Friday, April 13, 2018

Friday Five @ 5

1. I love Bon Appétit and the sassy, casual tone they use in their recipes. I tried this recipe for cuban-style chicken last night and it was SO DAMN GOOD. And easy. I had something similar to this at Guantanamera in New York City five or six years ago and I literally think about it on a weekly basis.  Always wanted to try and replicate it. This came close.

2. When I quit drinking last summer it changed so many things about my life almost immediately. I felt physically stronger. I lost a few pounds. I had more money. I was less of an asshole. I figured that was it. Done. Onto the next thing. Not so fast. What I'm learning is that when you get control of or eliminate something that is bad for you and that pretty much has complete control your life - whether it's alcohol, cigarettes, a toxic relationship or friendship, a toxic relationship with food, gambling, whatever - there is a whole other phase after you "quit the thing" where you look at the aftermath and the space you've created by eliminating it and realize you get to decide what to do next. You get to decide what to do everyday. Forever. Oh boy. Didn't see this coming. My days and decisions are no longer shaped and driven by this terrible vice or person, they are shaped by me. This makes me feel like Little Orphan Annie when she first arrives at Oliver Warbucks' mansion. They ask her what she'd like to do next and her mind is sort of blown. I feel like this a lot lately. I'm figuring myself and my life out with a clarity I don't think I've ever had as an adult. It's cool. It's a lot. But it's cool. Am I a morning person? Am I a night owl? Do I actually like this person? Do I actually like this apartment? Why don't I know how to drive? Why can't I maintain a relationship with a dentist? Do I like tea? I hope I'm not a tea person. When you're driven by something that zaps your clarity and presence and removes you from reality for years and years and years, you kind of stumble through life. Sure, I'll wear that. Sure, this person is my friend. Yeah I'll live here, whatever. When you get to the other side of it, you realize you get to choose. I have a lot of decisions to make. I'm excited. I think I'm gonna like it here.

3. I mentioned this yesterday: Hunger by Roxane Gay. Have you read it? I'm always late to the party so most of you probably read it already. I'm about 20 pages from the end. This is a book like no other. I can't say "I love it!" It's just not that kind of book. I can say that it's incredibly powerful and in the week I've been reading it, it's shifted the way I look at other people and how I feel about some of the less-than-wonderful things I've gone through in my life. Roxane is a complete badass of a writer and a person. You should read her books and follow her on Twitter.

4. As part of my "I'm sober now, who the hell am I and what do I like" phase, I started to realize that I don't particularly love or need Internet access at home. I'm not home all that much. I teach four out of five weeknights and my weekends I'm usually with Prom Date doing something fun. I don't have a television. When my ex moved out several years ago he took the TV and I never replaced it and haven't missed it. I access television shows via the Internet. But I don't really have time for a Netflix binge and, I'm sorry, I haven't super loved anything I've watched lately. I didn't finish Stranger Things. Can we still be friends? I got bored. I'm sorry. I watched three minutes of Game of Thrones and knew it wasn't my jam. I watched one season of Grace & Frankie and that was enough. Meh. It's just not my scene. I decided I'd do a 30-day no Wifi at home experiment. I lasted 24 hours. The second a new Law & Order: SVU was available I threw in the towel. I cannot live without Olivia Benson and she is absolutely worth the $1K/year I pay to have Wifi at home. You guys should watch the latest episode. VERY good.

5. What are you doing this weekend? I am hoping to go see Chappaquiddick and going out for sushi at this glorious place with Prom Date's family and friends-who-are-like-family for his birthday which was last week. Happy Birthday, Prom Date. And Happy Friday, you guys.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Snow Day Nine @ Noon


1. I really didn't expect to have a snow day today, but I'm thankful for it. I really really really needed a day where I didn't set an alarm. It's been a while since I've had one. I stayed in bed until 9am and then got up and got caught up on my This Is Us watching and my breakfast potato eating. Is everyone caught up on This Is Us? I just watched the Deja episode. I love that it included Goodnight Moon. Something about Goodnight Moon calms me down right away. All the memories of my mom reading it to me. All the "sh" words. I just love it. I might read it this afternoon. Why not?

2. Saturday night I made grilled cheese and tomato soup for dinner. "Made" is a strong word here. I heated up tomato soup and put some cheap white American cheese together with bread and butter in a pan. I cannot speak for Prom Date, but I was totally swooning over this meal and haven't stopped thinking about it. It's happening again for lunch today. Similar to Goodnight Moon, it's comforting and takes me back to childhood. I might add it into my regular weeknight dinner rotation. 

3. All of the gyms and studios are closed today or at least have modified hours. I was looking forward to my yoga class this morning, but my studio was rightfully closed so I'm going to throw my mat down in the living room and try Yoga With Adriene in a little bit. After my grilled cheese settles.

4. I'm obsessing over being nicer to my skin (and myself) lately. I'm not using foundation for a little while so my skin can breathe, and I'm trying this new Micellar Cleansing Water to keep it clean. So far I really love it. It's gentle, does the job, and doesn't make my skin feel tight or dry or irritated at all. So far, so good.

5. Here's a great song from the forthcoming BodyJam 84 for you to dance to in your living room this afternoon if you start to get stir crazy.

6. I remember being in the waiting room at the dentist when I was in middle school and reading in a wrinkled old Glamour magazine that Cheryl Tiegs drank hot water with lemon in it first thing every morning to get rid of cellulite. I always thought that was interesting. Since then I've heard other people talk about doing this and I've tried it here and there, but I've been doing it regularly for two weeks now. I don't think it's getting rid of cellulite or changing my health or appearance in any drastic way, but I like that it's something I do as soon as I wake up and it's 100% focused on taking care of me. I read this post from the Fitness Alchemists a couple weeks ago that talked about how to be better at mornings. A big part of it was taking care of yourself first thing in the morning and how that can help you be better prepared and more clearheaded for your day, especially if your day revolves around caring for other people. Lemon water takes no time at all. I squeeze half a lemon into a mug, heat up 2 cups of water in the microwave, and dump it into the mug on top of the lemon juice and drink it. (Note, half a lemon is probably kind of aggressive, you might not need quite as much, I like things that taste like a punch in the face.)

7. OH MY GOD. April 25. Season Two.

8. When I officially, finally quit drinking I felt pretty confident in my ability to resist the urge to fall back into my old pattern regardless of how stressed, sad, angry, or happy I became. The one thing that made me nervous was the idea of a sober snow day. Sounds odd, but I was really worried about this. I wasn't all that concerned that I'd slip up, but I was dreading the moment where I realized I didn't love snow days as much as I used to because I couldn't drink 900 bottles of red wine during them. I'd see everyone posting on Facebook about how much wine they were going to drink and I'd feel left out and disappointed. My tomato sauce wouldn't be as delicious. I'd be grumpy and bitchy and miserable. Thank goodness, this ended up not being the case. This is my third sober snow day, and I really like it. I might even be enjoying it more. Just like the rest of my recovery journey, I'm realizing that what I thought was relaxing and rewarding was actually pretty destructive. The day after most snow days I always felt like shit. I'd drink too much and eat too much and feel like I needed a second snow day to recover. If I got a second snow day, I'd just drink more and feel even worse. (To be brutally honest, I am a little jealous of those of you who are planning to have some cozy red wine at home today and I sincerely hope you enjoy it. I'm not judging you, trust me, I wasn't having a glass of cozy red wine. I was having multiple bottles of cozy red wine.) I'm thankful for my sobriety and all the space its created in my life for real rest and clarity and self-care and I'm SO relieved that my tomato sauce tastes just as delicious as it did when I was half in the bag. Maybe even more delicious. 

9. It's hard to believe it today, but spring is coming. I have fallen in love with this tiny store in the North End called Ensemble. I got a lot of my fall/winter clothes there. They have maybe five racks of clothing, but everything on the racks is great. It's a small, woman-owned business and she sells a lot of clothes by female designers. One of my favorites is Luna Luz. As you start looking for spring clothes, I highly recommend you check this place out. And when you're done, meet me for a coffee in the neighborhood. Ensemble is tucked away at 2 Baldwin Place in the North End.

Happy Snow Day, you guys.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Friday Five @ 5

Revere Beach Two weeks ago.
1. Trader Joe's is a gift to us all. That store. I just... it's too good. Anyway, I tried two new-to-me Trader Joe's products this week and loved them both. First, their Citrus Medley Greek Whole Milk Yogurt. DELICIOUS. Tangy. Creamy. Amazing. Was recommended to me by a co-worker who said it tasted like a creamsicle. She was right, it does. A creamsicle that keeps you full all afternoon. It might have too much sugar in it for you healthy people, but I'll be buying more of it because it has less sugar in it than the Milky Way Simply Caramel I usually eat. Second, their Shea Butter & Coconut Oil Hair Mask. I was feeling a little cranky and tired last night and needed a treat. I saw this and loved the packaging. It was only $3.99, and I was sold. Tried it when I washed my hair before bed and really liked it. Makes your hair conditioning experience feel a bit more luxurious and your hair smell like a trip to the beach. Good stuff. Love Trader Joe's.

2. I am in the middle of literally six different books right now and it's stressing me out. I don't know why. I watch more than one TV show, why can't I be reading more than one book? Anyway, my favorite out of the six right now is Brené Brown's Braving the Wilderness. Have you guys read it? It's really really really good. You should also watch her TED Talk. 

3. A truly wonderful recipe for Macaroni & Cheese from Smitten Kitchen. Usually Smitten recipes take hours and hours and every single pan in your kitchen. This was a snap. I think we all need some comfort food after this week, yes? Yes.   

4. I decided to stop wearing foundation for a little while. Not all makeup. I'm not Alicia Keys. Just foundation. I'm two days in, so far no one has screamed and run away from me. I have no idea why I started to really dislike foundation this week, but I did. I was washing my face Tuesday night and did my usual cleanse and splash. I looked in the mirror and all the gunk was still there. I grabbed a face cloth and gave my face a scrub, looked at the face cloth all covered in makeup and decided I just couldn't do it anymore. Something about covering my clean skin in a tinted mask everyday suddenly just seems really weird to me. Also, I've never been able to find a foundation that looks right on me. I don't think it makes me look any better than I look without it, it just makes me look a bit more pale. And yet I've used it for YEARS. I've never loved my skin. It's not the best. It's super sensitive. It gets red really easily. It is what it is. I've been working really hard lately to sort myself out and love myself a lot more than I have in the past. Part of that has been the idea of embracing my flaws and showing myself compassion. I've been focused on my internal flaws. I think I'll try and do this with my external flaws for a little while as well. 

5. What are you all doing this weekend? I'm spending a couple much-needed hours in the yoga studio, starting to learn the new BodyJam and BodyPump releases, reading a few pages from each of my six books, making a cozy-to-the-max tomato soup & grilled cheese dinner with Prom Date, and going to a birthday party.

Happy Friday, you guys. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

Friday Five @ 5

I really want to bring these little posts back. I took a couple months off from the blog because I was recalibrating as a human, but I think I'm fully calibrated now. Ish. You know how it goes. So, hi. I missed you, you five people who read these. I love writing on Friday. I love Friday in general. It's always my most productive day at work, I get to teach for two hours after work, every other Friday is payday, and the following day is Saturday - my favorite day. I am going to keep these shorter, though. Here are 5 things that are in my head:

1. I go back and forth with my feelings on Elizabeth Gilbert. I have phases where I love her and think she's a brilliant, soulful, real AF genius. Then I have phases where I read her words and think, "Sure, lady. If I had a pile of money and a book deal I'd pack it all up and go find myself in Italy, too. Ugh." I'm in a good phase with her right now, and I'm about three-quarters of the way through her book Big Magic. I started to underline and highlight things in the book while reading it the other day. Then I started to realize I wanted to highlight nearly every single sentence, so I stopped entirely and just decided I'd read it twice. It's described as being about "creative living" but really it's just about being a person, being alive. It's focused on creativity, but it's not all about the arts. It's about going after whatever it is you're passionate about whether that be ice skating or raising goats or really anything at all. The thing I love most about it is that it talks about pursuing your passions vigorously but not necessarily quitting your day job to do so, and definitely not considering yourself a failure if you never become famous for whatever you want to pursue. It gives you permission to do your thing and just be happy you're doing your thing. It convinces you that the world needs you to do your thing. I recommend you read the first few pages and see how you feel. If it bugs you, put it down and try again in six months. If you love it, devour it.

2. Tried this recipe and hated it. Tried this recipe and loved it.

3. I pretty firmly believe that anyone who would want to own an assault rifle shouldn't own an assault rifle. Does that sentence make sense? It's early. I think if you want to own an assault rifle and you're not going off to actual war, then you have a problem and should not be trusted with things like, say, assault rifles. Can we ban assault rifles now?

4. Spring is coming and I'm searching for the perfect white t-shirt. I used to love the Banana Republic V-neck. They changed it and made it into something so thin you could pretty much see my veins through it. Then I was into the Old Navy v-neck, but they changed THAT and made it super boxy and gross. I want a trim, fitted, polished, crisp, white v-neck t-shirt that isn't as thin as tissue paper. Help me, internet. Seen any good white Ts lately? Let me know. I'll order five of them immediately. Love a white t-shirt. 

5. What are you all doing this weekend? Tomorrow morning I'm having a playdate with my fantastic friend, Erica. We are going to take two classes at North End Yoga and then eat large breakfasts to balance things out. I adore Erica. We met in a class in college we both found kind of dull, and have stayed in touch over the years through the magic of Facebook and a mutual love of a good manicure. We also both love words and animals, and we both ended up becoming group fitness instructors in our 30s. She teaches at the Energy Barre. You North Shore people should go take her classes. Tomorrow night Prom Date and I are going to have dinner at Grotto in Beacon Hill. Their beef tenderloin is one of my all-time favorite Boston meals, their service is solid, and their space is subterranean and super dark and I'm PUMPED.

Happy Friday, you guys.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Self-Love

Today is Valentine's Day and I want to talk about self-love. Several years ago I was having a very bad day. I'd been dumped. I was on Cape Cod with three other women for a "girls weekend" and I really didn't want to be there but they'd talked me into going. As predicted being on the Cape made me feel like shit. One moment stuck out to me as being the shittiest, though. One of the women told me from her perch on the couch as I sat on the floor in tears that all I needed to do was love myself and then all the other pieces would fall into place and I'd be happy and find the right man and everything would be great. Hair flip. Wine sip. She said it like it was nothing, like it was easy. Just love yourself. Oh okay. Thanks. I'll go do that. BRB. Was she wrong? Not entirely. But loving myself was proving to be really difficult for me and continued to be difficult until very, very, very recently.

For a long time I genuinely thought I loved myself. When I saw something I wanted I bought it, ate it, or drank it. I felt sorry for myself when people were mean to me. Wasn't that it? Wasn't that me loving myself? Why wasn't my life getting better like Hair Flip Wine Sip said it would? Why did I feel anxious and like shit all the time? 

This year I took a closer look and oh wow. No. I did not love myself. If I loved myself, I wouldn't have gone on that trip to the Cape. I knew I was going to have a lousy time. Out of the three women I went on that trip with two were okay, but one of them was really cruel and passive aggressive to me and I knew being around her was going to make me feel worse. So why did I go? Why did I remain friends with her for 8 years? Why did I exclusively date men who disliked me to my very core and were horrible to me? Why didn't I have a dentist? Why didn't I own winter gloves? It really hit me: all those times that people told me I was mean to myself, all those times that people told me I just needed to love myself? Yeah. They were right. I was a total asshole to myself and I needed to fix it.

I think a lot of the time when people want to focus on self-love and self-care they immediately book a massage or a vacation or take a personal day from work, I started my self-love project by booking a bunch of doctor’s appointments. I wanted a clean bill of health and I'd go from there. I went into my doctor’s appointments prepared to advocate for myself and it felt really good. I wanted my questions answered, I wanted good referrals to specialists who were actually going to call me back, I wanted more than a cursory glance and a "see you in a year." I got a physical and made sure it lasted a solid 30 minutes, I didn't rush through it sheepishly because I felt bad for taking up my doctor's time. I did a ton of research on birth control options and found the safest, most reliable one for a woman my age and set it up. I badgered my way into the dermatologist and had her look at all my weird moles and cut two of them off and biopsy them. I relentlessly called psychiatrists and finally found someone who would see me and got medicine for the anxiety I'd been struggling with for 15 years. I quit drinking alcohol and that blew the roof off of things. Then I got started on my apartment. I got a hamper. I moved my toaster to a part of the counter that made it easier to use and it made me love my kitchen again. I got rid of mugs I hated and books I never liked and pictures of assholes I'd dated. I got batteries for my alarm clock so I'd stop sleeping with my phone every single night. I moved my now-useless wine glasses out of the huge cabinet and filled that cabinet with food. Then, I dove into my finances. I sat down and spent a long time looking at my credit card statement online and for the first time in my adult life (sad, I know) I truly understood what I was doing to myself by carrying around that debt and I made a plan to pay it off as quickly as I could. 

Isn't this all so exciting? Nope. It's pretty boring. It's not a massage, it's not a vacation. It's better. It's so so so much better. I stopped taking care of myself years ago because I just didn't give a shit. I felt awful and I got used to it. I stayed down there. I gave up. I passively bought myself sweaters and Ubers to work and pedicures and bottles of wine and $28 hamburgers at the Four Seasons and called it self-love because self-love was trendy and those things sounded good on Facebook, but it was far far far away from loving myself. 


I am in a relationship now and I'm very happy. (I love you, Prom Date.) But I am equally happy that I'm FINALLY back in a relationship with myself and knowing and loving myself fully for the very first time. Happy Valentine’s Day, all.   

Friday, December 8, 2017

Friday Five @ 5

1. I did a shitty job of exercising this week. I have taken not a single yoga class. Not one. Sure I technically exercised, but that was work. I was required to be there, I was paid to be there. Getting motivated to do your own exercise can be so freaking hard. Even if you love it. I LOVE yoga. I feel better when I'm going regularly, I love the routine it creates in my morning, nothing about it isn't wonderful. And yet, every single morning this week? NOPE. Hard pass. I had every excuse. I was tired. It was cold out. I had a mountain of dirty dishes in the sink and I needed to get up and wash them instead of going to class. I didn't totally know what I was teaching that night and I should use the time I'd be in yoga class to make my playlist. Did I get up and wash my dishes? No. Did I get up and make my playlist? No. I stayed in my bed for a WHILE. I got up and threw myself together in 20 mins. I bought breakfast on the way to work. One day I even had two doughnuts. Two of them. That was the best I could do this week, and I'm fine with it. Maybe I'll do better next week. Onward.

2. I love Old Navy so much. I went yesterday and got this shirtthis dressthis hat, and two pairs earrings that they don't appear to have online. I really like getting earrings at Old Navy. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to have a nice pair of earrings. I am researching gold hoops currently. I really want to buy myself a super nice pair of Big Girl gold hoops. But even when I do buy those hoops? I'm still going to buy earrings at Old Navy to wear day-to-day. They are between $6 and $10 and they are adorable. If you're on the go and disorganized like me and taking your earrings off and shoving them in your gym bag hurriedly, you're eventually going to lose one. If they are $6? It doesn't matter. Also. Anytime someone tells me they like my jewelry, it's something I've purchased at Old Navy. Every. Single. Time. I love you, Old Navy. Never change.

3. I made this Shrimp with Tomatoes, White Beans & Spinach recipe last night and it was divine. Highly recommended. For those of you who know my situation: I did include wine in my sauce. I bought $2.99 Charles Shaw Pinot Grigio, poured out the half cup of it that I needed, and then dumped the rest down the sink and put the empty bottle outside in recycling. I felt like a superhero.

4. While we are on THAT topic, I went to an AA meeting recently. I'm not going to tell you where or when it was. I'm not going to tell you who I went with. I was asked if I wanted to check it out and I went. A lot of things about the experience were eye-opening for me. The most major thing was that I could not believe how crowded the meeting was. HUGE group. Standing room only. Tons of people who looked exactly like me, tons of people who looked nothing like me. I looked at the person I went to the meeting with on the way in and jokingly said, "I thought I was the only one." I sat through the meeting and looked around and wondered who was in all the bars since everyone was here. I never realized and still can't totally comprehend how common it is to have a complicated, challenging relationship with alcohol. Going to this meeting and seeing how many people showed up for it kind of blew my mind. On one level it made me feel better: I'm not the only one who has this struggle. On another level, it sort of bothered me. If THIS many people in this tiny sliver of the world are showing up for this one meeting of which there are hundreds in the area, then why is it still okay in our culture to almost celebrate binge drinking? Sweatshirts that say, "Sip Sip Hooray" and tote bags that say "Rosé All Day." I tried drinking rosé all day many, many, many times. I tested it out. I made sure I got a good sense of it. Trust me, it's not a good thing. I was walking through Roche Bros in Downtown Crossing yesterday and the woman running the wine tasting asked me multiple times if I wanted to try some wine. I finally had to tell her I had a drinking problem and she needed to stop. I went to lunch in my beloved North End last month and at the end of the meal during which I did not drink alcohol, the server brought me a shot glass of limoncello. A nice gesture? Maybe. But thank goodness I was master of my drinking domain by then. If they'd hit me with that on a day earlier on in my process, I would have had the limoncello and it would have been off to the races for days and days. Now, I'm not turning into a preachy jerk who thinks everyone on the planet has a drinking problem and alcohol needs to be banned. I'm not saying that at all. On Thanksgiving my family split a bottle of white wine and I didn't really care. On my birthday I went to the Four Seasons with a huge group of my friends and 90% of them had cocktails and I didn't really care. It doesn't bother me that people drink. What does bother me is that there is this culture that really encourages us to overdo it. If you go to a restaurant and you aren't drinking alcohol, the server rarely asks you if you want another glass of whatever you're having. If you are drinking alcohol, they are up your ass to order your next round, they are refilling your wine glass before you can tell them not to. I went to a party on Friday night in a restaurant and told the server I didn't drink alcohol but that I wanted something with a lot of lime juice, a splash of grapefruit, seltzer, and a salt rim. It was delicious, I really liked it. I wanted another one. I had to chase him down to order it, but I noticed he offered everyone who WAS drinking alcohol a second round. I had a couple people at the party ask me how I went about ordering my drink, and I saw it occur to them that not having alcohol at the event was an option. For YEARS I felt I could not stop drinking because how on earth would I still socialize? How could I do all my favorite things like see friends after work and go to nice restaurants and have oysters in the summer and cook in my kitchen at the end of a long day? You needed wine to do those things. What I've learned over the past 121 days since my last drink, is that I can still do all my favorite things. I actually enjoy them more. Prom Date and I go to a really nice restaurant and have a gorgeous meal almost every Saturday night. I ate oysters several times this summer. I cook in my kitchen all the time. But it was driven into my brain for years that I couldn't do those things without alcohol, and that's bullshit. Now, this was my first AA meeting. I'm not going back to that particular one simply because it won't work with my schedule regularly. I'm not sure if I'll find another one. I might. We'll see. But I'm told that a big part of AA is to go through the steps and achieve sobriety and maintain that sobriety partially through your efforts to help others with the same struggle do the same thing. I am a huge fan of this model. When I shared my initial post about my drinking problem, I heard from a lot of people who confided in me that they wondered about their own drinking. Talking with those people did strengthen my resolve to stay sober and made me look at my newly adopted lifestyle and like it more. I want to put it out there that if you do wonder about your drinking and you want to talk about it, I am here to listen to you. Again, I don't think every person on the planet is an alcoholic, but I do think we are all encouraged to overdo it. If you need support figuring out where you fall on the alcohol spectrum, I am happy to provide a judgement-free space for you to talk it out. That meeting really let me know that I'm not alone, you're not alone either.

5. On a lighter note, have any of you seen this new movie Lady Bird? It looks really good and Stephen Colbert says it's one of the best movies he's ever seen. I'm thinking I might need to take myself to see it on Sunday afternoon.

Happy Friday, you guys.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Friday Five @ 5

1. I was late to the party in terms of loving butternut squash. Nowadays I can't get enough. Doesn't this recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash Hummus sound delicious? I love that there's no tahini in it. Can't stand tahini. Might whip up a batch of this over the weekend. 

2. I read this article on self-care this week and it really resonated. The whole concept of self-care sort of bothered me for years. Oh great, on top of everything else I'm dealing with, now there's pressure to find the money for a fucking facial and some free time to take a bath. Ugh. What the article was saying is that self-care isn't necessarily about making your life look like some happier woman's Pinterest board, it's literally about taking care of yourself. It's having a dentist. Making a spreadsheet so you can figure out your debt and your budget. It's staying home and letting yourself not wash the dishes and not care that you're not washing the dishes. I loved this article. You should read it if you haven't already. 

3. Tonight is my 20-year high school reunion in Quincy. I can't believe it's been 20 years. I kind of doubt anyone prepares for something like this and says, "Yeah. I can believe it's been 20 years," but I still have to say it. I didn't like high school. I was shy and awkward. I had a crush on a boy who didn't like me back. My favorite teacher from all four years was actually a student teacher from Boston College who taught my history class for just a few months one year. I didn't drink any water during the day because I was scared to go into the bathroom because people smoked in there. I was voted "Quietest" in our yearbook and the day they took the photos I refused to show up for them so they had to come upstairs and get me and make me come downstairs and in the picture I look like I've been crying and that's because I had been crying. My business teacher sent me to the school psychologist because he thought I seemed sad. I had a few very close friends, but I never really felt like I was part of a group. I didn't really go to parties or drink (I made up for that though, right? Haha, right.) My grades weren't amazing. I wasn't super nice, people weren't super nice to me, and I was pretty happy when it was all over. I never felt comfortable in that building. I went back there about eight months ago. I found myself in Quincy on a Saturday morning and was passing North Quincy High School on my way to the T and saw that there was a fair amount of activity out front, so I just followed a group of people in and kept walking so that I looked like I had a reason to be there. I noticed a few changes, but it was pretty much the same. It smelled the same, it echoed the same. I walked all over the building and tried to feel nostalgic or have a sense of, "Awww I remember that!" Never happened. I went to my five-year, my 10-year, and my 15-year high school reunions and I left all of them feeling funny. I've never gone to any of my college reunions. I think I popped into an after party for one of them in a bar one time, but that was about it. I loved college. I feel great about the experience I had there, I loved so many of my professors, and have so many fond memories. I'm at peace with college. I rarely think about it. So it seems for me reunions are not about reuniting with old friends and catching up and celebrating, they are about making sense of an experience, making peace with it. Maybe this will be the year high school will make sense.

4. Did you all have a nice Thanksgiving yesterday? Mine was pretty good. I was having an off day. Don't you hate it when your off day falls on a day where you're supposed to be cheerful and rosy cheeked and laughing and skipping everywhere? Yeah I was off. But teaching Thanksgiving morning classes perked me up and time with my family is always lovely and seeing my pug nephew never fails to make me smile. I think there's a LOT of pressure to be happy during the holiday season and I just want to put it out there that it's okay if you're feeling off or a little meh or downright sad here and there over the next few weeks. Everyone else is, too from time to time. Ease up on yourself. 

5. I chose new glasses frames and I'm so excited I could burst. I never thought I could be a cool Warby Parker person and I never in a billion years would have picked these out. I grabbed them by accident and put them on and LOVED them. I think I'm going to be a glasses person, I'm going to wear them all the time. I can't see a damn thing, if I'm honest. I've always been insecure and not wanted to wear my glasses regularly because I wasn't sure if people would think I looked funny. But, I'm 20 years removed from high school and shouldn't care about stuff like that anymore AND I'm into true self-care nowadays, so a glasses person I shall be.

Happy Weekend, everyone.    

Friday, November 17, 2017

Friday Five @ 5

One of my favorite pockets of the North End.
1. I love Frances McDormand. I love her. I'm going to see her new movie Three Bilboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri with my two best friends (Mom and Dad) this Sunday at the wonderful Coolidge Corner Theatre. It looks great, but honestly I'd see anything Ms. McDormand did. (Also the Coolidge has the best popcorn I've ever tasted.) If you're a fan of Frances and you haven't already, you should read this recent New York Times article about her. 

2. I think had what Oprah would call an "aha moment" the other night. I was sitting on a bench trying to get in the zone to teach a dance class. I started thinking about a class I'd taught recently that I was particularly pleased with. I approached that class almost as if I was trying to earn the right to continue teaching. I did this because my new manager was in the studio taking the class. I wanted to do my very best work, and convey how much I care about my participants and how grateful I am for the opportunity to teach. Teaching that way felt TERRIFIC. I realized sitting there that I could and should be approaching every single class that way; from a place of genuine caring and gratitude. Then I dug a bit deeper and decided that maybe I should approach other situations in my life that way, too. Maybe I should care a bit more and give my very best effort to everything that I'm grateful for. Maybe I can apply this approach to the way I do my job, the way I treat my people, and the way I treat myself. I'm going to think more about this. Operating from a place of gratitude. I've never really had a life motto or philosophy. I'm kind of loosey goose with how I live. Do you have a life philosophy? Is that what you even call this? A life philosophy? A human being mission statement?

3. While you're thinking about your life philosophy/human being mission statement, here is a quick and delicious snack you should make: sliced baguette brushed with olive oil and toasted in the oven, smear of good ricotta, sprinkle of black pepper, thin slice of Prosciutto di Parma piled loosely on top, drizzle of honey. I made this last weekend for me and Prom Date and it was quite good. I'd do it again with a bit more honey. Be indulgent with that drizzle. Make it rain.

4. 100 days ago today I officially quit drinking. 100 full and complete days. I keep waiting for the moment to arrive where I regret this decision or genuinely miss alcohol, but that moment hasn't arrived yet. Sometimes I crave the escape the bottles of wine once gave me. When you're sober you feel every feeling and hear every thought. On occasion that can be really hard, especially if you're like me and struggle with anxiety. I've tried to seek out other ways of coping with the noisier, harsher moments and I've done an okay job. I give myself a B. Maybe a B+. Overall, life is good. I don't miss the shame, exhaustion, and despair of my drinking. It sounds dramatic, but that's what it was for me. Shame, exhaustion, and despair. I was watching This is Us on Wednesday night and there was a scene where one of the characters who is battling an addiction to painkillers and alcohol crumples to the ground and tearfully keeps repeating, "I just need somebody to help me." Once again, This Is Us just nailed it. Nailed. It. I had a moment exactly like that. It was a year ago. A Saturday. Very, very late at night/early in the morning and I was sitting on the steps of a church in the North End bawling my eyes out. Several hours earlier I'd texted whichever friend I'd been out with and told them I was "Home safe!" Nope. Not home. Not safe. Sitting there outside the church after several hours of supplementary drinking by myself in an effort to not feel my feelings and hear my thoughts, I just wanted someone to find me. I was ready. I wanted someone to come out of the church and find me and take me inside where it was quiet and safe and let me tell them how I ended up there. I knew if I could start talking to someone right then, I'd start the process of fixing what was broken. No one ever came out of the church and eventually I walked home and went to sleep. I'm thankful for the combination of factors, people, and experiences that came together a little over 100 days ago and made me brave enough to start fixing what's broken.

5. I applied to a real, legit yoga teacher training program and got accepted. Isn't that weird? I start in January. If you told me two years ago that I'd be doing this I'd have laughed REALLY hard in your face. Sure, I teach in a gym. But I yell and crank music as loud as it will go and flail and say strange things and throw myself on the floor and at the mirror. I'm not a yoga instructor. For some reason I feel in my bones that this program is the right next step for me though, so maybe I'll become one. We'll see.

Happy Friday, you guys.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Friday Five @ 5

1. Last night I took a new (to me) class at my yoga studio and I loved it so much that waking up this morning I still don't know what to do with all my feelings about it. Pilates Fusion. I'd seen it on the schedule for years. I'd taken other classes by this instructor. She is enormously popular and I enjoy her pilates mat classes on Saturday mornings from time to time. This was Something Else. It's a little cardio, a little ballet toning, a lot of push-ups and squats, AND a classical pilates mat flow. It was so good I had to stop myself from clapping several times. Bit of a reserved group at this studio, no floor slaps for them. So, after you do all of that stuff I just mentioned and you are sweatier than you've ever been in your entire life, there is an actual savasana, which essentially means you lie on the floor and do nothing. Or everything. During the savasana she shut all the lights off and blasted this "Praying" song by Ke$ha that I'd never heard before and that made me cry joyful tears on my mat. I realize I'm maybe a little too excited about this class. That's just me being me. But seriously,  this was the real deal. If you want a PHENOMENAL workout, you need to try this. And just a quick sidenote for all my fellow lower back pain sufferers: pilates really does help, my lower back pain is way more manageable since I've started doing pilates more regularly. Thursdays at 7:15pm in the North End. $16 walk-in.

2. Well, everyone warned me. Not everyone, but most people. When I contemplated bangs people said they'd be fun, but growing them out would be a bitch. I tried. I really did. I got fun hair combs and tried to have a positive attitude and just push them to the side. I Googled pictures of Kate Middleton during her bang grow-out phase to make myself feel like less of a monster. I bought a wide headband and tried to liked it. But yesterday I just snapped. I hate this. I HATE IT. I want them gone. I don't know where to put them. It's throwing off my whole head. It's throwing off my whole LIFE. Growing out bangs is the damn worst. If you are considering getting them, don't. Okay sorry. I just needed to let that out. You're supposed to be all sunshine on the internet and pretend that everything in your life is great and you have it all together and I just can't do that any longer in the area of bang growing. It sucks and I'm miserable.

3. Fun Fact: I don't know how to drive. I still haven't learned. I don't dislike the concept of driving, it just hasn't yet occurred to me to go learn how to do it. Cars have never been my thing. Interestingly, cars are very much THE Thing for my boyfriend (I have one of those now) and they always have been. They are his passion, they are his career. His whole energy changes when he talks about cars and the depth of his knowledge about them is (at least to me) extensive. 20 years prior to our first date this summer we actually went to my prom together. That magical night back in May of 1997 we opted to forgo the group limousine and instead ride in his very shiny fancy looking black Mustang that I'm quite sure has a proper name other than Very Shiny Fancy Looking Black Mustang. It looked really good. It had a loud engine. I liked it when he drove fast. I felt like a smug badass arriving at my prom in it. That was about as much as I knew. Fast forward to 2017 and I'm still pretty car clueless, but last weekend I went to my first real car event. It was called Cape Run and my Prom Date organized it with a friend of his. This is the 15th year they've done it. Every year it raises money for two charitable causes: the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline and a local family in need. I wasn't sure what to expect. He said there would be fast driving. I said, "Like 80 miles per hour?" He kind of smiled and said, "Faster" and I kind of considered wearing a helmet. I didn't, but this event was a total culture shock for me. Imagine approximately 80 of the most impressive looking automobiles you've ever seen in your non-driving life all in one place. Powerful. I couldn't believe my eyes. We gathered at a very nice car dealership in Norwell, checked everyone in, there were some poignant remarks about the two charities, some rules explained, an introduction to the police who'd be escorting us, and then we took off. Holy SHIT did we take off. Remember how I enjoyed how fast my Prom Date drove the night of the prom? Same deal. Times a million. I had butterflies in my stomach and was holding on to the door handle awkwardly and could only breathe in, but I really liked it. I was so proud of him. The event raised a good amount of money, it was a beautiful day, and the genuine camaraderie amongst the participants was something I didn't expect. Hearing them all talk to each other about their cars reminded me of hearing artists talk to each other about their work. I loved it. I started to understand the car thing a bit more. The best part of the day, though, was seeing my Prom Date immersed in something he really loves. One of my MOST favorite qualities in a person is the ability to be passionate about something. Anything. Even something I know nothing about.

4. I decided I'm going to attempt to write an actual book. Truthfully, I started it seven years ago. It's a bunch of essays saved in various email accounts and on various laptops and in the notes app on my iPhone at this point, but I really want to do something with it. Until recently I've been scared to give it a shot. Writing is the thing I love to do the most. If I make it real, if I attempt to really do it, what if it fails? I'll have lost it, it won't be mine anymore, it won't be the same. A few things came together to motivate me and make me feel more brave. Part of it was thinking about teaching fitness. I loved BodyJam SO much. It was the thing that, in my mind, saved my life. Taking class made me happier than I'd felt in so long. If I tried to teach it, it could ruin it. It didn't. It made it better. A lot better. I'm also two years away from 40 now. That milestone is making me think, hmmm, what do I want to accomplish before I get there? Also, quitting the booze has given me a TON of free time and I need to fill it up with something. And finally, seeing my Prom Date do something with his life that is tied to the thing he loves the most has been inspiring for me. I feel like I should do this. I'm going to try. Stay tuned.

5. It's getting cold out and I want to buy this, this, this, and these.      


Friday, October 20, 2017

Friday Five @ 5

1. I shared this on Instagram earlier this week, but I'm mentioning it again here. You need need need need to go to Trader Joe's and buy their vegan Kale, Cashew, Basil Pesto. I cannot stop eating it and I'm terrified of the day they stop making it. It seems to be a new product so there isn't even a link for me to send you to. It's in the refrigerated section by their hummus and pico de gallo. Go get some, smear it on toast, top that with some thin slices of fresh mozz, and top that with an egg. SO DAMN GOOD.

2. I wish I could have done a "Me Too" post this week, but I couldn't. One thing I've always struggled with as a victim of sexual assault is to claim it. What does that mean? I can't say that it happened to me and really mean it. I cannot. I know what happened. I know what it's called. I knew it was wrong each and every time. I've even said it out loud. But, I can't say it and REALLY mean it. In the back of my head there's a teeny tiny voice that says I'm a liar. It didn't really happen to me. I didn't speak up soon enough so it doesn't count. I'd been drinking so there's a grey area. In at least one case I was probably strong enough to have physically stopped it and I didn't so consent was probably implied. And so on and so forth. I'm thankful to all of you who did share. I'm usually Share-y McShareson on Facebook and I really could not copy and paste and type those two words this week. That was weird for me. I thought about your posts a lot and that fact that it was probably pretty scary for you to write them and share them. You've really refocused and reinvigorated my healing process. Thank you, and I'm sorry for what each of you has experienced.

3. I haven't been to the MFA for a while. The last time I visited I wasn't in love with the experience. I got snapped at for attempting to use the wrong entrance and it soured the rest of my visit because I let it because that's how I am. I think I've recovered, and I'm glad because I am dying to see the Murakami show that just opened. Who wants to go with me? I think we should go and then go to the new Eventide Oyster that just opened in the Fenway. Doesn't that sound like a good day?

4. Earth shattering news: I've decided to grow out my bangs. Already? Yup. Tomorrow I will go to the salon and get a transitional haircut to begin the process of bidding my bangs farewell. In my heart I knew they would be temporary, a fling. I loved the time we had together. Honestly, I got them because I needed to act out. I was stressed and churning and needed to do something bratty and indulgent. But what could I do? I don't drink anymore. I couldn't find anything I really wanted to buy. Food wasn't cutting it. The night before I got my bangs, I taught my classes as hard as I could and the next morning I twisted myself into the most pretzel-y pretzel shape I've ever twisted myself into in yoga. But I still needed to do SOMETHING to get it out. Whatever "it" was. When I got to the salon I could barely sit still, and when it was done and I looked in the mirror it was such a relief. I really liked being a girl with bangs for a month, but now I'm done. I want my face back. I'm finished being in my disguise. I have combs to hold them back with and a headband and I'm ready. Let's grow.

5. I hate to get back on this and I really don't want to talk about it, but this Harvey Weinstein story is really making me itch. This morning I saw a New York Times video hitting the point home that most people in Hollywood knew about it and didn't do anything. This doesn't shock me. I had a situation at work many, many moons ago. It was totally separate and totally different from the situations I alluded to above in #2, but it was awful. It completely changed the course of my career and thew me into a tailspin in my life that, honestly, I'm sort of still trying to recover from. Most, if not all, of the people in the organization knew what was going on. They gossiped. Even the people who were hired after I'd left and who never even met me gossiped. They had a field day with it. I'm sure it was amusing, but they did nothing to help me. No one ever said, "Hey, you're a junior member of our staff. You've suddenly dropped 25 pounds and look like you're about to fall over and we know why. Maybe this isn't a good idea for you, let's talk about it and try and get you out of it." I've done my best over the years since then to be a good manager of younger female staff and a confidant for my female co-workers. If I notice even a tiny little thing that seems off, I drop everything and check in. It's important to do that, clearly... Okay. I'm done talking about this now. This isn't a very organized piece of writing. I'm not super clearheaded about all of this, but I'm getting more clearheaded and I plan to write a lot more about it :o)

Happy Friday, all.