Taco Pickles

Taco-Pickles

I eat tacos pretty much all the time. I’m lucky to be in a city where there’s good tacos on every corner. My favorite thing about taco trucks, besides the tacos, is all the different pickled toppings to choose from…radishes, carrots, onions and cilantro, peppers. So these homemade Taco Pickles from Eva Kolenko are really rocking my world and upping my at-home taco game.

Hmm, let’s see, how can we all up our game this week? I’ll probably try to just eat more tacos…

Wandering to Find Balance

Olvera-Colors

I burnt myself out and lost my balance in the last week or two. Finishing the Mindful American pilot was such an accomplishment, but I pushed so hard I made myself sick and exhausted. It’s a common feeling for so many of us, to just go go go. I felt like I couldn’t do anything but stay afloat. Instead of feeling celebratory, I was simply kaput.

Balance is extremely important to me. These days, there’s an atmosphere of competitive exhaustion in the workforce. “Oh, you slept four hours last night? Well, I only slept two!”

I just don’t do well if I’m completely off balance. I have the extreme luxury of being in my twenties–childless, mortgage-less, generally crisis-less. I still have that perky, idealistic sense of being in control of my own balance and well-being. But I’m gonna hang on to it as long as possible. I accomplish so much more when I’m in balance–when I allow myself the necessary amount of time to accomplish the responsibilities of my day, when I treat my body with kindness by getting enough sleep, nutrients, and activity, when I gift myself some no-pressure/no-stakes unstructured time in my day.

Yesterday I treated myself to just WANDERING. I took the train to Union Station with my best friend and gamboled about downtown LA, in the hot sun, with ice cream cones and almond milk coffees, experiencing the sounds and colors. Sometimes exploring just a few unknown blocks of your own town is enough to reset. I’m feeling wildly better already.

 

Pueblo_de_Los_Angeles Antonio_Aguilar Olvera-Street-Wears Pots_And_Pans_Pueblo Crucifix Bradbury-Building

Be well this week!

Mindful American-Episode 1: Los Angeles

Mindful American: Episode 1- Los Angeles from Mindful American on Vimeo.

 

MA_Erica_FullSize_v1_vtHAPPY EARTH DAY! So excited to finally share the pilot episode of Mindful American!

I am so grateful to everyone who helped make this a reality, from the crew to the amazing subjects who shared their stories for our cameras.

Here are some helpful links to learn more about all the cool stuff we checked out in the first episode:

Los Angeles Eco Village: http://laecovillage.org/

Bicycle Kitchen: http://www.bicyclekitchen.com/

White House Place Learning Garden: https://www.facebook.com/WHPLearningGarden

CALO YouthBuild Boyle Heights: http://caloacademy.org/

CicLAvia: http://www.ciclavia.org/

 

Stuff People Yell at Me While I’m on my Bike

Yell-at-Me

I’m a cyclist which means I get yelled at…A LOT. Like multiple times a day. I guess it just comes with the territory–I am on my 30 lb bike and you are safely riding in a 6000 lb vehicle and taking up all the room on the road –makes sense that YOU are yelling at ME.

I never yell anything back. Despite the photo at the top, I’ve never once flipped the bird. You know what actually happens after you yell at me? Okay, I’m gonna be honest here and not pretend I’m a super badass bike chick…after I get yelled at on my bike, I start crying. Like every single time. And then I’m weeping the whole rest of my ride. Because it sucks! It feels so unfair! I’m alone, dodging the elements, the obstructions. I had a long day and I’m cranking up this hill and my legs are burning and it’s dark and I’m a young woman and YOU JUST YELLED AT ME and then drove away!

If you are a driver, oh my goodness, please don’t yell at a cyclist! Take a sec to think about why they might have made the choice they did that is pissing you off so badly. There’s likely a good reason, and it’s probably all about safety.

Here’s some of the common things people yell at me while I’m riding.

  • Get off the road!” – Ahhh, so original! Thank you for sharing! I’m lucky enough to live in LA where there is actually a fair amount of education, mostly on the backs of the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus, which teaches drivers to share! Not as lucky if I’m riding in my hOmaha. Whether or not it is specifically illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalk in your state, it is less safe. A street has traffic laws that are mostly followed, a sidewalk does not. But the sidewalk is not just a sidewalk, it is often a path between the road and more road for a car (driveways, alleys). Cars aren’t going to stop at the start of every sidewalk. In the end, it’s usually less safe for a bike to be on the sidewalk–for the cyclist, and for the pedestrians.
  • There’s a lane for you!” -Thank you for graciously reminding me, and did you notice all the garbage bins in my lane and the giant garbage truck ten feet ahead making frequent stops? Or the huge pile of broken glass? Or the delivery trucks using my lane as a loading zone? Sometimes I have to scoot out of a bike lane, even when it’s there, but trust me, I hate leaving the comfort of my lane as much as you hate sharing yours. But if you are going to yell at me about it, look up ahead, there’s probably some reason I dipped out for a bit. Most decisions I make that piss you off just slightly inconvenience you, whereas they are literally life and death for me.
  • **Kissy noise**- Oh wow, thank you for making that smooching noise at me! Would you like to get married now?
  • You’re supposed to be on the right!” – Cool, I’ll just make sure to map my route so I never have to take a left!…doooooooood, I am using my vehicle to get places, just like you! So, yes, while I try to stay to the right as much as possible, sometimes I have to merge into the left lanes to prepare for a left turn.  I always do this well in advance, after the traffic flow has passed me, when there is no risk of cutting anyone off.
  • STOP SIGN!“- This one I can’t be self-righteous about, it’s illegal to not come to a full stop at a stop sign in California (no Idaho stops for us.) I typically try to go through residential areas to avoid busy streets that don’t have bike lanes. This means tons of stop signs. On my usual commute, I go through multiple 4-way stops where two sides are actual dead ends. So yeah, if there are no cars in sight or if I see that the car across from me is also going straight, I will slow down (I always brake at a stop sign), look in all directions, but I may NOT put my foot down. So sure, yell at me, but how come I see 90% of cars at those same intersections roll through the stop sign and no one yells at them? What’s your excuse? Part of the reason I don’t fully stop at stop signs is just ease of transport, having to stop every 30 feet down a heavily-signed residential road is tiring for my poor, hardworking quads. Also, it’s HARD to start back up after I come to a complete stop with my foot on the pavement. If a car is waiting for me to go after a full stop, I mean, get a podcast ready, it’ll be awhile (which means frustrated cars and more YELLING!) And I also don’t like being a sitting duck, especially at night. As a female cyclist who commutes alone, I feel a lot more fear of pedestrians harassing me at night than I do of other cars. So I (safely) try to just keep zooming along. I never roll through a stop light
  • Daaaaayum, are you the white Kim Kardashian?” – I am no longer being facetious…thank you! That was the best compliment I’ve ever received. And yes, I’m trying to get #bigbootybikegirls trending!

Butternut Squash Burrito Bowl

Butternut-Squash-Burrito-Bowl

I mean, give me a break, I’m in my twenties and I’m a human…CHIPOTLE IS MY JAM. I have nearly no bad words to say about Chipotle. Well, except I recently ordered a burrito bowl and the woman behind the counter misheard me and started to heat up a tortilla. When I said it was actually going to be a bowl, she immediately chucked the warmed tortilla in the trash. Ahhhh! Noooo! …all that delicious, warm, soft, squishy tortilla-goodness, straight into the garbage. But the huge issue of wasted food in this country is not my purpose today.

Mostly I’m here to say this Butternut Squash Burrito Bowl is not meant in any way to compete with the all-holy Chipotle burrito bowl, however this bowl is nothing less than scrumptious, comforting, cozy, and warm. And wholesome! I found the recipe on another one of my fav food blogs, Love and Lemons, a site so delicious in recipe and photo, you’ll be licking your screen!

I’m a super fan of any component I can make easier by involving a motor, thus I loved making the avocado cream in the blender (instead of hand mushing!) I made the pico de gallo by hand but you could always avoid all the dicing by purchasing a pre-made salsa.

The important thing to think about this week is what is your life-tortilla that you just keep throwing away? Maybe you could save and repurpose it! For me, I’m still struggling with my post-dinner recreation time. I need unstructured time in the evenings to reset, but I often feel like I’m just dumping that gift of time in the garbage by watching TV and doing mindless activities. Sometimes it’s good to zone out but I’m not loving it for every night. So I think I’ll pick out my life-tortilla from the garbage and try to make my evenings more relaxing and mindful! (This analogy got out of hand…)

It Takes a Village

Erica-Smiling-in-Courtyard

As I focus in this week, all my time and attention is going toward the finishing and launch of the pilot episode of Mindful American. It’s certainly not just me outputting energy, but a great swirl of energies from dear, sweet people who have come together to tell this story. I look at the journey–from the first time I pitched the idea over fried chicken to my close friend and Director of Photography, Travis LaBella, to this week, frantically putting on the finishing touches with my brand new friend and sound designer, Allegra de Souza…and the dozens and dozens of kindnesses from friends along the way! I’ve met so many new people who have worked so hard, given me so much.

I’ve learned it’s hard to ask for favors, it feels awkward and intense. But humans generally want to help other humans. And almost all of my asks have been met with graciousness and excitement. I am truly lucky to have such an amazing team, giving so much time, energy, and love. In the end, it all came down to love. And I am feeling a TON OF IT.

 

Lois-and-Erica-Smiling Lois-Erica-Posing MoJo-and-Erica Scott-and-Erica-Smiling

I think my greatest takeaway from this whole experience is EVERY great accomplishment takes a village, and it’s okay to ask the village for HELP!

 

Travis-the-beautiful Travis-Shooting-Bike-Board John-with-costumes Sitting-Break

Apparently another lesson I learned, which I see now looking over these behind-the-scenes photos, is it’s important to always be eating!

 

Erica-Mojo-Eating Apple Erica-And-Levi-Eating-Apple Erica-Mojo-Tomato Theres-an-apple-behind-my-back

This poster up in the community room of the LA Eco Village says it better than I can…

 

Congregate

**CONGREGATE**

 

 

Pit Hair and Periods

Pit-Hair

There’s been some digital ink spilled in the last week or two about the sexism of “taboo” images in the social media sphere–the big three are images of women’s body hair, menstruation, and breastfeeding. It just so happens I think all three are awesome.

By flagging these types of images of the female body as inappropriate, while taking no action towards over-sexualized pictures of women’s bodies, Jessica Valenti at The Guardian made the claim that the social media landscape is “protecting” men from the female reality and proliferating the hypersexual fantasy woman.

I thought back to a time early on in my sexual history when I “protected” men from the normalcy of my body–my period, my body hair, my scent, my underwear that actually covered my butt. I’m grateful to have learned to value authenticity early on in adulthood. I was inadvertently sex-positive before I’d ever heard the term, and have always been attracted to people who were not just accepting but welcoming of my body in all it’s normalcy. Thinking of presenting myself to someone completely shaved, polished, fragranced, and thonged seems such an antiquated idea, my pre-teen notion of what sex is like.

Though I can’t speak for all women, I find it super hot for a person to be interested in the ins and outs of my phenomenological human experience. I know when I am with someone I care for deeply, all I want is to know what it’s like to BE them. It boggles me to imagine a relationship without transparency. Privacy is important, but not to the point that it makes you feel anxious, ashamed, or embarrassed of normal aspects of your everyday life.

 

Natural-Brunette Meadow-Princess

For me, I do what feels right when it feels right. Sometimes I have long body hair, because I like it, I think it suits me, it’s easier than shaving everyday, and I have sensitive skin. But sometimes I go hairless, when it just seems like the season to be soft and shorn.

I don’t talk about or flaunt my period more than I do any of my other toilet activities, which is to say, if something particularly gnarly went on, I might just share it… It makes me feel most authentic to promote an eco-friendly period, so I wear reusable cloth pads for the entirety of my cycle. (Big huge shout-out to Luna Pads because I love them!) I feel no shame living with two males and soaking my pads in the bathroom.

As far as breastfeeding is concerned, I have yet to have that experience. If one day I am granted the gift of birthing a child and we both feel happiest nursing, I will breastfeed wherever, whenever, however, and if Instagram still exists at the time, I plan to make my entire account adorable pictures of my child suckling my breasts.

I get it, “protecting” people from your normal, female body is like when you stub your toe or bump your head in public and try to pretend nothing happened and you aren’t in searing pain. There’s embarrassment and insecurity involved. I’m not saying every woman needs to grow out her pits and hang up her blood-stained reusable pantiliners for all to see. But if those things feel right to you, do them! No reason to hide the majesty of your body just to protect half the species from the other half…trust me, they’re gonna find out eventually!