Friday Five!

Hello friends, it’s been a while! The past few weeks have been very busy, and a little bit heavy, but also in some moments very light. It’s been finishing grading final papers, attending commencement ceremonies, teaching and taking a lot of a yoga and sculpt, and doing tons of things to prepare for my impending trip to England. It’s been laughing and crying and reflecting and loving and missing and celebrating and honoring. You know, life stuff.

Here is a picture of some nature I walked through on Sunday. The weather has been beautiful and I’ve been trying to take more walks, just for a walks’ sake. Not walking somewhere, just walking….

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And now, the Friday Five!

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Feeling Is Not a Weakness: Sadness, Mourning and Movement

This is a beautiful piece about the role of sadness and grief in movement organizing. About how, when it comes to resisting oppression, we shouldn’t be afraid of our pain or our vulnerability.  It’s worth the whole read, but here is a particularly poignant passage: “The same qualities that make the state overwhelming are the ones that, in fact, make it weak. An unfeeling devotion to profit, to the grotesque amassing of resources, at the expense of community, people and planet, is not strength. There is, in fact, nothing sadder than believing in the sacrifice of life for material, control, and power. The most intense violence—which we are seeing ramp up—the intentional erasure of history, the use of militaristic force, solitary confinement, the reneging of basic rights, assault, abuse, will never stop our communities from feeling. It will never end our love for our own lives, for the lives of our ancestors, for the lives of our children. It will never dissuade us from fighting back.” 

Tea as Consent

So this video manages to make something as serious as sexual assault into a metaphor about tea, and manages to do it successfully and poignantly. It’s a great teaching tool and one that rightly puts the onus on potential perpetrators rather than victims to eradicate sexual assault and rape culture.

Colds and Exercise

Okay, this one is for those of you still read this thing for fitness-y stuff (which I’ve been neglecting covering on the blog as much). I always end up googling “exercising with a cold” when I get sick because I always *want* to exercise but never know if I should or not. I always seem to find conflicting advice (and usually end up going for it, sometimes for better sometimes for worse). That’s why I was glad to see this summary of a collection of actual scientific studies over at Fit Is a Feminist Issue. The short version is that it is safe and sometimes can make symptoms feel better, but there is no conclusive evidence that it actually does anything to eradicate the cold. And rest is proven to help a cold. So, it’s still a bit fuzzy, but at least these things are from science and not my usual browsing of responses to this question from the weird gravatars on Yahoo Answers.

Quinoa, Carrot, and Spinach Salad with Spicy Carrot Chili Vinaigrette 

Tis the season for simple salads, and naturally Gena from Choosing Raw has created a great one. I love love love the sound of this spicy dressing!

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Stuff from the (Past Few) Week(s) that Made Me Happy

yoga; Sculpt; facilitating a really amazing discussion about race, gender, and sexuality at a community youth organization called Movement City; being at that same event and getting to meet this fabulous 13-year-old out-gay Latino student who was just dropping fierce knowledge about intersectionality, and I just felt like there is so much hope and amazingness in our world and in our youth and it was very inspiring (!); taking nature walks; friend phone calls, texts, skypes, and gchats; real-life friend time too!; planning for and getting more excited about my trip to England; finding out that students had been writing letters to try to get the school where i work to figure out a way to keep funding my job, and getting a letter one of the students wrote, and just having all the tears and all the feelings because apparently i’m pretty okay at this teaching thing; this video of laura jane grace & miley cyrus singing “true trans soul rebel”;  the turmeric/kale/ginger soup that i had for dinner literally every night for a week because it makes me feel like a million bucks and helps soothe my (physical&emotional!) aches and pains; podcasts (thanks LD for the new one!); feminist book club; kitten snuggles (so many snuggles!); connecting with a friend about new buddhist practices for healing; DIY clay mask self-care time; getting a new letter from my prison pen-pal; seeing my seniors graduate at commencement and feeling so proud and excited for them; karaoke-ing two of my favorite songs at one of my favorite bars in my neighborhood with good pals; lady talk over wine on a warm-night porch; & new springtime jams.

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What made you happy this week? Have a great weekend! xoxoox

Friday Five

It was quite a week in the world. The ground broke in Nepal, rage erupted in Baltimore, hope persisted in DC. I felt the energy of human capacity and human limits in the air and in my heart. It was a frenetic week, but also a reflective one. And how appropriate that today, the end of this week, is May Day, an international day of protest and solidarity.

I snapped this photo during the Baltimore solidarity march in Boston on Wednesday. It’s a mural in the largest Black community in Boston. It felt really powerful to walk past giant image of Frederick Douglass, whose words and actions helped drive the slavery abolition movement. His words are as true today as they were back then.

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“without struggle there is no progress.”

 

With that, the Friday Five…

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In Support of Baltimore: Or, Smashing Police Cars is Logical Political Strategy

There were a lot of really amazing and important think-pieces reflecting on the “violence” in Baltimore, but this one summed it up best for me: “Militance is about direct action which defends our communities from violence. It is about responses which meet the political goals of our communities in the moment, and deal with the repercussions as they come. It is about saying no, firmly drawing and holding boundaries, demanding the return of stolen resources. And from Queer Liberation and Black Power to centuries-old movements for Native sovereignty and anti-colonialism, it is how virtually all of our oppressed movements were sparked, and has arguably gained us the only real political victories we’ve had under the rule of empire.

We need to clarify what we mean by terms like “violence” and “peaceful.” Because, to be clear, violence is beating, harassing, tazing, assaulting and shooting Black, trans, immigrant, women, and queer people, and that is the reality many of us are dealing with daily. Telling someone to be peaceful and shaming their militance not only lacks a nuanced and historical political understanding, it is literally a deadly and irresponsible demand.”

What Trans People of Color Fear After the Bruce Jenner Media Circus

Really important interview by Kay Ulanday Barrett with Katrina Goodlett and Alexa Vasquez about what centering a wealthy, white trans woman’s story in the media means for other trans people whose experiences are vastly different from Jenner’s. Goodlett notes, “The media wants to maintain the status quo of capitalism and white supremacy. Bruce’s story is based on privilege. Despite Bruce’s internal truth seeking, [Jenner] will have access to health care, housing, jobs etc. Many trans people of color I know don’t even have access to safe and affordable health care or housing. Mainstream media wants to prop up this narrative of “transition” when for many trans folk that is not the goal!” Lots of food for thought in this interview, and always important to center these voices that get ignored by mainstream press.

 26 Ways to Be in the Struggle–Beyond the Streets

I realize I have immense privilege to be able to attend marches and rallies like the one I mention above (and the ones I’ve been attending for over a decade). I’m able-bodied, have no major cognitive qualms being in those spaces, and am not disproportionately targeted by police. This is not the case for everyone, and this list is for them:  “This list is designed to celebrate all the ways that our communities can engage in liberation. For a range of reasons, there are and always have been folks who cannot attend rallies and protests but who continue to contribute to ending police and state violence against black people. People seek justice and support liberation in an array of ways, yet their bodies, their spirits, and their lives may not allow them to be in the streets. We believe that we will win.” 

Superfood Chocolate Crispy Treats (vegan, GF, refined sugar-free) 

I am loving the sound and look of these treats from The Bojon Gourmet! I love all the healthy versions of rice crispy treats that exist on the inter webs, but this one seems particularly occasion-worthy with it’s goji berries, hemp seeds, and cacao nibs. And because you don’t have to turn on the oven, it’s a lovely dessert to share during the warm months!

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Stuff from the Week that Made Me Happy

although there is nothing happy about the reasons for the protests taking place across the country, i am forever grateful for the energy of collective resistance, and i found happiness in the struggle while marching through the streets of Boston this week, chanting in power with a thousand people; having a really inspiring meeting with a community organization in an underserved community in Mass where I’ll be facilitating a film screening and discussion about gender for the after school program; sculpt and sculpt teacher training (teaching future teachers is a special kind of teaching-love); kitten snuggles; amazing friend support—seriously, i have felt overwhelmed with friend-love the past couple weeks, in the form of phone calls, emails, texts, and crystals (<3); getting through a nasty cold and sitting in gratitude for my health; getting an article published and remembering why i take the time to do “public scholarship” because it’s so much more rewarding than stuffy academic publishing; good weather; the grounding power of routine (and also the liberating feeling of being okay when that routine was compromised); &hope.

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What made you happy this week? Have a great weekend! xo

Mindfulness Monday: Bottoms of the Feet

Hello and happy Monday. How have you all been doing with the mindfulness challenges? I admittedly did not have an entirely empty dish rack this week, but it was empty most nights and definitely clearer than usual, in general. Remember one of the things about mindfulness practice is accepting failure. Just observing. I gained information about myself on the nights the dish rack was not clear. Some challenges have been more consistent, some less. I’m just noticing without judgement and moving forward. I do feel a significant shift in my thinking and feel generally slower and more intentional in my daily actions, and that’s been pretty lovely.

This week I’m borrowing another challenge from the How to Train a Wild Elephant Book that I read weekly. This week I’m asking you to join me in noticing the bottom of your feet:

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I’ve been pay more attention to the bottom of my feet since beginning my yoga practice in earnest. We talk a lot about “grounding” in yoga. Tadasana (mountain pose) often feels like an energetically lifting pose, but the pose would be nothing without the foundation. We talk in yoga about minding all four corners of your feet, spreading your toes, shifting weight.

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Focusing on connecting your feet to the earth is the practice of grounding. Grounding becomes a very helpful practice if your life feels a bit out of control. When things are unknown or confusing or scary, the stress of that often physically manifests as a sense of having no foundation. But the truth is, we always have a solid foundation of the ground beneath our feet. Connecting to that reality may not make the unknowns known or the confusing more clear or the scary go away, but it may shift our perspective on our ability to handle those things.

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Updated Note: I am realizing that posting about stable ground could be insensitive to the victims of the earthquake in Nepal. The ground there was quite literally not there for those people. Please consider donating or sending prayers/energy to the victims. Please forgive the irony of the timing of this post. 

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How did you do with the dishes challenge? Will you join me grounding down through the bottom of your feet this week? xo

Mindfulness Monday: Do the Dishes (or Put them Away)

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One of my first introductions into mindfulness came at a time when I really wasn’t ready for it. I was a minor Peace & Social Justice Studies, and one of the classes that fulfilled a requirement was a Zen Buddhism class. It was taught by a much older white gentleman who, while very well-meaning, didn’t really have a knack for making Buddhism seem relevant or accessible to most of us in the class. I certainly wish I would have taken to the philosophy as a whole a little sooner, but one thing I do remember, vividly, is reading about Tich Nhat Hanh washing his bowl in his monastery. Washing dishes resonated with me.

I grew up in an understandably messy household—-my mom worked two jobs and was also very actively involved in my life and helped out with extra-curriculars. So, she didn’t have a lot of time to clean the house. She also didn’t seem to be particularly bothered by the mess. I, however, was very bothered by the mess, and as soon as I moved out on my own, I became dedicated to developing a cleaning routine. For years now, I have spent every morning after my workout wiping down countertops, swiffering or vacuuming, changing cat litter, and, yes, doing the dishes. This has served as a calming and grounding routine for me and has allowed me to live in mostly tidy (and very disinfected) homes. There are times, admittedly, that I am not entirely “zen” throughout some of the cleaning process—sometimes it’s more speedy than mindful—-but dishes, almost always, serve as a time for me to slow down. The water on my hands, the swirling of the sponge, the sudsing of the soap, all of it centers me and makes me present. #win

However: one thing I am definitely not good at is putting dishes away. (Cue chuckles from anyone reading this who has lived with me). Putting dishes away (and, while we’re at it, putting laundry away) is on the top of my shit list. I can’t explain the psychology behind my disdain for putting the clean dishes back in their place (although sometimes I like to blame it on being short and never being able to reach high shelves where glasses are shelved), but it’s real for me.

And so this week (and hopefully all the weeks after), I am going to devote mindfulness to putting the dishes away. My plan is to never go to sleep with a dish in the rack. More importantly, I plan to be intentional and calm during the putting away process. I will breathe slowly as I return the dish wear to their respective homes. I will be grateful for the space I’m opening up in the universe via my empty rack.

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don’t you love a good before & after?

If you also hate putting dishes away, I invite you to join me on this challenge. Or, perhaps you are a person for whom washing dishes is high on the shit list. In that case, I invite you to “wash your bowl,” zen-style. For me, I make sure that I never create a new dish (re: cook or eat) unless the sink is empty. If that doesn’t work for you, commit to never going to sleep with a full sink.

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How do you feel about dishes? Will you join me on this challenge? xo

Friday Five

Hello, it’s Friday. It’s been another very busy week, largely because my dear, dear friend is in town from Chicago and I’ve been getting to spend time with her. Last night (when I’m normally writing intros to the FF), I was feeling all the feelings at a dimly lit bar while miss Emily Jane Powers played my heart. <3

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That’s it from me for this week’s intro. So here are four things from the internet + a list of stuff that made me happy this week…

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Taking Beauty Out of Body Positivity 

This is a controversial but important view about all those “you are beautiful”-grounded body positivity campaigns. Lindsay King-Miller writes, “If we insist on the primacy of beauty, doesn’t that give the word “ugly” even more power to cause us harm? For years now, fat-positive activists have insisted that the word “fat” is morally neutral; that if you don’t need to be thin to be considered a worthwhile or complete person, then “fat” isn’t an insult, just a descriptor. Similarly, the answer to an oppressive and arbitrary beauty standard should not be to insist that everyone is beautiful, any more than the cure to weight stigma is to declare that everyone is thin. It is to resist and counter the notion that thin and beautiful are the only acceptable things to be.” This is admittedly challenging for me…I tend to find so many people beautiful! But I totally see her point. What do you think?

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I’m “Out” as a Person with Mental Illness

This article by trans writer Sam Dylan Finch feels really important. In it, Finch talks about how being out about their own mental illness helps fight the stigma. Finch rightly notes: “The reality is that the stigma around mental health keeps us so silent that we’d rather ask Google what to do than ask our friends or family. We go it alone because we’re ashamed, we’re afraid, we’re confused, we’re overwhelmed, and we think that our struggles make us too much of a burden for others to deal with.” This is just so true. I’ll say now, I am a person living with a handful of mental health issues and I often feel alone in coping with them. (I am actually working up the courage to write a more extensive post on this, so, more soon probs). I hope more people can stand up and talk about their struggles as a way to connect with others going through similar things; that connection, I think, can be so profound.

Allison Bechdel Broadway Musical (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) 

Okay, so. THIS IS REALLY EXCITING. For those of you who have not yet been fortunate to encounter Allison Bechdel, she is a lesbian feminist graphic artist responsible for the “Bechdel Test;” that is, the test given to movies to see if 1) two women talk to each other, and 2) about something other than men. Sadly, very few movies pass this test. Anyway, composer Jeanine Tesori saw Bechdel’s life as worthy of a musical and created one of the first contemporary theatrical depictions of a lesbian leading-lady. I heard the story on NPR about the musical, and was almost brought to tears hearing “Ring of Keys,” a song from the musical celebrating the amazingness of butch lesbians. I, for one, cannot wait to see this live!

 Curry + Garlic Sweet Potato Fries w/ Miso Gravy

With Emily in town, I’ve got sweet potato fries on the brain—it was our staple late-night diner snack when we went to school together in Chicago. This version of sweet potato fries from The First Mess is much classier and healthier than the greasy things we ate at Clarke’s, and they seem like the perfect snack to mate for a grown-up version of this total comfort food.

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Stuff from the Week that Made Me Happy

EJP + MG FRIEND TIME!; hearing ejp play songs that healed and filled my heart; yoga; a kickass spin class; students; feeling confident enough to reshape the direction of the readings and discussion in my social change class based on the wants and needs of the students—they are really excited to talk about psychology, trauma, and emotion/affect’s role in social movements, which is convenient given my personal newly formed interest in that realm of inquiry; having the resources to afford a second therapy appointment this week (yeah, #realtalk); warm weather; tea and other sources of caffeine (eep!); planning for the third chakra workshop i’m co-leading this weekend; finding out more about my England trip; kitten cuddles; friend texts; oh, and last weekend’s ladies weekend biking through Long Island’s wine country was amazing!

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What made you happy this week? Have a great weekend! xoxo

Friday Five!

Hello and happy Friday! My week has been quite busy, so this intro to the FF will be short and sweet. The picture below is one I snapped on my way to the train the other day. I thought it was really lovely. <3

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And now, four things from the internet + a list of stuff from the week that made me happy….

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Commodifying Black Death

This article was written after the devastating death of Eric Garner but I think it’s worth re-circulating after the devastating death of Walter Scott that happened on Tuesday.  William C. Anderson acknowledges that viral videos of Garner’s murder serve to “illustrate and illuminate the injustice of police violence,” but wonders about other implications these images of Black death might have. Anderson states: “Dead Black people are not ornaments to be put up and taken down for every activist need, purpose and point. Treating those who have come before us as such might reinforce our objectification and further cement our disposability in public consciousness.”

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 Queer Farmer Interview

On a lighter note, I loved reading this interview with Jonah Mossberg,  the filmmaker behind Out Here, a documentary about queer farmers. The trailer for the film looks awesome, and Mossberg’s insights are lovely: “I think small-scale sustainable agriculture is inherently a logical and safe place for queer people because it’s a place where we can enact and practice our queer values. For me, my queer values are that I’m anti-capitalist and anti-authoritarian too, and engaging in farming is another beautiful way to do that.” 

Teaching Yoga to Teen Girls with Sexual Trauma and the Connection to Us All 

(First, obviously, trigger-warning for content about sexual assault). This piece is really powerful. In describing her own reflections on her sexual assault and healing while teaching young girls who have experienced trauma, Anne Falkowski writes, “Therapy and yoga were my tools. Therapy started to unravel the event and showed me how I had gone through life operating through the lens of my trauma, distorting my self worth. In therapy, I began to try to widen my view but I just couldn’t seem to get it to stay open. It wasn’t until I practiced yoga that I could actually begin to let go of self-hatred and expand myself to feel high-quality feelings such as self-love and trust. I had needed to make the connections in my body. It was then that I began to grow.” Lots of realness here.

Collard Wraps with Chickpea Walnut Meat

Maud always inspires me to have more collard wraps in my life, and I really like the looks of this one from Dishing up the Dirt. Not only does it look delicious, but it also has very few ingredients and sounds super simple to make. Also, springy, right?

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Stuff from the Week that Made Me Happy

seeing more progress from my Sculpt teacher trainers!; coffee (this is a new thing for me, so it’s pretty exciting to delve more into this club that I’ve never really been a part of…I’m still mostly a tea drinker, but a good cup of joe from a swanky coffee shop has become a recent simple pleasure for me!); more progress on my tattoo; surprise gift bag on my doorstep from a sweet friend (which included, among other goodies, a Drake poster (!)); PLANNING FOR LADIES WEEKEND IN MATTITUCK (which will commence in mere hours!); getting to talk to students about #BlackLivesMatter and having what seemed like a transformative conversation about anger and trauma and race and protest; friend phone calls and texts; listening to the new Waxahatchee record; friends’ happiness; kitten snuggles; having people over for dinner and mindfully and joyfully preparing the meals…

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What made you happy this week? Have a great weekend! xoxo

Mindfulness Monday #2: “This Is It”

Welcome to week two of the Mindfulness Monday series! Last week’s practice got me thinking about the history of my food. It meant pausing before eating, and, ultimately, it turned into a short prayer of gratitude before eating. Once I stopped to think about the grocery story employees, the food service workers, the farmers, the soil, bugs, and sunlight, I couldn’t not feel so deeply thankful for the work that went into my nourishment. The practice led me to learn about the sustainability practices and packaging of Tempt hemp tofu; it got me to research the growing process of kale; it inspired me to watch this video on how to grow and harvest turmeric root; and, when I didn’t have time to consult the internet before eating, it just encouraged a lot of reflection on the magnitude of the work that goes into things we take for granted. I definitely plan to keep up with this pre-meal mindfulness practice. <3

This week’s exercise comes from a lovely and replenishing conversation I had with my dear friend, Binya. Binya has been a friend, mentor, and deeply empathetic soul-sister to me for the past few years, and although we rarely get to see each other in person, our bond is strong. As we talked about life and love and loss and beauty and despair, she shared with me a practice she’s recently been engaging in. A few times a day she will closer her eyes and put her hand over her heart and say, “This is your life. This is it.”

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That’s it. It sounds simple, but I assure you, it has been profound for me (and Binya said the same). The act of noting that your life is right now, this moment, truly encourages you to appreciate what you have going on right now. Even if it’s not awesome, it’s all there is, and so you might as well be in it, you know?

This has been especially helpful for me lately considering that there are some major things going on in my life right now that I wish were…different. It’s really easy to get stuck in a negative headspace that makes me feel like I can’t be happy until those things are figured out. But that kind of thinking assumes that happiness and contentment are a result of external factors, rather than internal peace. Fortunately, as various faith traditions, bumper stickers, and pinterest boards will remind us: peace with difficult situations comes from within. Life isn’t going to wait for you to get your shit together, life is now. It’s not just point A’s and point B’s, it’s everything in the middle. This is your life. This is it. 

I invite you to use this week to engage in this practice. Pick something that you do or see a few times a day to coordinate it with. Maybe you can do it every time you see the color blue, or every time you hear someone say your name. Or maybe you can set an alarm on your phone once every few hours. And then, in that moment, place your hand over your heart, close your eyes —(the physical elements of this are important)— and say (silently or aloud): “This is your life. This is it.” 

And then….wait for the shift. <3

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How did last week’s exercise go for you? Will you join me in this week’s practice?