. My mom actually introduced me to it — she had shoulder issues — and she was like, “Welcome to the world of Battle Creek.” Anytime I have a friend diagnosed with endometriosis, I send them one of these.
BUY
Battle Creek Heating Pad
$58, Amazon


I wouldn’t recommend anyone stay at the hospital for 17 days, but I would say the primary benefit are the socks they give you: They are amazing. So soft. They feel like they’ve been worn 1,000 times, even when they’re fresh out of the package. They’re terry cloth, and they have treads, so you don’t slip on the hospital floor when you’re taking a constitutional. The thing is, who doesn’t need that in their apartment, too? They’ve replaced slippers for me 100 percent. You just can’t be bothered by the slightly morose aspect of it.
BUY
Silvert’s Senior Care Nonskid Hospital Socks
From $8, Amazon


My friend Paul introduced me to Salonpas strips — they reduce inflammation if, say, you pull your back out, or have cramps, or if you do something on set and hurt your wrist or ankle. I love anything that involves a tingle — like if you take a B12 vitamin and your face turns red, or eat shellfish and get a slight allergic reaction. That’s what this feels like.
BUY
Salonpas Pain Relieving Patches
$10, Amazon

Here are a few of my favorite new things this month (not nearly as diverse/random or entertaining as Lena’s, but…she’s light years ahead of me on the hip scale):

This new hoop I got in my daith piercing the other day:

The doctor told the Wee One that she needed to take a Calcium supplement – I need to do so as well (because aging sucks), so we tried these chocolate chews…they’re yummy:

My obsession with gummi vitamins continues…check out these Vitamin Cs:

This lotion is hands down the best thing I have EVER used to combat my stupid dry skin:

I got two sets of Turkish cotton bath towels – one in pink and one in black. I used these when I lived in England, but had forgotten just how crazy much I loved them:

Finally, I bring you this joy:

I know, I know…will I ever grow up? (It’s doubtful)

Happy Wednesday, friends! 🙂

If I Knew You Were Comin’, I’d Have Baked a Cake

I’m posting the original recipes photo, as it is SO pretty – but, no lie here, mine totally looks like this (minus the carrot hearts). Delicious!

Since having some health issues last fall (massive gall bladder infection/emergency surgery/near-death experience), I have had a miserable time eating. This has been sad, as I am a girl who LOVES food (check out the width of my arse to validate that statement). I have been going through a process of elimination kind of thing, and have determined that wheat/gluten and dairy were causing my issues – so about 7 weeks ago, I quit both. Cold turkey. It sucked. I nearly wept for cheese (okay, I totally did), and I began looking at dinner rolls like they were lined with gold and stuffed with diamonds, but I stuck to my guns (and my restrictive diet). It made a MASSIVE difference – I felt 168% better – woohoo! I am hoping that this change isn’t forever, but that, after a reboot of sorts, I will be able to return to my regularly-scheduled eating. However, in the meantime, I am learning a whole new way of cooking and eating – and, honestly, it ain’t been that bad. I came across this recipe for Healthified Carrot Cake this weekend, and it turned out frighteningly delicious – who knew? My kid even ate some – woohoo!!! Double success!! Here’s the recipe:

Cake Ingredients:
1 cup + 6 tbsp of my gf flour mix {1/2 cup brown rice flour, ½ cup tapioca starch, 6 tbsp sweet sticky rice flour/glutinous rice flour, ½ tsp guar gum}{or, if using a store-bought mix I recommend using 1¼ cups of Pamela’s Artisan Flour Blend}.
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
dash of salt
1½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 cup maple syrup {or another liquid sweetener like agave, etc.}
½ cup unsweetened applesauce {for a homemade version, see here}
1 tbsp lemon juice
1½ cups finely grated carrots
1 cup of add-ins of your choice: I used ½ cup raisins, ½ cup walnuts {other traditional add-ins you can try: other nuts or dried fruit, shredded coconut}

Frosting Ingredients:
1½ cups cashews, presoaked for at least a few hours {or for 15 mins in boiled water, if in a rush}
⅓ cup water or non-dairy milk, warm or at room temperature {milk would give it a slightly whiter look}
¼ cup maple syrup, at room temperature {or liquid sweetener of your choice}
3 – 4 tbsp coconut oil, softened
2 tbsp lemon juice, at room temperature
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Optional Carrot Hearts Topping:
a few extra carrots and a tiny heart cookie cutter {I used the one that came with my linzer cookie cutters set}

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 350F. Generously butter an 8″ x 12″ cake pan {or anything of a similar size} and set aside.
Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl. Add in sweetener, applesauce, and lemon juice and use a mixer to mix everything together. Add in the grated carrots mix through once more to incorporate. Fold in the add-in items. Transfer this batter into the prepared cake pan. Level the top using a spatula to even out the surface.
Bake in a preheated oven for approximately 23 minutes until the top becomes golden and a skewer inserted down the center comes out dry. Remove from oven and set on a wire rack to cool completely.
Prepare the frosting by placing all ingredients in a good blender and process until completely smooth {I used my Vitamix for this}. Adjust the sweetness to taste. Feel free to add a hint more water/milk to help blending as needed. Note that if your ingredients are not at room temp here, the coconut oil will begin to set before the frosting is blended through.
Once the cake has completely cooled, spread the frosting over the top evenly. Place the cake in the fridge for at least an hour or two to help the frosting set a little {unless you don’t mind a very soft frosting, of course 😉 }.
If using the carrot heart topping, simply slice the carrots into thin rounds {1/16″ of an inch or so}, and then use a little heart cutter to cut out a heart out of each slice. Sprinkle the hearts over the top of the cake, cut the cake into slices and serve! {Note: the carrots will brown up after a few hours, so best to make them & decorate with them right before serving}. Enjoy!

I didn’t make the heart-shaped carrots (I know my limitations), but I did pull off the rest of this recipe – and I’m totally pleased with how it turned out. Yaa! Even if you aren’t having to stick to a restrictive diet for health reasons, I would totally recommend the carrot cake – it’s pretty healthy, and dammmmmn delicious. Yum. Enjoy!

xxx

In the Mood

Check out this commercial from French supermarket chain Intermarché – it’s adorable:

I miss French thinking – the simplest things in life can be extraordinarily romantic…I don’t seem to see much of that here in the United States. What do you think? Has today’s top speed pace of life, with all its technology and “convenience” killed romance and love and making connections? Sometimes I wonder.

xxx

PS: If you fancy bringing a bit more love into your life, grab yourself one of these Heart Projectors from Urban Outfitters – they are on sale now, and I WANT ONE!!! 🙂

Hold On

I read this article on MindBodyGreen the other day, and found it to be DEEPLY profound for me – please give it a look:

Why You Should Never Date An “Avoidant” + What That Actually Means
by Annice Star
Undoubtedly you’ve heard of attachment styles by now. They explain many common patterns experienced in relationships. The attachment approach to coupling says that people fall into one of three attachment styles: secure, anxious, or avoidant. These labels pretty well describe the characteristics of each one.

Putting it simply, secure attachers enjoy connecting intimately and tend to stay bonded. Anxious attachers are capable of attachment but often feel insecure, so they need comforting and reassurance. Avoidants try to avoid attachment altogether.

The dating pool is always plentifully stocked with avoidants who seldom deeply attach to any partner. Without attachment, it’s easy for them to either boot their significant others or get dumped themselves, so they just keep recirculating.

If you are dating and looking for a mate who will last, it’s your job to spot the avoidants before you get entangled with a person who is unlikely to ever make you feel safe or loved. As always, the best way to judge whether a person is right for you is to stay in close touch with how you feel when you are together. Here are some avoidant tendencies along with feelings you are likely to experience as a result of each one.

1. Refusal or inability to acknowledge your feelings.

Has anyone ever said to you “I’m not responsible for your feelings”? While we are all responsible for our own feelings, people in healthy relationships share responsibility for the one another’s emotional well-being.

How it feels:

You feel ignored and alone. Expressing your feelings is a no-no – that’s the avoidant’s rule. They call all the shots or else they bolt, so you’re sunk if you are looking for loving support.

2. Secrecy.

Avoidant types often think someone is out to get them, including you. So, they hide aspects of their lives that make them feel vulnerable. They create an invisible web of hidden people, facts, and histories, along with little white lies that often seem ridiculous or unnecessary. They are especially intent on hiding information from you because your attempts to get closer to them makes you feel threatening to them.

How it feels:

lt feels disconcerting. Why won’t they tell you about X, Y or Z? If there’s nothing to hide, they should be open and enjoy sharing. But that’s the last thing an avoidant wants to do.

3. Pining for an ex.

Avoidants can’t experience intimacy because they’re afraid of it. The only time they can really appreciate it is after a relationship is over. Then they tend to idealize an ex’s qualities. Though they may not realize it, this is often a subconscious defense mechanism giving them a reason to avoid connecting with a new partner. This pattern can also take the form of waiting for “The One,” whom they fantasize will make relating effortlessly perfect. No one measures up to their ideals, including you.

How it feels:

You feel inadequate. You will never be as captivating as the ex or the hypothetical, mystical “One” who has been enshrined on a pedestal in their mind. Ultimately you just don’t measure up. And no one can.


4. Emotional stinginess.

This type avoids the “L word” at all costs. Whether consciously or subconsciously, they’re afraid an expression of love will mean they are attached. That’s not the only expression they keep in check; they’re also hesitant to share praise, acknowledgement, or appreciation. Over time, this wears on the partner who’s left to shoulder all of the emotional labor while the avoidant remains passive.

How it feels:

You’re emotionally starved. Like a hungry person, you’re constantly looking to your partner in the hopes that they will offer you some emotional nourishment, but it never comes.

5. Constant emotional highs and lows.

People with avoidant behaviors are actually very conflicted individuals. Like all humans, they crave attachment and do better when they have it. So, the avoidant, on occasion, will let their guard down and step a little closer to their partner. But as soon as they feel a bit more capable, the fear of intimacy flares up again and the rollercoaster continues its bumpy ride.

How it feels:

You feel exhausted. You get your hopes up only to be let down again. Push and pull isn’t fun for anyone, but it’s all an avoidant can manage.

 

Think you might be dating an avoidant? Here’s what you can do:

The obvious answer is to get out while you can. But if you’re in something long-term, or there’s a compelling reason to keep trying, take heart. Research shows that attachment styles can be changed. The caveat here is that, just like with any relationship endeavor, you both have to be fully on board. Unfortunately, that is a tall order for an avoidant.


If you do manage to get your avoidant partner on board, find a therapist who can help you evolve your attachment styles and perspectives to a more secure framework. Attachment theory suggests we all do better when we have a secure base from which to operate, which explains why so many of us desire a significant other who makes us feel safe and loved. From there, we can venture out in the world to become our best selves.

 

I’ve never noticed this before, but upon reflecting on my (rather checkered) relationship history, I have definitely had a tendency to be drawn towards ‘avoidants’…except I didn’t know what they were called. I fall into the anxious category – I am a person who needs a metric shit-ton of reassurance at all times…something that avoidants are incapable of, so is it any wonder that my relationships have often left me feeling so completely unfulfilled? It all becomes clear now. Grr. I’m sure Freud would have had a field day figuring out why I am so drawn to avoidants (my father worked away from home most of my life – daddy issues abound) — isn’t it amazing how the circle of life goes? How everything that you are can be traced back to events that happened when you were younger? Grr again. I prefer this circle of life:

 

Hakuna Matata, friends – have a good day. 🙂

xxx

Spirit

I have received more than my share of scorn from people when I decline to say grace before eating a meal. I always participate (bow my head respectfully, remain quiet, and keep my hands off the food), but I do not lead the pre-game prayer. This is not because I am a heathen (I promise), but because I don’t think it’s necessary to participate in all of the rituals of traditional religion. I prefer to think of myself as spiritual, rather than conventionally religious, and I feel most comfortable when I am able to pick and choose which practices I engage in. I find that my beliefs incorporate many different religions and philosophies – and that is okay, it works for me. I don’t restrict my conversations with a higher power to just before chowing down – I find that a running dialogue throughout the day works best for me. I’ve no idea whether or not anyone hears me…but I’m going to go with yes. 😉

See? Spiritual!

I came across this article and couldn’t wait to share it with you:

40 Spiritual Lessons I Learned In 40 Years
by Heather Alice Shea

A few months ago, I turned 40. Although I generally ascribe to the idea that age is just a number, I must admit that this particular birthday hit me right between the eyes. If I’m lucky enough to live to 80, then half my life is officially over. That’s a crazy thought.

I wanted to celebrate somewhere awesome, so my husband and I went Mexico where we spent the day at Chichen Itza walking the Mayan ruins. I know enough about how universal synchronicity operates to understand it was no accident I ended up there. In a sense, I felt I wasn’t visiting so much as I was returning home.

And as we strolled along the dusty hot grounds of this ancient and sacred site, I allowed my awareness to wander through the terrain within my own heart and mind, finding mementos in the form of lessons I’ve learned over my 40 years of living this life.

Below is a list of some of the spiritual lessons I’ve learned in my 40 years thus far. Some are silly and some are serious, but hey, that’s life! Which brings me to the first one on the list.

1. Even though it looks fun, parasailing in Mexico is not a good idea.

2. Speaking your truth will absolutely piss some people off and that’s a good thing.

3. You become more powerful than you can possibly imagine the moment you start believing in yourself.

4. Your purpose isn’t something you do. It’s something you’re called to become.

5. There are two kinds of people in this world. People who swear and people who don’t. People in the former category are way effing cooler than the latter.

6. Your parents did the best job they could with what they had at the time. Forgive them.


7. You aren’t responsible for other people’s feelings. Be patient until they figure that out.

8. The world is inherently neutral. Your experience of it mirrors your current level of consciousness and understanding, which in turn, enables you to learn.

9. Star Wars is the greatest movie ever made in the history of forever.

10. It is only possible to love someone as deeply as you love yourself.

11. Intuition is the highest form of intelligence we have.


12. Your feelings are sacred. Only share them with people who will honor the bejesus out of them.

13. If you need to cry, cry. But you can just as easily laugh about it, too, which is always more fun.

14. Don’t take things personally. It’s really not about you; it’s about them.

15. Love people enough to let them learn their lessons. It’s not your job to fix anyone.

16. It’s far more kind to treat people the way they want to be treated than it is to treat them the way you want to be treated. **************

17. Never ever, ever, ever give your power away. To anyone. For any reason. Ever.

18. Do not apologize for things you haven’t done wrong or when you don’t really mean it.

19. Having kids will drain the crap out of you. But once they’re older, they make you feel young.

20. Blaming and shaming are a huge waste of time. Learn what you need to learn and move on.

21. Botox is your best friend once your forehead wrinkles start running the show.

22. Take a leap of faith. Only then can you learn that you really do know what you’re doing.

23. Talent alone isn’t enough. Passion, persistence, action, commitment, and courage will take you everywhere.

24. Failure is just one of the many steps you’ll take on you way to inevitable success.

25. Santa isn’t real, but you still get presents.

26. The universe is constantly trying to guide you through signs, symbols, and synchronicity. Pay attention.

27. Knowing where you’re going isn’t necessary in order for you to get started.

28. It’s cliché as hell but so very true that through love all things are possible.

29. There comes a time in your soul’s evolution when you simply outgrow religion. It’s OK to let it go, even though the majority of people still seem to need it.

30. If you can’t be happy right now for no reason at all, then you’ll never be happy because true happiness demands it come, “for no reason at all, right now.”

31. “No” is a perfectly good answer that doesn’t need to be followed up with an explanation.

32. It’s better to live a hard truth than a beautiful lie.

33. There’s no point in achieving anything if you don’t stop long enough to celebrate it.

34. You can be spiritual and still kick ass, drink whiskey, and be a real person who isn’t “love and light” all the time.

35. Change is the only constant thing in the world. Your ability to manifest is directly correlated with how comfortable you are living in and with the unknown.

36. Your greatest teachers in life will be the people who hurt and anger you the most. Be grateful for them.

37. Your thoughts and emotions create your reality, and both are under your control.

38. You can have it all but not at the same time.

39. Wine and a night out with your girlfriends can solve a surprisingly ginormous amount of problems.

40. The only person you have to spend the rest of your life with is you, so you’d better make friends with yourself fast.

Today, I encourage you to reflect and make a list of your own life lessons. Wisdom can be found at any age, and I promise you’ll be surprised at how much you’ve acquired on your journey.

Good list, eh? I bolded (not sure if that’s a word or not – probably not) my favorites, I hope that some of these words will resonate with you as well. Let me know which ones speak loudest to you! 🙂

xxx

American Woman

HBO is currently airing the final season of “Girls”, and so far they are hitting it right out of the friggin’ park. WOW. The show has been amazing – and we are only three episodes in. This past Sunday’s was entitled “American Bitch”, and I can’t stop thinking about it – the entire episode featured an encounter between Lena Dunham’s character Hannah, and a writer that she long admired named Chuck (played by the incredible Matthew Rhys – somebody get this dude an award…holy shit), when he summons Hannah over to discuss a piece that she wrote about him, describing him as a sexual predator. There’s a hell of a lot to take in during this episode – I’m going to need to watch it at least one more time – but I want to highlight this segment of dialogue for you:

img_1301

HANNAH: I’m talking about the part where you’re a very fucking famous writer and she’s working really hard to have just a little bit of what you get every day.
(He scoffs) So, you invite her back to your hotel room.
What’s she supposed to say? No? – Uh – She admires you.
Then you unbuckle your pants.
What’s she gonna do next? You got it wrong.
It’s not so she has a story.
It’s so she feels like she exists.
And, by the way, people don’t talk about this shit for fun.
It ruins their lives.
You know that.

CHUCK: Do you hear yourself right now?

HANNAH:  Mm-hmm.

CHUCK: I am a grown man inviting a grown woman to my hotel room.
Did I put a gun to her head? Did I offer her a job? I may be stupid, but I’m not evil, sister.
An invitation isn’t inherently wrong or dangerous.
Sexuality’s very muddy.
That’s a real Grey area.
Or at least we say it’s a – Grey area so we can get –

HANNAH: I am so sick of Grey areas.

HANNAH: (sighs) When I was in fifth grade, I had this English teacher, Mr. Lasky.
He liked me.
He was impressed with me.
I did, like, special creative writing.
I wrote, like, a little novel or whatever.
Sometimes when he was talking to the class, he’d stand behind me and he’d just, like, rub my neck.
Sometimes he’d, like, rub my head, rustle my hair.
And I didn’t mind.
It made me feel special.
It made me feel like someone saw me and they knew that I was gonna grow up and be really, really particular.
It also made kids hate me and put lasagna in my fucking backpack, but that’s a different story.
Anyway, last year, I’m at this, like, whatever, warehouse party in Bushwick, and this dude comes up to me and he’s like, “Horvath, “we went to middle school together, East Lansing.
” And I’m like, “Oh, my God, remember how crazy Mr.
Lasky’s class was? “He was basically trying to molest me.
” And you know what this kid said? He looks at me in the middle of this fuckin’ party like he’s a judge and he goes, “That’s a very serious accusation, Hannah.
” And he walked away.
And there I am, and I’m just 11 again, and I’m just getting my fuckin’ neck rubbed.
Because that stuff never goes away.

CHUCK: Yeah, I’m sorry that happened to you.
I mean, it gives me a greater perspective on what triggered you, to use the parlance of our times, about my story.


HANNAH: I didn’t tell you so you’d feel sorry for me.


CHUCK: No, I’m just saying I’m sorry because it’s an awful story.


HANNAH: Yeah, but look at me.
I’m smart.
And amazing.
And now I have a story.

(Later in the episode)

CHUCK: And what are your dreams for the next five years? Sorry to sound like a “People” magazine interview.
HANNAH: No, it’s okay.
It’s a good question.
I want to write.
I want to write stories that make people feel less alone than I did.
I want to make people laugh about the things in life that are painful.

That’s what I wanna do.

CHUCK: Good goal.
That’s a really good goal.

I don’t know if the power of this scene is coming across in the written word, but…I suspect it is. This part kills me, probably because it IS me:

What’s she gonna do next? You got it wrong.
It’s not so she has a story.
It’s so she feels like she exists.
And, by the way, people don’t talk about this shit for fun.
It ruins their lives.
You know that.

I can’t count the number of times that the imbalance of power that exists in this world has affected me, has prompted me to do things that I am very not proud of…simply to validate my own existence. In hindsight, my shame runs deep and I wonder why I put myself through such hell, and I struggle to figure out why validation mattered so much to me – but it did. It still does. I wish I could find a path to enlightenment and validation that didn’t pass through the land of a thousand mistakes and land mines, but…I haven’t found that yet. Perhaps someday.

Does this resonate with you as well? I hope it does, because it’s hard thinking that I am the only one who feels this way, who still does shit they don’t want to do because suffering is better than the pain of loneliness. I wish there was a club for those of us who have made bad choices, where we could all meet up and hang out and live happily like the “Golden Girls” (straight up my life goals, btw) eating cheesecake around the kitchen table before retiring to the lanai, not a drop of judgment to be had anywhere. If you know of such a place, let me know – I’m in.

img_1302 img_1303

xxx

The Sound of Silence

I’ve been in Houston for a couple of days on a work trip – it was an easy, peaceful drive here on Wednesday (I FINALLY got around to listening to the first season of ‘Serial’, and OMG am I hooked! LOVE it!!), I had a great walk around and shop at the Galleria (which is right across the street from my hotel), my conference sessions have been tolerable…it’s been a pretty decent time. I decided to spend my Thursday evening exploring Houston’s Museum District, and am I ever glad I did! WOW!! I can’t wait to come back!! Have you been?

img_1288

I started at the Rothko Chapel, where something very strange happened. Are you familiar with this place? If not, here’s a brief description:

The Rothko Chapel is a non-denominational chapel in Houston, Texas, founded by John and Dominique de Menil. The interior serves not only as a chapel, but also as a major work of modern art. On its walls are fourteen black but color hued paintings by Mark Rothko. The shape of the building, an octagon inscribed in a Greek cross, and the design of the chapel was largely influenced by the artist.

Susan J. Barnes states “The Rothko Chapel…became the world’s first broadly ecumenical center, a holy place open to all religions and belonging to none. It became a center for international cultural, religious, and philosophical exchanges, for colloquia and performances. And it became a place of private prayer for individuals of all faiths” 

On September 16, 2000, the Rothko Chapel was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

img_1286

I entered the octagonal room and found a bunch of benches, and a few people in the room, some on the benches and one on the floor. It was absolutely quiet. I took a seat on one of the benches, picked a direction to face, and got comfortable – I wasn’t prepared for what happened to me next. I lowered my head and closed my eyes, and just sat. About 2579 thoughts roared through my head (as per usual), but then they slowed down…and nearly stopped. I’ve never experienced this before. I felt instantly uncomfortable, as if I could smell smoke somewhere nearby and needed to get out of the way of an impending inferno – but I didn’t move. I didn’t even open my eyes. I kept sitting there, thinking about all of the things that have been going on lately, and what I can do to change them. Then I started thinking about all of the good things that I have going on – and that was when the tears started. I still didn’t open my eyes or raise, my head – I just sat there, head down, moisture leaking out the sides of my eyes and dropping onto the floor. For whatever reason, this starkly simple, small room had somehow affected me in much grander ways…I’m still struggling to explain the experience.

img_1287

Once I pulled myself together, I sat up and opened my eyes – new people had joined us in the chapel, and I hadn’t even heard the doors open. I studied all of the paintings, moving a complete 360, to ensure that I had the chance to look at each one – and then I silently collected my belongings, and left. As I walked out of the chapel, I felt a calm and peace that I have rarely felt in my life…I think some of it is still lingering. What an absolutely magical place..and I’m hard-pressed to explain exactly where the magic came from.

From there, I moved on to the Museum of Fine Arts – what a gorgeous institution! It was open until 9:00pm on Thursday nights (woohoo!), and it was FREE! Double Woohoo! I LOVED this museum, and wish I’d had the time to explore the entire collection – but now I have an excuse to come back! I focused my efforts on the Impressionists (of course), and I found some true beauties! LOVE!!!! Here’s just a couple:

img_1289 img_1290

I loved my trip to this museum so much, I can’t even tell you! It reminded me of visiting museums in Paris, London or New York (I don’t mean to be a name dropper, but it’s true!) – I can’t wait to plan a weekend here, and come back with the Wee Muppet! 🙂 Yaaa! 🙂

I’ve always had a rather negative opinion of Houston (too hot, too humid, too crowded, etc) – but I need to seriously revise my opinion. Yes, it is all of those things – but it is SO MUCH MORE….I can’t wait to come back and see what other treasures I can find! 🙂

xxx

 

O Canada

I received the daily email from Jezebel at lunch today, while on duty in the cafeteria, living the dream. I opened it and saw that one of the stories had a Canadian angle, so I clicked on it to give ‘er a read. Imagine my surprise when I ended up having to stare at the ceiling as moisture began leaking from my eyes:

After ‘O Canada,’ An Unexpected Letter Taught Me a Valuable Lesson About Xenophobia

By Nelly Furtado

Last year, when I was invited to sing “O Canada” at the NBA All-Star Game, I was happy for the opportunity to represent the city I live in, Toronto, as it hosted the world’s largest celebration of one of my favorite sports.

It wasn’t my first time. I had sung the anthem at the 2004 All-Star Game in LA, and hadn’t been happy with my performance. I attempted to sing some of the words in French but flubbed them; luckily this was pre-social media so any critique was limited to a few morning radio chuckles.

img_1276

I vowed to myself that this time I would sing the anthem in English, and that I would make it memorable. I talked with the NBA about performing with a First Nations artist. Ultimately, I ended up booking Tony Duncan, a Native American hoop dancer and flute player with whom I’ve been collaborating since 2012. I began studying past anthems and created a rendition that felt authentic to my own patriotism, rather than a display of vocal histrionics or an impotent, beer-can-singalong version.

During camera rehearsals at The Air Canada Centre, I made sure that Tony and I were both visible at center stage. We were a team delivering an anthem that had recently been in the news because of a potential lyric change, from the line “in all our sons command” to the gender-neutral “in all of us command.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had just appointed a gender-equal cabinet. Change was in the air.

As I stood courtside, my performance minutes away, female dancers gyrated beside each All-Star on the makeshift stage. My face burned at the old-school display of misogyny, and I had the sudden urge to expedite the gender-neutral “O Canada.” Instead, I steadied my mind for my performance. In my pantsuit and shorn hair, I walked out calmly and sang “O Canada” from the bottom of my Canadian Portuguese heart. The arena erupted as Tony and I left the court, and we were showered with praise from peers and friends. After the game, I ended up at a friend’s 40th birthday party and stayed past 3 a.m.

On my way home, I checked Twitter and noticed my name was trending. Tens of thousands of tweets from strangers poured into my feed: words of hostility, praise, ignorance, kindness, and nothing in between. Annoyed and tired, I went home to bed, but woke up the next morning trying to make sense of the frenzy. I noticed that a semi-famous male sportscaster had sent out a sexist and mental-health marginalizing tweet which started the windfall. In his tweet, he wondered if I was having a “breakdown” and said that it was the “worst anthem he had ever heard.” I was mortified and angry—until it got worse. As I read the feed, I realized that my performance had become some kind of lightning rod. This was not just about melodies and vocals. The real buttons of hate that I had pushed seemed to stem from a veiled xenophobia in my country and beyond. As a first-generation Portuguese Canadian female, I was officially “the other,” and not entitled to express my “O Canada” with artistic nuance or intimacy:

@NellyFurtado GO BACK TO PORTUGAL
The words stung like salt.

When I read this hateful tweet, I realized that my “Child of Immigrants Citizenship” was somehow less Canadian.

I relied on grace, resisted the urge for rebuttal, and posted a simple note thanking the NBA and Tony Duncan for helping me represent our home “on native land.” Deep down, I felt a sadness and fear about the dark and hateful hidden corners of my country, and confusion about where I belonged in it.

A few months later, I was at Canadian Music Week, minutes away from receiving the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Award. My manager Rose handed me an envelope, and my eyes froze on the sender’s address: Kiwetin School, Timiskaming First Nation, Notre Dame du Nord, Quebec.

Inside was a letter from a Grade 6 teacher named Craig Parry. He had played a recording of my version of “O Canada” for the students who had not watched the game or had not heard about the controversy. They discussed some of the tweets and comments and they thought it was very unfair. They reflected on the comments and found them particularly “mean spirited, rude, and disrespectful.” They had made Tony and I beautiful, handmade cards to let us know that they liked our version, and to remind us not to listen to the “bullies” and the “mean” people.

Dear Nelly and Tony,

Some people are not kind and some people are kind! I hope you feel better!

-Jersey Chaput

img_1277

I broke into tears of relief and promised myself and my daughter that I would visit those students and thank them in person. My manager discreetly contacted the school principal to set aside a date. At the crack of dawn on a beautiful day in May, I picked up Tony, Sean and Karl, and we shared the eight-hour drive up to Timiskaming First Nation. The principal quietly ushered us in as we prepared to surprise a gym full of students and teachers. I burst out of the gym closet singing my song “Powerless” with Tony hoop dancing to my right. It was one of the best days of my life. I told those children how much their kindness meant to us, and how their act of compassion had erased the sting of hate from thousands of strangers. We passed out the cards so that their peers could read them too, and I called the Grade 6 students to their feet individually so that we could all applaud and celebrate them.

 img_1278

I sang a few of my songs while Tony danced and played flute, and Sean played guitar. Tony shared some stories and songs and got us all dancing a traditional friendship dance together, hand in hand. We took questions and played a game of basketball. We shared a warmth and joy that cannot be found behind the coldness of a screen or hardness of a keypad. We connected.

The greatest moment was when a student put her hand up and asked, “Can you please perform ‘O Canada?’” Tony and I looked at each other with hesitation—We had not brought the correctly-tuned flute. All of a sudden the room got on their feet and we sang it together, fumbling through it the Canadian way—with acceptance and goodwill.

img_1279

Today, one year later, I thank the people who used their social media megaphones to send vitriol my way. Thanks to them, I made some new friends IRL at Timiskaming First Nation, who reminded me that IRL connections are the only ones that matter.

Xenophobia, which is rooted in ignorance, has an enemy called love, which is truly intelligent. This experience galvanized my belief that compassion lives inside each and every one of us. “GO BACK TO PORTUGAL” hit me where it hurt. It spiraled me right back to my kindergarten playground where I was the only ethnic minority in my entire class. I never thought that a few wise, beautiful children at another playground some 30 years later would end up healing that wound completely.

img_1280

This is a lovely story to end an otherwise crappy week. I love to hear about people rising against the misery that social media can (and does) pour down upon us all…and I love to hear about people reaching out to others with a hand of kindness. There needs to be more of that – everyday, and not just on a day like today (which happens to be Random Act of Kindness Day).

I love this. 🙂

xxx