Don't Let Psychics Give You Health Advice

Sunday, May 21, 2023

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When I saw that an Instagram friend was in New Orleans the week before I'd be there, I of course asked for her recommendations. When she told me about a "channeler" she loved who has set up shop in Jackson Square, my fellow travelers and I were all in.

We were in town for a bachelorette party for our friend Emily, whose original event was scheduled for March 2020 and was obviously quickly canceled. Now, Emily has been married for almost three years, and their son just turned 1. But she still wanted (and deserved!) her New Orleans bachelorette party.

The channeler was younger than I expected, and more normal, somehow. She was youngish, maybe my age, and she was pretty, thin, dressed in athleisure. She sat under a striped parasol in a hot pink chair. She didn't seem like somebody who'd hustle you for money in a tourist trap of a park. 

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It's OK to Become Someone New

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

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I've always hated gardening. In fact, it was the thing I was most worried about when we bought this house — that I would have to plant, have to dig, have to mow, have to rake, have to give a shit.
But our yard is big. Much as we've tried to put it off — and ohh, try we have — it's become quite clear that if we don't want to be those neighbors with that yard, we're going to have to put in some pretty serious work on an indefinite and ongoing basis.
Luckily, my mom is pretty good at gardening. And more importantly, she loves it. She's been trying to talk me into it for years, to no avail. But two weekends ago, my yard overgrown and my flowerbeds still full of last fall's dead leaves, she came up to help me start the process of sprucing things up.

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Podcasts I Love That Recap TV Shows I Love

Friday, April 7, 2023

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Recently I realized that a big chunk of the podcasts I listen to are TV recap-related. Like... a big chunk of them. I thought it might be fun to share which ones I love and see if you listen to any or have any recommendations, as apparently, this is one of my genres of choice. 

In many cases, I like the podcasts more than the shows themselves. Why else would I have been watching The Bachelor all of these years?! Here are my favorite TV-related podcasts. What are yours?

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Small Goals for April 2023

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

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OK, guess it's April alreadyyyy.
Time flies when you're gettin' old, huh? The weather is distinctly springy here right now, and the daffodils in my front yard are in full bloom, so I'm feeling excited about sunny days and impending outdoorsiness.
Here's how my March goals went:
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What I Read in February & March

Saturday, April 1, 2023

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Two months gone, eight books down. I haven't felt particularly compelled by fiction lately, though it seems surprising that I read only one fiction book in the last two months! I typically prefer memoirs to straight non-fiction, but lately, even that's appealing to me, as evidenced by these selections. They do take me longer to read, though, so my numbers are way down these days.

What have you been reading lately? Have any good recommendations for me?
How We Fall Apart
by Katie Zhao
Nancy and her three best friends are shocked when their former friend Jamie, the top-ranked student in their grade, is found dead. Adding to their shock are the sudden and sinister messages appearing on the school social media app from an anonymous poster calling themselves The Procter and threatening to tell their secrets. I really enjoyed this story, but the ending was so bad that by the time I finished it, it felt like a letdown. 
Eating Mindfully
 by Susan Albers
This was my second book by Dr. Albers, a Cleveland Clinic psychologist who specializes in issues related to food. I liked it a lot and found it both valuable and respectful, not shaming or pressuring people who struggle with eating issues, their weight or body image. I almost wish, though, that the book came with some sort of workbook that helped me apply the many, many practices and possibilities in it into my own life. By the time I finished it, I'd forgotten so much! 
One Life
by Megan Rapinoe 
Hoo, boy, what a great memoir. I'm not a soccer person, but I've long respected Rapinoe's vocal advocacy and activism, even at the risk of her career. It was really interesting to hear about her life story, her tireless work for equal pay for female athletes, her relationship with WNBA player Sue Bird, her refusal to visit the Trump White House after winning Olympic gold, and so much more. She's a powerhouse, a role model, and a really interesting human.
Becoming Free Indeed: My Story of Disentangling Faith from Fear
by Jinger Duggar Vuolo
No, I don't know why I read this, but after reading Vuolo's first memoir, why not? Some parts were fascinating, like her condemnation of the harmful teachings of her childhood church. But her ghostwriter works for the LA megachurch where her husband is a pastor, which has come under fire for threatening women who try to leave their abusive husbands. With that lens, this book feels a lot like propaganda for her new church, which may be just as bad as the last.
by Daniella Mestyanek Young
I love a good escape-from-a-cult memoir, and this one was better than any other I can remember reading. Young grew up in Children of God, a sex cult with truly horrifying beliefs and practices, but escaped when she was 15 and eventually joined the army... which she describes as being another kind of cult. She is brilliant, thoughtful, and incredibly articulate, and I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone with an interest in cults and cult-like thinking. 
Everyday Holiness: The Jewish Spiritual Path of Mussar
by Alan Morinis
It's rare that you read a book you can truly call life-changing, but for me, this book was and will continue to be. Mussar is, to sum it up in a much-more-casual-than-is-appropriate way, a form of Jewish self-help practice that I look forward to implementing into my life, and I just can't say enough good things about how deep, intellectual, and emotional is book was and made me feel. 

Hello, Molly! by Molly Shannon
I was told that this book was both hilarious and devastating, and that about sums it up. I flew through the audiobook, read by Shannon herself, and found it to be both very funny and very emotionally moving, touching on her mother's and sister's tragic deaths, her fraught relationship with her father, her comedic bravery and ingenuity, and much more. You don't have to be an SNL fan (I'm not!) to enjoy this book. 
Celebrities for Jesus: How Personas, Platforms, and Profits Are Hurting the Church by Katelyn Beaty
Here's another one that doesn't seem like it should've been up my alley. But with my background in media and religion, along with my general fascination with all things evangelical, I found it super compelling. It's verrrry Jesus-heavy (as the name implies), and it was a slog for me to ignore all the "kingdom" messaging. But it was a really, really interesting and thoughtful look at how social media and evolving concepts of celebrity are impacting modern Christianity.
Follow me on Goodreads to keep in touch & see what I've read in months past.
My "What I Read In..." posts include Amazon affiliate links to the titles I discuss. If you buy a book using one of these links, I will receive a small percentage of the commission. Please don't feel any obligation to use these links, but if you do, it will help me buy more books.
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Small Goals for March 2023

Thursday, March 2, 2023

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February is a short month, so I'm giving myself some grace on not hitting all my goals. Plus, there was a 70-degree weekend in there, and who has time to wallpaper a bedroom on a 70-degree weekend in February?! Not me, I'll tell you that much.

Here's a look at my February goals and how I did on them.

  1. Spend my FSA money. Done! I did this toward the end of the month and am looking forward to receiving what feels like a free (it isn't) package containing lip balms, sunscreen, an acupressure pillow, and a few other medically related goodies. I also realized I didn't sign up for an FSA this year. Womp.
  2. Complete some important paperwork. Done! I'm feeling super excited about what comes next, and I can't wait to write all about it (or some about it, anyway) when the time feels right. 
  3. Schedule physical therapy. Not done. My back has been feeling fine, so I opted out, but that was probably a dumb choice? The prescription is good for a few months, though, so I may yet do this, or at least take the opportunity to find a local spine health specialist.
  4. List purses and shoes online. Done! That said, as soon as I completed this goal, I received a bunch of other stuff to sell (woo!), and I haven't yet listed all of that... so despite my doing my diligence, this goal remains. 
  5. Finish wallpapering the guest room. Not done. This just seemed like too much work, and not all that fun, and I just... did not feel like it. Ha. I also don't think I bought enough wallpaper, so that's something I'll have to contend with here soon. 

It's hard to believe that it's March already (I think adulthood is just one giant loop of repeating this sort of phrase over and over and over), but here we are.

I feel like there are a million things I could've included on this month's goals list. I need to take more photos for something important I'm working on (me being cryptic again!), and I have a lot of interviews to conduct and deadlines to meet for freelance assignments. But I want to be sure these monthly goals don't turn into to-do lists, you know? They should be real goals, not just a list of shit I need to finish.

So here's what's on deck for my goals and me this month:

  1. Make plans for a day trip to Jamestown, NY. A friend reached out to me this month to ask if I'd want to meet her in upstate New York to visit the Lucille Ball Museum on Easter, so of course I said yes. Can't wait to figure out some details before we go!
  2. List purses and shoes online. As I mentioned above, I have a bunch of new-to-me stuff to list, so I'm going to try to get all of that done and out of the way, which will allow me to focus on actually trying to make sales. 
  3. Write in my journal 10 times. I miss private journaling, which I haven't done consistently for years. I do it every now and then, and then I forget for months at a time, so I don't have any consistent practice or routine.

  4. Start a new Mussar book. I'm about to finish a book about the Jewish practice of Mussar, which felt frankly life-changing. I can't wait to dig deeper, and I don't want to let too much time lapse between learning.
  5. Attend all of my personal training sessions. I signed up for group training sessions with one of my boxing coaches and three friends. Each Saturday, we meet for a personalized session and take-home work. I want to hold myself accountable to all of them this month.

  6. Try one of Ready Set's March specials. Bonus frivolous goal! This local coffee shop has the cutest monthly specials, and they're tasty, too. I want to get in this month to try one of their newest creations.   
What are your goals for this month? How did you do on February's goals, if you made any?

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What Dreams May Come (Though I Wish They Wouldn’t)

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

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If you asked me whether I'm prone to nightmares, I'd say no. I don't see monsters or dream of murders. The macabre content I consume during the day (lookin' at you, true crime) doesn't seem to penetrate my sleeping mind.

But that doesn't mean I sleep peacefully, either.

When I was in college, I went through a period of time where I consistently had the world's most mundane dreams — mundane dreams that were also incredibly problematic during my waking life. I'd dream about things like studying for a test or picking up my prescriptions from the pharmacy. I'd dream about completing a class project or calling my grandmother. 

It was like my to-do lists were too long to accomplish during the day, so my brain tried to make its way through them at night. Come daylight, I'd get confused, thinking I'd already done things I'd only dreamt of.

I don't do that anymore; it hasn't happened for years, and even when it did, it was only in times of maximum stress. I know, now, how to catch myself from getting that wound up. I know that if I have even one mundane dream about a to-do list item, there are probably more to come, and it's time for me to get my stress levels under control.

But I still have anxiety dreams, ones I haven't been able to stop even when it feels like, during the day, I'm not anxious about anything at all. 

I have normal anxiety dreams, though there's nothing normal about them. Maybe I should say "common," the ones you see decoded in dream books. 

Sometimes, I dream that I'm not quite flying but floating, that when I jump, I can stay in the air and keep the momentum going so that I soar above the ground and transport myself easily from place to place. Sometimes I dream that my teeth are falling out, crumbling into gravel in my hands as I spit them out. They grow back in as quickly as they fall apart, and the sharp pieces just keep coming. 

Even my less-common dreams are common, I suppose, because no one's brain is all that unique, is it? Certainly not my own. And yet, these dreams feel much more personal, somehow, much less rote and predictable than the good old flying-and-teeth tropes.

Sometimes I dream that I'm 38 years old, in this moment, and I have to return to my high school or even my elementary school, to request transcripts that they can never find. Sometimes, I have to retake a class, something that the administrators realize I never completed or that I never passed; in some cases, I simply never attended at all. I have a college degree, but they tell me I don't have a high school diploma yet. They tell me, without saying so, that my entire life is a fraud.

Sometimes I dream, inexplicably, that I am back in my sorority house, and oftentimes, there's no one else there, everyone out at parties and sisterhood events. The ones who are there don't notice me because I am nobody, just like I was when I was in my sorority in real life, and the ones who do notice me aren't kind about it. Sometimes I still have a room waiting for me there, or I have secretly co-opted the room of a sister who's out of town, and I always feel the dual comfort and terror of play-acting that their life is my own, as though I ever belonged.

I dream that my high school musical performance is in progress, but I haven't been coming to rehearsals and don't know the choreography. I forget to bring at least half of my costume — my shoes, maybe, or my dress, or the entire thing — and I run home to get it or I dive into the vastness of the costume closet, and every time, without fail, I miss the show, frazzled and behind and a perpetual failure. Occasionally I make it on stage for the very end, as the final song is in progress, just in time to catch the furious eye of the choir director who never liked me. 

There's a theme, I know. The theme is my past, but that's the funny thing: When I'm awake, I feel pretty OK with my past, and even better about my present.

I enjoyed high school, where I was relatively well-liked and had a close group of friends. I was the chorus in our school musicals but never had more than a line or two, and I certainly never missed a whole performance. I have some open wounds from my time in my sorority, yes, but that was nearly two decades ago, and it was followed by two decades of great friendships that do not make me feel like an impostor. 

So why are all of these strange elements of my past haunting me in my sleep? What do I need to work through that I don't even realize I've not dealt with? And why does it insist on coming back to me during times of happiness and very little stress? 

I do all the right things. I take medication, I go to therapy, I'm in boxing, and I meditate multiple times per week. I work a 9-to-5 job, I get enough sleep, and I eat green smoothies for breakfast, and my life doesn't feel all that stressful. Yet these stress dreams plague me sometimes, and nothing I do can stop them.

I just can't figure it out: Why won't my brain leave me alone? And what the hell do I need to do to make that happen?

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Places I've Eaten Lately, a Roundup (CLE Weekends, Pt. 7)

Sunday, February 26, 2023

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I share a lot of food content on Instagrambut I enjoy it so much that sometimes it seems a shame for it to be so short-lived! I thought it was worth putting together a roundup here, too, of some of the places I've been lately and enjoyed. 

There's always more than I could possibly share, but here are the spots that have been at the forefront of my mind. Tell me: Where have you been lately?


Nature's Oasis
I guess I thought this spot was just... a health food store? But wow, it's so much more. It's an all-natural foods market and cafe that also sells lots of locally made goods, like candles, stickers, cards, and other trinkets. They have plenty of seating, very friendly staff, and a great vibe. I've only been once, and all I got was a latte, but I expect I'll be back here a lot over the summer! 15613 Detroit Ave., Lakewood.


Ready Set! Coffee Roasters
My friend Annie (check out her new Lady Gaga book!) has been recommending this spot forever, so I finally went with a couple of friends after a Saturday-morning training session. It is just the absolute cutest, with a really bright, clean aesthetic and delicious drinks that, at least around Valentine's Day, were creative and adorable. 7306 Detroit Ave., Cleveland

Agave & Rye
Hoo, boy, this place bills itself as "epic," and it isn't lying. While based on Mexican cuisine, their menu is completely unique and over-the-top in a very fun, very tasty way. I was given a promotional gift card to visit on National Margarita Day, so I got a prickly pear margarita and Flamin' Hot Cheetos-encrusted coconut shrimp over mango salsa. Mike got taquitos and the Happy Meal taco (!), and there was so much fun that we could barely eat even half of it. 1352 W 6th St., Ste. 152, Cleveland

I guess this place is a chain, though it looks like it's only in Ohio and Minnesota? Even though this is nottt my best photo,  trust me when I say that their pizza is so good. It's got just the kind of crust I like, not too thick or too thin, kinda crispy and kinda puffy. We ordered pickup and got the Bleu Ribbon, a white pizza with mozzarella, provolone, smoked ham, Amish chicken, brown sugar caramelized red onions, garlic aioli and parsley. Chef's kiss. 18516 Detroit Ave, Cleveland (and other locations)

The Vegan Doughnut Co.
I'd tried these popular, delicious square donuts at past events, namely the Cleveland Flea, but that was a loooong time ago. And... yeah, now, I've been three times since the start of 2023! Yes, their donuts are completely vegan, and they're also nut-free, preservative-free, and trans fat-free, while still very very big on flavor. We brought a half-dozen of them to a Super Bowl party and got pączki and king cake donuts on Fat Tuesday. 14811 Detroit Ave., Lakewood

Prosperity Social Club
As former Tremont residents, we've been to this hotspot many a time, but it had been a while! My mom's college friend was visiting Cleveland for a weekend and wanted to go here for their pierogi. I, for whatever reason, was really in the mood for... vegan wings?! Everyone at the table made fun of me, but I love their buffalo tofu, and nary a regret was had. (Also, Mike and I split a side of pierogi.) 1109 Starkweather Ave., Cleveland
Where have you been lately? And if you're here in Northeast Ohio, got any recommendations for me? 

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Have You Ever Tried EMDR?

Thursday, February 23, 2023

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I've been seeing my therapist for coming up on a year now, and I really like her. It's never been too difficult for me to get into talk therapy because, well, I like talking, and I think I'm fairly introspective. Just like I find myself and sort through my issues in writing, so too do I find it helpful to be able to say my thoughts out loud to another human who can help me process them without judgment.

When she asked if I'd be interested in EMDR therapy, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, I was immediately game. It doesn't involve much talking at all, at least not in the sense of traditional psychotherapy, but it's super fascinating, as far as I can tell.

First developed to help people who have experienced trauma, EMDR is now used to treat anxiety, depression, phobias, and more. The goal is to help you process traumatic memories or thoughts in a more adaptive way -- to get at memories that are "stuck" in the wrong part of the brain and causing distress and symptoms like fear and sadness. 

EMDR can help your brain to reprocess these memories in a way that reduces the negative emotions associated with them. To do so, your therapist asks you to focus on a specific event or memory while they guide you through a series of eye movements, sounds or taps that stimulate both sides of your brain. Scientists think that this bilateral stimulation can rewire and reorganize the way that your brain stores and processes memories.

So we started today. It was weird to not talk very much, to just answer these very specific, pointed questions and have my therapist take careful notes instead of responding. And for all of the uncomfortable things I've discussed in therapy, it feels deeply unsettling to start in on the really uncomfortable stuff, to jump right into all of your worst and most vulnerable feelings.

I asked that we start on my relationship with food, as I've trying to build a healthier lifestyle that we keep me alive and well for the long term. I've been working hard to implement better habits and make better food choices, but it's very, very hard to do on my own. I'm hoping that EMDR can help me truly reprocess my relationship with food in a healthy and sustainable way. 

We're only half a session in, so I don't have much to report, and I won't necessarily share about this again in the future. But I'm excited about it, and I'm interested in hearing from anyone who's tried EMDR in the past, to whatever extent you're comfortable sharing. 

Have you ever tried EMDR? How did it go? What can I expect?

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A Flower Bar, a Great Meal, a Used Bookstore (CLE Weekends, Pt. 6)

Sunday, February 12, 2023

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Hey, hi, 'sup, etc. I haven't done one of these posts for a while, and surely I've experienced/checked out many more cool things since the last time I did... but hey, might as well round up and recommend a few good things, right?

As always, more of my adventures are captured in real-time (or realer-time, I suppose) over on Instagram. But here's a little bit more info on some of the things I've posted about and alluded to as of late, should you be looking for things to do in the CLE.

Coffee at Edda
I finally stopped into Edda, Ohio City's newest coffee shop. It's located in the brand new Intro building, which is truly a wonder to behold, and the coffee is really good (though I know basically nothing about coffee, so this is based on taste alone). It's a spacious with great lighting and lots of seating, plus sandwiches on bread from Leavened. Get the ham and brie!

DIY Bouquets at Blossom Flower Bar
Some friends and I signed up for a Galentine's Day event at Blossom Flower Bar, a Lakewood staple that recently moved into a new, more spacious location downtown. We sipped on BYOB booze while making our own flower bouquets... and luckily, someone else trimmed them and ultimately made them look nice in the vases we chose. I am committed to ensuring that my cat does not eat these beauties. 

Dinner at Bartleby
I met up with a few CLE influencers (@lostinlaurelland, @oliverstwistblog, @aimon.ali, @everyday.connor, and @camrynnicolem) for a luxe dinner at Bartleby in Ohio City, in the building that used to house Crop Bistro. I wrote about Bartleby for a recent issue of Cleveland Magazine, and it was a delicious and lovely, if expensive, evening out with friends. It's always so nice to hang out with people who also want to photograph everything.

Browsing the stacks at The Bookshop in Lakewood 
When I learned that The Bookshop in Lakewood was struggling due to transphobia, I asked friends and neighbors for book donations that I could take in. I ended up with store credit I didn't plan to use (after all, I wanted to help them make money!), but I did spend a bit of it on a few excellent finds, including a Jewish cookbook, a home repair guide, and Greta Thunberg's memoir. 

This bumper sticker has nothing to do with anything else, but I saw it, and it delighted me, so I thought I'd share. Personally, I would've gone with Jack Kelly over Patrick Bateman, but delightful nonetheless. 

What have you been up to lately? Been anywhere new? 
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