I’ve learned a few things in my first month of marriage.
I know, I know. One month hardly seems like enough time for two newlyweds to come to any major conclusions about marriage. At least, not compared to couples like my parents who are coming up on 33 years of marriage this May (so grateful for them and their beautiful example of love!).
And yet, that paradox is part of what’s struck me this month: Marriage is at once a marathon and a sprint. It’s long – thank goodness, because we’re going to need all the time we can get to strengthen and enjoy these beautiful bonds that are forming – and it’s fast – so much has changed in such a short period of time. Continue reading
“Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.”
We say that a lot around the office. Probably because we’re all a bunch of perfectionists brought together (strategically) for the common goal of creating something great. And we’re all constantly battling the desire to make something perfect – instead of just making something great.
Even with that statement, my bias reveals itself. Like so many others, I frequently buy into the idea that “great” is just that: great, but not perfect. And wouldn’t perfect be so much better?
Most companies are looking for people who won’t settle for less than the absolute best and who will work tirelessly to achieve greatness – both for the organization and for their own careers. And most people (if they’re honest) would really like perfect. Perfect is what many of us tell ourselves we should be.
And yet, perfection is an illusion because there’s always something more we can do, something better. We can never reach perfection, but we keep driving toward it, and that keeps us endlessly spinning and pushing and running. Continue reading
No one imagined our Thanksgiving table talk would end in tears. As we went around the table sharing what we were each thankful for, we couldn’t have anticipated my sister and I would soon be standing in the kitchen, sobbing, holding each other close.
And yet, that’s exactly how this year’s Thanksgiving meal ended. With only scraps of turkey and stuffing and lingering bits of glazed carrots and mashed potatoes left on our plates, we all went around the table sharing the things, the people, the moments we were most grateful for.
We all had similar sentiments. We were grateful for family, for each other, for the new baby sleeping peacefully by my sister’s side – my beautiful nephew. And, in some ways, we were even grateful for the pain that had brought us this beauty. We recognized that the discomfort of the unknown was also bringing us exciting new challenges and opportunities we hadn’t even discovered yet. Continue reading
It was far too crowded on the train today. Between the hours of 5 and 6PM, Montgomery station is a mass of people, and today was exceptionally packed. As the N pulled up to the platform, I let the flow of the crowd carry me on to the train. I didn’t really have anywhere to be. I just wanted to get home. So, I thought skinny thoughts and squeezed myself between one very tall man and a shorter woman and her oversized bag.
I couldn’t reach one of the poles to hang onto, but there was no need. We were all so smashed together that no one was moving anyway. We just leaned against each other as the car continued on down the tunnel, jostling us and forcing us to get uncomfortably familiar with each others’ bodies.
When we finally came up for air and exited the tunnel, the dog park came into view. The same one I pass every day on my commute back and forth from downtown San Francisco. But this time, I heard an invitation. Continue reading
The eve of my 30th birthday was relatively quiet. I chopped rainbow carrots and kale in my little San Francisco kitchen. I did not turn on the TV or listen to music. I resisted the urge to fill the space with noise. Instead, I washed the kale and peeled the carrots. I minced garlic and stirred it around with olive oil and cumin and coriander.
I listened to the sound of the knife on the cutting board, and savored the aromas filling the room.
I reflected back on my day – how busy it felt, like I was moving too fast and yet not getting enough done. How I kept having to remind myself to slow down. As my boss would say wisely, “This is PR. Not the ER.”
I carried that purposeful slowness into my evening. Letting my body and mind rest after a day of post-vacation email pile-up. Not avoiding it, but not worrying about it too much either. Sometimes you just have to hug the slog.
Much like excelling in the workplace, cooking from scratch requires patience and a methodical commitment. It requires focus and time. And if you’re going to enjoy the process, it requires slowing down and being present.
This is the greatest truth I’ve discovered in my 20s. Slowness. Savoring. It’s the truth I want to carry into my 30s. The gift I want to give to others. Continue reading
This Part 2 in a two-part series on what practicing yoga has taught me. If you missed it, catch Part 1 here.
6. Let go. Being present on the mat requires letting go of anything outside of your mat for that hour. Your posture is not one of control and striving, but rather openness and malleability.
So often, I find myself having a breakthrough during class. My mind relaxes, and I receive an answer to a question I’ve been pondering or a conflict I’ve been working through.
Isn’t this so often how God works? When we let go of our preconceived notions of what He can do – or what we can do with Him – we allow Him to enter the spaces where we feel most weak and strengthen us. He always surprises me with His goodness.
But this first requires opening up to Him. Continue reading
Friends, I’m writing a book on what I’ve learned while recovering from perfectionism. If you’d like to join in on the journey, subscribe here for sneak peeks and personal encouragement I only share over email.
Back when I was working for RELEVANT Magazine, I wrote a piece about how yoga had helped me become more comfortable in my own skin. How it had helped me embrace my body’s strength instead of hyper-focusing on the bits I wished I could change – the chicken pox scars, the stretch marks, the knobby knees.
The article resonated with other people who saw themselves in my story. They were on their own journeys toward self-acceptance, and they appreciated that I was offering an honest look into my struggles. But here’s the thing about being vulnerable – especially in a public forum – it opens you up to scrutiny and often to resulting criticism. On this particular piece, a handful of critics posted strongly-worded comments – mostly expressing dismay at my references to yoga.
They claimed that yoga is “the devil’s tool.” That it’s the equivalent of witchcraft.
On the one hand, I can see where these people are coming from. Anything can be destructive if it takes God’s place as the Ultimate Provider, Savior, Comforter, and Redeemer of our lives. Anything can be the “devil’s tool” – even really good things like food and music and marriage and family and, yes, yoga.
But those things can also be really really good – as long as they play a supporting role in our lives. They’re good gifts from a good father, not The Gift (James 1:17).
There he was. The evidence of this morning’s #kitchenfail. The sesame seed. Just sitting there, between the “x” and the “c” keys, taunting me as I sat down to write.
He’d won out this morning. He’d gotten the best of me. But this afternoon, his presence only made me smile. The last lingering remnant of a cookie recipe gone awry, he reminded me that there was grace for my mistakes. That the whole day didn’t have to go in the garbage just because that seemed to be the destiny of my cookies. That my kitchen failure was an integral part of this sunny Saturday.
I’d woken early. The sun streaming through my windows at 6:30am. My blackout curtains no match for the bright beams.
Rather than reach for my eye mask and attempt to sleep a bit longer, I decided to rise early and get a head start on the day.
Inspired by the food magazine I’d been reading before bed the night before, I somehow got it in my head that tahini honey cookies were the exact right dessert to bring to the dinner party we’d be going to later that evening. That and a Napa Valley Zinfandel.
As I got to work on the cookies, I quickly realized that the coconut flour I had thought would be a fine substitute for almond flour was not working out as well as I’d hoped. The aroma was heavenly. Vanilla and cinnamon. A slightly savory touch from the tahini and sweetness from the honey. And who can say no to the creamy quality of coconut?
“This is the joy for me. I love bread.”
You may recognize those words as Oprah’s opening lines from a Weight Watchers commercial that’s getting a lot of play these days. If you haven’t seen it, the premise is that Oprah is thrilled she can eat bread and still lose weight. While people are poking fun at the commercial a bit (I’ll admit, James and I chuckle every time it comes on Hulu), Oprah’s joy is inspiring.
I’ve been longing for this kind of joy lately. The kind of joy that makes you say: “I love life!”
But it hasn’t been coming.
Instead, I’ve been feeling an overwhelming sense of pointlessness – in my work, my writing, and just life in general. I’m trying hard to make things happen, but I’m left feeling ineffectual and unsatisfied, and that’s been leading me to despair.
Maybe you can relate.
My thoughts often go like this: Nothing I do helps this situation. This project isn’t going anywhere. If I can’t change the outcome, if I can’t make things happen, then why bother trying? Continue reading
Do you ever feel like there’s something rotten inside you? Like something has “gone bad” in your mind or heart – as though it’s an avocado you let sit out too long or a half-eaten loaf of bread you forgot about? It’s an unsavory discovery.
Recently, this “rottenness” manifested in the form of a generally cranky disposition. I was bumping into things and frustrated and tired and not feeling quite like myself – something was off.
Sweet James was the gentle observer of my frustrations. Over the past few years I’ve learned to not blame others for my frustrations quite so much, but it’s still a temptation. The opportunity to blame-shift and deflect my overall crummy feeling onto someone else has its appeal. But I’ve done the blame thing enough – sorry, Mom and boyfriends of seasons past – to know that any sense of relief I’d experience would be momentary and fleeting. Instead, I usually feel worse than before – because now I’m still frustrated and I’m feeling guilty and embarrassed about my juvenile behavior.
So, rather than get angry with James, I got curious. Continue reading