February 28, 2013

The Numbers Behind Eating Disorders


Today, let's talk statistics.

(via)

About 20 million women in the United States will have an eating disorder at some point in their life. Of those, about 95% are females between the ages of 12 and 25, and the number of inpatient hospitalizations, meaning treatment for people whose disorders have made them medically unstable or psychologically unable to commit to safety (i.e. suicidality), for people above the age of 35 is on the rise.

What do these numbers mean? They mean that eating disorders aren't going away. They are not limited to White teenagers, and they are not a problem of the rich. Eating disorders are mental illnesses, and mental illness knows no boundaries when it comes to socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation.

I often hear a lot of blame from people who don't understand EDs. They say things like, "Why doesn't she just eat a hamburger?" or "They just want attention-- how pathetic!" Statements like these assume that EDs are all about food (they're not) and that it is easy for somebody with an ED to simply alter their behavior and get over it (it's not). For many people, eating disorders signal that the individual is struggling to regulate their emotional experiences in a healthy way. The food becomes the target and a symptom, but to say that it stops there grossly underestimates the complexity of the human experience. The food becomes a symbol, a way of punishing one's self and of numbing out from the world. Too little food? I didn't deserve to eat, anyway. Binge eating to the point of physical discomfort? I needed to comfort myself somehow. Purging afterwards? I didn't deserve that comfort, anyway. (Please note that restricting, binge eating, and purging can mean different things for different people. These are just examples and in no way are meant to represent everybody's experience with an eating disorder.)

I fear that if we don't change the way we talk about eating disorders, obesity, and body image, we are setting ourselves up for a very unhealthy world. I feel horror and sadness when I think that 81% of 10-year-olds fear being fat. Do you know what I feared when I was 10 years old? That I would do something stupid in front of the boy I had a crush on. That my piano teacher would realize I hadn't practiced my piece that week. That recess would be cut short that day. Weight never entered the picture, but sadly, weight is more and more the focus of young people's environments.

Eating disorders are the most deadly mental illness. More people die from anorexia nervosa than any other mental illness. Period. This is a very serious disorder, and we don't benefit from pretending that it's not.

Eating disorders aren't just limited to women, either. Boys and men can develop eating disorders, too, and they most certainly can engage in disordered eating behaviors. We don't tend to talk about them because we assume they are immune to body concerns, but that might just be part of the problem. Our assumptions are wrong, and men suffer at the expense of our silence.





Did you realize that about 40% of men are dissatisfied with their bodies? We tend to view men as being detached and buffered from body criticism, but the truth is that they are facing increasing pressure to be fit, muscular, and rock-solid. Most men just can't naturally attain that ideal. How many men are silently berating themselves for failing to meet that unrealistic standard?

What's even more unsettling for me is that while ten million men in the United States will at some point suffer from an eating disorder, they are far less likely than women to seek treatment-- only one in ten men with an eating disorder will seek treatment.  Even if they do ask for help, they face limited treatment options since most treatment facilities are for women only. While a formal treatment facility isn't a necessary treatment option for everyone with an eating disorder, what are men supposed to do if their illness is severe enough to warrant more intensive care?

The numbers behind eating disorders are scary. These are serious illnesses, and we need to take them seriously. Spread the word. Be informed.

What statistics stand out to you? What do you make of them?

February 27, 2013

Dear Body


Dear Body,

Thanks for getting me through the past 27 years! We've had some rough moments, but you never gave up on me, and here we are. I appreciate you now in a way that I don't think I realized was possible before. You are healthy, and though you could probably be stronger, you're pretty resilient. I think of you as part of me now. I've learned to accept you more fully and stop criticizing you. What would the point of that be? You're the only body I've got, and it wouldn't be fair to you if I didn't accept you. I can tell we're both happier when I accept and stop judging.

I'm trying to listen to you more. I know you need rest, so I'm going to let you sleep at normal times. I know you need to pushed, though, too, so I'm going to try to make you stronger. I can tell you like when we go running because you give me so much energy afterwards, and you make me feel more alert. Thanks for that, body. Sometimes we both need a jumpstart. I'm trying to feed you in the ways you need and to be more consistent. I know you like when I pack snacks in my bag, body, so I'll keep doing that for the times we get stuck on the metro for too long. Snacks are good.

I'm sorry for the times I didn't take good care of you. You deserved better than that. We're both stronger now, and I promise to value you. Nobody's perfect, and I shouldn't get angry with you for being human. Thanks for not getting angry with me for being human, either.

Feet, you bring me around to so many great places. We like to walk as much as possible, and even when you're tired, you keep on going. I try not to make you wear uncomfortable shoes, and I think we both agree that sometimes sneakers are really the best thing ever invented.

Wrists, I've been unkind to you lately. I know you don't like when I play on my laptop in bed and make you rest at weird angles. I need to work on this, wrists, and I just ask that you hang in there.

Calves, I really like you. We've always gotten along. You're strong and help me leap around, and even when I stopped dancing, you reminded me of what I was capable of.

Breasts, I've probably been the hardest on you. You get in the way sometimes, and I've spent a lot of energy hating you and wishing you away. I'm sorry. As far as boobs go, you really are pretty great, and I'm sorry that I made you feel bad. We've started to reconcile in the past couple of years, and I think we're on our way to getting along more often.

Hair, you are totally crazy, but I now realize that you just reflect my personality. I tried to make you flat and straight, but that just isn't who you are. You like to be wild and untamed and curly, and I respect that. We've had a lot more fun together once I realized who you really were.

Body, I think we both know now that there is no such thing as being perfect. There's no perfect body, and there's no perfect woman. Even so, I love you. We're committed to each other, you and I, and life is so much better when we work together. Thanks, body, for getting me here and joining me on my adventures. I couldn't have done this without you.

February 26, 2013

Mindfulness


Close my eyes.

Breathe.

Pay attention.

Listen.

Worries, worries, worries, weaving through my mind, wind whipping them around as they bounce off the walls. Worries, worries, worries.

Breathe.

Thoughts like leaves floating on a stream, bobbing along the surface, slowly passing by.

Notice them. Let them pass. More will come. Let them pass.

Pay attention.

My forehead is pinched, my jaw is tense, my shoulders drawn in. Notice it. Realize. Relax.

How long have I been tense like that? Gentle curiosity, nonjudgment, awareness.

Listen.

Feel more connected. Cars driving by, the swoosh of tires over wet pavement, a child singing outside. So much life everywhere.

Open my eyes.

February 25, 2013

Fighting Fat Talk

"Ugh, I'm so fat."

"My thighs look disgusting in these pants."

"You look so great-- you lost weight!"

"I hate my body."

"I have to lose 5/10/20 pounds, and I have to weigh X pounds. I would be so happy then, and my life would be so much better!"

Do any of those sentences sound familiar? Have you ever given or received praise for losing weight? Have you ever looked in the mirror and glared at those spots that are a little rounder than you'd like? Have you ever complained with your girlfriends about how you feel fat/look fat/are getting fat and need to do something about it?

We all have.

One of the most challenging parts of having a positive body image, meaning viewing your body size/shape/weight in a positive way, is that in many societies and cultures, it has become the norm to trash talk our bodies. It is socially acceptable to say that skinny and thin are better than not-skinny and not-thin. It is socially acceptable to be disgusted by people who are overweight or obese and attribute negative traits to them (out of control, undisciplined, lazy, unintelligent) solely on the basis of their weight. It is socially acceptable to to talk about foods in terms of "good" and "bad" and to gush over "guilt-free," "sin-free," "low-cal" foods as though we have accomplished something truly great by consuming something with a marginally lower fat or calorie content.

I don't think anyone is a terrible person for doing any of the above. Again, we've all done some of them at some point. But I ask you this: What if we didn't?

What if the next time we looked in the mirror, we said, "You're beautiful" and smiled at our reflection?

What if we shifted the focus from weight and pounds to health and strength?

What if we told our friend who just called herself "fat" that she is beautiful and that she is worth more than a number or a size?

What if we looked someone in the eye the next time they make a rude comment about someone who is overweight and said, "That's not okay to say" and didn't laugh along?

What if we stopped praising people for chasing an unhealthy thin ideal and started praising people for other characteristics with more enduring value, like their kindness, their tenacity, their faith, or their creativity?

Stop. Close your eyes. Think about how you would answer those questions. I don't mean them to be throw-away questions. Really think about them. What would your world look like if you did any of those? How would your own self-view change? How would you impact those around you with your new perspective?

This week, in honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, I am taking a stand against fat talk.  I am embracing my body, I am not judging any one else's body, and I am using my voice to encourage others to think about the way they view and speak about their own bodies. Then, when this week is over, I am doing it all over again.

It's normal to have a negative body image. Our culture says that we need to look a certain way, and that ideal is very unattainable. Rather than struggle to fit the mold, however, I choose acceptance and health.  I choose love, and I choose a positive self-image. I am more than a weight or a size or a shape, and you are, too.

Let's fight fat talk together. You deserve it.

February 24, 2013

Sunday Currently : 8

I could describe this weekend in three parts: celebration, recuperation, and work. Celebration because on Friday, I matched to my first-choice internship placement for next year!! Many of my friends also matched to their #1 choice, so Friday was filled with celebratory brunch, prosecco, and lots of jumping up and down. Yay!!! It is such a wonderful relief to be done with the uncertainty of internship placements, and I am feel so happy with how things have turned out. Smiles all around!

Since all of that celebrating was cause for a very sleepy Saturday, I spent my day on activities that make me feel centered, like having a great run, cleaning, doing laundry, and baking lemon cupcakes. It was a quiet day, but it was nice to feel focused and have some purpose. Those small tasks add up to big satisfaction.

Today is about dissertation work, and I'll be heading to campus to do some reading and writing. Now that my placement is secured, I need to kick some butt on my dissertation! Some very serious work ethic is going to need to be channeled. It's go time.



reading : Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. This is hard for me to get into, and I haven't really been reading it consistently, though it has gotten easier. Sigh. Feeling tempted to shelve this one, but I must prevail! Now #4 on the library waiting list for Beautiful Darkness, which I admit is way more exciting than James Joyce right now. Yes, I realize that last bit will probably doom me to literary hell.

writing : Posts for this week!! This week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, and I will be blogging every day about related topics. Very excited and nervous about it, but it's fun to share information about a cause I'm very passionate about. On Monday, I'll be fighting fat talk; on Tuesday, I'll practice being mindful; on Wednesday, I'll be writing a letter to my body; on Thursday, I'll be sharing eating disorder statistics; and on Friday, I'll declare my Body Manifesto. If others want to blog along, let me know!

listening : To a new song (to me) called "Ríe Chinito." The hubs discovered it a few months ago, and we've been enjoying it a lot this past week. It's in Spanish and very beautiful. 


thinking : About next year. On Friday, I matched to my first-choice internship site, which means that I get to stay in DC next year. Hurrah!! One of my good friends from various clinical practica also matched there, so I'm excited to be together next year. Some of my friends from my program also matched in DC, so it's a relief to know that we're not all splitting up just yet. I'm already mentally decorating my office and planning lunch dates at the nearby hospital complex...

smelling : Mrs. Meyers hydrangea spray from my cleaning frenzy yesterday, freshly laundered sheets, and my red currant candle. Cozy Sundays blogging from bed are becoming a really nice tradition.

wishing : That I had seen more Oscar-nominated films this year! The hubs and I kept talking about seeing Argo and Lincoln, but we never actually made it to the theatre. I'll be adding those two to our Netflix queue and awaiting their release. Better late than never, right?

hoping : That the hubs get some good news about grad school! He's worked so hard, but he might have to reapply to doctoral programs next year to find a better fit with his research interests and experience. Fingers crossed and positive karma, folks!

wearing :  Jeans, t-shirt, and cardigan. This is one of my staples. While I do enjoy mixing it up, on lazy Sundays I like to stick to the basics. 

loving : The nearing of springtime! While I do love winter and snow, this winter has been a bit of a disappointment. If we're not getting any snow, then I am ready for the things that come with spring, like sandals, bright colors, and iced coffees. 

wanting : To get back in the swing of spring with a DC United soccer game. Sadly, we will be out of town for the home opener on March 9th, so we'll have to wait until the 23rd for the next home game. Games are so much fun, and I can't wait to don my jersey, drink some Negra Modelo, and sing/scream the supporter songs in the stadium. 

needing : To de-clutter. I have a haphazard stack of papers next to my desk that is a major eyesore, and I need to find some time to sort through them and toss whatever is not essential.

feeling : A little sore. I've been pushing myself a little more at the gym this week, and while it's felt good, it has also left me with some sore quads. Oh, the cost of trying to bring down my treadmill time! 

clicking :  On desk lamp research. We have one of those basic arched lamps from our college days, but I've been wanting to try out a different look. I really like this funky one from Anthopologie but don't know if the hubs will agree. 


February 20, 2013

A French Affair: Olive Bread and Ratatouille

My dad gave the hubs and I A Little Provençal Cookbook, a cute little French cookbook of basic recipes, and as soon as the hubs saw that there was a recipe for olive bread in there, he just about flipped over the moon and couldn't stop talking about it for weeks.

He really likes olives.

Since a meal of just olive bread would be rather incomplete, we decided to whip up some ratatouille to round out our dinner a few nights ago. The end result was amazingly delicious.









Of course, since we were making French food, I insisted on having a French-themed evening, with Georges Brassens playing in the background while we cooked, having French wine with our meal, and ending the night with the Pixar movie "Ratatouille." Very appropriate. :)

We don't usually follow a theme when we cook, but I found that it made the evening more fun for us, and I'd definitely like to do this more often. I remember in college, we used to get take-out sushi, drink Sapporo, and watch "Lost in Translation," as well as have burritos, tacos, and Corona when we watched "Y Tu Mamá También." It might be a little dorky, but that doesn't mean it can't be fun, too!

Have others done things like this before, too? What are some of your favorites?

February 18, 2013

Project DC: Ben's Chili Bowl

Ben's Chili Bowl is one of those DC institutions that I somehow missed. When I first moved to the city, I kept hearing how I had to go there to try out their chili and that it was a must-do DC activity. It's been in the same storefront since the late 1950s, surviving the 1968 riots and standing strong even when the neighborhood became known for its loitering drug addicts. The U Street/ Shaw area has gone through a lot of changes over the years, yet Ben's Chili Bowl has remained. There's something very cool about that kind of history.

In all fairness, I didn't intentionally skirt Ben's. I did try to go there when I first moved to DC. I stood in a line that extended into the alley next to the building for about five minutes before my friend and I looked at each other, shrugged, and decided that it would be far easier to just walk down the street for some Ethiopian food instead.

I first had Ben's Chili Bowl at a DC United game, when they used to be one of the vendors at RFK Stadium. They had a small booth behind the section where our seats always were, and I would fill myself up with chili cheese fries as I cheered on our team. Then, after they left RFK to be the new vendor at the Nationals Stadium, I would get my chili fix at baseball games.

But this, I guessed, was not what people meant when they said I had to go to Ben's Chili Bowl. Going to sporting events is not the same as walking down U Street, though I suppose this is debatable if you're in the U Street neighborhood on a Saturday night, weaving your way through the crowds. But still. Not the same. Even President Obama made it there during his first few weeks in town, and he certainly is a bit busier than I am.

So this past weekend, the hubs and I hopped on the 96 bus and went to Ben's. It was around two in the afternoon, so I suspected that there would be a long line, but I was not prepared for the mayhem that we encountered. The line wove back and forth the entire length of the restaurant, and not a single table was open. I had flashbacks of my first attempt to eat there and refused to leave defeated a second time. So we waited.

And waited.

And waited.


During all of this waiting, I mentally devised my critique of the seating guidelines. According to the servers, while larger groups can grab a table as soon as one opens and then place their order with a waitress, couples are not allowed to sit until they have ordered from the front counter. So even though I had been hovering in the back room for half an hour waiting for open seats, I was not allowed to sit down until the hubs made it to the front counter and had our food in his hands. That meant that the group of three who arrived half an hour after we did got to sit down before we did. This struck me as being unfair, and I really can't think of any good reasons for why this rule exists. What made it more frustrating is that while I was following the rules, I spotted two other couples split up so that one could grab a table while the other waited in line to order, so clearly the rules weren't being enforced. Lesson learned: goody-goodies sit last.

As this was going on, my stomach was rumbling, and I was ready to tackle anyone who took the next open table. I began to doubt whether this was all really worth it, and I was feeling more and more stressed. All in all, this was not the fun lunch outing I had pictured.

The hubs texted me to come up to the front counter, and I wearily stumbled through the giant crowd to find him. I spotted him grinning by the counter, guarding a stool for me, our chili dogs and cheese fries waiting to be eaten. As I sat down, the hubs stood next to me since there was no other available seating. I looked over at him with what I'm sure was a particularly pathetic expression on my face, and then I shoved a forkful of cheese fries into my mouth.



It was delicious.

I've had more flavorful, memorable chili, sure. And the cheese is your basic melted nacho cheese. Nothing out of the ordinary. But as I sat there on my stool, no longer sad or cranky with hunger, I looked around and smiled at the old-fashioned menu above the stovetops, the sign that said nobody except Bill Cosby and the Obama family could eat free at Ben's, and the overall no-frills feel to the place.




It wasn't about having the best food in the city. It wasn't even entirely about going to such a famous DC landmark. As I sat there, I could picture Ben's on a slower afternoon during the week and how, when experienced as just another place to grab a bite, it could feel really nice to have this sort of place as a comforting go-to. I began to imagine what the inside of this place must have felt like when the neighborhood around it was going through so much tumult. If these walls could talk...

So even if our weekend visit was a bit high on the stress levels, I can't be too upset with Ben's Chili Bowl. It's too much of a survivor to dismiss it as just another tourist attraction. Sure, you can go for the chili. You can even go for the cheese fries. But don't forget the history.



Ben's Chili Bowl
1213 U Street NW



***

Want to read more about having fun in DC? Follow along as I embark on Project DC:

2. Go for a leisurely hike in Rock Creek Park.
3. Go on a White House tour.
5. Visit Old Town on a day trip.
6. Take a day trip to Annapolis.
7. Go to the Newseum.
8. Go back to Jazz in the Garden when it starts up again in the spring.
9. Go to the Holocaust Museum.
10. Eat at Ben's Chili Bowl.
11. See the FDR Memorial.
13. Go to the National Portrait Gallery.
14. Go to the Corcoran.
15. Visit the Vietnam Memorial.
17. Go to more embassy events.
18. See a show at Rock & Roll Hotel.
19. See the drum circle at Malcolm X Park.
20. Mini golf at H Street Country Club.
21. Evening drinks at POV.
22. Visit the National Archives.
23. See a Washington Ballet performance.
24. Walk through the National Arboretum.

February 17, 2013

Sunday Currently : 7

Oh, lazy weekend, how nice you are. You let me wrap myself in blankets as the cat slowly made her way from my foot to my knee to my stomach before finally settling down for a nap. You let me drink mint tea from oversized mugs. You let me smell the wonderful fragrance from our new basil plant perched in the window. Thank you.



reading : Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. No major reactions yet, but I'm hoping that I get hooked soon. Joyce is one of those writers who I have always wanted to love but somehow never actually read. This solves that! I zipped through Beautiful Creatures and have been (im)patiently waiting for the DC Library system to have a copy of the next book, Beautiful Darkness, available. As of today, I am #7 on the waiting list. 

writing :  Posts for later this week, not much else.  

listening :  To cars driving by outside and Mumford and Sons. I think is becoming my Sunday routine...

thinking : About this upcoming week. Match Day is on Friday, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't stressing over whether this week will go by quickly. I hope it does!

smelling : The beautiful flowers that the hubs got me for Valentine's Day. The tulips and lilies opened up a lot this weekend, and whenever I walk into the kitchen the fragrance of the hydrangea enthusiastically greets me. Ah, the pleasure of stopping to smell the flowers. :)

wishing : For snow. I think this dream will be unfulfilled again this year, tucked away in a few weeks along with my wool sweaters and boots. Still, I will continue to check the weather forecast and look up at the sky in search of flurries. 

hoping : For peace of mind on Friday. All of my top choices were stellar ones, so I hope that wherever I match, I can remind myself of that and let go of any lingering "What if" and "I should have" thoughts. Peace and acceptance, acceptance and peace. 

wearing :  Corduroys, t-shirt, and cardigan. Truthfully, I would probably still be wearing my flannel cat pajamas, but I have errands to run!

loving :  The good that exists in the world. And the hubs- love him so so much. :)

wanting :  Some items from J. Crew Factory. I'm headed to their store this afternoon to make a few returns, and then I plan to purchase some items online since they're having an online-only sale. I tend to shop online these days, but I do miss trying things on in the store, so I think I will have fun with that today.

needing :  The usual. Love, hugs, coffee, and cat cuddles. My needs have been met pretty well lately. :)

feeling :  A combination of restless, worried, and happy. I think that a trip to the gym will help with those first two, since being active tends to relax me and get the happy-chemicals in my brain flowing. 

clicking : On lots of things today! One is a fundraiser for the Trevor Project that an alumnus from my alma mater set up in response to a hate group's plan to protest at our college. Earlier this week, I wrote about my reaction to this planned protest, and it makes me feel really happy that our community continues to put messages of love at the forefront. As of this morning, there has been nearly $80,000 raised for the Trevor Project. Love really can win out over hate. I'm also loving this blog post on religion that is so genuine and full of hope. 


February 14, 2013

All to Be With You

Happy Valentine's Day!! I know that the cynics say that today is nothing more than a cheap holiday generated by Hallmark, but I prefer to think of Valentine's Day as a time to celebrate love of all kinds, whether it's your partner, your mom, or your best friend. Hopefully that's something that we're doing anyway, but if not, then today is a great day to reflect on the important relationships in your life.

It's also a great day for all things PINK! And red, too. And chocolate.

Chocolates, a card, and leftover strawberry buttercream cake for the hubs



The hubs started laughing as he read my Valentine's Day message this morning. Apparently we had written nearly identical messages to each other! Great minds think alike. :)


Snoopy chocolates hiding in my purse! Always a lovely surprise. 


Sometimes you need to spice things up and go with a Spanish-language card.


We'll be keeping Valentine's Day low-key this year by cooking dinner at home and then going to the movies. And because I'm a goofball, we'll be seeing the new zombie movie, "Warm Bodies." Nothing says love like a zombie finding his heart again, right? :D

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! What is your favorite part of today?


February 12, 2013

On Love and Hatred

Earlier this week, I received an e-mail from a friend from high school and college letting me know that the Westboro Baptist Church is planning to stage a protest at our alma mater, Vassar College, because we "say its okay to be gay" and are an "Ivy League whorehouse." These are the fine folks who picketed the funerals of the Sandy Hook Elementary School victims and regularly protest at the funerals of fallen soldiers. Because nothing says God's love and God Bless America like a sign blaming the deceased for having sinned. 

I mean, really?

At first I rolled my eyes. The WBC is a fringe extremist group who even the KKK says is inappropriate-- and what does is say about you when they think you've crossed the line? This isn't the first time my college has been criticized or made fun of for being too liberal, too gay, too feminist, too whatever. As it turns out, Vassar is indeed pretty liberal, it has a very vibrant and open queer community who is largely accepted on our campus, and the students tend to be academically engaged and prone to enthusiastic, informed debates about politics, social constructions, and just about anything else you can think of. And we have a Quidditch team, which tells you something about how goofy we can be.
Vassar College Library
(via)

The WBC thinks that being all of those things dooms us to eternal hellfire. They think that being all of those things makes us sinners, whores, and fags. They think that a college that promotes diversity and kindness is equivalent to being a whorehouse. And they think that they are delivering God's word in saying all of those things.

I'm angry about this for so many reasons. I'm angry because I love my alma mater and am fiercely proud to be a Vassar alumna. I'm angry because I think it's wrong to use terrible language like "whore" and "fag" when describing college students who just want to read Chaucer, throw around a frisbee, sing in an a cappella group, or finish their Chemistry homework. I'm angry because Vassar's history of commitment to education and status as one of the first women's colleges in this country is being compared to prostitution. I'm angry that the WBC is using God to justify hatred, as though they somehow have a direct line to God and have been elected to pass judgment on their fellow men and women (hint: they don't, and they haven't).

But. 

The thing about anger is that it starts to drain you. Hatred boils up inside, fury coursing through your veins, but ultimately it leaves you in tatters and prevents you from moving forward. I'm angry at the WBC, sure. I'm angry that this group wants to say that the college's "sins" are worse than any sins they might have committed themselves, and I'm angry that they think higher education is some liberal conspiracy to turn the youth of America into gay pedophilic prostitutes (hint: it's not). But anger isn't enough. Anger ultimately fails me. Hatred isn't the answer.

As I scrolled through my Facebook feed last night, post after post was from my fellow Vassar alumnae/i, laughing at the term "Ivy League whorehouse," declaring pride in having received a fine education from an institution that taught us to be better, urging others not to respond to the WBC's plans with hatred, but with kindness. Campaigns sprung up like this one, asking for donations in Vassar's name to the Trevor Project. Articles were written and Facebook groups were formed, spreading the word on what was happening and generating discussion on how in moments like this, we must respond with love.

That's what we learned at our college. That when voices spew hatred, we should not be consumed by that hate. That when religion is distorted to attack others, it doesn't meant that all who are spiritual believe the same thing. That in the face of hatred, we should remind ourselves that love can be so, so much more powerful.

So today and every day, I choose love. I choose acceptance. I choose understanding. 

What choice will you make?

February 11, 2013

Vanilla Peach Smoothie

After my sad smoothie semi-fail a couple of months ago, I decided that it was time to return to the world of smoothies. They are too delicious to completely abandon, and I was determined to get things right. Unfortunately, our blender has decided that it no longer wishes to blend things. Rather, it will slice things up for a bit and then just swirl liquid around for a while. But the actual mixing and puréeing that is necessary for a smoothie to be smooth? Not so much.

Then the hubs' parents sent us a gift. It was an immersion blender. And a New York Times article about how immersion blenders can be deadly that quoted people whose fingers can be severely cut up by accidentally touching the blades.

Thanks?

That's the thing about my in-laws. They don't just send gifts with a bow and a sweet card. That's too simple. No, they send gifts, sometimes slightly odd ones, and usually accompanying them are alarming notes, cryptic poems, and, this time, newspaper clippings warning us how the present we have received has the potential to make us lose our fingers.

Thanks!

Feeling a bit frightened but also intrigued, I decided that this was the perfect instrument to test out my next smoothie. I found a recipe for a vanilla peach smoothie in one of our cookbooks, Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything: The Basics." There are a lot of good, simple recipes in this book, and I will definitely use it as a reference for future meals. For the meantime, however, I was focused on the smoothies.

To make this one, I halved the original recipe. Here's what I needed:

*1 cup yogurt (preferably plain-- I used Greek yogurt)
*1/4 cup orange juice
*1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
*1/2 frozen banana (I used 1/2 of a regular banana)
*1 cup unsweetened frozen peaches

I put everything in our blending cup, leaving the peaches and banana for last. Since I used an immersion blender, I'm not sure how important this ended up being, but for a regular blender, you'll want the liquid on the bottom.


If the mixture is getting stuck, you can add more orange juice. I ran into the slight problem of the peaches getting pushed down to the bottom and not getting sliced by the blades, but some nudging helped move them along, and soon enough everything was finely mixed together.


That's it! Without a doubt, this was a smoothie success. The fruit was fully blended, no fingers were lost in the process, and it tasted delicious. The only downside is that by using the accompanying blending cup, we limited our serving size to one glass. This worked fine for me, but for making large batches, I'm not sure how I would use the immersion blender. Maybe in a large pitcher?

Either way, this smoothie recipe worked well for us, and I definitely hope to make it again. The warmer months are a good times for fruity drinks, but I think this would work well at any time of year for a snack or filling beverage. Enjoy!

February 10, 2013

Sunday Currently : 6

Well, this past week was a mix of good moments and paralyzing anxiety, and I am glad that I survived in one piece. After my Tuesday/Wednesday Stress Fest, I regained my sanity and was able to refocus on the good things in life, of which there are many! Last night involved birthday celebrations for two friends, and I was able to laugh with my friends who are also going through the application process about how we all lost our minds this week, frantically changing our rankings at the last-minute, and wrestling with self-doubt as to whether we did the right thing. Ultimately, we agreed, we just had to let it go. The rankings are submitted, and now we just wait. Wherever we end up is where we end up, and it will just have to be the right place for us.

Accepting no control is oddly liberating, and I woke up this morning feeling really happy and peaceful. I could feel the warm spot of Molly, our cat, nestled up on my ankle, a refreshing breeze was coming in from the window I had left open, and even though my dreams were fading away, I knew they had been fun ones. I lay there in bed for a few moments, smiling to myself, and I knew that today would be a good day. I love those moments. Sometimes it's not about running around. Sometimes it's about sitting still, listening, and just being.

I just can't get enough of this face!


reading : Well, I finally finished Those are Real Bullets and am glad to report that it ended up being really powerful. I have a bad habit of starting and then not finishing books, and I'm glad that I didn't let myself abandon this one. Now I'm reading Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Beautiful Creatures. It's impossible for me to have just one book going at a time!

writing : Grocery lists. Our fridge is looking pretty barren right now, and that must change!

listening : To the hubs whistling around the apartment and cars driving outside. 

thinking : About recipes I want to try out. We've been perusing our cookbooks, and I've been making mental notes of what looks good. I sense some olive bread in our future...

smelling : The red currant candle I have on my desk. This one doesn't even need to be lit for it to smell good, but there's something soothing about having a lit candle fluttering next to me that I just love. 

wishing : That I could curl up in bed and just read all day. Luckily, with the exception of our grocery excursion, I think this is exactly what I will do today. :)

hoping : For time next weekend to do more activities around the city. I let myself get a bit lazy this weekend, which is okay, but I also want to make sure I'm using my time in good ways. There are museums to visit and hikes to take!

wearing : My typical uniform of jeans, t-shirt, cardigan, and scarf. Sundays, sometimes you are so predictable. That's okay.

loving : My braids. I've been slightly deviating from my usual ponytail and been trying to French braid my hair back off my face. Today's experiment of a braid into a bun has worked out pretty well!

wanting : To go shopping! I ordered clothes from J. Crew Factory a couple of weeks ago, but I need to make returns and don't want to pay any shipping. Since the nearest outlet requires a car, I'm waiting for a driving friend to make the journey with me. Maybe next weekend?   

needing : To get the hubs a Valentine's Day card. It's hard to believe that it's really almost time for this holiday! 

feeling : Hungry! I'm craving tacos and am predicting a Mexican-themed menu for this week's meals.

clicking : On blogs. I fell a bit behind last week due to Stress Fest, and I'm trying to catch up. Also trying to find new blogs that I might enjoy, which browsing the Sunday Currentlys seems to do quite well each week.