I like me.

Yesterday, my friend and fellow blogger posted this great little Valentine’s musing: http://tamingthebicycle.wordpress.com/2011/02/14/i-like-myself-im-worth-a-lot/

At the end, Ms. Cap asked her readers to join in: “If you feel inspired to make your own list , please choose 3 things you like about yourself – 2 character traits and 1 physical trait.”

Being one who never likes to disappoint a teacher, I will follow her lead.

I like myself because: I am very thoughtful, I work hard at self-improvement, and I have long legs and eyelashes. ( I snuck in two physical traits. So, hah!)

Why do you like yourself?

Twenty-fine.

Yesterday was a momentous day–the day the whole world (ok, or maybe just my little world) celebrates the day of my birth! Yay! I am a big believer in birthdays and fully celebrating them. We should all be happy and want to raise a glass to making it through another year. I never have understood those people who don’t like to celebrate his or her birthday. A day dedicated to just me? Why the heck not!? Cookies, brownies, cupcakes? Birthday calories don’t count. Go ahead and eat ’em (and I did). Plus, you hear from all of your loved ones and now with Facebook also some less than close friends. Calls, emails, texts–I get reminded how many wonderful friends and family members I have in my life. Just another reason to celebrate.

This year, however, I did want to have a lowkey day. I had no interest in a rowdy night out at a bar or a rockin’ party. I just wanted to eat (duh) great food with great friends. And I did. (If you live in DC, go to Rasika and order the fried spinach. You can–and will–thank me later).

I felt the love yesterday. And for that a heartfelt thanks. The biggest of course belonging to my mom, without whom this little bundle of joy would not have made it out into the light.

My Strange Addiction.

It’s been a somewhat rough start to 2011, as I’ve noted in previous posts. I’m thinking maybe it was just January. Fresh start for February? Yes! Amid all of my recent worries about “should I keep dating this person,” “how did I end up in such a lame job when I thought it was a good move,” and “will this cold, grey winter ever come to and end?” I have felt, at times, while sorting through these thoughts and recognizing parts of my modus operendi that I want  to work on, a bit off my rocker . 

But sometimes all you need is a little perspective. Enter My Strange Addiction. I have yet to even watch a full episode, but the previews alone set me squarely in my place. I don’t want to make light of people with serious illnesses likely stemming from some sort of  trauma, but then again, these people have voluntarily put themselves on national television for reasons beyond my comprehension. All I can say is that, sometimes,  it helps to know that while struggling with life’s inevitable muck is never easy, at least I don’t compulsively eat household cleaner. Or toilet paper. Or couch cushions. Perspective, I tell ya. It’s a powerful thing.

Drops of Jupiter.

Remember that Train song? Yeah, I had sort of forgotten about it too, until I was tucked into a cab with four friends singing it so expertly that the cabbie kept turning up the radio volume to drown us out urge us along. That four minutes were probably the best I’ve had yet in 2011.  Not that things have been bad in the New Year; but, I am just recently well after a cold that came breezing in around January 3rd. It followed on the heels of my worst hangover in recent years. Coincidence? Probably not… In addition, I’ve been working through some mind matter–making unfun decisions based off of uncertainties. No one’s favorite thing to do, least of all mine. Add to that the below freezing weather and grey skies and I’m afraid to say that 2011 has begun with a general malaise. Rocking out to “Drops of Jupiter” helped remind me that great moments lie around every corner. I just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other–and hang around great people.

Cheap, Cheep.

I suppose I could say I’ve been so busy tackling my 2011 life goals (there are many) that I haven’t had time to actually list them here, which was my intention. But, in actuality, I just haven’t made the time to do it. I will, maybe, eventually. However, one of said goals is to make a proper meal (preferably a new recipe) once a week. So far, so good. Week 1 was Egyptian Red Lentil soup (yum!). Week 2? Roast chicken. The result? One word, three syllables: ah-may-zing.

I used Ina Garten’s recipe for “Jeffrey’s Roast Chicken,” found in her newest cookbook How Easy Is That? I love to say it with the Ina inflection, go on, you know you do, too. And I love that this is a Jeffrey favorite, mostly because then I can dish Ina-style about how “Jeffrey just lohves this meal.” Maybe you can’t hear her say it, but I can, and I chuckle every time. Anyway, I digress. The best part about this meal, aside from the deliciousness factor, is the cost. Who knew a roasting chicken could be purchased for under $5?! The other ingredients are lemons, onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Maybe some chicken broth and wine if you want to make the gravy. Either way, we’re basically talking an entire chicken for at or under $10. And we still haven’t finished the leftovers.

The hardest part for me was the handling of the bird. It was all very….real. But, I reminded myself that it is  important to understand what we eat. Yes, this was once a living thing. It has bones, and innards, and joints that wiggle. A deep breath and mental check-in with Michael Pollan, and I was good to go.

In the cookbook, Ina also calls this “engagement chicken” because apparently readers of hers who made it for their boyfriends got engaged soon after. The funny part is when I sent my mom a picture text of the finished product, she responded saying: “be careful, Lisa (my roommate) may want to marry you.” Needless to say, when I finally do find my Mr. Right, I won’t be dropping “when are you popping the question?!”  hints. I’ll just be dropping roast chicken on his plate, and the ring should be mine in no time.

Looking to get engaged? Bon appetit!

Back Om.

I returned to my Tuesday night yoga sanctuary this week. I needed it, and as always, my favorite teacher delivered. She read the following poem during Savasana. It’s long, so I’ll understand if you don’t make it all the way through, but it’s terrific. More terrific if someone else is reading it to you while you lie restfully in a dimly lit room. Good one for the new year, though.

Have you ever tried to enter the long black branches?
by Mary Oliver
Have you ever tried to enter the long black branches of other lives –
tried to imagine what the crisp fringes, full of honey, hanging
from the branches of the young locust trees, in early morning, feel like?

Do you think this world was only an entertainment for you?

Never to enter the sea and notice how the water divides with perfect courtesy, to let you in!
Never to lie down on the grass, as though you were the grass!
Never to leap to the air as you open your wings over the dark acorn of your heart!

No wonder we hear, in your mournful voice, the complaint
that something is missing from your life!

Who can open the door who does not reach for the latch?
Who can travel the miles who does not put one foot
in front of the other, all attentive to what presents itself continually?
Who will behold the inner chamber who has not observed
with admiration, even with rapture, the outer stone?

Well, there is time left – fields everywhere invite you into them.

And who will care, who will chide you if you wander away
from wherever you are, to look for your soul?

Quickly, then, get up, put on your coat, leave your desk!

To put one’s foot into the door of the grass, which is
the mystery, which is death as well as life, and not be afraid!

To set one’s foot in the door of death, and be overcome
with amazement!

To sit down in front of the weeds, and imagine
god the ten-fingered, sailing out of his house of straw,
nodding this way and that way, to the flowers of the present hour,
to the song falling out of the mockingbird’s pink mouth,
to the tippets of the honeysuckle, that have opened in the night

To sit down, like a weed among weeds, and rustle in the wind!

Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?

While the soul, after all, is only a window,
and the opening of the window no more difficult
than the wakening from a little sleep.

Only last week I went out among the thorns and said to the wild roses:
deny me not, but suffer my devotion.
Then, all afternoon, I sat among them. Maybe
I even heard a curl or tow of music, damp and rouge red,
hurrying from their stubby buds, from their delicate watery bodies.

For how long will you continue to listen to those dark shouters,
caution and prudence? Fall in! Fall in!

A woman standing in the weeds.
A small boat flounders in the deep waves, and what’s coming next
is coming with its own heave and grace.

Meanwhile, once in a while, I have chanced, among the quick things,
upon the immutable. What more could one ask?

And I would touch the faces of the daises,
and I would bow down to think about it.

That was then, which hasn’t ended yet.

Now the sun begins to swing down. Under the peach-light,
I cross the fields and the dunes, I follow the ocean’s edge.

I climb, I backtrack.
I float.
I ramble my way home.

2010.

It’s hard to believe another year is coming to an end. 2010 was a good year for me, if relatively uneventful. Like any year, it has had its ups and downs but for the most part its been the “same old, same old.” Not that that is bad–but I hope to add a little more spice to 2011! More on my goals for the New Year later, but today I wanted to reflect on all the accomplishments and positives of 2010. I’ve never made a year-end list like this before, but I have to believe its a “good thing” as Martha would say. I easily get caught up in my current and potential future problems/concerns/stresses without reflecting on all the great things I’ve done and past problems I’ve conquered. Happy 2011!

  • A year of good health
  • I got a new job (and even though I don’t like it, I am proud that I was hired!)
  • I traveled to 12 states: NY, PA, OH, NC, OK, WI, NJ, RI, MD, LA, FL, MO
  • I checked 4 new states off my list: OK, WI, RI, LA
  • I was present to see 3 friends and 1 cousin get happily married
  • I lost some weight and improved my overall fitness
  • I read 37 books! (that is an average of 3/month)
  • I established a great group of new work friends
  • I ran an 8k with my sister
  • I went to my first ballet
  • I went to my first vineyard and wine tasting
  • I participated in the DC Global Mala and completed 108 sun salutations–in a row!!
  • I attended my 10-year high school reunion
  • I played some golf and maybe improved a teensy, tiny bit
  • I did both e-Harmony & Match.com. Nothing permanent came of either, but it takes a lot to play the online game, and I put myself out there.
  • I went to a concert by myself for the first time
  • I grew to kind of like living in Arlington
  • I have maintained strong friendships with those whose friendships I value most
  • I started a blog!