This Week’s Project: Soften My Rigid Expectations.

There is nothing I dislike more than making mistakes.

I’ve always been hard on myself for as long as I can remember. I thrive off of setting high expectations for myself, and the high I get from achieving the lofty goals I set out to conquer.

But, along with the highs that come from living up to my impossibly high standards for myself, there are also inevitable “failures.” These “failures” usually leave me guilt-ridden, anxious, and inwardly hateful towards myself. Although I truly love my tendency to dream big and think of my ridiculously strong willpower as a huge asset, I know that it is a negative attribute to be so unkind to myself when I don’t accomplish a certain goal.

Whether that goal is to exercise in the morning and the evening, or get everything done on my to-do list while knitting a scarf, or graduating with a 4.0 every semester and immediately become a well-respected poet, I find it hard sometimes to “go with the flow” and accept the fact that sometimes, creating a vision of who I’d like to be isn’t always the same as being kind to myself.

If I miss a workout when I promised myself I would do it when I got home, I feel guilty and push myself extra hard the next day, or I won’t stop bitching about how I should probably just suck it up and get it done (even though I know perfectly well I’m just too damn tired).

When I graduated a semester early and didn’t immediately find a full-time writing job, I felt like a failure for a good two weeks even though I saved enough money to move in with my boyfriend and supported myself by working on a boat, one of my lifelong dreams.

Last night in yoga, my instructor talked to us about the phrase “When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” and how we need to rephrase this in our practice, and in our lives. Instead of just “powering through” and “gettin’ er done,” we need to soften, to breathe not through the pain or the challenges, but with the pain or the challenges. When we soften instead of harden, we feel everything going on within our bodies and without. We may not get to that final stage of a pose, or that final goal on our to-do list, but we actually feel the work we put into moving into that post, into reaching that goal, and we start appreciating ourselves for our efforts and attention, not just for the outcome.

This week, I am making a conscious effort to be more gentle to myself. If I truly don’t feel like exercising, I’ll give myself a break and keep reassuring myself that this is what my body needs, this is what I crave at this moment, so it is the healthy choice.

If I don’t write incredibly stellar scripts at work, or I am a few script approvals short of my weekly quota, I will not leave the office kicking myself for not being a “good” writer. I know I try my best, so that is all that matters. I put in the work, and not every week is going to be my best week.

This week, I am making an effort to soften, to accept and appreciate the efforts I put into my every day, and allow myself to relax a bit more.

I am not my work, I am not my body, I am not some future version of myself I’ve created in my head. I am me, and I am now…I will not be me and I will not be now forever, so it’s time I stop and smell the roses of my life. And even if I get pricked by their thorns, I will just let the wounds heal.

I invite all of you to be a little bit kinder to yourselves, leave your personal judgments behind, and appreciate the efforts you put into living, working, and being every single day.

Five Great Pieces of My Week

On this Friday that I have been (patiently) waiting for, I am at work reflecting on the past week. It’s been one of discovery, hard work, and reflection. My mind is a buzzin’ with everything I’ve learned, discovered, worked on, and felt this week, so I’ve decided to compile a list of the five best pieces of my week. I’m going to start doing this every Friday just to motivate myself to keep exploring, thinking, and feeling new things, ideas, and emotions! Cool? Cool.

 

  1. I started/finished The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, the first book in the Millennium Series, and subsequently fell in love with it/its protagonist, Lisbeth Salander. She is a badass, sly, incredibly troubled investigative/technological genius/young woman who I happen to identify with on many levels. She does not become a product of her harsh and dark upbringing, she rises from it, kicking ass and taking names along the way. I have actually decided to name my car, who I have been struggling to come up with a name for for about three years, Lisbeth because I love her so much. I encourage everybody to read this book, not just because of the strength of Lisbeth (though that is my top reason), but because it is well-written, well-paced, and well-characterized. The story draws you in like a story should and FINALLY satisfied my craving for a book I just cannot put down, which I have been missing in my life for the past few months. I am on the edge of my seat, constantly checking the mail for the next book in the series, The Girl Who Played With Fire, to arrive in the mail! READ IT.
  2. Speaking of books, my boyfriend showed me THIS. It’s a site called Paperback Swap and it’s a gem of the internet! You can make an account and post any books you no longer want for people to request. When someone requests one of your books, you get a credit to get a book from someone else on the site for free! You just have to pay to mail your book to whoever requested it. BASICALLY IT’S FREE BOOKS AND RECYCLING IN ONE. C’MON. ITS GREAT.
  3. I discovered Slate’s Cultural Gabfest which is such an awesome podcast! My friend just opened my world when he told me how much he loves podcasts and how they make his day fly and keep him updated on his favorite things. Cultural Gabfest is all about dissecting current culture in a roundtable discussion. They talk about music, movies, books, and current events, which are all some of my favorite things. The hosts are super intelligent, pretty funny, and seem down to earth even though they talk in pretty philosophical fashion. I recommend giving this podcast a listen, it’s fucking great.
  4. I realized the power of parks. I am a complete nature girl, and grew up in the Hudson Valley where nature is abundant and just kinda there. When I moved to Rochester, I automatically missed my backyard, the Catskills, the easy access to hiking trails, the creek…basically everything. But, as I began to explore Roch, I discovered how many awesome parks they managed to fit into such a teeny city! I spend a lot of time running in Genesse Valley Park, which has such great and surprisingly long trails along the river and canal, and have ran in Cobb’s Hill Park, which has such an awesome view of the city and a really pretty reservoir. My favorite park by far though, is Highland Park. I’ve attempted running there a few times and don’t quite enjoy it for that purpose. But it is such a  beautiful park with a huge valley smack dab in the middle of it that feels like a wonderland. That valley never fails to make me feel small and human, and helps me stop and appreciate the beauty and vastness of the world around me. Go for a walk in a park, it’ll change your day for the better no matter what.
  5. I made THIS for dinner last night. I was craving something creamy and decadent for dinner, had pinned this recipe a while ago, and was too tired/rushed to create a recipe of my own to satisfy my craving, so I made it quickly for Col and I before we saw The Giver (DON’T SEE IT IF YOU LOVE THE BOOK/MOVIES IN GENERAL). It was really delicious, rich, and healthy! I recommend this for a cozy night in when you want some comfort food, vegan or not!

Roasted Tomatoes & Garlic Sauce!

The Power of Books & My Generation

So I just joined the book club at my job that my friend is the head of, and today was my first meeting. Now, this ain’t your mama’s book club. We are all under 25 and curse profusely, but we still share snacks, sit in a circle, and discuss our thoughts and feelings about the week’s book.

I’ve always been a book worm, and was so excited when I got invited to be a part of the club. I’m still getting used to not constantly having my crew of bffs from back home to hang with at all times, and it’s been a little tough for me to make new friends in my new environment. While I’m slowly but surely making friends at work, being in the book club is making the task a bit easier.

Anyway, today I was reminded once again just how powerful books are; just how powerful words in general are. Once we all stopped chattering and eating our lunches, we got into such a great discussion about The Giver. I know most of us have read this book when we were in middle school and consider it a children’s book, which it is, but it is such an important piece of literature for everyone to read, not just kids.

Just from our discussion of The Giver, my book club and I ended up contemplating the meaning of life in a total genuine, non-ironic, super objective way that made me proud to be a part of my generation. We are not all just a bunch of hard-partying technology addicts. The people I have always associated with are incredibly intelligent, down to earth, and have the most profound thoughts. We grew up in the midst of the technology boom and have seen our culture change drastically and have had to find our place in a society that puts an immense and almost impossible amount of pressure on us to succeed, but offers no guidance, no warmth, understanding, or patience. We turn to one another because we are truly the only group of people who understand this sort of upbringing.

Today I realized more strongly than ever how powerful my generation is. We are a generation of open-minded, sentimental, thoughtful people who accept and embrace differences, ponder the meaning of life during this time when meanings are often lost, where we are aware how fleeting our time on earth is. We openly talk about sexuality, drugs, depression, loss because we don’t hide what’s happening, what is real. 

Yes, we read. Yes, we also go on the internet. You can be a well-rounded and aware person even if you are a product of the 21st century.

I thought about all of this after a discussion about a book. THAT, my friends, is power.

 

5 Reasons to Go Vegan!

I have been a vegan for about three months now, and I can honestly say that is it for life. Once you go plant-based you never go back.

While, I will admit, the transition wasn’t all that difficult for me considering the fact that I was already an extremely healthy eater with tons of veggies and fruits in my daily diet, and the fact that I love to cook and don’t mind devoting time to meal prep, I still believe that anyone can make the transition and that everyone should! Here are my core reasons why a vegan lifestyle is the shit.

  1. Your carbon footprint is SO MUCH LESS! The meat, dairy, and egg industries are some of the, if not the LARGEST contributors to climate change and environmental destruction in the world. Most people do not know this! I know I didn’t until a few short months ago. We generally think that emissions and destroying the rainforest and other habitats are the sole contributors to climate change. The reason is because we are destroying habitats so that we can plant mass amounts of food for the mass amounts of animals we slaughter, then use crazy amounts of emissions to raise them on factory farms before they are slaughtered. When you go vegan, you are actively taking a stand against this unbelievable destructive industry.
  2. Your body will thank you! Actually, this one is also for healthy eating in general. When I began eating healthy, whole foods and tons of fruits and veggies, (combined with daily exercise), I not only saw my body shape transform, but also my hair! Where once I had pin-straight, dry, damaged hair, there was now bouncy, full, spiral freaking curls! It was such a mystery to me after I cut my hair that it grew back extremely curly and generally huge, but I am 100% sure it is a result of changing my diet. Since becoming a vegan, my hair has grown super fast and my random acne bursts have disappeared! I now have glowing, rosy cheeks and smooth skin.
  3. You will live cruelty free! I had first considered going vegan after doing research about the negative impact eating animal products has on the body, and just to challenge myself. After watching Earthlings, though, I added the moral reason of being a vegan to my list. While I totally respect everyone’s rights to eat whatever they please, I just cannot fathom eating a piece of chicken again or even drinking milk after being exposed to the horrors of the meat and dairy industries. As a nation, our factory farms are basically torture chambers where innocent beings not only die, but die in extremely sickening fashion and live the short lives they are given in utter pain and misery. Personally, I just can’t unsee what I saw, or unfeel what I feel. Yes, I get that eating meat tastes good, but it is unnecessary. I like being a vegan because it means I can live without killing, or contributing to killing, other beings in the process.
  4. You spice up your kitchen life! I’ve always loved to cook, maybe even more than I love to eat! Going vegan has challenged and excited my time in the kitchen. I love creating “veganized” versions of foods that aren’t vegan which I love (cheesecake, brownies, mac and cheese). Also, by using whole, plant-based ingredients, you will naturally eat healthier and, believe it or not, your grocery bill will decrease (I swear). Meat is expensive! Vegetables, fruits, beans, and grains are generally pretty cheap. And if you check out your farmer’s markets, they’re even cheaper than in the grocery store, and you will most likely find new produce to experiment and fall in love with that you had never tried before! Seriously people, being a vegan isn’t a life of deprivation, it’s fucking delicious!
  5. You eat more!!!!!!! This reason, even considering my cruelty-free and less carbon footprint reasons, is my absolute favorite thing about being a vegan. (no disrespect, chickies and piggies!) I’ve always had a large appetite, and when I started exercising daily, this appetite grew. Instead of meticulously portioning my foods and counting calories like I did in the past, I now eat an abundance of healthy foods because they nourish and benefit me. Because plant-based foods are typically lower in calories and are PACKED TO THE BRIM with nutrients, I eat a ton of them and don’t have to worry about calories or gaining weight. Of course, there are plant-based foods that are high in calories and that I still monitor (duh), generally I fill my plate with veggies, fruits, beans, and whole grains and feel satisfied and nourished, not overly full and guilty. Going vegan has really helped me develop a healthy relationship with food which I am insanely thankful for.

These are just a few reasons why I love being a vegan! I do not judge anyone who is not a vegan, because obviously I am still a newb myself, and I get why many people do not choose to go vegan (convenience, taste, etc.). I am just trying to shed light on how amazing this lifestyle is for your body, your mind, your soul, and your planet!

 

TGIEveryDay

I, like every other working stiff on the planet am PUMPED about the fact that it’s Friday.

Glorious, carefree, excitement-filled Friday. There are 48 hours ahead of me of hours I am not counting down or punching in, time to experiment with new recipes, work out in the morning instead of at 6 pm after an entire work day (hell yes), read, and let loose a little bit (holla).

BUT, as much as I love the weekends and I look forward to Friday all week, I have had to stop and change the way I think during my work week. I’ve always said that when I got a full-time job I would NEVER be one of those people who complained all week and said things like “only three more days until Friday” like the other days in our lives don’t matter or have any single positive thing about them. To me, treating days like that allows work to dominate you; Friday has become the new Holy Day in our culture when every day should be a “Holy Day.”

Once I landed my first full-time job, it was easy to fall into the typical “TGIF” mindset that everyone else has; There is nothing easier to relate to in a workplace than complaining. As I found myself saying last Tuesday “UGH it’s only Tuesday, I hope the rest of the week flies by so it can be the weekend,” I realized that I had become a part of the fucked up 9-5 culture that I have always detested.

NO MORE! I am swearing off complaining about what day of the week it is and I encourage everyone else to do the same.

Since I began this job, I made sure from the beginning that I leave time every day to do something that I enjoy or to plan a fun activity/outing. I know this sounds simple, but think about it, when we plan things, we typically always plan to do them on the weekends. Concerts, movies, dinner dates, elaborate meals, even grocery shopping. We “save” everything for the weekend. I get it, there is only so much time in a day and work is draining and sometimes all we want to do is come home, eat, watch TV and sleep before we wake up to another day of work. But this mentality promotes that total work domination I mentioned earlier. The most dangerous idea we can place on ourselves is that work is the most important thing in life. It’s just such damaging bullshit. 

Taking time to do something fun for yourself is SO IMPORTANT to do on a daily basis, and not just on the weekends. Of course still plan exciting things on the weekends to look forward to, or wait to do some time-consuming chore/activity on the weekends when you have more time. But don’t forget to make every day feel like a miracle with something to offer, because every day does have something to offer! Babies aren’t just born on weekends, people don’t just die on weekends. Life is meant to be lived and lost every day of the week.

So yeah, I am almost gleeful that it’s Friday and cannot wait for my weekend to begin, but I also will try my best not to dread Monday, because Mondays are days filled with endless possibilities, chances for life-changing events to occur, and simple pleasures just like Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

Live every day like it’s Friday.

Avocado Potato Salad

Ingredients:

  • 4 large red potatoes
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 tbsp. grainy mustard
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 scallions
  • 1 tbsp. fresh rosemary
  • salt & pepper to taste

To make this dish take less time, I microwaved the potatoes to cook them through. Once they are fork tender, refrigerate for about an hour or until they’re cool. Slice them into bite-size chunks and put in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, mash the avocado, mustard, lemon, salt & pepper, and rosemary until they’re fully incorporated and semi-smooth. Pour avocado sauce over the potatoes and mix until they are fully covered with the mixture. Mince the scallions and mix them into the potato salad along with salt & pepper to your liking. Refrigerate for an hour or so, or serve immediately if you like it at room temperature.

I hate traditional potato salad, so I don’t really care that I “can’t” eat it as a vegan. I’m just not big on mayonnaise-based salads in general, so veganaise potato salad wouldn’t tickle my fancy either. But, I saw a recipe for mashed avocado with chickpeas to make a salad, so I figured I would try out a potato salad that I would actually like, and would be healthy, decadent, but not too heavy. This is it! It’s easy, SO FLAVORFUL, tangy, and overall delicious. I took the leftovers to work today and the salad is even better the next day. Happy eating, betches! 😉

 

Thursday BFF Date!

Yesterday evening one of my best friends, Audrey and I went on one of our annoyingly adorable best friend dates and had the greatest time as per usual. We spent basically every waking moment together through all four years of college and never once got sick of one another or stopped laughing, talking, and having fun. Literally, we constantly have fun, no matter what we’re doing or what situation we’re put in. That’s what I love most about being with Audge, I believe she is one of the people in my life who brings out the absolute best in me.

We went to the South Wedge Farmer’s Market where I picked up those INCREDIBLE (seriously, best berries I’ve ever eaten) raspberries and blueberries, along with some organic arugula and spring onions; then we walked next door to Napa Pizza and had such an awesome pizza dinner on the back deck with wine (I got merlot, she got white zinfindel…so gross hahaha).

Napa is really great because they allow you to customize your pizza any way you want, they have no fryers or microwaves, and have doughy yet crunchy whole wheat crust! Even as a vegan I was able to make a delicious custom pizza of my own and wasn’t restricted to just one or two choices. While Audge got a mac and cheese pizza (which did look friggin amazing), I got mine with garlic olive oil, spinach, roasted reds, sun dried tomatoes, and roasted eggplant. I ate around 1/2 the pizza and was pleasantly full and satisfied. Audrey, on the other hand, ate about half of hers as well but felt like she was going to explode. Hence, one of the many reasons I LOVE being a vegan…I can eat quite a lot and not feel weighed down and sick to my stomach, but nourished and full of food that is beneficial and enjoyable! HOLLA.