Create, no matter what

Over tea, I explained to a friend how I’ve all but ceased to write lately. Creative endeavors tend to make a sensitive soul feel pretty damn narcissistic when the world turns faster than usual, seemingly spinning off its axis. Whether or not I ate too many calories today or how that run went doesn’t seem to matter in the grand scheme of things.

But then we talked about how the grand scheme of things can’t only be the bad things. And the good doesn’t come from nowhere. You have to search for and even create good to maintain the balance in life.

Lately, creating is all I want to do. Write things, make things with my hands, build things I care about. But writing for fun, for personal projects, sometimes just doesn’t happen. It sometimes can’t.

During a particularly rough patch near the end of July, I wrote a few words down that capture how much I want to do just this, but how tough the doing can be.

Can you sense how badly I want to put all my eggs in this basket?

Can you sense my fear that I’m not good enough to make it work?

Can you sense I’m struggling to come up for air as the wave rolls over me and briny swirls pin me under?

There’s no clever lesson or ending or conclusion here. Just keep writing, girl.

On the brink of September

I haven’t heard anyone say it yet, but the light is changing. This morning I noticed it as I stood in the shower, the room slightly darker than usual. The first indicators of fall are barely imperceptible unless you’re me, looking hard for them and daydreaming about what’s to come.

This time of year is always one for looking back. Katrina, other storms, transitional periods of my life, and a lot of bad I had to overcome. Fall is a time when I’ve historically rebuilt myself. I always seem to be drawn to reinvention and refocus right around now, whether out of necessity or longing for a past self that seemed to simply be better. Will I be my ideal self again this fall? Will I finally find myself lacing up my running shoes? Remember when I fit into this or that and did so many things?

Of course, there’s the added pressure of my wedding, which is a strange beast. It’s a happy time for sure. There’s also stress coming out of nowhere relating to my dress and how I look, though, and it’s gotten to my head a bit in the past week or so. I’ve had so much time to figure it out, so why am I waiting until the eleventh hour to get it together? I guess the bright side is that I haven’t felt the need to change myself before now.

I’m heading into the next month with renewed motivation and focus, and a plan for keeping my goals in sight (stick to a running schedule and track what I eat, pretty simple). I know that no matter how I look on the wedding day, I’ll feel like the most beautiful and loved woman in the world. I already do.

Soon there will be a chill on weekend mornings, and I’ll find myself liberated from the boredom of the treadmill and enjoying cool air on my face as I run the stress out. And the light will have fully transformed into that golden-hour, soft early-fall glow I’m just starting to recognize in the days at the end of August.

My go-to chimichurri recipe

Ed. note: Here’s an old blog post of mine from 2013 on the sauce to end all sauces. If now’s not the time to dollop heaping spoonfuls of this on nearly everything you eat, I don’t know what is. Savor the state of being alive and let this magic take hold of you.

If you’ve been reading this blog regularly for any period of time, you’ve noticed how often I mention chimichurri. You’re probably also starting to think it’s just something I made up since I haven’t yet posted a recipe for this incredible sauce. Well, today’s the day. Chimichurri is real, you guys.

For those who have never had chimichurri before, I’d describe it as a tangy, bright, garlicky, somewhat spicy sauce that comes together quickly and is easy to make. Now’s the ideal time to make a batch, as you spend what remains of the summer grilling all the things. Chimichurri is a perfect complement to grilled chicken, beef, seafood, and veggies. That’s right, it’s excellent atop any type of food you can imagine. It’s even perfect on a warm slice of rustic bread, if that’s your thing.

Most of the time I serve chimichurri on grilled flank steak or skirt steak, which I marinate in a mixture of garlic, citrus, and spices. Like all things fancy, chimichurri gets better with time. Make this a day or two before serving, if you can.

Chimichurri

Adapted from Gourmet

  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 c olive oil

Combine ingredients in a food processor, blender, or tall container if using a stick blender to mix. Pulse until cilantro and parsley are finely chopped and sauce emulsifies slightly. Add a second tbsp water if needed. Spoon onto grilled food of your choosing and do a little dance* because oh, it is so good.

*Non-optional.

August and forever

Ed. note: I originally published this post on a previous iteration of my blog in August 2014. Thought this would be a fun throwback. 

“The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color.” – Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting

Something clicked last Friday. Something changed so swiftly that I suddenly became aware of the length of days, which have gradually become shorter since June. A minor cold front reminded me one morning that fall will be right around the corner before I know it. Afternoon thunderstorms no longer demand our attention; instead, skies once occupied by the weight of rain that has yet to fall and sudden flashes of lightning and sound are now hazy and indifferent. Tourists seem to have vanished from our streets. And I’m left here, feeling a bit melancholy now that my favorite part of the year has passed and the next two months become a drawn-out waiting game for fall to begin.

Of course, there are perks to August, too. The quiet that pervades has given me space to think, space to feel stillness and accept it. Along with the cooler temperatures of September and October (let’s be real, it’s mostly October I’m talking about here) comes my busy season at work. Now feels like the time to prepare, to rest, to fortify my mind and body for the onslaught of what’s to come.

Today I enjoyed a leisurely lunch with some friends, fellow marketers at other area law firms. We scored the best seat in the house at Domenica, a perennial favorite of mine, and enjoyed great conversation and the thin, lightly charred pizzas from the restaurant’s wood-fired stove.

I don’t normally read horoscopes or take them seriously, but I recently caught these lines from a post on one of my favorite websites, The Hairpin, with some words that spoke to me (Aries). I can’t stop thinking about this passage:

You can lay down in the dark field of all your questions: who you’re supposed to be, what time is made of. Under countless winking stars, you might not get the answers you want, but you will get the ones you need.

On the walk back to my office, I stopped at Merchant, a quiet café tucked away among banks and offices and new residences in the CBD. Iced Americano and cream sweating in my hand, I walked up Carondelet and felt the sun on my shoulders. I thought about those difficult questions in my life that I don’t know—can’t know—how to answer and where the changing seasons might take me. Please, please, let this year be different than the last one. Please let fall be kind. 

Momentum

Eighteen days seemed enough time for my latest Whole30. There’s something about having done the exercise once that’s left me feeling emboldened to bend or break the rules each subsequent time.

Is it bad to say I just really, really badly wanted some pizza and a glass of wine?

After the week I had last week, it felt indulgent and almost like self-care not to care.

It’s alright to give ourselves a break when something becomes too much work, I think. Willpower is a limited resource much like time and energy. I don’t fault myself for throwing my hands up when I was running empty on all three.

Over the weekend, to help fix my life and attitude and lack of inertia, I took some time for myself, wrapping up a few wedding details and getting a few good workouts in and letting myself sprawl out on the couch for hours with my full attention plugged into the mindless escape of beautiful ideas on Pinterest. Different cures for the same thing, but they work (especially in concert).

I started off this week with sore legs, abs, arms, and back, the classic sign of a job well done and a feeling I miss when I’m in an exercise slump. Few things make me feel more like myself.

Getting to work in the kitchen also helped. Last night I whipped up a variation of chicken marbella, accompanied by roasted Yukon gold potatoes and Brussels sprouts with bacon and a hint of bite from red wine vinegar.

I want to cook even more this week to keep the momentum going. This energy and great food just feels good. In the spirit of the abundance of summer, I want to grill a whole host of things and slather them with chimichurri, the perfect herbal salsa to pair with char and simple flavors.

More on those endeavors later this week.

The end of July, a Monday

My nails are white. A good idea for a fresh summer manicure, I’d thought to myself yesterday afternoon, then took the better part of an hour to swipe the thick paint across the round of my nails and correct it with a brush until it looked just so. Today I’m pleased with the result but am already thinking about the bold orange-red I’ll go for next.

I’m eating cold cherries at my desk, one by one, and slowly. Only a few of them are sweet and what I would classify as “good” — a disappointment in one of my favorite summer fruits, to say the least. Maybe the trees got too much rain this year. Maybe we’ve all gotten too much rain this year. As I pull cherry pits out of my mouth, they layer a crimson stain on my fingertips.

My mind is stuck on the fact that it’s almost August. Normally, I find ways to savor the early months of summer, an effort to be present in my favorite season and bottle the feeling of sunlight on my skin for the wet cold of December and beyond.

The ease and seemingly limitless time of summer come to life in things like abundant sprigs of basil, Creole tomatoes, white nectarines so ripe they could burst in your hand. And cherries, too. Taking walks with Pearl and noticing how the sun seems to hold in place just above the horizon well beyond dinnertime.

All that seems to have passed, even though I realize we’re only technically a month or so into Actual Summer and that there will be plenty more balmy mornings and flame-like sunsets through October or so.

I’m making a note to treat August as I would have June and July this year. With the wedding seemingly just around the corner, it’s been easy for me to get more wrapped up in the future than I typically would.

Slow. Down.

I drop the last cherry pit into the bowl in front of me.

Hello again

For a long time, I hadn’t been feeling the need to share.

My voice didn’t feel important, given other things far more pressing in our world (especially since last November). Why stick to a personal blog in a time that seems less than ideal for introspection? 

But the longing to write and share again swelled over time and I think it’s finally right.

And I finally settled on a font combination I like after several months, which we all know is critical. 

This blog is a project for me to chronicle my life, particularly this chapter right before I get married, a time I know I’ll want to remember. It’s also a place to share things I love and what I’m doing in hopes that it brings some joy to you.

Like you, I’m well aware that we’re literally surrounded by bad, and my words aren’t meant to diminish the seriousness of what’s happening in our world. The internet and social media have a tendency to drag us underwater, the amplified waves of others’ anguish and anger knocking the wind out of us, grabbing us by the hair and holding our faces under the surface so we can’t breathe.

But each day, I wake up and I choose to see and feel the warmth of light on my face. I think we could all use a little more of that.

Let’s enjoy some good things together, friends.