Sunday, February 12, 2017

Three Decades Down

I turned 30 this weekend!

Man, that number doesn't feel real. I always forget my new age for awhile, a lot like I forget how to write the correct year for the entire month of January (you feel me right).

Here's how I celebrated: spent a lazy morning lounging in bed, skipped my 8:30am Saturday class (I deserve one skip, right?), scored a free birthday cupcake at Sprinkles, treated myself to a massage at my favorite little place around the corner, watched a movie in bed, took a delicious nap, spent the evening out with some favorite friends where I ate and drank and talked and laughed until my face hurt......in short, perfection.

Entering the 4th decade of my life first turns my thoughts back toward the last 10 years.

Looking back on my 20s, it's best defined as a decade of "figuring out." My teenage years may have brought an awkward phase in the physically-growing-into-myself department, but my 20s brought a similar deal on the emotional side. 10 years ago, I was a staunchly religious child (yes, child). My view of the world, and of myself, was small. I had a lot of answers, and even more blind spots. I listened to a lot of people and authority figures, and didn't listen to myself nearly enough. I apologized a lot. I was also a bright-eyed little idealist. I was on the cusp of discovering my first career moves, in which my heart would lead me straight to nonprofits and my bank account would wonder how the hell that was ever going to last.

In the ensuing years, I'd meander between jobs and industries. I'd write, professionally. That was the realization of a childhood dream. I'd realize, slowly, that the things you love are not always what will fulfill you professionally. I had many roommates. I thought, knowing the path I'd been told was mine, that I'd get married and have a few kids....any day now. I'd feel guilty, often, when it didn't quite add up and I wrestled with a quiet voice that just didn't want that, not then.

Eventually, the emotional unrest would lead to physical unrest and I'd pick up and move to California. Four years. It's been almost four years since I crossed that state line, and I haven't looked back.

I came to California, and I found myself.

I found people who thought like me, loved like me, put no restrictions on me and allowed me to think and see freely. I found, in myself, a solid moral compass with a needle pulled only by my own inner voice. I realized, slowly, that being driven by fear is no way to live, and inflicting fear in other people is no way to love. I learned, slowly, that I had a goodness in me I never had to earn and never could lose. I learned, ultimately, that there are things I stood to learn that I didn't know that I didn't know. That's what happens, when your brain is not your own for a long, long time. I embraced therapy, and healed my mind. I embraced myself, and started healing spiritual wounds. I'm embracing, currently, the courage to put words to that truth when I know there's people in my life who won't understand it. I wouldn't have understood it either, until I finally saw it. And then the lies were terrifying, and naming them was painful, but ultimately brought the sweetest relief and freedom I could ever ask for.

I applied to and started graduate school. I'm almost halfway done with that MBA. I bought a car, and I learned to drive stick. I found my voice as a proud feminist. I found my footing in the professional sphere. I learned to hustle. I learned to ask for what I want. I survived (and am surviving) the tricky balance of full-time work, full-time school and full-time life. I got on planes and explored the country. I got myself a passport and explored other countries, several times.

I am 30, and I am proud of myself.

Though I have my moments like any human, I no longer make a habit of nitpicking, questioning, apologizing, submitting, veiling or diluting myself. I feel a force and a permission inside of me that no church pew or patriarchy ever gave me. I feel a well of replenishing, life-giving water that springs up inside me and runs over the edges. I feel the hands and hearts and support of the many wonderful, beautiful people in my life, thrumming like a vibrant vein of oxygen to my chest. I recognize clearly how capable I am of standing on my own feet and using my own brain, but also, how much I do need and want my support system.

I feel holy, and I feel whole.

And so, to the years where I learned myself, to the years where I drained myself, to the years where I lived and laughed and loved and rejoiced and wept and embraced and left and all of the above many times over.....thanks for the decade of figuring out so much about myself and about my life.

Now here's to a decade of being me, and living my life, on my own terms. Here's to a decade of being a woman who knows herself and knows what she wants, and isn't afraid to ask for it, and is so, so done apologizing for it. The next 10 years look promising and mysterious and bursting with both endings and beginnings, but also calming and settling and deliberate and cozy all at once.

And, truly, all that unfettered, uncaged living looks nothing short of electrifying.



Saturday, December 31, 2016

I can see clearly now, the year is gone.

At the beginning of 2016, I wanted to connect.

I said, "I've spent a long time priding myself on being good at forgiving easily, letting go of stuff and moving through life unscathed. But I'm starting to feel like maybe what I'd been doing this whole time would be better described as detachment."

I wanted to learn to be angry. I wanted to dive into school. I wanted to travel. I wanted to listen to more music, the way I used to, like it was part of my daily nutrition. I wanted to plug back into my life, both the good and the hard parts, and really suss them out.

It's December 31, and I've made strides.

I quit a job that did a number on me. I started a new one that respects me and feeds my soul. I started grad school and I'm hustling and surviving it and stretching and growing. Since June, I've worked out more consistently than maybe ever before in my life. I traveled: to Panama, New York, Japan, and Spain. I wrote some stuff I really like, e.g. this one. And 2016 was also hard, with endings and whispers of endings I didn't want to deal with or face.

The year also woke me up to the painful awareness of the white privilege that kept me, for the first nearly 30 years of my life, from seeing that America still has such monstrous vile in it, when I suspect those marginalized by that hatred have always been unable to unsee it.

I learned (and am learning) to get really, truly mad when it counts. I joked on Twitter earlier that I found 2016 very therapeutic.....because it drove me to therapy. Ha. It's true: I finally committed to regularly seeing a therapist. And about a month ago, I told her I was ready to pause for now because I'm feeling really, truly good and she agreed with me. Does this count as a graduation? I'll get myself a cake.

At our first meeting, way back at the beginning of the year when the year was fresh and I still believed America might not shoot itself in the foot come November, this therapist asked me to tell her about myself. I talked for a little while, and then she looked at me and said, "It must be exhausting to be responsible for other people's feelings all the time." This woman saw me.

On the anger front, she told me I was like a water balloon. When you squeeze one part of it down, the water doesn't go away -- it just strains and stretches another part of the balloon. Anger is like that. You can pretend you're getting along fine (about, say, a religion that lied to you, about almost everything, for your entire life, while also hurting people in droves, then crucified you for finding out while also vilifying you for daring to ever call out its ugliness for what it is), when really all that anger is just residing somewhere you can't quite identify and making you sick.

In the safe space of her office, with someone removed from the situation but who also took time to learn it, I could be angry. I could be so, truly angry and betrayed. I could release my grip on that overladen water balloon and, instead, work on slowly untying the knot holding it together so I could finally let some of the pressure leak out.

And a bit at a time, I've learned to feel better. I've learned to take back my own goodness, mine, me, not anything I've earned from anyone. I've learned to admit that I don't need to grovel at the feet of any organization that takes that innate goodness away from me and tries to sell it back to me at the price of my own conscience and intuition.

I've learned that, as a woman, I can unveil my face in the sight of any deity, lift my bowed head and make it look me directly in the eyes, while daring it to ever try to take my power, my happiness, my grace, my life, my worth, ever again from where it all belongs: in my own capable hands.

So, 2017.

I'm sitting in my room newly minimalized by the purging of belongings and clutter I long needed to let go of, sitting in an emotional space where I am in control of my own destiny and life and able to feel at peace with who I am and what I want, and sitting with a mental view that sees a year of more hard, hard work ahead both via the day job and night school, and sitting with determination to stop pouring myself into any person or thing that makes me feel empty.

It doesn't always feel pleasant  or comfortable to plug back in and reconnect to the parts of life that feel easier to clamp down on and avoid, but let me tell you, it sure as hell feels clean.

And so, finally, sitting with a mind and body unveiled, I'm starting to see clearly.


Monday, December 19, 2016

7 Current Favorites From My Closet

"Everybody gotta wear clothes; if you don't, you get arrested." -Mr. T

Though technically, that depends on the location and scenario. And now that I've begun this post with an inspirational quote, let's get to it!

I feel like I've really found my fashion stride in my late 20s. The inklings were there in my younger years -- to put together something unique, something comment-worthy, something slightly off-beat. What I lacked, in my awkward-gumby-growing-pain years, was the finesse to pull off those inclinations with ensembles that a) flattered my body and b) consisted of pieces that actually worked together.

For funsies, and because I have some new treasures that I've been enjoying pairing with old favorites, here's a look at a few things I pulled together from my closet.....

7 Current Favorites From My Closet

 one

This look gives me all the heart-eye-emoji-feels. Flattering cut-outs, red plaid, grey boots. I'd wear it out with friends or on a casual date. Could also swing it for work if I added a tank under the belly-holes. Belly-holes is a weird word. Let's move on.



leslie knotted shift dress: Tobi / red plaid shirt: H&M / grey boots: wholesale fashion shoes

two

The following is along the lines of what you'll see me in on any given work / school day. Boots, leggings, loose t-shirt and my fav leather jacket. I'll mix it up with a scarf or hat here and there, but an outfit like this is my home base / comfort zone / default mode.



tan boots, striped tee & leggings: Target / leather jacket: a little shop in Florence, Italy

three

This dress!! Little black dresses are hard for me to find, especially since I don't generally wear tight clothes and most clubby outfits are like "let's be spandex" and I'm like "let's be nope." I love the loose shape of this shift dress and I'm excited to wear it to fancy things and also dress it down w/ leggings and boots for more casual outings.



braylee plunging cut out dress: Tobi / tan heels: Payless

four

Rompers came in at some point in the last few years and I've been a slow adopter. This grey one (seeing that grey + jersey makes this outfit basically the exact same as the sheets I sleep on) just might make me a convert. Already looking forward to wearing it w/ some cozy layers this winter and then rocking it with some sandals this spring and summer.


hat + black boots: Target / jean jacket: Gap / chillax draped tank jumpsuit: Tobi

five

When I saw this treasure at the store, it was like finding a soulmate. Corduroy (my one true fabric love), reminiscent of overalls but sassy....sold. In fact, my size wasn't in stock so I promptly ordered it on my phone right there in the middle of Target. Zero regrets. What I do regret is not ironing this before the photos but.......I never iron anything so at least I'm consistent.



red corduroy jumpsuit + grey tights: Target / brown-grey boots: Cindy Shoes / black tee: H&M  

six

This is the kind of outfit I'd pull together on a day when I'm feeling a little funky and in the mood to be noticed. As an introvert, I'm not always in that mood. But when I am, there are mint pants and leopard print.


grey hat: Target / jean jacket: Gap / leopard-print tee: Cotton On / mint moto leggings: Unhinged Boutique / black boots: wholesale fashion shoes

seven

Speaking of being in the mood to be noticed....this sequined crop top is one of the best things that ever happened to me. Paired with some high-waisted jeans.....done deal. My day-to-day life doesn't generate many opportunities to wear something this bold, but I am turning 30 in a couple months so.....*tucks away in closet with high anticipation*



glitz & glamour sequin crop top: Tobi / high-waisted jeans + purple suede purse: Urban Outfitters / black zipper heels: (I genuinely can't remember but it was several years ago)

The end! And now back to my regularly scheduled programming of living by the space heater in my cozy bedroom because it was 31 degrees when I went to the gym this morning. I know that's small potatoes for some of you people, but I live in California and I'm weak-sauce.

hope you're having a really lovely holiday season my friends xoxoxo


p.s. any items in this post from Tobi were provided to me free-of-charge, but you know my feelings are genuine because I picked the pieces out myself and also because I'm an honest human

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Some Neighborhoods of My Life

Many years ago, in vintage blog days, I used to start my posts by saying what music I was listening to while I wrote. So let's throw it back: I'm currently tuned in to "Moving Mountains" by Skylar Grey.

I spent a couple days this week showing my sister around San Francisco.

It was her first time in the Bay Area, so I showed her all my favs, including but not limited to Alcatraz and a long ride on the outside of a cable car up and down some iconic SF hills. (It's charming and precarious all at once and I love it.)

One of my favorite things about SF is how distinct every neighborhood is, and how closely they're all smushed together. One minute you're experiencing that bustling city-feel of Market St by Union Square, then you're immersed in another world in China Town, the next moment you're enveloped in the wafting scent of pizza-on-pizza-on-pizza in North Beach, and somewhere in there you're being misted by saltwater on the pier by a colony of sea lions.

I'm in a phase of my life lately that feels a lot like San Francisco: many neighborhoods and coves, all tucked together in one beautiful, vibrant smush.

Here's some words about a few of my own neighborhoods these days....

my body

Currently in the fitness regime: Crossfit. I never thought this would be the place for me, despite knowing people who told me otherwise for years. It deserves its own post, so I'll leave it at this: I'm happy and I feel good, and my body is strong and fierce and my own.

my space

I value organization. I've always valued it in my calendar and work life, but I've never quite made that leap to minimizing my possessions (clutterbugs anonymous, please unite) and putting things in their place. Recently, I stayed up late one night and made piles of things to purge. My space is now simple and warm and full of only the things I love the very most. I feel a weight lift off me when I curl up by a favorite candle (this one, in aloha orchid), turn on some white twinkle lights and bask in that joyous feeling of being alone and cozy and simple and safe. Do you have a space like this? You need one.



my brain

School is wrapped up for the Fall Quarter (*moment of silence for going to school full-time while also working full-time*), and it feels both damn good and challenging to work so hard and steadily chip away at my MBA. In January I'm starting my first programming class as an elective. I'm excited and nervous, but so far school has made me feel both of those things several times plus some confidence and grit on top of that every time I get through the anxious parts. Here's to more!

my heart

A lesson I've learned a lot of is that matters of the heart require a delicate balance of logic and emotion. Truly, you need both. And it's a balance in a way that's not always 50-50 at any given time -- it's more a balance of learning when to let one side tell the other one to shush and let go of the reins, either to protect yourself or run an illogical risk that somehow feels worth it. It's some kind of chaotically lovely and unnerving mixture -- a lot like a ride up and down SF streets while clinging to the outside of a cable car, actually.



my soul

I'm in a good space right now where my job and school life genuinely do feed my soul, although challenging at times, but it feels good to add other joys into the mix while those two areas ease up for a hot holiday second: lazy mornings in bed, Sunday morning movie matinees, rainy drives, good books/music/shows/people....all the best cherries on top of an already lovely life.

And with that said: It's raining outside, my favorite candle is lit, my Christmas tree is twinkling, my music is still lilting through my living room and I feel a little more like letting some mountains move me:

For once, once in your life
For once push your ambitions aside
And instead of moving mountains
Let the mountains move you
For once, once in your life
For once just stop to open your eyes
And instead of moving mountains
Let the mountains move you
~skylar grey



Friday, September 30, 2016

september

and it awakes

crisp breaks of fire and frost
a synchronous pull
of burn and cool

a lullaby waxing
to the waning thrum of sweltry summer

that singe of ruby and spice
that birth of flame and ash
a charcoal slate
and fresh pages
with smoky edges
that crinkle under hand and foot

september

a perennial ember
that carves and takes
and clears a space
creates a hollow
sparks and scrapes

then soothes with icy hush

and tips you forward
empty and full and raw and ready



Tuesday, September 27, 2016

bare-faced & angry

today i was angry

today i didn't wear makeup, because i was angry

earlier this week, i watched that old Dove Evolution video, where they show the physical and digital makeover performed on a female model before she's deemed worthy to be on a billboard

last night at the presidential debates, ms. clinton called out mr. trump for his past derogatory comments about [insert many things, but also] a woman's physical appearance

[insert any time/day], i grow weary of my MBA textbooks featuring stories rife with male characters and bereft of female presence

this morning, i parked my car next to a group of men

and i had to pause and think, do i feel like getting out of my car or waiting a minute. just in case they want to stare because i am a female and i am here and they are here

and all too often, "i am here and you are here" is all it takes for consent.

consent to my personal space belonging to someone else. the default permission setting is "yes, go ahead, no need to ask or avert."

it's a compliment. it's a small thing. don't overreact.

no

it's an invasion. do react. there's nothing "over" about it.

though most likely, i'd put my head down and walk faster, or wait it out in my car

today i was angry

i looked in the mirror, after my morning workout, and my face was flush and vibrant with energy

i put the mascara down

i have nothing against it, inherently. sometimes it is fun. sometimes i like to dress up! some days owning my space means putting my head up, wearing something flashy and layering on the lipstick and glitter eyeliner because i can.

it first became a daily thing for me when i was 13.

13!

no regrets. because it was fun, and it was exciting, and i felt so grown up.

but

eventually i wasn't "ready" without it

eventually i looked too tired. too splotchy. too sweaty. too young. too old. too sparse. too full. too bland.

as a feminist, i believe in a woman's right to do whatever she wants with her body -- makeup or no makeup. that's the beauty of you being in charge of you, as a woman. that's the beauty of truly owning your own space and allowing other people to own theirs.

but today, i felt the raw ache of the habit of disguising my skin and coloring my features to feel socially presentable. i felt the sting of my male classmates and coworkers rolling out of bed and meeting a minimum beauty standard by default. i felt the realization that it's not something some of them ever even consider. i felt the weight of expectation as heavy as the days that number it back to [whenever in history woman became a thing to be acted upon, a body to serve as an accessory, an actress that needs permission while never being asked for her own, an entity that isn't allowed to be angry without being shrill/bitchy/hormonal].

and my avenue to reclaiming my space today might seem trivial or silly or privileged or naive. and tomorrow, i might feel like wearing it again.

but today, i wanted my bare face to be enough without it. i wanted to be enough without it.

because today i was angry

and sometimes, the little protests are what we need and all we have

so today i was mine. and i was enough without it.


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Livin' La Vida Espana (...I went to Spain...)

Back at it again with the travel bug!

With a less busy period at work and a break from school coinciding on my calendar, I couldn't help but hop on a plane to a new somewhere. The destination of choice this time: Spain!

I originally planned to hit up Spain last year but ultimately chose Italy instead. Newly inspired this year by the travels of my amiga Camille, it bumped back up in my list and, spoiler alert, I was not disappointed.

Spain is....flavorful! Architecture, the language, landscapes, little beige towns nestled in the middle of nowhere...it screams summer and warmth to me. Probably because it was like 100 degrees outside. Tip: don't travel to Spain in the dead of summer, haha. But seriously. It's a lovely and beautiful country but I suggest aiming for spring or autumn. Though, all the sweating inspired me not to wear any makeup but the occasional lipstick for 9 days and I really didn't hate that, so I'll take it!

Hit up 4 cities on this trip, so in order of visit....

BARCELONA

Barcelona felt like San Francisco! Maybe because the graffiti told me several times that I should become a vegan. Barcelona's shining gem is Gaudi -- whose work is most prominent in La Sagrada Familia (did I photograph it? I tried. It's too big. Google it.) and Park Guell (all those funky tiled pics below). Gaudi is color and detail and quirk. Also hit up a flamenco show!










SEVILLE

Seville is the spot I would choose to live in. It reminded me of Florence! Slower paced, with small shops and plazas with Spanish guitarists and a general meandering vibe to it. Ate some delicious beef filet here (sorry to the graffiti in Barcelona for my meat consumption), grabbed some boba tea, toured Real Alcazar (a palace where they filmed the Dorne scenes, for any Game of Thrones fans out there), hit up a cathedral or two....good stuff all around. Except when I smashed my phone on the ground, but it worked out because I happened to be in a neighborhood with no less than two iPhone repair shops. Weird, but I'll take it. (p.s. the green floral skirt WITH POCKETS I'm wearing below is made my friend Kayla at Lark Skirts -- go check out all her prints!)









 




GRANADA

Granada! Even though I said I'd choose to live in Seville, Granada is where I'd escape to on the weekends. It has a blend of Spanish + Arab culture that really worked for me. Highlights: La Alhambra (a castle on a hill) and an Arab bath house. Think candle-lit rooms with tiled walls and multiple pools in various temperatures.....plus a massage with red amber oil....yeah didn't hate this experience at all. It's like a public pool times 10,000 cool points.












MADRID

If Barcelona is San Francisco, Madrid is NYC! Seriously, other than moments when I had to interact with people primarily in Spanish, you could have fooled me that I'd woken up in the United States while in Madrid. (Though the Spanish architecture definitely levels up over NYC.) At this point in the trip I was a bit out-muggled (see: tired of being around crowds of people, especially in the summer heat) but Madrid made it up to me with some yummy churros and a sunset rooftop view, pictured below.







...aaaand that's a wrap. El fin. And now Ima get back to enjoying what's left of my break from school, focusing on work ramping back up, and napping off the jetlag.