Let's talk about demons. (Or: You're just jealous because the voices talk to me.)
You know that little voice (or plural! little voices!) that start firing off in your head for sometimes no particular reason? Or sometimes with good reason— because you’re thinking about doing something risky, or you just did or said something that made you feel squishy… then BAM, there they are.
"Why did you say that?!?” "Are you serious with this whole [big important project]? People will find out what a fraud/jerk/loser you are." "Are you really going to wear those pants?” "I don’t think you’re smart enough." "I don’t think you’re thin enough." "I don’t think you’re good-looking enough." "You’re not straight enough for those people to like you." "You’re not light-skinned enough for those people to like you." "Only able-bodied people should do that."
(I’m gonna stop there— not only do you get the idea, but it’s kinda triggering me just writing them out and seeing the words. OY! DEMONS!)
Demons are tricky mofos to deal with. A lot of self-help memes and Pinterest boards will tell you to just ignore them. Don’t listen!, they scream. You’re wonderful and amazing!
I don’t know about you, but, uh, that never worked for me. In fact, trying to shout down my demons only made them stronger. JERKS.
I used to work with a brilliant woman named Karen Kingsley, and she was the first person to introduce me to the idea that those voices in my head were not aliens that needed to be fought and destroyed. And, that the voices were also the different parts of myself that had lots of competing and conflicting needs. “They’re part of you, all those little personalities,” she said. “Think of them like neighbors or coworkers: you don’t really get to choose who those people are, and you can’t get rid of them, but you have to deal with them over time. It’s up to you how you do that. Can you at least get along in a baseline way with them?”
Personifying my internal chatterbots was the first revolutionary step. After a while, I even starting naming them, mostly after pop-culture characters. (My friend Anne has a personality facet that she calls Leslie Knope, which makes my heart burst.) Sometimes I draw them; for years, they’ve been little stick figures in hard-hats that argue via committee about what I’m doing with myself.
Why is personifying the voices so revolutionary?
Because you can TALK to them. NO SHIT, FOR REAL.
One of my therapists (therapy: highly recommended, in multiple forms) asked me to start having conversations with those voices. Even write them out! Ask them: Where did that crap you just spewed at me come from? Be patient and compassionate and listen.
Especially to the demons, the really nasty jerky voices. Yes, I want you to be especially compassionate with them.
One of the hardest things I’ve learned (and really, only pretty recently) is why the demons are out to get me. I thought about this intellectually for a really long time; it doesn’t make sense to me, for example, from an evolutionary perspective that my own self (and selves) would not want me to be successful, blissful, fulfilled. Like, wouldn’t I, in theory, produce better, stronger offspring if that were the case? Why are they OUT TO GET ME, I ask!?
I dug in deep with this guy. And he finally told me the secret: he’s afraid. Terrified as hell. I asked him, what are you afraid of? And he said, “I don’t want you to get hurt.”
"Um, demon, WTF? You yelling at me all the time is pretty painful."
"Yeah, maybe," he said. "But we know that pain. We know what it feels like and how to deal with it. Familiar pain is WAY better than unknown pain.”
Oh my God. He thinks he’s protecting me by not letting me take risks, by holding me back.
"Demon," I said. "Wow. Thank you. That’s so kind, really, that you love me so much you don’t want me to get hurt. But you know what? Let’s try it my way, just this once, and see what happens. We can talk about it after. I promise, we’re equipped to deal with the pain if there is any, and just maybe, it will be AWESOME."
He doesn’t like it when we have these chats, but he can’t really argue. So, he sits in the corner and smokes cigarettes. He smokes so I don’t have to.
And we are learning together to take some risks, here and there, sometimes, without his constant berating. So far, so good.
Wrapping up my Berlin/Europe trip here— 2 more days. I’ve got that antsy feeling that I should be Doing Things™, meeting people for coffee, seeing art, going shopping, anything that I wouldn’t be able to do at home. I’ve been trying to practice more observation of my feelings, especially ones that feel like naggy demon-y types scratching at me (in the good and bad ways, heh). Not always successful, but this time, I discovered something worth sharing, at least to help me process it.
Most of me just really wants to (and has been) totally relaxing since I returned from Kosovo and Erlangen. Outside of recovering from food poisoning and being on antibiotics, I just decided I was gonna chill. Aforementioned voice has been cropping up daily, several times a day, nagging me to go actively pursue an activity. What I finally hit on today, when I asked it, “Why?” was it finally confessed, it wanted to prove something to my community. Look at me in Berlin, aren’t I snazzy, isn’t this the life, look at my cool friends. Not even in the “oooo I’m so grateful” way. Just straight up: look. at. me.
I mean, I’m a pretty vain person and I love to share, but this feels icky. I rely on a lot of outside validation, which I’ve been working on. (My joke to my friends when I’m checking my digital notifications is to repeat over and over, “Does anyone love me?” until someone likes or favorites something I’ve posted, heh.) And I just gave a talk about participating in the culture of fauxwesome!
If I were offline, taking a digital vacation, I know I’d not care about bumming around the apartment and taking 2 or 3 (yes, sometimes 3) wonderful naps a day. Naps because I wanted to, not because I was sick and/or depressed. Blissful-ass Berlin naps.
Of course I want to see all my friends and spend time with them, and I mostly have, and will tonight and tomorrow night. But I’m trying to remind myself that I have time. Breathing.
“"There is nothing magical about meditation. Don’t meditate to fix yourself, to heal yourself, to improve yourself, to redeem yourself; rather, do it as an act of love, of deep warm friendship toward yourself. In this view there is no longer any need for the subtle aggression of self-improvement, for self-criticism, for the endless guilt of not doing enough. It offers the possibility of an end to the ceaseless round of trying so hard that wraps so many people’s lives in a knot. Instead there is now meditation as an act of love. How endlessly delightful and encouraging. Meditation is bound to fail if it is being done to fix a problem.”—Bob Sharples, Meditation and Relaxation in Plain English”—https://m.facebook.com/groups/216316775078881
Every day I wake up and the situation #Ferguson is getting worse. Human & civil rights violations, violence, more. How best can I serve from long distance? Sharing links feels like weak sauce. (yet I preach all the time about & truly believe how important it is to cross-pollinate across communities.) My timing is also poor, at least for fb’s insidious algorithm, since I’m reading and posting while most of my people are sleeping. And when they’re awake, I’m in tourist mode, not wanting to share my “hey y’all! Look at this!” posts, so as not to be the hurtful ignorant person in the stream. Ugh. Any advice or insight on allyship here is most welcome.
I’ve been sitting here for like an hour, the day after my birthday (aka, International DZ Day), trying to capture the wholeness of warmth and gratitude I feel for sharing this time on the planet with y’all. There just aren’t enough words.
Thank you, deeply, for your support and love, especially as I embark on some new adventures in sharing and healing with you. I love you. I’m with you. Here.
My family has always been private about our time spent together. It was our way of keeping one thing that was ours, with a man we shared with an entire world. But now that’s gone, and I feel stripped bare. My last day with him was his birthday, and I will be forever grateful that my brothers and I got to spend that time alone with him, sharing gifts and laughter. He was always warm, even in his darkest moments. While I’ll never, ever understand how he could be loved so deeply and not find it in his heart to stay, there’s minor comfort in knowing our grief and loss, in some small way, is shared with millions. It doesn’t help the pain, but at least it’s a burden countless others now know we carry, and so many have offered to help lighten the load. Thank you for that.
To those he touched who are sending kind words, know that one of his favorite things in the world was to make you all laugh. As for those who are sending negativity, know that some small, giggling part of him is sending a flock of pigeons to your house to poop on your car. Right after you’ve had it washed. After all, he loved to laugh too…
Dad was, is and always will be one of the kindest, most generous, gentlest souls I’ve ever known, and while there are few things I know for certain right now, one of them is that not just my world, but the entire world is forever a little darker, less colorful and less full of laughter in his absence. We’ll just have to work twice as hard to fill it back up again.
”—My only statement. My brothers’ are also online. Thank you for all your kindness, and goodbye for awhile guys. xo (via zeldawilliams)
Life is short. And that thinking is killing your spirit.
I’ve been having a lot of conversations lately with friends who are on edge with life choices and directions. The common theme has been that there is this urgent feeling of our passions either wasting or passing us by, and we’ve got to Do Something™ to change that, to change ourselves or our circumstances, to make positive change in the world, and to individually manifest our happiness.
It doesn’t help that there are those silly motivational quotes all over Facebook and Pinterest, telling us that life’s too short, to live in the now, to seize the day. NO PRESSURE, EVERYONE.
As a recovering overachiever who lapses regularly, I get it. Taking action has been core to my existence! Changing the world, making dramatic career moves, almost marrying a fascinatingly wrong-for-me (but super interesting!) man… Yep. I had a favorite shirt for a long time that said, “Never a dull moment.”
Years ago, I shared with my therapist that I was just utterly unhappy and frustrated, and I didn’t know what to do about it. She’s pretty heavily influenced by Buddhist teachings, so she said, “Hm. Can you sit with that? The bad feelings?”
"Um, NO," I said. "Duh. Why would I want to do that?” I told her that the whole point of my existence was that I acted on pain to shift it, that I wasn’t afraid of doing so.
"Have you ever been in the situation where you look behind your desk and see that all your computer cables have gotten tangled up?" Of course, I said. "And did you get a big pair of scissors to cut everything?" No. "And why not?"
"Because it’d all be broken and nothing would work." I sensed the lesson coming.
"And what did you do instead?"
"I sat down and untangled everything."
"Did it take a while? Was it frustrating?" Yes and yes. "Did you feel better after it was all over?" Yes, I admitted grudgingly.
"Sitting with challenging feelings isn’t about being a masochist and feeling pain for it’s own sake. It’s to see what’s on the other side, once you go through it."
I’m still not an expert at it, but I’m practicing sitting these days. Oddly enough, it creates more space for solid action to happen, for me. It helps me stay present and grounded, of course, but it also helps me realize: We have time. Lots and lots of time. We don’t have to know and solve everything in this singular moment. There’s no other way to experience that kind of expansiveness without practicing, and I’ve only scratched a teensy tip of it. And if I went back in time to explain this to my 25 year old self, I’m sure she’d laugh her ass off at me. I admire that in her, and me, and agree that we all have to take life by the reigns and create our own destinies. But that doesn’t happen instantly, and no amount of well-designed pictures of mantras will actually help you do that.
Birthday #39 is coming up for me in a couple weeks, and though I’m leaving open the space for this to change again, I feel like the older I get, the more time I have in an existential sense. (Summer, however, still goes by way too fast.) That new sense of time still butts up against other parts of me— especially the parts that feel tremendous pain as the world rips itself apart through war, genocide and disasters— but at least having those bits in dialog, rather than just pulling me apart in opposite directions, is a start.
Happy Prozac-iversary to me: One year on antidepressants
I caught a little cold this weekend. Not the kind that knocks you out completely, but the annoying kind that just kind of grates on your nerves (and your sinuses, and your throat) for a few days. I had a friend’s anniversary party to attend, and I didn’t want to miss it, so I decided to just hermit myself away on either side of it. Sleeping for long stretches, blanking on work I’d planned to do, ignoring emails. The night of the party, I roused up a pretty good amount of energy, danced and laughed, and even went out to eat afterwards. And then I slept for another day afterwards.
This morning, I’ve still got the grating sinuses (I’m convinced a golf ball has taken up residence in the left one), but my energy’s back mostly to normal and I’m getting ready to happily head upstate to spend the week with my family. Upswing.
Just over a year ago, though, I remembered, there were no upswings in my life at all. My body had been breaking down in various ways, through autoimmune wackiness, hypothyroidism and a few other physical ailments, for a number of years. How I felt this past weekend was, in fact, how I felt most of the time, and how I’d come to manage having a semi-public-facing life. Sleep and cry a lot when home, and muster up some version of myself for the public. Finally, in July 2013, my business wife, Sonal, said: “This is not okay. You are not okay.”
How to use your privilege effectively, example #76289: Event and panel invites
People often ask me what they can do as allies to help ensure equitable gatherings and communities. I was answering an email this morning about being invited to moderate a panel, and wanted to share one of the ways I try do to my part. Here’s what I said:
I would *love* to join as the moderator of this panel. It sounds like an incredible gathering. As part of my participation at all events now, I like to ensure that diversity & equity are as much a priority for the events as they are for me. Can you let me know if you have women of color, queer and/or trans folk, etc, joining the panel? If you need help reaching out, I’ve got lots of great contacts who I could recommend to you.
Would love to hear suggestions for improvement; feel free to share if this is useful/helpful.
I take too long to respond to stuff – too long at least to enter the Op-Ed space. I feel like my thoughts come to me in these waves, that I have to wait for each wave to go back out so I can see what things are left on the beach.
So many other people have written about the shooter’s connection to…
TL;DR: I’m unfollowing lots of people on Twitter and I swear, it’s not you, it’s me.
I go through periods where I need to change my social media style for one reason or another, and I’m in the middle of another one. I’ve been spending less and less time on Twitter because I’d been just simply overloaded by following around 1,000 people; I tried employing lists and keeping the same main following, but it’s just not working. So, I’ve started moving lots and lots of people over to lists that I’m now checking in a different way, and working on whittling down my main feed to things and people I don’t see or interact with elsewhere, or who post radically different content on Twitter than their other platforms/newsletters/blogs/etc. Especially if we’re friends on Facebook, I’m unfollowing you because I love and participate with folks in a personal way much better there. The lists I’m adding a bunch of yous to, I’m still getting the hang of checking and using well (hello, Twitter, do something about that). If I miss important news or you want to get ahold of me, I check @’s a ton, and many of you have my contact info anyways.
You’ve heard about Cookbook Create’s Official SXSW Interactive Cookbook, full of recipes and stories from some of our favorite SXSW speakers past and present. Now, we want to extend a gigantic THANK YOU to the 104 amazing people who contributed recipes and anecdotes. From technology CEOs to…
This recipe can also be made dairy- and egg-free. See notes below.
When I quit gluten a year ago, I was basically too overwhelmed and scared to attempt my great love of baking. I’m happy to report that this Christmas, I was determined to get back to my favorite cookies, and it worked! Here’s my most-requested recipe, de-glutened— it’s based on this one from Bon Appetit, Enjoy!
420g all-purpose gluten free flour (I’ve prefer King Arthur ‘s, it doesn’t have that funky GF aftertaste but is more expensive than others; and, yes, measuring by weight makes a big difference in gluten-free baking) ~2 tsp xanthan gum… just under, really 1 tsp baking powder 1 tsp salt 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature 1 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter (do not use old-fashioned style or freshly ground) 2 tsp vanilla extract 1 cup (packed) brown sugar (I’ve used light or dark) 1 cup sugar 2 large eggs 1 11.5oz package of milk chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Mix flour, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter, peanut butter and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Beat in both sugars. Scrape down sides of bowl. Stir half of dry ingredients into mixture. Add eggs 1 at a time, stirring well after each addition. Mix in remaining dry ingredients. Last, mix in chocolate chips with a spoon.
For each cookie, roll 1 heaping tablespoonful of dough into 1 3/4-inch-diameter ball. The dough will feel pretty soft and sticky, but that’s OK. Arrange dough balls 2 1/2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Using back of fork, flatten dough balls and form crosshatch design on tops. Bake cookies until dry on top and golden brown on bottom, about 14 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheets 5 minutes. Using metal spatula, transfer cookies to racks and cool completely. (Can be prepared up to 3 days ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.)
* To make these dairy-free, use Earth Balance buttery sticks, but decrease the salt to 1/2 tsp. These sticks have a lot of moisture, so the cookies sometimes come out sort of fluffy and soft.
I’m sure your favorite egg substitute could also be used, but I haven’t tried that yet, so let me know in the comments what you used and how it worked!
I'm very overweight, about 5'8" and 275 lbs. I also have severe acne at 19. I do not wear makeup. I have been lucky enough to find a boyfriend at the beginning of Summer 2013 and we've been together a wonderful seven months. My question: how can I believe that I am worthy of such a wonderful lover? I'd concluded that I would end up with a jerk who was settling for an ugly fat girl but instead I end up with someone wonderful. Is there a way for me to feel like I belong with him?
You have to decide that you deserve love. It’s that easy, and that hard.
Deciding that you deserve love is, at the most basic level, the hardest and most empowering thing you can do for yourself. You and I grew up in a world that told us again and again that we did not deserve love. When something happens that proves us wrong — something like a first relationship, which it sounds like this is — it’s a tectonic shift. It changes everything about how we see ourselves, just a little. And it’s terrifying, isn’t it? Because what if no one else ever sees us like this person does?
But listen: whether or not you are deserving of love has nothing to do with the partner you currently have. I’m sure he’s wonderful. I’m sure he loves you very much, as you do him. But people with no relationship to speak of, or no desire for one, or people with abusive partners, are all deserving of love regardless. And you are deserving of love regardless.
You belong with him, but not because of him. You belong with him right now because love and kindness are your inalienable rights as a person set down here on this Earth. Later, maybe, barring you starting any genocides or murdering any innocents, you will belong with someone else. Or for a while you’ll belong alone. It doesn’t matter; you will always deserve the love of the people that love you.
You’re asking me if there’s a way for you to feel like you belong with him. I want you to start thinking about yourself as a person who objectively deserves to be loved by someone wonderful, whether or not this relationship lasts for the rest of your life.
So. Instead of asking yourself whether or not you belong with him, tell yourself that you belong with him. Instead of telling yourself that someone is settling for you, ask yourself why you would ever settle for anyone less. And instead of believing you’re ugly, remember that you are so very beautiful.
This was my first Thanksgiving as a gluten-free human, so I had a load of experimenting to do. I was super proud of my pie, pictured here, and some folks asked for the recipe. Here it is!
The crust was easy: it’s on the back of Bob’s Red Mill Baking & Biscuit mix, and it’s here online. (It uses butter, but if you’re dairy free, I bet you could use Earth Balance.) I doubled the recipe to have a top and a bottom crust, and had to add a lot more water to the recipe. I rolled it out between 2 pieces of wax paper, and though it was a bit crumbly, it was easy to work with. I had way too much dough in the end, though!
It comes out pretty thick, so I think next time I’ll do a Dutch-apple kinda deal with a crumble top. The texture is great and leans towards biscuit-y, versus flaky; the taste was just fabulous. None of that weird aftertaste like some GF doughs.
For the apple filling, I used my dad’s recipe (which is really his mother’s), and he’s letting me post it here. This is for a shallow 8-inch dish, so if you’re using a deep 10-incher, you’ll want to increase this.
Mix all the dry ingredients together; take a few tablespoons of the dry mixture and sprinkle it on the unbaked bottom crust in the pie dish (this helps make a candied bottom after it’s baked). Peel, core and slice the apples; we generally slice them into sixteenths. Mix the rest of the dry mixture with the apples, and then place them into the crust. We’ve found that placing them in one by one in a pretty tight fashion helps the pie not to blow way up while baking. Place the second crust (or crumble top or whatever) on top, and then bake for 45min.
Top with whipped cream of your choice— ours had collapsed by the time it was pie time, but it was still pretty friggin’ good. :-)