yogaaaaahhh

So. The 30 Day Yoga Challenge has come and gone. When I started the challenge I assumed Day 30 would arrive and I’d celebrate and throw myself a victory party at Chipotle. (If I had an assistant, this is where I’d ask her to schedule me a victory party at Chipotle because it’s never too late to throw a victory party.)

Believe it or not, the 30th day came and went and I didn’t tell you guys because I didn’t even notice myself. Gah!

Ah. Yoga. I guess that’s kind of how it works. There’s no counting days in yoga. You know, a day doesn’t really mean anything in the spirit of yoga.

In the end, I missed probably 3-4 days total through the month. And it wasn’t until the whole journey was over that I realized I needed to be a lot less hard on myself about missing those days. It’s great to do 30 days in a row of anything that is good for you. But it’s okay if you don’t, too. And you shouldn’t beat yourself up. I re-learned that concept for the 900th time once this challenge was over. Someday it will stick in my mind.

So during those four weeks, I did a LOT of yoga. And it was wonderful. Sure, there were times when I was sore, times when I was really tired and did not want to take class, and times when I missed a day and got all upset with myself over it. But the majority of the experience left me feeling strong, more comfortable in my body, and capable.

All of my poses improved dramatically. My downward dog is deeper, I’m more comfortable sitting in chair pose, and I stopped shying away from the difficult poses – I started at least attempting them. And sometimes I succeeded! One day, my shoulder was really hurting. I’d injured it at some point during yoga class. I felt so frustrated and sorry for myself. Then the teacher showed us a difficult new pose, but it didn’t involve the shoulder so I tried it. AND I DID IT! That was probably the best moment for me throughout these 30 days.

There were lots of other lovely moments during the month. Moments when I found a sense of quiet, contented peace during class after a particularly hard day in the outside world, moments when I realized how much I was enjoying these classes and these teachers. And a warm feeling every time I walked into that studio, knowing what I was about to do for myself.

Since the 30 days ended, I’ve been easing back into a regular routine. I took about a week off yoga entirely. Then I took a class on Tuesday. And it was fantastic. I felt just as strong, capable and limber as I’d felt on Day 30. I was elated. All in all, good stuff.

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the kennedy center ?!?!

My sketch comedy group, Harvard Sailing Team, is performing at the Kennedy Center this weekend! WHAT?! Yes, that’s right – THE Kennedy Center. In Washington D.C.! Can’t believe it. Psyched. We’re doing an hour of our best stuff.

We were featured in the Washington Post’s Going Out Guide yesterday where they said:

Harvard Sailing Team has a clean-cut catalogue and a high-energy approach with musical numbers, plenty of pop-cultural mile markers and a healthy dose of hilarious situational awkwardness.

All true!

I’m really looking forward to the trip. I haven’t left town since we went away for the holidays and a weekend outside the city is always welcome. My mom, grandma and step dad (!) are all coming to DC to see the show! WOOT! Plus, HST hasn’t traveled as a team in quite some time. We’re definitely due for a zany road trip.

Oh and can I tell you the very best, most exciting part? The main act on the Kennedy Center Stage that night is JERRY SEINFELD. Not bad, eh?

I have a feeling it’s going to be a very silly, lively and fun coupla days.

This will be my last HST show for three months. As I mentioned several posts ago, I’m taking a few months off to readjust to being a small business owner who eats, breaths and sleeps cookie recipes. I think this break is going to be incredibly important for my sense of well being. I will miss these guys and our weekly rehearsals and shows for sure. And then I’ll be back to the regular comedy grind before I know it!

In the meantime, wish us luck in DC! Obama lives there!

postcard design by Matt Hubert

in which I stand up for myself

Sometimes I have to pinch myself to realize that I’m STILL not working at that desk job anymore, that over four months have passed since I walked out of that office for the last time, and that they have been filled with successes, failures, and everything in between. But I’m still standing, and I’m not eating beans out of a can for breakfast, lunch and dinner. (Just dinner.) Hallelujah.

Quitting that job and making a decision to move forward with my life, despite the predictable obstacles, has been an interesting learning experience in many ways. And many of them, I’ve chronicled for you all here. That’s why I started this blog to begin with – to share with you, the reader, the story of this journey as it unfolded.

I received my first critical comment from a reader yesterday. Generally, a good life tactic is to ignore the bullies on the playground, rather than bring them center stage and offer them a moment of your time or energy. But the woman, Joni, who left me this critical comment wasn’t a bully. She was just, as she pointed out, stating her observation. That’s fair. I state dozens of observations every day on this blog. She’s entitled her to opinion.

Her comment was this: “you are not half as interesting as you were before you quit your job. sorry, not trying to be mean, just an observation.”

Thank you for your observation, Joni. I appreciate it because it’s given me something interesting to write about here. I still haven’t wrapped my mind around people who leave critical comments on other people’s internets, because it’s not something I can bring myself to do even when I feel the impulse, but that’s every person’s right to decide for herself. (It’s also the subject of a different blog entry.) Joni’s made a decision in her life to be someone who leaves her honest opinion in the form of comments on blogs that she reads. It’s a free country, as we used to say in the 5th grade, and she’s welcome to do what she pleases. (Remember when we all began to grasp that concept and ran around on the playground yelling at each other, “IT’S A FREE COUNTRY.” That ruled.)

So to Joni’s comment, I will say this: She’s probably right. I’m sure this blog isn’t nearly as interesting as it was before I quit working at that lonely office. I don’t plan to do anything to change that, but I hear her feedback. When I first started writing here, this blog kept me sane. At the time, I was unhappy, unchallenged, unfocused, discontent and getting angrier every day about feeling stuck in that job as I barreled toward age 30 without a “real” career to call my own. All that internal conflict is inherently interesting to an outside observer. That’s why plays are written and movies are made. Conflict is fascinating. And let us all be glad that I had the foresight to start a blog during that difficult time, so that I could share with you all, and more specifically, with Joni, the conflict I was feeling.

I don’t feel such malcontent anymore. And the things I do feel don’t always make it onto the blog. I wasn’t quite sure how my relationship with the internet would change once I quit working at a desk all day long, once I found something to do with my days that made me feel happier, but now I know that as much as I love keeping up this blog, checking facebook and twitter, reading other blogs and gossip sites and watching funny videos that my friends make, I just don’t have the desire or the means to do it all day long like I used to. Standing in the kitchen baking sweets for hours on end doesn’t exactly lend itself to regular time spent on the computer. And I’m okay with that. I hope my readers can be okay with it too.

People, in general, are drawn to one another’s sorrow and pain. I know I am. I enjoy reading someone’s blog when they’re going through a hard time. Yes. Enjoy. Not because I want that person to suffer, but because there’s nothing more real than someone finding the right words to express what they’re going through, and there are few things more to which I can relate than hearing about someone’s challenges. And it’s even more inspiring to watch that person process through their pain and find a way to the other side of it. Will I keep reading their blog once they’re happy and well again? Probably. Will everyone else? Maybe not. We’re all entitled to our own opinions.

I will say that we, as blog readers, might consider being willing to let the subjects of our voyeurism grow and change and morph into more than the stories they tell. There will always be another sob story right around the corner to satisfy our needs, another hero or heroine to champion as they share with us the journey they’re on. But someday (hopefully) the protagonist of that story too will lose the weight or quit the job or leave the relationship or take the risk that they’ve been writing about from the beginning. That’s the beauty of the human spirit, and that’s the path that every journey ultimately takes: it changes, it grows, there are successes and failures. Perhaps unfortunately for those of us who are witnessing the story’s unfolding, the person traversing that path can’t slow it down or change it just for us and our entertainment. They have to travel along without concern for who’s watching. Kind of like real (non-internet) life.

Back in late December, a few members of my family with whom I’m not terribly close, decided they didn’t like some of the things I’ve written on this blog. They indirectly asked me to stop writing things that “might upset the extended family.”  I use the word ‘indirectly,’ because they didn’t approach me themselves, they asked someone else do it on their behalf. I wish, for a dozen reasons, that they could have found the courage to speak to me themselves, because I think it would have netted a different result all-around. But we’re all fallible and we all do what we can, to the best of our ability, to communicate our needs to the people in our lives. It’s never easy.

When that situation happened, I wavered back and forth between writing about it in great detail, to never mentioning it all on the blog. I certainly don’t write the things I write here to hurt anyone, to cause drama, or to make anyone jealous. And I do always intend to write with a generous spirit, recognizing that people have a right to their privacy, and recognizing that my feelings are just the feelings of one girl, and not reflective of the collective experience of the world. (Maybe I shouldn’t have assumed that everyone else already knew that.)

But I’ve decided to avoid being silenced, in any way. I, quite simply, refuse that notion. And so I’m writing about my experience. Come find me if you don’t like it.

Reading Joni’s comment yesterday reminded me how I felt in the days after my family situation occurred. I don’t write this blog for anyone one person. And I won’t be changing it for anyone, nor will I be making it more interesting, less interesting, more controversial or less, more personal or less. Not for anyone. And none of that is an act of defiance, or rebellion, or an act of sending a virtual middle finger in anyone’s direction. It’s actually, very purely, an act of self-love. And act of self-preservation. And a personal decision that I’ve made about how to be an adult person. Also, no one has to read here if they don’t wanna. Isn’t that the most delicious part of life? If I like to drink beer and you don’t, we both win. If I like to live in New York and you like to live in Japan, we can both be happy. If I am a writer, and you are not, if I express myself one way, and you another, everybody’s good. We are all individuals.

Some of you may know this and some of you may not, but I had a very difficult time being a functional human being between the ages of 18-21. Those are hard years for many people, scary years when things are uncertain and when our personalities are still being formed, for better or worse. For me, those were the darkest years I’ll probably ever know. I lived through excruciating mental and physical pain, and caused the people close to me a great deal of agony as well.

As sad and sorry as I am that I went through that, that I or anyone else had to feel pain during that time, I’d never undo it. I bet you wouldn’t either, if you were me. I am proud that those years shaped who I am. I am grateful to my strong mind and open heart that I was able to get through that time. It has taught me that I am capable of anything I set my mind to. It’s what allowed me to know I would be able to quit my job and succeed in whatever came next. And it will continue to fuel me positively for the rest of my life. Overcoming challenge will do that.

Of all the things I learned through those years and the harrowing experiences that came with them, the most important thing I learned, the thing that has stuck with me and informed me the most, is that You must take care of you first. You are often your worst critic, but you also have the capacity to be your greatest cheerleader. And if you let anyone else tell you who to be, how to think, what to create, or what you need to do with your life so that their lives are better, you will be unhappy and you will feel trapped. There’s a difference between being generous and being a doormat.

If you ever let anyone else tell your story for you, if you let other people define what you’ve been through, where you’re going, or how you get there, if you let the judgment that other people will inevitably fling at you, because their own insecurities are so great that they can’t feel good about themselves unless they’re judging others, you will never find peace. Peace, as we’re all well aware by now, comes from within. Not from casting judgment, nor from wearing the judgment that is cast in your direction.

So thank you to all the voices of dissension in my life, past, present and those yet to come, who, through my desire to avoid following their example, have taught me that all we can do is move through life doing the best that we can. All we can do is keep our hearts open and filled with love, focus on our own journey, and keep our minds searching for the path to empathy.

around the house

Thought you might like to see some images from around the house. I felt like taking pictures one afternoon last week, but I hadn’t left the apartment, nor did I plan to leave the apartment, so I figured shooting domestic images would have to suffice.

These are the roses Kevin bought me for Valentine’s Day, which are looking delightful for longer than expected. After the first several days, I trimmed them down from their original length. Then, just last night, I threw away the dead ones and separated the still nice ones into smaller vases to put in various places in the apt. I love having a splash of flower-color in surprise places. Also, hanging out with these roses for the last week reminds me why I must continue to buy flowers. They cheer me up always always.

Will you please look at this ridiculous cat foot? This guy is part rabbit, part tiger, and part human with an excessive-napping problem.

While he slept, I was watching this…

…and eating these.

I am digging these Winter Olympics more than I expected to. I could watch any of it, at any hour of the day. And I do. Skiing, figure skating and snowboarding are my favorites. I care not for the luge.

These are freshly laundered kitchen towels that were waiting on the table for me to put away into the cabinet. We have so many brightly colored kitchen towels. I’m a real stickler about which kinds I like to use – these are some of my favorites, not just for their brightness but for their functionality.

Speaking of freshly laundered, these guys had a trip to the washing machine too, courtesy of Kevin and his big ideas. We’ve been doing some essential cleaning and tidying around here lately and it has breathed new life into my desire to wake up in the mornings.

Last, but not least, another cat shot. Sometimes, if I’m lounging around watching TV, I go on a Cat Hunt during the commercials. “Where are they and can I smooch them?” is my motivation.

I found this one snuggled into the covers in our bed. She is so easy to cuddle it’s ridiculous. She’s like melted cat pudding.

That’s it – a little tour of the things I saw around the house one lazy afternoon last week.

Tomorrow I plan to write about the end of my 30 Day Yoga Challenge (!).

food

Remember when I was “learning to cook?” Yah. I’m not anymore.

I’m sure I’ll cook more someday, but today is not that day. We’ve been eating, you know, easy food in our kitchen (like PBJs, egg and ham scrambles, beans and rice – the basics), or food at cheapeats places around the city like we always have, Kevin and I.

So I left some onions in a bowl next to our toaster oven. And one or two of them STARTING GROWING OTHER ONIONS. OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT.

It was gross.

Seriously, I had to take photos because I was so disgusted by it.

In other food news, Kevin took me out to Rosa Mexicana on Monday night. Never been there, love Mexican food, always wanted to go there, like to drink margaritas: Score.

We had fun and it was yummy. (Thank you for that nice date, honey!)

whole wheat banana pancakes

I made Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes, y’all! Late last week, I woke up, didn’t want eggs, or toast, or a smoothie. I wanted pancakes. I’d gotten whole wheat flour a month prior, just for such an occasion.

I googled and found this quick, easy recipe. It doesn’t use sugar, which was the main thing I was looking for.

I served them with butter and organic maple syrup. They were so scrumptious and I loved every bite of them. I wish I could have eaten one hundred. Instead, I ate about six (hundred).

mostly just cat photos

I went out with friends from improv last night after our rehearsal and had a great time. I’m paying for it a bit today, but I’m so glad I got to chat with those people, swap stories, share mini dramas and major dramas and talk about our lives. It’s so lovely to do that every once in a while.

The final Valentine’s Day deliveries are being made today and then we will officially be DONE with Valentine’s Day as a company. What a relief. Kevin and I cannot wait to spend Sunday cleaning our apartment (we’ll see if we get to that…but we really should) and relaxing. Maybe we’ll go catch a movie too. And then on Monday night he’s taking me out for a special surprise date. Yay!

unnecessary guilt

So, I want to talk about guilt.

I’ve been experiencing some lately.

We just spent the last week powering through the Valentine’s Day season for Fanny &  Jane. We’re not done yet, there will still be deliveries to make in NYC over the next few days and more sweets to bake for more upcoming orders, but the bulk of our V-Day season is behind us. WHEW. The East Coast is experiencing a massive snowstorm today and Kevin and I are both very grateful to be curled up on the couch taking a momentary break right now while the snow piles up outside. We’ve been working nonstop for the last several days. It wasn’t anything close to the insanity that was the Christmas season, but it’s still been a lot.

With the increase in busy-ness for the business, for which I certainly did anticipate and plan, but for which one can never plan perfectly, I’ve had to let some other normal life things fall to the wayside. Not surprising. And really, that’s going to be the nature of this lifestyle for me for a while. There will be busy times and less busy times. There are times of each month when people wants sweets and times when sweets aren’t quite as desired. And I have to be flexible in order to respond to that demand. Sometimes I will have very little going on and I’ll be able to spend an afternoon reading a book or watching What Not To Wear. But other times, I will be so busy that I can’t make it to rehearsals or shows or I will have to cancel plans with friends or I won’t be able to sit down to eat three square meals a day because there’s just not enough time. It’s hard to learn to adjust to that reality, to learn to plan properly and give myself enough time, but it’s my reality, for better or worse, with all it’s imperfections and joys.

So this is where the guilt comes in. I’m still learning how not to feel terrifically guilty about the way my lifestyle right now might be impacting other people or other commitments I’ve made to myself.

For instance. I did not realize when I started this 30 Day Yoga Challenge that the Valentine’s Day rush would happen right at the end of it. Therefore, I’ve missed two days of my 30 Day Challenge. UGH. Of course, that’s no big deal in the grand scheme of my life. And stressing out over missing two days is exactly the opposite of what I’m hoping to achieve with the yoga challenge. NATURALLY, I’m human and it’s not surprising that this happened. I own a bakery and it’s almost Valentine’s Day. Duh. Also, I’m not a robot and I’ve never been an over-achiever. But it’s very difficult for me not to feel guilty and disappointed in myself because I can’t reconfigure time and invent a 27-hour day.

Another area in my life about which I’ve been feeling guilty is my comedy stuff. As I’ve mentioned many times, I do improv and sketch comedy four nights a week, and have been doing so for years. I love it, it’s fun and rewarding and makes me feel happy and joyful. But it’s also a big time commitment. And sometimes I can’t make it to rehearsals and sometimes, the most responsible move for my business would be for me to skip a show. I do that when I absolutely must, but I can’t do it all the time or it would be unfair to my teammates, who do the best they can to show up every week.

I certainly don’t think my life is busier or more stressful than anyone else’s. But this is all still very new to me – running this business, growing it, learning how to own a company and market a product and turn a profit. I’ve never done any of it before and it’s easily one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but ooboy I’m in deep, wonderfully, terrifyingly deep. It is hard for me not to feel guilty when my business takes over my world for two weeks and I have to cancel and skip every activity on my calendar.

For that reason, I’ve decided to take three to four months off from Harvard Sailing Team, my sketch comedy group. This was an incredibly difficult decision, since those people are my family, and since we’ve been doing shows together and seeing each other twice a week for five years. A few of us have taken several months off throughout the years to pursue other stuff, so it’s not a huge departure from the norm, but it’s still tough. I wrote them all an email last night announcing my little decision and then wondered if I’d made the right choice right after I sent the email. But the reality remains that I’m having trouble balancing it all. I’m late to rehearsals because I didn’t anticipate the hour-long line at the post office (Piece of advice? Always plan for an hour-long line at the post office.), I forget to respond to emails because I’m not on the computer as much as I used to be and stuff gets lost in the shuffle, I can’t focus quite as intently during practices and shows because I’m thinking about what I need to do for the bakery as soon as I’m done.

So it’s time to step back, take a break, and figure out how to balance this all. I know a lot of what will solve my stress is more planning ahead, determining a more realistic time frame for how long it takes, for instance, to wait in line at the post office. But I haven’t learned how to do it all yet. And I don’t see myself learning quickly if I don’t give myself some space to do so. Taking a few months off, which is really such a short period of time and is going to absolutely fly by, will be a good way to move a few items off my To Do List and clear my head space a little bit. It’s scary and hard and I’m sure I’m going to miss the hell out of it – I joked with my friend and teammate Clayton today on the phone that I’m probably going to be standing outside the window of their rehearsal room one night a month from now with my face pressed up against the glass – but I know this is a decision I’m making for my mental wellness.

It was either make this choice to take some time off, or feel guilty more often than not about my inability to do it all.

I’m not sure that guilt serves anyone. It doesn’t serve me to be upset with myself for missing two days of my yoga challenge. And it doesn’t serve me to feel badly for not being able to reconfigure the postal system so that it runs more efficiently. I am a good person and I do the best I can do. There are simply things that are out of my control. I can only pray for patience and understanding from my friends and family and, more importantly, from myself.

So that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

a weddin’ weekend

You know how sometimes you go to a really fun wedding? Just one of those great times where the perfect combination of friends, love, family, little kids dancing, a big buffet of food and an open bar comes together and you all have one a fantastic day that you’ll always remember?

On Saturday, my dear friend Phil Wells got married! This is a photo of my (and your) friend Greg and me. Keith Huang took this shot with his iPhone, an art which he seems to be perfecting. Thanks for all these great shots, Keith!

You might remember Phil from this very early entry on follow my bliss, or perhaps you’ve ventured over to Phil’s blog before. Phil is one of my oldest friends from the improv world – he was in my very first-ever improv class and I remember looking at him and thinking “This might be the only normal guy in here.” Turns out there were a lot of “normal” people in that class, lots of lovely people, and I also finally learned to stop judging people so much, but that’s a blog entry for another time. But Phil remains one of the best guys I know.

And on Saturday, he and his new wife Alli, and his family and her family threw a fantastic party. It was just one of those weddings that was a FUN, easy, simple, creative, delightful time. The focus was on eating, drinking, laughing, dancing and congratulating the happy couple. And oohboy did they look happy. It was just an absolute joy to see. If my (eventual) wedding can be half as fun as Phil and Alli’s, I will be thrilled.

It was a day wedding, which I was skeptical about when I was trudging through the snow at 8am in my fancy boots heading to New Jersey Transit. But the ceremony was short and sweet and when we had our first drinks in our hand around 2pm during the (delightful!) cocktail hour, which was complete with so many varieties of yummy passed appetizers that you couldn’t believe your eyes, I decided the day wedding wasn’t so bad afterall. (I guess you can see where my priorities lie.) We partied into the evening and ended up back at Phil and Alli’s hotel around 7:30pm, which might as well have been 3am as far as we were all concerned. And the party continued.

Kevin and I arrived home at 12midnight on the nose. We’d sprinted through the snow to the bus outside the hotel, the one that would take us right back to the city, successfully boarded that bus, nobody lost any wallets or cell phones, and everyone’s feet hurt. Good party.

Congrats to Phil and Alli who deserve all the happiness in the world. And my admiration goes out to Alli who seems to have softened the heart of my friend Phil, a guy who likes to tell people he’s “dead inside.” (He is SO not.)

Also? I have great friends and I had a great time with my great friends!! It was just SO MUCH FUN. I’ve made that clear, right?

It was a tiring but refreshing time and Kevin and I spent yesterday recovering and doing some Fanny & Jane work, but not as much as maybe we should have. Today, I have much, much more work to do. So I’m going to get my podcasts up and running (I like to listen to old Car Talk episodes while I bake) and get to work.

Today is Day 23 of the Yoga Challenge and I cannot wait to go to class tonight. One week, seven days, left. And even though it will be nice to feel the accomplishment of hitting the 30 Day mark, I will be a little bummed when it’s over. I might have to do some other kind of 30 day challenge just to carry me into the month of March, because, frankly, Spring cannot arrive soon enough for me.