700 Days Old, No Shame

700-Days

Yesterday, the 2-year-old I take care of fell off a spinny swing at the park. His 4-year-old sister spun him fast. I watched him fall. It wasn’t really a fall, more like a slightly failed attempt at getting off the contraption. He landed pretty lightly on the squishy playground floor. But then he started screaming, “Noooooo, nooooooo!” shouts I’ve only ever heard when I refuse him a second helping of Pirate’s Booty. I was instantly terrified, adrenaline rushed through my body as I ran over to him, picturing the broken bones, the call I’d have to make to 9-1-1, to his mother, the disaster of keeping two toddlers calm in an ambulance. That scream was just so unlike any I had heard from him after a fall.

I picked him up and he clung to me tightly. I checked his body for injuries and found nothing. I comforted him and then tried to put him back down but he wouldn’t let go of me. He looked around, focusing and refocusing his eyes.

He was dizzy.

Maybe for the first time ever. Or maybe he just really hated the sensation. (I get it, little dude, that’s how I felt the first time I got high, just simultaneously wanting to scream and be hugged…)

What a crazy thing, to be two, to only have 700-some days of life experiences under your belt, much of those days spent as a tiny, immobile little chicken.

How awesome to feel no shame quite yet. To feel fear and discomfort, express it, seek solace, and then run away to go down the slide.

 

Pride

My sweet, dear friend Taylor recently became a contributor to Pride.com. Here is her first video seeking to define PRIDE.

Tay’s video got me thinking about pride and what it means to me.

Pride

“Pride is having the courage to say: This is who I am. This is what I want. And I’m going to go after it.”

  • Pride is putting words to the unspeakable dream.
    • Recently in Lady Business, we talked about how sometimes dreams feel so big, you can’t say them out loud, you can’t even admit them to yourself. Especially in LA, where everyone’s goals are pretty big, it can feel daunting to say “I’m an actor.” “I’m a director.” “I’m a singer.” We usually choose too many words to cover up our unspeakable dream. “I’m a hostess but I’m working on my acting career.” I’ve found that those of us who struggle with this the most are going after a dream we feel we don’t “deserve”–if you want to be a musician but your experience consists only of noodling on a guitar by yourself, if you have dreams of being a fashion designer but you went to school for biology, or like me, you decide you want to be the on-camera host in addition to directing your own docuseries but you’ve spent all your time behind the camera. Sometimes the best thing to do with unspeakable dreams is just start saying them, to yourself and eventually to others. At first, you’ll feel like you sound silly. But eventually it won’t feel so funky and you’ll get to the point where everyone is like “Yeah, that’s Erica, she’s the next Anthony Bourdain but with a bigger butt.”

 

“…that inner-sense of contentedness and self-respect.”

  •  Pride is the opposite of shame.
    • The journey of my feminist awakening has helped me realize how much SHAME I’ve felt over the years. Ashamed of liking what I like, disliking what I don’t, knowing what I know, and not knowing what I don’t. I’ve been too afraid to ask the questions that would help me grow because I’m ashamed I don’t already know the answers. I’ve been too ashamed to pursue things I’m interested in at the risk of being too girly. In the past few years, I’ve scrapped those fears. Though it’s hard, I challenge myself to ask questions and get clarification when I don’t know exactly what someone is referencing or asking me to do. I also no longer fear any backlash from liking “girly” things…I just like what I like.
    • Recently I learned the term “gaslighting” (from an ex, coincidentally.) Gaslighting basically means one person twists information to make the other person doubt their own memory, emotional reactions, and sanity. This may sound extreme, but think back to any time someone has made you feel like your emotional reaction was “crazy.” This is a very common word used to describe women (I hear it a lot from women to describe other women). “That girl was crazy.” “She went a little nutso.” That, to me, is a form of gaslighting: to deny the rationality of another person’s emotional response to a situation and chalk it up to being insane. I remember how much I cried in my adolescence and early adulthood over relationships, both friendly and romantic, and how many times I felt ashamed of those tears. It wasn’t until later in adulthood that I thought, wait, I feel so sad about something, my body is naturally gearing up to cry, this is an authentic emotional reaction to a situation, why am I feeling ashamed just because another person (usually of the opposite sex) isn’t reacting in the same way? I am now totally open and accepting of my own emotions, though I’ve found I cry far less since passing the hump into *gasp* my late twenties.

 

“I finally found my people. I’m so lucky I took that chance.”

  • Pride is building a community that supports you.
    • This is probably the biggest lesson learned in adulthood: FIND YOUR PEOPLE. Find them and keep them and love them! Friends, family members, lovers, colleagues, mentors, tiny puppies and lumpy cats–whomever makes up your community, if they support and love you, they are golden! Relationships always take time and work, but I find sending out love and support to everyone yields a big result. Once you find your people, show gratitude when they help you, support them in their endeavors, and return the favor as much as possible.

 

Pride-In-Friends

Taylor and I went to college together but didn’t really know each other until I came on as an additional editor for Tiny Nuts, a web series she created with another sweet, hilarious friend (check it out now on Hulu!!!) Taylor has been such a helpful, supportive friend. She always jumps to assist me with projects or lend an ear when I’m creatively confused. She is a super busy lady, constantly creating art, but she always finds time to hang, attend our Lady Business meetings, and have me over for tacos. In addition to her many talents as actor, writer, producer, director, dog-mother, former Williams & Sonoma Employee of the Month, and now Pride.com contributor, she is also the famed photographer of many behind-the-scenes shots for Mindful American. So now here’s a bunch of pics of Tay making magic and me trying to be super fierce.

 

Me-and-Tay Taylor-Bike-Part-Fence Tay-in-the-bike-shop Relampago-Wheelery-with-TaylorTaylor-Lois-Erica Tay-in-the-garden

<3

New Jersey Flower Goddesses

Sunshine-And-FlowersVibing-Queens

Whats-That-You-Say

This past weekend I traveled to the East Coast to celebrate the engagement of a beautiful couple who totally and completely love and vibe with each other.

For the most part, the folks at the party were from New York City, though my Cali crew joined the ranks of other out-of-towners from beautiful destinations like Breckenridge, CO and Saint Paul, MN. As we bussed it over to New Jersey from Manhattan, all the New Yorkers let out a collective sigh of relief. “Nature! Trees! Sunshine!” I’m grateful we all had this lovely weekend together to run around in a yard, play a million rounds of beer pong, make flower crowns, and give the city-folk a respite from their concrete jungle!

Despite what you may think of the smog-factory that is LA, I was reminded of how much I love the sunshine, the warmth, the trees, the hiking, the mountains, the ocean, this city! Wait, I guess I don’t have to make a case for Los Angeles, the New York Times already did that!

 

Flower-Child-LIz Liz-Is-Beautiful You-Fucking-Gorgeous-Goddess

This insanely beautiful flower queen is my (new-ish) friend Liz, who I totally meshed with and when I think of her I turn into a puddle of sunshine and flowers. She writes at In Search of Water if you want to read words written by an actual goddess!

 

The-Dengates-Are-Hot

I included the above picture if you prefer dudes with their shirts off instead of pics of goddess princesses. I like to keep EVERYONE happy here at Mindful American!

 

Hair-Whip Brunettes-Just-Want-To-Have-Fun Running-Hands-Through-Hair

You can take me out of California, but you can only get me so far before I start whipping my hair around for the camera…

Happy Friday! Find your freakin’ sunshine this weekend!

 

Defending Almonds PLUS Almond Meal Cookies!

Almond-Meal-Cookies

I’ve built a bit of a reputation for being pretty PRETTY into almonds–almond milk, almond pulp, almond meal. It comes as no surprise that when news hit of the exorbitant amount of water required to grow a single California almond, people were clamoring to alert me.

Yo, we’re in a humongo drought here in CA, a super-producer state as far as agriculture is concerned, especially water-intensive tasty treats, like say, NUTS (I think almonds aren’t truly a nut, just sayin’.)  Whether you’re an almond hater or apologist, you’ve heard the stats: it takes about a gallon of water to grow a single almond, using up 10 percent of California’s agricultural water supply despite the fact that about 2/3 of these Cali almonds are then exported (kinda like just sending our much-needed water away…)

Now that the facts are out there (and even the Almond Board of California isn’t denying them), almonds have become the crop everyone loves to hate. And it makes sense, almonds are all the rage, and people like me sit around soaking and blending and dehydrating and baking them and then blogging about it. The amount of almonds being grown in California has sky-rocketed in Cali, mostly thanks to me telling all my friends about how easy it is to make almond milk.

Here’s the thing, it’s a drought. Like a giant, horrible, crippling drought. Almonds are definitely part of the problem, just as all agriculture and other water-intensive industry is part of the problem, just as lawns, and swimming pools, and fountains, and toilets, and hosing down the sidewalk are part of the problem. But I really can’t believe that placing a bunch of blame on one crop is anything more than scapegoating a trendy, hip, sexy little nut. I’m not advocating increasing your almond-intake, but I’m not yet jumping on board with decreasing it either. Right now I’ve decided to stay neutral as I continue to gather more facts. It’s just almonds as usual over here. But don’t throw stones (from your drought-tolerant landscaping) at me just yet. I am committed to continued research on the subject of water-usage and the California drought, as well as almonds! I plan to share what I learn right here on this blog! Until then, I’m keeping to my varied diet, which doesn’t restrict nor rely on any one type of food or food group, whilst continuing my residential water-saving techniques.

 

Almond-Meal-Cookies-From-Above

Maybe I should be more apprehensive about posting this but just in case my future research truly deems almonds as pure evil, let’s celebrate them now with these incredibly delicious Almond Meal Cookies with Cacao Nibs and Coconut from The Sprouted Kitchen cookbook (like the real, hard-copy book). I found an adapted recipe at Minimalist Baker but I highly recommend purchasing The Sprouted Kitchen cookbook because it’s beautiful and amazing (or you can borrow my well-worn copy if you want!)

This week, pick something nutty in your life and try to educate yourself on the whole picture!