Thursday, November 6, 2014

for the animals

When you don't eat animals, a lot of people ask you why not.  Over the past 7 years (not tooting my horn but it's something to celebrate), I've gotten used to smiling and simply saying "Oh, because of the animals."  And then they nod and say something about how they tried it once and only lasted a week.  Oh, if only the billions of animals killed in factory farms every year had the luxury to simply "try out" the gestation crate or wire cage for a week and decide it wasn't right for them.  My heart aches at the callousness with which we can decorate the suffering of other beings in such disregard.  The disconnect between a cow and "beef" is alarming.  How can we hope for a just world when every meal we eat is at the expense of a lifetime (I repeat: a lifetime!) of suffering for another animal?  Cafeteria-style ethics aren't ethics at all.  We can't pick and choose where we want rightness, where we want to accept responsibility, and call that ethics.  It's not.

I'm not vegan because I simply don't want to kill an animal.  I'm not vegan because I have a soft, sensitive heart.  I'm not vegan because it keeps me healthy and feeling good, or because I live in LA and am an actress so it's the thing to do.  I went vegan at 17 because I couldn't live in denial anymore.  I couldn't be who I wanted to be, who I felt that I was at my core, if I continued to let convenience, ignorance, disconnection, and the overwhelming pressure of the majority dictate my choices.  In order to be to fully me, I had to reach down to the truths that had been lurking in the pit of my heart since I was a little girl.  Truths that don't come from within, however, but that come from being wide-eyed and receptive towards the the experiences of other beings and how they affect every beat of this universe's rhythm.  This rhythm is always available to us - all we have to do is make the choice to listen.

This listening can occur when we have the courage to know ourselves, to see beyond the characters we play and surrender to the world inside that is chin-deep in feelings our culture attempts to protect us from feeling.  There is pain in there, there is grief, there is the brightest light of dawn and the most chaotic, night-soaked ocean.  There is loneliness, ecstatic bliss, fear, the helplessness that comes from being human on a planet where we really know nothing.  These feelings dance together and, without acceptance, cause discord.  Cause the desire to escape, to turn blind eyes and to wrap our perspectives so tightly in foil so that we aren't affected by the outside world.  The real world.  Because if we really feel, if we really surrender to what is, we're faced with a reality that highlights the falsehoods and illusions and coping mechanisms our society is composed of.

I'm not vegan because I care for animals; I'm vegan because I am an animal.  Because in choosing to embrace my whole being, I simultaneously choose to embrace theirs.  When I see it in me, I see it in them.  I can't love myself, can't tend to my own pain, without loving them and seeing theirs.  We hold such great commonality - us living beings on this speck of a spot in space.  Any violence or disregard towards them produces a ripple effect that brings violence and disregard back to human kind.  I see it in the news, I see it in the loneliness of peoples' faces that I pass on the street.  This ache of humanity is only soothed with the awareness of a whole self and in seeing our wholeness, we see our connectedness.  Our sense of belonging to one another despite the fact that we float in a spinning ball amongst stars.

I'm vegan because I can't look at another animal and deny their experience on this Earth.  I can't ethically take the lives of those who are defenseless just because they are different.  I'm vegan because I want to take responsibility for my actions and I know that in simply not seeing their suffering every day doesn't make it go away.  I don't want to have a plate put down in front of me and have to consciously not think about the living being it came from who wanted to avoid pain just like I do, who wanted to survive, to simply be left alone instead of exploited by the hands of humans just because they can.  To accept speciesism is to also leave the door open for every other injustice and oppression on the planet.  Sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia.  It's all one group oppressing the other. One big coping mechanism.

I'm vegan because I don't want to just cope.  I want the truth.  I want to know that I was a source of love in my time here.  And all mushy feelings aside,  I want to follow the golden rule - If I wouldn't wish it upon myself, what business do I have doing it to another being?  I'm not the person I want to be if I choose the facade of a "cheeseburger" over allowing myself to acknowledge the piece of flesh on a plate that was cut from a dead body of a being that didn't need to die or spend their lives being tortured and denied one ounce of dignity.

I want to honor all life regardless of its relativity or usefulness to me.  And in choosing to see and to feel, regardless of the being, I can best do that.

If you're interested: http://earthlings.com/?page_id=32

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Why Feminist Ethics are the Solution to Animal Exploitation



At the very core of every injustice is the belief that existence is founded upon a hierarchy of power and entitlement instead of an inborn call towards compassion and ethical moral duty. We are born onto this planet with little security, and as we become embedded in our society, we seek to compensate for our existential insecurities by developing defense mechanisms against the natural world. We build literal and metaphorical walls to protect ourselves, we strive to cure mortality with medicine and science, and we place faith in religions that promise a way out – one big EXIT sign to fixate upon in order to avoid the claustrophobic hallway of our pain, grief, vulnerability, and even the terrifying depths of our joy and love that our psyches equate to eventual loss. Separating ourselves from the natural world allows us the illusion of immunity to it. Throughout history, this struggle to gain control over our environment and our selves has led to wars, environmental destruction, and mass social injustice. Feminist philosophers argue that the view of “self” as of the mind but not the body is responsible for laying the foundation that enables such damage, and the correlation must be drawn between our denial of the body, of the natural world, and subsequently to the billions of animals exploited each year in America alone for human use (Browning). As long as we are separating the mind from the body, we are inviting oppression against the feminine and against nature and entitling ourselves to disregard the value of non-human sentient beings. The psychological disconnect that allows the human species to exploit non-human animals is a result of the patriarchal view of self, and its mending lies in feminist ethics.

In order to understand the damage done by this disconnect, we must look at the consequences of our actions. It is nearly impossible to go one day without condoning, supporting, or witnessing the
exploitation of animals. For a society who claims to view pets as family members, the hypocrisy and ignorance of such exploitation is alarming. If we treated a household pet the way animals are treated in order to feed, clothe, entertain, or “cure” us, we would be considered criminals and find ourselves in jail instead of safeguarded by our justifications for such abuse (Hodson). Isn't it our ethical duty to take responsibility for our actions? With eyes and ears closed, the gates to cruelty, environmental destruction, human health issues, and worldwide oppression remain wide open.

According to the USDA, 9.1 billion animals were slaughtered in 2013 alone ( "Farm Animal Statistics: Slaughter Totals : The Humane Society of the United States."). While the meat and dairy industry would love us to believe that their animals graze happily in pastures of green grass, clear blue skies, and under the care of Farmer Sally donned in overalls, the reality could not be farther from the grotesque truth. Welcome to the factory farm. Animals are crammed so tightly into cages that they cannot even turn around, let alone walk, breathe fresh air, feel the warmth of the sun, or live one mere moment of their lives free from suffering. Their living conditions are deplorable; animals are covered in sores, feces, and chickens' beaks are cut off at birth to stop them from eating each other due to the stress of overcrowding. Animals are raped by machines in order to breed as many offspring as possible, or profitable I should say, and their babies are ripped from them as soon as they are born. For baby cows, if they are to be used for veal, they are immediately locked into a tiny wooden crate that shuts out all light, and are made immobile to purposefully hinder the development of their muscles in order to produce the desired meat quality. Cows and pigs alike are shot and then hung upside down, throats slit to drain their blood, and then they are gutted and skinned. There have been countless documentaries of undercover footage showing the animals remaining conscious throughout much of this process . A factory farm worker once told the Washington Post that the animals “die piece by piece” (“Animals Used for Food”). This is not the exception; this is not rare. This is where your food comes from.

We also kill animals for fur, leather, and sheepskin each year. Animals in fur farms are kept in
similar conditions to factory farms, and are often skinned alive, if clubbing or bludgeoning fails to do the trick. For some reason, leather slips under the ethical radar of most consumers, probably because the animal hide is treated so extensively that we think of it more as a fabric than slimy, once-bloodied skin. Every year, the world slaughters over a billion animals for leather alone (“Animals Used for Food”). The tribal days of killing an animal for survival, and then using every part of its body in an effort to honor the being and avoid wastefulness are long gone, at least in the modern world. Make no mistake: these means of violent abuse are not justified by their end, for when the issue of survival is off the table, we must use Ethics as a guide.

The beauty industry conceals not only skin blemishes, but the ugly practice of animal testing for make-up and body products. This entails testing toxic chemicals on the skin, eyes, ears, and insides of animals, not simply letting a mouse try on different shades of lavender. Animals used in testing for cosmetic and household products and medical research are stripped of their value and become nothing more than a science experiment. Making animals sick is justified by the promise of making the lives of human's better. We perform experiments on animals that are deemed cruel and unethical to perform on humans, and the believed inferiority of the animal kingdom, and therefore nature, justifies such. Does not our capacity to reason, which is used by critics to prove we are somehow “better”, make us responsible for said reasoning, and should we not reason through a lens of ethics instead of speciesist greed? The philosopher Peter Singer, author of Animal Liberation, states that “What we must do is bring non-human animals within our sphere of moral concern and cease to treat their lives as expendable for whatever trivial purposes we may have” (Singer 20).

It's not enough to eat, wear, and experiment on the beings we share the Earth with, but we also find entertainment in making them perform as if they were humans. Like a scene from King Kong, we pay to watch animals do tricks in circuses, living lives in captivity where their worth is only seen
relative to human amusement. This performance, this false view of reality and the so-called “loving”
relationship we have with animals, is seen in zoos when families take their children to gaze at lions going mad in metal cages and artificial habitats. Even our closest perceived bond and appreciation for animals is tainted: household pets are considered “family”, yet the love is relative (Hal Herzog). Millions of cats and dogs are killed in shelters all over the country because of puppy-mills and breeding. We call the dog that we bought from a breeder “family” while we cook steak for dinner (Hodson). The contradiction is yet another reflection of our severed relationship to the natural world, and consequently, our selves.

Of course, justifications for animal exploitation are just as excessive as the extent of which it occurs. It is difficult to heal a wound when you are not convinced of the injury itself. The use of animals has been a vital part of society since the start of humanity, and critics of “animal rights” argue that it's for good reason. While few people would choose to align themselves with the abuse that occurs in factory farms, the idea that using them is just a part of the “cycle of life” is a widely upheld belief (Scully). Humans' dependence on animals is a sign of our cultural and interpersonal connections, they argue, with the fulfillment of animal-involving traditions woven deeply into a society's identity. They point out that many cultures around the world have beautiful rituals of honoring the animals they use- nothing like the thoughtless cruelty condoned in America with fast food restaurants and factory farms. For many families, eating or wearing animals is necessary for their well-being. Furthermore, they find ties to their ancestors in taking part in such rituals, as well as a sense of community, and expecting such changes to be made in other cultures is a denial of their own value and a result of cultural relativism fueled by privilege. Expecting animal products, or the work of animals, to evaporate from a culture's landscape is like expecting a lung to evaporate from a human body, yet leave the body fully functioning.
The most stark contradiction that strikes me in this argument is the assumption that in today's
world, especially in America, survival is a valid reason for our treatment of animals, as if we are all
running around in the forest, starving, and in desperate need of any source of nutrition. Clearly, that's
not the case at all. Our use of animals is not for survival; this is not some Pocahontas-themed result of just how connected we are to nature or our culture. After all, I don't kill in order to connect, do you? The fact that we participate in such contradictory practices is proof of how disconnected we are from nature, and since cultures evolve throughout time, shouldn't our ethics evolve with them? For this is not a call for improving animal welfare in attempt to soften our guilty conscience-it is a call to question the validity and moral value of the beliefs we affirm as truth when we exploit animals.

In an attempt to persuade people to alter their lifestyle, I could go into depth of how using animals is destructive to humans, as the animal agriculture industry produces more pollution than all worldwide transportation combined, and animal products cause more harm than healthfulness to human bodies(“Meat and the Environment”). Brilliant minds such as authors Peter Singer and Gary Francione have already thoroughly made the case against animal exploitation with logic and common sense, using already accepted moral standards to shine the light on the the dark contradictions of the consumer. Yet still, the disconnect. Our ability to disengage from the natural world, to find comfort in speciesism, and to seek alibi through ignorance is what I find most concerning. We place a dangerous distance between ourselves and accountability when we deny our communion with the physical and animal world. This denial has been heavily criticized by feminist philosophers who see the root of all oppression and injustice as the patriarchal view of self (Browning).

In her essay Body, Mind, & Gender, Eve Browning Cole seeks to present the effects of Western philosophy and its belief that the “self”, “soul”, or “consciousness” is entirely separate from the physical body. The body is viewed as a machine with the mind as its operator. This simple viewpoint, she argues, sets up society for automatic oppression and justification for mistreating those seen as “of the body”, or “animal”, and not of the mind (Browning). The 17th century philosopher Rene Descartes
played a large role in this mind vs. body sense of self. In his mission to discover the truth of self, he
withdrew from society and used “doubting” to deconstruct, and therefore compartmentalize,
the elements of his existence. After doubting the reliability of his senses, he came to the conclusion that he is of a “certain existence, but an uncertain body” (Browning). Like Plato, he believed that the body is an instrument the soul uses, with the soul, or mind, being superior.

Feminist philosophers point out that this method of analyzing self is illogical since the sharing of knowledge and social norms begins in society. They argue that we are of society, not in spite of it. And furthermore, that we are of the natural world, not an exception to it (Browning). It is imperative that we look to our relationships when becoming curious about the makeup of our psyche. The referral to a self that is isolated comes from gender socialization and enforces patriarchy. In the past, men went out into the world, worked, and spent time with the family periodically, so the male learned to distinguish himself, to view himself as “other” and “separate from”. While the female, on the other hand, was constantly with the family, and served as the primary caregiver, which led her to identify herself through her relationships with others (Browning). Therefore, feminists explain, the view of self as “isolated” is masculine, and such a belief automatically makes that which is feminine inferior.
With the body and the feminine accepted as interconnected, it is easy to draw the conclusion that little to no value would be bestowed upon nature as well. As author Ynestra King so bluntly explained: “Patriarchal humanity declared war on women and on living nature” (King). We even refer to the natural world as Mother Nature, and so the associations with inferiority persist. The ethics of feminism combat this hierarchy by insisting that the “more connected the self is to others, the better the self is” (Tong and Williams).

In accepting the body as of equal worth to the mind, we allow for a shift in our orientation towards nature and animals (Peek et. al). When filtered through this relational mindset, the idea that our ability to use “logic” gives us dominion over animals is extracted at its root. Ability no longer
justifies the action. In the book Signs, Josephine Donovan says, “Out of a women's relational culture of
caring and attentive love, therefore, emerges the basis for a feminist ethic for the treatment of animals.
We should not kill, eat, torture, and exploit animals because they do not want to be so treated, and we know that. If we listen, we can hear them” (Donovan 375).

The solution to the patriarchally-driven disconnect between self and nature (mind and body) is simultaneously difficult and easy to apply; it requires personal responsibility to be taken by each individual. While people may scoff at the notion, dismissing it as impossible to implement, now that we have found the direct connection between the empowerment of the female and the degree to which animal life is valued, we can work to bring awareness, appreciation, and acceptance to the body. This spread of knowledge that ultimately causes social change through activism has been evident in every civil movement, including the civil rights movement, the first-wave feminist movement, and today it is evident in the movement for equal rights for gays and lesbians. The solution is not a government program that promises to fix a glitch in the system, but a complete (although often times gradual) redesign.

From an early age, women are taught to suppress their very femininity, and their worth is only measured relative to external standards, usually contrived by men. Women face constant judgement over the way they look and how they act, with every pore of their being absorbing the message that they are “not enough” (Browning). We are conditioned to believe that things that are feminine, again, of the body, such as menstrual cycles are not to be spoken of or acknowledged, heaven forbid celebrated. The same is evident in the ridiculous debate over breast feeding in public. The message is clear: if it's natural, if you can't control it, then deny it. Any nature-given aspect is a threat to patriarchy because it reminds us that we belong to nature- it does not belong to us.

Feminist philosophers urge us to see this fact as liberating instead of oppressive, as a cure to our psychological distress instead of a problem that needs fixing. Women must make the choice to be
women, in every sense of the word, to promote an “embodied self”, with no apologies. It starts with
literature, with organizing sources of support for women. It starts with how we guide our children to a
healthy relationship with their feelings, so that we view our bodies as friends instead of enemies. It starts with education in our school system that does not perpetuate shame in being female, but that gives boys and the girls the tools to make conscious decisions for themselves about their own bodies. It starts with bringing into awareness the true science of sexuality, not the story told to us by religion, and with women demanding ownership of their sexuality.

When we deny our self the freedom of embodiment, we deny the natural world. If we truly wish to eliminate the animal suffering that is a result of exploitation, we must reevaluate what it means to be animal, to be a body, and to be a self.   

References:
"Animals Used for Food." PETA. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2014.

Meat and the Environment.” PETA. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2014.

Browning, Eve. "Body, Mind, and Gender." Philosophy and Feminist Criticism: An Introduction. New York: Paragon House, 1993. N. pag. Print.
Donovan, Josephine. "Animal Rights and Feminist Theory." Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 15.2 (1990): 350. JSTOR. Web. 26 Apr. 2014.
"Farm Animal Statistics: Slaughter Totals : The Humane Society of the United States." Humane Society. N.p., 17 Apr. 2014. Web. 30 Apr. 2014.
Hal Herzog October 13. "Love Cats, Eat Cows?" Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 13 Oct. 2013. Web. 30 Apr. 2014.
Hodson, Gordon, Ph. D. "The Meat Paradox: Loving but Exploiting Animals." Psychology Today: Health, Help, Happiness Find a Therapist. N.p., 3 Mar. 2014. Web. 28 Apr. 2014.
King, Ynestra. “Healing the Wounds: Feminism, Ecology, and the Nature/Culture Dualism.” Gender/Body/Knowledge: Feminist Reconstructions of Being and Knowing. Ed. Allison M. Jaggar & Susan Bordo. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1989. 115-134. Print.
Peek, Charles W., Nancy J. Bell, and Charlotte C. Dunham. "Gender, Gender Ideology, and Animal Rights Advocacy." Gender and Society 10.4 (1996): 464-78. JSTOR. Web. 26 Apr. 2014.
Scully, Matthew. "Fear Factories." American Conservative Vol. 4, No. 10. 23 May. 2005: 7-14. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 07 Apr. 2014.
Singer, Peter. Animal Liberation. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2009. Print.
Tong, Rosemarie and Williams, Nancy, "Feminist Ethics", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL<http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2014/entries/feminism-ethics/>.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

it's the weekend.

East coast time has me still waking up super early, needing to pee, and wanting to eat.  It's hard for me to sleep in when I know breakfast could always be happening instead.  Oatmeal with flaxseed,walnuts, brown sugar and coffee…but I do need the sleep, though.  

Last week we were on vacation (well, visiting family-vacation) in North Carolina.  We hadn't been back there together in two years.  We swam in the ocean, hung out in New Bern, and spent time in the country.  It's so freaking awesome going somewhere and not feeling the pressure to be "getting stuff done" or "accomplishing something".  I completely cut off from all things LA and normal life (even though I probably *should* have checked in with my online college class - oops) because for the first time in a long time, I just wanted to BE. And for us to relax. And get to be relaxed people that just married each other.  Without work or careers or tasks to do or think about.  Nothing but eating, drinking, swimming in the ocean, and walking around to get coffee.  It was fabulous.

But now we are back to reality, which is a busy place, and the past few days I have been waking up earlier than my alarm, and then wanting to crash by early afternoon.  Tonight we have a music show to go to (our talented, sweet friend who sang and played at our wedding's band), I've got a rehearsal and lots of script work to do, a yoga class (with my new job the weekends are my only chance for yoga so I've got to force myself), and to figure out when and how to walk the dog since it's going to be about 200 degrees outside for the next week.  I HATE HEAT WAVES.  And why, why is this happening at the same time Halloween napkins are in the grocery stores?!? I am beyond ready for fall.  We just experienced our summer last week in NC, thank you very much, and now I'm moving on to fall and winter.  I hate knowing that in LA, things like heat waves are just getting warmed up and that the worst is possibly yet to come.  What I would give for seasons…

Being super busy now (with school - why did I agree to this again?- and work and regular taking care of house things) forces me to work to find the space to working on my acting career, which, while scary and slightly stressful, is pretty good at stoking the fire to get me going.  There's a sense of "Oh shit, if I don't do it now, or make myself work on this, I can so easily get lost in this and wake up three years later in the same place".  So, for that I'm thankful because I needed that.  And doing lots of other things also reminds me of what I'm not and who I am and what I'm 100 percent meant to do with my life.  I notice it when I'm at my job - how I'm constantly using it as an excuse to be pretend I'm Claire from House of Cards and all the other moments when I realize so much of my experience of life and who I am revolves around playing someone else or pretending I'm in a different world.  A few weeks ago, after not auditioning for awhile or really being busy with acting at all, I had a realization.  I was so busy with "being me" everywhere (at my job, I'm Catherine, at school, I'm Catherine, at the grocery store, still Catherine) that I noticeably felt the empty space inside me that's reserved for when I'm other people.  And then it hit me - other people go about their lives always being them! What? I checked with J to confirm my suspicion.  They go everywhere, do everything, and are always coming from a place of THEM.  That's so weird to me.  I realized that if I don't act, I *feel* it, like when you are lacking a vitamin or something.  It's an exercise of my soul that needs to happen.  

That's all there is for now.  That and trying to stave off my period for just one more day.  In the meantime I just want to cry inside an igloo and punch people in the face. Happy Saturday!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

countdown to carolina

From J's Instagram on our last NC trip


I know I haven't written in awhile but that's because I've been busy starting my new (part time) job at my dream-organization, school classes, unwinding from the wedding and all the boxes(looking at them, saying we need to unpack them, and then doing something else), attempting to write thank you notes, walking the dog (takes up half my life), trying to keep the spouse happy, dreaming about leaves and boots, and remembering, oh yeah, I'm an actress and must do that at all costs.  Which is why I am SO excited that we are going on our last summer vacation of the year in 4 days! We're going to NC to hang out on the beach, in the country, and in my hometown and I cannot wait to hear the ocean when I wake up in the morning and to be in swimmable water finally! (Sorry West Coast, but it ain't a beach if its too cold to swim with ease).  My mom is throwing a post-wedding cocktail hour reception thing too.  I cannot wait for green grass, thunderstorms, sweet tea, nice people, front porches…

When we get back, I expect Los Angeles to be in full fall-mode.  I want leaves, I want people shivering and rushing inside coffee shops, I want lots of Placebo playing, I want it all.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

being young, being female, being art (aka being a mom)



I always wanted to be a young(er) mom.  Kind of in the way I always knew, or at least had the idea, that I would get married young.  I'm a Taurus, and home is important to me.  I'm pretty stubborn, I know what I like, and I rarely change.  I grow, but I rarely change.  Some people are the kind that are constantly evolving throughout their life, they "find out" who they are…I literally feel like I was plopped down on the Earth already made - like, eighty years old.  My beliefs, my goals, the things that give me comfort..they are pretty much the same now as they were at age four.  I've never really had "drama" with my friends, never "dated" around, never questioned what I wanted to do with my life.  I just knew my best friends were my best friends (my soul mate family), and I felt in my core what I was meant to do, and I wanted my life with my spouse pretty much right away…so I've always had the attitude of "why wait?" and "why not?" because when I feel ready, or when I feel sure, I go for it.

And in the past year, I've learned even more about how there is truly nothing that can't serve as an opportunity for growth.  If things get scary, if I lose ground, if things are hard, I can suffer and struggle and feel all the while being in awe of the depth of this existential experience.  If I jump in a little too early, I'll just learn how to swim - I mean, I'll have to - it's either learn to swim or drown.  I'll figure it out.  

So when the same knowing, the same seed planting, started making itself known around the Baby Topic and the Being a Mommy Topic, I found myself surprised at the feelings I was having yet not fully trusting myself.  I know in my heart that if I got pregnant this second, J and I would be happy and totally ready (and when I say ready, what I mean is willing, because you are never ready).  So why the slight shame in admitting I'm baby-hungry?  Why do I feel like maybe I'm wrong in my feelings, that maybe I'm just being impulsive, that I'm not right to want this and want it sooner than later?  I know why.  It's because this isn't where I thought I would be when I would have a baby.  Because this timeline isn't the one I've had written and subconsciously counted on my whole life.  That I would have a successful, established career, and that we would have plenty of money before we even went down that road.  When I start examining what that looks like and what those fantasies mean, I realize that while, yes, it would be awesome to know we could pick any school to send our kiddo to, that we could travel all the time, have no financial worries in the world, and create the family life that we've dreamed of - I realized that the need wasn't coming from any soul-truth about needing my career in order to be a good mother - but that it was about the illusion that I'd somehow be more worthy and fulfilled and deserving by then.  It was really about the shame our society drips around, well, being a mother.  Being a girl that wants to be a mom.  Not that you see it clearly on the surface, but as a young woman in pursuit of career and creative fulfillment, I feel a sense of shame for also wanting to be a mom.  Maybe "shame" is the wrong word; I feel like it's not the "right" or "natural" or "accepted" path.  That there is judgement there.  Those thoughts that keep pulling me back and make me want to bullet proof the decision, because really, is this really what I could want?  Is this okay? Is it okay to not be established in your career and to start a family?

When I shine the light on the hesitation, I see so many lines swirling like smoke in front of mirrors:  What if a baby means giving up on my dreams?  What if a baby means that I have failed as woman?  Can I possibly be creative, ambitious, and progressing while embarking on motherhood?  And it basically boils down to: What if a baby means giving up on ME?

And there's the fallacy.  There's the lie women have been embedded with for so long.  That it's either/or.  That you can work for yourself or you can work for a toddler.  That you can have a career, and then, only then, will we turn the blind eye while you slump down into mediocre feminism.  Because then, you will have earned your femininity - you will have earned your right to make life, to let another being depend on you, to nurture.  And, YES, that's what it boils down to.  Back to that old fashioned shame around being a woman in her most natural, connected state.  Whether it's the period, or pregnancy, we don't want to be "defined" by it but we shouldn't have to deny it.  I wrote a paper a few months ago about the connection between feminist ethics and animal exploitation and what I learned in writing it keeps pulling at my pant legs because it is so true: if an act or being reflects the feminine, or the natural (the animal), then it is viewed as less than the "mind".  As long as we hold the belief that the body and the mind are separate, we keep the gates open for discrimination and prejudice against the body, the animal, the woman.  Without this belief, we would have to view pregnancy and motherhood (and other nurturing, sensitive, relational-dependent roles) as of equal worth to the identity of a "distinguished self" that the workforce encourages.  

It's this belief that a career, that being established in a way that makes others view you in an acceptable, respected light, is the only avenue towards creative fulfillment, towards art, spirit and freedom.  And I think to believe that is to deny the depth of experience.  My journey towards marriage was the most growth-inducing sea I've ever sailed, and it's effects have drastically changed my awareness.  I have felt it wash through every canal of my life - my writing, my acting, my self-trust, my self-empowerment, my self-love, and my overall consciousness.  I look at becoming a mother as one of the ultimate creative endeavors of my life.  One of the greatest adventures, the greatest risks, the greatest call to Vulnerability. In that light, my story has been the opposite of the one told to us time and time again: go to school, get a job, find out "who you are", find a partner, get married, have babies.  And holding my story next to the illusions of what "should be" is pointless.  

I've decided that I'm letting go.  I don't care about the timelines I made up when I was seven because timelines only condone our culture's obsession with the external world and I refuse to be whittled down to a simple perception of others. I don't care what the rest of our culture tries to impose on what I already know and feel in my soul.  I realize that the more I stay connected to the core of my essence, to the source of my true spirit, the more opportunities find me, the more trusting I feel, the more willing I feel to make the choice to jump and learn to swim, regardless of if I heard the whistle or not.  I'm choosing to embrace the full spectrum of femininity because I know that creativity flourishes alongside existential portals like motherhood, not in spite of them.  

Sunday, August 3, 2014

sunday night

So Sharknado 2 just happened..(and what more can I say there)

This weekend was full of nieces and nephews, the sister in law's birthday, lots of greasy food, lots of randomly humid weather, and sleeping in (YAY).  I start my new job tomorrow and will be making time to blog throughout the week.

Coming up :

Babies?
Finding your own alignment to your own inner river of creativity.
Veganism and Feminism and why the two go hand in hand and should basically have sleepovers every night with matching pajamas.

 In the meantime I have been rekindling my obsession with Carolyn Bessette and trying to contextualize the fact that Sharknado only encouraged my fear of subways.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

no matter the weather


I'm always reminded to not go too far from her. The little me inside that will make sure I hear her if I stray. Tonight I'm babysitting a 13 month old girl in a hotel room. I started to experience some panic over my heartbeat (I felt a fluttery, weird, irregular thing as I do now and then) which led to forgetting to breathe which only added fuel to the fireball of anxiety brewing. I hadn't really experienced that type of anxiety in awhile and didn't know the trigger. And there I was, in a hotel room that felt like The Shining (dark except for a tiny light so the baby can sleep), no noise of the TV for distraction, no Carrie Bradshaw on the screen to keep me safe in the clouds. I was simply me – earth, here, weighted, and alone. Alone with my racing mind and my attempts to breathe into my belly. I got a message from a dear friend:

“Today I make room for the good that is waiting for me. No matter what the weather is, my body is always comfortable.”

As I tried to find the home in my flesh, in my machine, the baby started crying from her crib. Of course this was happening. Of course when I needed space and breath, she needed proximity and to scream. I picked her up and she fell back asleep, snuggled on me on the bed. Maybe this was good. Maybe having to tend to her would pull me out of my head funk. It did, eventually. After a few minutes I re-swaddled her and put her back in the crib. I took note of the change in my body, how it felt like the feeling of stepping off an airplane and back onto your ground. The familiarity that anxiety prys you away from.

I then happened to get on the computer and within two minutes the blog “Existential Parenting” found its way in front of my eyes. Babies. On the brain lately, along with all of the other tethers to this world. It's odd being at this age, where all of “the things” are actual things in people's real lives- not just the pretend lives of their Barbies. The thought of being pregnant is terrifying, but what isn't. I've always hoped and kind of felt that it would actually work like a balm to my anxiety. A place of constant connectedness, a portal into the miracle of existence. A home that's rooted in something real, at least for now, or nine months..I wonder if I would feel trapped or set free – probably shades of it all. What traps us, or what we fear will trap us, is often simultaneously the tunnel that leads us to freedom, to wholeness, to acceptance instead of denial. It's written about beautifully in the book The Untethered Soul (which I highly recommend and pretty much serves as my Bible).

I can't put a finger on it, and don't need to try to give it a name, but things have been stirring the past couple weeks. I've felt some deep, beautiful shifts which seem to have also kicked up some anxiety-dust. As change and transformation and transition usually does. I'm getting better at sitting back, at trusting in the opportunities for growth and in the calls to awareness. I know that the degree of resistance is equal to the degree of growth hanging in the balance, waiting on the other side. The more that I let go, the more I surrender, the more I am able to receive. Like the line I've kept close to my heart ever since the same dear friend gifted it to me: I am ready to receive the gifts of the goddess. Because it's all a gift, really; the happy, the sad, the scary, the exciting, the uncomfortable, the sweetness, nothing is real without its foil...and they are all gifts.

I start a new part-time job next week at an organization I've been married to since age 12. I'm trying to refocus on the “business” part of acting, while the actual acting part is feeling really good at the moment. I'm also taking more classes this fall (whatever I have to do in order to get a new pair of glasses, seriously). I'm a fucking wife. So many big things are going on and coming together right now and then there are the baby cravings and the strong desire for gold stacking rings from Etsy. It's slightly alarming to feel the pieces of you fuse, for the little girl me to recognize the me in the mirror from her dreamed up life so many moons ago.  

Monday, July 21, 2014

this little piggy

As some of you may know, I have been craving the addition of either a goat or a pig to our family.  And what I mean by that is, Starbelly keeps tugging my pant leg asking for one.  I couldn't believe she had such a specific idea of what she wanted in a sibling.  J brought this video to my attention last night, and I am convinced it's a sign from Britney (Spears, that is, for those of you new to the religion).

 



It breaks my soul that anyone could eat these animals.  The disconnection allowed between the death, abuse, torture, and just absolute evil and our plates is the definition of unethical.  SPEAKING OF I just got a part-time job working at an animal rights organization that I have loved since I was a little girl.  I want to be able to say which organization it is, but since I haven't started yet, maybe I shouldn't? Not sure how that stuff works.  I mean, after all, I'm an actress with a degree in cow-loving and banana bread baking…so.  But seriously, this organization is what changed my life when I was 12 years old.  As much as I bitch about technology and the internet, thank god for the awareness they can spread.  You can't argue when you see a video of the truth.  The internet has allowed voices that would have never been able to have been heard to flood the ears and hearts of people in pretty much any place in the world.  So for that I am very grateful.  But this organization…that sounds like a Greek food that is great with hummus…has an LA headquarters in my neighborhood and it's a part time job so I can make money while doing the work that I am so passionate about, while I pursue the career that I am so passionate about at the same time.  I know it's small but I am so proud of myself - it's such a cool feeling to feel like you are in the flow of who you actually are.  Twelve year old protesting-and-debating-and-handing-out-flyers Me would be so proud.  

And in other news, I sometimes pretend I'm Robin Wright when I jog now, and I'm ready for Christmas already.  

Friday, July 18, 2014

our honeymoon in Costa Rica




J has always been the travel-planner in the duo (of she and I).  I am great at planning too, as long as plans aren't needed, money flows freely, and cake is somehow involved.

We went to Costa Rica for 9 days right after our wedding weekend in Boulder, Colorado.  I'm not the best flier in the world (and by that I mean it's probably the most terrifying thing on the planet to me, even scarier than Mitt Romney) so it was a bit of a struggle for me to take the Red-Eye, overnight, as in, when it's dark outside, and how do they know where to fly?? And is the pilot drunk, people?!? Do people check these things? Anyway.  We took the red-eye and landed in San Jose Monday morning, bright and early.  We drove through beautiful countryside and likely in and out of consciousness due to extreme fatigue.  I'm not going to write about how I promptly came down with a cold that lasted five days and started my period early - not writing about that.  

We spent the first four nights in Manuel Antonio by the Pacific Ocean.  J magically found this amazing private villa to stay in, called Prana Rainforest Retreat.  It's owners, Mark and John, are so spectacular and warm and full of hospitality.  Mark, who is an insanely creative and brilliant chef, cooked organic, healthy, amazing surprise breakfasts every morning for us.  Well, we knew they were coming, they weren't a total surprise but the menu part was.  It was no problem that I was vegan whatsoever, he was even excited that he would get to experiment with inventive vegan recipes.  The villa is cozied up into the rainforest and we regularly saw monkeys and beautiful birds and gekos- oh, and chickens and peacocks.

The beach at Manuel Antonio




Our private pool at Prana Rainforest Retreat

My first Sex on the Beach


Manuel Antonio National Park Beach


check out that wedding band.


We were going to go white water rafting, which I was sooo excited about, but with my impending sickness I thought it was best to not push it and risk getting worse.  So we hung out at the beach, and watched the World Cup underneath a palapa during a booming, pouring thunderstorm (my favorite).  We also got about 57,000 pictures of a sloth.  We met a sweet couple from Texas and an older lady from Winston Salem - small world.

We spent the second half of our trip at the Tabacon Hot Springs Thermal Resort and Spa.  It's a little resort at the base of the volcano snuggled around hot springs that are fed by it.  And their spa is AMAZING with open air cabanas by the hot springs...

The natural hot springs at Tabacon. 




We found Starbelly's place of origin.



The base of Arenal Volcano
Right before walking the hanging bridges






All in all, it was a beautiful trip.  I myself thoroughly enjoyed the rain and the storms. OH the storms! Living in LA, but being from North Carolina, I miss thunderstorms soooooo badly.  It's the one real problem I have with LA.  I miss the boom of thunder, the smell of the grass in the rain…the warm breeze before a storm.  We got some awesome storms in Costa Rica.  

I also noticed when my anxiety would start to swell up.  As a whole, I am so much more grounded and at peace with my anxiety compared to a year ago and I am quite happy and proud of my progress and all that I have learned.  So it was interesting (and annoying) to notice on our honeymoon it start to bubble up again and to have the fear thoughts start to swirl playing scenarios in my head.  Ironically, when we got back to LA, Sheryl Paul posted this blog post about travel anxiety.  Always creepily perfect timing.  That's the next arena I really want to work on.  I watch my spouse be so calm and relaxed while I have scenes from Blood Diamond playing in my head.  I want to go so many places with her and to be able to really enjoy and appreciate them all.  I'm thankful, though, for what the anxiety brings to my attention; it's always calling me to grow, to surrender, and to overall become a more mindful and empowered being.  


But back to Costa Rica.

A few of my favorite things:


  • The storms
  • Getting to semi-practice my "Spanish" again.  I put quotations around it because I have just as much "Spanish" as Britney Spears has privacy.
  • The scenery; I mean, the views, the lush jungle, how green everything is, how rich with natural life.
  • The warm oceans
  • Meeting the cute American couple from Texas and watching the World Cup under a hut in the middle of a storm
  • THE CLOUD FOREST 
  • Hands down, having a moment to connect with a beautiful and soulful cow on the side of the road. (Despite the heartbreak that comes from the reality of the situation)
  • ZIP-LINING
  • Being a wife (although I get to do that anywhere now)
  • Soaking in the hot springs. The insane couples massage we got at the Tabacon Spa!!
  • Listening to our wedding songs in the 4.5 hour car ride to Fortuna
  • The adorable Volcan Arenal who kept showing its face for us.
  • The huge full moon.

A few of my not-so-favorite things:

  • Bug bites.  I re-lived my Southern childhood with about 6.6 million mosquito bites.
  • I love Costa Rica but it needs to be said - food ain't her strong point.  Luckily, rice and beans and veggies are a huge staple of their diet, but having the same exact meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner gets slightly old.  I was excited to get back to LA's food.
  • These two things are not Costa Rica's fault, but as I stated before: getting sick with a cold and getting my period early (woohoo!)


Monday, July 14, 2014

the chosen one

The past two weeks have been full of lots of things.

 Right now I'm wearing a side bun and blue pumps so you know things are getting serious.  I have jury duty tomorrow, that's right - all those hours of watching Dateline, 48 Hour Mystery, and IDHD are finally paying off.  The dinner table conversation about my dad's clients growing up.  Scandal.  Orange is the New Black.  It's all happening people.  I'm preparing for a lot of nodding, throat clearing, and trying to block out the fact that tomorrow morning might involve an elevator.  I am even thinking of "picking up" a coffee (SANS a bagel) before I report to the courthouse.  And maybe a few hours later I will say something like, "I haven't eaten all day!" as I become the girl from The Killing and get a bag of chips from the vending machine.  I think this will be really great for me, I am clearly qualified for the job, but I'm just hoping they don't think I'm a better fit for prison instead of juror.  I hope they think I'm good.

This weekend was also J's birthday weekend and I made vegan, gluten-free key lime pie bars.  They were awesome.  If I was cool enough, and on top of it, I would have taken cute pictures along the way to post here and describe the journey from canvas grocery bag to charming glass container "chilling" in the fridge.  You would see just why those oats were so old fashioned.  Maybe I'll try to post a picture of the end result…not that you're going to, what, hunt for the recipe and make them yourself because the picture is just THAT good?  But they were awesome, like good enough for a restaurant if you ask me, J, and the people at her work.

We tried out this gorgeous yummy candlelit (i am aware of the lack of comma there) Italian restaurant for her birthday dinner which we had never been too.  The wine- holy shit- amazing..best wine I've had in a long time.  And I got spaghetti with gluten free pasta, and the bread, oh the bread with the dips and the oils….and we had a salad of fennel, arugula, pine nuts, and pear. I felt so Carolyn Bessette in that one picture:


This blogpost was brought to you by waiting on my spouse to get home from work so we can finally get dinner and the rude eyes the bag of Salt & Vinegar chips inside the cabinet is making at me.  Don't worry, I will most certainly be back to update on what life is like behind bars, in the system, jury duty whatever.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

marching on

Photograph by Jamie Fischer Phtography


I was driving home the other night, listening to the mix I made of songs from the wedding.  I remember feeling so deeply in my gut that everything is so good.  So, so good.  It's scary, it's unsettling.  It's the snake-like unease that slithers in when things are peaceful.  The voice in the quiet.  The calm knowing that the soil is so rich that I find myself afraid of over-planting.  And this delicate feeling that softens my grown-up bones into childlike limbs rides shotgun for life.  I've always known it, but I've spent years afraid of it.  I didn't understand that this is who rides along with me.  And she's meant to be here, she's part of me- and I asked for it when I opened my heart so much. 

 I've been afraid of the moment.  Because the moment means I'm passing through, like the hours, like the seasons.  No matter what I choose to acknowledge, reality doesn't change.  The unknown doesn't reveal herself, the minutes don't organize themselves in satin boxes for me to relive whenever I choose. The only thing that changes is the feeling I experience.  I've been terrified of my sadness, terrified that it will just be too much, that it will cause me to explode right along with my illusion of safety.  But there's one piece that my protective self needed to learn: my feelings are not predictive.  They have no hold on whatever happens in the future.  I am not jinxing myself if I allow sadness or grief over a possible scenario in the future.  I am also not taking things for granted when I surrender to simple joy.  I'm not arrogant if I'm happy.  Happiness is brave, it's a march, it's the surrender to struggle and the stillness despite it.  Happiness isn't arrogance, it's acceptance.  It's love for the present moment, for the depth of each minute; it's love for the depth of pain as well as the depth of joy.  It's not conditional, it simply is.  It's a mindful embrace of now, and of all of the feelings that come along with it.  


Friday, June 27, 2014

rose and yellow



We're coming up on our third week of marriage.  It's been pretty awesome so far.  She still brings me food home from work, I still make 87% of the drinks; she still takes my hair off the shower wall, I still get way too excited over Keith Morrison from Dateline.

We still call and text each other during the day, but my notes are signed without the "to-be" following the "wifey".  I can't wait for our marriage license to come in the mail…

It was this time last year that I started this blog.  I remember it was Pride Month.  I didn't realize until after the fact that we got married during LA's pride weekend.  But we did have rainbow fun-fetti cake. Which is sitting in the freezer under the name of Tradition even though I desperately want to eat it every night but have it too.  So far, the best thing about being married is the feeling of ground beneath my feet.  Engagement, for me at least, was such an in-between feeling.  Even for the non-anxious, the anticipation bubbling underneath the surface can be anxiety producing.  The feeling like you should be preparing for something even though there is no way to prepare for it since you've never walked this path before feeling.  Kind of how they say you are never "ready" for parenthood, or marriage for that matter.  Your readiness is in the choice, in the willingness to extend yourself, in the saying of "i do".  I do love this spouse of mine.  I do love that we will always come home to each other.  I do love the luck that brought me to her that day, almost four years ago.  I do love bright colors and will always choose them over neutral "earth" tones, sorry.

Commitment is not only about committing to the other person, but in doing so we commit to ourselves- to show up for whatever rises to our surface throughout the years.  To learn how to polish the love we share with our partners, the love which is only possible when we are loving ourselves.  The love who's seeds can only take root under the canopy of commitment.

loving the gold on our fingers, warm like the source of all love..

Saturday, June 21, 2014

into the mystic



It happened! We got married!

Our wedding, in a word, was perfect. Magical and Dreamy.  My favorite day of my life so far.

Mother Nature gave us beautiful fog as we gave each other our hearts.  Our friends and family fell in love with each other and there was Funfetti cake.

More to come on the day, the planning, the honeymoon, and more pictures…but just had to share~!

Friday, May 23, 2014

two weeks!!!

I cannot believe that in two weeks we will be in Boulder, on the night before our wedding.  We have SO much to do it feels like in these next fourteen days...We are both so ready for all the things to just be  done.  It's so surreal how close it is, two weeks is nothing.  In two weeks, we will have rings on our fingers and be married!! It's crazy.

The things that are hitting me now are...nerves, excitement, sadness, joy..just a swirling of all different emotions.  I'm nervous about people looking at me, about walking down the aisle, about the fact that it's *our* thing, I hope people have a great time, yadda yadda.  Excited because...well I think it will be an awesome time and can't wait to see everyone together in one space and because we are getting married!  And of course, as highly sensitive me always does, I feel the sadness and the mourning of the end of an era - with this marking of time passing it brings up the ache of mortality and all of its trappings.  Feelings around my parents, around my own mortality, and around my fiance's.  Joy because this seems like its too good to be true, like I can't believe this wedding weekend is actually happening.  Our wedding plans kind of evolved organically, we didn't have a specific idea when we started looking at venues, but somehow this turned out to the wedding I always dreamed of.  Everyone staying in cabins,  mountains, a creek, nature....It's like my Washington dream wedding but in Colorado.

I'm a little stressed about the decor stuff..making sure it doesn't look too plain and wanting it to look really great and resemble us..but at the same time, I *want* to be over caring about that stuff, but I have to care a little right now in order to get it done.

This is such an incoherent post but I figured why not, haven't posted in a while, and I'm also trying to distract myself from the anxiety around my dentist appointment in two hours (fourth and last cavity filling thank you very much not at all).

I'm also excited to be married and the rooting and empowerment that comes with it so that I can refocus on my career. This past year has been a whirlwind and I was blown off my regular path to tend to my inner world in a huge way, but I am excited to start getting back into the world and putting my energy back into acting (the business part of it-ick), writing, making some money, and maybe changing this site around into something more meaningful that DOES something, I don't know.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

put a ring on it or don't. either way is fine.



Apparently, everyone is "losing their bananas for peonies", according to Hitched Magazine.  Funny how you don't know things are "trends" until someone tells you..I've been drooling over them for months.  J got me this big, thick copy of Hitched magazine on my birthday because she knows I love to look at pretty, artsy looking things on pages and be a total girl.  I believe the magazine is Australian and it comes across more as an editorial-funky-art-wedding magazine than a regular magazine.  The cover was awesome and slightly dark and the whole book itself is art, really.  I don't know what you call the texture, but it's a rougher, thicker texture unlike a regular magazine.  I followed the creator on instagram and was contemplating emailing them asking if I could do any job-y thing for them from here in LA..Until one of their pages they wrote something about wearing animal print and fur.  Goodbye, hitched.  I got that sinking feeling of how-can-i-read-this-i-can't-believe-i-just-read-the-word-fur.  I just can't believe in this day and age the fashion industry, or anyone with any authority or audience whatsoever, is still acting like fur is okay.  (Which is why I despise Anna Wintour of Vogue)  You have a responsibility when you have power and you better use that shit for good.  Educate yourself.  ANYWAY.  I then got to a piece where the writer where the topic was "proposal without a ring?" and just the whole tone of the piece was drenched in WIC goo and I was unaware that was an issue? Don't people do that all the time?  Who cares if there is a ring or not...right? Once again, I realized how spoiled I have been by A Practical Wedding.  Thank god for sanity and heart in place of shallow-superior-complex bullshit.  

Let's get this straight: There is no one way to do things, ever.  If you want to propose with a diamond, lovely.  If you want to propose with a picture of a goat, perfect.  If you both start planning a wedding and there wasn't a "proposal", great!  It really bothers me the way weddings are sold.  As if they are all some package deal that everyone needs in order to have a special day.  I cringe to read some of these magazines.  You don't *need* any of that.  Your wedding will be special and wonderful because you are getting married. Period.  

If the goat idea sparked your fancy, feel free to print these suckers out and get on your knees (or remain standing):





Wednesday, May 7, 2014

24

Yesterday was my birthday (and Freud's!).  Today is the first chance I am getting to just sit and breathe for a second as the last two weeks have been chalk-full of deadlines and dentist appointments ( I am never getting a cavity again, ever) and doctor visits.  Just so we're clear, I do not do well with these things.  My nerves have been on an electric trampoline for quite a few days..

I noticed the buildup of feeling as my birthday approached - it's crazy (and magical) how your body and psyche have their own well of wisdom and rhythm.  Birthdays are transitions, and I could feel the pot starting to stir and simmer.  Like I've written about many times, time passing is something I have always mourned and struggled with as a kid. (If you have too, I recommend this book.)  Moving forward means you are no longer in the past, it means letting go; you can't have it all.  My soul aches for my childhood and for every single second that I will never revisit.  I wish I could record everything.  Its why I start songs over when they get three quarters of the way through because I hate endings and never want the emotional universe I'm in to stop.  Especially as I get into the "adult" years, birthdays stir up my subconscious knowing that we are mortal and that people I love will leave one day.  That I will leave one day.  It   doesn't matter how far off it is- my insides feel life's thin skin despite it's sturdy body.  I become so acutely aware of the groundlessness and I feel it in my bones.  I crave a tether, an anchor.  When I am really busy and don't have the time to sit and make space for my feelings, when I stuff them down in order to function throughout a busy day, that's when the storm mutates into bodily anxiety, which then triggers the panic.  This morning I was able to take some time for my feelings and surrender to the space of the unknown.  When I am able to just let go, to submit to the current, when I can touch upon the gold nuggets of sadness, grief, and fear, I simultaneously am able to bring my joy, gratitude, love, connection, and my warm-melting-heart into the light.  I  like to think of feelings as weather.  Our pain, sorrow, and grief are clouds that must be felt and released in order to experience true sunlight.  If I'm afraid of the rain, I only thicken the clouds' coverage. Our feelings encompass such a beautiful spectrum, such rich fruits that this existence bears.

J had the day off yesterday so we were able to celebrate our anniversary of engagement (my birthday last year!) and my birthday together.  We did several wedding errands and had breakfast at my favorite vegan restaurant in our neighborhood (I say neighborhood and not universe because our dinner date changed everything!).  We had dinner reservations at this new-ish fancy vegan restaurant called Crossroads.  The chef that opened it is the chef that catered Ellen and Portia's wedding...so I knew it would be amazing.  What I didn't know is that my body would be transported to a world of chocolate tulips and a secret handshake with Britney Spears.  HOLY SHIT.  That place was amazing.  Seriously the food was possibly the best I have had ever.  They really know what they are doing there.  They even refold your napkin and place it on the table when you go the bathroom.  We got lots of little plates to share: hearts of palm calamari, crabcakes, lasagna, chicken parmesan, fava bean soup, tortelloni and chocolate mint pie for dessert.  It was insane.  We had a wonderful date night and finally got a picture taken of us that wasn't a selfie.
Soon to be spouses



I wanted to photograph all of the food at dinner but it didn't seem like the type of place to take a phone out at dinner (YES!) but here are leftovers of the glorious chicken parmesan.  Sorry if leftovers aren't enticing to you.  They are to me, and the longer I can extend the memory of those morsels of God, the better.

oh god yes.

OH. Forgot to mention that two seats down from J was the actor who plays James on Scandal. And Moby was behind me (of course he was).

I also just started this new year off with a badly badly needed pair of new Converses.  My old faithfuls died awhile back; their battered body remains on the deck...I listened to the Distillers all the way to the store and back.  I've still got it, I swearrrrrrrr.