Some Things to Enjoy | The Hamilton Mixtape: Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)

I know I’ve been quite off the radar and absent. I’m sorry! It seems every time I turn to the news there is more news that drags me down. I’m already in a tender spot of sad feelings with my dissertation frustrations so I find that I get easily overwhelmed with the state of our administration. This week, in particular, has my head spinning. So it’s good for me to consciously see what’s good. And there’s so much good!

I’m back in Alabama and will spend probably a majority of what remains of summer down here. It’s quiet, on the farm, and aside from morning garden duties, I have minimal distractions. My current focus on finishing the final edits and revisions (again, and again) are my big priority. The next one is – to find a job. That is an interesting experiment in frustration and reflection. In time….

Nashville the Gulch

Here are some things that inspire and uplift me this week.

Whatever you are looking ahead to with your long weekend and heading into next week, make it beautiful!

Something I’m Listening to…. Lin-Manuel Miranda – The Hamilton Mixtape: Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)

Unless you’ve been underneath a rock or exclusively watch Fox & Friends, you might have seen the #HAM4ALL challenge. Borrowing inspiration from the ALS ice bucket challenge, Miranda is asking participants to upload a video of them singing a selection from Hamilton to social media and make a donation to the Immigrants: We Get the Job Done Coalition, then nominate two friends to do the same.

Hello – challenge accepted! And I have terrible stage fright, and cannot carry a tune, whatsoever (I’m so bad).

I hope you participate, too. It’s fantastic cause and electric campaign.

Something I’m Reading…. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

I started a reread of this book last summer then accidentally packed it up and put in storage before finishing. When I was going through some more items to “prune” and get rid of during a yard sale at my folks’ house at the beginning of the month I found it again, dogeared right where I left off. You may remember the delightful movie with Kathy Bates charming us as the mousy middle aged self conscious housewife and Jessica Tandy as Ninny, a quirky resident in a senior assisted living home who inspires Bates’s Evelyn to come into her own.

If you had any enjoyment in the movie, consider visiting your local library and making the book a summer read. It follows three story patterns: present day (1980’s) with Evelyn and Ninny; the fictional newsletter, “The Weems Weekly;” and Ninny’s childhood memories in 1920’s Whistle Stop, Alabama in which the beloved character Idgie will charm you as she did the bees.

If you loved the movie, as I did, I believe you will embrace the novel. There are  themes beautifully and tenderly written in the book that were not translated into the film, particularly the nuance pertaining to Idgie and Ruth’s relationship.

Fried Green Tomatoes

And then you can watch the film again, too! I promise you, before I leave Alabama again, I’ll share with you my recipe for fried green tomatoes. They are truly heavenly and worth the cheat day, and I’m loving having such close access thanks to the abundant garden harvest this summer on the farm.

Something I’m Loving…. 

I drove through Nashville last weekend on my way back to Alabama. Now, Music City… THAT is a fun town! I was quite short on time as I was making the drive from Kansas to Birmingham in a day – a long day. A break in my drive was scheduled so I could spend some time in the Gulch. Don’t be fooled, she’s 100% devil! Oh, Edie….

Nashville the Gulch -

I love planners. For 2017 I had a pretty “millenial pink” planner from Bando, despite not being a millenial – I’m technically not a Gen X, either, having been born in the weird transition years from 1977-1983 that is considered a microgeneration neither fitting in either set. Dawson’s Creek for the win (too young for 21 Jump Street, too old for One Tree Hill and Gossip Girl).

For 2018, I have a jump on my planner, already. I selected this pretty planner from Kate Spade – solely because I love the cover image. If you’re into zodiacs, this is the perfect pick for you.

And, hi, um, can you believe tomorrow is July?! Where has 2017 gone?!

The Gulch in Nashville Mural What Lifts You Up
Follow:

Five Great Movies to Inspire Solo Travel

Summer is in full swing and what if the heat has you clamoring to take a great escape? Whether seeking inspiration for your next vacation destination, wanting a sojourn in your mind, or craving a nudge to buy the ticket you’ve been dreaming of, here are some great movies to inspire solo travel and feed that ever loving wanderlust in you. 

Grab some popcorn and fuzzy socks and wine, and settle in for a movie night in the comfort of AC as respite from the summer heat. Find your personal ticket to a next adventure. From trekking trips to jet setting around the world, these films feature women who bring their passions with passports. These ladies knew how to go their own ways.

Under the Tuscan Sun | Starring Diane Lane

Following a divorce from her husband who left her for the woman he was having an affair with, Frances Mayes makes an impulsive purchase to beat all… a rundown villa in Tuscany. This film is as delightful and hopeful as the cinematography is beautiful. Now, where can I find some limoncello, bella? 

Tracks | Starring Mia Wasikowska

Another adaptation of a memoir, this captivating film follows Robyn Davidson’s nine month journey as she treks across Australia. The movie is vivid, breathtaking, and incredibly gorgeous. You may find yourself researching the Outback after this one! This is one of those movies that you feel so hard, the lump in your throat will burn before your eyes get watery.  Seriously, so good….

Wild | Starring Reese Witherspoon

Okay, yes, another memoir adaptation. Cheryl Strayed, of the Dear Sugar series, book, and podcast, authored her heartbreaking story of the intense interventions she created for herself to heal from the trauma of her mother’s death. Determined to heal herself, Strayed set forth on an epic solo thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. Reese brings you into Strayed’s downward spiral of self destruction and triumph in her personal salvation. And don’t forget about the impeccable cinematography capturing the scenery along the stretch of the PCT. G-G-G-G-Gorgeous!

Also, one of my favorite books… I highly recommend this as a read. Perhaps some inflight reading?

Eat, Pray, Love | Starring Julia Roberts

The memoir touched the hearts of millions of women. Elizabeth Gilbert’s personal quest to reconnect with her true self, a self she lost in being the roles she took on in how she believed she needed to be with the people in her life. Spending a year in Italy, India, and Indonesia (Bali), Gilbert discovers the joy of living and power of self love. The story resonates with many people who can relate to seeking self discovery and finding our personal compasses.

Out of Africa | Starring Meryl Streep

Karen Blixen is a Danish baroness who traveled to colonial-era Kenya to work the plantation she owned with her husband. This is a story of Blixen asserting her independence in a foreign land and culture, managing a plantation by trial and error, and coming into her own as a powerful force for her own advocacy and experiences. To watch this film is to see Streep in what I think is her best, and – hello – Robert Redford. Together! “I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills….” So starts the film narration. If you want more, watch it. Also, the book was incredible, too.

It’s no coincidence the five films I selected here are all based on true stories of women striking out to live their lives by their designs, and ultimately, literally, write their own stories. For each film listed here, I have also read the book, and they are all worthy of space in your schedule and on your bookshelf.

I think there’s something incredibly powerful about choosing to be deliberate and then having the ability to share your story with a meaningful impact and value to others.

movies to inspire solo travel

Have you traveled solo or are planning a maiden voyage anytime soon? 

movies to inspire solo travel

Follow:

Somewhere on the cusp of Tuesday night and Wednesday morning after the longest 15 hour drive of my life, including a hellacious thunderstorm bordered by tornadoes to the south of where I was driving, Edie and I rolled up to the driveway of my folks’ house in the Swedish Meatball. Three weeks into a six – seven week road trip was cut short by my sobering realization I could not maintain the focus I needed on my final round of edits of my dissertation for my committee to approve and allow me to move on to my defense.

As much as I hate having to miss my niece’s first dance recital and one on one time with my best friend, most definitely not something to enjoy, this was a hard, but right, decision to make. I’ll look forward to getting to Connecticut later in the summer, and then maybe the water will even be warm enough for a swim! Amidst some disappointments, there’s still plenty I found this week to be beautiful.

Something to Enjoy

Something I’m Listening to…. Chris Cornell – Sunshower

Thursday’s news absolutely gutted me. As were many others rocked by the revelation of Chris Cornell’s unfortunate and untimely death. I feel like all of my idols are being taken away. I listened to this song – as is a frequent repeat on my playlists. If you’re at all feeling what I am, you’ve likely been hitting the Spotify Audioslave, Soundgarden, and his solo playlists all day. Er, weekend? He’s gone, but I can tribute the heck out of his art.

Something I’m Reading…. Modern Love

My obsession with the New York Times’s Modern Love podcast grew into reading the weekly column on the website. I wait, every week, for the indicator on my podcast app to inform me of the next episode. And I wait, every week, for the NYT site to update the newest digital draft to read. Two Modern Loves in any given week. And, when I’m planning a road trip, I’ll hold off on the podcast so I can binge listen to the stories. 

Something I’m Loving…. 

Feminista Jones‘s Twitter, in particular, her cheeky call out and “to piss a man off today” challenge. I feel hopeful more women are speaking up and calling out behaviors and ideologies that need to change. 

something to enjoy

Whatever you are looking ahead to with the rest of your weekend and heading into next week, make it beautiful! As for me, I’m enjoying the empty house while my folks are exploring the northeastern sea shore and riding out four straight days of thunderstorms and tornado watches. Welcome to Spring time in Kansas! There’s no place like “home.”

XO,

Jennifer

something to enjoy something to enjoy

Follow:

How to Deal During a Friendship Breakup

Romantic breakups… they suck. Socially, we are better prepared to cope with the loss of a lover. When we lose a friend, particularly a close friendship, that sting of a friendship breakup is especially potent and lingering.

What do you do when a friendship breakup goes without warning?

In addition to losing the friend, chances are there are mutual friends, too. Maneuvering through the painful emotions of the loss of the friend is particularly tricky, in this case. Navigate wrong and you may also lose friends who feel (intentionally or accidentally) pressured to choose allegiances. Your circle of support may end up even smaller. Having been caught in the middle of a friendship breakup, it’s painful and awkward as hell to be in the mutual circle. 

“Female friendships can make us feel healthier, happier, less stressed and feel more beautiful,” according to extensive research collected by founder of Girlfriendology, Debba Hauper. It’s no surprise, then, that you can feel especially isolated at the loss of a close friendship.

When I experienced a particularly distressing loss of a romantic relationship I had a friend’s shoulder I could cry on. The same shoulder I leaned on when I unexpectedly lost my father. This woman was also by my side through a betrayal by a partner which sent my entire world on its axis. So when our friendship was threatened, and abruptly ended in quite a volatile and fast fashion, the loss was… palpable.

The person I would’ve normally gone to and talked with about my sadness was gone. 

friendship breakup

Image credit Evan Kirby @EvanKirby2

To a point, yes, I faulted her for the demise of the friendship. I was heartbroken. More so, even, than I was the romantic relationship whose breakup she nursed me through. I was angry because logically the situation was so absurd. To me. I didn’t “deserve” the fault and blame coming at me. By my perspective. I never had the opportunity to learn from her what her perspective was. But I was out of my mind with grief.

A friendship goes two ways and you can’t control the agency and filter by which another person views the world any more than you can change patterns of behavior of a person other than yours. You are allowed to feel hurt and mourn that loss. But be cautious with how you act out in your pain. Your pain is not an excuse to act out in a bad way.

I also knew then, as I do now, at the time of the fracture between us, she was responding to a perceived threat to her safety and wellbeing in the best way she knew how with the coping strategies that have served her to that point in her life. I responded in the way I needed to advocate for myself, knowing full well the potential for the fallout that occurred. Knowing what my hard line and boundary was and what action I was obliged to take even knowing what the reaction would be. 

I typically am of the choose to be in the relationship over righteousness mentality. In this particular instance, whereas previously I could let go of issues that arose and gave her the space to be “right,” in this case I could not. How I wished I could…. If in the midst of a conflict with your friend, consider what is more important?

Gut checking my responses and actions, I tread as carefully as I could. But, it wasn’t all about me. This was something she was very much experiencing and participating in, as well. There was a pattern of behavior I previously witnessed, and now I was experiencing. While my heart was breaking I also knew there was a particular pathology going on that wasn’t about me. That awareness did not make my pain any less but was valuable for me to begin to process the loss.

I’ve since come to terms with and moved beyond the end of the friendship. Weathered awkward (and at times downright rude) greetings and path crossings. From a distance watched her life evolve and be blessed with joys she was worried would elude her. Silently celebrated the wins I would hear about in her life, and on several occassions debated if sending congratulations and well wishes would be welcomed. Ultimately, I chose silence.

We even evolved to civil and “safe” conversations about work and life. But we are at the point in our lives, now. I have no interest in trying to rebuild the friendship. Based on what I see, there is no interest on her part, too. And that’s ok. From afar, I wish her so much happiness and well being. We had a beautiful friendship and she was a damn good friend to me when we were friends. 

I owned my role, but I can’t – and nor should you – take ownership for the work another person needs to do or the actions another person chooses to make. Because it isn’t always about you. It’s entirely possible, during a friendship breakup, especially if it’s messy, your friend is feeling intense pain, too. And could be operating from a place of pain. 

friendship breakup

Image credit Evan Kirby @EvanKirby2

What you can do in these moments is respond in a way that is healthy and authentic for yourself. Own what is yours to own and do not take on what is not yours to claim.

Some strategies I employed to help me cope with the breakup

After what I thought was a reasonable, although recent, cooling off period I sent an email requesting for us to talk about the outburst. She declined. I accepted her experience and wishes as I accepted the finality of her choice. Closure is really more of a concept than an outcome. Let it be. If your friend doesn’t want to talk it out or try to reconcile, honor her experience and her preference. It’s not all about you.

Practice kindness and compassion to myself. I reflected on what were lessons I could take from this? In the end, after a lot of self reflection and honest – safe – dialogue with people who knew my tendencies and character faults, I realized I would have acted the same if given a chance for a do over. I put energy into my other friendships, my voluntarism, my PhD work, snuggles with Edie… I put my energy and focus into all of the positive and awesome things I have and have going on in my life. Dogs make pretty much any sad scenario brighter and lighter. Don’t have a dog? Volunteer at a local shelter. They nearly always need people to walk and play with the pups. Not a dog person? Shelters have kitties, too. 

friendship breakup

Image credit Evan Kirby @EvanKirby2

Create space. For me this meant unfriending on social media. It seems dramatic and harsh but I needed to focus on my healing. That meant giving myself as much space emotionally and not seeing mutual friends’ tags and updates on her life. Seeing the reminders of ways in which I was no longer part of her life hurt me. Unfriending was not an act of passive aggression or punishment. I knew our friendship was over in the real world so ending it in Facebook, to me, was a natural progression and step. 

I cried and wrote about it in my journal. The loss hurt because that emotional investment in the deep intimacy of our friendship was something worth losing. I wrote out things I wanted to say to her – but if you do this, please do not send those letters! Like Dr. Seuss wrote, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” But if you need to cry and you want to cry, cry. Then smile. Even though it’s gone, you had something beautiful. And probably have others, and you will have more beautiful babelicious friendships.

Okay, I could have been less petty. Even when I tried to own my emotions, if she came up in conversation, there were times I didn’t filter as well as I should have. And, wow, that created some awkward. Guess who looked like the petty, emotional fool? And, also, I wish I honored the past friendship and my former friend more. There are times when even if you’re not trying to be, petty can come out with realizing it. So watch yourself. 

My mom repeatedly told me as I was growing up a person’s perspective is their reality.

Never is that more observable when coping with conflict. Be as loving as you can be, to your friend and to you. Because, ultimately, you will serve your own experience best by acting with love. 

XO, Jennifer

friendship breakup

 

Follow:

Choosing Courage to Ride the Wave of Vulnerability

“Rather than deny our vulnerability, we lean into both the beauty and agony of our shared humanity. Choosing courage does not mean that we’re unafraid, it means that we are brave enough to love despite the fear and uncertainty.” ~Brene Brown

Years ago, a man I was dating could sense I was holding back and my block was preventing us from moving forward. He said to me, “you know, it’s okay for you to be vulnerable.” You would think Thor directed a lightening bolt at our clasped hands because I bolted. Tucked my tail and ran like a terrified puppy. By the mere thought of sharing with him my battered heart and letting him see my pain. Mind you, I literally did make a quick exit, and there’s no way to elegantly hoof it when still wearing a walking cast. The hobble is not dignified or efficient.

He became the first man I ghosted. *I know, I know….* And it was brutal! I was such a coward. He’s a good man, and he treated me remarkably well, and he deserved far better than what I gave him. And it was painful for him. Both of us were clumsily trying to navigate dating, both having experienced similar trauma of discovering our significant others were unfaithful to us. Years later, we reconnected.

Funnily enough, he reached out to me after seeing a young woman hobbling on crutches which reminded him of our first date. We are friends…. after he read me the riot act for disappearing. Which I accepted. He’s happily married to a wonderful woman and they share a healthy, beautiful, blended family.

And then the day came,

when the risk

to remain tight

in a bud

was more painful

than the risk

it took

to blossom.

Risk ~ Anaïs Nin

And I’m often still that clumsy, scared puppy when comes the terrifying thunderclap or being called upon to share my intimate parts of me with others. However, here in Oaxaca, that’s more likely to be fireworks exploding overhead than actual thunder…..

Costa Rica Surfing Nosara Vulnerability

I’m currently dealing with a lot of vulnerability and exposure in a way that I normally tend to work very hard to avoid. I’m absolutely, definitely, without a question the person who will cut and run and avoid authentic connection in almost every scenario in effort to avoid being emotionally eviscerated again. Even though, so far, I’ve proven that you will be able to recover from every loss, broken heart, abandonment, and betrayal. It doesn’t always feel like that is possible, but I have a 100% recovery rate.

Here’s a rub, though: there are times during which channeling massive courage for authenticity and vulnerability will not be rewarded by receipt of the outcome you put yourself out on the very ledge of exposure for…. and it sucks so hard! Aaaaah, that feeling is the worst when you’re emotionally naked, and the lights are on, and… and… and… no.

A few years ago, when I was nearly hysterical from what I was then experiencing as a vulnerability exposure fail, a friend said to me, “it’s scary and it’s hard to show people our ugly.” Yes. It’s scary. And it’s hard. It’s hard to constantly live in your truth. Because when you’re being truthful and authentic all of your time, you’re going to turn off some people because they don’t tune in to that vibration. But it’s not easy, and again, the fear factor, for me, is intense.

Also, trust. Can I trust my instincts regarding this person? Can I trust this person? If I open up my heart, is this person going to take that vulnerability to hurt me? Because… that’s what happened before.

I’ve held myself back. I lose out on the possibility of the kind of connection I want, and I also deny someone the opportunity to receive all the weird, wonderful, quirky, and beautiful parts of me that lie beneath the surface of fear and anxiety. But the part of me that craves that connection and depth doesn’t call to me as loud as the part of me that begs me to stay closed to protect myself.

I learned that fear through a traumatic abusive relationship. I came to accept I wasn’t worth more than what he told me I was worth, through his hurtful words and his injury afflicting actions. Then, another one, this time a true wolf in a friendly skin told me I hadn’t come as far in my recovery and ability to protect myself from a predator (when you learn your ex is a convicted felon as he goes back to prison… yeah that happened). Trusting myself, and trusting others… that’s hard. It’s scary.

Costa Rica Surfing Nosara Vulnerability

I keep coming back to this picture from when I went on a (divine) yoga retreat in Costa Rica a couple of years ago. When my friend snapped this picture of me, I had no idea she was even there. I had just been wacked in the back of my head by my longboard on what was one of my most awkward falls I ever made when surfing – and just believe me when I say I wipe out better than I ride.

But my smile is so real. There was nothing anticipated or commanded. This sunburned mug is radiant with sheer joy. If I had let my anxiety and self-conscious nervousness about how not-good I am at surfing get the better of my earnest desire to ride those perfect baby swells (I know my limits of my skill level), I wouldn’t have ever known how delicious and fun Costa Rica waves are for long boarding.

One of the things about surfing – especially at the beginning, is learning how to read the wave and determine which ones, and when, are good to ride. Because I don’t get to surf often, I miss quite a few, and in the split second of hesitation, that wave is gone. But there’s more. There’s always more!

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” ~Brene Brown

When you’re told repeatedly you’re not worthy of love and sincere affection without conditional approvals, your mind can hold onto those messages. Despite a hell of a lot of work I’ve done to reclaim myself and recover, I still have triggers. But those aren’t my truths – only as much as I want to allow myself to continue to subscribe to that story. I still have doubts. It’s like that song from Bob Dylan, Just Like a Woman.

Whether puppy or little girl, I have to willfully force myself to stand present in front of someone, whether a new friend – usually a man wanting to build an emotional connection – I have to resist and push down the initial reaction to run and choose to be courageous. I’m a good emotional runner. But a terrible physical runner. Too many ankle and foot fractures.

And so also goes with finding the courage to continue to take the exposure and painful anxiety of vulnerability. We get better at what we practice. Sometimes the ride will be good. Sometimes we get knocked in the head by a surfboard. Right now I’m feeling the knock in my heart. But I really don’t want to miss any more waves because I hesitated.

Vulnerability is not for anyone faint hearted! If you want to live authentically and with appropriate vulnerability, you have to be a warrior. A love warrior! And better yet, be ready for the ride.

XO,

Jennifer

Nosara Costa Rica Surfing Vulnerability .jpg
Follow: