Last night, at a client event for my internship, I found a chocolate fountain. I couldn’t resist dipping a second stick of extra-puffed marshmallows under the melting deliciousness, and I paid for it by staining my white top.
With an escape to the restroom and quick wardrobe innovation involving my kimono-shawl knot-styled to cover the mess, I was right back to find my girlfriends (the ones whom I had originally left for the chocolate fountain).
I approached them with a how-ridiculous-does-this-knot-look hand motion and skeptical facial expression inquiry, to which a nearby male interjected, “You look great, that looks awesome.
“It’s her outfit,” nodding at my friend, “we were making fun of.”
His initial comment was telling enough– despite the event’s complimentary Prosecco (or maybe because of it) our two energies were not aligning.
“What’s wrong with her outfit?” I snapped. Besides nothing. My comment was a misfire however, considering he ignored it to continue talking at me and in my direction:
“I have to say I’m not a fan of that necklace though. Maybe because I’m a guy, I don’t know.
“But you know girls only wear necklaces like that to impress other girls, right? You know that’s the only reason why girls do that, right??”
“Are you trying to tell me what I may or may not be doing intentionally?”
“I mean it’s not for us guys, it’s for each other, you must know.”
Is this what that socioculturally-derived 21st century term mansplaining was all about?
“No, no,” I interjected.
“Are you telling me, as a man, about something that my entire sex supposedly does? Are you trying to mansplain to me my own intention behind wearing this necklace?”
The complimentary Prosecco was getting me a little bit feisty, and I knew my new rooftop-friend wasn’t prepared to get such backlash.
“Mansplaining,” he scoffed. “Yeah– yeah, I was mansplaining!” he retorted back, matter-of-factly.
With a Champagne flute in hand and a knotted-kimono covering my chocolate stain, the words well don’t flew off the tip of my tongue, spicy and sharp, and I glared into his eyes until he got the hint and turned away. I faced my new friends, almost uneasy about how they might handle my moment of fiery spirit. They thanked me, and we continued laughing and dancing about.
Though we had moved on, the man came up to me minutes later.
“I’m sorry,” he said, passing by.
“Thank you,” I said curtly.
It was my turn to speak matter-of-factly.
I share this story as a reflection on the way I could have better handled this situation. I got the man to apologize, yes, but aside from temporary egotistical victory, what good is that really?
Sans the mind-alternation of the complimentary beverages, I could have helped this man see that his insight was not only unsolicited, but unjustified and even condescending.
That maybe, this was my favorite necklace and I wasn’t wearing it for anyone but me, regardless of a male or female audience.
And that at the core of it all, he wasn’t speaking from a loving place, or to me as his equal. I could have agreed that he had every right to have his own opinion, but shared that his extended, entitled, so-claimed awareness over a population of humans whose experiences he could never empathize with was unjust and unfair and even ignorant.
And if I could have connected with him and helped him understand that in a calm and loving manner, I could have engaged in healing with just one person; healing that would ripple in his future engagements and in mine, too.
I reflect back on this interaction last night as a lesson of mine in patience and boundless love. A lesson in embracing courage and speaking my truth yes, but doing so in a kind, constructive and empathetic manner.
It appears to me that with every pained, frustrating or instigating experience, there is an opportunity for healing. Life will continue to present us with chances for healing, though they don’t often show up beautifully upon the first glance. I am learning to pay attention to the triggers, for they are some of my best teachers in this healing journey.
I hope we meet again, rooftop party friend. Because next time we do, I’ll be wearing one of my many flashy necklaces, and I will welcome you with a hug– or at least a cheers to healing.
I woke up from a dream yesterday morning where I was losing myself in falling in love with another person. In the past of my reality, I have tended to do this. In my dream, I felt it coming, and while this person was incredibly special to me, I felt that I hadn’t connected with myself once in the time my lover and I had been spending together. I went for a drive in this dream-land and ended up at a small, charming flower stand where I parked and was met to my emotion-processing dismay by a mother and two young daughters who, unhesitatingly, hopped into my car to sing along to the pop song I had playing.
The woman sat beside me, her daughters in the backseat singing and giggling in their own la-la-land that is life before the treasures and trials of love and loss have occurred, and she looked to me and spoke. The woman asked me if I had a love-person in my life, and if they were at the root of the heaviness in my heart that she could feel coming off of me. I told her I felt I was losing myself and it saddened me. I told her that he was treating me, but I was still aching for my own love. In that moment I stepped outside of my car, leaving behind my new friends. I saw serene pools underneath white, Greek columns above and I felt compelled to dive into them. It was my turn to lack in hesitation: I dove into the first pool, traveling its distance underwater until I reached the other side, got out and dove into the next one. My dream-gut trusted the women in my car with all of my belongings, and I needed to be swimming and diving into these pools at the moment.
I was immersing myself in the third pool when the mother and daughters called to me. When I returned to my car, all of the doors were open and it was covered in flowers. There were flowers in every door handle and crack of the window, underneath the windshield wipers and on the roof of my car, and a woman was still walking in circles placing more petals and stems to add to the collection.
“Some days, it’s potatoes that they cover your car in,” the mother said, coming to stand beside me.
“Happy birthday, love,” she said.
And with that, I began the first day of my 24th rotation around the sun feeling a little lighter. A little bit more self-aware. Incredibly immersed, and reminded to be fully diving into my self-love first. More than anything, I am grateful. I spent the first few hours of my birthday Saturday sobbing tears of joy feeling entirely overwhelmed by the magnificent amount of love in my life. This emotional overwhelm is not uncommon, and I embrace that part of me. I am grateful to have been touched by every one of you in this life-trek, and if I have ever looked into your eyes, know that I host unfaltering love for your presence no matter how close we are. I am grateful for my journey and pains and trials that have allowed me to feel such love and joy and light in this life. I am grateful for my truth and for learning to speak it. I am grateful for here and now. And of it all, I am endlessly grateful for all that this life is to continue offering me– be it flowers, or potatoes.
Three weeks ago, I went, slightly impulsively, on a women’s surf, fitness, yoga and adventure retreat in Lagos, Portugal.
Envision: 7 a.m. beach circuits, learning how to surf in warm, green waves, the most delicious, locally sourced meals thrice a day every day, bottles of Portugal’s famous vinho verde, and the most amazing, encouraging group of women all living together for one week.
Read: the healthiest, most inspiring and well-intentioned week of my life to date.
It was a food critic’s most delicious dish yet, and an artist’s palate of all things brilliant and beautiful: green wine, 50-shades-of-turquoise blue water and fearless red energies of first-times mountain biking, horseback riding and jumping off a 30-foot dam. Add in constant sunshine, orange sunsets and purple zinc painting the faces of every unstoppable surf-chick-warrior in our tribe.
Beyond the divine meals and wine, we got a taste of the life of the unmatchable Sophie Everard, (who actually oozes radness) and was the chief-organizer of the Mad To Live Women’s Retreat in partnership with Lagos’ very own, The Surf Experience.
Sophie is a traveling, writing and endlessly-exploring fitness blogger, sponsored by great organizations and companies for her own drive and very greatness. She alone was an inspiration in embracing unconventionality in part of one’s pursuit of truth. How can I ever thank you for providing a space that turned into the best week ever for so many of us?!
There is something to be said about the power and brilliance of a group of women who have come together as a team. I have experienced it before within my own group of girlfriends, and even more so on athletic teams in high school or college.
Women are intuitive and capable, instinctually maternal and because of this (evolutionarily speaking) created to take care and to love. We women are vessels with complex depths, and it is this empathetic intelligence that is both the essence of our magnificence and at times, the root of our aching.
Thus being, there is a special type of community, companionship and comfort in a group of women that has chosen to support and encourage each other’s depths. There is a wholeness in feeling understood by one of your own.
It is the understanding that you are not alone. You are not crazy or small in this world; rather in your safest space, surrounded by reassuring people who understand and appreciate your depths, you are grand. You are undoubtedly the very best being for everything your heart dreams of doing.
Yet we live in a world, swarming with distorted representations in mass media, that aim to keep us women apart.
It is oppression stemming from fear, and the imbalance of energy and the suppression of the Sacred Feminine over centuries that now requires many years of healthy, perpetual restoration from both male and female counterparts.
Humans have a less-than-grand history of making certain groups of people feel small out of fear of their potential to be great; perhaps even greater than the fearful themselves. But a true partnership in this life is bringing the other up to their fullest potential, understanding that they could never fill your particular role in this life-web; only you can do that. Lifting someone up to their greatness could never take away from your own, for they could never succeed in your role; it is not, nor can be for them, just as their role is for them alone, and could never be for you.
I’m learning that it is not a man’s role to understand those depths of a woman, or to mirror them. The Chinese principle, yin and yang, the union and dance of opposites, honors exactly that: the differences between the two energies.
And I believe that a true man is not threatened by equality of the sexes; rather, he finds discomfort in the privileges he experiences in a system without it.
There was divine energy among the group of women collaborating with intentions of being healthy, driven, open-minded and full-spirited that week in Lagos.
In the very most, this is a prayer for the rejuvenation of feminine sacredness and a restoration of male-female balance. In the very least, it is my whole-hearted hope for all women to experience the community that a women’s retreat offers, as a stepping stone to a life system where all of us have each other’s best interests and spirits in mind and heart.
A wise friend of mine recently said to me, “there is perhaps nothing more powerful than a group of women dancing together– so long as they have each other’s backs.”
And during our time in Lagos, Portugal, we danced. And we laughed and explored and cheered each other on and saluted the sun and ran and fell and stood up once more every time. And it was not until the very end of the day when it was time to rest that we finally stopped– only until the sun came out again the very next morning, and we were ready to take on the world all over again.
Check out below for Sophie’s video compilation of all of our fun activities during the week! Disclaimer: there is a clip of me being dragged on stage from the bathroom and free-style singing in front of a crowd before a DJ was to come on. My hands were wet. Enjoy! 😉
The legendary, soulful sound of Amy Winehouse first delighted the world on this day, September 14, in 1983. She would have been 33 years old today.
My appreciation for Amy’s work began at a young age and stemmed from my magical, fiery Auntie Denise who lived in Switzerland.
While other kids grew up listening to their parents’ old Beatles CD’s, I would spend summers reading Harry Potter in the backseat listening to ‘Back To Black’ with my mother and my visiting auntie.
Like many of her fans, I credit Amy Winehouse for my fondness of jazz, r&b and soul music– but I also credit her for being a lyrical and vocal role model in finding my own voice.
To me, Amy is a legacy of passion, feminine empowerment, deep-rooted pain and emptiness, and then, manifesting one’s own identity and truth. She was a torn, beautiful being who exuded emotion and talent. But then again, aren’t we all?
From shower sessions and solo car rides to the 8th grade talent show and humming at work, singing became the simplest and most soothing practice for my throat chakra to find it’s use. Sometimes they were my own words, sometimes they were Amy’s, or Frank Sinatra’s, or Taylor Swift’s. But every time, a heaviness deep inside of me found release.
So as this summer draws to a beautiful close, and New England weather reminds me just how sweet and sunny September can be, I knew I had some things to say in achieving my final goal of the hot season: singing at an open mic night.
This past Monday night, I gathered with support from some dear, clear-eyed, independent queens at Perks and Corks in Westerly. We got martinis, grilled cheeses and girl time, and I got excitedly nervous. I was the last performer to go.
It was a small crowd, but seeing my friends (when I actually opened my eyes) and hearing the strength and feeling in my own voice as I got comfortable under the light was all that I needed.
At the end of the first song, the event manager gave me a verbal pat on the back. I hardly remember saying, “can I go again?!”, like a child on an amusement park ride, but he granted my wish.
Exposing my vulnerable voice and emotions to the outside world was the right kind of terrifying. Allowing myself to share my secret passion with the world was an act of self-love. Holding myself accountable to this fear-facing goal was a form of self-care, and great practice in putting myself first.
It was listening to my very soul, the essences of me that were screaming to be let out, and acknowledging that I deserve to be heard, in the way that each of us do. And in doing so I felt that same rush of adrenaline that I got from skydiving, and the best high I could ever feel in this life.
I’m no professional, but singing is something that I absolutely love to do. I’ll leave the rest to the videos. Thank you to all of my family and friends who have shown endless love and support!
‘I Heard Love Is Blind,’ by Amy Winehouse.
‘Stay,’ by Sugarland.
It’s been two months since I’ve returned home from a four-month backpacking adventure in South America. I flew home to surprise both my mother and father on their birthday on May 6 (yes: same year, same hospital, no: not related) despite serving a spoonful of white lies in the weeks prior about inexpensive flights at the end of the month, when I could probably come home.
Surprising my inquisitive, detail-oriented mother was the imminent task at hand and my absolute victory was reason for a full weekend of birthday-turned-Mother’s Day celebrations, only to be continued with the return of my father from his California surf trip later that week. And my 23rd birthday. Needless to say, returning home and being home came at me nothing less than full force.
I’ve been bummed about this unwritten “conclusion” blog post regarding my travels, and a good friend said to me recently, “maybe you’re just not done concluding.” Maybe he was right.
Reverse culture shock was instantaneous upon my touchdown in Orlando, Fla., for my connecting flight.
I could fill my filter water bottle from– and what’s more, drink right out of– the water bubbler without concern for sanity or cleanliness? I could call or text anyone without having to search or beg for access to Wi-Fi? I am expected to put this toilet paper– wait, there’s toilet paper, and soap, and paper towels in every bathroom– in the toilet instead of a trash can? Can the pipes really handle that waste?
My most shocking observation was the contrast and complete social and cultural opposition of South Americans and North Americans regarding technology and electronics, and children. The two categories of precious cargo are at polar ends of sociocultural spectrums on both continents.
In South America, particularly in less industrialized and more traditional areas of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile, I noticed an overwhelming
unsuspecting demeanor in parents. Children were running around at all ages and all hours of the day and night, often times alone without any
Kids are plentiful; particularly in highly religious countries like Ecuador and Peru that have strict abortion laws. And they are costly.
Less prevalent and in higher demand are technology and electronics. Unfortunately, pickpocketing is still an issue in many parts of South America and my boyfriend and I had heard our fair share of travel horror stories. Constant awareness and overprotectiveness of cell phones, laptops, tablets, music devices etc. were drilled into our young, blonde, English-speaking minds.
Some of my first instincts in the Orlando International Airport were to tell people that their bags were open. “Do you know your iPhone is hanging right out of your unzipped backpack?!”, I would think anxiously. The number of electronics exceeded the amount of people around me, and they were all being used or lying nonchalantly near their owners.
I refrained from revealing my rusty knowledge of United States of America norms and entered the fully stocked bathroom, only to see a mother shuffling her probably 8-year-old daughter through the three-person-throng from the stall to the sink with a fearful look on her face.
Following days and weeks brought more observations. I didn’t realize how accustomed I was to the beautiful, ever-dynamic landscapes of South America. Bolivia still offered the most spectacular starry sky I have
ever seen in my life. The Amazonian jungle of Ecuador, endless, looming peaks and valleys of Peru, Bolivia’s salt flats and deserts, the entire Patagonia region of Chile and Argentina, the rolling hills and waters of Brazil and the Andes mountain range that accompanied us for
much of it all; our planet had never been so utterly magnificent to me.
It was easy to find myself in awe each day. It was easy and convenient to shop at local outdoor markets full of traditional farmers and vendors, not to mention the economical and social impact it made. It was impressing to cover so much distance and explore so many places on foot, and not via car.
It was humbling to hear people speaking a different language than I did. It was beautiful mind practice every single day to pick up new words, listen for words that I had already learned or try to figure out what strangers were saying.
It was special and soul-opening to meet people chasing after the same dreams and adventures as me: the spirit of being alive.
It is seeing these changes around me and feeling these changes inside of me that required all of this time to process. It is returning to the same place with the same people and a similar routine and knowing that I am very different now, though it’s not easy to communicate or show.
“So, what’s next?”
It is summer-after-each-year-of-college inquiries multiplied by Thanksgiving and Christmas family small talk. It is a common question, born of human curiosity. It is intrigue that seems to grow exponentially in face of unconventionality. What does one do after backpacking for four months? There’s no chapter for that in the rat race handbook, and hey, I’m dying to know, too.
But at some point along the way, if even subconsciously, I determined the conventional life was not for me. I knew I wanted to travel after college and that I had many life lessons to encounter before I could share my gifts with the world. I know that South America was just the start of this winding and unsystematic path of mine, and that excites, though scares me at times.
The mind, soul and spirit I was created with and the life decisions I have made thus far have demonstrated and called for a different route. It is unknown and self-manifested, in the same way that they all are. I do not have the answers. And I’m coming to accept the terrifying and freeing truth that I never will. No one will. But I have dreams and strengths and ideas and gifts to bring to the world, and I’m the best possible version of me that I’ll ever be for what’s coming next.
And it’s already here, happening everyday. It’s now, it’s present, it’s ever-flowing and ever-growing. And my eyes, heart and arms are open for it.