Reflections & New Intentions

 

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This is very belated, but I still wanted to get a New Year’s Resolutions post up before January was over. I feel like people are heatedly divided about the value of resolutions. There are lots of people who think they are at best foolish and inevitably broken,  and at worst, another tool of the anxiety-producing capitalist patriarchal surveillance state.           ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I’m not part of that camp. I understand those critiques, but I reject them. I think resolutions, like any sort of goal, can be an entirely positive practice. There’s nothing wrong with setting an intention and using a ritualized holiday to help concretize it. I believe there is significant energy in a practice that includes millions of people all engaging in the same activity around one day. What a powerful foundation to set us up for success!

Before I begin sharing my intentions and goals for 2016, I wanted to borrow One Raw Bite‘s idea to share her 2015 Resolution post and reflect a year later on how she did. I wrote the following resolutions in this post on December 31, 2014:

1. Connect more with people. Avoid small talk if I have the option to exchange more meaningfully; have longer conversations in person, ask people about their feelings and opinions about things that matter.

I kind of crushed this. A few days after I originally wrote this, I started a conversation with another coffee shop regular (I do 99.9% of my non-campus work—-lesson planning, writing/researching– –at coffee shops), Mark, who became one of my best friends in Boston. We totally bonded about movies (he’s a filmmaker) and music, and he’s a super solid dude. I also met Louie this year, in England, a person who I shared a very deep connection with and who I am very grateful to have in my life. I was also more vulnerable with the people in my life who I already knew—it was a tough year, and I was willing to breakdown, be weak, ask for help, and give the hard-to-talk-about details to friends I let myself trust. It was terrifying–and also one of the most powerful aspects of my year.

2. Continue grounding rituals. Lemon water in the morning, self-care books and journaling/gratitude lists at night. Daily yoga practice, exercise that feels good, green smoothie or green juice for breakfast. Deep cleaning and de-cluttering; practicing the one-in/one-out rule.

I am a creature of routine, so this was sort of an easy one to stick to. I think I *almost* stuck with the one-in/one-out rule, but I still need to get rid of more clothes. I was and continue to be somewhat inconsistent with journaling and gratitude lists, but I did better last year than ever before. I am going to re-commit to that practice this year too.

3. Eight hours of sleep as much as possible. Lots of water.

Mostly solid! I still struggle with getting to bed early, but it’s certainly gotten better, thanks in large part to the fact that 2015 was the year I agreed to teach 6am yoga and bootcamp classes at my studio. 6am is not usually a time I witness, but the class forces me to wake up when it’s dark and see the sun rise. I actually really love being an early riser and am excited to continue on this early-to-bed/early-to-rise path.

4. Doing more for others. More care packages, more phone calls, more helping out. Complimenting people (mindfully) more often. Getting back to volunteer yoga teaching (ideally in the juvenile detention center I’ve been in contact with in Boston, but really anywhere that works out). And getting back involved with organizing and activism in whatever form best serves the struggle.

I did okay-ish on this, but there is room for improvement here. Never made it into a detention center to teach yoga, but I did get involved with Black & Pink, had a prison pen pal, and have done some jail visits. I also made it out to several #BLM protests and marches. Doing good work for our world is not a one-time resolution thing. This is a life’s work, and I’m eager to continue to devote my time and energy to justice. <3

5. Writing for me (blog, creative personal stuff, maybe a zine!) at least a few times a week, and writing for school/work at least a little bit most days of the week.

Not so great. Blogging fell by the wayside, and nothing creative ever really came into fruition. Still working on this!

6. Pausing. Really pausing before I react to things. Breathing during that pause, remembering what my words and actions mean in the world. Contributing more kind energy than hostile energy into the world (interpersonally, anyway…I’ll still probably be pretty hostile about social injustice). Practicing lovingkindness towards all beings (including myself). Saying and living, everyday: Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu. 

Learning how to re-channel the emotions I was dealing with because of repressed trauma was a major theme of 2015 and although this is a never-ending practice, I have a really good handle on it. (#iheartmytherapist)

7. More music. It’s always been a big part of my life, but it’s taken different forms. I’d like to devote some dollars to seeing more shows, I’d like to make more mixes for myself and others, I’d like to go dancing more. And maybe, just maybe, playing some music again, too.

I did indeed get to more shows this year, and it ruled! Still haven’t played any more music, but I’ll always be open to being in a band again someday! (I’m ready universe, assemble me a gang of musical riot grrrrls!).

8. Start a podcast (already in the works with one of my fave ladies!).

So my dear friend Melody and I actually did start and record a podcast. We got our theme, a website, and one epsiode on the books. But then we realized we needed a lot more technological savvy and decided to put it on hold until we bought some better equipment and learned some audio editing stuff. And we’re still in that stage now. :/ But the dream is not dead! We are still gonna make it happen. Be ready: 2016 will see the official launch of Feminist Killjoys, PhD!

9. Finding a way to honor my priorities so that the academy doesn’t run/ruin my life and so I don’t start to resent a job I love. Maybe this means turning down opportunities that seem best for my career. Maybe it doesn’t, but I am committed this year to making decisions that serve me best, and if moving halfway across the country again doesn’t serve me, I won’t do it. (Whoo, that’s a really scary thing to write!)

Still in process. I stayed at the school I’m at now for another one-year contract and am currently in the process of trying to figure out next steps. I feel like I’m ready to practice this, but stay tuned….

10.  More laughing. More tattoos. More turmeric root.

CHECK, CHECK, CHECK. I laughed a ton (miraculously; it was a really dark year, but thankfully the laughs still came). I got sweet new ink. And I ate raw turmeric probably at least 300 days of last year. I will continue to crush all three of these in 2016. :)

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As for 2016, I will continue the above, and I’ll do some other things too: I will stop holding on to the past in ways that foreclose the future (this is maybe the biggest challenge of my life). I will continue to forgive myself. I will stay present. I will not only say, but actually believe, “Body, you are beautiful!” I will take risks for the love that is in my life, and I will trust it. I will drink more water and more champagne, and less of everything else. I will say yes to new adventures and believe in the process. I will practice acceptance. I will write a poem (or several). I will paint my nails a color I’ve never worn before. I will regularly and gently remind others of their value and worth. I will keep trying to land a handstand. I will snuggle my kitten and place kisses on the noses of any dogs who will let me. I will maintain good bangs and treat myself to a massage. I will blog more and read more and talk to friends more and feel stuck less. I will plant some seeds and make some magic. I will love and care for myself and others, with every inch of me, with every chance I get. I will be happy sometimes and sad sometimes and angry sometimes and full of uncompromising joy sometimes…and I will be grateful for every bit of it. <3

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love you guys. what are your intentions for the new year? xoxoxo

Friday Five!

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Hello and belated happy new year! After a month of being in the Midwest for the holidays, I am back in Boston and back into a somewhat normal routine. Although things are still very busy (mostly with work, but also with some fun things), I really do plan to post more on here again. (Blogging more is actually one of my New Year Goals, a topic which I hope will be a post in itself before January’s end.)

So, anyway, hi. My travels were really wonderful and really stressful. I tried hard, (with inconsistent success), to focus on the wonderful parts. And I’m definitely focusing on the wonderful parts now. (Presence is always such a practice.)

I have a lot of really exciting things happening in the upcoming months, and I’m eager to share many of them with you. But today is not the day for much more than our trusty friend, the Friday Five. So let’s get to it, shall we?

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Wellness Can Be Stupidly Expensive. Here are 15 Things I Do to Stay Healthy (Under $10) 

I turn to Mindbodygreen when I need standard, basic wellness inspiration, and don’t usually expect that there will be people writing from a particularly critical consciousness. So it was a pleasant surprise to discover this working class-centric post written by an activist who believes that self-care is something everyone deserves, not just the very rich. Lots of good tips in here!

Technology for Your New Year’s Resolutions

The queers at Autostraddle have compiled a handy guide of the best of apps to help you stay healthy (mentally/emotionally/physically), be productive, manage money, and get organized. Bonus points because it includes many I hadn’t yet heard of! I’m excited to try some out.

Trans People Do Not Endanger Society 

My friend Nico Lang wrote this excellent, well-researched piece about the absolute absurdity of “trans people are dangerous” rhetoric, especially in a society that violences and endangers trans people at wildly disproportionate rates. It’s a good Trans 101 for anyone in your life who still doesn’t get it.

Sweet Potato Fries w/ Spicy Turmeric Drizzle

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Do you want to know something really sad? During my strict food rules- era, I went almost three years without eating a single fry. Fries were not a part of my life. FRIES! They are so good! And I had none of them in my belly! (Lesson: “clean eating” can be a real bummer). So you better believe that when I got out of that restrictive mindset that I wanted to make up for lost time, especially with fries that didn’t make me feel crappy after eating them. And fortunately making fries at home yourself allows you to have delicious fries with a lot less of the oil that tends to make my tummy ache. So, long story short, I’m stoked about sweet potato fries recipes, and I am especially stoked about a sweet potato fries recipe that includes TURMERIC DRIZZLE. I love turmeric. I love fries. I know I’m gonna love this recipe from Sprouts & Chocolate!

Stuff from the Week that Made Me Happy

being an accomplice in a friend’s marriage proposal; quality time with my boo; watching the Golden Globes, because I love award shows even if they make bad decisions; surviving, amidst two blizzards, the 12+ hour drive from Cleveland to Boston. (it sucked but it made me really happy that i got through it!); podcasts! so many good podcasts got me through the aforementioned drive!; snuggles with the most perfect boycat in all the land; the flowing of creative juices; getting back to my yoga studio;  making headway on the upcoming semester’s syllabi and getting excited to teach Sex & Gender and Intro to Social Justice Studies!; crisp winter air; warm cozy tea; making good decisions about social media; being there for a friend in need; Shamir; & sincere acceptance

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What made you happy this week? xoxo 

Top Fives of 2015

Given that the Friday Five is the only (relatively) consistent feature on the blog, I know you all know I love a good top five list. So today’s post is a round up of several top fives from the year. Enjoy!

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Top Five Meals/Recipes

Unlike the recipes I feature in the FF, I have actually made all these recipes, and can attest to their top five worthiness! 

5. Sweet Potato Cauliflower Soup (Allyson Kramer): Delicious, stick-to-your-bones, easy to make soup. What’s not to love?

4. Vegan Gluten-Free Kale Quiche (Super Strength Health): Lacy knocked it out of the park with this decadent and incredibly tasty quiche. Even my mom–an omnivore and quiche-fanatic–loved this dish.

3. Cinnamon Apple Energy Bites (Recipe Runner): These inspired me to try out drying my own apples rings for the first time, and then creating one of the most delicious versions of the beloved date ball that I’ve ever had. They were perfect to share at dinner parties and a book club I hosted this past fall.

2. Cream of Broccoli and Quinoa Soup (The Full Helping): Gena’s soups are always top-notch, but this one felt particularly awesome in my belly. I especially loved the addition of her coconut “bacon” on top.

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1. Crisped Chickpeas (The Smitten Kitchen): Okay, you’ll have to forgive that my #1 recipe of 2015 was actually published in 2013, but it is just too good, and it was new to me in 2015. I love roasted chickpeas, but there is something about this recipe in particular that has provided me with the world’s best crisped chickpeas ever. The soup recipe (in the same link), is also great, but I want to highlight in particular these stellar garbonzos!

Top Five Youtube Workout Channels  

5. Gym Ra: A hit or miss Youtube channel, but when it’s good it’s really good. They feature a variety of trainers, some of whom have truly kicked my butt. Here’s one of my favorites.

4. Joanna Soh: I like Joanna’s workouts because they are mostly very basic movements, but they still leave you dripping in sweat and feeling like you did a hearty workout.

3.   Hang Tight with MarC: MarC was a new discovery for me this year, and I’m glad I found her! She doesn’t have a ton of full-length, real-time videos up, which is a bummer, because her longer videos are awesome for strength training. She has a ton of short videos that give you moves you can do, but I sometimes feel like those are too much work on my end. Either way, her channel is worth checking out for her workouts and tips.

2. Millionaire Hoy: This dude isn’t messing around. His workouts range from 30-60 minutes, some with weights, some without, but always intense. The production value is high: you hear a timer countdown before you change exercises and you see a little preview box in the corner to alert you to what comes next. He also has a really upbeat personality and is kind of goofy, which I like!

1. Christine Salus: amazing HIIT videos, ranging from 20-60 minutes. Some use weights, but many are bodyweight only, and all are appropriate for small apartment spaces. I have never been disappointed with one of her workouts–they are intense, engage my whole body, and leave me sweaty.

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Top Five Albums

After finishing these top five, I realized I got to see 3/5 of these artists in concert this past year. So…who wants to buy me tix to the next Nicki Minaj tour? 

5. Lizzo, Big Girl Small World: If you don’t know Lizzo (and/or her other group, GRRRL PRTY) yet, you are missing out. Her first full-length album is solidly fucking awesome. She is an unapologetically amazing rapper, brilliant lyricist, sick beat-dropper (#stuffwhitepeoplesay #iamembarassing). Most importantly: her feminist and Black liberation politics are rad as fuck and come out strong throughout the whole album.

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4. Lady Lamb, After: This is one of those albums that makes you feel like you just discovered a juicy secret. After is like a story you hear and can’t wait to find out what happens next. The music is unique and complex and sometimes catchy AF; and Lady Lamb’s lyrics will have you saying, “Holy shit, I never would have thought to describe that feeling like that, but there it is, and it’s perfect.” Solid album, start to finish.

3. Made in Heights, Without My Enemy What Would I Do: This is admittedly not quite as epic as Made in Heights’ first record, but their dreamy electronic melodic ethereal dance music (yes, all of that) doesn’t disappoint in this 2015 release. Major love for track two, Pirouette, which I listened to on repeat/had extreme feels about throughout much of 2015.

2. Eskimeaux, O.K.: Eskimeaux has the spirit of the kind of 90’s lo-fi post-riot grrrl music that showed up on the soundtrack of lesbian-themed movies. In other words, the soundtrack of my heart. I listened to this album start to finish more times than I can count.

1. Nicki Minaj, The Pink Print: Nicki Minaj is a fierce force with which to be reckoned, and this album proves this as truth. She is lyrically fearless and musically genius. And this album–along with her presence in the world–is redefining not only what it means to be a woman in hip-hop, but what it means to be a woman in general.

Top Five TV Shows

5. The Fosters: I’ve been pretty enamored with all of the seasons of this show about a foster family in California (two interracial lesbian moms, one white biological child, two adopted Latino children, and two adopted white children, one of whom is gay), but Season 3 brought us more of “Jonner”–(a reference Jude and Connor, the middle school-aged boys who are in a romantic relationship on the show). We also got to see more of Cole, the only transmasculine person in a re-occuring role on television. For ABC Family, they are doing really cool and groundbreaking things.

4. Broad City: Unlike some misguided reviews of this show, I don’t think Abbi and Ilana are perfect examples of feminism, but I think that’s sort of the point. Complicated, inconsistent, and hipsterer-than-thou as they may be, they are still some of the strongest and funniest women on TV.

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3. The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Not only is this show hilarious (in the same sort of absurdist way as 30 Rock was, as they are both Tina Fey brainchilds)–but it also has some very serious moments that engage what it means to be a woman living with PTSD. I was delighted by Season 1 and I can’t wait for Season 2 !

2. Master of None: It is not a perfect show (see this piece from BGD for some astute critiques), but it sure is rad to see a television show with a cast of main characters who are almost entirely people of color, that actually and pretty solidly tackles issues of race, gender, sexuality, and immigration. Also, Aziz Ansari is just a very funny dude.

1. Transparent: Okay, so I actually haven’t yet watched Season 2 (technically the 2015 release), but I am super excited about the fact that the show hired tons of trans people to work behind the scenes, and hired more trans actors. Season 1 wasn’t flawless, but it was doing more for trans representation than any other show in mainstream circulation. I’m very excited to binge on Season 2 next week after my travels slow down!

Top Five Movies 

Disclaimer, I did not see nearly as many movies as I would have liked to in 2015. I am guessing that once I see a handful more that this list will change (I’m looking at you Tangerine and Carol). But based on the films I did get to this past year, here’s what made the cut. 

5. Spy: Okay, hear me out. It’s sort of a silly over-the-top action flick, but it’s also a silly over-the-top action flick starring Melissa McCarthy, a plus-size (not sure if she self-ID’s as ‘fat’) actress in a role that is not about being plus-size. The movie makes occasional jokes about her dowdy appearance, but we are laughing at the person who made the joke and not at Melissa McCarthy. Throughout the movie we see her do a bunch of things that movies don’t usually let people of McCarthy’s size do, and she is desired by multiple men in the film, another thing that is lacking in fat representation. Also I laughed a lot.

4. The Big Short: Any movie that illuminates the insidious evils of capitalism is a movie I like (even if it is kind of a bro-fest). Just remember everyone – the economic collapse was a success of capitalism, not a failure! #happyholidaysfromyourfavoritemarxist

3. The Wolfpack: This underrated documentary was totally captivating. It followed the lives of a group of brothers who were raised in an emotionally abusive cult. Like a legitimate cult, in which the father of these boys forbids his wife and children from having any contact with the outside world. In an effort to have any sense of a real life, the boys begin to use movies as an escape by re-enacting films in their home. It’s a pretty remarkable story about overcoming a wildly challenging obstacle and learning about life from the movies.

2. Inside Out: What can I say? This movie was literally all the feelings and it left me teary-eyed and heart-warmed. A sweet, delightful little film with a stellar cast of voice actors.

1. Girlhood: This was a moving and beautiful coming-of-age story of a young Black girl growing up in a suburb of Paris. Mostly, it was a story of learning how to be through complicated female friendships. This scene alone (of the girls lip-synching to Rihanna) makes the film worth seeing.

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Top Five Books 

5. Yes, Please – Amy Poehler: Okay, so, this is not groundbreaking writing nor is it anything that resonates with me politically, but it was a really great light read and it came at a time when I needed exactly that. Poehler’s mainstream feminism is just okay, but her stories have heart and warmth and made me laugh a lot. (Actually published in 2014, sorry). She also references Pema Chodron directly, which I can always dig.

4. The Way of Tenderness: Awakening through Race, Sexuality, and Gender – Zenju Earthyn Manuel: I loved this book because it combined Buddhism (my relatively new spiritual path) with critical analysis of race, sexuality, and gender (my life’s work). I appreciate how Manuel is able to combine Buddhist teachings of non-separation with important work on the material distinctions amongst uniquely subjugated identities.

3. Women in Clothes – Sheila Heti and Heidi Julavtis: I read this book for the feminist book club I’m in, and absolutely loved it. It’s a collection of essays and interviews by and about women and their relationship to the clothes they wear. It’s pretty good about featuring a diverse array of voices (including women of color, non-Western women, transgender women (and a couple trans men)). As someone who has a strong connection to the clothes I wear as it relates to my queer, femme, working-class identity, I loved this book. (Ibid, re: 2014 publishing date.)

2. Bodymap – Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha: I haven’t finished reading this book of poems yet, but I can already tell it’s going to be a treasured favorite. Leah’s voice is magic and chipped nail polish, telling us stories from the heart of a brown queer disabled working-class femme. The words are haunting, beautiful, and familiar, and I am so grateful this collection exists.

1. How to Grow Up – Michelle Tea: Surprise! Another book from a queer working-class femme (are you noticing a trend here?). I love this memoir. Tea’s gotten some less-than-positive reviews, but as someone who is also venturing out of a punk rock past into adult life, I thought it was one of her best. She writes about heartbreak and class-passing and figuring it all out with such earnestness and humor, and I loved every word.

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Top Five Podcasts 

5. Dear Sugar: I know it’s kind of 40 year-old soccer mom of me to love the crap out of Cheryl Strayed, but, sorrynotsorry, I do. Her collection of Dear Sugar advice columns, Tiny Beautiful Things, helped me through some very dark times, and I love having bits of Dear Sugar on the radio to help me remember to practice empathy always. It’s not as good as her written words, but she and Steve Almond are not bad to listen to on a Sunday morning whilst doing house chores.

4. Invisibilia: I got hooked on this podcast after hearing the last ten minutes of it in the car on my way home from yoga. They told a heartbreaking story about a lesbian couple who broke up over the phone and how their tears short-circuited the cell phone (because our human secretions are the only thing that can actually undo technology). Each episode explores “the intangible forces that shape human behavior,” and most episodes are totally captivating.

3. Strange Fruit: This is a new-to-me podcast, and I’m only a few episodes in, but I already really like it. Two left-leaning queer people of color talking about current events and pop culture—what’s not to like?

2. Rise & Resist: I obvi have a major friend-crush on Lacy Davis and think pretty much everything she does is gold, so it’s no surprise that I’m also smitten with the podcast that she hosts with Holly Works. Lacy and Holly talk to us about being a woman in the fitness world, dealing with diet culture, rejecting normative life-path expectations, and much more. They also tell us their favorite new vegan snacks of the week! Most importantly, if you tune into Rise and Resist you can be sure to walk away feeling posi and stoked on life and your body.

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1. Women of the Hour: The best thing about Lena Dunham’s new podcast? It’s not really about Lena Dunham. This podcast demonstrates that Dunham has listened to her critics and learned from them: instead of focusing on White Lady Feminism 101, she uses her show to feature the voices of those from whom our society needs to hear most, including: a disabled musician who provides a rad as fuck analysis of radical disability theory and activism; multiple transgender women (including transgender women of color) discussing love and relationships and violence and hair (among other things); working class women with strong labor agendas; and many more. I laughed, cried, and learned something in nearly every episode and I can’t wait for more.

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What did I miss? What did you love in 2015? 

Friday Five!

Hello! I’m finally back with a Friday Five! It’s the last week of the semester, and although I have piles of grading to get through, the past couple days have offered a small bit of respite. I decided to use this little pocket of free time to start writing holiday cards, put away dishes, and get back to the blog. So here I am!

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The internet didn’t fail us this week, so I have plenty of goodies to share! Lez get to it!

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Queer Homeless Youth, Queer Activism in Transition

I really appreciated the thoroughness of this Slate piece discussing the current state of queer youth homelessness and queer activism. After explaining the root of the multiple causes to the homeless crisis (and how it disproportionately impacts QPOC youth), the authors discuss the promising shifts in activism and social service responses–and the areas that still need work. It also features the voices of many Q/TPOC homeless youth, so we get to hear directly from those who are most impacted (something that is sorely missing from a lot of reports/articles that discuss social problems). Definitely worth a read (and full of links to excellent organizations that would probably love some holiday donation goodness sent their way)!

Stoya, James Deen, and the New Shift in Rape Culture

So, I’m just gonna go ahead and admit that I was, um, familiar with James Deen’s work before his name exploded in the media the past couple weeks. And so perhaps it goes without saying that I was especially sickened to hear that the porn star who is often praised for his relationship to women on screen–(his films are often female pleasure-centric, which is not exactly the norm in that industry)– was also the perpetrator of numerous sexual assaults and rapes. His ex-girlfriend and former co-star, Stoya, was the first of the brave women to speak out and ever since then more and more have come forward. This article from Laurie Penny  explores the responses to the allegations–overwhelming support of Stoya and overwhelming rejection of Deen– as an important step forward in eradicating rape culture.  Penny writes, “If patriarchy dreams, then its nightmares must involve women talking, loudly, bravely, about men. In fact, much of our culture is set up to avoid just this. Women are pitted against each other, taught to compete for male attention, socialized against solidarity. Our truths are dismissed as gossip and chatter, our writing as empty confession. The prospect of women truly talking to each other, trusting one another, and standing together against male violence and sexism in their communities is legitimately terrifying to those with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.” Not only are women coming together to support and stand in solidarity with other women, but this support is also changing the discourse around sex work.

Making Room for Miracles

I love love love Chani Nicholas. She is an astrologer, a fierce advocate for social justice, and a beautiful writer. I get very excited Sunday evening when she publishes her weekly horoscopes, and am always eager to read her additional forecasting posts. This week she gave us some insights into what the new moon in Sagittarius means for our world and our souls. Here’s a sample: “Every time you love out loud you are opening a space for a miracle to enter. Every time you seek to create a safe and just world for all you are helping miracles to occur. Every time you remember that your liberation is bound up in the liberation of every other being on the planet, you have been granted a miracle. Every time we remember and act on the fact that we are all here to serve one another, we have been part of a miracle.” Indeed. Do your spirit a favor and read the whole post. <3

Fancy Antioxidant Hot Chocolate

I was so mesmerized by the ingredients in this hot chocolate recipe, I knew I had to feature it in the FF this week! Check it, this recipe includes: fresh ginger, saffron, split vanilla bean, ROSE PETALS (!), (and other more predictable ingredients too). I think this would be an awesome beverage to make to impress some loved ones on a snowy afternoon (if we ever get any snow, ugh).

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Stuff from the Week that Made Me Happy

warm fuzzy emails and kind words from students thanking me for the semester; holiday season things, like pretty lights and card writing and christmas music everywhere!; buying gifts…i get so excited about finding perfect things for people i love; kitten snuggles; healthy communication; discovering this poet and all their beautiful words; having friends over for dinner–i love hosting dinner parties so so much, it truly feeds my soul; being on the other side of a terrible cold; leading the ayurveda lecture for the yoga studio’s wellness cleanse program and totally nerding out and feeling excited to re-commit to even more daily ayurvedic practices; some encouraging job news; & experiencing lots of moments of being present and content and happy with my life (in all its messy, uncertain, and complicated glory). <3

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What made you happy this week? xoxoxo 

Book review & Interview with Rande Moss!

Hello, strangers. Long time no blog, eh? I believe this is the longest I’ve gone without blogging since I began. Basically, life happened. It’s been a terrifically busy semester, and when I wasn’t occupied with official responsibilities related to either of two my jobs, I was doing a lot of processing. Oh, processing, you are so all-consuming!

But I’m back! No promises as to how consistent I’ll be, but I’d like to get at least a few posts up during the exciting and festive month that is December!

I was also motivated to get back to it after I was contacted by one of my most favorite fellow lady-bloggers, Ms. Rande Moss. I started following Rande on her now-defunct blog, The Vegetable Centric Kitchen, which charted her journeys on some pretty extreme detoxes and cleanses. You see, like Rande, at that time, I too was seeking some kind of healing and peace from the food I consumed (or rather, the food I refused to consume). Her lovely personality shone through her posts, and so even though the topic was ultimately detrimental to Rande (as my journey through restrictive, “clean eating” programs became too), I was still a fan.

I lost track of Rande after she stopped posting, and after I took many steps away from uber-restrictive eating regiments; so you can imagine my delight when Rande resurfaced with a new blog, Rande Moss Wellness, a coaching business, and a wildly new approach to life and food. I was excited to learn that Rande and I had both given up “clean” food-obsession in favor of living fuller and richer lives. Rande’s new blog was incredibly refreshing and I became an immediate follower.

Rande reached out to me a few weeks ago to let me know that she had released a book called The Eat to Feel Good “Diet”: A Mini-Guide to Making Friends with Your Body. I was eager to read it and offered to do a review of the book, and then also requested if she might indulge the RGL community with an interview. So you, lucky readers, get a glimpse at this incredible book and more words from Rande herself!

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photo cred: randemoss.com

First, the book: Please get this book. Seriously. I was hooked from the first page, when Rande states, “I think you’re here for something bigger than having a certain body. I think you’re here for wilder adventures than what’s for dinner…Everything you said you were going to be after you reached your body goals? You can be that now. You can embody that power and freedom now.” Omg, chills!

This sets the tone for the rest of the book, which provides six steps to ridding yourself of self-harming behavior around your body and food, and a path to—and I do not use this word lightly—liberation. Generally, I would reserve the word “liberation” for discussions of movements for social justice and revolution, but if you have a history of any kind of eating disorder or body dysmorphia you know that it can truly feel like you’re trapped in a deep and terrifying way. This book is a breath of fresh air amidst the noise of diet culture and body-shame.

Rande offers steps to take that are both emotionally inspiring as well as practical. I feel fortunate that I am very far removed from the thick of my disordered eating and body-hating days, but, on occasion, I still slip into negative self-talk and food-choice shame. I am so grateful to have a copy of this book to skim when I need a little reminder to, as she notes, “love [your body] in action, not just in theory.” She asks, very pragmatically, “What are things you can do to make your body feel loved?” That answer may change on a daily basis, but this is just one example of why I am glad I have this book on hand!

Another favorite key take away from Rande’s book that I carry with me is to eat whatever you want, but to really pay attention to how you feel after you eat certain food and let that guide you in the future. It’s incredibly exciting to realize that you choose the kale salad over the vegan diner food because you want to, not because you “should.” Let that reasoning—a reasoning built on self-love rather than self-hate—guide your choices, and watch the transformation occur!

I want to stop there so as to not give too much more away, but please do consider buying a (very affordable–only $3.99!) copy for yourself (and maybe gifting it to some special fabulous people in your life who could use some loving-kindness?).

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photo cred: randmoss.com

And now, I’m very excited to bring you an interview with the author, blogger, and coach!

  1. I know we’ve both been really into some pretty strict diet/”lifestyle” programs, often revolving around juice, raw foods, and other really restrictive practices that are incredibly hard to get untangled from. So my question is, what was the thing that finally inspired you to give all that up? Was there a particular “aha” moment or was it gradual?

It was more cyclical than gradual. As in, I’d get intensely wrapped up in an extreme diet-lifestyle, push it beyond all reason, realize slowly that it wasn’t working and find my way out. That cycle was repeated an un-countable amount of times. In the last couple of years there have been piles of little “aha’s”. My Eating Psychology training was one, along with several blogs, books, and my own experience of coming back to my body. Once I started letting to of the rules and started trusting myself – there was no going back.  

  1. You’ve explained that you deleted your old blog so as to not perpetuate the kind of choices you now find harmful. What did it feel like to do that, and have you gotten any negative responses from people who followed the blog? 

It felt like relief! I hadn’t realized how uncomfortable I was, still proudly broadcasting “90 day juice fasts” to the world, until I took it down. I had slowly stopped posting and transitioned over to my current blog – the only complaint has been that people miss the recipes! My favorites have come along with me though (Dark Chocolate Sweet Potato Truffles anyone?).

  1. How did people in your life help you on this journey? And what can people do to help loved ones who might be showing orthorexic or other self-harming, obsessive tendencies? 

I think I was very, very good at making it seem like I was healthy. I spoke confidently about the way I was living and I never got unhealthily skinny so the few worried voices never pushed too far. All that to say, nobody really knew how much I was struggling (with fatigue, food obsession, body image, and accumulating health issues) until I put it all behind me and started talking about the dark side. “Orthorexia” is such a funny word and I used to be pretty opposed to it. I was like a lot of people who think there can’t possibly be anything wrong with a fixation on health! And there’s certainly nothing wrong with taking care of ourselves, but for some of us, it becomes our whole world. If I could go back and tell my loved ones anything, it would be that someone is not OK when they can’t occasionally break their food plan to share dinner with you.

  1. How has giving up your old lifestyle benefitted you? What new projects and activities has it made room for?

Oh wow! Well for starters, listening to my body means SO much more physical and mental energy! For years, I was essentially starving myself to get to this state of supposed spiritual bliss…but I had so little focus because my thoughts were constantly swamped by food even though I had trained myself to not feel “hungry”. I thought there was something so wrong with me emotionally because I was such a “compulsive eater” but the truth was, I wasn’t connecting with my body enough to know that I actually needed to feed it. Bodies don’t respond well to tightly controlled meal plans (especially when 70% of those meals are green juice…). My life now includes a lot more connecting with people: I used to be so afraid of binge eating or straying from what I was “supposed” to be eating that I said “no” to a lot of things. I’m doing everything now, ESPECIALLY what I’m afraid of. I’ve written a little book called The Eat to Feel Good “Diet” which lists the 5 steps that helped me get out of my head and back into my body in terms of food choices. I’m also an Eating Psychology Coach and work with women who are tired of the dieting world, possibly struggling with emotional or compulsive eating, and want to learn to trust their bodies.

  1. What can people expect from your personal coaching sessions? 

The word that lights me up the most is “freedom” so that’s what it all boils down to. People can expect to unwind their stories and beliefs about food and learn what it’s like to hear what their body actually wants. If there are frustrations like binge or emotional eating, we’ll take a really interesting approach that I call “befriending the binge” – which is rather counterintuitive but very effective! It’s a lot of fun, people come in quite wound up in food and leave with a much bigger perspective.

  1. What’s your current favorite meal?  :) 

I love this question :) I really have always loved food and it’s just crazy to me that I spent so many years thinking I needed to limit it as much as possible. It would have been much easier to answer back in the day though because I was only eating, like, vegetables. I eat so many delicious things now that it’s almost impossible to choose! Two recent things I’ve devoured that I used to be terribly afraid of are sushi and fruity yogurt. I’m laughing as I type that because it still sounds so “healthy” but I didn’t eat those things for years!

 

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Let me know what you think of Rande’s interview and her book in the comments! (And/or, just say hey, because it’s been a while and I’ve missed you.) xoxo 

Friday Five (+Giveaway Winner + Short Life Update)

Hello and happy Friday! Thanks to all who entered the BenBella Vegan giveaway for a chance to win Love Fed. The winner, I am happy to announce, ended up being a person I have had the pleasure of meeting in real life; congratulations, Angela (entry #2)! BenBella will send you a copy of the book soon. Enjoy!

In other news, the blog has been sparse this month. I know it. There’s been a lot going on the last thirty or so days. Things that have kept me busy and a little off. Some good things, some not-so-good things, some terrible things, and some great things. Life is complicated in that all of those things can be true at once.

I already wrote about how I lost a dear friend, and goodness can that throw things. The truest thing you’ll ever hear about grief is that it comes in waves. I will get hit—walking down the street, listening to music, in the middle of a dream—with gut-punching, heart-squeezing grief. It’s not a constant thing, it can’t be. We wouldn’t survive if our bodyminds didn’t let us pretend to forget, every once in a while, that we can no longer see the face of someone we love. So although I’m not a weepy mess 24/7, the grief-waves knock it out of me in ways that make me not quite able to perform at maximum capacity. (This includes getting blog posts up regularly.)

School started about two weeks ago as well. I love teaching so so much, and so I am always very happy to get back to the classroom. I love that being an academic means that I will always get to indulge the back-to-school feels that happen at the start of September. How it always feels like fall, even if the weather is still warm (hi, hey, you can peace out anytime 90-degree weather). And of course, I am always excited to get to teach young minds about things that I am so passionate about (like how we can better name and resist things like racism, sexism, cissexism, heterosexism, and other egregious isms in our world). And although academia is full of so many problems, I know I am a lucky one to get to say that I love what I do, every day.

And that other thing I do and occasionally get paid for—yoga and sculpt—is also taking up a lot of time. I’m co-leading the Yoga Sculpt Teacher Training and it’s involved a lot of prep. This weekend I’ll be at the studio at least eight hours every day. It’s feeling a bit overwhelming, but it’s another thing that I can’t really complain about too much. I get to teach about and practice yoga and exercise and get paid for it! What dream life am I living?!

Speaking of dream life, I also got to go whale watching with a friend this past week. It was a beautiful and humbling afternoon.

photo cred to Louie; we legit saw this wail tail IRL!

we legit saw this whale tail IRL!

And on that note, I’m going to get to the Friday Five. Four things from the internet plus a list of stuff that has made me happy this week!

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Learn to Forgive Yourself Even When You’ve Hurt Someone

I don’t know how much personal detail I will ever feel compelled to share on the blog, so I’ll keep this relatively vague. The past two years have been very difficult, and in my own pain, I have, in various ways, hurt some people who I love very much. I have been carrying the weight of this guilt like a bag of boulders on my back. The guilt from hurting one person put me in a place of self-flagellation that created a perfect foundation with which to hurt another person. Not forgiving myself has only led to more pain for others, not less. Punishing myself forever, turns out, is not working. And so I appreciated the candor of this article on Tiny Buddha about self-forgiveness, as it is a reminder that we, as much as we want to, cannot help people heal by refusing to heal ourselves. Give it a read if you can relate to any of what I’m saying. <3

Flower Drying Rack

Love this DIY project from The Healthy Hipster! I know there are some ethical ish’s with buying flowers, but if you stick to found flowers and/or fair trade flowers, I think this is a project worth doing! I love having (found and/or otherwise ethical) flowers in my home, but hate the act of literally throwing them away. I try to dry them, but it never seems to work. I will definitely give this a go!

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Kim Davis Didn’t Deserve to Go to Jail

Kim Davis is the homophobic Rowan County Clerk who was refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses, and then went to jail for it. I appreciate Yasmin Nair’s response to the many memes and articles that were praising the punishment and making jokes about her time in jail. Nair writes: “That so many prison memes and rape jokes have appeared on queer sites like Queerty and on the social media walls of many LGBTQ people is a sign that we have forgotten that prison is no laughing matter, especially for queer people. How is it that a community so quick to lament the forcible imprisonment and/or police harassment of queer people—from Oscar Wilde to Alan Turing to the Stonewall Riots and Boise—is so quick to forget the horrors of the system and laugh at what might happen when someone is jailed?” We have to find better ways to hold people accountable for harm. Jail shouldn’t be one of them.

Steel-Cut Oatmeal with Blackened Figs

I don’t know why, but lately I have been daydreaming about oatmeal with figs! This recipe from the Blonde Chef is nice and simple, and you can sub maple syrup for agave if you are a no-honey vegan!

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Stuff from the Week that Made Me Happy 

whale watching!; delicious and nutritious home-cooked meals; yoga & sculpt; kitten snuggles; teaching students to confront their privilege, and think critically (and maybe angrily) about the systems and structures that enable that privilege to be real in the first place; winning at adult-ing (like finally getting to a doctor about my bad knee, and taking my car to a garage to get fixed); daydreaming about upcoming plans and visits; kale; dreams about J, (even if it made me sadder upon waking); watching J’s favorite show and laughing my butt off, partly because the show is funny and partly because I love thinking of him laughing at it; feeling the beginnings of fall, the best season ever!; good friends; big changes; acceptance; love; the smell of rain; & knowing i have the capacity to always be the best version of myself, everyday. <3

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What made you happy this week? xoxoxo

Love Fed Cookbook Review & Giveaway!

I’m very excited about today’s post because not only do I get to rave about the delightfulness that is Love Fed: Purely Decadent, Simply Raw, Plant-Based Desserts, but also because the book publishers at BenBella Vegan have kindly offered to host a giveaway, so that one of you lucky readers can have a copy of your own!

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For a few reasons, I was sucked into the book right away. The author, Christina Ross, describes her passion for food (desserts in particular) as something that is rooted in the ability to share it with others, a desire for ethical health and wellness, and also an insatiable sweet tooth. I am there on all counts! Christina writes, “Love Fed desserts are made with integrity, passion, and awareness. They’re designed to nourish the body and satisfy the sweet tooth, and most of all to spread joy.” 

Another key part of Christina’s approach to raw “baking” is that it allows for so much improvisation! No need to do exact measurements with raw desserts–a handful more of coconut flakes won’t make or break a recipe the same way traditional, heated baking can be thrown by being one 1/2 teaspoon off. I love that about raw desserts, so this book was definitely a good fit for me! (That said, if you do like to stick to recipes, Christina does have exact measurements that you are welcome to follow!)

The book is divided up into eight main sections: Love Fed Basics (which includes foundational recipes like cashew cream, caramel sauce, & date syrup); Cakes, Pies, Cobblers, & Tarts; Minis and More (lots of cookies and cupcakes in here!); Puddings and Parfaits; Ice Cream, Yogurt, and Frozen Treats; Candy and Other Sweet Bites; Shakes and Sips; Fruit–Beyond Basic (which includes things like rosemary pecan caramel apples and lavender & coconut cream-filled strawberries!). In addition, the book provides an introduction, a section on kitchen and pantry essentials, as well as a handy resources guide that provides the names of companies that are good for raw food basics.

The book is filled with beautiful photography and I was eager to try out many of the recipes. I had great success with Christina’s unique twist on Crunchy Peanut Butter Cups–there was no buying and melting of store-bought chocolate, instead, everything was done with cocoa powder, coconut butter, maple syrup, and peanut butter. They were rich, delicious, and a hit at a dinner party I hosted! I also loved her Summer Sunday Cobbler, the Cinnamon Raisin Sunflower Twists (just like a cinnamon roll!), and the Maca-Chia Protein Pudding. I can’t wait to make many more of the recipes, including: Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Cake, Red Velvet Cupcakes, Fig Bliss Energy Balls, Maple Butterscotch Pudding, Mango Basil Sorbet, Honey Matcha Lavender Latte, and so many more! Don’t those all sound incredible?! The book is full of stuff like that.

For me, the only downside of this book is that it relies on fairly expensive food items. Even if you make them yourself, the cost can add up. That’s sort of the hardest thing about raw food eating in my opinion. But it’s also my opinion that those more expensive ingredients (like nuts, coconut butter, cacao) are much better alternatives than other dessert recipe staples.

The last recipe I want to share with you is one I made and loved, and one that BenBella Vegan has kindly offered to provide for the blog. These mini doughnuts are tangy, rich, and delicious!

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Raspberry and Coconut Glazed Doughnuts

Yield: 20 mini doughnuts

Prep time: 30 minutes, plus 30 minutes for doughnuts to set

Doughnuts are the last treat you’d expect to find on a raw food roster, but these do the genre proud. Once you get the base down, you can run with it, creating variations from chocolate doughnuts with sprinkles to maple bars. This recipe calls for a doughnut pan; if you don’t have one, simply shape the dough into O’s with your hands.

DOUGHNUT BASE

12 pitted deglet dates

1 c. almond flour

½ c. coconut flour

¼ c. coconut flakes

2 tsp. coconut sugar

1 tsp. vanilla bean powder or vanilla extract

¼ c. agave nectar

PINK GLAZE

2/3 c. raspberries

½ tsp. vanilla bean powder or vanilla extract

1/3 c. coconut butter, softened

¼ c. coconut milk

3 tbsp. agave nectar

1 tbsp. lemon juice

Coconut flakes, for garnish

Lightly grease a doughnut pan with coconut oil. Line a tray with parchment paper.

To make the doughnut base: Place the dates, almond flour, coconut flour, coconut flakes, coconut sugar, and vanilla bean powder in a food processor. Process until well combined. While the machine is running, pour the agave nectar in through the top, processing until the dough sticks together, approximately 15 seconds.

Divide the dough into 20 small pieces and firmly press the pieces into the doughnut pan. If you don’t have a doughnut pan, shape the doughnuts and place them on the parchment-lined tray. Set in the refrigerator while you make the glaze.

To make the pink glaze: Place the raspberries, vanilla bean powder, coconut butter, coconut milk, agave nectar, and lemon juice in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a medium bowl.

To assemble: Remove the doughnuts from the pan by tracing the outside of the doughnuts with an offset spatula, gently lifting around the edges until they pop out. Working one at a time, place each doughnut in the glaze bowl so one side gets coated with glaze, then lift it from the bowl with a fork. Tap the fork against the rim of the bowl to allow excess glaze to drip off and place the doughnut, glaze side up, on the parchment-lined tray. Repeat until all the doughnuts are coated.

Sprinkle coconut flakes onto the wet doughnuts and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until the glaze hardens. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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They were easy to make, super cute, and totally delicious!

The wonderful folks at BenBella Vegan have offered to send a copy of the cookbook to one lucky reader! To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment telling me your favorite dessert. For an additional entry, leave a comment for when you:

*like BenBella on Twitter or FB

*like Rebel Grrrl Living on Twitter or FB

That means you can submit a total of three entries/comments. I will pick a random winner on Monday, September 7th!

Good luck! xoxox