10 Every Day Things.

It’s been a long while so I thought I’d put together a lil’ list of items for modern living. Here are 10 staples that keep my life fastened together.

  1. This guided meditation from Tara Brach has been so powerful for me over the last decade. Every time that I do it, I feel a whole lot better.
  2. As much as I try to avoid fast fashion- these $6 leggings from Forever 21 are the best shit ever. They really keep it tight.
  3. This Honey Lavender tea is my favorite. I drink it every night and sleep like a baby.
  4. I’ve been doing Tracy Anderson’s Metamorphosis for about a year and a half, and it’s legit the best workout I’ve ever done. The workouts change every 10 days, so you don’t ever plateau. I just do the strength workouts, 30 minutes every day, and it’s totally changed my body.
  5. This Peach & Lily Glass Skin Serum is my favorite. I use it every day and my skin is super silky smoove and well, glassy. $39 magic.
  6. I have a weird bum foot (aka Morton’s Neuroma) that is constantly in throbbing burning pain. My husband got me this CBD Pain Cream and it’s the only thing that has ever helped.
  7. I’ve never been one for prompted journaling, but I was gifted a Many Moons workbook this year and I really love it. It’s so well done.
  8. In my dream world I would eat everything bagels every day, but in this one I use Everything But the Bagel seasoning on my eggs. It’s really freakin good.
  9. White Superga Sneakers are my faves. They really go with everything.
  10. My husband got me a Dyson vacuum cleaner and holy crap, it really is amazing. I feel like I have to vacuum far less often. Believe the hype.

The End.

March Outfitting.

This month was a doozey. I spent a lot of time listening to the new Solange and Jenny Lewis records and playing dress up in my room. I’m feeling like 1999/2000 Gwen Stefani, David Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes video, the film All About My Mother, Margiela 98 and Armani’s spring 2000 collection are where it’s at. There’s links to same or similar items in the photos, should you feel curious.

The End.

Self-Service

My first self-help book was given to me at the age of 13 by my amazing late step mother: Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life. That book was revolutionary for me (and the world), and definitely influenced my life and the years to come. I spent most of my teens and 20’s frequenting the self-help aisle in (mostly metaphysical) book stores, trying out different books and workshops and attempting to figure myself out. In my 30’s I got into Buddhism and meditation, and did my fair share of magical thinking, but it wasn’t until I discovered shadow work that I felt a real shift.

Shadow work has been around since the days of Carl Jung, and the basic theory is that every aspect of our personality, behavior, feeling or physical attribute that we display in childhood that we are shamed for, punished for or taught is wrong or bad is put into our shadow. If we do or display things that we believe are good and we are humiliated, discouraged or told we are not good at or are not those things, we also put those into our shadow. The things we are taught to believe are negative, we try to suppress, deny and ignore within ourselves. But they will keep showing up in the people we attract into our lives as a mirror for what we ourselves have in our shadow & can’t accept about ourselves. We will also project the positive things that we have put into our shadow onto others, and the things we admire most in others is a denied aspect of ourselves. The theory is that we have to face and accept or integrate and merge those denied aspects of ourselves in order to be whole and stop projecting onto others. Therein lies the rub.

On my long journey through shadowy bullshit there have been books that helped me to identify parts of myself that needed attention, and sometimes felt like reading my own journal or experience. These books helped me to take those things out of the closet of my mind and made me feel far less alienated. Some of the books helped me to get unstuck, and out of jobs or relationships that were dysfunctional and only making me miserable. Here are my top 10 self-helpers:

  1. The Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford. If you got on the (scandalous) hype train of Lacy Phillips, you may have done her Shadow workshop. Same. In that workshop I noticed that most of the exercises had an asterisk at the bottom that said “Adapted from Dark Side of the Light Chasers” next to it. Indeed, most of that workshop is taken from Debbie Ford, with some critical parts missing. In this book Debbie Ford not only shows you how to identify what is in your shadow, she shows you how to accept and own it. This is the big piece that was missing for me, how exactly to accept and own the light & dark parts of me that were in my shadow. I would say if you read no other book on this list- read this one. It will honestly change you.
  2. Loving What Is by Byron Katie. I read this book probably 10 years ago, and it was revolutionary. Katie’s “Work” is really difficult to do, because the basic premise is that whatever upsets you about another person is just a reflection of yourself. Similar to shadow work, her “4 questions” help you dig in to what triggers you and realize that you don’t control anyone but yourself. For me, I needed to do shadow work first in order to really get Katie’s work. Without it, I tended to use her work as a way to beat myself up more for what was wrong with me (and not everybody else). Once I did shadow work, Katie’s work made more sense and became really helpful in my life.
  3. When Food is Love by Geneen Roth. I was first introduced to Geneen by an amazing therapist who gave me this book. Geneen’s books feel like having a conversation with your sweetest, most empathetic and sympathetic BF. She has a way of putting things into words and nailing things that is really profound. This book makes the connection between how we eat & see our bodies with our relationship patterns. So good.
  4. Women Food & God by Geneen Roth. This book was obviously major (courtesy of Oprah) and I have to say- believe the hype. It looks at being a woman and the pressure and value that is placed on our weight and physical appearance, and how that internal struggle impacts every part of our lives. With all the Geneen Roth earnestness & charm.
  5. Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach. This book is a beautiful introduction to Buddhism and compassion practice with some psychology mixed in from clinical psychologist and Mindfulness teacher Tara Brach. This book and the meditations she provides were so amazing to me, like being in a therapy session with a really nurturing, soothing therapist.
  6. Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck. I heart Martha Beck. She has such a commonsensical, funny approach to disseminating all of the really complex technical shit she has in her gigantic brain. This book was a catalyst for me, one that inspired me to quit my draining job and move to the other side of the country. If you feel stuck, let this book be your crowbar.
  7. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. While I was not a fan of Eat Pray Love, I always really liked Liz Gilbert when I would hear her in interviews or giving talks and found her insightful and smart. This book is really that voice- it’s like getting a great pep talk with some cool references and stories mixed in. This is another great book for getting unstuck, this time creatively.
  8. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. When I was barely 18 years old I had the great great fortune of being in a class taught by the amazing Ingrid Kincaid using this book. The Artist’s Way is a workbook that gives you exercises and journal prompts that get you in touch with your creativity. Even if you think you are not creative, this book will shift you and get you in touch with yourself and what you truly want in your life.
  9. Start Where You Are by Pema Chodron. Pema Chodron is just a treasure and one of my favorite people in the world. She is so funny and down to earth and this book is sort of an introduction or handbook to compassion practice and meditation that explains Buddhist principles in a clear, digestible way.
  10. Sober Curious by Ruby Warrington. This book is really new, but I really dug it. There are so many powerful, heavy memoirs out there about alcohol (my favorites are here, here and here), but this book takes a totally different approach. It digs in to what alcohol does physically and emotionally, and talks about what life might look like without it and how you can make changes without a lot of doom, gloom and powerless before God stuff.

The End.

You Can Take the Girl Out of the 90’s…

I may just be old, but every time I scroll through the trendy high end shops I think, “Looks like Urban Outfitters.” (Side Note: as I was finishing up this piece Lisa Says Gah dropped a collaboration with UO.) As a 90’s teenager, I have a deep and lasting fondness for Urban Outfitters. I always find highly nostalgic things that transport me back to my youth and make me feel happy in a tweenish way. While I try to buy mostly used, the new things that lure me tend to come from UO. By the way, if you want to read about their efforts towards sustainability there’s good info here. Pictured above are a few of my favorite things from the outfitters of urbans.

One Pot Enchilada Chicken

I love a one pot meal. When I can’t be bothered to use the pressure cooker or remember to get the slow cooker ready it’s nice to throw everything into one pot and call it a day. I make this one probably once a week because it tastes like heaven and it’s easy-easy. I used to make my own enchilada sauce, but (time and simplicity being worthy causes) for this I tend to use Frontera Red Chile Enchilada Sauce. It’s got a good consistency (not too watery) and the ingredients are far less creepy than most. It’s one of the only ones that doesn’t use soybean oil (I’m allergic) or wheat flour (my husband is allergic) and the other ingredients are normal things like organic apple cider vinegar and not strange chemicals. I usually use leftover roast chicken for this dish, but you can use uncooked diced chicken or steak or you can swap the meat for hominy if you are veg or veag. My husband likes this over rice but you can eat it as is if you’re not into starches. It only takes about 30 minutes to make and it’s good stuff.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  2. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  3. 1/2 cup diced green onion
  4. 1 Serrano pepper, seeded & diced (optional)
  5. 1/2 cup diced cilantro
  6. 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  7. 1 cup bell pepper, chopped
  8. 1 Mexican gray squash, chopped
  9. 1 zucchini, chopped
  10. 2 cups left over roast chicken (or uncooked diced chicken or steak)
  11. 1 4oz can sliced black olives
  12. 1 4oz can diced green chilis
  13. 16 oz red enchilada sauce
  14. Avocado and/or sour cream for topping

Directions:

  1. Coat a casserole or cast iron pot with olive oil & add cumin seeds, toast over medium heat (about 3 minutes).
  2. Add in Serrano pepper (if using), onions, and cilantro and bell pepper and cook until fragrant (about 3 minutes). If using fresh meat instead of cooked meat, add it and with the pepper & onion and brown.
  3. Add in squash and stir mixture, cook another 2 minutes.
  4. Add in cooked chicken, olives, green chili and enchilada sauce & stir together.
  5. Cover and bring to a boil. Let boil about 2 minutes, then reduce heat to low.
  6. Simmer about 15 minutes, until squash is tender.
  7. Top with avocado & sour cream and serve.

The End.

Admission.

I have always been a shopper. In fact, one of my earliest childhood memories is of shopping. We lived out in the sticks, and it was an hour drive into town to the K-Mart (our only option). It was there that I remember seeing a madras plaid jumper with tie shoulder straps and a crisp white ruffled underlay skirt that peeked out the bottom. I remember snatching it from the rack and clutching it to me with two little fists. I remember the flushed feeling of desire, a rush that I call the “gotta have its.” I remember placing it in the shopping cart while my mother was engaged elsewhere. I remember her shaking her head at me when we got home and she realized that it was a size too small for me. 30-some odd years later, not much has changed.

In a recent Kon-Mari closet clear out, I felt haunted by my shopping past. That impossibly brilliant Jacquemus dress that sparks all the joy but has no practical use in my life. The sailor pants that turned out to just reinforce my insecurities about having “child bearing” hips. The trendy pieces that lost their relevance as soon as the Zara sale was done. The boring mom clothes bought at Target in the midst of PMS bloating. The dreaded “politeness purchases” bought in vintage stores or little boutiques with hip or nice shop girls that I felt somehow obligated to buy something from. The nostalgic pieces plucked from musty thrift stores that I believed proved my sartorial superiority. Staring at my giant pile of clothing, I wonder what my shopping habits say about my self-worth. Perhaps I have something to prove, and perhaps it is that I can transform into someone different than who I am. Someone thinner, with smaller hips, someone wealthier, someone who fits in and is allowed in to the cool kids club.

When I was a child, it was easy to identify the things that set the popular kids apart. The price of admission to the cool kids club was a B.U.M. Equipment Sweatshirt and L.A. Gear sneakers. In my tweens it was Esprit & United Colors of Benetton. In my teens it was Contempo Casuals and Betsey Johnson. This didn’t end with adolescence. In my 20’s it was American Apparel and Marc Jacobs. In my 30’s, indie slow fashion brands and indie fast fashion brands. As I look around now, at 40, it’s a never ending scroll of “instagram brands” and instagram vintage shops, all with tightly cropped photos of skinny torsos perched on stools in high waisted trousers with chunky belts and creamy knits. As a child, the price of admission into this world was too high for my hard working single mother. As an adult, I claim these things as victories, I make them mine. Through extra shifts, long hours and, at times, credit card debt…I find a way.

That early memory of shopping that I have is about more than the madras plaid jumper. The memory is not only about getting away with something, it’s about getting something. That memory is just the first of many about shopping from my childhood, and really the memories are about reward or about punishment. They are about excess & abundance (“Throw it in the cart! Even if it’s too small!”) or, more frequently, they are about restriction & lack (“We’ve got to tighten our belts. We can’t afford that!”). There were extremes involved, the experiences were as black and white as yes or no. Have or have not. You’re in or you’re out. You deserve it, or you don’t.

What I’ve learned, through 35 years of shopping experience, is that most purchases for me are essentially impulse buys. If I like it, I want to have it. I do not want to be told no, by anyone- even myself. There is an emotional charge to shopping that is about more than just a beautiful outfit for me, more than fitting in or achieving cool kid status, even. All of the shopping fasts and strict budgets and closet clear outs have not served to diffuse the little bombs of beliefs beneath the surface. Understanding and confronting those memories and the emotions tied to them gave me a sense of what I am dealing with when I am staring down a pair of vintage YSL harem pants or Saks Potts logo tights. In those moments, I come into contact with my childhood self, with all of the longing and hunger that permeated my youth. Maybe we never really grow up.

Do You Want to Know A Secret?

  1. Margiela Tabi Mary Janes (my obsession).
  2. Vintage short sleeve Ballet sweatshirt.
  3. Pleats Please Grid Print Top.
  4. Vintage Apron Dress.
  5. Vintage 80’s Hat Print Dress.
  6. Vintage Courreges Sweater.
  7. Vintage Fendi Bag. (Here’s a few Prada bags in pink, red and black)
  8. Vintage Celine Skirt.
  9. Laura Ashley Red Corduroy Dress. (A collared calico one here)
  10. Vintage Norma Kamali Gingham Skirt. (Also her sleeping bag coat & most rad parachute jumpsuit)
  11. Vintage Halston One Shoulder Dress.
  12. Vintage Versace Leather Pants. (Awesome lime green ones & some pink ones too!)
  13. Vintage Prada Orange Logo Mules.
  14. Vintage Pony Calf Mules.
  15. Vintage Ruffle Neck Blouse.
  16. Vintage YSL Blazer.
  17. Vintage Lavender Leather Jacket. (Also: amaze orange leather & 70s tan trench)
  18. Vintage Shell Belt.
  19. Vintage Laura Ashley Green Plaid Dress. (Another LA floral summer one here)
  20. Vintage Lee Jeans.