Wednesday, February 27, 2013

My prayer for FB

My husband says that social media is like reptilian communication. Mammals like us have a few babies, we nurture and feed them to the best of our ability, we carefully try (and fail) to prepare them for survival in the world. Frogs, turtles, snakes, even bees and cockroaches--which are invertebrates, I think--have zillions of babies at a time. (Remember that science special, where all the little sea turtles hatch under the full moon, and they book it to the water's edge, hoping to survive to adulthood, and not be snatched up by a sea lion or a sea gull, or whatever preys on baby sea turtles?) They put lots of offspring into the world, hoping that even a little of it will be safe, will be fed, will grow to fruition, will survive. This is Twitter, this is Facebook, says my husband: we put lots of words out, with photos or links, 140 characters or more at a time, out to the ether, populated with lots of our friends and acquaintances  hoping that it falls on someone who is listening and will echo back our "Mike check!", who will pick up what we are putting down. Sometimes this kind of communication makes for wisdom and poignancy. Sometimes it makes for bullshit.

This morning, I logged on to Facebook, and after less than five minutes, I felt like I needed a silkwood shower. By now, many of us have read all the punditry on the Oscars: the bad (not just badly crafted, but offensive) jokes of Seth MacFarlane; the high saturation of white men in the academy/nominated/winning academy awards; The Onion, etc. So there's nothing I can say here that's new about it.

Except this (and it's probably not new): I watched my FB and Twitter feeds while (somewhat)watching the Oscars, and I was discouraged by the amount of vitriol that was on them: lots of witty, sardonic, even angry commentary, from some really bright minds. Let me be clear: I was not discouraged by the language pointing out what was damaging or inappropriate about that cultural experience we call the Academy Awards. I was discouraged by the hard-edged contempt I witnessed in its expression, the acerbic tearing apart connected to this kind of chastening.

Facebook is really good for this. There are times when it's a place to post pictures of your kid, or your dinner or some beautiful sunset. Then there are times when it's a place for you to take shots at people. These times are often when people with power or influence are behaving badly, are saying things like "legitimate rape", or are deriding a dedicated, gifted performer on her body type, or calling a nine-year-old girl a name that no woman, no person, should ever be called. In calling this kind of appallingly bad behavior out, we recognize it as deeply damaging, and we let our disgust or fury cloud our humanity. We climb on our soap boxes and wag our fingers, righteously, to be sure, and sometimes the momentum takes us away from a place of mindful chastening and into a place of sanctimoniousness.

I don't have a problem with using social media as a platform for politics. I do it. All. The. Time. I am often profane, exceedingly bossy, frequently misunderstood and occasionally thoughtful. I say what I think when I think saying what I think will contribute an important--or sometimes absent--voice to the dialogue that's taking place. When I don't think my voice will contribute, when I think it'll just get all bickery and bitchly, (or when I feel I'm not being heard) then I try to shut my mouth, because I think that kind of energy is damaging for everyone. I believe in social media as a platform for political, social and cultural change. I believe deeply in speaking truth to power. I believe in righteous anger. I believe in holding our leaders, our representatives, our colleagues, our entertainers, our athletes, our voices with microphones, to their responsibility as people with the eyes and ears of the country, or the world. I believe that when someone with spotlight (power) is behaving badly, he or she should be held accountable.

I also believe in compassion. In nonviolence. I believe in the conscious, consistent and enduring effort of all of us to remember that we are the same. I could water it down, or wrap it in Sanskrit, or quote some holy person from another time or culture that we all revere, but ultimately, what I'm saying is I believe that we, you, I, are(am) no different than the racist/misogynist/homophobe against whom we are railing or fighting with our language on FB. No, no different.

We may know something that they don't know, but that doesn't make us different or better, it just makes us better informed. All these things we know: the wisdom of recognizing that love is love, regardless of who shares it; the accurate historical perspective of knowing how this country really came to be, and who is being left out of its historical and current narrative; the witness we've borne to the fact that for centuries men and women have been marginalized in America at the convenience and comfort of a minority, and that this is damaging our nation for generations to come; the broad-mindedness not to require that our morality dictate the behavior of the bodies or lives of millions of other people. We know all this! Yay us!

But we learned this, right? I didn't come out of the womb knowing that "Love one another" really means another, not "another who has the same political/moral views that I do". It took work for me. If it didn't take work for you, then either you're lying, or you were born under a lucky star(and if so, touch my hand so I can get some of what you got). I had to work at these lessons, and in my work, I said some offensive things that I know hurt others, and that I'm ashamed of. I am still in the process of broadening my heart and my mind, of learning how to see everyone with Divine Eyes. I had to learn inclusive speech, I had to learn that the self-hatred I inherited isn't my birthright, I had to learn about equality: because we live in America, not Utopia. Some of us haven't learned these lessons, yet, lessons that you and I take for granted. For some of us it's harder, and we whom have learned have to make space for the struggles of others. Chastening is not teaching without some compassion, it's just a lecture or a fit. Some people have chastened me with compassion; I learned from them. Others have chastened me without it; I learned to avoid them.

It's Facebook. Maybe I'm taking it too seriously. That's what my mom would say. But I don't think so. Those of us who post with fury about racism, misogyny, homophobia, civil rights, education, reproductive justice: for us it's no joke. It's a way to speak our truth. Not to take it seriously might be disrespectful. When I feel like I'm not being taken seriously, I want to throw things. So I have to take it seriously.

Then there's the idea of being angry. I want to be angry, you're thinking. Fuckin' A, I have the right to be angry. I am tired of being polite, I am tired of waiting patiently, I'm Mad as Hell and I'm Not Gonna Take It Anymore.

Yes. Yes, you do have a right to your anger. I don't know what it's doing to you on the inside, but it is absolutely your right. Someone hurt you, someone took something from you, someone left you alone, someone used you. The system fucked you, because undoubtedly, our system fucks people. No one's listening to you. You are tired of being marginalized, objectified, hyper-sexualized, manipulated, sold, consumed and ignored. I understand. I agree. I often feel the same way. Be angry. I am angry. I am with you in your anger.

But be compassionate in your anger. Don't let your anger cause you to lose track of your vulnerability. Because then you risk losing more than your peace of mind, more than your equilibrium, and more than your audience. You risk losing your self, your humanity, you risk losing the golden cord that binds you to the rest of us.

This is my prayer for Facebook: Facebookers, speak your truth. Do it thoughtfully, do it often, and if you are angry, be angry, and speak your angry truth. But if your truth does not have compassion at its core, does not have compassion at the center of every word, then the truth is just as damaging and as violent as the racists and misogynists and homophobes to whom you speak truth. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, it is completely ineffectual at reaching the people you hope to reach.

Maybe we don't want to reach people, or change hearts or minds. Maybe we just want to smash each other in the face with 2x4s.

That's not what I want. I want someone who will speak truth to power compassionately, grounded in the knowledge that we are the same.

They don't deserve compassion, those who would seek to erase, dispossess, enslave and destroy us. I know. You're right. They don't deserve it.

That's exactly why we should give it to them.

I'll try if you will. I'll try even if you won't. But I hope you will, too.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

YU30 Week 3: In Pictures

At the end of week three, I thought I'd share the photos I've been taking of my YU30 journey. I've made so many amazingly tasty recipes from the Yum Universe website, and the fact that they're all gluten-free and plant based only makes me happier. Some of them (cough, cough, Red Quinoa Tacos) were so tasty and amazing that I couldn't get any photos of the food, because we ate it so fast! Still, in between all the prepping and the scarfing in the last three weeks, I managed to snap these shots. Enjoy.

This is the bowl of spices that make up Ethiopian Berbere spice. I used it recently to prepare lentils, chickpeas and collards for some dear friends of mine. It tastes amazing, but I was probably sneezing the entire time. Grinding spices, even with a spice grinder, is tough work!

My improv on a kale and lentil pizza. This one has cashew cheese, kale and mushrooms on a g-free tortilla.

This was for the same Ethiopian dinner party. A week before I practiced making homemade injera. Not enough coconut oil on the bottom of the pan. I used my cast iron the next time, and they came out perfectly.

Carrot apple ginger juice. Tasty snack!

Lunch 2/23: Tofu scramble with yellow pepper, kale, onion and garlic, mixed with a creamy sauce of cashew, sunflower and some other tasty bits. This is his plate, hence the multigrain bread. (I'm the only g-free in the house.) Improv on the mushroom purslane scramble.

Most days' breakfast: smoothie!

This was an AMAZING breakfast of red and yellow quinoa, amaranth, fruits and nuts. We had this around the time the snow fell heaviest. It was heaven.

Soaking walnuts this afternoon, to either dehydrate or roast, and eat out of hand.

Prep I

Prep II, for scramble.

Hearty cauliflower soup.

Looking for recipes? Browse to your heart's (and stomach's) content at Yum Universe.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Not All Who Wander Are Lost

My husband tells this "story", according to some friend of his: if you ask a regular person how they're doing at a party, you get an answer like, "Fine," or "I'm good, how are you?" But if you ask an addict/artist/human on the fringe how they're doing, you get their grim, unabashed life story. "I feel like crap, It's been a rough week, I miss my ex, I really want to use, I can't pay my rent because I haven't sold anything in weeks, I shouldn't even be at this party..." etc.

I dont' know if this is true, or if it's just cute. Today, if you asked me, "How are you, Jess?", I'd say, "Well, almost everything that used to give my life pleasure or meaning has come up empty, and I don't really know what the significance of any work at all is. I don't care about the things I used to care about, and I feel pretty dead inside. But I had a decent yoga practice yesterday. And my husband and I are going for falafel for lunch, so that's something."

No one wants that girl at the party. If you wonder where I am, I'm hiding, 'cause that's the weather of my world right now.

Because I've been writing about my YU30 challenge, one thing I haven't said in this space lately is that I'm in the midst of some internal upheaval. It feels really opaque right now, and also so cliche as to make me nauseous. There is some part of me wearing a black turtleneck, smoking Dunhills, reading Camus and Nietzsche, and holding forth on the meaninglessness of it all, and frankly, I want to hit that girl in the head with my cast iron frying pan, she's so gross and self-indulgent. On a more compassionate and honest note, though: I'm asking myself about the things I say I care about--teaching, creating, community--and wondering if they really mean anything to me. I've been thinking about that same old story of massive professional success being hollow and empty inside. I've been thinking about why I have two insanely expensive degrees--one I'm STILL paying off, the debt of which feels like dragging an oak desk behind me through life--and if the education in any way makes me anyone different, or if I am who I am independent of what I know and what I've been taught. I've been thinking about this notion of dharma.

This is a photo I took of me trying to move walls. I don't live in this apartment anymore, but I still try to move the walls around me. It accounts for a great deal of suffering, I think.
I should have warned you at the beginning, this is a little all over the place.

Often dharma is defined as duty, central nature, work, purpose (cue Rick Warren ad--after all, my judeo-christian education was thorough), that which you were created for and purposed to do, or to be. I think I've found a couple of those things, but they've been repeatedly empty. That is to say, I work for a while at the thing that I think is my purpose: let's say building community, only to discover that the other people I'm trying to build community with don't want to do it the way I want to do it. They're not interested in it if they have to make themselves vulnerable, or they think the most important way to do it is to keep the eyes on the goal and to dismiss the experience of others, or they just don't want to work with me, or whatever. I wind up disappointed and lonely, wanting to shake my fist at all the moonfaces who talk about wanting a better world, but won't put their emotional/communal capital where their mouths are.

When I consider this idea of dharma, of the natural order of things, and what my work is within that order to make the Universe run at its greatest capacity, it's tough for me not to wonder what's in it for me. I can spend the rest of my time doing work for which I am naturally talented, doing work that I've fashioned my skills to perform well at, but is it going to give me anything back? Will I feel fulfilled? Will I be able to put bread on my table? I ask these questions, with more than a small chip on my shoulder, and I hear a voice reminding me that my work isn't to do what I'm supposed to do with any attachment to or concern for the results. My work is only to work, to but the best out into the Universe as an act of worship, and to mindfully detach from what comes back because what comes back doesn't belong to me; it belongs to the Universe.

In which case, it doesn't matter what I do for work: I could teach brilliant young people how to harness their creativity and cultivate discipline and discernment, or I could bake bread; or I could sell shoes, or deliver babies, or check in guests at some hotel. Ultimately, all the work is the same work.

But that's not how I was raised. I can't shake these specters of "you're defined by what you do, by how well you excel at a task". My father has worked for the same company since I was four. My mother had, I think, seven different jobs, looking for something in each of them that ultimately didn't come to her. She had this many jobs not because she couldn't stay employed, but because none of them filled her up with whatever she was looking for, and helped her to identify herself in a positive and healthy way. These two people, my first models for everything, taught me that work was the most important thing in someone's life--more important than health, more important than family relationships, sometimes more important than civic duty (but not always; as much as I saw work be put above all else, I saw some volunteerism, too).  When my mother was out of work it cast her into an incredibly dark year of her life--she seemed not to know who she was without her job (there are probably millions of people facing the same kind of darkness and alienation with the unemployment numbers the way they are in America right now). Likewise, I felt never more visible to my parents than when I was succeeding or excelling at something that they valued--and when you're seven, or twelve, or twenty-two, your work is school, right?--and never less visible to them than when I was asking them for something that I needed that they couldn't give me. Like so many others (I told you it was cliche), I feel like I have to be special in order to be ordinary, and to be ordinary will make me invisible, and we all know what happens to the invisible people in our community.
S is for svadhyaya

I learned how to measure myself based on what I was doing for work, and if I wasn't doing something of (others') value with my life, then I was wasting precious resources, not to mention not living up to the expectations of my parents, my family, my university, my race. God, no pressure.

But it isn't just work that I use to define myself--I wish it were, because changing jobs, while not easy, is doable, and when you find the right one, there's all this (idealized, fantasy) confetti-throwing-rejoicing-beauty at having found that which is your dharma. No, it's almost everything in which I'm seeking meaning, and coming up short. I see now that the relationships I had, even with the "most important people in my life"--family, girlfriends, even my closest Loved One--can't sustain me the way I need(ed) or want(ed) them to. Some of them were never able to provide me with what I needed despite our best combined efforts, for any number of reasons. Some of them didn't want to give me what I needed. Sometimes my own attachment, my own desire, my raga, a clinging, craving greed, is so great that nothing will satisfy it. Still, what this means is that the places where I'm looking for real meaning are all like empty wells: some of them dry, without the water of life for decades; some of them mossy, able to feed only the small-celled plants that grow there; all of them, to me, empty, empty. (I think of a line from a Julian Schnabel movie: "Cerrado, cerrado, cerrado, todos cerrados.")

Alas, I think I'm wading into a process that is only going to be deeper, higher over my head, before I'm on the other side of it, before I find the thing that I'm really looking for, which is ultimately at the center of myself, if only I can be still enough, quiet enough, careful enough to see it. I'm right at the beginning, and I feel utterly, entirely lost. Good news is, I'm not disinterested in everything:

  • my yoga practice is a godsend right now. It is challenging and discouraging--it forces me to confront the reality of my skills, the How It Is of my body-mind--while at the same time providing me with opportunities for observation without judgment, for letting go, and for coming into contact with the Divine. It is one of few places that, even as it works my ass over, feels wonderfully safe;
  • the food. All I can say about the food is that I'm thoughtful about what goes in and I'm grateful for that reflection. I still want to care for myself and I reflect that by preparing and eating mindfully. 
So at least I have that; I have the love of a good man who doesn't need me to be special in order to love me; and I have the need to be free of the crap and the lies, and to find what is true and real, to silence the bullshit so that I can recognize the truth. Things sound dark, or bleak, but they're not: I'm not overwhelmed with depression. I'm just tired of the bullshit. I'm looking for the Real Thing.

Friday, February 15, 2013

What's on my plate: YU30 Week 2

So only seconds ago, a good friend, Ted, sent me this NPR article about Bryant Terry and Jidan Koon, and Afro-Asian food fusion as an expression of Afro-Asian love. (Sidebar: Bryant Terry is one of the reasons I became a vegan. He gave a speech/cooking demo at the College where I teach, and it was just as I was thinking of becoming a vegan. He laid all this wisdom on my head about the connection between African American Culture and plant-based food, which was music to my ears. I also remember being super-excited about meeting part of an Afro-Asian couple. Interracial Love!!)

I love this article. I've never made jung before. My husband, who's Chinese-American, says that in Chinese it's a different word, something having to do with stone, that comes from a legend of a boy who drowned in a river. You wrap food in banana leaves so it looks like stone, and you drop it in the river for him so he has something to eat.

This YU30 challenge has given me the opportunity to think a lot about food, not just as a means of feeding myself so that I don't faint during class or while writing and editing. This week I'm thinking about what being a vegan means for me culturally.

Lately I haven't been able to stop talking about this book, Sistah Vegan. It's an anthology edited by Breeze Harper, wherein black female vegans write about the connection between race, culture, food and activism. My vegan journey has included lots of research, from PETA to Happy Cow, to tons of other veg-heads out there who are trying to find the best way to do vegan for themselves. The info was sometimes useful, sometimes just entertaining, but so often it lacked a lens of cultural awareness. Bryant Terry's lecture at my alma mater (and current employer) gave me this wonderful sense owning veganism as something that my ancestors had practiced*. After this, when I read Sistah Vegan, I got really excited about the idea of veganism as a political statement, as a means of reclaiming my own body--as an element of my identity--from a system that would seek (and has) to control, alienate and objectify me.

I was recently in a popular vegan joint here in Chicago, and saw a four-top of black women breeze in, each more beautiful than the last, and exuberantly join their sisters at a table for kombucha and vegan flautas (or whatever they had--that's what I had). I get excited when I see black vegans at restaurants, or even just black folk dining at vegan restaurants, because I feel the rhetoric behind the plant-based movement in this country is so, well, white. The majority culture shouldn't have the stronghold on lifestyles that are good for the planet and good for the body. Self-care is a right that all of us have--in general principle, but definitely not in practice.

Anyway, what I noticed about these women, besides impeccable makeup, painful-looking high heels and shopping bags, is that several of them were wearing fur coats. Ugh. I've never liked fur; the idea of wearing a pelt on my back has no spiritual significance for me, nor has it ever made me feel like I've arrived. It just gives me the willies. But historically, fur coats are a sign of wealth, even opulence, within the black community.

So what does it mean that some of these women wear fur into a vegan restaurant? I'd be foolish to assume that anyone who steps foot into a vegan restaurant self-identifies as vegan. My husband doesn't self-identify that way, but he eats at vegan joints with me all the time. So it probably means that they aren't vegan, these fur-wearing sistahs. But do they think themselves vegan? Can you be a vegan and wear fur? What's the priority in veganism, your cholesterol level, or the compassionate treatment of animals everywhere?

A passage in Sistah Vegan addresses this idea, and asks sistah vegans to show compassion to those sistahs who aren't vegans (or at least aren't yet vegans) because they're holding some idea of their own struggle being vindicated. You know, when I was little meat was expensive, so we never had it. Now I got my shit together, bring me a big-ass steak, because I earned it with my degree and my career, that sort of thing. What's needed here is understanding for these wounds, and compassion for their eventual healing.

I like so much the idea of veganism as self-love, self-care; veganism as ecological responsibility; veganism as compassion for other living animals; veganism as a revolutionary act. (Here's what I mean by that: the black community is being decimated by food-related illnesses faster than any other in America. To care for myself is to reject the systems that would try to destroy me feels revolutionary, feels like an upraised fist.) I want to see myself reflected in the American Vegan zeitgeist. I don't, and every time I'm reminded of this, it bums me out.

So I'll continue, with my microphones, such as they are, to live a life that is clean, for the animals, for my body, for my planet and for my people. Slowly, maybe the majority-culture vegan movement will begin to see me, and other black vegans like me, and other vegans of color, and maybe this movement will become inclusive not just in name or concept, but in deed.

*When I talk about ancestors practicing here, I want to be clear. The appeal for veganism isn't "people have lived this way for millennia, which I often hear as an explanation of Paleo. I don't think the fact that something is old is a reason to do it. Slavery is an old institution, but I'm not on board with it, nor am I on board with eating the way early man did. I haven't had to run for my life... ever, thank God. The next time I get chased by a sabertooth tiger, I'll think twice about Paleo ;)

Friday, February 8, 2013

YU30: One Week In

On another day, I'll write about what a meditative exercise it was for me to spell this out with the following, from left to right: black beans; mung beans; polenta; raw almonds; raw pumpkin seeds; red and white quinoa; and raw sunflower seeds.
Last week, on a whim (which is how I make many decisions, for better or worse), I decided to take up the Yum Universe 30-day challenge. Yum Universe is this fantastic* website that serves as a resource for cultivating a plant based diet--that's diet as in "what a species eats", not diet as in, "what you eat to lose weight".  Between February 1 and March 3, I and many others around the interwebs, are eating a gluten-free, plant-based, whole-foods diet. I'm documenting, journaling, reflecting, FBing, Tweeting and thinking about a gluten-free, plant-based lifestyle.

So if you know me, you know that this is pretty much how I eat all the time. I've been gluten-free since 2009 and have been a vegetarian/vegan for over four years (minus a small and dyspeptic foray back into meat eating for a year and a half). So in and of itself, eating gluten-free plant-based wasn't too extreme for me; it was Tuesday.

But I've been pleasantly surprised by some of the other ways I've been challenged by YU30. I've been a lot more thoughtful about how I eat. It's been entirely too easy for me in the last six months, to plunk down in front of the computer/TV/space phone with my breakfast, lunch or dinner and barely be conscious of what I'm eating. There's work to read, there's posts and articles to read and write, I'm late and I don't have enough time, whatever. This challenge has been a great chance for me to slow down and know what I'm eating, not just to inhale it.
This is portobello red pepper macaroni, the recipe for which you can find, that's right at
I watched Forks Over Knives and Hungry for Change a while ago, and remember one of the experts talking about how much people spend time thinking about what they eat and how when you clean your diet out, you don't have to wrestle with those decisions. I don't know about that. I think about food, but it's mostly when I'm in a place where I can't control (or don't know) what's being served, and I might have to fend for myself. I don't like those places so much, and I pack myself something when I can. I performed the other night at a great event, and there was a beautiful spread there--sushi, deli tray, crudites, insane-looking desserts--and I ate the salad I'd brought with me. I was happy to do so, don't get me wrong. When I can take care of myself, rather than relying on others, I feel great and don't worry at all because I know what I'm putting into my body. It's only when social events revolve around food that can't accommodate me that I get twitchy.

My point is, I spend some time thinking about food. Not deciding, not using up my willpower, not counting calories or watching my weight (I can't remember the last time I stepped on a scale), just thinking about it. I think that might be okay. I've been thinking about where my food comes from, about how to get it to my home in an environmentally responsible way, about how to prepare it so that it maintains the most nutritional integrity and tastes f-ing awesome. A week into this 30-day challenge, I find myself not just shoveling food into my mouth that I know is plant-based and gluten-free, but really thinking about the food. Caring for it. Expressing gratitude to the sun and the dirt and the water and the time that helped create it. Expressing gratitude for the recipe that helped me turn it into an amazing plate of love, and expressing self-gratitude for taking the time to care enough about myself (and my loved ones) to prepare food that is nourishing.

There's a section in The Miracle of Mindfulness where Thich Nhat Hanh is with a friend who is eating a tangerine. His friend is so engrossed in his conversation that he pops section after section into this mouth completely unconsciously until Hanh says to him, "You ought to eat the tangerine section you've already taken."

"A tangerine has sections", he writes. "If you eat just one section, you can probably eat the entire tangerine. But if you can't eat a single section, you cannot eat the tangerine. Jim understood. He slowly put his hand down and focused on the presence of the slice already in his mouth. He chewed it thoughtfully before reaching down and taking another section."

So many times I have not eaten a meal because I never tasted the first bite. Mindful doesn't mean thoughtful, right? It doesn't mean brainful, or full of ideas or research. It means entirely present with; not only is my veganism a journey toward a rediscovery of my own body, a means of connecting to my culture, an affirmation of my nonviolence with animals and with the planet, but in the last week, it's become an opportunity for me to be present with my food in its preparation and consumption. Eating becomes almost ritualistic at times like these, full of joy and loveliness.

I have a friend coming for dinner tonight, and I'm preparing something I found on the YU website. If any of the other dishes are indicative, we're going to eat really well. Not only that, we'll put our senses and our minds and our hearts into the experience because I'm cultivating that kind of attitude about what's on my plate and how it got there.

*When I say fantastic, I mean it. Heather Crosby runs a gorgeous, high-capacity resource website for plant-based eaters and those who are interested. Candidly, I'd love to see more diversity on the website--racial, socio-economic--and it may be that it's already there, and I just haven't discovered it yet. I'm very new, and there's a lot for me to learn. But sometimes I feel the pinch of the vegan rhetoric/sandbox in our (American) pop culture being owned by the white middle class. For those of us coming at this lifestyle with a minority-culture lens on, there's not a lot of mirroring going on. BUT, having said this, I've been so GRATEFUL for YU and the YU Facebook community, which is INCREDIBLY diverse, for being so generous with their resources and so supportive with their encouragement and affection.

Friday, February 1, 2013


So, not a ton going down here since yesterday--insert cathartic existential crisis music (something by Wagner, right?) here--but a few new tidbits to share.

Today is the start of the Yum Universe 30-day challenge, and I've jumped on the bandwagon! Now, as a gluten-free vegan, the places where I'll stretch aren't going to be as obvious. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to devote my focus to my food. Lately I've been eating in front of any number of digital screens, and I think it's taking its toll. This morning, breakfast in front of my window, looking out at the city, tasting my food, breathing and listening. Anything can be meditation if you let it, right?

I'm excited about what I can learn about eating clean. The starter guide has lots of useful info, and I've already learned a lot, without even having read to the end yet.

Also, just wanted to share some pictures taken in the last few weeks. Enjoy.
I've forgotten the title and painter of this, but taken at the Stanford U art museum. The use of light in this painting takes my breath away.

Women And Children First-- one of my favorite indy bookstore, in Andersonville

Took this at Touching Earth. For more about it, check in with The Urbaness, coming soon.