Monday, June 29, 2015

"You may say I'm a dreamer..."

There are a hundred things I could say about the events of the past few days.

Gay marriage. SCOTUS. Facebook debates. Rainbow profile pictures. There are a hundred things I could say about my (strong) opinions on this or that sticky point, on what constitutes bigotry or religion oppression or intolerance or logical fallacies or what have you.

But all I feel like doing right now is celebrating.

All I feel like doing is rejoicing and letting the gratitude bleed out of my heart that we are finally here, in one big way. There are more steps to take and more goals to reach, but this one feels momentous. Ever feel like you're born to care about a cause? This is one of mine. And my heart has been so full the last few days. And I've been tempted to jump in on Facebook debates here and there, but mostly I just want to dance in the streets and cry a little and give fist pumps to the sky.

Super lucky to live near SF at a time like this! I went to the Pride parade on Sunday and it warmed my heart. All the signs held up by couples who've been together for decades and finally, FINALLY, are having their day. Finally, finally, marching through a crowd of people who are applauding and cheering and not throwing stones.

My heart is so full. My soul is healed a little bit. What a beautiful time to be alive.

"...but I'm not the only one." John Lennon

Friday, June 19, 2015

Always Stay Rooted

I went to a meditation class earlier this week.

I've never been much for meditation, because....well the long and short of it is that my attention span is dismal, and my body doesn't like to sit still. These are actually the exact reasons my mama homeschooled me for kindergarten and half of first grade. Ha. Some things never change. (But really, those homeschool days of reading books, practicing math, learning to write and watching Shining Time Station may have been the best semesters of my life. I also think I went through a phase where I built villages out of mud in the backyard? Did I dream this? It feels real.)

Wow I rambled way off track. Which I guess proves my point about the dismal attention span. I'M JUST LIVING MY TRUTH

So this meditation thing I attended. It was different than other meditation, because it was less about being still and quieting the mind, and more about love/kindness. I actually think it is technically called "loving kindness meditation." The instructor talked us through various things, from learning to love ourselves by looking at ourselves the way someone who loves us looks at us, to taking positive feelings toward someone we love and directing them at someone we have difficulty with. I liked those parts.

At one point, the instructor said something that stuck with me...

"Always stay rooted."

Honestly, I couldn't tell you what the context of that statement was for her. But it stuck out to me and got me thinking about roots. And planting myself.

I think we all know how it feels to wander a bit. We all know how it feels to lose our footing sometimes, whether it's because we stumble or because the rug gets ripped out from under us. These things happen.

So how do we stay rooted? For me, it means a few things. The people I care about are my anchors, for starters. My constants when nothing else feels permanent or constant. Then I have some basic principles/beliefs that I can stay rooted in, also, like "be kind" and "be honest" and "be dependable" and stuff like that. The simple truths.

I don't think your roots have to be a physical thing. I don't think they have to apply to one specific age range, either. For some people, those childhood years in their town/city of choice are great roots. For other people, the very best thing you could possibly do for yourself is forget that plot of land and start fresh.

It reminds me of Forrest Gump (oh how I love that movie) and how his friend Jenny grew up in an abusive home. Jenny didn't need those roots. Jenny needed to bulldoze that mother effer to the ground. Which, she eventually (literally) did. You see what I mean?

I also think you can pick and choose pieces of memories to be part of your roots, and abandon others. There are some places/times/relationships in my life that feed my soul in some ways and simultaneously cripple me in other ways. I'm always working on how to hang on to the good without letting the bad sour those experiences for me.

Whatever your roots are.....wherever your roots are, if it's a where....dig 'em deep. Hang on to something. And like little plants that outgrow their plastic starter containers, never forget that it's ok to uproot yourself if necessary and move on to a better environment. (See here.) You can settle in tightly and grow from there.

But the point is, do some settling. Invest yourself. Anchor yourself down into something and make it clear to yourself, and the people around you, that you're staying put for the things that matter most. I think there's real power in that.

...these pretties are from my kitchen. All but one are dead now. Aren't succulents supposed to be the sturdiest plants of all? Chronic gray thumb over here...

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Choose Pie Heaven

“When you die, if you get a choice between going to regular heaven or pie heaven, choose pie heaven. It might be a trick, but if it's not, mmmmmmmm, boy.” Jack Handy

I'm not much of a baker. Or a cook in general. I eat all my meals at work, so any semblance of kitchen prowess I used to possess is loooong gone.

Plus, my real problem with baking is that I sometimes get a little too.....flexible. Like, soften the butter? Sure, I'll just melt it. Save some stirring time. Apparently decisions like this affect the outcome of the recipe? It's all a little tedious for my taste. EFFICIENCY IS ALL I ASK

A few years ago, I went through a brief pie-making phase. It appears to have made a return lately. What I like about pie is that it has built-in room for creativity. If I can create a caramelized filling from peach juice...I can do the same thing with strawberry juice, right? Or raspberries? Or all three? Pie is lovely because so many of the flavors are interchangeable. You learn a few basics (thicken with corn starch!) (universal crumble topping that works for all kinds of pies!) and suddenly you can make ALL THE PIES. It makes me feel competent and creative all at once.

Plus.......when you make pie, you get to eat pie. So that's a primary motivation right thurrr.

Pie is pure summer food to me.

I know it's often associated with Thanksgiving and Christmas, but for some reason I get the hankering to crank 'em out come warm summer temps, bare feet and open windows. That could be because I'm ultimately destined to live a simple life in a quiet farm town somewhere, in which case I'll be well equipped to be that old woman who puts pies out to cool on the windowsill. And then knits on the front porch. And decorates with random knick-knacks and quilts. ....Guys, these are already my hobbies. #80yearsyoung #cantwait

Anyway, here's a few photos of what's been coming out of my kitchen lately. The peach-raspberry pie is loosely based on this recipe, and the blueberry-raspberry-blackberry (snozzberry?) crumble pie is invented but uses the crumble recipe found here, and that nutella strawberry-raspberry concoction is entirely an original. (With a shout out to my baking buddy -- you know who you are and I can't take all the credit!)

Next I just need to get good at making crust, since the dough in these ones is all store bought. And admittedly, my most favorite part of pie making is creating a design for the top crust. OPTIONS FOR DAYSZ! I think I'd feel even more satisfied if I made those pretty braids/weaves/twists/cutouts/crimps from my own homemade dough, you know? Feel free to pass along your best crust recipes and advice. I'll be here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

I Need You for...

A few years ago, I dated a reeeaalllly quiet guy.

I don't mind quiet. I actually mind loud more than I mind quiet. But I remember this particular relationship felt a little too quiet...which made me worry that we didn't have enough to talk about. Or was it a comfortable silence? I don't know? Anyway, I remember voicing that concern to a friend of mine. And she told me something that stuck with me. This friend, herself, was married to a quiet fella. And she told me that she didn't mind it, because if she wanted to talk extensively, she had other outlets for that. Like me, and other friends, etc.

She didn't need that particular thing from her lover, because she was fine getting it elsewhere. The things she needed from a romantic relationship, she was getting.

This conversation opened my mind up to an important idea that has served me in several relationships since:

I don't need everything from everyone.

And I could never be everything to someone. I'd inevitably fall short somewhere. Stressssful.

I have friends for all kinds of things. Sure, there's some common ground and some basic needs that overlap in all my relationships. But every friend fills a unique spot in my life....some friends are for long chats. Some friends are for silly chats. Some friends are for deep chats. Some friends are for dinners out. Some friends are for dinners in. Some friends are for fashion, and some for travel (let's be real -- not everyone should travel together), and some are for texting, and some for delightful Instagram interactions, and some for athletic adventures, and some for religious dissections, and some for celebrity crush movie viewings and immature inside jokes. You get what I mean? All my people are valuable to me, but often for widely varying reasons.

And sometimes it's easy to forget that, I think. Both with friends and with lovers. Sometimes it's easy to demand everything from one person, and expect them to "get" you on every level, and to feel shortchanged or disgruntled if an important piece of your life just.doesn' with someone when you

But I guess I've learned (and am always learning) that it's better to focus on the ways you DO fit with someone, and the things you DO get from them. And sometimes, when I think someone is letting me down, if I take a step back I realize it's because I was emotionally expecting something from them that they can't give me. Or aren't used to giving me. Or that I hadn't asked them to give me. You just have to know what you want from a particular relationship, and focus on that. Instead of focusing on it all.

And if that's enough....for whatever type of relationship it is...then that's enough.

Now here's an irrelevant (yet somehow relevant) pineapple because I can:

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Business of Changing Your Mind (amongst other rambles)

I took a few minutes yesterday and read through some of my old blog posts, mostly from that "featured posts" column on the left side of my blog design.

There's some good stuff over there. Like this and this and this and this.

Similar to when I read through old journal entries, it was good to reconnect with my old words because it really meant reconnecting with myself. I'm always surprised by the things I can learn from my own words, whether to remind myself of things or to realize that I've changed.

My pervasive thought, this time around, though, was "Why don't I write things like this as often anymore?" Maybe I've been so busy finding myself in every other aspect of my life lately, from my career to social life to religion to what-have-you, that I forgot to keep writing it down at some point. And me without words is like me without one of my arms or legs. Off balance and with a bleeding, empty space to fill. (That metaphor got a little graphic. I'll just rate this post PG-13 and move forward. If I don't drop any F-bombs I think we'll be clear for continued viewing if you're under 17.)

So I decided I needed to sit down and write this blog post. A thoughtful post, instead of just one about my latest adventure or a pile of photos.

So, hi. Here's some of what's been on my mind.

There are so many things I don't have the answer to lately. But not in an "I feel lost" way. More in just an objective, observational "yeah there's a lot of things I don't know and I guess that's totally OK" way. I've never been more content in my life with not knowing things. Which is ironic, because back when my belief system was more clearly defined, with rules and lists and answers for everything, I actually struggled all the time with fixating on the things I *didn't* know. I was often frustrated, often helpless, and often pressed to the core to exercise faith in the things I couldn't reconcile.

But somehow, wiping the slate clean and putting nearly everything back in the "to be determined" bucket was maybe the best thing I could have done for that stress/anxiety/frustration. A blanket approach of "I don't know that for sure" and "maybe it could be that way, or maybe not" has taken loads of weight off my shoulders. It's like, by deciding that I didn't actually have all the answers for the things I thought I did, I feel much more at peace with the things I stressed hard about not knowing. Now it's just all in one big bucket of "I'll figure it out, or I won't, and that's OK." And I quite like that bucket. It gives me peace of mind, and helps me relate better to people. Sometimes (see: often) when I read comment threads on [insert any hot Internet topic], I wish we could all be more comfortable coexisting with dissenting beliefs and realizing that we just don't know the answers. But I also realize that some people feel strongly that their beliefs are threatened by other people's beliefs, so that's where "live and let live" gets sticky. I guess I don't know what the ultimate answer is to that conflict. Maybe it's just an inevitable human thing.

Anyway, I digress.

I liked a lot of the thoughts I've written on my blog over the years, as I read back through some of them. Some I identify with less than I used to, but I also kind of like that -- the progression of me and my brain and my spirit over the last 7ish years that this space has existed on the Internet. (Seven?? I know, right!)

But that's what we do, I guess. We evolve and progress and disagree, even with our own selves, eventually.

And sometimes it's hard to publish or vocalize words because we think we'll be held to them forever. (We do that to celebrities and politicians don't we? I believe the official term is "flip-flopping.") Well, to hell with that. If I didn't allow myself some personal "flip-flopping" over the years, I wouldn't be half the person I am. And I'm sure I'll say the same when I've inevitably changed another 2, 5, 10, 20 years from now.

So, change. You go right ahead and change. In slow, subtle ways or in big, dramatic ones. The only standard or truth you have to hold yourself to is the one that feels right inside you....and that is a voice that's bound (and allowed) to change. (There's a great poem on that topic...and a great post in my friend Kayla here. The poem is the one called "The Voice.")

So from one changed (and changing) human to another....go get yourself lost. But maybe consider it getting found.

^^ this image felt fitting for this post but is also doubly special, because it was designed by my bestie. You can download it for free to use as computer wallpaper HERE. I've had it on my work monitors for a week now and I'm loooving it! For free, I said! Go forth and partake.

Monday, June 1, 2015

So I went on a boat to Mexico....

Sometimes you get spontaneous and hop on a cruise ship to Mexico.

This was my life last weekend. In a matter of 48 hrs or so, I gave in to some FOMO I'd been experiencing about a cruise that a group of friends was going on, bought myself a ticket and off I went! We sailed from southern California down to Ensenada, which was my first time being in Mexico. (I know, I grew up 4 hours from the border. What was I doing with myself? QUE??)

Mexico was lovely, even for a blatantly tourist town. Between my undying love for tacos (I typed that at first as "my love for undying tacos" which is an entirely different idea.....zombie tacos?) and my passion for painted pottery and knick knacks, I enjoyed myself thoroughly during our day ashore. Also I had the best horchata of my life. THE BEST HORCHATA OF MY LIFE. YELLING. WORDS. FEELINGS.

Back to the boat. Let's talk about cruises. Cruises.....wha? I've never been that into the idea of cruises, and though I'm glad I went on this adventure, I think my suspicions were validated -- I am not a cruise person. Floating Vegas....floating hotel....floating Walmart....something. I loved the people I went with (it was one of those friends of friends of friends things that turned into a group of 25 and they were all so delightful) so I totally had a good time on the boat, dancing the nights away to live music. But cruises themselves aren't quite my jam. There's also something inherently weird for me about being waited on hand and foot by people from various third-world countries spending months away from their families so they can make some money serving me lobster and making my bed. Cringe. I had to keep myself in check. And there's a lot of weird smells on cruise ships?

I actually did eat lobster, also. So that's a thing.

My favorite part of the trip (OTHER THAN THE HORCHATA) (YELLING AGAIN) is that it kind of broke me out of my vanilla zone, for a weekend. I love my usual friends, I love how I usually spend my time, etc., but it'd been awhile since I'd busted out and hung out for an extended period of time with people I didn't know very well. It was good for me. And also made me feel young again, with all the dancing and karaoke (I serenaded the crowd with "Gettin' Jiggy Wit' It" and barely needed the teleprompter to tell me the lyrics....please, son) and also one time my friend Becca and I sat on a piano while a man sang to us. He may have changed the lyrics to be a bit dirtier than normal....I don't know, Becca and I ended up wrapped in a red feather boa. Ah, cruise life! (Cringe. haha)

And now I'm back to normal life. But it's a good life, so, onward we go. Hats off to summertime! Now please enjoy the photos taken largely by other people because I pretty much ignored my phone's existence for this entire trip. #sorrynotsorry