Friday, October 28, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Goodbye to the Age of Prince Charming, Hello to the Age of the Warrior Princess

"Growing up is not an absence of dreaming
It's being able to understand the difference between the ones you can hold
And the ones that you've been sold
And Dreaming is a good thing cause it brings new things to life
But pretending is an ending that perpetuates a lie
Forgetting what you are
Seeing for what you've been told

Truth is stranger than fiction
This is my chance to get it right
And life is much better without all of those pretty lies"

- Jewel, "Goodbye Alice in Wonderland"


I love fairy-tales. I love animated movies. I love Disney. I LOVE Pixar. I love children's story books. I love the idea that Prince Charming exists to come sweep me off of my feet. I love how all fairy-tales begin with "once upon a time" and that the turning point of the story always begins with, "until one day..."

But.


And it's a really big BUT. And maybe this is something you already know? But... fairy-tales aren't reality. I'm going to say that again because I am a slow learner and apparently I have trouble with this truth: fairy-tales are not reality.  The problem is that I have always assumed that once I meet "The One", he will sweep me off my feet, we will get married and everything will be just perfect. I like to believe in magic. I like to believe in quick or instant fixes. I like when someone else takes control. Why? Because I don't trust myself. Somewhere inside I have a flawed conception that, if left to my own devices, something very awful and terrible and catastrophic will happen and I will not be able to turn back. I have a fear that if I let myself  run my own life, then it will surely end in disaster. A disaster I will never be able to un-do or remedy. I'm not sure why this is or where it comes from. Maybe it's the fact that if shit does go wrong (or doesn't work out, as life has a way of doing) then I don't want to take the fall for it. I'd like to blame someone - anything, the world, the moon, mercury retrograde - on it not working out the way I wanted it to instead of having faith that maybe it's all working out exactly the way it's supposed to or meant to work out.

I think when you stop believing in fairy-tales you start believing in God. And by God I mean whatever it is that isn't tangible, whatever it is that helps us trust that what permeates through life and gets life going is ultimately, unquestionably and 100% GOOD. Just last night my therapist said to me,

"Wow. When you put all of your energy into believing in a fairy-tale, real life is pretty awful huh?"

What she is referring to is the fact that I - recently - built an elaborate fairy-tale in my own mind and when it didn't work out and all came crashing down, I hit the lowest of lows. I had the thought that "everything sucks. Nothing is working out right. Everything is wrong." And, when you believe in a fairy-tale and it doesn't come true, that is the way the world might look.

After talking to my therapist, I felt better. It's funny but in that one hour of talking to her, my perspective and thought pattern shifted and I felt better. I guess that is magic then, right? It only took an hour. But it wasn't magic, and it wasn't magic because what happened was that I, COURTNEY, showed up to that session. Even though I did not want to be there and even though through the first half of it, I was sitting there sulking and crying and giving a death glare at my therapist, I was still listening to her. I was taking in what she said. I let her comments penetrate my negative force-field enough to actually hear what she was saying and let it sink in. I responded to her questions (albeit with one word at first) but I still responded. And together, we fought our way through my heavy fog and got to the other side of the dark forest together. No Prince Charming. No White Horse. Just me, my therapist (my guide) and a long, dark journey. But I - Courtney - was there, getting myself through it. So reality is not as bright or easy as a fairy-tale, but let me tell you something it's a hell of a lot more rewarding to get through something on your own two feet. And do you know what is better than pretty pink dresses and "perfection"? Honesty. Courage. Self-reliance. Humility. Compassion. Bravery.



Oh and P.S. -  if this subject interests you I urge you to watch the documentary "Seeking Happily Ever After" which explores the notion of prince charming, marriage, fairy-tales and how this sets up a lot of little girls for disaster. Visit the website here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Recognize Yourself as a Friend



A few weeks ago, my cousin Sara Liz and I went to yoga and then out to lunch at one of my favorite restaurants nearby. Afterward, she dropped me off at my apartment and we sat in the car and chatted for a little while. Before getting out I noticed that she had a tub of colored chalk in the passenger's seat. We decided right then and there we would like to play with the chalk. It just so happens my apartment has a giant, empty parking lot. We decided to decorate 2 parking spaces. And what did we draw? Oursleves. We decided - rather spontaneously - that we would outline eachother. We then started coloring our outlined selves. I chose to fill myself up entirely with blue greenish yellow colors. It was so healing, almost like I was constructing a positive voodoo doll of myself to heal. And it reminded me of a part in the book Eat, Pray, Love:

“This is what I find myself writing to myself on the page:

‘I’m here. I love you. I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long. I will stay with you…There is nothing you can ever do to lose my love. I am stronger than Depression and I am braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me.’

Tonight, this strange interior gesture of friendship- the lending of a hand from me to myself- reminds me of something that happened to me in New York City. I walked into an office building and dashed into the elevator. As I rushed in, I caught an unexpected glimpse of myself in the mirror. In that moment my brain did an odd thing- it fired off this split-second message: ‘Hey! You know her! That’s a friend of yours!” And I actually ran forward toward my own reflection with a smile, ready to welcome that girl whose name I had lost but whose face was so familiar. In a flash instant, of course, I realized my mistake and laughed in embarrassment at my almost doglike confusion over how a mirror works. But for some reason that incident comes to mind again tonight during my sadness in Rome and I find myself writing this comforting reminder at the bottom of the page:

 Never forget that once upon a time, in an unguarded moment, you recognized yourself as a friend.”

~pp. 54, "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert

Monday, October 24, 2011

Weekend Bits

Butternut Squash & Dried Berry Quinoa based off of Daily Garnish's recipe
Orange, Lemon & Pistachio macarons from Georges Perrier's Art of Bread
Daisies! at the train station

Purple flowers
Chicken quiche, salad & pastry from Art of Bread
Halloween party!
A handful of sweetness

Chef Court-Ah-Nee! (my costume for the Halloween party)
Best ever Sangria & Veuve Clicquot at Serafina with Sam <3
Spooky Halloween bar

Wanderlust


Have you heard of Haleigh Walsworth? She's A Silly American in Paris who writes, photographs, blogs, works and is AWESOME. Whenever I vist her blog I feel as though my insides are being lined with velvety pink flower petals. It's like insta-happiness. Her blog is so refreshing, creative, inspiring, sweet, intriguing and informative (hey, if I can't live in France atleast I can do my best to live like a French woman.) I also love the way she sees the world, captures it and puts it to music. She made this video of her time in Basilicata, Italy and I think it's beautiful. The only problem with her blog? It makes me ill with wanderlust.

I have never been to Europe though I studied French for 9 years. I was supposed to go to Paris for a semester abroad in college but got too scared. I worried I would run out of money, not understand anything and get into scary situations. I now regret that decision with every single fiber in my body. (*Note to self: I will never let irrational fear hold me back from doing something ever again.)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

5 Years Time

Life has been feeling pretty heavy and icky for me lately. So I thought I'd share some things that remind me that life can still be fun. Make sure you listen to the music as you scroll through the pictures!






Aruba!
 


baby bunny
 


baby owl


daisies
 


baby sea turtle
 


baby seal
crush from Finding Nemo
 


baby turtle

macarons!

baby elephant

snakeskin nine west heels

candy wax bottles with yummy juice inside

I think this is my favorite dress ever
 

baby penguin meets baby dolphin


this movie
Israel Kamakawiwo'ole. Listen to his song here.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Weekend Bits: Why I Love October

pretty local flowers that are currently making me very happy :)
the color hair I want
trees that look like witches' hats

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My Own Poetry


I wrote this poem in the fall of last year,  in my senior year poetry class called "Live Poets and Society." It was one of my favorite classes, particularly because I met the coolest people in that class that I've ever met in my life. The poem came to me when I was walking down my street at home. Somehow the rhythmic padding of my shoes against the asphalt and the crunching sound of the leaves gave way to this poem in my head. I hope you enjoy it.




Harvested

Decay gives way to dust
what’s fertilized in mud,
leaf veins, gauzy membranes,
rotten crab apples crushed.

December-born she swore
her birthday was in fall,
in want of, in wafts of
rotten crab apples crushed.

She wears orange all year,
the wanton hue of God –
“cider,” she says “is best from
rotten crab apples crushed."

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Are You an Approval Whore?

'I feel there is an angel in me' she'd say
'whom I am constantly shocking'


- from poem Number 8 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

photo courtesy photofurl.com


Pardon my French in this title, but there is really no other way to say it. I recently read an article by one of my favorite authors, Martha Beck, entitled "The Halo Effect: Are You Too Good for your Own Good?" which is about how to stop seeking approval from others all the time. It's funny because often we think of "goodness" and whores as being polar opposites, but in reality we (read: ME) whore ourselves out (i.e.,stuff down our authentic selves) in order to seem angelic and in order to please others and be "liked" by everyone. I really deeply encourage you to read the article. It's funny, witty and very wise.

I found this article to be so true for me. I am 100% a self-admitted approval whore. I am constantly tailoring, tweaking and editing what I say and do and wear so that I don't offend anyone or so that I can please the other person. (Heck, I am doing it right now even as I write this for all of you nameless, faceless readers out there!) I try to be "nice" and complimentary and pleasant to everyone. But here is the problem - how the f*$# do I know what other people want or what they want me to say? I am not a mind reader, even though I often think I am. I don't know what other people think because I don't live inside their head. So really, I am contorting myself into some very weird, awkward, odd version of a thing that I think I should be or that I think other people want me to be. Instead of ME! I think as girls we are sometimes afraid to be ourselves, to be loud, to be messy, to argue, to disagree, to tell it like it is, to not be perfect little angels.

So just for today, do something against the status quo. Disagree with someone you are afraid to disagree with. Speak up. Tell someone how you feel even if it will upset them. Say no. Say yes (to something that you want to do but are afraid will make you look "weird.") Say something unruly. Say nothing. Wear white after labor day. Do a little jig in the hallway. Stand out. Today, I decided to wear a dress with crazy colors to work and a bright, electric blue sweater. Why? Because I can. And because whoever said that you have to wear muted, bleak colors to work was probably someone who needs a hug.

But before you go do anything, read that article first.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Weekend Bits

first sights of fall
Eastern State Penitentiary, "Terror Behind the Walls"
my shadow waving hello
a smoothie based on Mama Pea's pumpkin pie smoothie - perfect for a hot fall day!


daisies!
the best dancers
little white trumpet


Sunday, October 9, 2011

photo courtesy books, paper, scissors 


"This thing of darkness I acknowlege mine. There is nothing more confining than the prison we don't know we are in. "

~ William Shakespeare 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

That Which Can Never Die

photo courtesy books, paper, scissors
“What is that which can never die It is that faithful force that is born into us that one that is greater than us that calls new seed to the open and battered and barren places so that we can be resown. It is this force in its insistence in its loyalty to us in its love of us in its most often mysterious ways that is far greater far more majestic and far more ancient than any heretofore ever known.”
― Clarissa Pinkola Est├ęsThe Faithful Gardener: A Wise Tale About That Which Can Never Die

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Weekend Bits: Things I Love

left to right, top to bottom:
tiramisu from Il Portico
birthday boy and the birthday maker
me with an umbrella (so what if it was barely raining?)
reflection of the chandelier on menu, mom's ring, my necklace


left to right, top to bottom:
me and my bud
shots of Jameson for the whole table
my saving grace #1
my saving grace #2

left to right, top to bottom:
a september rose
kobe beef sliders from Paramour*
a special wish
*Go get these, made by this guy.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Happy Birthday, Bud

photo courtesy of books, paper, scissors 

When we were younger, my brother Kyle and I would climb the trees in our neighbors' yards. Always right behind me and my backpack filled with adventure "essentials," Kyle was my partner and #1 follower. This photo reminded me of him and I, and of the poem I wrote about one of our tree-climbing adventures from a poetry class in college. Happy birthday, Kyle. I love you.


Miracle

They’re cutting down the tree today,
the one I climbed to the very top.
You followed me but lost your footing,
I watched as you hit
every
branch
on

     your

way

       down

like a wet rag. How memories’ coils smolder:

You. Face down. Petrous, dry earth. Surrendered

in a bowl of dust

I ran home, red alarm rising

rendered you dead to mom. When

we went back you were pale and shaking

but alive.

“Miracle,” said mom

and my mouth swallowed the word

and never forgot the taste of relief:

hot coals

stoked in the throat, cooled by splashes 
of wet truth.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

UV's Is Good For You


No, I'm not talking about UV rays. I spent a significant portion of my grade-school and high school years sneaking in and out of tanning salons, against my mother's watchful eyes. I'm talking about a different kind of UV light, and it's stronger than a tanning bed, even stronger than the sun. And these kinds of UV's are 100% beneficial for your health. You see, UV's stands for...

Using your Voice  to Un-Victimize yourself.

What does this mean? It means that in every situation - even in situations where we have been physically, sexually or emotionally abused by someone - we have a choice to USE OUR VOICE and in doing so, shift our energy from powerless and victimized to empowered and spoken for.

We can blame others until we are blue in the face but at the end of the day it is only up to us to redirect ourselves on the path we want in life. Yes people can hurt us deeply. Yes, even our own parents, close family members and the people who we relied on to provide for us the basis and foundation of trust and love, can do horrible and disgusting things to us. The people who we relied on and trusted most can betray us. Our best friends can say something hurtful. Our boyfriends or husbands can cheat on us. But at the end of the day, we cannot change what has been done and we most certainly cannot change anyone else.

*This is big: WE CAN NOT CHANGE ANYONE.*

But we can express ourselves, tell people how we feel and stick up for ourselves. We can change and study how we react to what someone else does. We can choose to Un-Victimize ourselves by Using our Voice to fight back, to tell our story, to be real with others and real with ourselves. We can tell the truth. We can get good and angry. We can confront others and confront our demons. We can expose the darkest corridors of our hearts with the light of honesty and openness. We are only as sick as our secrets and the more honest and real we are with the others, the more honest and real we are with ourselves. And the more honest and real we are with ourselves, the more self-aware we are. And the more self-aware we are, the easier it is to handle situations when another person does or says something that hurts us. We can watch and study ourselves and learn what makes us tick, what kinds of people we like to surround ourselves with and how to speak up for ourselves when we are uncomfortable.

The only jointless bone in the body is in our throats. Let's make them the strongest bones we have.  




STRIP ME
Natasha Beddingfield 

Everyday I fight for all my future somethings
A thousand little wars I have to choose between
I could spend a lifetime earning things I don't need
That's like chasing rainbows and coming home empty

And if you strip me, strip it all away
If you strip me, what would you find
If you strip me, strip it all away
I'll be alright

Take what you want steal my pride
Build me up or cut me down to size
Shut me out but I'll just scream
I'm only one voice in a million
But you ain't taking that from me
You ain't taking that from me
You ain't taking that from me
You ain't taking that from me
You ain't taking that!

I don't need a microphone yeah
To say what I've been thinking
My heart is like a loudspeaker
That's always on eleven

And if you strip me, strip it all away
If you strip me, what would you find
If you strip me, strip it all away
I'm still the same

Take what you want steal my pride
Build me up or cut me down to size
Shut me out but I'll just scream
I'm only one voice in a million
But you ain't taking that from me
You ain't taking that from me
You ain't taking that from me
You ain't taking that from me
You ain't taking that!

Cause when it all boils down at the end of the day
It's what you do and say that makes you who you are
Makes you think about, think about it doesn't it
Sometimes all it takes is one voice