Superbowl Recap

But an incomplete one because I don’t really care about the superbowl.

I do, however, care about #Hamilton! Who watched the Schuyler sisters perform? Wasn’t it gorgeous?
Thank you to this twitter user whose LMM RT made it easy for me to find this video:

And how awesome was Lady Gaga? I’m a Beyonce fan, and last year’s performance with Bruno was awesome–but dang. This was the best halftime show I’ve ever seen.
Rather than posting her performance, though, I am putting up the video that started it all:

Good job, #sb51. Great performances and, I’m told, a historic game. Bravo.

Church | God. Everything. You.

God Says Yes To Me

by Kaylin Haught

 
I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic

and she said yes

I asked her if it was okay to be short

and she said it sure is

I asked her if I could wear nail polish

or not wear nail polish

and she said honey

she calls me that sometimes

she said you can do just exactly

what you want to

Thanks God I said

And is it even okay if I don’t paragraph

my letters

Sweetcakes God said

who knows where she picked that up

what I’m telling you is

Yes Yes Yes

——

I first heard this on this episode of RadioLab and though it wasn’t created for radio, I think it’s the best way to experience it. I also found a YouTube link (embed below).

 

A History of Everything, Including You
by Jenny Hollowell

 

First there was god, or gods, or nothing. Then synthesis, space, the expansion, explosions, implosions, particles, objects, combustion, and fusion. Out of the chaos came order, stars were born and shown and died. Planets rolled across their galaxies on invisible ellipses and the elements combined and became.

Life evolved or was created. Cells trembled, and divided, and gasped and found dry land. Soon they grew legs, and fins, and hands, and antenna, and mouths, and ears, and wings, and eyes. Eyes that opened wide to take all of it in, the creeping, growing, soaring, swimming, crawling, stampeding universe.

 

Eyes opened and closed and opened again, we called it blinking. Above us shown a star that we called the sun. And we called the ground the earth. So we named everything including ourselves. We were man and woman and when we got lonely we figured out a way to make more of us. We called it sex, and most people enjoyed it. We fell in love. We talked about god and banged stones together, made sparks and called them fire, we got warmer and the food got better.

 

We got married, we had some children, they cried, and crawled, and grew. One dissected flowers, sometimes eating the petals. Another liked to chase squirrels. We fought wars over money, and honor, and women. We starved ourselves, we hired prostitutes, we purified our water. We compromised, decorated, and became esoteric. One of us stopped breathing and turned blue. Then others. First we covered them with leaves and then we buried them in the ground. We remembered them. We forgot them. We aged.

 

Our buildings kept getting taller. We hired lawyers and formed councils and left paper trails, we negotiated, we admitted, we got sick, and searched for cures. We invented lipstick, vaccines, pilates, solar panels, interventions, table manners, firearms, window treatments, therapy, birth control, tailgating, status symbols, palimony, sportsmanship, focus groups, zoloft, sunscreen, landscaping, cessnas, fortune cookies, chemotherapy, convenience foods, and computers. We angered militants, and our mothers.

 

You were born. You learned to walk, and went to school, and played sports, and lost your virginity, and got into a decent college, and majored in psychology, and went to rock shows, and became political, and got drunk, and changed your major to marketing, and wore turtleneck sweaters, and read novels, and volunteered, and went to movies, and developed a taste for blue cheese dressing.

 

I met you through friends, and didn’t like you at first. The feeling was mutual, but we got used to each other. We had sex for the first time behind an art gallery, standing up and slightly drunk. You held my face in your hands and said that I was beautiful. And you were too. Tall with a streetlight behind you. We went back to your place and listened to the White Album. We ordered in. We fought and made up and got good jobs and got married and bought an apartment and worked out and ate more and talked less. I got depressed. You ignored me. I was sick of you. You drank too much and got careless with money. I slept with my boss. We went into counseling and got a dog. I bought a book of sex positions and we tried the least degrading one, the wheelbarrow. You took flight lessons and subscribed to Rolling Stone. I learned Spanish and started gardening.

 

We had some children who more or less disappointed us but it might have been our fault. You were too indulgent and I was too critical. We loved them anyway. One of them died before we did, stabbed on the subway. We grieved. We moved. We adopted a cat. The world seemed uncertain, we lived beyond our means. I got judgmental and belligerent, you got confused and easily tired. You ignored me, I was sick of you. We forgave. We remembered. We made cocktails. We got tender. There was that time on the porch when you said, can you believe it?

 

This was near the end and your hands were trembling. I think you were talking about everything, including us. Did you want me to say it? So it would not be lost? It was too much for me to think about. I could not go back to the beginning. I said, not really. And we watched the sun go down. A dog kept barking in the distance, and you were tired but you smiled and you said, hear that? It’s rough, rough. And we laughed. You were like that.

 

Now, your question is my project and our house is full of clues. I’m reading old letters and turning over rocks. I burry my face in your sweaters. I study a photograph taken at the beach, the sun in our eyes, and the water behind us. It’s a victory to remember the forgotten picnic basket and your striped beach blanket. It’s a victory to remember how the jellyfish stung you and you ran screaming from the water. It’s a victory to remember treating the wound with meat tenderizer, and you saying, I made it better. I will tell you this, standing on our hill this morning I looked at the land we chose for ourselves, I saw a few green patches, and our sweet little shed, that same dog was barking, a storm was moving in. I did not think of heaven, but I saw that the clouds were beautiful and I watched them cover the sun.

 

Friday Round-up: Groundhog Day Edition

This post will have nothing to do with groundhogs.

My mom sent me this video today with the message, I’m sure this is a message from my future granddaughter.


Oh, if I know anything about that future granddaughter: YES.

Recipe recommend:

I saw this chickpea curry on instagram this week and made it. But without any spiralized veggies and with the addition of lots of other ingredients, and so does it actually count? Whatever it was delicious. Thank you for the inspiration, Ali!

Also! I saw this black bean and sweet potato bowl recipe and did not make it, but totally will this week. Doesn’t that look so good? And simple! Perfect for a weeknight.

Instagram is the best place to find recipes, by the way. That’s where I get about 80% of the good stuff I make.

And church will def be happening on Sunday. I’m featuring two women writers, one whom you’ve definitely read before, and the other whom you probably haven’t(?). See you back here Sunday at 8 AM!

Happy weekending!

Beating the Anxiety Bees

(Do you beat bees? Or just disappear them?)

Man who looks like a bee monster
Thank you to the Dollop for the pic! http://thedollop.libsyn.com/196-killer-bees

A friend today was telling me that she is super stressed out. She worked out twice that day, feeling like she could literally run the stress out (!). And I said, What is going on with you?

She was like, remember those crazy hives you got the week of your wedding?

Uh, yeah.

But you don’t, so: One night a few summers ago, I woke up itching my foot, and I couldn’t go back to sleep because have you ever had an itchy foot? The worst.

Well, I finally got up to see what sort of antihistamines I had in my bathroom and noticed that I had hives allll over my legs. In fact, I had them on my stomach and arms, too. And, of course, I didn’t have even one single drop of Benadryl nor one crusty tube of hydrocortisone cream to get me through. The worst part was that every part of my body that made contact with my bed–which was every part of my body–flared up with hives. I spent hours trying to not think about the discomfort, the itchiness all over my body (all over! Arms, sides, back, legs, hips, feet. I was basically one big welt) and was the first person at the pharmacy when it opened.

I managed well enough during the day (because my mind was busy?) but night time, man. That was hard.

Anyway, it lasted a few days, and was long gone by the time my big day came. I’m really tempted to include pictures in this post, because of course I took pictures, but that’s gross and I guess not really the point. Which is:

My friend said her stress was like that, but in her brain. Did I know what she meant?

Uh, yes. Yes I knew exactly what she meant because it wasn’t that long ago that I had an intensely stressful boss who caused me MONTHS of severe anxiety. I would go to bed with my mind racing with thoughts and when I awoke each morning, it’s like they dragged me with them. I was never rested, and my mind wouldn’t even slow down. Sometimes I would wake up in the night with a partial thought about work, fall asleep again, and wake up thinking a different work thought, all of it happening without any effort on my part. Like I had fallen asleep on a train that never stopped. And instead of traveling through the rustic countryside, it went only through (not under!) the world’s most populous cities–Mumbai, Beijing, Tokyo, New York City, Los Angeles, Cairo. So exhausting.

So what to do? I think everyone is going to tell you yoga and meditation, and they are right.

1. Get in yo body.

No wait! This is number 1:

1. This will pass. Those bees are swarming and it sounds like a gang of chainsaw murderers (and probably feels a little like that too–eep!) but it isn’t. You won’t get stung or chopped to bits. You will get through this. It will be tiring. It won’t be forever.

2. Your body. Look, anxiety is a disease of the mind. The bees are part of that. It is so hard to ignore the buzzing–actually, it’s basically impossible. Don’t even try. You’re just wasting valuable energy. But what will successfully divert attention, and give your mind some much needed reprieve, is to get into your body.

My friend runs. I don’t believe in running, so I say do yoga. Whatever. The point is that just like those bees are in your head buzzing around, stress and anxiety are loitering in your muscles. Stretch. Run. Jump. Yoga. Just get your body working.

The reason it’s important to get into your body is this: relaxation is not a cognitive process. You will not think those bees out of your head. Breathing is good but if your bees are like mine, the quiet will be done as soon as your breathing goes back to normal–which is what, 10 seconds? Maybe?

Working your muscles gets the tension out of them. It releases the stress. Yoga gets the tension out of them. The rhythm of running resets your mind and gets your muscles to let go of all that pent up anxiety. That’s why you feel better after exercise.*

3. Food food food. When I have the stress bees, I don’t eat. Some folks are stress-eaters but I am a stress starver. I have trouble getting enough as it is so when my brain is abuzz, the last thing I’m thinking about is good eating.

But you know what feels really good?

Comfort food. Not pasta and bread (no! Bees love carbs!) but like soup and curry and three bean chilli. Eat things that are easy for your body to digest, and that feel good to eat. Let it feel good to eat.

Having said that: last time I had the bees, I ate two boxes of cereal. I had been kind of starving and working late and one night I just snapped! I went out and bought myself some damn lucky charms and ate that cereal like it was medicine. Or maybe not medicine because then I’d be dead.

I applauded myself for finally eating but let me tell you: I felt pretty shitty over those next few days (during which I ate the box–I didn’t eat it all in one night) (but almost).

Learn from me and don’t eat the crap. I’ll link to some (easy delicious comforting) recipes later. Watch this space!

4. Meditate to sleep. Ugh isn’t this the most annoying advice? Duh you need to sleep–but how do you do that on a noisy, never ending train? When you’re being pursued by a swarm of relentless bees wielding chainsaws? Boy, these analogies!

People talk about headspace but I’m a fan of simple habit. Love love love their options and found them so helpful in relaxing my body and mind to sleep. You can adjust the length to do a 5 minute session, or a 10 or 20. (This is also super useful during lunch breaks.) And you can choose the topic! Deep sleep was great, and then there are more you can choose if you subscribe. I’m not a subscriber (yet) but I do really like it.

Sleep With Me is also, I hear, a great podcast for folks who can’t sleep. I prefer the meditation route but maybe you hate meditating!

Or, screw all the meditation advice and do something else instead. Color the stress out. Walk. Garden. Cook. Organize your closet. Throw away your husband’s cargo shorts. Maybe they won’t put you to sleep, but they will help your mind work out its stuff. And hey, if you’re not sleeping, you might as well be doing something productive.

In conclusion:

*I am not any kind of doctor or expert or anyone who can speak knowledgeably about why exercise gets the tension out of your body. But it works for me every time and I’m not a precious snowflake, so it will probably be just as effective for you. Try it–even just some stretching feels super good.

Also, my therapist told me that walking basically does the same thing as EMDR  and, in fact, was discovered on a walk.

So maybe this post was superfluous and I should just be telling you and my friend: yes. Exercise the shit out of those bees.

Because you’ll get through it. And chainsaws run out of gas, trains stop at stations, and bees die.

(Sorry bees.)

Everything You’ve Been Told About How Your Body Works? Is WRONG.

Read and understand operator's manual

Last week my friend posted this on Facebook. Is she talking about ME? I wondered.

Yes! It’s me! I’m the friend! And she’s right that it’s a fascinating read (you’re welcome) but.

I have some thoughts:
1. These tracking methods are only fascinating because we’ve never heard of fertility tracking before.
2. Wait, what do you mean we’ve never heard of it before? I think I know how my body works.
3. No. You don’t. And it’s CRAZY when you actually find out. How do we not know how our own bodies work?
4. Women. I’m talking about women, here, because we have some crazy complicatedmiraculous bodies that people still–in 2017!!–don’t really understand.
5. Mostly it’s because of the patriarchy and hundreds and thousands of years of our reproductive organs being associated with uncleanliness, impurity, and and sweet sweet danger.
6. I want to teach everyone about the fertility awareness method. I want every single woman on the planet to know about it. I want it to be so known, that “fertility awareness method” becomes obsolete because now it’s just “biology”.
Starting right here with this blog. Don’t let the “fertility” part throw you. If you’re a woman, you want in on this action.
Action items:
1. Order yourself a copy of Taking Charge of Your Fertility*. It’s awesome. And I know “fertility” is in the title, but think of it just as like the Woman Operation Manual because if you have female reproductive organs, this book is for you.
2. Get a period tracker. I use Kindara and have for years so I’m a fan, but, admittedly, I’ve never used anything else.
2a. But do other trackers come with thermometers? Because if you’re going to track, you want a wink. You really do. It’s the best.
3. Tell you friends! And your enemies! And your Twitter list! Just freaking let everyone know that everything you’ve been taught your whole life is wrong and that the world is backwards and upside down and you’ve found the way forward and rightsideup. Because seriously, that’s how it’s going to feel. That and some anger.
BONUS: I just found this podcast called Fertility Friday. It is really good because it covers all kinds of topics related to women’s health and reproduction and fertility and PCOS. I mean, just look at the episode list.
*Amazon is the cheapest and quickest way to get your copy, but I’m giving you the option of supporting an independent bookseller, which I’m working to do more of.

8 Years Later

I wrote an impassioned post on October 11, 2008 called Why I’m Voting For Barack Obama and published it on Facebook, as we did in those days.  I was re-reading it today, on the eve of the end of his presidency (*cry emoji*) and am excerpting it below. The original post talks more about McCain, Palin, and the ugliness of that election. This speaks to my hopes, the things I wanted from an Obama presidency and which I now, 8 years later, think I got.

My favorite part of that DNC speech all those years ago, the one that made an Obama supporter out of me, is this:

it’s not enough for just some of us to prosper — for alongside our famous individualism, there’s another ingredient in the American saga,  a belief that we’re all connected as one people. If there is a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child. If there is a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for their prescription drugs, and having to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it’s not my grandparent. If there’s an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.

It is that fundamental belief — It is that fundamental belief: I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper that makes this country work. It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams and yet still come together as one American family.

E pluribus unum: “Out of many, one.”

We’re so far from that. On the eve of a Trump administration (! can it really be?), I feel like we have never been further.

So I’m taking  a moment to be so thankful for the past 8 years, for the leadership of Barack and Michelle. We’re not more unified right now. We seem to be more like one big estranged family.

But I got hope. Not blind optimism and willful ignorance, but hope that the folks like me will come together yet, that we’ll reach out to our hurt, angry relatives (and they to us) and we’ll be stronger for it.

First, though, it’s going to get really ugly.

So I’m taking a moment.

—————————

I have been an Obama supporter since the beginning. Shortly after he entered the race in the spring of 2007, I stumbled across his address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Listening to it sent through me a surge of pride for America I hadn’t felt in a very long time.

I’m quite certain we all grew up believing everyone outside of America wanted to be in America. Everyone sees America as a land of opportunity and wanted to come here and live out the American dream. America is a land of freedom and equality and opportunity. Our constitution is the best, our military the most honorable and our people the most successful. This message has been repeated so many times in our lifetimes that most of us accept it without question. I did.

For two and a half years, though, I had been surrounded by people down on America, overwhelmingly because of President Bush and the Iraq War. They felt the hurt of family members in the US who had been discriminated against in the aftermath of September 11th. I met several Arab students who were forced to return because the government cancelled their visas. I met Iraqis frightened for their family members still in Baghdad. Iraqis who had to flee their homes, leave their jobs, their own country because circumstances in Iraq had gotten too dangerous and miserable to continue living there. But it wasn’t just Arabs who were upset. In 12th grade, my first year in the United Arab Emirates, I was grilled by many of classmates who wanted to know whether I supported Bush, whether I supported the war, and why so many Americans did. It puzzled me that they even cared. What does South Africa, Australia, Europe care what America does? No, I don’t support Bush (though I don’t really care all that much), or the war in Iraq and I neither know nor care why so many do. America rocks! The end.

I started college at the American University of Sharjah and began seeing America in a more complex dimension. America, the greatest nation *ever*, had hurt people. Lots of people, and very deeply. I traveled to nearly a dozen countries in the three years I lived in the UAE and in each place it was the same. They were excited to learn I was from America because they had a son, cousin, uncle or sister there and, oh, it is so beautiful. But isn’t it violent? (Thanks a ton, Hollywood!) I could never go there because I have a beard—or I cover my hair or my name is Khaled—and they’ll think I’m a terrorist. Many Europeans I talked to had great things to say about America and its people—they had actually been here—but, for one reason or another, were resentful for President Bush and his policies.

In June of 2006, I spent a week in Lebanon. Just days after getting back, Hizballah kidnapped an Israeli soldier, Israel retaliated and the rest of the summer was engulfed in war. Anti-Americanism in the Arab world spiked. Lebanese children were being killed, the airport and the road to Damascus (a main route out of the country) was bombed and the US—Israel’s closest ally—wouldn’t even call for a ceasefire. What happened to everyone being created equal?

I spent the summer in the US studying Arabic (no kidding) and on my return to the Middle East, I had to confront a whole new level of bitterness. People across the Middle East were openly and increasingly supporting Hizballah. One Lebanese friend got hit in the leg by some shrapnel. Another hadn’t gotten to see his family because the airport was bombed a few days before he was to land. Many more Lebanese and non-Lebanese expressed to me their resentment of America’s inaction.

I knew this was my last year in the country and thus my last chance to help my peers see the America I knew, an essentially benevolent nation full of friendly and hospitable, moral, nonviolent citizens.

I know it looks bad, what with the wars, the President’s incompetence and the outright belligerence of his administration. Okay, it looks really bad. But America really isn’t all that bad. Honest! Remember Abraham Lincoln? Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement? Remember Jimmy Carter? The Statue of Liberty?

But my peers hadn’t grown up on School House Rock and so they didn’t know that America was a melting pot. They didn’t know the progress we’ve made since its founding. They didn’t know that when a bunch of Americans come together and rally for a cause, change happens. They weren’t aware of all the criticism that had lobbied against the Bush administration. Most knew America through its entertainment and saw little more than moral decadence and violence. Most had experienced the negative effects of its foreign policy. Few knew of its warmth, beauty and diversity.

It was in the midst of this identity crisis, this reconciling of the two Americas I had come to know, that I came across this speech. He described my America. The one I grew up with, the one I was trying to keep faith in. His message, that America is not just a great nation, but a good nation, too, is the one I wanted to pass on to my peers. I wanted them to know that maybe America has been overshadowed by divisiveness and greed, but that our founding principles are still in tact. There are people in America who think that the nation could do a lot better and are willing to make it so, for us and for the rest of the world.

Most people know I’m excited about this election. My roommates know I can hardly refrain from talking about it. To my parents, I don’t shut up about it. The reason, above all, that I am so zealous in my support is that I have hope for America. I have hope that we can make our similarities more important than our differences. I have hope that we can be a force for good–not resentment and fear–in the world. I want to be led by a person who has proven himself above ordinary politics, smear tactics and who truly embodies change. I have hope that together, we will begin the next great chapter in the American story with three words that will ring from coast to coast; from sea to shining sea —

Yes. We. Can.

Church | With Geese and Mary

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Wild Geese
By Mary Oliver

Some days, this is my mantra: You do not have to be good. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.

Sometimes I say “want it wants” instead.

Either way, it brings tremendous peace.

Hump day! Podcast Recommendation

But I think a calling in this – kind of as we move into this part of the 21st century for some of us is to be calmers of fear, to help create spaces where some of that raw pain and fear can actually show itself instead of acting like anger and instead of being attracted to voices and energies that can turn it toxic, that can make it dangerous.

I started listening to Krista Tippett’s new podcast (!) Becoming Wise yesterday. I highly recommend it. It’s deep, but quick. A great little bite to start your day with. Here’s a little interview about her book of the same name, which will give you a good taste of the podcast.

Art | Desperate to be done.

I took this screenshot to send to my husband–who adores Adele, but opposes the very existence of pop music. Adele praising Beyonce's Lemonade on Instagram

Amen, Adele.

 

The other day, facebook brought me this memory:

To whomever finds this note

Days before graduation, it really does feel that desperate.

ETA 1/5/17: Also, college Anna was so funny.

Monday Wisdom: One day you are going to find yourself again.

First, a poem:

Everyone who terrifies you is sixty-five percent water.
And everyone you love is made of stardust, and I know sometimes
you cannot even breathe deeply, and
the night sky is no home, and
you have cried yourself to sleep enough times
that you are down to your last two percent, but

nothing is infinite,
not even loss.

You are made of the sea and the stars, and one day
you are going to find yourself again.

Finn Butler
Here’s the link to the poem. It’s from three years ago, and when I went to investigate, I found that she’s published her first collection of poetry and it’s available here! Congrats, Finn!

This Monday, start your week with some wisdom, introspection, and inspiration. I go back to this talk over and over again because it is so good.

It looks like I was a talk show host. It looks like I’m in the movies. It looks like I have a network. But my real contribution, the real reason why I’m here is to connect people to themselves and the higher ideas of consciousness. I’m here to raise consciousness.

What are you here for?

Hell, what am I here for?