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Recipes: Mediterranean Salad

Yes, I’m back with yet another recipe. Honestly real life has been kicking my butt lately and this is the best I’ve got to offer for the time being.

Before we get started: In between feeding myself, one of the things that’s been most prominent on my mind is the upcoming U.S. election. It’s absolutely crucial that we all exercise our right to vote, and do so responsibly. For all kinds of info and resources, check out this post.

Now on to the food! The inspiration here was simple: I had ingredients I needed to use. Specifically, fresh organic tomatoes and cucumber from my best friend’s garden. I’ve also been trying to eat more lentils since they’re a great source of iron. Disclaimer: I was 100% winging it with this recipe and honestly didn’t even measure much of it. The good news is it’s a really forgiving recipe, so no need to fret about being exact.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup diced cucumber
  • 1/2 cup green lentils*
  • 1 cup couscous* (I had envisioned making this with pearl (Israeli) couscous, but the store was out so I used Moroccan couscous. I think both would work great!)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Feta cheese (I think I used 1/4 cup, but it’s really as much as you want)
  • Bay leaf (optional)
  • Olive oil
  • Ground allspice
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt & pepper to tasteIMG-2565

* These measurements are for how much it is before cooking it! Both will enlarge once cooked

Instructions:

  1. Dice your cucumber and tomatoes, and set aside. (Pro tip: If your cucumbers are at all bitter, cut off the ends and rub it in a circle on the portion you just cut it away from. A white foamy liquid will seep out, which has most of the bitterness. Wipe or rinse that off and you’re good to go!)
  2. Rinse the lentils thoroughly in cold water (this helps prevent them from making you feel bloated), then add the 1/2 cup of lentils to a small pot with 1 cup of water.
    1. This is where you can add the optional bay leaf if you want! (I think it helps the flavor, but it’s no big if you don’t have it or forget.)
  3. Bring lentils and water (and if using, bay leaf) to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once it reaches a boil, cover and reduce heat to a low simmer for 15-20 minutes. (Pro tip: The best way to know when the lentils are done is to try one. Better to have them be a little firm than to get mushy and mealy.)
  4. In another small pot, boil 1 cup water and add a splash of olive oil (about 1tsp.) and a dash of salt.
  5. Stir in the couscous, remove from the heat, and cover.
  6. Let stand for about 5 minutes, then fluff (aka gently stir with a fork or spoon).
  7. Move couscous into a large bowl, and mix in another tsp. or so of olive oil (to help it from clumping).
  8. Strain lentils and rinse with cold water.
  9. Mix lentils, then diced veggies into couscous.IMG-2566
  10. Stir in lemon juice, then salt, pepper, a dash of garlic powder and about 1/4tsp. of allspice. (Pro tip: Go easy on the garlic powder, be liberal with the allspice. It’s the magic ingredient here.) Top or mix in as much feta as desired.
  11. Serve and enjoy!IMG-2569

Costs about $8, makes about 6 servings (more if you’re only having it as a side dish and not a main course).

As always, the cost estimate is rough, especially depending on how inexpensively you can source the product (in my case, free). Also I’d intended to serve this cold, but the first time because the couscous was warm it was a bit warm and really nice that way as well! I’ve been keeping the leftovers in the fridge and eating it as an easy cold lunch.

What else would you like to see on the blog? Let me know in a comment below or on Twitter @ohgrowup. Thanks for reading, and good luck adulting!

P.S. Go vote!

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Recipes: Casa Roma

Y’all this recipe is one of the few good things to come out of quarantine. Most of the recipes I’ve posted on here have been ones I’ve picked up elsewhere, but this one is an original. Early in the days of our everlasting stay-at-home order, my spouse and I were having fun experimenting with some new recipes, and one day, he wanted to freestyle it. This is the result, and it is no joke my favorite pasta recipe ever. (And that’s coming from someone who freaking loves pasta.)

The name is an homage to it being a sort of Italian-inspired meal, a house recipe, and the Roma tomatoes that become the key to its success. I hope you like it as much as we do!

Ingredients:

  • 1lb. (1 box) linguine (as always, you can use other shapes, but this complements the sauce best)
  • 1.5–2 cups finely diced onion (recommend white or yellow onion)
  • 2 finely diced Roma tomatoes
  • 5ish garlic cloves, crushed
  • 5oz. pancetta (or more if you want! Small pancetta works best for it to get crunchy)
  • 1 cup dry white wine (Pro tip: Pick something you also enjoy drinking since you’ll still have most of the bottle left!)
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Olive oil
  • 4tbsp. butter
  • Salt, pepper, and red chili pepper flakes
  • At least 1 cup fresh-grated Parmesan
  • Thinly sliced fresh basil (technically this is optional, but honestly it shouldn’t be — I recommend ~2tbsp. per serving)IMG-2348

Instructions:

  1. Chop onion and tomato (I usually cut the basil while the sauce is finishing up, but you can do it here as well).IMG-2350
  2. Cook pancetta in olive oil (this can get smoky, so use that above-stove fan if you have it!)
  3. Drain the oil out of the pancetta.
  4. Melt the butter in a large saucepan.
  5. Add in onion, then the pancetta, garlic, and spices (amount of seasoning is up to you, but I’d again recommend not skimping on the red chili pepper flakes to bring in some complexity).IMG-2346
  6. Start boiling the water.
  7. Once the onions are cooked — they should be translucent and giving off a nice aroma — add in the cup of wine (and pour a glass for yourself if you haven’t already).
  8. Add pasta into pot of boiling water.
  9. Simmer until the wine reduces by about half, then add in 1/3 cup heavy cream and diced tomatoes. (Pro tip: This step needs to cook for ~5 minutes to help the tomatoes break down and bring out their sweetness.)IMG-2352
  10. Drain pasta, but reserve a small amount of pasta water. This is for adding into your sauce to help it stick to the pasta. We usually use just a splash, sometimes more if the sauce is runny.
  11. Take the sauce off the heat and mix in about 1/3 cup of cheese, then mix in the pasta.
  12. Add in basil, and top with more cheese as desired.
  13. Serve and enjoy!IMG-2354

Costs about $20, makes makes 4–5 servings.

Heads up that the cost estimate is super rough since we typically have a lot of the ingredients on hand and the basil is always from my garden. Also note that I typically use wine that’s $3–$10 per bottle — you really don’t need anything expensive for cooking (like, ever) and Trader Joe’s has some delicious cheap options.

Just like the amatriciana recipe, this goes excellently with homemade sourdough. (You may notice a lot of ingredients and steps overlap between the two pasta recipes, but their flavor profiles end up totally different.)

What other recipes or topics would you like to see on the blog? Let me know in a comment below or on Twitter @ohgrowup! Thanks for reading, and happy adulting!

P.S. If you make this recipe, let me know how you liked it!

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Recipes: Amatriciana

Welcome to your new favorite tomato sauce. Now that I finally remembered to take pictures, I have a new recipe for y’all! This is a slightly personalized version of a classic amatriciana, aka hearty pasta deliciousness.

Ingredients:

  • 1lb. (1 box) fettucine (the wide noodles are ideal for the sauce, but you could use any noodle if you feel strongly. Except angel hair because that’s objectively the worst pasta shape.)
  • 5oz. pancetta
  • 1.5–2 cups finely diced onion (recommend white or yellow onion)
  • 5–8 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 28oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • Olive oil 
  • Salt, pepper, and red chili pepper flakes
  • At least 1/2 cup fresh-grated Romano cheese
  • At least 3/4 cup fresh-grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions:

  1. Chop onion.
  2. Cook pancetta in olive oil (~2tbsp. should be plenty). Note that this can get smoky, so use an above-stove fan if you have it!IMG-2323
  3. Drain some of the oil out of the pancetta (don’t drain it all! You’ll want it to meld the flavors for the next step).
  4. Move into a large saucepan, and add the onion, garlic, and spices (you may want to add a little more olive oil here as well). Pro tip: The amount of spices you use is a matter of taste, but I recommend not skimping on the red chili pepper flakes; they bring a needed complexity and a hint of heat to the final sauce.IMG-2326
  5. Cook until onions are translucent, then add crushed tomatoes.IMG-2328
  6. In a large pot, start boiling water for pasta.
  7. Simmer the sauce for 20ish minutes, stirring occasionally (if you neglect the stirring, it will bubble and get tomato all around your stove area…)IMG-2330
  8. Once water is boiling, cook the pasta.
  9. Drain the pasta, but reserve a small amount of pasta water. This is for adding into your sauce to help it stick to the pasta. We usually use just a splash, sometimes up to 1/4 cup if the sauce is runny.
  10. Take the sauce off the heat and mix in about 1/4 cup of cheese, then stir in the pasta. (The extra cheese is to top it off.)
  11. Serve and enjoy!IMG-2332

Costs about $10, makes 4–5 servings.

Note that this recipe goes exceptionally well with a slice of fresh sourdough! This is a pretty straightforward recipe, and doesn’t take too long. My significant other and I love cooking it together, but it’s also simple enough that one could totally handle it solo. 

What other recipes would you like to see? Let me know in a comment below or on Twitter @ohgrowup! Thanks for reading, and happy adulting!

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Embodiment

A thing that I have been working on — and slowly making progress with — is listening to my body. So much of our culture sends a message that your body is something inherently bad, something to be changed, somehow separate from who you are. The domination of the conscious mind as our conception of self has haunted Western thought since the Enlightenment.

Combine that with my personality tendencies and some of the specific circumstances I grew up in, and I’ve often found it rather difficult not only to listen to my body, but to trust it. In the past, I have ignored, punished, and disbelieved my body to the point of burnout and getting miserably sick. As I’ve gotten older, if I push it too far my body will quite forcefully assert its need for rest, and pronounce limitations that I’m reluctant to accept (for example, I can no longer do standing room only concerts).

There is a concept called “embodiment” that basically posits that you are your body, and living well means being present in and attentive to your body.

Some things I’ve been doing to practice embodiment:

  • Listening for when to eat and when to stop. One of the best lessons I learned growing up was to stop eating when I got full. Not that I never ignored this and stuffed my face anyways, but for the most part I stop eating when I get full, even if that means leftovers (which are very common for me). The bit that, historically, I have been less great about, is eating when I’m hungry. Maybe I don’t feel like going through the effort of getting/preparing food or use the excuse that I’m busy, but I push myself to the point of hanger or an upset stomach way too often.
  • Moving when I feel antsy. I am a hugely fidgety person — like I specifically buy pens that I can absentmindedly disassemble and reassemble during the workday — and letting myself fidget helps me focus and process things better. If it’s more than a fidget, I’ll sometimes get up from wherever I am inevitably sitting and walking or bouncing on my toes for a few minutes.
  • Exercising semi-regularly. I do not pretend to be a fitness god here, people. I do like 1-2 yoga classes a week, maybe go for a walk, and sometimes play tennis. But even that little bit makes a huge difference.
  • Asking my body what it’s feeling. This sounds ridiculous, but dude it works. Sometimes I’ll just feel… weird, or will be feeling a certain way and not know why. Taking a moment to actively listen and feel whatever you’re feeling, to notice the sensations and what emotions or needs they might be tied to.
  • Rest. Like literally lay down. Now that I have surrendered to my morning person ways, my bedtime is early y’all. I sometimes lay down for 5 to 15 minutes in the afternoon to recharge before resuming my day. This can also mean letting a couple chores wait until tomorrow and relaxing with a good book or movie!
  • Meditating & mindfulness. I am super novice at this, but I typically do a short meditation on weekday mornings, and find that the practice is really helpful. In terms of mindfulness, I’ve been putting extra effort toward noticing and enjoying tangible things, like fresh air on a hike or the taste of warm buttered bread.
  • Adapting. Like I mentioned above, there’s stuff my body has just decided is not for me, like concerts where my twentysomething butt doesn’t have a seat. I need more sleep than my significant other, which means sometimes I miss out on stuff. I use tools and medicine like my inhaler when I need to. And sometimes those things can be frustrating, but leaning into them means that I end up feeling way better.
  • On that note, being intentional in the way I think about my body. It’s not just a skin suit, it’s me. It’s not bad or weak, I’m probably just tired. Specifically, framing it as being thankful for the ways that my body takes care of me helps me be more loving and thoughtful to care for it.

In light of recent and ongoing events, I would challenge you to think about what actions you can take to join the effort of caring for and protecting Black and brown bodies. We live in a world and a society that is built upon systems designed to harm and to exploit, and our neighbor’s body and spirit are just as precious as our own. My post on anti-racism offers some starting points if you’d find them helpful.

What are your experiences with embodiment? Let me know in a comment below or on Twitter @ohgrowup. Thanks for reading, and happy adulting!

(Photo is a free stock photo because I’m running late this week, y’all.)

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Fine, I’m a morning person

I have avoided admitting this for a long time. Maybe because almost all my close friends are night owls, or because in my early/mid-twenties I feel like I should be “cooler” than this somehow, but here we are. I’m a morning person. Welp.

To be fair, I’m also a late afternoon person and occasionally a just after dinner person, in that these are the times when I feel the most engaged with and energized about things I’m doing. By 10 p.m., if it’s not done it’s not getting done. After 9 p.m., I am here to relax and/or dwell in my emotions, not do things.

I’ve had a harder time focusing in general lately, but both with work and hobbies I’ve noticed that I tend to do better when I dive into them intentionally, and ideally during times of day that my body is naturally more on board with that sort of thing.

Recently, I started setting aside the first 30 to 60 minutes of my weekdays (after getting ready and before work) for whatever thing I want to do. Sometimes that’s writing or revising, sometimes it’s meditating or reading, sometimes going for a walk. It always involves watering the garden. I don’t necessarily feel “productive” during all of that time, but I do feel like I’m taking care of myself, and cutting out time to slow down a listen to all the things my brain and body are trying to tell me. I don’t use social media, check my email, or watch TV, but those are about the only rules.

When I start the work day, I feel more settled and less frantic. At the end of the work day, I feel less burnt out. It’s not a magic cure-all, but it has made a notable difference in no just individual days but how I feel as the week goes on.

The advice: Set aside intentional time daily (or at least most days) that you can use to center yourself and do things you care about, and choose to not engage with things that are unhelpful during that time.

It definitely doesn’t have to be in the morning if you’re not a morning person, or depending on what your circumstances allow. (For example, my spouse tends to take time to play guitar or unwind with video games after I’ve gone to sleep or when I’m watching TV.) Life is chaotic, and this year hasn’t made navigating adulthood any easier, so make sure you’re taking care of yourself too.

What things have you found helpful during times like this? Let me know in a comment below or on Twitter @ohgrowup. Thanks for reading, and happy adulting!

P.S. I’ll have new recipes coming soon, but in the meantime, check out my Twitter thread on favorite tips for chocolate chip cookies!

(Photo is a free stock photo because even when I’m up before sunrise my view ain’t this pretty.)

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All the plants

I am reluctant to admit that I am a restless person. Even more so when I spent >23 hours inside my apartment every single day. But the one time each day that I am guaranteed a little sunshine and the fresh air that eases the tension out of my shoulders is when I am watering my plants.

I love plants. I love learning their names and watching them grow. I love taking care of things and feeling like I’ve accomplished something tangible. I love the lightness and comfort they bring to any space they’re in.

However, I do not have a natural green thumb. As a teen and college student I struggled to keep plants from floundering. So when I moved into my first apartment, I set a goal: Learn to not kill plants.

And I did great! Over a year and a half, a couple of plants struggled, but most stayed content and a few even flourished. I kept a small stand out on the patio and others on the bookshelf by the window. When I moved into my new place, I planned to set up a tiered planter with herbs, and got the plants settled on the new patio and inside the apartment.

Except then I killed like six plants in a row. Air plants! Pothos! ZZ! All the plants that are supposed to be nigh impossible to kill. And it turns out, the inside of my apartment is apparently where plants come to die. Suffice it to say I was really disheartened. I’d worked diligently on getting better at caring for plants and then over the course of several months, I. Kept. On. Killing. Them. All the ones outside seemed to be doing well, but as near as I’ve been able to determine, most of my apartment is so low light that even the “low light” friendly plants will give up and die. Which means my patio has now become the garden. In the interest of saving money and also getting more plants(!) I’ve recently started propagating some basics as well: succulents, spider plants, and pothos. The new journey I just started is creating a large planter to grow tomatoes in (companion planted with some basil), because as much as I like pretty plants, I love being able to eat things I grew!

I’m still definitely a novice, but having something physical and really tangible to care for is so good for me. Since lots of folks are taking time to upgrade their green thumbs as well, I’ve included some tips that I’ve found helpful (or learned the hard way) as well as links to a few Instagram accounts by Black plant enthusiasts that I’ve really been enjoying lately.

What not to do:

  • Buy a plant you have zero idea how to take care of. I have done this, and on occasion I’ve gotten lucky and the plant has done well, but it’s a huge risk. Instead, do some online research before purchasing and/or ask for info about the plant from someone at your local nursery.
  • Overwatering. I’m determined this is the fastest way to kill a plant. And I suck at not doing it because I just want to smother the dang things with love. But seriously, it will kill them. Root rot in particular is super hard to come back from. For most plants (especially beginner plants), wait until you can dig your finger into the soil a little and it’s dry to water, then water thoroughly.
  • Ignore when your plant is trying to tell you something. They’re living creatures, and they’re more lively than we usually give them credit for. Plants will stretch if they need more sun, can burn or wither if they get too much sun, and will droop when they need water, then perk up when they’ve gotten it. If you’re noticing odd behavior in your plant, check the basics and then look it up!
  • Neglect pruning. I’m still learning this one, but if your plant has some dead or super damaged leaves, get rid of them! If they come off when you gently pull you can prune that way, or get a pair of sharp scissors/shears and trim.
    • You can also revive plants this way sometimes! I have a polka-dot plant that was hardcore struggling, so I just cut all the leggy stalks down to little nubs and now it’s grown so many new leaves and flourished!
  • Skip drainage holes. Lots of the pretty pots available don’t have good drainage, and that’s an easy way to drown your plant, or promote pests and rot. The best ways around this are to 1) buy a pot with appropriate drainage, 2) drill drainage holes, or 3) keep the plant in a properly drained pot for watering and then set that pot into another pretty pot for the rest of the time.
  • Repot until you need to. Every time a plant moves areas or is repotted, it can be shocked and needs time to adjust. Try to let a plant adjust to its new home when you purchase it before repotting, and only repot when the plant has gotten too big for its current pot or if there’s an issue with the soil (I had to repot one recently because I’d overwatered and didn’t want the roots to rot).

What to actually do:

  • Research your plants. Not everything that says it’s easy is actually easy, depending on both your experience and your setting. Learn what areas of your home have what kinds of light, pay attention to the temperature and humidity, and choose plants that are well-suited for the environment you’ll be brining them into. Also shop local whenever you can, not only to support local businesses, but because folks at local nurseries will know what grows well in your area!
  • Water in the morning. This isn’t crucial, but most plants prefer it as it lets them soak up what they need before the sun is at its strongest.
  • Get the right tools. My little garden doesn’t need much, but I’ve found that the following are indispensable:
    • Watering can and spray bottle
    • Small, sharp pruning shears
    • Something to kneel on while you work (I use a folded beach towel, but you can also get a gardening mat)
    • Pest deterrents. I occasionally buy ladybugs, and frequently use an organic Neem Oil spray to discourage pests
    • Rubber-tipped bamboo gloves
    • A set of plastic bowls for moving soil around as I repot
    • Spare pots (they’re really handy! And save those nursery ones you move plants out of!)

IMG-2103

  • Start with plants you can handle. My favorite starters are spider plants and pothos, but these are the types of plants I currently have:
    • Succulents (including aloe vera, burro’s tail, and lots of others I can’t name)
    • Pothos (one of my favorites to propagate)
    • Spider plants. I literally don’t think I’ve ever killed one, which is saying something.
    • Marimo moss ball. This is the tank of “plants” (it’s technically an algae), though it’s not very exciting.
    • Polka-dot plant
    • Snake plant
    • Herbs, including:
      • Mint
      • Basil
      • Oregano
      • Rosemary
    • Spinach**
    • Green beans**
    • Tomatoes*
    • Marigolds**
    • Note: For all the ones with an asterisk (*), these are new and very young so I’m still getting my footing in terms of caring for them. The ones with two asterisks I planted from seed.

  • Shop around for good prices. A little research on good plant shops and average prices for certain plants will go a long way — you don’t want to pay more than you have to! (@grownbyliz._ has an affordable plant shop as well as good info on other affordable places.) I buy my basil every year from Trader Joe’s for like $4, and local nurseries can often have some good deals!
  • Move plants around as needed. I’ve reorganized the garden a couple of times in the last few months because things were getting too much or not enough light, and that can often
  • Be willing to experiment. I tried to grow garlic in one of my planter boxes a while ago and it shot up before immediately dying. Oh well! Especially if you’re trying with inexpensive plants, it’s okay to take a few risks.
  • Be okay if a plant dies. I’ve killed a number of plants in the last year, and honestly it just happens sometimes. Some plants also won’t last forever! Basil is the kind of plant that typically won’t last through the winter, so I just go into each year knowing I’ll need to buy more the following spring.

Also a necessary shoutout to my best friend Megan, for enabling my plant journey, always giving me tips (including the accounts I recommended above), and also giving me plants haha.

What plants do you love? Any questions about caring for plants or gardening for beginners? Let me know in a comment below or on Twitter @ohgrowup! Thanks for reading, and happy adulting!

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A letter for Pride

Today’s post is a bit different than usual. I’d hoped to have it ready earlier in the week, but it does seem fitting in some ways to post it today, the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, which was a watershed moment in LGBTQ+* history, and the remembrance of which served as the spark for the first Pride marches and parades 50 years ago.

There are so many wonderful resources out there for learning about LGBTQ+ history, stories, and perspectives, but because I’m still digging into them myself I’m not going to share any here just yet. Keep an eye out for that in a future post.

Instead, I offer a letter. You may see yourself in one of the passages, or several, and if you do, then I hope you are met with the affirmation and gratitude that was poured into it.

 

My dear friend,

To you who are queer and out… Wow, you’re amazing. The vibrancy and joy you bring to this world is so needed. Knowing you is life-giving, and I for one, am better for it. Thank you for being you.

To you who are queer and not yet out… You matter, just as you are. Who you are is wonderful regardless of who knows. Wading through the unknown is a brave thing, and can be a difficult one. You’re not alone, and your path is up to you.

To you who are still figuring things out… There is still so much time. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone. You are certainly not alone. No matter what, you are loved.

To you who are an ally… I hope you know how important you are. How much it means to so many to have someone in their corner, a shoulder to lean on, someone to turn to. Thank you for lending strength when it’s needed.

To you who are wanting to learn… There are so, so many stories. I’m so glad you’re here with us. So many folks have done and are doing excellent work on the topic; dig in deep.

To you who are not sure what to think… I’ve been there, and learned how important it is to challenge what you think you know. Just remember that in the end, as with all things, what matters above all else is love is love is love is love.

The world is better when we can each be ourselves, and can love each other as we are.

 

With all my love, and happy Pride, y’all.

 

 

* I use LGBTQ+ in this post as a way to be more inclusive than the common LGBT term, but also want to acknowledge that the full term is LGBTQIAP+, with the last three letters representing those who are intersex, asexual/aromantic, and pansexual, respectively. These identities have long been overlooked and often marginalized by those both within and outside of the queer community, and are every bit as valid.

(Photo is a free stock photo, and a lovely reminder.)

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Anti-racism

There was no post last week because all the pain out in the open has been a lot to process lately, and sometimes breaks are needed to rest and recover. But I also cannot in good conscience remain silent about the effects of racism on the country I live in.

This is beyond ridiculous. Black lives matter. Absolutely no person should have to fear for their safety or their life by simply existing. Period. The number of Black people in the United States who have been unjustly killed by police and by white people in the last few months alone should make anyone furious, let alone the long list of those whose names we know — and whose names we don’t — before this.

I want to make it clear that I don’t condone violence. But it is entirely justified to be angry. We should be angry. And the nature of racism and other injustices mean that power will not be handed down to those who are hurting. Direct action is necessary, or we will continue to have more years and decades of the same suffering that we have already allowed to go on for far too long.

I grew up with a lot of privileges, including living in a situation where I didn’t really have to confront this reality unless I wanted to. Part of that is the area I grew up in (which is a whole other conversation on systemic furtherance of injustice), and part of it is because of the color of my skin. I’m biracial and white-passing, and am still learning the depth of what it means to be Black in this country.

I’m no expert. It is very pointedly not my place, both because I still have so much to learn and because it matters deeply that those of us with privilege in a given area elevate the voices of those who are experiencing the issue, not speak over them.

So to that end, below is a list of resources that more qualified folks than me have shared on what you can do to become more aware and educated on the reality of racism in America*, and how to take action. Please note that I haven’t read and/or engaged with all of these materials, but will indicate the ones which I have. If you’re not Black and this isn’t your experience — and especially if you’re white — much of this could be difficult to take in. It has been for me. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself experiencing lots of different emotions as you engage with these works. I encourage you to take time to examine what you’re feeling and why, then keep learning.

Learning resources**

What is anti-racism?

It is acknowledging that racism exists as more than a personal feeling, and committing to continually learning, growing, and fighting injustice. The National Museum of African American History & Culture has an excellent short breakdown of anti-racism and different ways that racism is implemented and perpetuated.

It’s also important to know that anti-racism and all efforts for justice and progress should be a continual part of our lives. This isn’t something that ends once the news cycle moves on or once it’s no longer popular.

Reading

  • Letter from a Birmingham Jail” by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. [have read]
    • There is no time when this letter is not poignant, and I recommend it as a starting point. Dr. King’s legacy is one of nonviolence but also direct action, and his words here are exceptionally clear on the impact of “moderate” stances
  • Strength to Love by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. [have read]
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates [have read]
  • An Anti-Racism Reading List” compiled by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, author of How To Be An Antiracist
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas [have read]
    • I recommend this over the movie, though the movie is also good
  • I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Dr. Maya Angelou [have read]
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie [have read]
  • I Bring the Voices of My People by Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes [currently reading]
  • Native by Kaitlin Curtice
  • Note: Books aren’t linked this time, because right now it would be stellar if you purchased from your local independent bookstore. Here’s how to find an indie bookstore near you, and a list of Black-owned bookstores.

Listening

  • The Danger of a Single Story” TED Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie [have listened]
  • The Liturgists podcast has done a number of helpful episodes:
    • Black and White: Racism in America[have listened]
      • I really, really recommend this one. It’s from 2016 and I first listened to it in 2018, but it’s every bit as relevant today
    • Anti-Racism with Andre Henry[have listened] — more of Andre’s work is linked in the section below
    • For the whole month of February this year, they offered daily mini episodes on how Black history is American history. They’re accessible, and offer some great discussion and reflection [have listened]
  • Code Switch podcast from NPR
  • The Problem with Racial Colorblindness” TEDx Talk by Phil Mazzocco
    • This is a clear, digestible explanation of why saying things like “we’re all just human” or “race doesn’t matter” aren’t helpful. I strongly recommend this one if those phrases resonated with you

Compilations

  • This public Google Doc, titled “Anti-Racism for Beginners,” has a really thorough list of resources that are accessible at a variety of levels
  • Anti-racism resources for white people” is another public Google Doc with accessible info
  • White Homework” by Tori Williams Douglass
    • This page also includes a list of other resources; I recommend looking at all of them
  • Hope & Hard Pills” is a series (including a weekly email newsletter and a podcast) by Andre Henry

Part of being an adult means not avoiding difficult topics, and it means not being passive toward injustice. This is not a journey we ever reach the end of, but it is one that we all have an obligation to work toward. Let’s do the work.

If you want to do something

  • Commit to continually educating yourself on perspectives that are different from your own, and to studying the history of how so many of the realities we see today came to exist.
  • Visit blacklivesmatters.carrd.co to sign petitions, donate to organizations and funds, learn more, and contact local government to urge them to effect change.
  • Amplify Black voices and other marginalized voices when they are speaking about the experiences and urging change. Repost, share, support. This is a time to center the people who the movement is about, not ourselves.
  • Other people have poured so much effort and caring into creating the resources that we are able to learn from. If you learn from someone’s efforts — especially in a time like this — see if you can tangibly thank them in some way, whether that’s through Venmo, Patreon, purchasing and/or promoting their work.
    • (Note that this does not apply to me! If you learned something from this post, I’m so glad; please direct your gratitude toward one of the funds linked in the bullet point above.)
  • Please keep in mind that no one owes you their time or attention, especially folks you don’t have a close relationship with. Learn to gently accept that.
  • If you notice any instance in which someone is threatening or harming someone, using slurs or exhibiting racist (or sexist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, etc.) behavior, do something. Often calling out the behavior or engaging in a way that (nonviolently) draws the offending person’s attention away from the person they were targeting can get them to stop or go away, but sometimes it’s not enough. If necessary, do what you can to (with their permission) get the person being harmed and yourself away from the threat.
  • Protesting can be dangerous given the outbreaks of violence from multiple sources and the fact we are still in the middle of a global pandemic of a highly transmissible virus. I also recognize that my ability to stay safe at home is itself a privilege not everyone has. So if either you must go out or feel compelled to join protests, here are some resources on staying safe:
    • FOLLOW CDC GUIDELINES. Mask, hand sanitizer, minimize contact with other people. Please, please, we have lost way too many lives already.
    • Tell someone you trust where you are, try to never be alone, and have the proper supplies.
    • Do your research where community-led (especially Black and/or POC-led) organizations are peacefully protesting, and follow their lead rather than fringe organizations. Know when the curfew is and have a plan to be safely inside well before that time passes.
    • More resources can be found here.
  • The King Center (led by Dr. Bernice King, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter) is hosting a daily online protest at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT through Monday, June 8. It’s an opportunity to participate and to learn, and the recordings of each one are available to watch afterward.

An immeasurable thank you to the people who created the works and resources I’ve linked, and who have taken the time and effort to teach me. It’s time to keep learning, and for us as a country to grow up. We need to do better.

If there were any resources I missed or you have questions, please let me know in a comment below or on Twitter @ohgrowup. May we each open our eyes and our ears and get our hands in the dirt so that we can all have a better future.

 

 

P.S. This is the post for this week, but I will be continuing to share more resources I come across on Twitter @ohgrowup.

* This post is very United States-centric, only because that is the country I live in and which I have enough knowledge to speak to. However, racism is absolutely not only a U.S. problem. Genocide and policy brutality is not only a U.S. problem. Systemic injustice and casual prejudice is not only a U.S. problem. We’ll only truly solve these issues together.

** Note that these resources mostly focus on anti-Black racism, but that is by no means the only form of racism that exists, though it does have a unique history within the United States. Native American and indigenous peoples, Latinx folks, Asian Americans, and countless immigrants have also faced prejudice and injustice in many forms. Some of the compilations linked above address these demographics as well.

EDITS: Updated Thursday, June 4 with additional resources, noting works I have engaged with since the original posting, small edits to decenter my perspective, and the reminder that this work does not end. Updated again Friday, August 28 with additional resources and updated works I have engaged with.

Featured

For the long haul

One set of parents reached a milestone anniversary this week, and after sheltering in place with my husband for more than 2 months, it seemed like time for a relationship post. I am of course not an expert in anyone’s relationship but my own, so take all advice with the appropriate grain of salt, but we have been together almost 7 years and I’ve been fortunate to observe successful relationships that have lasted even longer.

Invest in the other person’s interests. I am not a video games person, but can keep up in conversation about way more games than I would ever be willing to play because I talk to my significant other about their interests, and actually listen and ask questions. If it’s a hobby you’re not interested in doing, it still means a lot that you listen and engage when they want to talk about it or show you something. And this can extend beyond conversation as well. For example, I’ve found a couple of video games that I like, so sometimes we’ll just sit next to each other and talk while we each play our own game. Jump into a TV show the other person enjoys, find a sport you can play together, get super into puzzles. Whatever floats your boat together!

Keep your own interests, and set aside time to not be together. I don’t love guitar the way my spouse does, and he isn’t super into crocheting like I am. We make time most days to do things that we individually want to do and make an effort to make room for each person to have individual plans. This is especially important with friends! It’s awesome if you have a lot of mutual friends, but it’s important that you each have friends you can hang out with without your significant other. Be consistent with other people in your life too.

Find ways to surprise each other. We’ve been together for almost 7 years, and friends for almost a decade, so often it feels like we know almost everything there is to know about the other. But to his credit, this guy still manages to surprise me. The best part is that surprises don’t have to be big to be special; getting off work a little early or picking up a treat they love at the grocery store can be super meaningful simply because it reflects that you’re thinking about each other and wanting to put in effort to show that you care.

Learn how to be mad, and how to make up. Quarantine is challenging even for folks who get along great, and some tension is both inevitable and — depending on how you respond to it — healthy. Like most people, we’ve had a few spats when cooped up in the house for long stretches, and then we talk it through and figure out how to do better next time. I cannot stress how important it has been for us to articulate why we’re upset and how we feel without picking a fight or going after the other person. It doesn’t make conflict magically go away, it just means we can take down our defenses for long enough to work out a solution together. And then when we figure out what we can do better in the future, actually detailing how we intend to do that helps us stick to the plan instead of falling back into the same cycle.

Be affectionate! It’s great when folks in long-term relationships are super comfortable and don’t need to be touchy-feely all the time (especially if you’re around other people), but super simple stuff like holding hands or a smile from across the room can make things feel so much sweeter. It helps the other person feel seen and loved, and especially in a time when a bunch of us are isolated, positive* physical touch is really beneficial for our emotional and mental health.

If you think something nice about the other person, say it. This seems silly, but can make a big difference. If you catch yourself thinking something complimentary, tell them that instead of tucking it away. As well as you might know each other, no one is a mind reader. Out-of-the-blue compliments can make someone’s day, which is obviously even better when it’s someone you care about.

For more relationships info, check out this post on relationships or this post on being long distance. Obviously nothing I covered here is fully comprehensive, but I hope there was something you found helpful. And if you’re not in a romantic relationship, honestly most of this applies to friendships too!

Anything I missed? Let me know in a comment below or on Twitter @ohgrowup. Thanks for reading, and happy adulting!

 

* Positive physical touch meaning touch that is wanted in that moment, welcome, and pleasant rather than painful. Consent is obviously important, but also good to remember that giving your partner a tight hug if they’ve got an injury might not be the way to go.

Featured

Mental Health Awareness

May is mental health awareness month, so I’m going to keep this simple with a list of resources that can help us all take care of our mental (and relatedly, emotional and physical) health a bit better.

(Content warning for this post that there is mention of mental health conditions, as well as self-harm and suicide, with information on where to get help.)

Quick tips

  • Just going for a walk is often a huge mood booster for me when I’m in a funk. If going for a walk is a challenge, then any change of scenery or time I can spend outside still helps.
  • Square breathing. There are a few versions of this technique, but when I’m starting to feel panicky, the one I’ve used most often is the following:
    • Breathe in for a 4-count (slowly)
    • Hold that breath for a 4-count (holding the breath in your belly or toward the base of your chest will feel better than trying to hold it in your mouth or throat)
    • Breathe out for a 4-count (even more slowly)
    • Hold without breath for a 4-count
  • Check in on your physical health. Are you super exhausted? Have you eaten within the last few hours? Had a glass of water? I’ve found that not taking care of myself physically is the fastest way to exacerbate any mental struggles I’m facing, and that once I address those things I usually start to feel better quickly. It doesn’t fix everything by any means, but it’s a necessary part of the process.

To relax

  • Apps like Headspace and Breethe offer meditations and mindfulness exercises that can be a great occasional reset or help build a consistent practice (there are lots of these, but the two listed are ones I’ve used and enjoy*).
    • Note that a lot of the content with both of these apps is paid. If cost is prohibitive, look into whether you can access them for free or a discount (I access Headspace for free through my local library) or you can check out one of the many free options also available online and through apps.
  • I do virtual yoga classes once or twice a week, and have found that the commitment of signing up for an actual class (often with a friend) helps me stick to the plan of taking time to slow down and pay attention to my body for a bit.
  • Find a simple hobby. I’ve been doing a ton of crocheting lately, but also know folks who paint, play an instrument, or have something else that offers a bit of challenge and a bit of comfort, and gives them a way to wind down at the end of the day.
  • It’s hard to hold a candle to listening to music in terms of how much it can take the edge out of negative feelings. Find a playlist or album that’s reliable for you, turn it on, and take a deep breath.

To keep your brain busy

  • Books! I admit that I’ve had a difficult time focusing on reading as much as I would like to, but there is nothing quite like digging into an interesting book. The key here is reading what you want to read, not what you feel like you should be reading.
  • Podcasts are a great alternative to watching something, or if reading a book isn’t quite doing it. There are so many options to choose from out there, so find one that makes you feel good and dive in.
  • Also, movies and TV are not a bad thing! Sometimes it’s good for us to just let our brain follow something else for a while and not fixate on things that might be bothering us. I’ve been watching a lot of sitcoms lately while I crochet, and it’s a nice way to chill after dinner.

To work through it

  • Write it down. I’ve journaled off and on for a long time, and have found that it’s always easier for me to process — and often let go of — something when I put it on paper (or the notes app on my phone). It’s a good way to articulate how you’re feeling with really low risk, and gives those feelings or thoughts an outlet that doesn’t require too much.
  • Talk to a loved one. If you’re just having a rough stretch or an off day, talking to a close friend or family member can be a nice way to process what you’re going through. Just do keep in mind that it should be someone you trust, who listens well, and know that at the end of the day it’s a personal relationship not a strictly therapeutic one.
  • Talk to a counselor/therapist/psychiatrist. Friends and family are awesome, but they’re not trained professionals. If what you’re dealing with is more significant than a couple of weeks (or even if it’s just a really awful few weeks!), talking to a mental health professional is a valid, safe option to help you work through what you’re facing. Mental health professionals can help with seasons of difficulty like grief or high levels of stress, and can help with longer-term mental health struggles like anxiety or depression.
    • Note here that mental health conditions are common, and not something to be ashamed of. 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experience a mental health condition each year, and almost half of Americans will deal with one at some point in their life, according to Mental Health America. If you’re concerned about your mental health, the screenings on their website can be a good place to start, followed by contacting your health provider.
  • Content warning (see note above): Of course if you are considering self-harm or suicide, please call 1-800-273-8255 or chat the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, call 911, or go to a nearby hospital. If there is a friend or family member you trust, you can also reach out to that person. You matter, and you are not a burden, and you are worth every tomorrow.

I hope some of the info above offers resources or encouragement for you to take care of your mental health (or support someone else’s), especially in the midst of, well, everything.

Are there any other resources you’ve found helpful? Let me know in a comment below, or on Twitter @ohgrowup. Thanks for reading, and good luck adulting.

 

 

* This post is not sponsored, and I don’t receive any compensation for mentioning any of the resources in this post. They’re just things myself or others I know have genuinely found helpful.

(Photo is a free stock photo, because the lighting was perfect.)