The Meaning of Heartache and Moving Forward

*Taking a break from my usual content to write about what I am feeling.*

I am very lucky to only have experienced true, physical heartache a few times in my life. I remember the shock of it the first time, when a wonderful, bright, young friend of mine was killed in a car accident. You read the words heartache and think of it only as an expression, but the words do not stem from nothing. It’s entirely possible to feel this ache in your heart, a heaviness in your chest. I’d read the word heartache hundreds of times and it took a truly horrifying and shocking event to make me truly understand it. Heartache is a physical manifestation of misery and helplessness. I feel it now, because yesterday a fascist, sexist, racist man was inaugurated into the highest office in the country I was born and raised in, in this nation I believed in. It has profoundly affected me and my heart aches for this nation. I am solemn and depressed. On November 8, 2016 my worldview was shattered; everything I thought I knew about the people in my country, the truths of human spirit I held so dear, a core belief in progress and humanity, everything was tossed into the air and I watched as it felt to the ground, cracked, and splattered.

I didn’t realize how much this election meant to me until election night, possibly because I simply never considered the eventual outcome to be conceivable. I woke up on November 8th surprisingly elated, but with a strange knot in my stomach. I was incredibly exhilarated about the idea of finally welcoming a female president into the White House, yet a lurking fear of the other possibility haunted me. My entire life I have been told that women are powerful creatures, equal to men, and fiercely capable. A woman in the Oval Office would epitomize that belief. I have been taught – like most of America’s students – about the feminist movement of the 1970’s. The manner in which I was taught about this movement, stressed the success of feminism, the accomplishments of the generations before me, and the true equality of men and women. As I’ve grown from child into adult, these lessons I was taught, these core beliefs I was raised with, have slowly begun to break down. We need to rethink the way we raise our children, to retool the education we give them, because if there is one thing this election drilled into me, it’s that all this talk of equality is a fucking lie.

Women and men are not equal. Women and men are not raised in the same fashion. Women and men will absolutely not have the same opportunities. I’ve learned this time and time again, yet it wasn’t until this election that I finally unwound the last layer of cloth covering my eyes. Sexism is rampant in our society. This election proved that in so many ways. Today’s inauguration cements it in our future. Personally, I don’t think my own self-worth has ever been so decimated.

On the evening of November 8th I was solidly in denial. The numbers were coming in and I simply could not comprehend the idea of anyone but Hilary winning that night. I excitedly told my cousin’s eight year old daughter about how monumental this night was, how thrilled I was to celebrate the election of the first female president on the heels of the first African-American president. I went to a friend’s house as the final numbers came in and watched as the women around me wiped tears from their cheeks. I went home when things were more or less settled, still in denial, still believing in my heart of hearts that something major would come about to change the preliminary outcome. That night I took a shower, listening to live updates from CNN on my phone. When I changed into my pajamas, Trump was giving his victory speech. I watched, terrified and alone, making it only through the first few minutes before bursting into panicked sobbing.

I’ve survived these last months in a daze, addicted to the News app on my phone, reading articles with a sadistic fascination in the pain it caused me. This world we entered today is one so repugnant to me. I feel betrayed, I feel scared, but most of all I feel a deep hurt and disappointment. I knew sexism existed. I knew I’d run into it over and over in my short lifetime, in my career, with my family, with my friends. Yet, watching this under-qualified man whose main rhetoric towards women is disparaging and abusive ascend into America’s highest office made me realize how little these issues mattered to the people of this nation. That is what hurts me at the deepest level, the honest realization that the society I trusted in does not care about women. This overwhelming feeling of loss of power and worth washed over women across this country and it disturbs to me.

I grew up surrounded by powerful, independent, and delightfully inspiring women. Both sides of my family are heavily female dominated and I never doubted a woman could be anything she wanted. I knew so many women who succeeded in so many ways and as a child it never occurred to me how much sacrifice and fight when into these accomplishments. I know so many single mothers who never cease to amaze me. I know women who own large companies and command not only the respect of their employees, but truly, their admiration. I find all these women in my life so inspiring; I feel lucky to know them all and have them in my life. I just wish there was one thing all these women would tell me: how much harder they fought for their accomplishments, because of their gender, because equality is a lie.

Say what you want about the Millennial generation, but we are the way we are, because of the people who raised us. In some ways this gives me hope – vastly more millennials voted for Hillary over her opponents. In other ways I must acknowledge our shortcomings. The millennial generation has been told ad nauseam that they are special, that they can do and be anything they want, and that they are equal because generations before have fought the battles over civil rights. We need to abruptly transform this ideology and begin a new conversation, because none of these things are true. You and I – and everyone else  -out there are not special. There are millions just like us. You cannot do or be anything you want. You may strive for something, but many circumstances come into play that are entirely out of your control. Equality is the biggest myth of all. Battles have been fought, but these wars are not easily won. Ask any woman about times she’s faced inequality and she may be too afraid to even give you an answer.

We live in a world where sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape are present constantly. In this world, boasting of these horrific actions may be considered harmless “locker room” talk. That must change. We live in a world where women are valued on their looks and girls are taught that being pretty and silent is preferable to being intelligent and confident. That must change. We live in a world where a man may stand ominously and uncomfortably closely behind a woman while she speaks. This clumsily obvious attempt at physical domination is so common in interactions between men and women, it does not even faze her and no one asks him to step back. That must change. We live in a world where a woman’s integral right to control her own body is dismissed by those who claim her life is not as valuable. That must change. We live in a world where women are taught to fear and distrust each other as they are all in cruel competition. That must change. We live in a world where so many can overlook the disgusting truths of one man, only to believe in the vicious lies told about a woman. That must change. We live in a world where women must work harder, better, and longer than a man in the same position in order to receive less recognition and compensation. That must change. We live in a world where all 45 of the Presidents of the United States of America have been men. That must change.

To enact any change, one must first acknowledge the problem and openly discuss it. So here I am, writing about this in the hope that we can all admit this situation exists and we must do something to combat it. I know now and can say with confidence, there is a huge fight ahead. I must throw myself into that fight and give it everything I can, but I also need to appreciate the great difficulty of this battle and sacrifice it requires. With this recognition, I can admit that I will only survive with the support and encouragement of others. As a woman, there a circumstances that exist that may directly prevent me from reaching my goals, but that doesn’t mean I will not strive for them. That’s why today you will find me at the Women’s March here in Portland, OR. I will be out there standing up for what I believe is right and I will be out there loudly shouting that we have farther yet to come. There will be progress yet to make even long after we welcome the first female into the Presidency of the United States of America. I believe in this and I can only hope it will happen in my lifetime. I have not given up, I will never give up.

 

(Golden) Delicious Apple Pie

Apple pie is one of the most classic American dishes. It’s the perfect dessert when you want something a little bit lighter that flourless chocolate cake; which for me, is admittedly rare since I’m a crazy chocolate fiend, but even I switch things up now and again! What I love about apple pie is how super easy it is to throw together. All the ingredients are typically ones you have stocked at home and the recipe is pretty fail proof. It’s easier than pumpkin pie to make and just as delicious!

Killer Apple Pie | Land of Laurel

To me, apple pie means fall and Thanksgiving, it means winter and foggy windows, it means filling the house with the smell of cinnamon and cloves, but most of all it means a gathering of friends or family. I like my apple pies tart and spicy, just like my friends, so it’s pretty much the perfect dessert for a girls night. Ha! Plus, apple pie is the perfect house freshener: put an apple pie in the oven 20 minutes before your guests come over and your whole house will smell like heaven! It’s a multipurpose dessert y’all! Check out the recipe below for a super easy and delicious evening.

Killer Apple Pie | Land of Laurel

Ingredients

1 – pie crust

7 – medium, organic, green apples, granny smith is the classic

1 – medium, organic, multi-colored apple, fugi or gala work well

1/2 cup – organic, brown sugar

1  – lemon, zest and juice

1/4 teaspoon – salt

1 teaspoon – cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon – cloves

1/4 teaspoon – nutmeg

4 tablespoons – organic butter

1 – organic egg

Recipe

Split your ball of pie crust dough in two and roll out half, keeping the other half cool in the refrigerator for later as it will form the top crust. Use your rolling pin to help convey the rolled bottom pie crust dough from your counter to you pie pan, then use your fingers shape the dough inside. Leaving half an inch over the edge of the pan, cut off the excess dough. Pop the bottom crust into the oven to pre-bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Once baked, remove from oven and set aside to cool. Turn the oven to 425° to pre-heat for the pie.

While the bottom crust pre-bakes, begin peeling, coring, and thinly slicing your apples. You want your apples to be roughly peeled, so don’t worry about getting every last bit off. I use this awesome kitchen aide attachment I have and love, and then slice the peeled, cored, and spiral sliced apple in half.  The kitchen aide attachment or counter-mounted version are fantastic because they do all the peeling, slicing, and coring at once, but this isn’t difficult to accomplish with a simple knife alone.

Place the apple slices into a large bowl, add all other ingredients except the butter andegg, and use your hands to toss everything together. Once apples are evenly coated, place in cooled, pre-baked pie shell in a spiral pattern, coating the bottom before placing additional layers. Use small or broken slices to fill any odd spaces. Once you’ve piled your mound of apples into the bottom shell, you will have some excess liquid in your bowl, pour about half over the apples in the pie shell and compost the rest. Cut butter into 8 evenly sized pieces and sprinkle over mounded apples.

Roll out the other half of your pie dough and use it to cover your mounded apples. Pinch the edges into the pre-baked bottom crust and remove any excess. Cut openings in the top crust to allow steam to escape. Coat the top pie crust completely with a whipped egg yolk to give it a deep finished sheen. To make decorative leaves, cut leaf shapes out of excess down, using the knife to carve leaf veins into the tops. Coat leaves with lightly whipped egg white mixed with food coloring and place on pie shell.

Bake at 425° degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350° and bake for another 40 minutes or until crust is lightly browned. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before serving, refrigerate after slicing. Pie keeps well and can be baked and left on counter up to 36 hours in advance, before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream for best results!

*This post contains affiliate links*

When I wake up, well I know I’m gonna be…

…I’m gonna be the man who wakes up next to you one who’s still exhausted. Or at least I used to be, today, I’m sharing the change that has made my mornings so much better, happier, and most of all, brighter!! It’s a simple switch that’s made me feel so much better rested.

Also thank you to the Proclaimers for lending me some lyrics to butcher. Who doesn’t love this song? Some of the funniest How I Met Your Mother episodes featured this song as the only one that plays on the stuck tape in Marshall’s college car stereo. Anyone else remember that hilarity?

Back to waking up in the mornings though: I’ve really been struggling in the last few years to get out of bed in winters when it’s still dark and cold out. This is a stark contrast, a big change for me, because previously, I would jump out of bed the second my alarm went off. I despised snoozers and prided myself on my “skill” of waking up immediately. Then something changed. I am now a snoozer. I’m a wake-up-and-reset-alarm-er. I’m a dragged-myself-out-of-bed-and-barely-made-it-to-the-bus-in-time-er. It’s unfortunate and it needed to change. I’m not sure how or when I first heard of the wake-up-light alarm clocks, but I knew about them somehow and about 2 months ago I started looking into purchasing one.

I ended up finding this one from Philips, which at almost $90 isn’t exactly inexpensive. I hate spending that kind of cash on purchases where I’m not certain of the results, so instead of clicking “buy” myself, I forwarded the link to my mother with the not so subtle hint that this would make a perfect Christmas present. She took the hint and this was the first gift I opened on Christmas morning. Well, the pictures on Amazon don’t do it justice! This alarm clock is actually quite stylish!

Phillips Wake Up Light Alarm Clock | Land of Laurel

So how has it changed my life? In so many ways! Let me break it down for you. This type of alarm clock is really cool! And no, this isn’t a sponsered post, I’m just excited to tell you about it! Seriously, I really can’t shut up about this alarm clock. I’ve been telling all my friends and co-workers all about it!

It’s super easy to use and highly customizable. You set you alarm for the next morning and then 30 mins before the alarm goes off, the light inside turns on to a dim setting and slowly gets brighter and brighter over the next half hour. This is supposed to help simulate a sunrise which can tell your body’s circadian rhythm it’s time to get up! Then the alarm itself has a couple of different settings. You can wake up to an am/fm radio station or to one of the two pre-set alarms: bird song or jungle noises. I’ve been waking up to the bird song and it is amazing! This alarm clock is life changing. In the mornings, I tend to hover in a semi-conscious state for a minute and I can hear the bird song. Without fail, each morning, I think to myself how nice it is that the birds are singing. A minute later, my brain registers that this is my alarm and I open my eyes. The light really helps remind my body that it is indeed time to wake up each morning. I am never jolted out of REM cycle like I was previously. Instead, I feel like my body slowly wakes up over that half hour allowing me to feel much more awake when the alarm truly does go off.

Phillips Wake Up Alarm Clock | Land of Laurel

The alarm itself is pretty simple and well designed. It’s definitely not an ugly bedside alarm clock. It feels just about as stylish as an electronic devise can be. It’s light weight and clean lined. You can adjust the settings on the alarm to make the time show brighter or dimmer. I have chosen a dimmer setting so it doesn’t glare at me while I sleep. The light on the alarm itself can also be dimmer or brighter and you can decide the volume of the alarm as well. It’s these little adjustments which make it so easy to personalize. For instance, I have the light on my alarm maxed out so it is as bright as possible when it’s time for me to wake up, but since I’m more sensitive to sounds, I keep my sound setting pretty low. You can also chose to use the light just by itself, which I do on occasion since my new bed hasn’t been built yet (gotta get on that already!), and the alarm is easier to reach that the higher up lamp switch.

Philips Wake Up Alarm Clock | Land of Laurel

Over all, this alarm, I can truly say, has been life-changing. I feel a million times better in the mornings when it’s time for me to get out of bed. I know longer feel the need to push snooze, nor do I feel like I’ve been jolted from my sleep. Having an alarm clock again after eight years of using my phone as an alarm also has the added bonus of preventing me from picking up my phone first thing in the morning. This means it’s a lot easier to resist scrolling through Instagram or Facebook or reading the news and gets me into my morning routine sooner so I’m not in a rush!

This may seem like a small thing, but the more I realize how deeply addicted I am to my phone and all the social media platforms it holds, the more I’d like to take time away from that technology. It’s one of the reasons I love to camp and get away from my phone. Somehow, it’s miraculously freeing to step away from technology and all the entrapments it holds. Not being connected is an amazing thing in this wi-fi enabled world and getting out of the routine of checking in on Facebook, Instagram, and Apple News first thing each morning is a relief. Now I peruse these things on the bus to work, when I’m not in a rush to get out of the house. It’s a minor difference in terms of timing, but a significant difference in how I wake up and start my day.

So to anyone out there who struggles to get out of bed or loves their snooze button, I highly recommend the Philips Wake-Up Light with Sunrise Simulation. It is going to significantly impact the start of your day in the most positive of ways! Starting off the New Year with this new way to start my days has been a great game changer for me and my life.

Do you have one of these, from Philips or another brand, at home already? Let me know your thoughts! Do you love it as much as I do? Because I think I might just marry this alarm clock I love it so much!

*This post contains affiliate links*